Filed under: general
I was finally able to read Kamila Shamshie’s In the City by the Sea, a book that has been on my reading list for a few months now.
The book was a delightful read. The story is narrated through the eyes of a eleven-year old boy, and it is essentially a comment on democracy and dictatorship in Pakistan. But what makes its truly engaging read is how the events are viewed through the eyes of a child. The child’s uncle is the political dissident facing a trial for treason against the military ruler and thus the emotional angle came very much into play.
The book is written in a very crafty and imaginative manner. It plays well with words and develops a narrative that is a pleasure to read. Shamsie also relies heavily on the inquisitive mind of the child to raise some difficult questions. Yet, at the same time she manages to keep it light by linking it to the imaginative world of the child.
On the underlying theme. It was written in 1998, so I can suppose that Shamsie is alluding to the Zia-Bhutto tussle and the subsequent of Bhutto execution under charges of treason. Though, I did feel that Shamsie had fallen prey to extreme political categorisations – with a highly idealist moral politician supporting democracy against the despotic military ruler. The polar opposites did not mesh well, but then it is fiction.
Overall, I felt that the book was an interesting read and has certainly whetted my appetite for more of her work.
Yes. And it happens only in the US.
Money transfer agencies like Western Union have delayed or blocked thousands of cash deliveries on suspicion of terrorist connections simply because senders or recipients have names like Mohammed or Ahmed, company officials said.
In Dubai, a Western Union branch manager said: “Mohammed and Ahmed have become problematic names because they are so common on the list of terrorists,” said Nixon Baby, who runs a Western Union franchise in Bur Dubai, a neighbourhood packed with South Asian businesses. “These are regulations that Western Union is required to obey. We do not have any control.”
Filed under: general
Just a simple question.
Is globalisation and the resultant developments across the globe more akin to uniformity or unity?
Filed under: general
Thursday’s detainment of Palestinian Ministers and the subsequent bombing of the Palestinian Interior Ministry by Israel is a blatant violation of Palestine’s sovereignty and freedom. To secure the release of one Israeli soldier, Israel detains 60 Hamas leaders. What gives Israel the right to go storming into an independent state and detain it’s government officials? And then threaten further military action?
Israel has been trying its utmost for the last few months to bring down the Hamas government. Economic blockade, refusal to negotiate and now this. And the missiles that are supposedly fired into Israeli territory are attributed to Islamic Jihad! So why detain Hamas officials?
Israel gets away scot-free with the simple advice to “exercise constraint”. But who cares for the poor Palestinians civilians? It’s a total nightmare for them and what exactly did they do to deserve it?
Can someone please explain this?
Ishtiaq sahab wrote a very interesting piece in the Daily Times yesterday. The article briefly researches the evolution of Punjabi identities through the times. The nature of pre-colonial Punjab has been described as plural, with most of the leaders according patronage to all religious sections of society. It was interesting to note though that inter-religion and inter-caste boundaries were still strictly defined:
As was common elsewhere in India, Punjabi Muslims and non-Muslims did not eat together and marriage between them was taboo. Hindu eating habits were governed by rules of pollution and were also applied by the superior castes against lower ones.
Some villages and areas were entirely Muslim or Hindu-Sikh but there were mixed villages and urban localities too.
There were some villages in which both Muslim and Hindu landowning and cultivating castes lived together.
Another thing that strikes me: while the religious groups lived within their specific boundaries and ‘limits’ there seems to be a lack of open hostility and animosity. Unfortunately, all of this changes with the advent of the British in Punjab:
…changes in social structure and communal organisation began to take place after the British established modern education institutions and a capitalist economy. Muslim aversion to British rule prevailed even in the Punjab. In fact during the 19th century Wahhabis had gained influence in the Punjab as a result of the jihad movement launched by Syed Ahmed Shahid Brelvi.
Due to such factors Hindus and Sikhs left Muslims behind in educational and economic terms.
Hindus and Sikhs were the first to take to modern education and establish modern businesses and enterprises.
These developments helped promote a more exclusive and puritanical religious identity. Moreover, while all three communities spoke Punjabi at home, Muslims began to declare Urdu their mother tongue in the census records, Hindus identified themselves with Hindi, and Sikhs with Punjabi.
This turn in events is interesting. It does explain why the mutual coexistence of 700 years collapsed so suddenly and violently and I can only imagine these events being repeated all over India. The ultimate result was the emergence of the two nation theory and then partition.
It’s mind-boggling how the arrival of one foreign race destroys the identities constructed so painstakingly over centuries.
Hardline religious courts shut cinema halls and barred residents of the Somali capital from watching the football World Cup, prompting scores of people to protest the ban in which two people were killed, court officials and residents said on Sunday.
“We shall not even allow the showing of the World Cup because they corrupt the morals of our children whom we endeavour to teach the Islamic way of life,” he added.
This incident echoes strongly of Talibanism of the yesteryears. One thing is common to both countries: the turn to radicalism took places in failed and war-ravaged societies. Radicalism became a potent ideology when all other means to redress socio-economic injustices failed to worked.
This sad incident highlights a point which needs constant reiteration. Societies succumb to radicalism not because religious doctrines dictate so, but because all the other support structures of society fail so miserably, that they seek refuge in perverted versions of their faith.
Filed under: general
Came across these recollections by BBC's Nick Bryant at the end of his reporting tenure in South Asia. Some gems:
I would also rather forget the Delhi cocktail party when I came perilously close to asking a rather pompous sounding old gentleman what he did for a living, only to realise later I had been talking to the Nobel prize-winning author VS Naipaul.
Nor do I represent much of a threat to Richie Benaud, as I discovered covering a cricket match between India and Pakistan.
I tried to compensate for my lack of cricketing knowledge by saying flattering things about the Indian players, but on leaving the booth I saw a sign on the door read Radio Pakistan.
And I will not forget the night at Lahore airport, when I managed to import a bottle of malt whiskey into Pakistan by bribing a security official with a packet of condoms.
But a friend tell me that the security officials at Lahore International are pretty efficient, so I wonder about the last one…
Last evening Lahore was lashed by ferocious winds and the result? This:
Signboards, poles and trees fell all over Lahore. While the poles and trees are largely harmless. The signboards caused havoc. The above picture is from one of the busiest city roads… And there was more misery:
A boy died when a huge billboard near Clifton Shoe Store in Liberty Market approved by the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) collapsed, and ten cars were damaged.
Talking to Daily Times, a PHA spokesman said that although the authority had approved the signboard that fell in Liberty Market, the structural engineer who designed the board was responsible for the incident. He said the PHA had warned billboard owners when the season began
This is not the first occurrence either. Equally deplorable scenes were witnessed two years ago across the main boulevards of Lahore. It's about time the PHA started doing something about it. They are not just there to make billions from advertisement money.
Mirza and Sahiban who were cousins and childhood playmates, fell in love with each other. But when Sahiban was about to be forcibly married to Tahar Khan by her parents, without any hesitation she sent a taunting message to Mirza, whom she loved…This is the time to protect your self-respect and love, keep your promises and sacrifice your life for truth, she asked Mirza.
Mirza who was a young man, made Sahiba sit on his horse and rode away. But on the way, as he lies under the shade of a tree to rest for few moments, the people who were following them with swords caught them.
…the brothers attack Mirza and killed him. Sahiban took a sword and slaughtered herself.
Countless folk songs of Punjab narrate the love tale of Sassi and Punnu. Women sing these songs with great emotion and feeling, as though they are paying homage to Sassi.
The mausoleum of Miraza-Sahiban, in depilated condition, is located in Donanabad Union Council in Jaranwal. Local men do not let their women visit the mausoleum fearing they might follow the footsteps of Mirza.
Sahadat Ali Kharal, a resident, told Daily Times that their forefathers believed that the “dirt cemetery of Mirza-Sahiban” should be demolished because many women would become immoral. Qasoo Kharal, another resident, said the memory of Mirza and Sahiban must be erased.
Mukhtaran Bibi has been included in the list of Times's 100 most influential people. This comes in the wake of two other adultery cases that have hit the papers over the last month or so. The good news is that in both the cases, the victims have been accorded justice and a chance to resbuild their lives:
District and Sessions Judge Hyderabad Zaheeruddin Leghari set free the love marriage couple, Sodi and Abdul Hakeem, on Saturday. The couple had been languishing in jail in a Hudood Ordinance case for the past five years. [#]
The final year student of a private medical university in Hyderabad, 24-year-old Aruna, the daughter of a retired sessions judge based in Sahiwal, fell in love with Moazzam, a software engineer working with the PTCL, and tied the knot with him.
Strongly opposing the match, Aruna’s parents pressed her to seek separation and return home. On her refusal, her father Ata Muhammad got registered a case u/s 16/7/1979 of the Hudood laws … alleging that “I was going to my maternal village 13/1-AL near Renala Khurd when I saw Moazzam, his brother Junaid, Shahid and two unidentified accomplices taking away my daughter.”
In the open court where dozens of lawyers, journalists and social workers were present, Aruna in the company of her counsel Abdul Alf Saleem told the court that she had contracted marriage in August 2005 with Moazzam with her free will and informed her parents (about the marriage) after a few days… the court met again, the judge rejected all charges against Aruna, her husband Moazzam and brother-in-law Junaid and set them free. [#]
So then there is some hope.