Sunday, April 03, 2005

I'm recently back to my Lahore fixation, which means all of you who wanted food or Punjabi Music will have to wait, even though I think Punjabi Music might figure in this article, depending on whether I have the time.

As those who know me well know full well, I have an obsession with Pakistan and Lahore. The reason for it is slightly weird. Ever since I was born, I knew that my family was originally from Lahore (And Bhera, and Sialkot) which is now in Pakistan. Being a history aficionado from day one, I always listened to stories about Pakistan with great interest. My interest in the partition was however triggered off in Class VII by, of all things, a newspaper report in which I read that Lahore and Amritsar are 29 miles apart, as far as physical distance goes.

That got me thinking. Amritsar is a day-trip from Delhi, a place which has no mystery at all for any of our generation , especially those living in Delhi. Lahore, on the other hand, has an other-wordly quality about it. One that crops up in the connversation of the elderly in my family, in history text-books, and in Punjabi folk music. I'd never actually thought it could have been closer to Delhi than London, let alone Amritsar.

Well, then, being the obsessive-Compulsive freak that I am, I got to reading about the partition. Many volumes later, I realised what really shocked me about the partition, other than the blood and the gore, was its arbitrariness, and its dependence on a series of coincidences. As late as September 1946, it was something that people were able to laugh at. As late as the 17th of August 1947, the results of Radcliffes Boundary Commission were so uncertain that Hindus could believe that Lahore would be a part of India, and Muslims could dream about Calcutta being a part of Pakistan. In a sense, Pakistan was a dream, built up from scratch by one man, who, despite proclaiming himself to be the champion of all Muslims, ate pork, smoked, drank and married a non-Muslim.

The more I read about the country, the more I realise the tragedy of the partition. The main tragedy was not the immediate exodus and the riots, gruesome though they were, it was the problems it threw up. The chaos in Kashmir is wholly a result of the partition, as well as the Genocide in 1970-71 in Bangladesh. The movement for Sindhu-desh, for Pakhtunkhwa (If I spell it properly), for an independent Baluchistan, and closer home in Khalistan, are all as a result of frustation with the partition, and the forces it unleashed in the Indian sub-continent. Another, even sadder aspect of the partition has been the movement of entire religous communities from one part to the other, most notably in the Punjab. While the Indian part of the British province has very few Muslims, West Punjab is almost entirely denuded of its Hindu and Sikh population. All this has resulted in is bitterness, and the loss of a composite culture, which has made both countries the poorer.

What makes it worse is that there is no short-term solution. The Bonhomie we see between the two nations is usually fragile, and all it takes is a mention of Kashmir or 1947 to destroy it. To rescind the partition would be nearly impossible and would be a monumental folly at the present juncture, cnsidering the level of distrust that prevails between the two countries. All that can be done is to reduce hatred, and to stop painting each others as villains .

The night is dark, and my lamp burns low. Goodnight, all.


Blogger Dhruv said...

"The research is impeccable.."

2:25 am  
Blogger Smita said...

lovely post manav...though ive heard u say the same a million times over...even though its very theoretical but this post has somehow touched me...

10:41 am  
Blogger Karan said...

A most excellent example of human's writing.

12:30 am  
Blogger Futae No Kiwami-The Duel Extreme said...

Great Entry. I'm not a person who generally has an opinion on Indian history,but this is very informative. I wonder if u're interested in World History.I'm generally interested in World History,especially medieval ages.
Solomon and Sheeba,Montezuma and Cortez,Genghiz Khan's exploits,Atilla the Hun's horde ! I hate to admit it publicly,people will think i'm a realy nerd, but I love to watch History Channel ! There I said it ! I hope I'm not making a big mistake ! Great entry though ! Manav, I've commented on ur blog so its time u comment on mine.

6:03 am  
Blogger Dhruv said...

Very informative post. This is a topic which has always interested me, too, as even my family comes from the Pakistani side of Punjab.

8:06 pm  
Blogger Extiinct said...

just came across your blog...through the strangest way. anyway was reading away and came across this particular post. it's pretty cool. ofcourse that does not mean i agree with everything.

Even though im not a history junkie but this sentence stood out to me. You wrote:
"who, despite proclaiming himself to be the champion of all Muslims, ate pork, smoked, drank and married a non-Muslim."

that is true. the reason we don't term him a hypocrite is that he made no secret of the fact that he ate pork and drank and did not make any excuse for that matter. and besides he didn't force others to do the same. what he did personally was his stuff. what we cared about was the fact that he was willing to work for and give us what we wanted but didn't know how to get.
gotta say though Jinnah was one awesome politician. The fact that he was able to get pakistan from 2 adversaries [forgive the term...i couldn't come up with a neutral word] says it all.

oh and on a side-note: smoking isn't prohibited in Islam, it's considered bad but is not prohibited

11:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Manav Here
Anonymous, I thought all intoxication was prohibited by Islam, Evidently, I was wrong.
I'm not discounted Jinnah as a politician, but Pakistan seems to be a singularly futile concept. I mean, if its a nation for all Muslims, then all the Muslims of India should have gone there, right? And what's the point of dividing people on the basis of religion anyway? Wouldn't an independent Punjab, Sindh, Bengal, NWFP, Hyderabad... have been a better idea?
Oh, and are you Pakistani?

7:22 am  
Blogger Extiinct said...

Pakistan may seem like a futile concept to you, but it doesn't to me or the rest of the 14 million ppl who live here not counting the exceptions ofcourse.
Besides after 58 years of Independence it's a bit late to think wether it was futile or not.

we get taught history from opposite for Muslims going to Pakistan since it was made in the name of Islam...those who couldn't afford it prolly didn't. or does your comment mean that muslims are unwelcome in India?
Migrating is big business, not everyone can be expected to uproot their entire lives and move at the stroke of independence. My family didn't move till '67.[Yes, I'm a Pakistani]
Divinding ppl on the basis of religion: because muslims of that time felt they weren't being given equal's a poor example but women keep going on and on about equal rights, idhar a whole nation was in question.
Why have an independent Hyderabad, Balochistan, sindh, NWFP and Punjab? they wouldn't have survived alone...together we've flourished. [this is debatable but the gist of it being that we did well enough to stay independant]

8:32 am  
Blogger Manav said...

Hello, Extiinct, I'm pleased you commented.
My comment definitely does not mean Muslims are unwelcome in India.

"Migrating is big business, not everyone can be expected to uproot their entire lives and move at the stroke of independence. My family didn't move till '67.[Yes, I'm a Pakistani]"

Where were you in India, and why did you choose 20 years after independence to move? What equal rights don't Muslims get here? (Please don't throw Babri Masjid or Godhra at my face, we're ashamed of that) Have you ever come to India, and if so, what did you think of it?

4:37 am  
Blogger Manav said...

And I'm sorry for this, but when one has marauding mobs attacking ones house in Lahore/Sargodha/Karachi/Delhi/Amritsar /Ferozepur its a bit hard not to uproot your life and leave.

4:40 am  
Blogger Extiinct said...

My family was in Rampur. don't remember the mohalla but according to my Dadi, it was one of those places which were peaceful during the partition. I've never once heard from her[or my dada when he was alive] about any injustice that had been done to them during the partition. I guess with peace and financial security at hand he decided not to risk it. Then most of our family started migrating one after the other. funny thing is it was a bit of a misunderstanding that made us migrate. hehe. Dada was thinking of going to pakistan for good and told dadi that he'll go and see if he can find a job and home, and he'll write whatever happens and if u don't receive a letter till a certain date come to pak anyway. He wrote saying he was coming back...she never got the letter so she packed up everyone and came to pakistan and the rest is history:)
Had that not happened I might have been born and raised in India.

I've never been to india. though i plan on going to see Rampur[and other cities ofcourse once im there] if i ever get the chance.

As for equal rights...i never planned on throwing babri masjid godhra at your face:) I was talking about pre partition.

Where staying even with all the danga-fasad going on during partition is concerned...we'll never know why the people who stayed back did so. Everyone has their own reasons, I can only guess.

6:45 am  
Blogger uXuf said...

Indeed, my friend. You read the history but didnt bother with the present.

Pakistan is not just about Lahore, it's about Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Parsis and various other religions living in unison.

It was also about Bangladesh.

A difference of opinion could exist between the provinces, but it was forgotten in the early years of the creation. Just the intrinsic evilness of the ruling elite and the unjustified prioritization of different segments of the society [not to mention the external hand], have caused the rifts that you talk about.

Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, NWFP, they are nothing without Pakistan, and Pakistan is nothing without them. Those who advocate the potential creation of separate states within Pakistan, just do so to further their political dukaan.

The ordinary person has no qualms about the partition. And no, when a couple of a million people could be mobilized in the name of religion, one cannot ask the point in it.

We love our Pakistan as it is, and we do not give a shit about the separatist movements, as is evident. We are happy for it, and we'll make it even better.

9:29 am  
Blogger Manav said...

Hello uXuf
I know Pakistan is not about Lahore. What I said was regarding my obsession with Pakistan and Lahore.
I'm sorry. Precisely WHAT hindus are you talking about? The Adivasis of Tharparkar who were destitute as it is? Or the thousand-odd Hindus in Lahore who still live there? Forgive me, but Pakistan has very few Hindus, except for some in Sindh. The rest ran for their lives during partition. (As did the Muslims of East Punjab and some from Delhi).

Punjab and Sindh has existed long before Pakistan. And because people are fool enough to be mobilised by religion (Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Christianity whatever) doesn't excuse the death of millions. I think you'll agree with me. Allama Iqbal has said "Mazhab Naheen Sikhaata Aapas Mein Bair Rakhna".

Aur jahaan tak raheen baat Pakistan se pyaar ki, us se mujhe koi shiqwa naheen hai. Fo all you know, had the riots not happened, I might have been aa proud Pakistani myself :-).

Its just a pity that British India split the way it did, and that the countries have gone so far from each other. It defeats the entire point of partition.
Na Khudi Hi Milaa, Na Visaal-e-Sanam
Na Idhar Ke Rahein, Na Udhar ke Rahein

11:27 am  
Blogger Karan said...

Someone once said:
Yahaan Khuda Hai, Wahaan Khuda Hai
Jahaan Nahin Khuda Hai, Wahaan Kal Khudega

Surprisingly, it is a very good description of roads in many parts of India. The news reporters in Mumbai often ask themselves on National TV "What are these people digging for? Gold? Water? Fun?"

That is, however, besides the point.

Let me take you many thousands of years back into the history of humans. What do humans fear the most? Simple - death.
Now, those with an IQ of over 150 immediately saw the great business opportunity this offered. Everyone fears death. And, if you could solve that problem, they will be ready and willing to give you anything - most notably, Gold. There, religion is born. What keeps it going? Well, there's one basic fact that no living person knows what exactly there is after death, and that "uncertainty" is the biggest business in the world now.
Every religion solves the matter of death differently. Hinduism says that people are reborn once they die and the form of their rebirth depends upon their doings in the current life. There, now everyone who wants to be a butterfly next time on, must a) pay the nice priest for good advice on how to be good and b) be good.
Christianity has the concept of heaven and hell. And so on...
I mean, when your near and dear friend succumbs to death, wouldn't you rather hear someone say "Now he's finally at peace" than "OK, he's going to rot ad infinitum now, unless we cremate him first". Do I sound harsh? Possibly. Am I correct in saying this? Possibly. Did I just say that all religions in this world are null and void? Quite possibly. Do I request you not to come and kill me for saying this? Most possibly.

On an ending note, I would like to say that the whole "problem" started when people discovered new religions and new Gods. They had two or three choices at the time: a) ignore them, b) follow them or c) kill them. Different choices have been taken in different parts of the world and at different times in history. These days it's a mix of the three.

Now, if you believed all that I said just now, you would see how even more pointless the violence of the partition now seems.

12:06 pm  
Blogger uXuf said...

Manav: If you see it in the context of Muslim population in India, then perhaps you are right, that there arent many Hindus in Pakistan.

But I think, the present percentage of Hindu population is quite acceptable. I have two Hindu friends in my class alone, not to mention the whole batch, and the university.

The Hindus aren't very backward in Pakistan, you could find very prosperous and very highly educated Hindus here. But that, I guess, is not the point.

Looking back at all the things that happened that triggered the partition movement, it is perhaps very easy for us to comment on. But no writer could perhaps really really capture the essence, the mood prevalent at the time, just like none can capture the essence of our times. Right?

It perhaps was the need of time. Under Akbar and the monarchy the coexistance was somehow plausible, but the changing era had brought an awareness into the people. And with awareness, comes hatred.

We just keep different opinions, Manav, and I think that is constructive. Let bygones be bygones. Whatever our forefathers have done, whether it was folly or the deed of the century, lets forget them. And resolve our differences. We have a lot to achieve, we have been the underdogs for too long. Quote Allama Iqbal:

Sitaron say aagay jahan aur bhi hain
Abhi ishq kay imtehaan aur bhi hain

PS: SKaran, We dont really need to agree, do we?

6:15 am  
Blogger Dhruv said...

Interesting, what you have to say Saran. Interesting perspective.
"The ordinary person has no qualms about the partition." I strongly disagree with this. Very strongly. Ask those who were forced to flee from their homes, just because f a handful of evil politicians decided their fate. Did they have no qualms about the partition? They were thrown out of their homes, with marauders at their heels, brandishing swords, flaming torches and other convenient weapons.
What do you think of that? No qualms!
"We just keep different opinions, Manav, and I think that is constructive. Let bygones be bygones. Whatever our forefathers have done, whether it was folly or the deed of the century, lets forget them. And resolve our differences. We have a lot to achieve, we have been the underdogs for too long."
I am, however, in absolute agreement with you on this. I can see your point of view now, and I agree with you on it wholeheartedly.

9:36 pm  
Blogger Karan said...

No, we don't need to agree Uxuf. But you could say what you think about it.

2:21 am  
Blogger Manav said...

uXuf: We don't. You keep your own viewpoint, I keep my own. I agree with you that the times were mas much to blame as the people, all I'm saying is, is that it's a pity.

I agree, let's bury the hatchet.

PS: The Hindu comment was in the context of percentage of population before '47 to that o9f after '47.

Skaran: Badhiya Hai, Sunil Babu.

Dhruv: Well, it happened on both sides.

11:01 pm  
Blogger Dhruv said...

I agree, but people did have qualms about the partition, unlike what our friend from accross the border would hae you believe.

9:42 am  
Blogger Manav said...

Dhruv: The ordinaery person oesn't care about it any more. Our grandparents might reminescence about Lahore, and Pakistani oldies might reminescence about Delhi, but its done, it's done.
How many people want to see the partition rescinded?

11:43 pm  
Blogger uXuf said...

Exactly, Manav, that was what I meant to say. The ordinary people wouldn't care about it anymore. There are more things for them to worry about.

With collectively 80% of the population living below the line of poverty, we need not relive the past. What we have to do, is to concentrate on the future. A future that appears bright, a future that will see the rise of the subcontinent, again.

And for that, ofcourse, we have to work together, and work hard. So are you guys with us?

7:51 am  
Blogger Dhruv said...

Of course!

3:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pakis are ungrateful turds, that sums up everything I had to say.

"We should all oneday go to pakistan, and burn each muslim at the stake and pierce their hearts with sticks of holly."

Now that I have you shocked, keep reading.
The phrase i just wrote above is exactly whats written in the Quran about non-believers, so I have simply translated it and written it in the context of Hindus.

A Paki hater at heart, ( i do not hat muslims, i DETEST them, 'coz they are snakes residing in our own country, and so is that shithead Khurshid who became headboy coz of his assholic father )

Having lived in France for 4 years, i know one thing, ppl there irrespectrive of religion love thier land, in India, muslims eat and drink here but owe their allegiance to Fuckistan.

Till I write again,

1:26 am  
Blogger NaniKiGand said...

Abey Behnchodh, your lamp doesn't burn. you don't have a lamp. you're probably under a flouroscent lighbulb or something typing on your rather crummy puter.

12:04 pm  
Anonymous uxuf said...

Mr. Anonymous, those who conceal their identities and dont come out in the open, have a thief in their hearts.

If you think that is written in the Quran, please provide the reference. Quoting things without context is not the manner of educated people.

Roam around, and you will eventually find people who love their motherland, be it India or France. But keep this hatred in your heart, and sure you will never find solace.

2:34 am  
Blogger Karan said...

Uxuf: Don't worry about this anonymous commenter. He goes around every blog and posts such comments.

9:44 pm  
Blogger Manav said...

Anonymous, don't you dare sully my post/

UxUf, I'm sorry about that.
What do Pakistanis actually think about India and the Hindus?

4:46 am  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Manav, I share all your thoughts as I too am a Punjabi with his roots in West Punjab..although I may not ever se the origin as it is in Sargodha..which has no Hindus left..I may visit Pakistan for the test match in Lahore..I would love to have a visit in Faisalabad ( erstwhile Lyallpur- my grandma's place)but the limitations due to day to day survival would not permit me. Why don't we jioin hands together and go to Lahore to watch the Test match and celebrate Lohri-2006 in the capital of joint Punjab ?

10:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:28 am  
Blogger Manav said...

My grandfather's from Sargodha too!

11:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all pakis are fucking scum. where ii live 4 paki men stabbed tortured and burned a child for being white. i live in glasgow

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