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Hello. Hello. Check. This is Radio Tunisia. Do we have Pakistan on the line? Hello. Check. Signal clear. Voice heard. (‘Don’t know if it’ll be understood?’) [Transmission begins] ssalamo Alaikum, Pakistan. We were told this is the greeting you prefer. This is Radio Tunisia. The Tunisian people have fought a struggle for their own freedom. Some say it is a democratic struggle. It is a misrepresentation. Democracy is only
part of our aims. We are to speak to you of our freedom struggle. A second freedom struggle that was waged after our first freedom struggle. We hear that you have also waged similar struggle. We hear your history is also graced by dictators. We hear that you often take to the street. We in Tunisia hear a great many things about you. But in this one sided transmission we wish to speak many things to you. The Middle East and the Magreb is known to be less politically active than you. Many said we were a land of the dictators, for the dictators, by the dictators. Not Algeria, of course. The Algerian people’s struggles we oft fell back upon. You, Pakistanis, we often did draw inspiration from. You had stood up to a fair share of dictators. But you are a strange people. We shall speak about you later. The Middle East has decided to change. Not the State, but the people. It is in people changing that the future of movements to reclaim humanity lies. That is our attempt. When we were going through our first freedom movement, we thought we would be restored to the status of equal humans. We did away with our coloniser – you too did. But then a new class emerged and new chains emerged. These new chains we remained shackled under for over 30 years. So did the Egyptian people. You too remain bound by the same chains. As we rise up and continue our second struggle to break free from the chains of our freedom – we wait for you to rise. But what will you rise for? Some say the outsiders’ eye pierces more – so we guess we must share some of our observations of you with you. We, of course, do not claim to know you completely. There are a number of questions that we shall put to you – and open up a number of potential answers to be sought: What happens when independence is attained? And how are people put in chains by independence? These are not easy questions to answer. There are too many bad habits that we humans have. These are exactly why
it took us in the Mi d d l e E a s t and the Magreb so long to make our move. The idea of becoming a nation is the first oppressor. Not that becoming a nation is bad. Not that coming together is bad. But the idea of becoming a nation oppresses those who do not fulfill the criterion of the centre within the territory that our freedom claims to apply to. In Pakistan, does this not explain the marginalization of the Balochis, the creation of the Mohajir identity, the rights struggles of the Seraiki people, the struggles and toil of the Sindhis and the deep marginalization of the Pashtuns. In Pakistan, does this not explain the protests that break out sporadically. In the last one week amongst social classes only in Lahore: Khwajasirras have protested, beggars have protested, traders have protested, factory workers have protested, students have protested, government workers have protested. This is not a reflection of the reactionary nature of their struggles – but rather a reflection of the struggles of these classes within the social structures they engage with day-today. These are not struggles that shall end soon. There is a need for re-invention. Our sense is that you have not even thought about yourself yet. Not thought of your local reality. What structures your day-to-day? How you form relationships with each other? How do you change the relationship to each other? How do you change your relationship to the State? The struggle we began in Tunisia has spread to Egypt. There is it most powerful. But when the Egyptian people began to rise no one believed they were serious. Hosni Mubarik had ruled them for 30 years. His son was being geared to take the reins. But the Egyptian people were serious. They stood up and took out protests every day. When a curfew was imposed and the army was sent in people did not succumb to it. They took to the streets and the army took to the streets. What happened on the streets is what amazed us. The two groups are said to have danced together. The army refused to fire on the protestors. Elements within the State and the people found unity. It is this transformation that needs to be completed. It is in this change that the first real notion of the freedom struggle we are now fighting is being realised. But we must be cautious. Revolution – or in lighter words – revolt, dear Pakistanis, is not a one time event. Maybe we
shall make the same mistake of thinking that it is. For now we are not making it. Our new president has tried to keep the old guard in the parliament and in the cabinet. We cannot trust the old party. The issue is not one man – but the psychologies he builds into a set of men that take the reins of government. We shall continue to fight. And we shall stay on the streets till the change we require comes. It was Gandhi’s lesson that we learnt when we understood that we have to win over those parts of our oppressors that were themselves being oppressed. But did you hear – of the police force that began by beating us when we began protesting, 2000 police officers along with members of the National Guard donned red arm bands and joined our protests. Our oppressor and we became one. And it was he that submerged into us – not we. It is similar in the Egyptian struggle. Members of the police force have began to join the struggle. You see under an oppressive government no one is happy. And the police is a State structure designed to oppress you. Remember that each police officer, in his heart, supports you. But we cannot say the same about the army intelligence. But we remain hopeful. It is our purity of intent – and dedication to our struggle that will make us succeed. For now we remain steadfast in battling the chains of our freedom. And we wait for you to begin your struggle. But before you struggle, now what do you struggle for? As we end our transition we must return you the words of an hero – a hero that remained committed to the freedom of the people’s of the third world – to you uttered on the eve of your first Freedom: Woh dagh dagh ujala, woh shab gazeeda sahar Ye who sahar to nahi jiski aarzoo lekar These tarnished rays, this night-smudged light/ This is not the Dawn which we longed for Nijat-e-dida-o-dil ki ghari nahin a’i Chale-chale ke vo manzil abhi nahin a’i The time of the freedom of our hearts and minds has not come/ Let us move further for the promised Dawn is yet to come –Faiz Ahmed Faiz We hope you too begin the struggle for your second freedom.
2 Gulzar, life and work 3 Paintings, music and dance as one
to a i s ni ce of pe u T io ssen nt ho e d a R he e fai ggl m o fr ting t d the ar stru t s ca arra le an imil e l e t an n ugg f a s tan o i o is d st tr A ra Paki their s ey see in Pak th with
Sunday, 06 February, 2011
The book is a useful compendium of Gulzar’s person and art; his admirers in Pakistan would surely feel more informed and enlightened about him after reading it
ulzar (b. 1936) is an accomplished Indian poet, lyricist and film director. He made his debut in the Indian cinema by writing the popular lyric ‘Mora gora ang lai le’ for the movie-legend Bimal Roy’s Bandini (1962-63) for which music was composed by the maestro S.D. Burman. He (Gulzar) substituted the movie’s regular lyric writer Shailendra by default rather than choice. Gulzar’s original name was Sampooran Singh Kalra. He was born in village Dina, district Jhelum. Wellknown Indian journalist Khushwant Singh alluding to Gulzar as ‘the lady killer poet’ in one of his newspaper reviews says: “I knew no more about him till I received an illustrated and detailed biography from Dr Zafar Hassan, a Pakistani businessman, based in Lahore and Karachi. The Art and Achievement of Gulzar (Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore) gives a detailed account of Gulzar’s life from his childhood to his triumphant rise in Bollywood with pictures of the broken-down haveli in which he was born, Meena Kumari, who was his lady friend for some years, his wife Rakhee and his daughter Meghna.” So here is this book The Art and Achievement of Gulzar by Dr Zafar Hassan having been published in the year 2009 by Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore. Hard-bound, the size of the book is 23.5x18 cm. Curiously enough, the book in itself does not furnish any detailed biographical information about its author. Its back cover, however, carries a scant commentary by the famous Urdu fiction writer Intizar Hussain. The book has 16 parts highlighting Gulzar’s family background including his entry into the filmdom, his detractors, the list of movies directed by him, his interest in literature, learning and films, the lyrics written by him, his TV serials, his documentaries, his literary contribution, his concern for children, his other contributions and the bibliography. Interestingly the epilogue/postscript to the book precedes its foreword and other contents. The story of a teen-aged car mechanic-turned-veteran film maker is one of sheer toil, perseverance and commitment. Gul-
zar’s father was Sardar Makhan Singh Kalra, and his second wife Sujan Kaur was his mother. She died barely within one and a half years of his birth. This early setback caused a deep void in his life as he never really recovered from the loss which subsequently By Syed Afsar Sajid turned him into a quasirecluse. At another place Khushwant Singh says, “Women in Gulzar’s life complained of his being aloof and seeking solitude. All poets and writers crave for solitude and make bad companions.” Gulzar was lucky to have come into contact with Bimalda at the very outset of his cinematographic career. Earlier Bimal Roy had been associated with such classics of Indian cinema as Devdas, Mahal and Do Bigha Zameen in different capacities. Gulzar’s subsequent association with another film maker of repute Hrishikesh Mukerjee to whose credit go the movies Abhiman, Chupke Chupke and MilliI, also paid him rich career dividends. Thus over a passage of time Gulzar swiftly graduated from writing lyrics, dialogues and screenplays to directing films. He has around 21 movies with directorial assignments to his credit and some 95 for which he wrote scripts, songs and dialogues etc. He is also credited with grooming and individualizing Sanjeev Kumar, Jeetendra, Hema Malini, Tabu and some other leading Indian movie stars. Side by side, the gossip columnists have been linking Gulzar romantically to actresses like Tanuja, Deepti Naval, Yogeeta Bali, Hema Malini, Sharmila Tagore and others. However, two of his romances, with Meena Kumari and Rakhee, came out to be real; the latter having culminated into a marriage, though unsuccessful. Films like Ashirwaad, Khamoshi, Anand and Guddi were Gulzar’s early masterpieces in terms of scripts, dialogues and lyrics followed by his directorial masterpiecesMere Apne, Parichey, Koshish, Achanak, Khushboo, Andhi, Mausam, Kinaara, Kitaab, Angoor, Namkeen, Meera, Ijaazat, Lekin, Libaas, Maachis and Hu Tu Tu. Gulzar can be bracketed with some of the leading contemporary lyricists in the Indian film industry
Wallowing in sadomasochism It is about ‘hate’ expressed through cold calculated harm that two individuals inflict on the people of their Delhi neighbourhood By Saadia Gardezi
Illustrated & Designed by Babur Saghir
02 - 03
Sunday, 06 February, 2011
reed for money or power has been what traditionally has led to human nature showing its nasty side, but there are other sides to pain like anger, revenge and then pain for pleasure. Causing suffering just for ‘viewing pleasure’ is a very different aspect of human relations and there is no denying that it exists. Kanishka Gupta’s ‘History of Hate’ is rightly about ‘hate’ expressed through cold calculated harm that two individuals inflict on the people of their Delhi neighbourhood. This odd couple, Sonny a middle-aged housewife, and Ash a would-be writer in his twenties with suicidal tendencies, have something in common that brings them together. Both being unhappy with life hate the happiness of others and love to watch people suffer by their brutal acts. Their victims keep adding up to include Sonny’s paralysed mother-in-law, a seven-year-old mute maid, a pregnant mother, couples in parks, Sonny’s own sons, and even ultimately Ash by Sonny’s hands. Sonny and Ash have no remorse about the lives they destroy. The victims are punished in strange ways, there is no rage involved, plans and traps are laid out for an almost voyeuristic thrill. Before you try to pick up this book,
beware that you may not be able to understand the motivations of the lead characters or relate to them, unless you have had irrational urges to hurt or humiliate people. You keep reading till the end, waiting for the realisation that these two characters might have redeeming quality; that the book would give some satisfactory emotional, physical, spiritual justification for the sick crimes of its antagonists/protagonist, but the only explanation one can reach is that Sonny and Ash are sadistic and disturbed. Gupta frames Sonny’s excuse for her mental state as her middle class poverty and jealousy of the success of other people, while Ash’s excuse is that he is a homosexual. These are not unique problems; there are people in the world who suffer more without it leading to such troubled behaviour. Yet the book touches on the issue of sadism, though not a valid diagnostic category, yet an accepted personality disorder and an important issue in social life to explore. Kaniska Gupta has tapped into a niche market, where such a dark subject piques the curiosity of people. The content being good or bad is a matter of opinion, of course, but it is definitely a unique piece of work. Of course, there have been other books that have explored disturbances of the human mind like ‘Lolita’, ‘Perfume’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’, all of which have
achieved a cult status. In comparison ‘History of Hate’, though a flawed piece and maybe not as stellar, may well have the same fate in India. This unapologetically unpleasant narrative has been well received by many readers and since others have enjoyed this book there needs to be a serious effort to understand why. With its cringe worthy content, it is not a book for everyone to stomach and was rejected by many publishers in India until Rupa publications gave it a chance. ‘History of Hate’ was long listed for the yearly Man Asian Prize that is reserved for literature from 27 Asian countries (including Pakistan); a great achievement for a young writer. There must be a serious attempt by critics to understand its appeal. With the ambitions title, the book should have explored the dimension of self-hate, and maybe given Sonny and Ash some semblance of normality so that a reader could accept them as multi-dimensional humans. If our antagonizing pair are ‘in so much hate’ with the world, are they happy with who they are as people and what is their relationship with their self? Sonny’s character though more despicable is easier to grasp. Ash seems more complex and less
threatening than Sonny and remains a bit of a mystery. The power dynamic between the two could have been formulated better. Do they actually love each other or hate each other? It is unclear whether, in their very brief “history”, their hate for other people’s unhappiness could have extended to their relationship with each other. The author has said elsewhere that: “The novel… is a strong critique of the sadomasochistic, voyeuristic nature of all social interactions.” The book seems not so much a critique as a narrow documentation of the issue. And this is fine as well; there is merit to be found the vivid imagining of such a problem (maybe for the first time by a South Asian writer) and the attempt to write contemporary noir fiction straying away from dominant post-colonial themes. –Saadia Gardezi is a political economist based in Lahore
and work viz., Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakil Badayuni, Hasrat Jaipuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaifi Azmi, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Shailendra, Anand Bakhshi and Javed Akhtar. His numbers attract both the connoisseur and the lay alike. Gulzar’s tele serials and documentaries too display his artistic finesse. As against KS’s remark that this book is silent on Gulzar’s poetry, it carries a whole chapter on this aspect of Gulzar’s art. The author suggests that Gulzar’s verse is reminiscent of Mir Taqi Mir and that it has a close affinity to that of Sahir Ludhianvi, Faiz, Ahmad Faraz and Majeed Amjad. Renowned poet Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi was convinced of Gulzar’s originality as a poet. The author has aptly concluded that ‘in Gulzar’s poetry there is only a thin line between his sleep sequences and the time when he is wide awake. We can thus say that Gulzar intermingles dream and reality so that often it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two. He thus appears to alternate between a real and a surreal world’ in his poetry. Gulzar possesses an independent mind and is rather rigid in pursuing his inclinations. His shaving off his beard early in his life albeit his profession of the Sikh religion, would prove the truth of this statement. His friends think that he has a serious but soft mind – always engrossed in its reflections. His daughter Meghna is his only solace in his self-imposed isolation. The following assertions of the author throw a searchlight, as it were, on his protagonist’s person: ‘To recount the influences on the mind of Gulzar, one can say that his birth in a Sikh family, the Panjabi language as his mother tongue and later his fluency or acquaintance with Urdu, Bengali, Hindi and English languages which made him a polyglot, a relatively ignored childhood, the enriching of his cultural background at Delhi and Bombay which gave him his first taste for cosmopolitanism,
his contact with the Bengali intelligentsia, his accidental entry into the film industry, his taste and budding talent for Urdu literature in the formative stages of his life viz. during his adolescence, and above all the gory and ghastly massacres which he witnessed at the time of independence (of India and Pakistan) in 1947, are collectively the important raw material and background from which his creative efforts have emerged.’ To sum up, the present book is a useful compendium of Gulzar’s person and art. His admirers in Pakistan would surely feel more informed and enlightened about him after reading it.
Title: The Art and Achievement of Gulzar Author: Dr. Zafar Hassan Published by: Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore Pages: 103; Price: Rs.400/-
Stephenie Meyer’s books are not so impressive, though some characters are really wonderful
n some ways Breaking Dawn was exactly what one expected. It was a nice read but honestly one gained nothing from it. Stephenie Meyer’s books are not so impressive, though some characters are really wonderful. Particularly, the character of Jacob, even more so, the way he plans to wreak vengeance from the Cullens. Bella’s transformation was expected and nothing was unusual about it. But when Bella tells Jacob about her transformation, it angers Jacob, forcing him to exact his revenge on the Cullens. The climax of the book, when after making his final decision to eliminate the Cullen clan, Jacob did not do so after looking at Bella’s condition. He ultimately chooses not to hurt Bella or the Cullens because he feels pity for Bella on her being pregnant. This part of the book which tells the story in between the wedding and the transformation was something highly appreciable. Meyer’s ability to describe Bella’s feelings in two chapters “Burning” and “New” was at its peak. Though the book does not take you to higher literary ideals or themes, it still was a fun read. The writer has a unique ability to play
The novel idea of merging the arts – painting, music and song and dance – was very well received By Roshan Ara Bokhari
Just a nice read By Kamil Hasan
Paintings, music and dance as one
with the characters’ emotional strengths. That’s also what she did to Jacob, Bella, and others. Jacob and his pack’s emotional upheaval against Bella and the Cullens, Jacob’s attempt to sober them down, his leaving the pack, his forming a new pack, and his inability to kill Bella and the Cullens, clearly show what Ms Meyer is capable of: to beautifully explain emotions and feelings in every detail. The real twist comes in the story when Jacob protects Bella and the Cullens from Sam and his pack. All else in the book falls in order once the twist is resolved. The rest is, in fact, quite boring and predictable. After the birth of Renesmee, Bella and Edward’s daughter, Jacob no longer loves Bella because she becomes a vampire. If we see in the previous novels, Jacob has a big crush on Bella but after Renesmee’s birth and Bella’s transformation into a vampire, Jacob no longer loves Bella but finds another soul mate Renesmee, this may seem strange but Jacob finally realizes that Bella loves Edward more than him. As a result he no longer has any romantic feelings for Bella, though they remain close friends. After this Jacob and Edward view each other as brothers, which is truly awkward. The third part of the book is a complete opposite of the twilight series. And the change felt much better.
ecently the Pakistan National Council of the Arts in collaboration with Music Museum Online of USA put up a distinct and different concept of exhibiting paintings of musical instruments and presenting these with live song and dance performances that complemented the paintings. This exhibition cum song and dance performance was held in Islamabad and Lahore respectively in aid of Flood Relief Fund. Speaking at the Alhamra in Lahore both Sarwat Ali, an eminent art critic and Shahnawaz Zaidi, a multifaceted artist, praised this novel idea and introduced the two artists who had undertaken to do 47 paintings of musical instruments. The two artists who gave us this visual delight are Amna Ismail Pataudi and Sana Kazi Khan. Amna Pataudi is a well known and established artist and has produced some commendable work. She teamed up with Sana Kazi, a young graduate from the National College of Arts, and also a miniature artist to give their different interpretations to the subject. They titled their work ‘Silent Decibels’. Amna Pataudi chose to highlight the instruments in her paintings, in her words she said, “Usually it is the person who is playing the instrument or the singer who is given the prominence but I chose to promote the instrument which is usually only part of the background, in an effort to revive the dying instruments.” Sana Kazi on the other hand presented the song personalities, their faces and the voices that created an aura through their music. This novel idea of merging the arts – painting, music and song and dance
– was witnessed by crowded halls both in Islamabad and Lahore. Of the 47 paintings a few were selected for the live song and dance performances. In particular, mention must be made of Amir Khusro’s immortal Sufi classic ‘Aaj Rang Hai’ which was presented in dance in its mystic flavour to the background of Amna Pataudi’s painting of the Veena. This had the effect of sending a message of love and peace through this qawalli. Pataudi’s painting of the Ghoongro was depicted by the rendering of the dance in classic Kathak style to the timeless song ‘Piya Nahin Aye’ in the voices of the late Mme. Nur Jehan and Ustad Amanat Ali. Sana Kazi’s tribute to the percussion instruments was presented in an international mode through the dance Salsa. Similarly the other paintings chosen for the live performances were imaginatively depicted. Tributes to the legendary figures of Malikae-Mauseeqi Roshan Ara Begum and Gangubai Hangul by both the artists were paid by songs sung by Aliya Rashid and Allah Lok on the pakhawaj. The pakhawaj is rarely played
now and Allah Lok is one of the few masters left of this art form. The show opened with an item dedicated to the flood victims showing the devastation caused by the floods in dance form. The other dances that were also shown were greatly appreciated, specially the Peacock Dance which was presented to Kazi’s painting of ‘Taoos’. This ancient dance lost none of its magic in its presentation. Another dance item, ‘City Lights’ was done to the backdrop of Kazi’s painting on ‘Daf ’. This dance took you on a musical journey from classical kathak to fantasy and into modern rock, which is so popular these days. All the dances presented were performed by the National Performing Arts Group, Lahore under the direction of the writer. This commendable effort to put together the various art forms as one was unique in its idea but the technical side of it could have been managed with more dexterity. It is of interest to note that the Music Museum Online has plans to show this in other countries as well and that it has been well received on line.
Unrequited possession Lore has it that the mansion was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh
By Salman Rashid
y friend I q b a l Qaiser, the wellknown Punjabi intellectual, knows Punjab better than most people. On the subject of ancient caravanserais, he said there was one on the road from Gujranwala to Pasrur. It was because of this sarai that the village was called Saranwali; saran with its nasal ending being the Punjabi word for a roadhouse. Iqbal admitted he had not seen it but from what he had heard, it seemed to be in fairly good shape. Now, having hunted for old sarais myself, I thought this one was worth investigating. And so, having turned left on the road to Pasrur from Sialkot Bypass outside Gujranwala, I stopped at a teashop to ask how far to go. ‘Five kilometres,’ said the man who did not know how long a kilometre was because I ended up driving
20 after asking him. But he did correct me: the name of the village was not Saranwali but Siranwali that is exactly 25 kilometres from the Bypass. I was in for another correction at Siranwali. The elderly gentleman sunning himself outside his store said there was no Mughal sarai but a mahal (palace) believed to date back to the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The gentleman very kindly assigned a young hanger-on to guide me to the place. Turning left into a broad street, we walked about a couple of hundred metres to the mahal. And what a palace it was. As we approached, the brick-faced side facing the street rose through a first floor to the rooftop blockhouse (mumti in Punjabi), in mint condition. But the room adjacent to it was roofless and ruined. Around the corner of the building, it was a picture of total perdition. The entire front which was obviously a veranda was gone; only its arches remained. Behind, the large courtyard was strewn with rubbish amid which a couple of cattle ruminated. The u-shape of the courtyard had ground and first floor rooms on three sides. From the remnants of overhanging rafters and ornate woodwork, it was evident that an elaborate balcony once ran around the upper floor.
To the right, the interior of the portion that had from the exterior presented the deceptive looks of good preservation was a collection of elaborately carved door jambs, painted walls and collapsed roofs. Only the partly collapsed mumti stood tall. I walked around the corner to what was once the façade. Entry was by a single doorway richly carved in an opening with a multicusped arch. Directly above were three windows to match. On either side of these were two mock windows in turn flanked by bay windows. In these latter, only a vestige of the original woodwork remained in the one on the left. For some curious reason the door to the ruined building whose interior was easily accessible was locked. Around the corner to the back was yet more heartbreaking decay. Another pair of buffaloes sat amid the rubble and hay overseen by a forlorn-looking boy. As in the rest of the building, here too the walls were spattered with cow dung patties that set off the faded frescoes of the
first floor to the greater advantage. In its ruined state the design of the mahal appears somewhat confusing. But that it certainly is not. The ground floor consisted of a spacious central courtyard open to the sky around which were the utility rooms as well as those where the master of the house would have received and fêted his male guests. The first floor was the living area for the, perhaps, extended family. Lore has it that the mansion was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The ruins clearly belong to the middle of the 19th century but the mutilated frescoes appear to feature Hindu rather than Sikh stories: one damaged figure looks vaguely like a four-armed Hanu-
man. Like most of the men I spoke to, the present owners too had immigrated from Haryana at the time of partition. The various men I spoke to gave only conflicting word of the whereabouts of the head of the family, so I gave up looking for him. But this family, having appropriated this rich and beautiful asset, had never cared for it. For them it was plunder acquired as after a battle. In the nearly fifty years they occupied it as a residence, they never so much as laid a tender, caring finger upon it. They abused it and when it began to come apart abandoned it. For them only the real estate now matters. When they find a suitable bidder, they will sell it. The once exquisite building, a fine example of the Punjabi architectural tradition that was forced into ruin, will be torn down and replaced by a tangle of ugly blockhouses fronted with bathroom tiles. Even if I were to actually meet the keeper, I could not have asked him why he and his family were so heartlessly negligent of a property that was, in a way, pledged to them by another who they had n e v e r
met. To have permitted it to fall into decay was the biggest crime they could have ever committed – not just against the real owners of the property but against the cultural heritage of the country as well. The words for partition that the Punjabis of Pakistan and India use are indicative of our respective attitudes to our countries: for us it was loti – time of plunder; for our brothers and sisters across the border, ujara – ruination. Those of us who were natives to what became Pakistan plundered what was left behind by fleeing Hindus and Sikhs. Those, who came from across the new border quickly fell into step and helped themselves to whatever was available. The Siranwali mansion was not an isolated case. This happened across the new country and Pakistan was built on false claims of riches that we had never known in our native lands. We did not care for the booty we acquired. We have seen how the looters treated the properties in Lahore’s Model Town; how those beautiful palatial homes have been sliced and parcelled out into one-kanal plots. Partition was our time of plunder. It enriched many of us. That was all we cared. That is the reason we have permitted such precious pieces of the Punjabi heritage as the Siranwali mansion to go to seed. –Salman Rashid is the best rated travel writer and photographer of the country, who has travelled all around Pakistan and written about his journeys.
Pictures by the Author
Another view of the interior
Detail of the façade
What was once the interior of the palace
Sunday, 06 February, 2011
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