Nathiagali: still magical after all these years


Curtain raiser: Milne Do (Let Indians & Pakistanis Meet)

Milne Do 'teaser' ad created by Pirana Advertising

My curtain raiser in The News today about the new Milne Do campaign launched by Aman ki Asha, the peace initiative between the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India Group.

Curtain raiser: Milne Do

The loudest lament heard at every single event organised by Aman ki Asha since the launch of this peace initiative on Jan 1, 2010: how difficult it is for Indians and Pakistanis to visit each other’s country given our obstructive, out-dated visa regimes. The loudest demand: let people meet. Continue reading

CONVERSATIONS 14: Joint narratives, common ground

Published in The News on Sunday Political Economy section, Aman ki Asha page, June 13, 2010

June 10 2010

Dear Beena,

I can live with “Indian Administered Kashmir” and “Pakistan Administered Kashmir”. I’ll have to think about “militant” for “terrorist”, partly because then that might let off the hook homegrown Indians responsible for terrorism. And I will likely have to disagree about India’s interference in 1971 being nothing but a hostile act. I mean, it was hostile, necessarily so. But I believe it had to happen. I think peoples have aspirations, naturally so, and (West) Pakistan was actively and brutally suppressing the East’s aspirations in 1971. Continue reading

Conversations 13: Meeting point

I forgot to upload the last three Conversations published in The News on Sunday, Aman ki Asha page in Political Economy. The entire archives are also up at the Aman ki Asha website

Conversations 13: Meeting point

June 3 2010

Dear Beena,

Right at the start of this missive, I have been wondering just how we will ever reconcile our diametrically different views on what we call POK/what you call AJK. (Let alone reconcile the names). You are taught that it “joined Pakistan voluntarily”. We are taught that Pakistan grabbed it from us in ’47. What’s the meeting point between these two perceptions? How do we resolve this disagreement? Continue reading

Conversations 12: A grounding for reconciliation

I forgot to upload the last few Conversations published in The News on Sunday, Aman ki Asha page in Political Economy. The entire archives are also up at the Aman ki Asha website

A grounding for reconciliation

Dilip D’Souza and Beena Sarwar continue their email discussion, questioning state versions of history and politics

May 20, 2010

Dear Beena,

So here you go – on my wife’s birthday I am taking a couple of hours off to write this to you. Please send whatever brownie points I’m eligible for to various powers that be in our countries.

Facetiousness aside, I’m once more in the hills as I write, this time in the south. Such a clean, quiet, beautiful spot. So peaceful, in fact, given our discussions for several weeks now, I cannot help wondering if such peace is the exception in our part of the world, rather than the rule; and if so, will that ever change? Is it meant only for an incredibly lucky few? Continue reading

Conversations 11: “There is more than truth”

I forgot to upload the last three Conversations published in The News on Sunday, Aman ki Asha page in Political Economy. The entire archives are also up at the Aman ki Asha website

“There is more than truth”

May 13, 2010

Dear Beena,

In your last letter, you said that “many Indians feel there’s no point talking to the Pakistan government, given the strength of the ‘establishment’ here.” I should tell you that there are plenty of Indians who feel there’s no point talking to the Indian government, for various reasons. At an extreme we have the Maoist insurgents, who long ago decided that talking to the Government is futile, and have taken to arms. Perhaps at another extreme, we have plenty of ordinary middle-class folks who will not exercise their most basic dialogue with the government — their vote. And somewhere in between are the rest of us, cynical about government’s every move. Continue reading

‘Kill a Turk and rest’: Avnery in Tikkun; assaulted after peace rally; GAZA

Posted to my yahoogroup yesterday

Thanks to Sandy Tarlin in NY for this email update from Tikkun (email: including:

  • Editors’ note on the assault on Uri Avnery, 86, after he spoke at a peace rally in Tel Aviv
  • Avnery’s article on the Gaza flotilla.
  • Full account of the assault on Avnery
  • Lying About The Gaza Flotilla Disaster & facts on Gaza blockade

Long, but worth reading in full….  READ ON…posted to my yahoogroup – text below Continue reading

‘A prayer… of sorts’ – my Viewpoint article

Excerpt from ‘A prayer… of sorts’, my article in Viewpoint Online’s special issue on the Ahmadi massacre in Lahore:

…. Where do these people get the guts to operate so brazenly?

Perhaps because the administration turns a blind eye to their displaying banners like the one photographed recently on Mall Road outside Lahore High Court that reads: ‘Yahudi, Isai, Mirzai Islam ke dushman haiN’ (Jews, Christians, Ahmedis, are enemies of Islam).

Then there are the freebee giveaways by banned outfits like Harkatul Ansar – like this clock, photographed at a ‘parchoon’ shop in Karachi’s Delhi Colony. The hands are a Kalshnikov, four of the five pillars of Islam, Namaz, Zakat, Haj and Roza (prayer, charity, pilgrimage and fasting) mark the quarter hour points. The fifth pillar, Tauheed (belief in the singularity of the Almighty), has been replaced by Jehad (holy war), the word placed right in the centre. Jehad is not one of Islam’s five pillars. But of course, no one is going to proceed against them for misrepresenting, some would say defiling, the religion.

Those who raise a voice against these issues find themselves threatened with legal action or worse. A case in point is Malik Rashid’s article ‘Faithful Killers, Fatal Worship’ (Ibrahim Sajid Malick’s blog) about the massacre of Ahmedis in Lahore on May 28. In the comments section, a reader threatened legal action against Malik Rashid for referring to ‘Ahmedi mosques’. The fellow even provided his name, address and phone number (the number proved erroneous when a doctor in the US attempted to call it). [The website was later hacked, but restored] READ MORE

Melting-pot constituencies: ‘Karachiwala: A subcontinent within a city’

Karachiwala: A subcontinent within a city
By Rumana Husain
With essays by Arif Hasan, Dr Hamida Khuhro, Luthfullah Khan, S. Akbar Zaidi and Zubeida Mustafa
Designed by Asma Husain
Pages 330; hardcover fully illustrated with maps, photos, foldout pages
Price: PKR 2900 (USD 35)
Published by Jaal, Karachi , 2010

Excerpt from my review in Himal Southasian:

This is not just a book about how the city grew uncontrollably after 1947, with the influx of a million or so refugees seeking economic opportunity as much as refuge. Rather, this is very much the human story of a city that is a microcosm of Pakistan, where locals were long ago outnumbered by migrants or their descendents – not just from across the border, but from all over the country. As the author delves into the homes and lives of some 80 of these families, it is apparent that they have retained much of their distinct cultures – although, with the younger generations growing up in this ‘melting pot’, borders and boundaries have started to blur. Interestingly, some among the youths have embraced features of their religious identity that their parents had shrugged off. There is, for instance, the young Sikh who proudly sports a turban and beard that his father had cast aside; or the young Bohra woman who, after getting married, prevailed upon her husband and his parents to adopt a more religiously conservative lifestyle, even getting her mother-in-law to shed the sari in favour of the rida, the Bohri burqa…

This is Rumana Husain’s Karachi, and the Karachi of countless others. Through its diverse population, Karachiwala humanises and makes accessible this vibrant, cosmopolitan megalopolis – an on-the-ground retort to what most Western news reports reduce merely to a ‘port city in the southern province of Sindh’ in ‘nuclear-armed, Muslim-majority Pakistan’. In this, Karachiwala is more than just another well-designed coffee-table book: although ostensibly apolitical, it is a strong political assertion of multiple identities. Above all, it is a labour of love for all that the city and its denizens represent.  ………..READ MORE

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Smarter than a seventh grader?

Image courtesy: Laurel Papworth

My Hardnews column for June

New Delhi, May 23 (the ban was lifted on May 31)

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Smarter than a seventh grader?

Beena Sarwar

“What would you do if they banned facebook here?” I asked Zainab, 13, whose parents, old friends from Pakistan, are posted in Delhi. I was here for an Aman ki Asha conference of Indian and Pakistani CEOs and entrepreneurs where high-powered delegates affirmed the need for economic cooperation between the two countries. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: