Akbari Gate of walled city of Lahore. This gate exists no more. This pic was taken in 1962 by an unknown photographer.
Posted by: Shiraz Hassan
Akbari Gate of walled city of Lahore. This gate exists no more. This pic was taken in 1962 by an unknown photographer.
Posted by: Shiraz Hassan
Many of my fellow diners have had to patiently listen—often in mid-morsel—while I belabored the fact that I love the spicy dish but couldn’t handle how it set my mouth on fire. On a week I spent in the ancient city of Lahore in Pakistan, I had many occasions to explain this point—in between hasty gulps of water.
Lahore, the capital of the province of Punjab, was once among the great cities of the Mughal Empire. With Kabul, Delhi and Agra, it was the site of many grand edifices erected by the Mughal emperors.
As venue of an imperial court, it is expected that Lahore would develop a cuisine of elaborate concoctions as demanded by a regal palette. Continue reading
By Ishtiaq Ahmad
Dev Anand remained devoted to Lahore all his life. He was also an ardent supporter of India-Pakistan peace and reconciliation. Therefore, he was one of the most prominent passengers in the bus that brought Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore
The news that matinee hero Dev Anand died in London on December 3 as a result of cardiac arrest saddened fans all over the world. A very large number among them are Pakistanis. Dev Anand was born on September 26, 1923, not in Lahore, but less than 50 miles from. His ancestral village, Gharota, was in tehsil (now district) Pathankot, district Gurdaspur, but he grew up in Gurdaspur where his father maintained a successful practice at the district courts.Click here to read complete article.
Shi’ite Muslims congregate around a white horse and touch it for good luck on December 5, 2011, in a prelude to the Ashura festival in Lahore, Pakistan which began today. via Hungeree.
The struggle for Pakistan and Bhagat Singh:
By Haroon Khalid
The independence achieved in 1947 ushered a new era for India and Pakistan, but with it, also marked the end of a legacy. For India and Pakistan, Congress and Muslim League respectively became the vanguard of independence from the British Empire. Whereas there is no denying the fact that both of them played a pivotal role in achieving freedom, nonetheless there were also other parties and movements, who had the laid groundwork for these two to build on. Without their impact and achievements, perhaps these two parties would not have been able to achieve the success that they eventually did. Post independence, the credit that should have been given to the former parties was taken away from them.
In India, the Indian National Congress was generally more receptive to political activists from other parties and movements, who also were able to shake the foundations of the British Empire. In Pakistan however, all of the former movements became a relic of the impure-Hindu-mixed past, which needed sifting. We ended up with fine grains starting with Muhammad Bin Qasim, coming to Babur and Aurangzeb, and ending with Muhammad Ali Jinnah. All the other characters were just not required anymore. So whereas in India, despite their differences, the Congress government was acknowledging the contributions of Bhagat Singh, M.N. Roy and other nationalist leaders, we were purging our historical narratives of these kafirs.
Recently I met an army official, whom I would not name for my own safety, who like me also follows the history Lahore. Talking about various obscure and neglected monuments, we reached to the Shadman Chowk (Bhagat Singh chowk), where Bhagat Singh was hanged. I asked him why we couldn’t own Bhagat Singh as a son of Lahore, to which he answered that since he was a Sikh. My dear friend, he was an atheist!
However it is not because of him being a Sikh or an atheist that we fail to own him. It is because nowhere in his struggle, he talks about Hindus and Muslims separately. Neither does he only talk about the plight of just one community. He talked about an entire nation, which composed of people from all religious hues and not. So it would have hardly made a difference had he been Muhammad Aslam or Bhagat Sadiq Ram. There would have been no room from him in the historiography of Pakistan’s Independence struggle. Students of history would have continued thinking that the role of Muhammad Bin Qasim in freeing the Muslims of British India from the British Empire (secretly working for the Hindu baniya) is greater than the role Muhammad Aslam’s hanging did. To further establish the point, let us leave Bhagat Singh aside for a moment and talk about practicing Muslims who also like him, gave up their lives for the independence of their nation but were later disowned or never acknowledged by an independent Pakistan.
The Gaddar Movement is an example of one such struggle which has been thrown off into the sea to keep the boat of Pakistani Nationalism afloat. Having originated from San Francisco and other British colonies, this movement had its roots in the Punjab because of the predominant role that the Punjabis played in it. Bhagat Singh’s father and uncles were also members of this movement, and it is argued that it became the source of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha. Contrary to the popular belief, there were many non-Sikhs involved. This was a massive movement which spread from USA into Canada, Mexico, Burma, Malaya and Japan. Indians living in these far away regions got together for the cause of the freedom of this land. It also found support in the Communist Russia and Afghanistan. In 1915, the Gaddaris established a Free Hindustan government-in-exile in Kabul. Its President was Raja Mohinder Pratab, whereas its Prime Minister was a Muslim, and a Professor of Arabic in Japan, Maulvi Barkatullah. He was also one of the founders of the Gaddar Party. It was his revolutionary literature that became the backbone of this movement. He died in San Fransico. Among other Muslims, who held important positions in the government-in-exile were Maulvi Ubaidullah (Interior Minister) and Maulvi Muhammad Bashi (Youth Minister). The callous treatment meted out to these towering Muslim personalities of their time leads one to question: is it then just because of the religious beliefs of Bhagat Singh that we fail to acknowledge him or is there something else?
There was another Muslim, who played an important role in this movement. This was Syed Rahmat Ali Shah, the first Martyr of this struggle. He was captured near Ferozpur, and then executed in the Montgomery (Sahiwal) Jail. His body was interred in the graveyard in front of the Jail, as nobody came to claim it in the required period. His grandsons today live a life of abject poverty in a small village on the Sundar-Raiwind road called Sultan-keh. They know that their grandfather was an important person, because their father had been called to India once, where he was given an award and a picture on behalf of his father. They say that the name of their grandfather is also written at the entrance to their ancestral village of Wazir Keh in India.
A strategy that the Gadaris had adopted was of secretly passing on revolutionary literature to the Indians in the British Army. In a lot of instances this proved to be a successful tactic, as quite a few regiments revolted against the authorities. One such example was the 5th Native Light Infantry Singapore Case, which included 2 regiments of Infantry, both of them dominated by Muslims. The Gaddar Movement was supporting all sorts of Independence struggle, which were targeted against the British authorities, which is why they also lend their hand to the Khalifat Movement. Mujataba Hussain, aka Mool Chand of the Gaddar Movement played an important role in this Singapore case, where a lot of the Muslim personnel were sympathetic to the cause of the Khilafat. Similarly there was another person from Gujrat called Mian Qasim Mansoor, a rich trader, who financed the scheme. This particular case caused a lot of problems to the authorities. Finally when it was crushed, all the officers had to face Court Martial and many of them were executed on the 2nd of March 1915.
The Gaddar Movement unlike the movement of the All India Muslim League was not a predominant Muslim struggle, but a cause for all the oppressed people of India, who wanted to get rid of the British yoke. The focus of this article has been on a few prominent Muslims in the movement to shed a light on the fact that the Muslim League was not the first political party to have attracted the Muslims. Much before this party was to become a prominent player in the Indian political sphere; secular movements like the Gaddar were already involving Muslims. However when the Muslim League came to power, it downplayed the role of all the other parties, which could have possibly undermined its thesis. However the struggle it claimed to have won single handedly would not have been possible without the sacrifices of Barkatullah, Syed Rahmat Ali, Mujataba Hussain, Mian Qasim Mansoor and Bhagat Singh.
by Raza Rumi
Sachal Studios, a brainchild of Izzat Majeed and supported by an immensely talented poet and music producer, Mushtaq Soofi has now gained international attention. Here is an Al-Jazeera report from Lahore.Please also read my earlier post on this group by clicking here .
By Haroon Khalid
Just 2 days after the 3 days annual urs celebration at the Bibiyan Pak Daman, attended but hundreds of thousands of devotees, Shiias and Sunnis alike, I visited the shrine. The entire atmosphere suffered from a collective hang over. Everything was slow. There were far fewer devotees, the guards were lazy too. People slept under the waan trees at the tomb, protected by the heat of severe heat of Lahori summers, by the cool marble floor and shady trees. Langar, or community kitchen, was running as usual, but there weren’t enough eaters.
The shrine situated near the Shimla Pahari, Davis road, Lahore and is believed to be one of the oldest Muslim shrines of the city. It is visited by hundreds of devotees every day. Besides Shiia and Sunnis, Christians and Hindus also come here for special prayers. During the 3 days urs celebration both the Sunnis and the Shiias combine to make the arrangements. On a Saturday that I visited it there were a few hundred people present there, given the fact that this was just a few days after a major celebration. This was a combination of old, young, men and women. While I was exploring a woman, in her late 30s appeared in a worn down shalwar kameez and tied a red thread on my hand. The tying of the red thread around the hand is an important feature of the shrine culture and is generally associated with a wish that is asked for at the shrine. She asked for a reward, so I gave her a note of Rs. 20. A young man, who was watching the entire episode asked me to join him where he was sitting. He asked me about my whereabouts. After being satisfied by my identity he told me that his name is Yasir Arish and that he is a Sunni Muslim. He told me that he visits the shrine almost every week. He told me that he had seen his elders do it, and coming here gives him peace. Continue reading
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By Waqar Gillani
These days, if you enter ‘Classic Books’, one of the old book shops and a publishing house at Regal Chowk on The Mall you will find a smiling Rashid Hussain Agha, one of the proprietors of the bookstore, welcoming you with all kinds of bakery stuff ‑ cookies and ready to eat food items
Yes, the history has taken another turn. Agha family, known because of its printing of progressive writings and literature, has now added a bakery in the basement and ground floor of their four-storey book house, shifting the books to the third floor.
“We started the bakery after long deliberations and a survey of the area. We had been thinking of starting some other business along with the bookshop for the last couple of years,” fifty-one-year-old Rashid tells The News on Sunday, adding, “The reason is simple. There is decline in book business and severe decline in book selling.” He further says, “We have been facing depressing times in the last couple of years that forced us to think anew so we decided to rename Classic as bakery and books.” Click here to read complete article.
By Bilal Tanweer
But first let me qualify: by ‘books’ I almost exclusively mean books of fiction and poetry—and my judgment of bookstores rests entirely on the said collections. So, go read some other column if you’re into politics. Just go away. (Also, I don’t discuss Urdu books here either; there will be another piece for that.)
Now let’s begin with the usual suspects, Ferozsons and Sang-e-Meel, which have traditionally provided shadier grounds for fiction lovers. Over the past few years, however, these two have fallen on hard times—and it seems to me, they have fallen quite deliberately and even happily. Most of their stock was imported from the UK two decades ago, or earlier. This particularly applies to Sang-e-Meel which seems to be engaged in some sort of hoarding game. The only real addition it has made to its stock in the last two decades is the plastic covers that now seal the books to protect against dust and must. Not that that’s an entirely bad thing, mind you, because in all that plastic I found Lawrence Durrell’s Antrobus Stories—a book that has been out of print for many years now. But here’s the catch: you must buy these plastic-wrapped books at jaw-dropping, eye-popping, soul-smarting prices of more than what they would cost you brand new in the UK itself. (Sang-e-Meel and Ferozsons convert the pounds into rupees at outrageous rates.) Therefore, the only comfort I usually draw from shopping at the said stores is the knowledge that even though I earn in Pakistani Rupees, I can still read in Pounds Sterling.
But no, seriously, if you’re interested in buying fiction in English, there are two bookstores to recommend. One is The Last Word, which is located on the top floor of the Hot Spot, Qaddafi Stadium. It houses a small, smart and remarkably current selection of books, and if there’s a new book to be had, you can trust it shall be served here. TLW specializes in contemporary fiction and nonfiction, and mostly makes up for its tiny size with the big intelligence of its selection. It is also the only place I know in Pakistan where you can find the latest issue of literary magazines, including the terrific The Paris Review. It gets my heart for that.
But the bookstore that gets my love and rocks my world and inspires all these clichés and more is Readings. It has a wonderful collection of both contemporary and classic fiction (although, shockingly, no books by David Foster Wallace!?), its prices are better than other bookstores, and above all, it has the culture of a real bookstore where you have baskets and cushions to collect and browse through your books at leisure, and where the shop boys do not hover about, eyeing you like you’re a book criminal. It is also probably the only bookstore in the country that has entire shelves dedicated to poetry in English, which include contemporary poets. That, ladies and gents, is enough to warrant it as the best bookstore in the country. I owe the discovery of many delightful poets to this bookstore.
Posted by Raza Rumi
A TV journalist prepared this bold documentary for a news channel but it was never aired for obvious reasons – electronic media remains conservative about taboo subjects. The documentary provides great insights into the way women live, work and identify themselves as sex-workers in Lahore’s oldest red-light district known as Heera Mandi (Diamond Market) ironically next to the great Badshahi mosque. Coverage of Multan in the later parts is also interesting.
The narrator obviously has his biases – the usual refrain of middle class Muslims of the subcontinent – but he tries hard to remain neutral and investigative. There is a good dose of Mujras inserted into the series for the viewers; and tit bits of the Hollywood/Bollywood melodrama on the oppressed ‘tawaif’ (prostitute). Whilst tragedies bring these women to the sex-trade, not all of them lament their lives. If anything, Mirza Ruswa’s Umrao Jan (way back in the nineteenth century) was pretty comfortable and empowered by her profession. Similarly, one of the interviewees says: “money is the father, mother and everything for tawaifs”. The head of Kanjar biradri says that girls are taught to be ‘men’, earning ‘horses’ fooling their clients! Not to be missed.
My favourite is the ‘client’ who confesses how intoxicating it is to be “in love” with a sex worker. One gets tired of ‘using’ a wife all the time he says. Wish this documentary had been aired.
The language of these videos is Urdu so it might not be accessible to all the visitors here.
he Lawrence and Montgomery Halls in Lahore as photographed by James Craddock in the 1860s. The caption states “Two large Halls for public meetings built by subscription in honour of Sir John (now Lord) Lawrence and Sir Robert Montgomery. The latter is almost the finest room in India & is used for all the state durbars and Senate meetings, etc. The great ball to the Duke of Edinburgh was in this Hall.” Sir John Lawrence was first Chief Commissioner and Lt. Governor of the Punjab (1853-59) and went on to become Viceroy of India. Robert Montgomery was second Lt. Governor of the Punjab (1859-65). Sir Lawrence played a crucial role during the First War of Independence in 1857 by assuring the supply of troops from Punjab to Delhi. The neoclassical look of the halls was meant to inspire awe in the locals and reaffirm colonial authority after the war. The halls are now being used as the Quaid e Azam Library.
Photo Credit: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20111104&page=30
LAHORE: Over 2,900 Sikh Yatrees from India and thousands of others from all over the world including America, Canada , UK, Europe, and from parts of Sindh have reached Nankana Sahib to participate in the celebrations which will continue till November 11.
Photo by : Daily Express.