Category Archives: India

Why I Love Lahore

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post

Child lost in his thoughts

Child lost in his thoughts

I am a voracious traveller and have had the good fortune of visiting about 40 to 50 cities across continents in the last two decades. Whether it is Naukuchiatal or New York, Periyar or Paris, Delhi or Denmark, I have enjoyed and celebrated each of my travels with equal zest, always discovering something unique and special about the place. And it’s never been about the facilities or the comforts, as much as it is about the energy and attitude of the place and its people.

So for someone like me, an opportunity to officially visit Lahore — to speak at the prestigious Women Leadership Forum organized by Nutshell & AIMA — came like a blessing in disguise, as Pakistan is one country that most Indians wouldn’t consider for a pleasure trip. I was delighted at the thought of visiting our closest neighbour and the birthplace of my parents. Finally, I thought, I’d be able to bring some life into their stories about Pakistan as a haven of large houses, warmth and camaraderie before the lines of geography came in the way of humankind. My mother would reminisce about her father’s cinema hall, named Lakshmi in a small town near Sindh, and my mom-in-law still talks with yearning about their 22-room haveli with its badminton court. Continue reading

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If you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t even been born by Nandita Das

When actress Nandita Das crossed at the Wagah border, she found a place that was both familiar and different.

This article was originally posted on Scroll.in

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It is always bittersweet crossing the Wagah border. The insanity of Partition, the lines drawn in the middle of Punjab, these are thoughts that invariably replay in my mind. And yet having made the journey several times, I look forward to the interesting conversations with porters, security staff and immigration officers on both sides, who live the result of that insanity every day and have many insightful stories to share.

This time the coolie I got on the Pakistan side was an old man, who had been doing the job for the last 25 years. All those years at the border had made him a philosopher and he had clear views on the mindlessness of the animosity between the two countries. He spoke in Punjabi, just like his counterpart who took my luggage till the Pakistani border.

This trip was primarily to research my directorial project on Saadat Hasan Manto, the writer of the 1940s who I am in love with. I felt very fortunate to stay with his middle daughter, who along with her family made me feel completely at home. The last time I had met Manto’s three daughters was over a meal in Lahore. But on this trip I was able to spend extensive time with them. Their many anecdotes were precious nuggets that I could not have got from any book. But most of all it was their warmth and trust in me that was most touching. Continue reading

160 Bhagat Singh files lie in oblivion in Lahore

This article was originally posted here

Even more than eight decades after Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ martyrdom, an important bunch of files related to their trial in the Lahore Conspiracy Case are lying in oblivion in Lahore.

More than 160 files titled ‘Crown vs Sukh Dev, Lahore Conspiracy Case 1929-1931′ are lying behind closed lockers in the Punjab Archives in Lahore, Pakistan. According to sources, no international scholar on Bhagat Singh so far has been allowed to access them.
Amarjit Chandan, London-based poet and independent researcher on Bhagat Singh, who has tried to access those files numerous times in the past said that these files are of immense historical importance as they are from a special tribunal, which was formed for Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ trial. “I myself went to the Lahore Archives and there are many academics who have tried to access the files. I was shown just one file and my request was turned down to take a copy of the catalogue of the collection,” he said.

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A little bit of India in Lahore

 

Naseer ud din shah

The third edition of the Lahore Literary Festival concluded last weekend, a three-day extravaganza attended among others, by prominent Indian writers as delegates and visitors.

Distinguished historian Romila Thapar gave the inaugural keynote address, “The Past as Present”, introduced by Ayesha Jalal, whose recently published book The Struggle for Pakistan also featured in one of the sessions. Both historians participated in a later session on “Living with Internal Differences: The South Asian Dilemma” with human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir and journalist Khaled Ahmed.

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Surjit Singh Lamba

These are three articles on Surjit Singh Lamba‘s conributions on Islaamiyaat and Iqbaaliyaat by eminent scholars.
Feroz-1 Feroz-2 Suheyl-1 Suheyl-2 Tayeba

Lahore Updates 16-10-2014

Dengue virus claims first life in Lahore

LAHORE: A 26-year-old patient suffering from dengue breathed his last on Friday, becoming the first person to have died from the virus this year in Lahore.

Awais was among the 44 patients in Lahore who have been diagnosed with the dengue virus, which has now infected hundreds of people across the country.

The total number of dengue infected patients now stands at 386 in Punjab alone.

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Lahore High Court Upholds Death Penalty of Aasia Bibi

Members of the Pakistan Christian Democratic Alliance march in support of Aasia Bibi, 2010. Arif Ali—AFP

Blasphemy convicted woman’s lawyer vows to appeal the ruling before Supreme Court.

The Lahore High Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy four years ago, as her lawyers vowed to appeal.

Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about Islam’s Prophet during an argument with a Muslim woman. “A two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal of Aasia Bibi but we will file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” said her lawyer Shakir Chaudhry.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 97 percent of the population is Muslim and unproven claims regularly lead to mob violence.

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Trade display: SAARC fair to be held in Lahore

The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) announced that it will organise the 12th Saarc Trade Fair at the Expo Centre, Lahore from January 30 to February 1, 2015.

This will be the third Saarc trade exhibition hosted by Pakistan and first of its kind in Lahore. Exhibitors from Saarc member countries and its observer countries will exhibit a range of products at the exhibition, TDAP press release said.

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PTA unearths illegal gateway exchange in Lahore

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in its ongoing efforts to control grey trafficking unearthed another illegal gateway exchange in Lahore.

According to details, a successful raid against the grey operators was carried out along with Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team at Nain Sukh and Shahdara areas of Lahore, a press release said on Monday. During the raid, an illegal VoIP exchange comprising of six illegal gateways, 24 ports, one PC, one LCD, three network switches, three routers, three line switches, PTCL modem and hundreds of SIMs were confiscated.

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THE MAGIC OF HARIDAS LAHORI!

Malik Omaid

BURIED FOR FORTY DAYS; WONDERFUL PERFORMANCES OF THE INDIAN FAKIRS.

Haridas

Originally published in the London Telegraph, August 22, 1880

We are not told whether the Seven Sleepers who retired to a cave in Ephesus during the reign of the Christian-killing Emperor Decius, and only woke up 155 years afterward, when Theodosins II was on the throne, made any special preparation, but probably they did not. Perhaps it was not necessary. Those were stirring times for members of the new faith, and they had little opportunity to grow obese.

But, as a rule, to fast successfully it is said to be necessary for a man to abstain beforehand, and reduce himself more carefully to the required condition by a long course of preparation. Pre-eminent at this art of suspending animation—for an art it becomes—are the Easterns, and most wonderful stories are told of the natives of India, which, whether they powers are due to narcotics or any other process, seem to open up—if true—a wide field of medical study.

Once of the Indian stories, not easily accessible, but of considerable interest on account of the known veracity of the witnesses, will probably be read with interest at the present time, and is inserted here. The author of it was one Hon. Capt. Osborn, and the notes made of his statement, here subjoined, come from an almost unique copy printed from private circulation. Continue reading

The Pakistan Diaries by Sudheendra Kulkarni

This Article was originally published on NDTV

 

(Sudheendra Kulkarni is a socio-political activist and columnist.)

Bagh-e-Jinnah is to Lahore what Lodi Garden is to Delhi. Both are iconic parks, laden with history. But the former is bigger and, going by the number of aam aadmi who come there for recreation, less elitist. It was formerly known as Lawrence Gardens, honouring John Lawrence, India’s viceroy from 1864 to1869. Along with his older brother, Henry Lawrence, he played a major role in the affairs of the united Punjab during the British Raj, a saga well chronicled by Rajmohan Gandhi in his new book Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten.

An early morning walk from my hotel, Pearl Continental, has brought me to Bagh-e-Jinnah. It being the middle of June, the sun is already up and bright. As in Delhi, a city with which Lahore has so many similarities (both have majestic forts, built by Moghul rulers at a time when Partition was inconceivable), it’s hot, which explained to me why there were so few people in the garden. I am a little disappointed, because I have come here as much to meet common Pakistanis as to savour the joy of a morning walk in a garden. My purpose is to have as much of Track III dialogue – conversations leading to contacts between ordinary Indians and Pakistanis – as possible during my brief five-day visit to Pakistan, to complement the Track II dialogue for which I had gone to Islamabad a couple of days back.

For the uninitiated, Track II is that conflict-resolution activity in which some of those who once took part in Track I – official government-to-government talks – but are now retired continue to meet, along with journalists, professionals and peace activists, to seek solutions to the vexed issues between our two countries. Cynics see Track II as a post-retirement opportunity for former diplomats, soldiers, and senior government officials to travel and talk. In his new book Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum, American scholar Stephen P. Cohen writes about a journalist who sarcastically quipped at an Indo-Pak Track II meeting in Salzburg ‘where the formers were suddenly and most insistently advocating peace’: “We ought to extend the age of retirement, because it seems as if once an official retires he becomes committed to peace with the other side.”

But Track II can also disprove cynics by promoting a constructive and hope-giving exchange of views. This was evident at the Pakistan-India Bilateral Dialogue in Islamabad on June 14, organised by the Regional Peace Institute, a non-governmental body founded by Pakistan’s former foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, and supported by Hans Seidel Foundation, a German NGO. I was one of the 14 Indian members of a delegation that was led by Mani Shankar Aiyar. Mani, an irrepressible votary of India-Pakistan détente, argues, notwithstanding all the flak he receives from the critics of this argument, that the official Track I dialogue between our two governments must go on in an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” manner, irrespective any provocation or unpleasant development. The delegation also included our former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. The Pakistani contingent comprised former minsters and retired diplomats and officials of the army and ISI, besides a few prominent journalists.

I have some experience of being associated with the Track I dialogue between India and Pakistan, having travelled with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his historic Bus Yatra to Lahore in 1999 at the invitation of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s then and present prime minister. I had also accompanied Vajpayee on his visit to Islamabad for the 2004 SAARC summit, on the sidelines of which he had an important meeting with Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s then president. That meeting yielded the path-breaking joint statement in which Pakistan gave a commitment not to “permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner”. Continue reading

A line drawn a couple of kilometres from Ludhiana may have defined borders and changed the world for most people. But on either sides there are some things that have become vestiges of another time, another place. TOI traces a few of these legacies of Partition in the city that trigger memories on this side of the border
Walking zig zag between vehicles and people at Lajpat Rai Market near Clock Tower, it is easy to walk past the Lahore Book Shop without much incidence. But, that is only for the uninitiated. For everyone else, the not-so-fancy bookstore is a legacy of the Partition and a destination in itself.
Ludhiana’s literature lovers file into the shop, go through the piles of books stacked one on another and find their pick before heading out with a smile. They say the store is a faithful witness of change while sticking to its roots.
The year was 1940, the place Lahore and Jiwan Singh, who had just finished post graduation in English, had many career opportunities staring him. He could have a cushy government job or work as English professor in any college of the time. But Jiwan decided differently and started the ”dicey” business of publishing Punjabi literature. His motivation was the desire to promote Punjabi and help students easily get books in the language.

Read the complete piece at:

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/05/28/city/lahore/a-little-piece-of-lahore-in-india/

Chauburji, Lahore. [1880s Pic]

Photograph of the Chauburji Gateway at Lahore,  taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views. The Gateway of the Four Minarets or Chauburji was once the entrance to one of Lahore’s many pleasure gardens.

Posted by: Shiraz Hassan

Punjab Public Library in Lahore [Old Pic]

 

 

Photograph of the Punjab Public Library in Lahore from the ‘Bellew Collection: Photograph album of Surgeon-General Henry Walter Bellew’ taken by George Craddock in the 1870s.  The Punjab Public Library was established in the late 19th century

 

Posted by:  Shiraz Hassan

Jahangir’s Tomb, 1870s Pic.


This view shows the tomb and surrounding gardens of the Mughal emperor Jahangir (1605-1627) at Shahdara in the 1870s. Mughal royalty and their courtiers built pleasure gardens and palaces on the right bank of the River Ravi at Shahdara opposite the major city of Lahore. At the outset of the reign of Jahangir’s son, Shah Jahan, in 1627 the emphasis changed to funerary architectural projects of which this is one. Set in formal gardens originally built by Jahangir’s wife, Nur Jahan, the tomb is faced in red sandstone inlaid with coloured marbles whilst inside the mausoleum walls are covered in colourful floral murals. The surviving marble cenotaph of Jahangir is decorated with inlaid gemstones in floral motifs and calligraphic passages giving the ninety-nine names of Allah.

Posted by: Shiraz Hassan

Shades Of The Old Punjab

Picture on the left – Joga Singh with a maulvi outside the mosque in Sarwarpur that his brother Sajjan helped reconstruct
This is a great, heart-warming piece from Outlook India which says that “Across rural Punjab, Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition”

Brothers In Arms

  • Around 200 mosques across Punjab have been repaired, rebuilt or built from scratch with the help of Sikhs and Hindus in the last 10 years
  • Many destroyed during Partition riots are now being restored by village communities
  • In some cases, the Jamaat-e-Islami is involved, but most are unorganised village-level efforts
  • It’s a reassertion, after decades, of Punjab’s unique religious and cultural synthesis

The Ghuman family of Sarwarpur, near Ludhiana, cannot understand what the fuss is about. Ever since Sajjan Singh Ghuman, an NRI Sikh living in England, rebuilt a mosque in his native village that was damaged during Partition, the shrine, as well as his family back home, have attracted the curiosity of  outsiders. “We never imagined we would be on a Punjabi TV channel just because my elder brother rebuilt this small mosque for the poor Muslim families of our village. For him, it was just a gesture towards restoring the collective heritage of our village,” says Sajjan’s brother, Joga Singh, who manages the family’s lands in Sarwarpur. Sure. But what Joga and his family, or even  the TV channel, do not know is that the sentiment that inspired his brother’s act is being manifested in scores of villages across Punjab, with Sikhs and Hindus joining hands to either rebuild old and damaged mosques or build new ones. Odd? Perhaps. But Punjab, as admirers of its unique religious synthesis say, has always defied stereotypes to do its own thing. Continue reading

From Delhi to Lahore: the other side of the border

Here’s a post that readers might enjoy…

I landed in Lahore and my friends were waiting outside the airport for me. I was scared for sure because I was alone in Pakistan. I could not believe I was in Pakistan. The country I heard so much of. I could not say that it was like Delhi because it was too small as compared to Delhi but at the same time, it made me feel I was in India. Whenever I saw billboards I used to feel no I am in Pakistan. I thought every girl would be in burqa or cover their head but to my shock nothing was like that. At 1 am, I started my journey for Islamabad but I felt Lahore never sleeps. I never saw Delhi ISBT to have so many people there at 1 am. Biggest shock came when I saw a bus hostess in luxury bus at 1:30 am. I never imagined that an Islamic country would allow that.

Bhagat Singh’s alma mater: decaying but not forgotten

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: Bradlaugh Hall, where one of South Asia’s most influential revolutionaries – Bhagat Singh – once studied is, today, the focus of a campaign to not only rescue it from disrepair but to rename it and other landmarks of Lahore after him. Named after the social reformist and radical member of British parliament Charles Bradlaugh, the college was built on October 30, 1900, to provide secondary higher education to students from all walks of life. In the decades following Partition, the institute has had its share of turmoil, according to residents of Rattigan Road who briefly recounted its history to Daily Times. Shortly after 1947 Bradlaugh Hall was used to store foodstuffs; it then found life as a steel mill up until the 1980s, when it reopened as a technical education centre, the Milli Technical Education Institute. Continue reading

I’ve gone back to childhood in Lahore: Artist Krishen Khanna

In his new series of works, leading Indian contemporary artist Krishen Khanna has travelled back in time to his days in pre-partition Lahore, which today lies in Pakistan.
“They are mostly a recollection of events that I have seen in my early childhood – when tension between the British rulers and Indian freedom fighters was escalating,” Delhi-based Khanna told IANS in an interview.
The 84-year-old artist is preparing for a retrospective exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi Jan 23 to be organised by the Mumbai-based online gallery Saffronart.
Khanna has completed five large format oil compositions in monochrome, which he says are an extension of his memories of Maclagan Road in Lahore, where he lived in a cosmopolitan neighbourhood “with Parsis, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims”. Continue reading

Mystique of treasures

Source here

ON March 10, 1957, in a run down house in Model Town, Lahore, died the last grandchild of the greatest ruler of the Punjab, Maharajah Ranjit Singh. The few remaining ‘treasures’ of the Lahore Darbar still left with Princess Bamba, mainly oil paintings of the 19th century, were ‘gifted’ to the government. They are today displayed in Rani Jindan’s Palace in the Lahore Fort.

Princess Bamba died a virtual pauper. She refused to leave Lahore. Her father, Maharajah Dulip Singh, had been robbed of his ‘rightful’ treasures by the British government, leaving him to die in 1893 in Paris, as a bankrupt refugee. Continue reading

A house, Partitioned?

By Ahmad Rafay Alam

I was born into one of those families that presumes one completes their studies in a Western university.  And so it was that I found, like the many other Pakistani law students who read law in the United Kingdom, preparing for my bar qualification as a student barrister at Lincolns’ Inn.  Though the bar was dreadfully boring and, as I later discovered back home, totally irrelevant to the Pakistani legal system, I was lucky to find accommodation in the Goodenough Trust’s William Goodenough House in London’s quiet McLenburgh Square.

Under one of the terms of the trust governing the William Goodenough House, accommodation is open only to post-graduate students from outside the United Kingdom.  This was refreshing because, in place of the drunken undergraduate shenanigans common at other student accommodation, “Willie G” offered an amusing alternative in the drunken shenanigans of international post-graduate students.

Willie G had quite a few Pakistani residents.  United, I suppose, by a shared social and cultural background, we forged the type of deep friendships one forges when they live thousands of miles from home.  Of course our revelry came at the cost of our grades.  I once heard an admissions tutor comment about how it was dangerous to recruit more than a dozen Pakistanis into any academic program: “They form a cricket team and never do any work.”  Though we never formed a cricket team – a good idea, in hindsight – the sentiment echoes true enough.

It was when I was in Willie G that I met and became friends with Martand.  Martand was from India, and for a Pakistani like me he was a great way to get to know about India, the country next door that figured so prominently in defining what my country was.  At the time, I had never been to India.  I had no notion of what India was like or what Indians were like other than the opinions I’d picked up in school text books, novels, television, the press, movies.  You get the picture.  Like anyone else, I suppose, I was coloured by the prejudice of history.  In the case of India and Pakistan, nothing attracts more prejudice than the fractural events of Partition. Continue reading

From conflict to reconciliation

By Kuldip Nayar (Nation,Lahore)

A seminar took me to Lahore. The topic was: Rapprochement between India and Pakistan. Among the participants were scholars and retired diplomats from Germany and France. Their experience of striking friendship after hundreds of years of war was their input. They argued that certain members of the government elite had to undergo a personal “conversion.” Public opinion followed later.

With India and Pakistan, it is different. Bureaucrats who formulate and execute policy for a détente between the two countries are “mindset” and they are far from converted. The initiative has been by the people. Whatever progress has been made to lessen tension, it is because of them. They, too, have their eyes fixed on how France and Germany reached the equation. Continue reading

‘Lahore is a city of tremendous beauty and lights’

Damanbir Singh Jaspal- GUEST IN TOWN

Lahore is a city of tremendous beauty and lights. I stay in Lahore whenever I came to Pakistan, as this city has its own historical features that cannot be forgotten, Damanbir Singh Jaspal, Information and Public Relations principal secretary (Transport) for the government of Indian Punjab, said on Saturday.

Jaspal is in Lahore not only on an official tour, but is also carrying out a research on 48 shrines that are named after 17 species of trees.

The study he has done in India, and now doing in Pakistan, includes photographs of the shrines – with the trees in the foreground – a description of botanical feature of the trees, and the relationship between the species and the historical and the religious background of the shrines. Continue reading