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Abbas Hassan

A star is born

By Sahar Iqbal

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bbas Hassan, a multitalented young singer, has taken over the nation by storm with his latest song ‘Away’ featuring most beautiful Humaima Malick and directed by Adnan Qazi. Born in Canada, Abbas grew up in Paris, France, and forayed into the world of music at a young age. As a child he appeared in advertisements and other public broadcasts. Over time, he continued his involvement in the world of drama, music and modeling shifting back and forth between France, Canada and Great

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Britain. He is currently signed with Rishi Rich Productions, famed for launching other acts including Jay Sean and Juggy D. Commonly referred to in music press as the next Jay Sean, Abbas performs in French, Urdu, English and Hindi. He was named Bachelor of the Year for 2010 by Asian Woman Magazine, included in Asiana Magazine’s Most Eligible Bachelors List for 2010, and has been included in a list of Top 10 Most Handsome South Asian Male Models in the UK, compiled by an event management company named KZ Entertainment. Keeping his high profile in mind, Lounge recently had a heart to heart convo with Abbas about his career as a singer and his future plans. Here are

the excerpts for our readers. Q. Tell us a little about your journey into the music industry. Did you always want to become a singer? As a child living in Paris, I recorded in studio for Disney. That unique experience as a kid really inspired me to go on and start writing my own songs and the journey began from there. So you could say I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist. Q. Rishi Rich is known for promoting new talent. How did he discover you? As a model in London I was busy recording and promoting my music, and one day I was invited to Rishi’s studio. When we met at his studio something clicked and we both knew we had to work together. As


soon as we signed, the press started referring to me as the next Jay Sean. Of course, the comparisons were very flattering but I think we’re very different artists. Q. What was it like performing at Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapoor’s film premiere in London? It was an amazing experience particularly because it was a great audience to perform for and a really special night. It was also my first time meeting Priyanka and she turned out to be a real sweetheart. Q. What was it like performing and doing an advertisement with Shahrukh Khan? What did you learn from him? It was really special doing shows with him and then of course the TV ad. He’s such a humble and genuine guy in person. I was really impressed that he genuinely took interest in my journey as an artist and shared some valuable insights with me. He’s an inspiration and it’s amazing to see a start with such humility. Q. How did you feel being selected by the Times of India group as the ‘hot new artist’ and to be the only new international artist to perform at the TOIFA’s (Times of India Film Awards) in Vancouver? It was definitely a huge highlight for me. The fraternity was amazing to me and I was really honoured by the response I got. It was wonderful to perform in front of Bollywood’s finest musicians, actors and directors at biggest awards ceremony in the history of Bollywood! Q. You are fluent in English, French, Urdu and Hindi. You have utilized each language while writing lyrics. What compelled you to create music for the Urban Desi scene as opposed to a more mainstream one? I don’t see any borders or limits when it comes to music. I feel the urban desi music scene gives me the perfect blend to do what I want creatively. I’ve had an amazing response in the Desi music scene around the world whether it involves touring with Shreya Ghoshal or Times of India, or even with a European artist. I’ve made some amazing friends in India, Pakistan, Europe and the US and I feel that

I’m part of a new generation of artists who aren’t afraid of working or collaborating across languages and cultures. Q. Who is your inspiration when it comes to music? My inspiration ranges from Abida Parveen to Freddie Mercury to Madonna; from rock to classical and everything in between. I think

pop music can be truly brilliant when I think of artists like David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Prince who innovated and pushed limits, and that’s the league that impresses me. For me it’s all about keeping it fresh, interesting and real. Q. Your debut single was an immediate hit with the audiences. Tell us a little bit about your

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experience. It was a real surprise to have my first single hit number 1. I was overwhelmed by the response and was grateful that audiences were ready for something different. I wanted to write a song about the darker side of obsession and desire, and someone with those qualities can often come to consume your thoughts. Q. You have recently starred in a movie. Tell us a little about the project. When I was offered the film, I wasn’t sure if it was the right time as I was busy recording my debut album with Rishi. But when I found out more about the script I knew I had to be a part of it. It was an amazing experience to work with a Filmfare award-winning director and film with world cup cricketers. It’s an entertaining film but with

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a profound message about love between India and Pakistan, and how borders don’t matter. Q. You just launched your debut music video “Away”. Tell us what it is about. Away is a love song with a sense of irony, which is why I think a lot of my fans can relate to it as it is not always easy to love. This one is mainly in English with a bit of Urdu and French. ! Q. What do you think of the Pakistani Music industry? Do you think its excelling at the pace it should be? I’m always amazed at the level of talent and creativity in Pakistan, and that the artists are able to overcome all odds to get their voices heard. I’m definitely inspired by a lot of Pakistani legends particularly Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan and Abida Parveen and I’m

definitely going to be collaborating with the new breed of edgy and talented artists. Rapid Fire: Dream Project: Every project should be a dream project! One artist you would like to perform with: I guess I would love to do a fusion piece with Abida Parveen. One thing you despise in other people: Lack of compassion One person you can’t live without: Hmm… You’ll have to keep guessing! 5 things you can’t live without: Music, family, friends, a sense of humour, and of course love. Favourite Perfume: Aqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani Favourite band: Too many to choose from! Favourite designer: Jean Paul Gaultier


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Books

Literature from DG Khan Syed Afsar Sajid

kya khud sipurdagi tra gham Koozagar say kaho sab chaak hata lay apnay/San’at-e-Zakhm ki yeh karigari kafi hai Mairay jaisay to kai aur bhi is shaer may haiN/Aik saudai pay za’ya sabhi patthar na karaiN

D

G Khan is no more a far-flung area of the province. A vital chain of rail, road and air links has facilitated its incorporation in the mainstream of the nation-wide communication system. This has not only given a fillip to the economy of the area but has also served to re-orientate its politico-cultural affinity with the rest of the country. The DG Khan region has a rich literary tradition. Fikr Taunsvi, Sharif Ashraf, Rashid Qaisrani, Mohsin Naqvi, Kaif Ansari, Tahir Taunsvi, Iqbal Sokri, Nadeem Jafri, Shafqat Kazmi, Zakaullah Anjum Malghani, Irshad Taunsvi, Saeeda Afzal, Aziz Shahid, Zahoor Ahmad Faateh, Dilber Hussain, Javed Ahsan, Dr. Ghani Asim, Dr. Najma Shaheen Khosa, Eiman Qaisrani and many others have from to time enriched it with their individual contributions in almost all genres of literature. . Of late literary activity in and outside town seems to have gained momentum. Side by side with Seraiki, there is a marked increase in the number of writers --- both young and old --- who are writing in Urdu. Saeeda Afzal (fiction), Dr. Ghani Asim, Dr. Najma Shaheen Khosa and Eiman Qaisrani (poetry) seem to have reinvigorated the literary process with the immensity of their imagination and creative fecundity. This review seeks to cover their latest poetic and fictional works.

AnkhaiN Na Kholna

Dr. Ghani Asim is a physician by

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Aur Shaam Thehar Gai

This is Najma Shaheen’s third poetic collection in a series after Phool Say Bichri Khushbu (2007) and Maey AnkhaiN Band Rakhti HuN (2010). She is also a medical practitioner turned poet. The book in view carries forewords, among others, by Amjad Islam

AnkhaiN Na Kholna Dr. Ghani Asim Publisher: Al-Razzaq Publications, Safanwala Chowk, Lahore Page: 124; Price: Rs.150/-

vocation and a poet by volition. This is his second verse collection after Lab Basta. Abbas Tabish has taken a broad view of his art as a poet, in his foreword to the book. He commends the artistic form and innovative content of Asim’s verse The book has some 67 pieces of ghazal besides a Hamd. The following illustrations from his verse will account for its quality and tenor: Taar-e-mijgaaN say Asim nai zindagi ki sehar jore lay/Aag lag jaaey to phir yeh khwaboN ka jungle kisi ka nahi Daikh kar ijz tumhara yeh gada sochtay haiN/Tum ghani ho koi mohtaj-e-dua ho kya ho Mae tujh say milkay kahiN tujh say mil nahi paya/Mujhay sikhaey ga

AnkhaiN Na Kholna Dr. Ghani Asim Publisher: Al-Razzaq Publications, Safanwala Chowk, Lahore Page: 124; Price: Rs.150/-

Amjad, Bushra Rahman, Raziuddin Razi, and Javed Ahsan besides a


monologic preface by the author herself. An orderly combination of nazm and ghazal constitutes the content of the book. Love, separation and its concomitant dejection, selfrestraint, vacuity of experience, fear of the unforeseen, nostalgia, dream come ‘untrue’, and a recession into the self are some conspicuous themes of the collection. There is also a semblance of a feministic protest in Najma Shaheen’s verse. Some examples will illustrate the quality and elan of her verse: Yaad-e-habib mujhko bhi ab mujh say kar juda/Mujhko hujum-e-dard may mairi ikai day Khak ho jaiN gay ham tabeer ki khwahish liyay/Khwab may hi apna yeh jeewan basar ho jaaeyga Jo bhi hai khushi woh to hai bayrabt abhi tak/Aur dard hai jitna bhi woh manzoom hai janaN Maut likh kar mri hathaili par/ Zindagi ap bhi to sharmai Jaanay say pahlay maey ShaheeN tore dooNgi khwab ko/Aur phir tabeer bhi khud hi sula kar jauNgi The poet in Najma Shaheen seems to be beating her wings in an undefined spatial immensity marked – paradoxically enough – by claustrophobia reminiscent of late Mustafa Zaidi: Auj-e-fiza par taiz hawa ka dam ghut-ta hai/ Wus’at wus’at tangi-e-zindaN kis say kahiyay. This accounts for the melancholic texture of her verse.

forewords by noted poets and writers Rashid Qaisrani, Dr Asi Karnali, and Naz Khayalvi in addition to a flap by poet Sa’adullah Shah who envisions a glimpse of Parvin Shakir in Eiman’s poetic accent. Eiman’s verse is characterized by a psychic introspection, an undercurrent of a feministic protest in a genderoriented society (albeit her disavowal of the same in her ‘preamble’), selfesteem, a quasi-platonic notion of love, and a deep concern for human values. Some specimens from her verse will further highlight her skills as a literary artist: Nazar utarnay aatay haiN mairi jugnu tak/Mujhay dukhoN nay kuch itna haseeN banaya hai Tumharay sach ki gawahi inhuN nay daini hai/Qalam ki noke pay lafzoN ko baykhatar rakhna Jab taey hai usnay umr bhar ab laut kar aana nahi/Phir raah may thahray rahaiN ham soorat-e-deewar kya

AnkhaiN Na Kholna Dr. Ghani Asim Publisher: Al-Razzaq Publications, Safanwala Chowk, Lahore Page: 124; Price: Rs.150/-

Mairi Yaad Aaegi

Eiman Qaisrani’s is a youthful but vocal poetic voice with promise of a beauteous literary future! It is her maiden poetic collection beginning with an unconventional authorial ‘preamble’ in verse reading thus: Waraq ulatnay say paishtar hi/ Maey chahti huN, tumhaiN bata duN/Nigarishat-e-kitab-e-dil may/ Munafiqat ka munafirat ka/Koi bhi qissa nahi milay ga/Na ismay hoga jahaN say shikwa/Na ahl-e-dunya pay tanz hoga/Na dushmanoN ka gila hai ismay/Na unsay koi shikayataiN haiN/Na jaur-e-hasti hai iska ma’uzu…… Kay mairi dunya faqat muhabbat/Mri muhabbat mri hukumat/Maey apni dunya pay hukmaraN huN/So aagay barh kay waraq ulat do/Kay mairi dunya bahut haseeN hai The book contains comprehensive

is the story of a rustic woman (romanticised as a wild flower) whose husband, uncannily suspecting her chastity, dubs her Kali whereupon she abandons her hearth and home to seek refuge with a barrister in town along with her mother. Gradually she becomes

AnkhaiN Na Kholna Dr. Ghani Asim Publisher: Al-Razzaq Publications, Safanwala Chowk, Lahore Page: 124; Price: Rs.150/-

Gurya mri jala kay woh zardar chal diya/Mujh par guzar gai hai qayamat sahailiyo

Jungle Ka Phool

Saeeda Afzal (widely known for her fictive serial Teen AurataiN teen KahaniyaN) is a veteran fictionist from DG Khan – presently settled in Karachi. Her new novel Jungle Ka Phool

an essential part of the benevolent barrister’s household. Her husband is arraigned for killing his master whom he had unconscionably bracketed with his wife. The woman is painted as a paragon of beauty, innocence, and virtue, in the novel. The feminist in the novelist seems to get the better of her in the depiction of the protagonist who is shown to be an unfortunate victim of an awesome gender-apathy typical of an age-long feudal system thriving on exploitation in all its ominous manifestations. The ungainly emotional vicissitudes of her existence symbiotically culminate into her union with her second suitor. Happy ending! The plot of the novel is well-knit though its linear procession tends to undermine the element of suspense which the connoisseurs of the art of the novel deem as its sine qua non. The novelist does know how to delineate a character, more specifically a female character, notwithstanding her propensity to ratiocinate.

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Books

A candid, rational account of history The book is an insightful study on not just AfghanistanPakistan but a number of major issues as well Aziz-ud-din Ahmad

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he book is a translated version of the author’s “Afghanistan and Pakistan: Conflict, Extremism, and Resistance to Modernity” originally published by Oxford University Press in 2011, which has updated to make it current. The author, a former foreign secretary, provides the reader much more than the title suggests. It is not merely an overview of developments relating to the Afghanistan conflict since the withdrawal the Soviet troops but also an insightful study of a number of major issues. These include the religious radicalization and extremism in Pakistan, the interests and concerns of foreign countries in Afghanistan and the twin issues of intellectual crisis and weak governance in Pakistan. It goes to Riaz Mohammad Khan’s credit that unlike foreign office bureaucrats before him, he does not try to hide or gloss over facts when discussing the so called ‘sensitive issues’. It is rare to come across in Pakistan a detailed rational account of history. Riaz Mohammad Khan is one of the few writers who have dealt with highly significant developments of a crucial period truthfully. Khan notes the ‘official patronage’ during and after Zia that imparted momentum to religious militancy.

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Also the dominant role the ISI played in Afghan issues and its consequences. “Pakistan’s Afghan policy was largely in the hands of the army and the ISI, and it depended on inputs from midlevel officials. These officials often scoffed at diplomatic or political approach and were enamored by a romantic view of the Afghan jihad, holding the hard line Afghan Mujahideen leadership in veneration and remaining blind to its shortcomings.” The writer however exposes the myth of the ‘Tanzeemat’ acting as pliant instruments in the hands of the ISI. The policies of the latter were in fact dictated by their own aims, needs Afghanistan aur Pakistan: and mutual rivalries Tasadum, Intiha Pasandi aur Ehd e Jadid se as is borne out by a Mozahimat, number of incidents By Riaz Mohammad Khan, narrated by the writer. Publisher: Ilqa Publications, Readings, The following incident Lahore. is quite illustrative. “The Pages 370; Price: Rs895 Russian vice-president Alexander Rutskoy had release of some Russian prisoners come to meet PM Nawaz Sharif in 1991 in Lahore to seek the of war in the mujahideen’s custody.


He assured that the return of the prisoners would turn a new page in Russia’s relations with Pakistan. Nawaz, who was keen to get Russian fighter planes, agreed and directed the ISI to make the Tanzeemat deliver the prisoners. “Asad Durrani (DG ISI) and Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, Pakistan’s ambassador to Moscow who had come especially for the visit, along with other senior ISI officials spent hours well past midnight trying to plead and convince these leaders to hand over even a couple of prisoners, if not more, for the sake of Pakistan where they had enjoyed shelter and hospitality, for such long years. The mission failed. The COAS Asif Nawaz confessed to Rutskoy that he was ‘ashamed’ of not being able to deliver on the Russian request. “ It was not only the outsiders but also the agencies themselves who had fallen prisoner to the myth. Another interesting outcome of the interaction between the agencies and the militants was profusion of instances where the tail wagged the dog. Then there are examples of the intelligence officials getting under the spell of the militant leadership. The most prominent among these is the remark by the then Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmad who had been sent on a mission to convince Mullah Omar to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US. How difficult it is to argue with a man of faith, the ISI chief is reported to have told Shuja Nawaz. Among the crimes committed against the nation by Zia was the promotion of the culture of religious zeal. The sectarian dimension of religious militancy also became acute during the period. Kashmiri militant groups had the army’s backing “who regarded them as an important instrument of the strategy to compel India to negotiate a reasonable Kashmir settlement”. Those involved in sectarian violence were at times intermingled with jihadi organisations. “Religious militancy thus acquired a dual persona, complicating Pakistan’s task of rooting it out.” This created

a lethal mix which continues to wreak havoc in the country, targeting religious and sectarian minorities. In Quetta the Hazara Shia community faces genocide while the security agencies look the other way as their ‘strategic assets’ indulge in carnage. Pakistan is a case of intellectual crisis and weak governance according to Riaz Mohammad Khan. A whole chapter analyses the three responses of the world Muslim community to modernity and the impact of the West. Reformists like Jamaluddin Afghani, Muhammad Abdoh and

nation theory had ensured space for religious parties after 1947. Ziaul Haq’s policy of Islamisation gave rise to a culture of religiosity and “an environment of somewhat superficial and coercive selfrighteousness that diminishes space for secular thinking and free discourse.” Many among those who read Urdu press will agree with Riaz Mohammad Khan that many commentators “look at issues and personalities in black and white... In political discussions words such as traitor, unpatriotic and betrayal are used loosely… Consequently, the capacity to develop a balanced perspective on challenges and problems and thus a clear analysis and judgment has suffered a certain decline.” This is accompanied by failure of governance, politicisation of administrative bureaucracy, judiciary and the army. The last chapter called ‘Conclusions’ recounts a number of chances missed to stabilize Afghanistan The book ends with reasonable recommendations for PakistanAfghanistan modus vivendi. Among the suggestions given to Islamabad here, as in earlier chapters also, is to discard the pursuit of a ‘friendly government’ in Afghanistan and instead pursue friendly relations with Afghanistan. The writer similarly rejects the poppycock called strategic depth. Shifting strategic assets to safety he maintains reflected naivete. “Assets in times of tension or conflict are meant for use, not for safekeeping.” The Urdu translation will bring the scholarly but highly readable book to the readers who find it difficult going through a book written in English. What is more the Urdu version updates the developments and analysis to 2012. The Ilqa Books maintain fairly good publishing standards as the quality of paper and printing shows.

‘Pakistan’s Afghan policy was largely in the hands of the army and the ISI, and it depended on inputs from mid-level officials. These officials often scoffed at diplomatic or political approach and were enamored by a romantic view of the Afghan jihad’ Sir Syed Ahmad Khan believed Islam was compatible with modernity. Jihadists like Syed Ahmad Brelvi, Mullah Hadda and Faqir of Epi advocated armed struggle and acted as the predecessors of the present-day Taliban. Revivalists like Maulana Maudoodi believed in the unity of politics and religion, maintaining that the non-Muslims must not be allowed equal status with Muslims in an Islamic state. Maudoodi also believed that it was obligatory for Muslims, once they were strong enough, to liberate all lands that had once been under Muslim rule. Maudoodi thus promoted the extremist tendencies while the student wing of Jamaat e Islami let loose religious vigilantism in educational institutions. According to the writer the ideological underpinnings of the Pakistan movement, including the nebulous but politically potent two-

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