Raza Rumi (Published in Tehelka)
AFTER 37 YEARS OF POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY, PAKISTAN’S CONSTITUTION HAS BEEN RECAST ON ZARDARI’S WATCH. WILL IT HELP REKINDLE DEMOCRACY, WONDERS RAZA RUMI
BRANDED A ‘failed state’, Pakistan has become notorious in the global media. Political change is often a result of the notorious 111 Brigade (the Rawalpindi-based army contingent which leads any military coup) moving on the streets of Islamabad and capturing the derelict PTV (Pakistan Television) headquarters. News-worthiness is defined by the number of suicide blasts that take place in a single day within what has been termed as the “most dangerous country” in the world. Pity that such stereotypes have prevented a nuanced understanding of Pakistan, as well as the fact that it is a fast changing country with a strong yearning for the rule of law and constitutionalism. (Photo: AFP)
These days, Pakistanis, when they are on a break from the next suicide bomber, are rejoicing over a major political shift brought about by the April 8 approval by parliament of the 18th Amendment to fix the truncated Constitution. Thirty seven years ago, for the first time in its existence, Pakistan’s political elite was able to reach a consensus on the scheme and shape of the Constitution. An earlier version was the 1956 Constitution, which was abrogated even before its implementation by Field Marshal Ayub Khan in 1958. There were two other military “gifts” to the nation in 1962 and 1970, which were hardly democratic and barely representative of what citizens actually wanted. Continue reading
From Partition onward, Nasir Khan writes, a dusty cafe was the centre of Lahore’s literary life.
Pak Tea House sits on Mall Road in Old Anarkali, nestled between tyre suppliers and motorcycle workshops.
Before Partition it was the India Tea House, but 1947 and a quick paint job changed that. No one knows why it became – along with several similar shops on the same street – a favourite haunt of so many intellectuals. Maybe it was the cheap but good milky tea, or the extra-sweet biscuits. Perhaps it was the literary sensibility of the first post-Partition owners, two brothers from India. It might have been the radio on the counter that was constantly tuned to Lahore’s call-in request programme. And, for scores of struggling writers and poets, the availability of food on credit certainly had something to do with it. Continue reading
Kashifiat has posted an open letter addressed to me. I usually don’t answer such letters but this particular ‘letter’ has to be responded to because if you don’t respond to distorted and mala fide accusations, they come to be accepted as the truth. The superficial reason is that our whiz-writer YLH has used unparliamentary language while commenting but the reasons are far deeper – they have to do with the way we envision Pakistan in light of Quaid – Mr. Jinnah’s ideals and agenda for Pakistan and that we mince no words when exploitation and injustice occur anywhere.We have taken note of the commenting here and fixed the comments on a particular post and hope to have a stricter policy in future. However, we reiterate that we oppose the extremist ideologies which are eating Pakistan from within like termite. What Kashif and his friends say is their right and we respect that. Furthermore, I do not blame the young men and women of our age – they have been indoctrinated by the pernicious text-books, Zia’s ideology and the infiltration of Jamaat-i-Islami and jihadis into every nook and corner of Pakistan. This is why PTH, as a voice of reason, faces the dual challenge of tackling the right wing and handling the global stereotyping of Pakistan as a jihadi haven. Not an easy challenge by any account — Raza Rumi
I have been constrained to respond to your open letter that not only brings into question my responsibility as the founder-editor of Pak Tea House (PTH) but also distorts what this e-zine stands for.
There is absolutely no article on PakTeaHouse that represents an Ahmadi or any other sectarian view per se. I personally condemn sectarianism of any kind, and my writings testify to that. Your charge of PTH as a pro-Ahmaddiyat portal is absolutely false unless you feel that speaking of Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as an inclusive, liberal and secular state is an Ahmadi point of view, in which case you might as well declare the Quaid-e-Azam an Ahmadi as well. If PTH authors have spoken about the injustice against Ahmadis for their faith, and there is considerable injustice against Ahmadis whether you admit it or not. We have posted many many more articles about the discrimination against Christians. Does that make us a Christian website as well? We’ve posted innumerable articles on Pakistani Hindus and their contributions to Pakistani society ? Do we become a Hindu website? Don’t you think there should be a limit to accusations? Continue reading
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
The subject is a little outdated so bear with me. Pakistaniat or All Things Pakistan marked a great revolution in Pakistan’s blogging history. It was a progressive and fresh look for Pakistan when the esteemed academic Dr. Adil Najam started it and alas it seemed like that Pakistanis will getting up and speaking up for Pakistan- more specifically the inclusive, democratic and tolerant Pakistan envisaged by Quaid-e-Azam Mahomed Ali Jinnah. And what a revolution it brought about – even PakTeaHouse is to some extent influenced by it and the going ons of that website. Indeed much of our readership is common and we often have similar points of view on issues of national importance. It was therefore this that as someone who has passionately written for Pakistaniat website and contributed to discussions there , I was very disappointed to see a plagiarized obituary of Mian Tufail Muhammad, the second amir of an anti-Pakistan subversive and largely secretive group called Jamaat-e-Islami. It was written by some illiterate and uneducated youth, who claims to be a national kalmnist for some third rate Urdu paper in Karachi which doubles as the official Jamaat-e-Islami newsletter. Continue reading
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
In 1946, Jinnah met a group of students at Mamdot Villa in Lahore. A chair was brought out for him to sit down but he chose to sit down on the grassy lawn with the students. He began by telling them he had worked hard and made a lot of money and owned houses in Delhi, Bombay, Karachi and was looking for a house in Lahore. Why, he asked, was then he going all over India at an age when he should retire. One of the students opined because he had the love of Islam in his heart. Another said something else. Finally Jinnah answered : In India you can either be an Indian or a Muslim but never an Indian Muslim. This is the rationale for Pakistan. Continue reading
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
By Raza Rumi
This is a critical moment in our history perhaps unmatched for its severity and its brutal reality. The experiential nightmare that our country is passing through is perhaps unparalleled for the enemy is neither foreign nor fully identifiable. At the same time, never has there been a clear backing of a military campaign against domestic agents of subversion and anarchy. Forget the doctored samples of opinion polls, often conducted by foreign agencies. That by itself should make us ashamed for our proclivity to accept what others have to analyse and determine for us. Even ignore the fringe voices of dissent led by those who neither have credibility or sagacity to comprehend the existential crisis faced by Pakistan. The army has shown vision and displayed courage in tackling a menace that alas is a home-grown cancer due to our short-sighted strategies in pursuit of phantom depths. The battle to be won is now the country itself. Continue reading