Category Archives: Punjab

Future generations have to be saved from Taliban

* PPP rally welcomes military operation in troubled areas of Swat

* Similar rallies staged in major cities of Punjab

Daily Times Staff Report

LAHORE: The Taliban are the enemy of Pakistan, and we have to save the coming generations from their clutches, said the participants of a rally arranged by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Friday.

The rally, organised to condemn the Taliban insurgency and express support for the army, started from Nasir Bagh and ended at Faisal Chowk in front of the Punjab Assembly building. Several PPP leaders, political workers, and the general public participated in the rally.   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

The history of Basant

Manzoor has authored a great post on Basant. We are cross posting it here – given that many Lahore Nama visitors are talking of Basant and expressing their great enthusiasm for the festival.  Raza Rumi (ed)

Basant is a centuries old cultural tradition of Punjab. Over the years, it gained an element of controversy as the fundamentalism wiped the norms of tolerance and co-existence in our society. Disregard of law and for the lives of fellow citizens turned it into a bloody sport.

Recently I came across a book “URS AUR MELAY” by Aman Ullah Khan Arman, published by Kitab Manzil Lahore in 1959. I am reproducing the chapter on Basant (p.276-277) here: “Basant (a Sanskrit word for spring) is a seasonal festival of Indo-Pak sub-continent and it has no religious bearings. Basant is the herald of the spring and celebrated in winter (Magh) on the fourth or fifth day of lunar month. This is the reason why it is called Basant Panchami. Basant season starts on this day, therefore, Basant is regarded the herald of spring, wheat grows, and mustard blossoms in this season. (Old Aryan tradition divides a year into six seasons each having two months. Mustard blossom that is yellow in color is considered the color of spring and accordingly yellow outfits were worn).  Continue reading

Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi’s invasion and its consequences

A 17th century depiction of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi holding court

The ill-fated Somnath temple, restored many moons later

Ghaznavi’s tomb

Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi

The medieval Ghazni

Romila Thapar, the renowned historian of antiquity, argues that the temple of Somnath may never have been attacked by Mahmud or that his attack was of little significance. It was the British House of Commons that brought it to life by demanding that the gates of Somnath be brought back from Ghazni. The funny thing is that when these gates arrived from Ghazni in India it was found that they were made in Turkey. The gates were then put in storage for white ants to feast upon!

Instead of ending caste-ism, the new Muslim rulers of Punjab added another layer to it: they became a super caste overriding all others … while the converted peasantry continued to till the land for the benefit of Muslim warlords from the north, lower class neo-Muslims were employed in court stables and other lowly jobs. Nothing changed for the newly converted Muslim peasantry

Dr Manzur Ejaz writing for The Friday Times’ series entitled: People’s history of the Punjab

Punjab’s fate started changing in the 11th century when Abu Mansur Sebüktegin, a slave king of Ghazni, began invading Raja Jaypal’s Punjab empire which stretched from Kabul eastwards, covering most of northern India. After two inconclusive wars between Jaypal and Sebüktegin, the latter died and his son Mahmud (971-1030) ascended the throne in Ghazni. It was during Mahmud’s several incursions into the Punjab that Muslim rule was established and Lahore became the province’s capital.

Ghazni and areas around it mainly depended upon trade of various goods as well as slaves for its commerce. Renowned from Ghazni to Central Asia these slave markets dealt mainly in slaves captured in remote parts of Central Asia and Russia and later, most numerously, in India. Mahmud’s father, Sebüktegin was himself a Turk slave captured when he was 12 and sold to Alaptigin. When he grew up, his talents were recognized and he married Alaptigin’s daughter and became his general and then his successor. Ghazni and its adjoining areas needed abundant agricultural products and slaves to prosper. This was one of the main reasons why the Punjab, with its rich resources and large population of would-be-slaves, was such an attractive target for the Ghaznavids.

Legend has it that Jaypal, to uphold his honour, burned himself on a pyre after Mahmud defeated him twice (and according to some thrice). Some Hindutva historians maintain that Jaypal and his family were enslaved and taken to Ghazni but the great Raja committed suicide before he was put on the market. However, this is probably not true because after Jaypal, his son Anandpal took over the reins of the empire and continued resisting Mahmud. Eventually, Anandpal was overwhelmed and Mahmud established a government in Lahore.

Mahmud did not only overwhelm Punjab’s Hindu dynasty, he also attacked Multan’s Muslim state in the same manner. Muslim apologists who consider Mahmud a but shikan (an idol destroyer) and great preacher of Islam forget to mention his destruction of Muslim rulers in Multan and elsewhere. And hardline Islamists go further, and vigorously support his invasions because Multan was ruled by Shias and Ismailis whom they do not consider to be real Muslims. Present-day Taliban are following this same tradition.

Sultan Mahmud may have been made a grandiose Muslim icon by the later historians of the Slave Dynasty to legitimize their own rule in India. Similarly, Hindu nationalists exaggerated his killing and plundering to support their own agenda. Muslim historians claim he looted unbelievably large amounts of gold, silver and diamonds from Hindu temples (as in the alleged two hundred maunds of gold from Nagarkot mandir). Hindu nationalists take the same exaggerated numbers and give it their own spin. Muslims call Sultan Mahmud an iconoclast because of his destruction of Somnath temple while Hindus take it as the greatest insult to their religion. However, Romila Thapar, the renowned historian of antiquity, after examining Persian, Gujrati and Sanskrit texts and manuscripts from the temple itself argues that Somnath may never have been attacked by Mahmud or his attack was of little significance. It was the British House of Commons that brought it to life by demanding that the gates of Somnath be brought back from Ghazni. The funny thing is that when these gates arrived from Ghazni in India it was found that they were made in Turkey. The gates were then put in storage for white ants to feast upon!

Sultan Mahmud’s character may have been idealized or demonized by opposing ideologues but it is clear that he targeted Hindu temples that were known for hoarding wealth. Hindu temples were known as depositories of accumulated wealth because they levied high taxes on worshippers and invested heavily in trade, reaping profits from, in most cases, Arab Muslim traders who had settled in the coastal cities of India much before Mahmud was born. In addition, Mahmud’s conquest of Punjab provided multitudes of slaves for Ghazni’s slave market. These slaves were used for private pleasure and for different craft industries manufacturing for the Silk Route trade.

Mahmud’s duels with Indian rulers and elites were very interesting. High caste Hindus, ready to be co-opted or to spy for him, were left alone to stick to their own religion. Many high caste Hindus opportunistically converted to Islam: we have seen the same phenomenon of opportunism during the Muslim rule that followed and even during the Sikh Raj in the Punjab. Therefore, by and large, the same ruling elite retained power after Mahmud established his writ in the Punjab. Nonetheless, many scholars and skilled and talented people ran away towards the south. Al-Beruni, Mahmud’s chronicler wrote: “Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country …This is the reason too why Hindu sciences have retired far away from parts of the country conquered by us and have fled to places, which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benaras and other places.”

Al-Beruni also notes the change in gender relations after Mahmud’s conquest of the Punjab. According to his observation, Punjabi men always used to consult their wives about important matters. However, in Central Asian male chauvinistic society, women were not considered worthy of advice or consideration in important matters. After Mahmud’s occupation of Punjab, women began to lose their previous important status.

Most of all, the Hindu peasants, artisans and those belonging to lower castes bore the brunt of Mahmud’s invasions. After every conquest, most of the fighting men were killed and women and children were taken as slaves to be sold in the Ghazni market. Keeping in mind his talent for exaggeration, the famous historian Continue reading

SIR GANGA RAM: A Brilliant Man of Punjab

Ranpreet Singh Bal ji has sent this exclusive post for Lahore Nama. I am most excited about the fact that Lahore Nama is inviting contributions and increasing readership. Raza Rumi

Ganga Ram was an engineer who designed majestic buildings of Lahore, Amritsar, Patiala and other cities in joint India. He had his early schooling from Amritsar.
sir_ganga_ram
This fact has been highlighted in his biography “ Sir Ganga Ram” A man for all seasons, authored by Dr. F.M. Bhatti and reprinted by Sir Ganga Ram heritage foundation Lahore.

While Sir Ganga Ram is still an icon for the residents of Lahore where he got higher education and constructed beautiful structures there.

Ganga Ram was born in 1851 in Mangtanwala about forty miles from Lahore and fourteen miles from Nankana Sahib, his father who was Assistant Sub inspector at a Police station later moved to Amritsar.

He was sent to nearby private school near Darbar Sahib in Amritsar. Sir Ganga Ram mastered in calligraphy and Persian. He passed his matriculation from Government High School and joined the Government College Lahore in 1869.

Afterwards he obtained a scholarship to the Thompson Engineering College Roorki in 1871, where he passed with the Gold medal in 1873. Continue reading

Lahore: Cultural capital to Taliban territory?

Maseeh Rahman writing here

Lahore was the scene of at least three massive bomb attacks on security establishments earlier this year, but people in Pakistan’s second largest city, routinely hailed as the nation’s ‘cultural capital’, appear far more anxious about two relatively minor incidents which occurred earlier this month.
The first was on the evening of October 7, when a cluster of fruit juice parlours — which also serve as popular dating venues — in the Garhi Shahu area, not far from the railway station, was hit by three low-intensity bombs, injuring five people, of whom one died later. The next day, panic-stricken traders organised a well-publicised bonfire of videos and other allegedly pornographic material at the popular electronics bazaar on Hall Road. Continue reading

An evening at Wagah Border

Vandana K Mittal
First published here

WHAT WAS once just one portion of the thousands of kilometers long border that India and Pakistan share has over the years evolved into a place almost of pilgrim for both nations. I am not sure whether the name Wagah comes from some village or bit of land on ‘our’ side or ‘their’ side but there sits, right bang in the middle of the fertile Punjab fields that are planted with same crops by farmers of both sides at the same time, creating a seamless green carpet.

I first visited this border post in early 1972 as a child. The war had ended just a few months earlier and we lived in a small place called Khasa just about 25 kilometers from the Indo-Pak border.
We were shown around the border post by a Sikh officer of the Border Security Force. It was evening time and the sun was about to set. The lowering of the flag was about to take place and the Indian soldiers blew the bugle, marched to the gate and in a flurry of dramatic steps and salutes lowered the tri-color. The Pakistani soldiers came next but minus the fanfare and took their flag away quietly. We were told by the officer that because Pakistan had surrendered to the Indian forces, as per international convention, only India was allowed to lower the flag each evening ceremoniously. I do not remember how long this state of affairs lasted because on all subsequent visits I saw the two sides lowering their flags in the same manner with equal fan fare. Continue reading

Lawrence Gardens, Lahore

Posted by Raza Rumi –
I visited the Lawrence Gardens in August and managed to take a few pictures.
The cricket Pavillion
Lawrence Garden Memories, Lahore
The relaxing policmen

Lawrence Garden Memories, Lahore

Continue reading

Log on to www.pap.gov.pk: PA legislators more ‘accessible’ through new website

* Website provides information about assembly proceedings, history, members
* People can e-mail queries to assembly, make virtual visit to PA

LAHORE: Punjab Assembly (PA) Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan on Friday launched the updated website of the PA, http://www.pap.gov.pk.

United States Agency of International Development (USAID) Democracy and Governance Director Michael Hryshchyshyn and Lahore US Consulate Principal Officer Bryan D Hunt also attended the ceremony held at the PA building in connection with the launch of the website. Continue reading

Shahbaz Sharif sets a leadership benchmark

By Raza Rumi

While the pundits have rambled on the venality of the politician and the slothfulness of the bureaucracy, Pakistan’s largest province has witnessed the rise of a unique phenomenon in terms of provincial public management articulated by its second-time Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. In terms of efficacy of the public services and the administration of state machinery, the younger Sharif has set a leadership benchmark that daunts the political class as a whole. What are the points of departure here and how did this formidable image develop in less than a decade?

From 1997-99, arguably not a long stint in office, Shahbaz Sharif demonstrated the maximalist application and range of political will — from policy setting to micro-managerial interventions. It was a style that went down well with the populace, sent shivers down the imaginary backbones of the civil service and took the 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

Female MPAs ‘spew venom’

This report from Daily Times written by nauman tasleem is funny as well as reinforces the stereotype

LAHORE: Female legislators of treasury and opposition made sarcastic comments against each other in the Punjab Assembly’s fourth session on Friday. Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal also amused the members with some funny remarks. Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) legislator Tayyeba Zameer stood up and tried to say something but was prevented from doing so by female PML-Q members Amna Ulfat, Amina Jehangir and Samina Khawar Hayat. Tayyeba became infuriated and said, “The opposition’s female members have no etiquette. They are behaving like Mohalla women.” To this, Samina replied: “You (Tayyeba) too are ill-mannered. If we are Mohalla women, you too are not from a mehal (palace).” Also during Friday’s session, a PML-Q member asked Irrigation Minister Raja Riaz about the low water level in canals. Riaz stood up and tried to answer the question, but the speaker stopped him by saying, “Did you get my permission to speak?” Riaz sat back down, which made all the members laugh.Pakistan People’s Party member Fouzia Behram said all the female MPAs, whether from the treasury or opposition, should be respected. In response, the speaker said, “All the male MPAs are like your brothers, so they should also be respected.”

Lahore will progress under Shahbaz Sharif – let’s hope so

 

The NEWS: Former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif is effectively back in the provincial assembly. Following the decision by the three candidates opposing him to withdraw their papers, Sharif has won his seat from Bhakkar without contest. The victory is significant given that the PML-N had claimed efforts continued to be made to block their entry into the assemblies. Just days ago, a taped conversation allegedly featuring arch Sharif rival Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and containing an assurance that senior members of the judiciary had been asked to reject the candidature of the Sharifs, stirred up a new furore. It is a reflection of reality in our country that little has since been heard of this whole matter, and it is unclear if any effort is being made to investigate the alleged effort to influence a key judicial verdict.

Shahbaz Sharif has indeed already been to a large extent acting as the Punjab chief minister, advising and instructing the young Dost Mohammad Khosa, who has proved he is a politician with considerable ability during his brief stint in top office. However, the official return of Shahbaz is still significant. For one, it is expected he may be able to adopt a tougher line on issues that range from the widespread hoarding of ‘atta’ currently taking place in the province to matters such as delays in the completion of road projects. These issues make a great deal of difference to the lives of people. In Lahore, the city that received the lion’s share of attention under the Sharifs, people still recall the improvements made in traffic, sewage systems, parks and much else. They hope these will be repeated under this second coming of the younger Sharif brother. But, one must also hope that, learning from the errors made in the past, the ruthless gunning down of people in murders labelled ‘police encounters’ does not once more become a reality. Along with his zeal for good governance, Mr Sharif was also known for a spirit of vindictiveness that was too a hallmark of his tenure. This time round, one must hope the years in exile have helped temper this aspect of his style of governance, enabling Punjab to benefit from the more positive aspects of his administrative ability.

Image credit here

Lahore’s Kucha Kakezian

This evocative  picture of Mohalla Kakazaian was taken by tango and the story below is from Khalid Hasan entitled Abdulla Malik’s old Lahore published in the Friday TImes Lahore.

At the age of 81, Abdulla Malik published an account of the first twenty-seven years of his life. In a brief foreword to the book, Purani Mehfilain Yaad aa Ra’hi Ain , he wrote, “I am eighty-one years old now and I can declare with pride that I have spent my entire life wedded to the same commitment, the same set of beliefs, namely the establishment one day of a socialist Pakistan. It will not come as the negation of any religion or faith, nor a revolt against God. In fact, it will be a message of love for mankind, a message that transcends all religions, faiths and creeds.”

The most fascinating part of Abdulla Malik’s autobiography, which holds little back, are his early memories of the old city of Lahore. He writes, “I was born in the last years of the second decade of the 20th century, on 20 October 1920 in Lahore’s Koocha Chabukswaran, which was located in the heart of the city. Relying on my earliest memories, I can say that all the streets around ours, and in fact our immediate neighbourhood, the area bazars, the mosques, the takiyas, the public baths, were part of Haveli Mian Khan. This Haveli was built in Emperor Shahjahan’s reign by his Prime Minister Nawab Saadullah Khan, but it was completed during the time of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir by the Nawab’s son, Mian Khan, governor of Lahore. This grand edifice was spread over an area of several miles and it was divided into three sections: the women’s quarter, the men’s quarter which was called Rang Mahal, and the Qalai Khana, whose walls touched those of Masjid Chinyaanwali.” Continue reading

Mercury rising:Factories in Lahore emitting tonnes of mercury in air daily

By Abdul Manan

LAHORE: Factories in the city are pumping hundreds of kilogrammes of mercury in the city’s air and water while the Environment Protection Department (EPD) has so far done nothing to curb this lethal pollution.

Talking to Daily Times, an EPD official said, “Mercury pollution is a very serious matter and should be dealt with on war footing.” He said that about six months ago, the federal agency for environment launched a project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to prepare an inventory of mercury pollution. He said the federal agency tasked the EPD to do the work in Lahore, “but the EPD has done nothing and the expensive laboratory equipment [used to measure mercury in the air and water] is kept locked in the EPD store.”

He said the federal government had given the EPD the task to hold awareness seminars and programmes to sensitise factory owners on the increasing mercury levels in the city’s environment. But no such programme had been held, he added. Continue reading

Lahoris dominate the Punjab cabinet

By Faizan Bangash writing in the NEWS

LAHORE has become the city with largest representation in the Punjab cabinet as four out of total 14 ministers who took oath on Tuesday belong to the provincial metropolis.

The cabinet members from Lahore include Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, Farooq Yousaf Ghurki, Mian Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman and Kamran Michael.

Besides, the Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Mashood also hails from Lahore. Lahore is also likely to wear the crown of Punjab after PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif becomes its chief minister of the province after being elected in the bye-polls.

Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, who has been given the portfolio of Prisons, is the most experienced parliamentarian of PML-N from Lahore in the present cabinet who has reached the Punjab Assembly for the third time. Continue reading

Surjit Singh Lamba arrives in Lahore

From the Daily Times

LAHORE: Indian writer and poet Surjit Singh Lamba, the first non-Muslim to publish an Urdu book, Quran-e- Natiq, arrived in the city on Saturday evening.

Lamba, a great admirer of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, published his first book, Nazre Khusro, in 1975. The book contains Amir Khusro’s Persian ghazals translated in Urdu, which is a rare and pioneer work in Urdu literature.

He published his second Urdu book, Quran-e-Natiq, in which he highlighted the message of love and unity of mankind – preached and practiced by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Literary circles all over the world have praised the book.

The Urdu Academy, Delhi, has given ‘Linguistic Integrity Award’ to Lamba for the book in 2004. He has done intensive research on Iqbaliat and Islamiat and has delivered extempore lectures in India, Pakistan; and the US – fostering universal brotherhood and interfaith harmony. Continue reading

4,000 Sikhs arrive for Besakhi celebrations

By Atif Nadeem in the NEWS

SOME 4,000 Indian Sikhs Friday, wearing colourful turbans, arrived at the Wagah station to participate in a three-day Besakhi festival which starts from April 12.

The Pakistan Sikh Gurdawara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) received them at the Wagah station. They were showered with rose petals amidst drumbeat and dancing horses. They were also offered lunch and drinks by PSGPC President Sardar Bishan Singh and ETPB officials. The Indian pilgrims will visit various sacred places during their stay in the Punjab, including Nankana Sahib, Sacha Sauda, Kartarpur Sahib, Rohri Sahib and Gurdawara Punja Sahib. The Besakhi festival is celebrated to renew the pledge for promoting harmony and brotherhood as enshrined in Sikhism in the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, the last guru of the Sikh faith. Pilgrims come to Pakistan from across the world to celebrate the festival while Sikhs visit Gurdawara Panja Sahib at Hassanabdal, where the 10th guru, Guru Govind Singh, settled around 300 years ago to preach Sikhism.

The pilgrims arrived at Wagah by three trains and there was a great hustle and bustle at the station. Immigration, rangers, customs, railway and ETPB officials were trying their level best to facilitate the pilgrims. Continue reading

Memories of Lahore Breezes

Desh Kapoor writes at desicritics:

She must have walked on the same streets that were once walked by my father. Maybe the fruits that had falled from the trees that had once fed my grandfather had also been tasted by her. Now, she was standing right in our house bringing the air of Lahore with her. Rubab Saleem (blogs at Pakistan Times) was visiting us in Houston and I could not miss being mesmerized by the situation. It was ridden with quiet nostalgia in my mind.Both my parents and their forefathers came from Lahore. While my father’s family was from Lahore proper, my mother’s family came from Sheikhupura, near Lahore. While my father and his parents migrated in 1920’s due to my grandfather’s Government job, my mother’s side came during partition. I would sit down with my Nanaji for hours discussing his childhood and youth. I still remember him picking up the Hindustan Times with a story on the terrorist training camps for the Khalistanis in 1980’s with a map of the various places where those camps were and pointing those places to me. “Here I played my first hockey match”… and “Here I went to college”.. etc. He had travelled wide and well in that land and was fluent in Farsi and Urdu (oral and written).

After all these decades, the Internet had accomplished me to do another thing. Sort of close the loop that had been left open – a young girl from Lahore finally brought that whiff of that city – which has a special place in Punjabiyat of South Asia – to our home. Continue reading

Brilliant News for Lahore – CM House to be converted into IT varsity

Monday, March 24, 2008
By our correspondent

The NEWS reports:

 Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday reiterated that he would convert the Punjab Chief Minister House into an information technology university after assuming power.

He was speaking at a ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Karkunan-e-Pakistan to mark the Pakistan Day.

Shahbaz said the dictatorship in the country was on its last legs. He said the country was in the clutches of a dictator just one year ago and no one could imagine he would lose his grip on power. He said the dictatorship “wounded the nation” but now it was time that these wounds were healed.

He said the entire nation had sent a clear message to the undemocratic forces that their time had come to an end. He regretted that the dictator was still conspiring to derail the democratic process in the country. He said all efforts made by the undemocratic elements to derail the democracy in the country would be foiled. Continue reading