Modern States have become like old, rotten machines. Designed to cater to single nationalities, to imagine away social differences, their rusted machineries do not require re-oiling, they need replacement
Sunday, 21 August, 2011
London Bridge is
By Hashim bin Rashid London calling to the faraway towns Now war is declared, and battle come down London calling to the underworld Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls London calling, now don’t look to us
his iconic song, a punk rock classic by The Clash, was adopted for the London Olympics theme. The song is a critique of the police state during the Margaret Thatcher period. The song also critiques police brutality through racial and social discrimination, something that remains just as prevalent here in the nether lands of Pakistan. It’s a song that speaks of drugs and the nuclearisation of the world. The London riots of the last week locate their origin in the discriminatory systems that pass for in the First World to ‘uphold the Law.’
During the last decade, Europe has seen what conservatives label ‘disorder’ a number of times. In 2005, France erupted for three weeks. The context was a single incident in police discrimination. In 2010, Greece erupted. The context was a massive government scale-back
The London riots: what produced them?
The question needed to be inquired into. However, journalism and politicians are united in their uniform inability to offer any insight into the deeper issues that plague society. However, even then, the ease with which the right-wing took turn was rather bizarre. A quote from an editorial at the Daily Mail, a British paper that positions itself as conservative, is instructive: “We have had 50 years of the carrot – welfare, rehabilitation, social conscience and rights. It has not worked. It is now time for the stick – law, justice, discipline,
individual conscience and responsibilities. “ The editorial continues to propose that England’s ‘adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights ”should end immediately”, after blaming the ‘liberal revolution.’ As has been said before, this is a false reading of UK history. The UK welfare system has seen a downgrade – a downgrade that has increased in severity during the current Conservative government. The one surety British citizens would have, cheap education, was also taken away last year under the ‘deregulation’ of the British university fees in 2010. Student and faculty protests were the order of 2010 in England. A similar downsizing of social programmes followed. The poor became poorer as the windfall of the European financial crisis (post-2007) meant a scale-back of welfare states – and not the taxation of the rich. During the last decade, Europe has seen what conservatives label ‘disorder’ a number of times. In 2005, France erupted for three weeks. The context was a single incident in police discrimination. In 2010, Greece erupted. The context was a massive government scale-back. The protests still continue. However, there is a legitimate question: are the London riots political? One, their origin certainly is. It lies in an incident where police shot and then did not disclose timely information on the killing of a black man. However, the ‘politics’ behind the looting and burning remains unclear to observers. A tactic used in Pakistan, post the cartoon controversy and the assassination of Benazir, has been often dismissed by bourgeoisie elites who have either used it to rehash their ‘jahil awam’ rhetoric or to articulate the need for stronger policing. It comes as no surprise that bourgeoisie elites in the UK have shown themselves feeling the same way.
Continued on page 3
Illustrated & Designed by Javeria Mirza
–London Calling, The Clash
It is something we forget sitting in the First World. Over 1,500 people were arrested in England over a week of rioting. It all began when Mark Duggan, a black man who would otherwise have been forgotten, became victim to an incident of police brutality in Tottenham, England. He was shot dead by a police officer. Police attempted, what could be labeled, a ‘cover-up’. A protest organised around the incident turned into a countrywide riot. The rioters were mostly young, aged between 10 and 20. The riots saw burning and looting. Two slogans appeared to have become the driving forces of the riots: ‘Loot!’ and ‘Hate police.’ Social media (Twitter, Blackberry) was said to be central to organised coordination. The crux however remained unorganized, atomic looting with reports detailing ’17 year old white youth running with LCD TV,’ and the like. The response was shock. The British government rang out narratives of ‘social disintegration.’ The British Left pulled punches ringing the ‘welfare disintegration’ slogan. The World at large responded with shock, an emotion that is begotten from the inability to understand. The more creative, Iran and Zimbabwe amongst them, took their punches, issuing travel advisories to the UK. Things were never as serious to require such. However, all were left with one question: why did the riots occur?
2 Lessons from the English Riots 8 Uncertain times for Mayo Gardens
The London riots offer an insight into the crisis the erosion of the welfare state has bred in Europe’s social culture
Lessons from the English Riots
By Fatima Ahmed
he recent riots in England caught everyone by surprise. I couldn’t help wonder whether a parallel universe – the concept that another universe similar to ours with different events taking place in it – exists? But there is no metaphysical explanation for it. No matter how impossible it may seem to the citizens of a crisis-stricken, uncivilized, Third World country, but it is the truth. The streets of a civilized, developed country were a scene of total anarchy for four days! This seemingly impossible event has taught me a few things and has changed my perceptions on some matters:
Miscreants exist everywhere! Every time I saw footages of violent protests in our streets I would be annoyed at our people and always concluded that we were the most
destructive nation ever. However, the images of burning cars and buildings in England opened my eyes and made me realize that miscreants exist everywhere. As indeed what the orgy of killings in Norway had highlighted, that a terrorist could be a clean shaven, blonde orthodox Christian as well. Also, it is not always the case that these miscreants are of ‘Pakistani’ origin. Trouble makers are everywhere and of every race, they are present even in the seemingly perfect developed world.
When we protest, we have a reason Another thing that puzzled me was the apparent lack of reason behind the riots. No doubt, a coloured man had been shot dead by the police a couple of days before the riots. But, the only motive that I could work out for what happened afterwards was looting. Yes, there is an economic crisis in England (indeed in the whole of Europe, barring Germany) and unemployment has risen. This might have frustrated the youth to boiling point but the
People from different walks of life took to the streets with their brooms to clean up their cities. They didn’t wait for the government to do it, they stepped forward themselves. This idea of taking initiative is something that we so clearly lack
rioting and the plunder is still not justified. England is a welfare society, they get council homes to live in, social security and unemployment benefits, yet they storm into shops and ransack them. When people in Pakistan take to the streets some justification can be made out of it. Citizens here lack basic facilities and even their lives are not safe. We protest to actually vent our genuine frustration and to have our voices heard, and looting is rarely the driving force.
Our police more effective controlling a violent mob
I can go on forever about the injustice and corruption that exists in our police force but, there is no denying
Incredible landscapes, magnificent architecture, grandeur of antiquity, monuments and above all the richness of culture and heritage that Turkey proudly exudes are simply breathtaking By Ramla Ijaz
02 - 03
Sunday, 21 August, 2011
n Pakistan one has long been menaced by internal and external foes, and one has a deep sense of betrayal at being abandoned by erstwhile strategic allies and partners. In stark contrast to the nerve-wracking conditions prevalent here, the members of the Pakistani student contingent on their tour to Turkey found themselves in a fraternity where the intensity and warmth of fellow feelings continued to increase with each passing day. Their four days tour turned out to be no less than an unforgettable reunion between parted siblings. The brotherly bonds are so well entrenched amongst the Turkish as well as the Pakistani people that both of them continue to pursue the deeply cherished aspirations to contribute to each other’s well being as was done by the Muslims of the subcontinent during the Khilafat Movement. These gestures were also evidenced in terms of the reciprocity extended by our Turk brethren during relief efforts in the wake of Pakistan’s worst ever floods and its most devastating earthquake in the recent past. Turkey is the most rewarding place for Pakistani students to visit. It affords exposure to cutting edge technological competition perfectly aligned with international benchmarks. It is a cradle of top ranking educational institutions such as Uladagh University and Marmara University with their enrolment running above 50,000 and campuses sprawling over multiple districts. These universities unlike most foreign universities of the world charge less from foreign students. Moreover, in the wake of further progress
due to MoUs signed between Fatih University and the government of the Punjab, students from Pakistan can expect to be enrolled in the said university free of cost. The university labs here have the latest instruments such as X R D a n d
In addition to these historical places, the spice market tour is also worth remembering as the air here is filled with enticing aromas of cinnamon, saffron, mint and every other conceivable herb and spice
scanning electron microscopes. The class rooms are equipped with e-books and online connectivity with the latest research available all over the world. There are many lessons to be
the reality that our ill-equipped police force is so much more effective in handling a mob situation than the reputedly highly trained and equipped British force. The masked looters were breaking into shops in front of the police and they could not use force to stop them because they did not have the orders, and it took them four days to restore calm. Well, baton charge may be abused by our police, but it is nevertheless very effective in keeping the miscreants at bay. I have to say after seeing the situation in England I did feel a little proud of the Pakistani police.
through this method. The looters included kids as young as 11 and David Cameron blamed bad parenting for the riots. The ideas that the West proclaims as modern and as the new way forward may not be very efficient. Parents here might be old school, illiterate and conservative but most of them surely know how to keep their kids within limits. Its not that I am trying to advocate that kids should be regularly spanked, but whatever is necessary to keep them as law-abiding citizens should be done, even if it means being strict with them at times.
This proves that ceremonial heads of state all over the world are (or are supposed to be) only ornamental.
Spanking and strict-parenting has its benefits
Ceremonial heads are for ceremonies only
Actions speak louder than words
The parents from the sub-continent are branded as abusive and violent in the West because they occasionally spank their children. They say you can discipline children by discussions and logic and spanking is not allowed in England. However, it seems to me like they haven’t been able to achieve discipline
I often wondered why our President does not speak out on many important events that take place within the country, and now I know why – it is not in his job description! He is a ceremonial head like Her Majesty, The Queen of England, who also neither condemned the events nor sympathized with the affected people.
Really impressive was the campaign that was started in England following the riots to clean up the mess that had been made. People from different walks of life took to the streets with their brooms to clean up their cities. They didn’t wait for the government to do it, they stepped forward themselves. This idea of taking initiative
Turkish achievements, among these being: i) preservation of a profoundly rich culture and heritage; ii) promotion of tourism as an industry for attracting international investment; iii) striking a balance between the pluralistic mindset and a conservative upsurge; iv) primacy of national language in every field of life; v) adherence to the Constitution and transparent electioneering. During this visit, the briefing on Daanish Schools was well applauded by Turkish hosts, notables and media anchors and educationist. One programme aired by the Samangoln TV station, afforded extensive coverage to the salient features of the tour and during an interview with the head of the contingent dwelt upon the rewarding outcomes of this tour besides congratulating the prime minister of Turkey and President Abdullah Gull of the AK Party on behalf of the Chief Minister Punjab for their historic success in elections which were held while members of the Pakistani contingent were on tour in Turkey. The elections were conducted in a completely violence free environment with a healthy turn out. Incredible landscapes, magnificent architecture, grandeur of antiquity, monuments and above all the richness of culture and heritage that Turkey proudly exudes are simply breathtaking. The spectacle of Bosporus Bridge and the thrill of the ferry ride cruise leave an indelible impression in one’s memory. The Blue Mosque complex that boasts of five domes and six minarets in addition to housing a madrassa, kitchen, hospital and a bazaar with carvings on blue titles are jewels gifted with artistic finesse. In addition to these historical places, the spice market tour is also worth remembering as the air here is filled with enticing aromas of cinnamon, saffron, mint and every other conceivable herb and spice. The Panorama Museum of Istanbul is also unforgettable as it recapitulates the conquest of Istanbul on canvass. Last, but not least, Istanbul is the resting place of the tomb of Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari (RA) one of the most loved Companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Holy mantle enshrine relics such as the sword of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and that of Hazrat Ali (RA) These precious moments to behold such sacred relics are simply full of mystical inspiration and should suffice as the only reason to prompt millions of Pakistanis to pay a visit to Istanbul in addition to pursuing their higher studies, career mobility or business ventures, as the case my be.
Religion creates harmony A popular concept is that religion is the sole reason behind violence. But this myth was busted when the Sikhs protected the mosques and the Muslims guarded the Gurdwaras during the riots in England. It showed us that religion is not the reason for violence, it instead promotes peace and harmony.
London Bridge is falling down… The discourse around the London riots has remained centred on ‘uncontrollable, disorderly youth’ without attributing purpose. During a course on deviance, I remember being shown a journalistic report of a ‘youth riot’ in England. The teacher asked, “what is missing from this report?” And I recall being the one to note, “the why” is missing. The report detailed damages, the outrage, the actors involved, but did not even touch upon the ‘why’. It is almost as if the older generations scoff at youth rebellion. Maybe the youth speaks a language different to the older generations, maybe they operate under a different value system – but the inability to read social meaning into the London riots will only come at the expense of the British government. The problems, if they be laid out, can be rather systematically placed. One: the First World society is driven by the values of consumerism. The targeting of malls and high value shops shows the deep building in of the values of mindless consumerism into a growing generation. Within the ‘looters,’ there are the deprived and the never-satisfied. Both products of the consumerist culture that promises corporations rich rewards – but banks upon human beings operating as hamsters on a spinning wheel. Two: Youth are sold the dream that education guarantees employment. This myth has taken a battering in both Europe, where State-school graduate dropout and unemployment rates are high. This, added with the tripled university fees in England, had brought about an undercurrent of resentment amongst the disenfranchised British youth. Third: the youth are sold the false idea of equal citizenship and equal opportunity. The protests in Tottenham began as a rejection of this misnomer. The relationship between the State and the citizen in the First World is sold as one of ‘respect.’ This respect, under growing racialised criminal legislation under the ‘security paranoia’ that has marked State policy in the 21st century, has been compromised and youth across the world feel it. When police are the target of riots, there is a rejection of the authority of the ‘oppressive’ State through an attack on the representative that has the mandate to enforce its ‘monopoly over violence.’
The 21st century: the State must change or else… The thing about the 21st century is that when it turned the gospels of liberal democracy and the market economy were declared, quite literally, the ‘End of History.’ The elites of the world cherished that they had found the magic wands to prosperity and success and that the entire world would follow course. The funny thing, and now I come to it, is that it is now the First World, that declared the ‘End of History’ that is being beckoned by the social unrest in its underbelly, to reconsider its position. Of course, this is dark humour and not all of you may share this writer’s panache for dark humour, however, if I may be astute enough to point out: the next crisis lies in the First World state as they are unable to tailor themselves to the evolving societies they sit on. Modern States have become like old, rotten machines. Designed to cater to single nationalities, to imagine away social differences, their rusted machineries do not require reoiling, they need replacement. One of the things observers have pointed out, and correctly, is that the Left has returned to public discourse, but not as a movement, but rather as a fad. Salvoi Zizek and co are given space to speak for and represent the disenfranchised within Western societies – but real life movements (except Greece) do not exist underneath to be spoken for. It is thus that the British Conservative government under David Cameron can raise vague, meaningless slogans like “Zero-tolerance on crime” and ask courts to bypass existing procedure to sentence those arrested during the riots. This tells us something else: the Western State is not a well-oiled machine that follows a set of codes (as it claims). It tells us the Western State can panic. And it appears that, in England, the State has shown signs of panic. There are fears that the much criticized Conservative government may complete the rise of a Police State. During the Blair era, England already became the most-watched society in the world through the ominous rise of surveillance cameras. The last Police State seen in England was a product of Margaret Thatcher, the great proclaimer of the slogan: “There is no society.”
is something that we so clearly lack. Whatever may happen in our country we would condemn it with words and make intellectual speeches about it in our drawing rooms, rarely do we step out and try to make a difference, no matter how small it might be. If there are bad people in a community there are always good ones too, the world hardly ever gets to see the good amongst us. We need to start doing more and talking less because actions speak louder than words. These lessons that I have learnt may not be the most important ones of my life, but they have opened my eyes to an extent and I am a little more positive about the situation in our country. After all, taking into account our conditions and circumstances, our citizens might not be that bad or that different as compared to the rest of the world. If the state of affairs as is to be found in Pakistan today existed in England, how would they react to it? One wonders…
As atomised rioters looted, and not organised, what sunk in the hard way was that capital had become so dominant that those rebelling against it rebelled only because they desired more of it It is ironic that the Conservative government of 2011 is taking recourse to logics of ‘disintegration of society’ in articulating a new direction. The real worry is whether, as the Daily Mail and the British Prime Minister have said, ‘Britain does not need human rights.’ This is worrying, and self-hypocritical, at a point when the youth-led rebellions in the Middle East are being roundly supported (and of course they must be). But what of the desires of the First World youth? What of their manipulation under consumer culture? What of their marginalization in dysfunctional economies? There is nothing on offer for them. The only regret that watching the London riots has brought to me as a distant observer is: the lack of a political position articulated by the rioters. It is England that has made us realise that the contradictions of the atomisation produced by capital can be inescapable. As atomised rioters looted, and not organised, what sunk in the hard way was that capital had become so dominant that those rebelling against it rebelled only because they desired more of it. That said, it would be nice to conclude with the words of another The Clash song, ‘White Riot.’ Black people got a lot a problems But they don’t mind throwing a brick White people go to school Where they teach you how to be thick And everybody’s doing Just what they’re told to And nobody wants To go to jail! White riot - I want a riot White riot - a riot of my own London has gotten its ‘White Riot’ a year before it hosts the Olympics. However, it takes no genius to state that there is a guarantee there won’t be another one.
Not a great deal of fresh p The State of Islam – as shown by Saadia Toor “It should be abundantly clear by now that any effort to understand Pakistan’s current problems – the fragility of democracy, the corruption of politics, the weakness of social and political institutions, and the issue of religious extremism and militancy – must begin and end with the Pakistani military establishment. The military dominates the state, society and the economy, creating a predatory environment which mitigates against the interest of ordinary Pakistanis as well as against peace and stability in the region.”
By Natasha Shahid Kunwar
and content. Toor’s book – like most
part of the book.
chunk out of the epilogue
of Talbot’s – keenly scrutinizes the
To be very honest
of yet another analytical
strong – nay, even inevitable in the
case of South Asia – relationship with
intended – namely Saadia Toor’s The
religion. Beginning with pre-partition
State of Islam: Culture and Cold War
times, she analyses the different
Politics in Pakistan. The excerpt is
nationalistic forces in the-then British
that Ian Talbot,
chosen expressly for the purpose of
India and the subsequently created
summarizing the two-hundred-and-
Rafique Afzal or
fifty-paged book in no more than
upon the notion that they somehow
Ayesha Jalal have
eighty words, to save you the trouble
already not put
of going through the same old once
themselves as either Islamic or the
forth – except for
ladeen Untouchables. Simply put,
two things. Two
Toor, a PhD from Cornell University
she says that nationalism in Pakistan
things that would
and currently an Assistant Professor
has always had a flavor of religion –
in the Sociology, Anthropology and
something that hasn’t really worked in
steal the limelight
the country’s favour.
Second – and more importantly –
falling for the title
essentially a student of the society,
in the line of fire is the old culprit,
of the book – the
albeit one who has read and written
the army. Even though Toor calls
Ayub Khan’s era the “Decade of
those of her home country, Pakistan.
Development”, it isn’t too hard to pick
However, her previous works being
her true sentiments about the army.
papers published in research journals,
Those “sentiments”, however – as
The State of Islam is Toor’s maiden
is mostly the case for anti-military
book. And it doesn’t take an expert’s
intellectuals in Pakistan – were served
State of Islam is
eye to see that.
out best when the man under scrutiny
From its beginning to the end, the
was Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. What made
book follows the format of a modern
him worse for Toor was evidently his
forced Islamization of the country,
reminiscent of the works of another
and his era’s adverse effects on the
female population of the country –
Professor Ian Talbot – in both style
which brings us to the most important
York’s College of Staten Island, is
The State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics By Saadia Toor Publisher: Pluto Press, London. Pages: 250; Price: Rs. 1495 Available at Readings
Biographies of Litterateurs
04 - 05
Sunday, 21 August, 2011
The books under review are intended to illustrate some characteristic traits of the art of biograph
By Syed Afsar Sajid
oted critic, poet, historian and intellectual Yahya Amjad (1943-98) died a few years ago. His (younger) brother Qasim Khan and (elder) sister Hafeeza Bashir Wafa have now come out with an anthology titled Yahya Amjad – Fikr-o-Fun Aur Shakhsiyat spotlighting his life, work and artistic prowess. Dr Syed Shabihul-Hasan (b.1958) is a prolific literary writer with a host of books to his credit. Prof Waheed Aziz has ventured to explore his life and work in his book titled Dr Syed Shabih-ul-Hasan Ka Jahan-e-Fun.
A biography seeks to present a detailed description or account of its subject’s life and portrays his experience of events like education, work, affiliations, and death, if he is deceased. Thomas Malory, Thomas Fuller, Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Rosseau, Carlyle, Lytton Strachey, and Robert Graves are some of the noted writers down the lane of English literary history who have developed biography into a distinct form of writing capable of transmuting non-fiction, fiction, ‘domestic privacies’, the taste of the vulgus and the ‘celebrity voyeurism’ into a viable artistic entity. The two books being reviewed here are intended to partake of some characteristic traits of this art.
Yahya Amjad – Fikr-oFun Aur Shakhsiyat Known as Amjad Kundiyani in his early literary career, Yahya Amjad later grew into a man of enviable literary eminence. He was a poet, researcher, critic and historian at the zenith of his career. Alas, the demon of cancer terminated it abruptly while he was working in the Trade and Commerce group of the Central Superior Services. Yahya Amjad’s literary career
dated back to his Emerson College (Multan) days in the 1960s where his literary virtues enabled him to distinguish himself among his peers and juniors like Fayyaz Tehsin, Naeem Chaudhry, Naushaba Nargis, Tahir Taunsvi, Anwaar Ahmad, Mohsin Naqvi, Rauf Sheikh, Salahuddin Haider, Sanobar Musawwar and others. Luckily at that point of time, the presence and company of literary personages like (Dr) Salim Akhtar, Arsh Siddiqi, Jabir Ali Syed, Farrukh Durrani, Latif-uz-Zaman Khan, Asi Karnali, Masood Ash’ar, and (Allama) Atiq Fikri served to hone young Yahya Amjad’s literary sensibilities and enrich his vision tremendously. (Dr) Salim Akhtar happened to be his teacher and mentor also. The book, readable for its earnestness and perspicacity, is visibly divided into two parts. The first part contains some well written papers on the deceased writer’s life and work by Qasim Khan, Dr Salim Akhtar, Dr Mubarak Ali, Dr Rubina Tareen, Dr M. Ajmal Niazi, Dr M. Asif, Dr A.B Ashraf, Dr Muzammil Hussain, Dr Tahir Taunsvi, Prof Mehr Muhammad Ilyas, Niaz Ahmad, Tal’at Nisar Khawaja and Arshad Hussain Arshad.
The second part comprises a selection of Yahya Amjad’s work in prose and poetry including a ‘leader’ that he composed for the Emerson College magazine Nakhlistan as its editor. Tareekh-e-Pakistan (originally conceived in three parts – Qadeem Daur, Azmana-e-Wasta and Jadeed Daur – of which only the first two could see the light of day) was verily his magnum opus.
Dr Syed Shabih-ulHasan Ka Jahan-e-Fun Dr Syed Shabih-ul-Hasan, author of some 29 books on various literary subjects with three in the pipeline, is a noted researcher, critic and educationist besides being a poet. He has also had some experience of journalism as a column writer. The book in view carries a detailed account of his life, work and literary achievements. As a pupil, the biographer is naturally prone to idolise his teacher preempting an objective overview of his ideal literary personage. The narrative thus seems to have been unwittingly reduced to a quasi panegyric. But that should not detract the reader from the genuineness of the ideal. Dr Hasan is no doubt a versatile
Who only cricket know…
The noble game – as colonial style fiction In this section, Toor has selected
concluding chapter of the book,
areas to this reviewer are the most
the work of a range of politically
entitled “The Long Shadow of
important factors that set the work
charged literature, from the prose
Zia: Women, Minorities and the
apart from others. While most
Nation-State”. A subdivision of
works on Pakistan – and there has
to the poetry of Ahmed Nadeem
the chapter is labeled “Women
been an abundance of such works
Qasmi, and has slotted it under the
and/as Property”, which beholds a
after 9/11, not essentially a good
category of either “Progressives” or
fine analysis of how the so-called
thing – are either written by foreign
writers who take a completely
There has been an abundance of books on Pakistan after 9/11, by writers either foreign who take a completely international, macro view, or by people within this country who, more often than not, take a limited, micro perspective; Saadia Toor has managed to weave out a combination of both – which is no mean feat
international, macro view, or by people residing within Pakistan who, more often than not, take a limited, micro perspective, Saadia Toor has managed to weave out a combination of both – which is no mean feat. However, that said, I would restate my opinion that in the actual field of study, the real subject of the book – Pakistani politics – The State of Islam tells the old tale once again. The quote at the head of this review is enough to grab the gist of the Toor’s book – blame the army and the rest is history, the approach that
“Nationalists”. Through the course
Islamization of Zia left the women of
most writers on Pakistan have been
of the chapter she has analysed
Pakistan in a sorry state for decades
taking over the years. And, to be
how these two parties have been
to come. Let us not forget that one
honest, understandably so. For, if
featuring throughout the history
of the areas that Toor specialises
anybody has invested any bit of grey
of Pakistan, who has taken the
in is gender dynamics and could
matter in the study of Pakistan’s
upper-hand, when and how, and
safely be said to be leaning towards
political history, they would sooner
what has been the effect of such
feminism if her written word is any
or later come to the conclusion
literary movements. Apart from
representative of her mind. Hence
that the root of a majority of the
this chapter which is exclusively
the strong “genderised” – if not
country’s problems lies at the head
dedicated to literature, Toor has
downright feministic taste to her
of our military. It is a cliche... but
made use of Pakistani Literature –
analysis – something that makes
one that simply cannot be denied.
especially the poetry of Faiz Ahmed
her book a worthy read.
But the real question is: just how big
Faiz – to great effect throughout
Even though nobody might read
an analytical achievement is stating
the book, something that uplifts the
The State of Islam for its literary
a universal truth one more time?
end result a great deal.
content or its relevance to the field
Not a big one if you are a fan of
To speak for the second important
of Women Studies – given its title
something called fresh perspective.
among other things – these two
n his 1989 film Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen plays a documentary-maker called Cliff Stern who is obsessed with Louis Levy, a philosopher whose life-affirming message he finds meaningful. But Levy takes his life, saying “I’ve gone out of the window”, before Stern can complete the film. Levy’s existence gave a meaning to Stern’s life, becoming his magnificent obsession. In Shehan Karunatilaka’s debut novel, Chinaman, WG Karunasena is one such obsessed individual, and Pradeep Mathew, a beguiling left-arm spin bowler, the object of his affection. Ostensibly, Karunatilaka’s novel is about cricket, but the game is the medium through which he talks about Sri Lankan life. “Wije”, as Karunasena is known, personifies the inner struggles of an old man looking for that one final achievement to earn some self-respect. The fictional Pradeep Mathew has played intermittently for Sri Lanka in the late 1980s and early 1990s, performing memorably in odd matches, but for mysterious reasons his career has never taken off. Soon he is forgotten; his name disappears from records. When Wije includes him in a list of all-time greats, his friends wonder if he has had too much to drink – not an unreasonable assumption. For Wije is dying, because of
For a game without much great fiction, that’s a reason to applaud with drums – and forget the rules the marshals impose at Lord’s
hical writing man of letters; his contribution to various fields of life especially literature, is enormous but significant. The book has eight chapters purporting to cover Dr Hasan’s biographical data, his critical a p p r o a c h , column-writing, poetry, character portrayal, his affiliation with the monthly Shamo-Sehar, the distinctiveness of his subjects and themes, and his prized personal reckoning in Urdu literature and poetry. It is thus a meaningful, if not a major, addition to the extant biographical literature in Urdu.
By Salil Tripathi
Title: Yahya Amjad – Fikr-o-Fun Aur Shakhsiyat Compiled by: Qasim Khan Assisted by: Hafeeza Bashir Wafa Published by: Beacon Books, Urdu Bazar, Lahore/ Gulgasht, Multan Pages: 259; Price: Rs.290/-
Title: Dr. Syed Shabih-ul-Hasan Ka Jahan-e-Fun Author: Prof. Waheed Aziz Published by: Izhar Sons, Urdu Bazar, Lahore Pages: 680; Price: Rs.500/-
alcoholism and old age, but also due to disappointments. Mathew’s bowling brings that gleam to his eyes. And Wije wants to make a documentary about him. Wije considers it an omen, a matter of pride, that his initials coincide with those of WG Grace. He has named his son Garfield (after the cricketer Sobers, not the cat). Wije is the type to get into a fist-fight over a statistic, or whom to include in a fantasy XI. Indeed, the nastiest argument he has ever had, “more foulmouthed than when Ceylon Electricity overcharged me Rs 10,000, angrier than when my wife found out I had been fired from my third successive job,” was over the legitimacy of Muttiah Muralitharan’s bowling action. Cricket allows Karunatilaka the outfield to show what his country is capable of, without being overt about it. For concurrent with Sri Lanka’s cricket success (1996 world champions, finalists in 2007 and 2011) is the appalling fraying of the nation – Tamil separatism, suicide bombs, the brutal
Chinaman, By Shehan Karunatilaka Jonathan Cape, £12.99, 395PP end of the war, and the devastation of the 2004 tsunami. None of these larger events dominates the story, but as CLR James said, “What do they know of cricket, who only cricket know?” There is the meaningful post-colonial triumph: Wije’s proudest moment is “watching (Sidhath) Wettimuny at Lord’s in 1984, the first time I realized that a Sri Lankan could be as good as anyone else.” And the tragedy: for Mathew represents the blended Sri Lanka (his mother is Sinhala, his father Tamil). Without being didactically political, Wije reminds us of Sinhala boys at an elite school taunting Mathew, so obliquely hinting at why the cricketer might have receded from collective memory. And yet Mathew guides Sri Lankan cricketing history: he stiffens the Sri Lankan spine, advising Arjuna Ranatunga to sledge back against the hyper-aggressive Australians, and helps win the 1996 World Cup. He devises the brilliant plan for Sanath Jayasuriya to destroy opening bowlers in the first 15 overs. Only Mathew – and Wije – know of Mathew’s role in this. But to what end? Ultimately, cricket can do only so much. Wije laments: “I have been told by members of my own family that there is no use or value in sports... Left-arm spinners cannot teach your children or cure your disease. But once in a while, the very best of them will bowl a ball that will bring an entire nation to its feet. And while there may be no practical use in that, there is most certainly value”. In contrast, “Real life is lived at two runs an over, with a dodgy LBW every decade.” The real lives of millions end forgotten precisely because they are dull. Yet one magnificent bowling spell will stay in people’s memories for generations. For “unlike life, sport matters” - and it scarcely matters here if the voice is Wije’s or the author’s. What Karunatilaka has produced may or may not be the Great Sri Lankan Novel. Other worthy contenders exist, and parts of Chinaman are genuinely abstruse for those who see cricket as a game of flannelled fools. But it a Great Cricket Novel. For a game without much great fiction, that’s a reason to applaud with drums – and forget the rules the marshals impose at Lord’s.
Hitting below the intellect… Oscar Wilde once remarked: ‘Caricature is the tribute that mediocrity pays to genius’. While this adage might apply to gifted poets, playwrights and artists, it clearly does not apply to many of the recent US presidents
06 - 07
Sunday, 21 August, 2011
By Khawaja Manzar Amin
he Word is the image of the Thing’, wrote Simonides, one of ancient Greece’s finest epigrammist, whom none dare dispute. But, in our own hectic and driven age, there is little or no time at all for the (written) Word. The Image, whether in the form of pictures, still as well as moving, or as caricatures and cartoons carrying a message with a hard-hitting punch line, are better suited, if not the ideal instruments to express personal creativity as well as political opinion. American political cartoonists are a class act. This is not surprising as their particular art form goes a long way back, to the War of Independence (1776). Perhaps they took their cue or inspiration from the classical British cartoonists who in lurid colours and with biting wit savaged the high and the mighty of those (and subsequent days), not excluding Kings, prime ministers and generals, particularly the ones who lost their promising
colony of the New World. Political cartoonists are an important concomitant of a newspaper’s core policy, but they also represent the sentiments of a substantial number of people on matters of national interest, or the foibles and human weaknesses of their leaders. Once a public figure makes a blunder, in words or in deeds, he enters the caricature realm or ‘drop dead’ list, and is forever damned to ridicule. Election time in the US is the political cartoonists’ springtime, when the aspiring candidates are more vulnerable and prone to making bloomers despite being surrounded by an army of media gurus. Oscar Wilde once remarked on a parody about him being performed on the London stage, ‘Caricature is the tribute that mediocrity pays to genius’. While this adage might apply to gifted poets, playwrights and artists, it clearly does not apply to many of the recent US presidents. For the most part they have been a source of much
meaty material for the cartoonists, an endless delight to them. From Richard Nixon, with his ‘Tricky Dick’ image, five O’clock shadow that gave him a dark, sullen look and the Watergate non-scandal, Gerald Ford with his ‘football game’ fixation, Ronald Reagan with his disarming naiveté and old age (his made-up face ‘a tribute to the embalmer’s art’), Bill Clinton with his superheated libido, the Bushes, elder and younger, the former with his ‘Watch My Lips’ mantra, the latter with his comical escapades such as choking on a pretzel, falling off golf carts and mountain bikes, not to mention his famous foot-in-mouth ‘Bushisms’, and now the hapless Barack Obama, whose first (and perhaps last) stint has just witnessed an embarrassing debt downgrade that left the US in a state of shock and with a dented international image. The superb cartoons reproduced on this page vividly mirror the US’s financial fall, and the worries of the People’s Republic of China as the principal holder of the trillions of dollars of US foreign debt. In a more subtle manner, they also reflect the shift in the centre of gravity of global power, the great reversal of roles: the ‘yellow peril’, the ‘opium eaters’ gate-crashing the mighty citadel of the Americans and in fact, lording it over them.
“I’d like to spend the holidays with my loved ones, but after the third day, they’re not loved ones anymore!”
closing bell GARFIELD
Patience may not be one of your top virtues, but that doesn't mean you can't try. Today places some pretty heavy demands on your time, so try to make sure that you're handling them gracefully.
You need to spend more time dealing with people today, but you've got exactly the right kind of energy for polite society. See if you can get an invitation to that big party coming up!
The way the day goes depends entirely on how you respond to criticism - if you're graceful, you can expect things to get better and better; if not, you may have to call it quits early.
You find yourself amidst a group of people who can really use someone like you. At least one of them needs you to speak up and say what the rest are thinking, and it's a snap for someone as intuitive as you.
Pour it on today! You're feeling something big, and there's no good way to hold it in -- so you need to do whatever it takes to let the world (or that one person) know just what's going on inside you.
Try something wild and exotic today -- your energy is ready for anything, and you need the new perspective in order to really get going on some other aspect of your life. Soak up a new culture.
Your diplomatic nature helps you meet today's big challenge with a smile -- in fact, you may defuse the situation before things start to get weird. You can be a superhero when you want to be!
Your bold moves are sure to surprise at least one person maybe you - but they should also help you shift the ground to something much more favorable to you and your people. Go for it!
You need to concentrate on the small details that add up to the big picture and forget about how it all looks from a great distance. Drill down deeply!
A long lost friend is back on the scene, with a chance for you to start a romance. Let your people find a way to take care of their own problems today - you need to attend to your love life.
Your big brain craves learning - but today, it's not as enthusiastic. That doesn't mean you're not still soaking up info, but it does mean that you need to just let it happen for the time being.
Things are not what they seem - but they might be even better! You can tell that there's a shroud between you and reality, but you may prefer it that way, at least for the time being.
By Sana Dar
Fill in all the squares in the grid so that each row, column and each of the squares contains all the digits. the object is to insert the numbers in the boxes to satisfy only one condition: each row, column and 3x3 box must contain the digits 1 through 9 exactly once.
chESS White to play and mate in 2 moves 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 A
2. activity 3. wood sorrel 4. narrow minded person 5. smash 6. fury 7. let out 8. be sorry 9. stitch 11. carry out 13. mayhem 14. destitute 18. cried 21. smack 22. consumed 23. acronym. International educational resources 24. irritate 26. film 27. goodbye 28. bed 33. fret 34. festivity 35. explosive 40. offense 42. satire 43. illustrate 44. impression 45. customer 46. gaseous element 48. that is to say… 49. jealously
how to pLAy
1.Nh5 Qd7 [1...Qxh4 2.g7# is mate]
1. go away 5. waterway 10. first rate 11. goad 12. organ 15. spoil 16. warning 17. chew 19. obliged 20. wrath 21. shower 24. she 25. vacate 29. wealthy person (slang) 30. open swimming pool 31. for each 32. amends 34. dangerous 36. view 37. inferior 38. drench 39. outlook 41. existing 43. overwhelm 47. untruth 50. steal 51. con 52. rapid flow 53. means ‘planet mars’ 54. caution 55. ogle 56. sign
AmIr LIAqAt BLAmes teLevIsIon ChAnneL For sLAnderIng hIs good nAme As they Are JeALous oF hIs PIety FAme And suCCess
By Sana Dar
Sunday, 21 August, 2011
Uncertain times for Mayo Gardens
Had that come to pass, all the trees would have gone, the grassy lawns bricked up. An entire ecology that connects up with that of Aitchison College , the Governor’s House, Lawrence Gardens (now Bagh e Jinnah) and GOR I would have been irrevocably disturbed
Pictures by the Author
Around 1910, railway authorities acquired yet more land to build one of the finest railway housing estates in the whole of undivided India
By Salman Rashid
n 1906, barely forty-five years after they had laid the first rail track across the dusty Punjabi landscape, railway authorities had chosen Lahore to be the headquarters of what they called the North Western Railway (NWR), from among the several railways that chugged across the undivided India . Though some of the lines (like the one into Jammu and the narrow gauge up into Simla and yet others across Punjab) remained with India at the time of independence, Pakistan inherited a somewhat truncated NWR. When Lahore became the headquarters, the city saw a flurry of construction work to house railway officers and subordinate staff. Mayo Road (renamed Allama Iqbal Road ) that stretched from the railway station to the Mian Mir cantonment saw the first string of houses. The first real railway housing estate, however, was the one that sprawled between Garhi Shahu and the Loco Shed just southeast of the railway station. About 1910 railway authorities acquired yet more land to build one of the finest railway housing estates in the whole of undivided India and, so far as railway housing goes, indeed the finest in Pakistan today.
This was the prestigious Mayo Gardens , sandwiched between Mayo Road and Aitchison College . Land allocated for each housing unit was never less than two acres (sixteen kanals) and went up to twice as much in one case. Laid out in a neat grid, the roads running through the estate were lined with indigenous trees, most of which stand to this day. Construction began in 1910 and over the next two years twentythree palatial houses came up amid sprawling lawns – houses fit for kings. There were no boundary walls or high gates, only hedges. Each house was surrounded on all sides with green lawns, each came with a prescription patio in the garden which. In latter years this was equipped with a superstructure for an electric fan for the long summer afternoons. Four houses were added in the years 193233 and then several more subsequent to independence. Several years ago railway authorities came up with the harebrained notion of commercialising Mayo Gardens . The notion was that this income would help float a railway system careening fast down the financial tube. It is strange that instead of cleaning up the act, railway authorities could come up with such a bizarre and moronic scheme. That meant running a bulldozer through this lovely estate and dividing up its one hundred and thirty-seven acres into tiny few-marla plots so that a whole warren of ugly little houses with bathroom tile facades and Greek colonnades could be built. Had that come to pass, all the trees would have gone, the grassy lawns bricked up. An entire ecology that connects up with that of Aitchison College , the Governor’s House, Lawrence Gardens (now Bagh e Jinnah) and GOR I would have been
irrevocably disturbed. Good sense prevailed, however. Nayyer Ali Dada and Associates were called in for advice. After much deliberation it was decided that even if Mayo Gardens was to be commercialised, its basic essence could still be preserved. And so while the bulldozer may not be run through this tree-shaded estate, for the time being at least, it is in for a few changes. The southeast segment (the one nearest the canal and railway line) will be commercialised while the lawns of most of the rest of the houses will be cut up to build more residences. The consultants insist that only a few trees will face the axe, if any do at all, and that the basic character of Mayo Gardens will be disturbed only minimally. Though for the time being we can be thankful for this mercy, we can only wonder how long this situation will remain. Surely one day some shark of a real estate developer will get his way and Mayo Gardens will end up like most of Lahore’s open spaces (remember: there were some one hundred and fifty gardens, large and small, in Lahore at the time of partition). If Pakistan were a country of old money and real class, the ultra-rich would have purchased the residences of Mayo Gardens to form an exclusive enclave. Since it isn’t, one can only fear that this estate will sooner or later go. Gone will be those majestic old trees that shade the houses. In their stead, the dinky little fivemarla matchbox blockhouses will have eucalyptus or, at best, the kulfi-shaped Asoka tree that we
have now become very fond of. No longer will one look up to the sky to the drone of beating wings as a grey hornbill passes overhead. No longer will the sad little kook-kook-kook of the little green barbet ring through the leafy crowns, nor too the mellifluous whistle of the golden oriole. Gone will be the wide, grassy gardens that soak up rainwater to recharge the rapidly drying aquifer of Lahore . But no one will care for the railway will have some few extra rupees in its kitty. –Salman Rashid, rated as the best in the country, is a travel writer and photographer who has travelled all around Pakistan and written about his journeys.