Category Archives: Partition

Remembering Noon Meem Rashid: Abstractionist Par Excellence

Rashid is a dream maker and dream seller. Many critics over time have tried to contend with his abstractedness. His universalism is a panacea to the ills from which humanity has been suffering from since the creation of time. He grapples with the themes of God and Man, life and death …

The evolution of thought in philosophical poetry surfaces frequently, infrequently and unexpectedly in the lives of individuals. Yet in the case of Nazar Muhammad Rashid alias Noon Meem Rashid, it was continuous with no sign of intermittence by filling all his mental voids. A pioneer of free Urdu poetic verses (Azad Nazm), Rashid has remained an enduring favourite among Urdu poetry lovers all over the world. The manner in which he hued his poetry with modern Persian vocabulary is a manifestation of his flawless mastery over Urdu and Persian and this vocabulary appears in post-modern classical usages which are hitherto unobserved. Noon Meem Rashid is a very difficult poet to understand. Indeed, he avails himself of the language that is rich and adventurous. While delving into his poetry, one finds oneself in a stormy night. Rashid comes pouring down on the reader and soaks him in a blizzard of complex ideas. Rashid was born in Alipur Chattha, Gujranwala (then Akal Garh) in Punjab, British India on 1 August 1910.

He got his elementary education from Alipur Chatha. Later on, he got his masters degree from Government College, Lahore in Economics. After completing his education, he served for a short time in the Royal Indian Army during the Second World War, attaining the rank of Captain. He worked with All India Radio before Independence. After Independence, he worked with Radio of Pakistan in Peshawar till 1953. Later on, he worked with United Nations and retired Director of Press and Information Department in 1973. He died on 9 October 1975 in London due to cardiac arrest. Just bring into mind the titles of Rashid’s four collections: ماورا (The Beyond), لا= انسان (x= Human Being) and گماں کا ممکن (Possibility Inhering in Supposition) are mercilessly abstract with the exception of one; اجنبی ایران میں  (Stranger in Iran). Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Partition, Urdu

A Change of Approach is Needed in the Study of Indo-Pak Relations

‘A fresh approach to studying relations between India and Pakistan can help policy makers to reach some point where they can make better decisions for the common people on both sides of the Indo-Pak border’

Numerous obstacles exist to objectively analysing the field of politics and foreign policy. The field is full of conflicting approaches and theoretical perspectives. Another problem arises regarding the nature of analysis to be adopted. Noam Chomsky argues that in international relations ‘historical conditions are too varied and complex for anything that might plausibly be called “a theory” to apply uniformly’. For him ‘international relations’ is a discipline of theoretical disagreements – a ‘divided discipline’. Different approaches or paradigms, such as liberalism or realism are like different games played by different people. As there is more than one game to be played, it is hard to know which game to play. A theory should be clear with clarity of exposition. It should be unbiased and its scope should encompass the specific issue in both breadth and depth. The Indo-Pak rivalry has been one of the most important research topics in international security studies. Yet meaningful literature on the subject is scant.

What little is available is either descriptive or historical in orientation. Traditionally, Indo-Pak relations have been studied through the realist lens in international relations. It is submitted that the time has come for Indo-Pak relations need to be studied in a new way by moving away from the traditional realist/neo-realist, liberal/neo-liberal approaches which are based upon material benefits and the balance of power. The significance of Indo-Pak relations can be gauged from the following advice of President Clinton to his successor President Bush. Clinton said in 2004 that ‘continuing tensions between India and Pakistan’, should be high on the incoming administration’s list of priorities, ‘because both have nuclear weapons.’ Continue reading

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Filed under Congress, Discussion, India, Pakistan, Partition, Peace building, PIIA, United States

When Time Stood Still

You will never understand … we were simply pushed out

My visit to Panipat in September 1987 was one of the more distressing events of my journey to India in connection with an international training programme which took me to many cities – Delhi, Agra, Banglore, Mysore, Hyderabad. I was deeply moved by my stay in Delhi, the city of my birth. I stayed at India International Centre and walked every morning around the nearby Lodhi tombs, trying to etch their austere beauty in my mind forever. Alone, I went to Humayun’s tomb, pausing at the neglected Arab Serai, overgrown with weeds, where poor Bahadur Shah Zafar had sought refuge. At Jama Masjid, also in a state of neglect, I thought of my grand-uncle, Latif Hasan, who had looked after its repairs. Night fell as I extricated myself from my fascination with the mosque. In the back streets there were long queues of cycle rickshaws but nobody – no rickshaw or taxi driver – was willing to take me back to New Delhi. I walked in fear in the dark streets around the mosque, seeking help, until one man took pity on me and dropped me in a well-lit street in New Delhi.

At India Gate, I remembered running around the monument as a small child, at Connaught Circus, I seemed to discern vaguely the direction in which my father Sarwar Hasan had his office. I made a trip to see that jewel on 10 Aurangzeb Road, which had been Jinnah’s residence. In Daryaganj, I went to Lahore Music House to purchase a scale changer. The Sikh owners of the shop could not do enough to welcome me. Their music shop was located in Anarkali in Lahore before Partition and they told me the story of their flight from Lahore to Delhi. Wherever I went, I told myself that my forefathers and parents had trodden upon these paths: see Khwaja Sarwar Hasan Panipat and Delhi Houses. My father and mother – Sughra Hasan – had never called at Sufi shrines but I felt I must pay homage to Nizamuddin Auliya, the patron saint Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, India, Mughal Empire, Partition, Sarwar Hasan

Mani Shankar Aiyar: Continuity and Change in India’s Foreign Policy

‘If we don’t talk to Pakistan we will never be able to find a solution…It would be foolish to have cordial relations with Paraguay and just ignore Pakistan’ said the Rajya Sabha member and former diplomat – watch video.

“There is going to be no peace in India or elsewhere except on the basis of freedom,” remained Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s final denouement in The Discovery of India – his third book; written in captivity in Ahmadnagar Fort prison in 1944. Indira Gandhi explained that along with Discovery, Joe’s other books Glimpses of World History and An Autobiography were her close “companions in life”. Indeed, Nehru’s works and political strategy not only influenced his daughter but also inspired political activists in neighbouring Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. Just the other day, India’s government began to declassify secret files to finally settle questions over Subhas Chandra Bose’s death. Bose, a widely admired Congress party frontrunner, aligned his tactics with the Japanese in the 1940s to create a “national army” to fight colonial rule and expel the British from India.

In Discovery, Panditji noted the “astonishing enthusiasm” evoked by the court martial of members of the Indian National Army (INA). In admiration, he remarked that the trial “aroused the country as nothing else had done, and they became the symbols of India fighting for her freedom.” In Nehru’s eyes, INA activists and members, who were in fact his rivals, had “solved the communal problem amongst themselves” because “Hindu, Moslem, Sikh and Christian were all represented”. They had achieved utopia. Or perhaps even Nirvana. Continue reading

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Filed under BJP, Congress, Discussion, Events, Human Rights, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Partition, Peace building, Politics

Moinuddin Khan: The PIIA Library

The specialist library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) is committed to maintain a living, updated and balanced collection of original books, official documents, research journals and related files of independent national and foreign newspapers and to exploit its resources for an objective study of international affairs.

After the dissolution of The Indian Institute of International Affairs at New Delhi in 1947 and the subsequent painful division of India, the collection of books and other material belonging to The Indian Institute of International Affairs was shifted lock, stock and barrel to Karachi by Khwaja Sarwar Hasan and was accommodated in a building in Intelligence School, Queen’s Road, Karachi. This corpus of books, though damaged in transit, constituted the very bedrock of the initial stock of the PIIA which surely but steadily grew in depth and breadth. Memorably, when the ground floor of the pink landmark present-day building of the Institute at the junction of Havelock and Strachan Roads (now Aiwan-i-Sadar Road and Deen Muhammad Wafai Road) was ready for occupation, the library was set up in the hall on the ground floor opening on Strachan Road.

After some time, when the façade, first and second floors of the building were completed, the library was finally moved to its present location, which was then considered to be quite spacious. It was at this point of time, in the mid-1960s, that I joined the Institute as librarian after completing nine years’ service in the Royal Air Force/Pakistan Air Force as Teacher Librarian. I stayed at the Institute until mid-1970 when I went to the University of Sindh as deputy university librarian. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Partition, PIIA, Sarwar Hasan

Karachi: The Transport Crisis

This post extracts the germane points of The Urban Resource Centre’s recent report on Karachi’s transport problems by Arif Hasan et al and IIED, UK

If the 2011 pre-census house count for Karachi is to be believed, then Karachi is the fastest growing mega city in the world both in percentage and figure terms. Karachi’s population has increased by more than 100 percent from 11 million (the 1998 census figure) to 22 million when the house count was conducted. As such, Karachi contains 10 percent of the population of Pakistan and 22 percent of its urban population. In addition to population, there are other reasons for Karachi’s importance. It is Pakistan’s only port city. It contains 32 percent of the country’s industrial base, generates 15 percent of GDP, 25 percent of federal revenues and 62 percent of income tax. It contains powerful federal institutions in the form of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Railways, Customs and military cantonments.

All these federal institutions own land, carry out developments on it (including residential and commercial real estate) and employ a large number of persons. In addition to the provincial government (who also owns land), they all have a say in Karachi’s development. The city government controls only 31 percent of Karachi’s land. Coordination between the different land owning agencies is almost non-existent. Karachi is also the capital of Sindh province. It contains 62 percent of Sindh urban population and 30 percent of its total population. This figure is important since the second largest city of Pakistan, Lahore, contains only 7 percent of the population of the Punjab province whose capital it is. Continue reading

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Filed under Courts, Discussion, IIED, Karachi, Pakistan, Partition, SBCA

Professor Francis Robinson at the Karachi Conference Foundation

Jamal Mian could have breakfast in Dhaka, lunch in Lucknow and tea with Jawaharlal Nehru in Delhi

Professor Francis Robinson CBE spoke yesterday (7 January 2015) about Karachi in the life of Maulana Jamal Mian of Farangi Mahall under the banner of the Karachi Conference Foundation. The event was held in the imposing library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. He is Professor of the History of South Asia, Royal Holloway University of London and is writing a biography of Jamal Mian, for which he has access to Jamal Mian’s private papers, his library, diaries, correspondence, collection of photographs, business documents and other material. 

Professor Robinson has been close to the Farangi Mahallis for many years, ultimately publishing The Ulama of Farangi Mahall and Islamic Culture in South Asia (2001). Since he was drawing upon work which has not yet been published, it may be considered as a great favour extended to the organisers of this session. Professor Robinson gave a masterly presentation, actually, of Jamal Mian’s life and times, his political career, business dealings and social circle both in Pakistan and India. Karachi figured in the narrative by default. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Events, India, Pakistan, Partition, Sufism