By Yasser Latif Hamdani
This is a quick blog to correct a historical fallacy. A false impression persists – thanks to people like Amar Jaleel and the like who in the right royal Urdu press fashion have a hard time sticking to the facts- that Jinnah- who according to Jaleel was drugged or cornered into making the speech in question- somehow told Bengalis to outlaw Bengali language when he declared Urdu to be the state language of Pakistan. This is historically inaccurate. This blog is not to discuss whether Jinnah’s declaration was politically suave or naïve but to set the record straight about what it was that Jinnah said which laid foundations for the Urdu-Bengali discord in Pakistan and led to Pakistan ultimately declaring both Urdu and Bengali the “national languages” of Pakistan. Ironically Jinnah did not even use the term “national language”, drawing the very valid distinction between a state language or lingua franca and a national language. Continue reading
A personal favourite, Irshad Ahmad Haqqani is dead. This is a huge loss to Urdu journalism as he was the last of sane voices in the vernacular industry. I often disagreed with his centre-right views but his tone was measured and he remained a staunch supporter of democracy. May God bless his soul.
I stumbled on this post at Cafe Piyala that also talks about Haqqani but the best part of it was what Haqqani’s peers and junior collegaues had to say about him. I think some of the comments were so shameful that I could not even laugh with an easy conscience. I am quoting the last part of that post here that also is quite a treat:
Whatever they might say about him, he did invent the modern Urdu column, which is half analytical drivel, half dinner menus. Only during the last week, for example, Jang columnist Haroon-ur-Rashid (according to his column) demanded and got desi murghi from the Azad Kashmir prime minister, and Hamid Mir (according to his column) discovered new insights into judicial activism over a Kashmiri dish. I forget the name of the dish but according to Jang / Geo’s brightest star, it is made of mooli and shaljam and served with rice. The host was the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Sharif.
Bilal Qureshi has contributed this piece for PTH. We do not necessarily agree with all the contents of this article but the issue is important enough to be debated. (RR – ed PTH)
Journalism 101, that is, the very first lesson of journalism is impartiality. In other words, journalists, at least in civilized societies don’t take any position on issues. And editors make sure that personal opinion don’t seep into the work that the journalists are assigned. This is common practice, and even in India, if you read the papers or watch their talk shows, it is impossible to associate journalists with any particular political party. So, in this light, it is utterly nauseating to see media in Pakistan, both electronic and print (especially Urdu media) engage in efforts to destabilize a democratically elected government. Especially, a channel backed up a by large paper is maliciously attacking everything that the government does day after day in print, and night after night on television.
This must be stopped.
No, this level of journalistic activism can never be defended or worse, tolerated. Zardari did the right thing when he spoke clearly and aggressively against the conspiracy theorists when he addressed a rally in Karachi.
Now, the government must come out swinging against the types of immoral, unethical, and extremely biased anchors that we see in Pakistan today. Continue reading
Filed under Democracy, Media
A new collection of translated short stories reminds us how Urdu literature needs to connect with a global audience, says Raza Rumi
As I hold the recently published “The Oxford Book of short stories” in my hands, I cannot help bemoan the fact that Urdu literature has been almost invisible from the arena of global literature. Admittedly, translation is difficult; the tediousness of translation daunts many a brave heart. Having said that, there have been a handful of remarkable translators such as Khalid Hassan, Alamgir Hashmi, CM Naim, Aamer Hussain, Umer Memon and Rakhshanda Jalil, to name a few. But a wide corpus of Urdu literature lies forlorn and hidden from global readership, which alas is dominated by English language readers. For this very reason, Amina Azfar has done a remarkable job of compiling a collection of Urdu short stories. Her earlier translations have been competent and quite often lyrical. For instance, Akhtar Hussain Raipuri’s Gard-e-Rahh (the dust of the road) and Sajjad Zaheer’s Roshnai ( the Light ) are noteworthy for their tone.
The book has a nice little foreword by Aamer Hussain, who is correct in stating that Azfar’s collection provides a fine introduction to the genre of the Urdu short story. The stories selected encompass a range of various experiments undertaken by the great Urdu writers. The stark realism of Munshi Premchand is counterpoised by Khaleda Hussain’s two short stories that are allegorical and somewhat postmodern in their sensibility. Iftikhar Arif, the renowned poet-bureaucrat, in his formal introduction quotes Dr Jamil Jalibi, terming the selected short stories “in the category of the very best”. Continue reading
This is a cross-post from PIPS (www.sans-pips.com)
Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) conducted a national seminar on Understanding the ‘Jihad Print Media’ in Pakistan and its impact on 20 October in Islamabad. The seminar brought together a large number of media representatives, scholars and academics to discuss and comment on PIPS’ recently produced report on the subject.
Dr. Tariq Rehman, Director National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad chaired the seminar while Mr. Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director Centre for Civic Education, Islamabad was the key speaker and discussant. Other speakers included Mr. Taufeeq Asif Advocate, President Rawalpindi Bar Association, Mr. Afzal Khan, South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), Mr. Amir Zia, Director News at Samaa TV, Islamabad, and Mr. Javed Siddique, Resident Editor Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Islamabad. Continue reading
The AfPak War
In an article in the Washington Post, Anti-U.S. Wave Imperiling Efforts in Pakistan, Officials Say, writers explain the growing hostility towards the Americans in Pakistan But what is missing from this article is the historical aspect of anti Americanism in that part of the world. During my recent trip, I was shocked to see that almost everyone in the country has become a lot angrier and anti American sentiments have reached alarming proportions.
True, there is sill support for Washington, but America’s supporters are becoming a rarity in a Pakistan. One reason for this is the role that the media (read Urdu press and private T.V. channels) is airing every gossip, every conspiracy theory about America without explaining or educating the readers/listeners that the what you are about to hear or read has not been verified. More importantly, equal time is not given to those who would present a more balanced and factual picture about ground realities. Continue reading
I was most amused in a strange, tragic way as to what nonsense is churned out as ‘opinion’ and ‘analysis in Pakistan’s mainstream vernacular media. I had once written about it as well here. True to his incisive reputation, CM Naim’s piece is extraordinarily well written and revealing. Raza Rumi
By: C.M. Naim – For the past five or six months I’ve been reading fairly regularly the web pages of three Urdu newspapers from Pakistan: Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt and the Express. I glance at the headlines cursorily then immediately turn to the columnists. Most days, each of the three carries a minimum of six columnists. Some of them are big names; they frequently appear on TV shows, get regularly invited to the President’s residence, and travel with the Prime Minister on important trips. These gentlemen never let you forget all that. One or two even give details of the food served on such occasions—there is always plenty of food served, not just a cup of tea, when they visit with any dignitary. Continue reading