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The travel ban on ‘Dawn’ journalist was just a side show in the civil-military conflict in Pakistan

The real issue is about fighting non-state actors, the ongoing street protests and Nawaz Sharif’s impending decision to appoint a new army chief.

October 20th, 2016|India, Politics, Published in Scroll, terrorism|0 Comments

Khushwant Singh: ‘The last Pakistani living on Indian soil’

My tribute to KS (first published in DAWN on March 30)

IT is difficult to evaluate the legacy of writer, journalist and an icon of our times Khushwant Singh who passed away last week after leading a full life that many would dream of leading. Singh was immensely popular in Pakistan. For the past two decades I have spotted his books — legit and pirated — at almost all bookstores in every city. His writings had an impact and inspired generations to emulate his incomparable style. His larger than life stature in India was equally recognised in Pakistan.

Singh was born in Hadali village (now in Pakistan), lived in Lahore and until his last never disowned his roots. Such was his worldview that Partition and the ensuing bitterness did not change his empathy for Pakistan. This is why many Pakistanis were his friends and he gave them due attention, respect and time. A photograph of his best friend from pre-Partition days, Manzoor Qadir (jurist and Pakistan’s law minister under Ayub Khan) was displayed prominently in his living room.

It was Singh’s stature in the world of Indian journalism that is perhaps unprecedented for its influential relationship with readers. As a critic of the establishment, Singh guarded his intellectual independence. His proximity to Indira Gandhi and a brief period of closeness aside, he remained a fierce commentator on all things political and cultural. Singh for example returned the honours awarded to him after Gandhi’s operation at the Golden Temple in the 1980s. Over time, his column ‘With Malice Towards One and All’ became a regular window of refreshingly fresh and iconoclastic commentary. Singh’s attitude to Pakistan was always irksome for the rightwing Hindus and often he would get hate mail, which was a source of amusement to his expansive spirit. Of course Singh came from a privileged background and things were easier for him compared to a lot of writers and journalists across the region. But he did give up a career in law and diplomacy to become a writer. And a prolific one at that.


Cover Story: Mahasin-i-Kalam-i-Ghalib by Abdur Rehman Bijnouri

A review I did for Dawn


Such is the majesty of Urdu’s greatest poet Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) that his works continue to be interpreted in a discipline known as Ghalibiat. I was acquainted with Mahasin-i-Kalam-i-Ghalib by Abdur Rehman Bijnouri through my Urdu teacher at school, perhaps the only PhD degree-holder in my school at that […]

June 8th, 2013|Arts & Culture, books, Pakistani Literature, Poetry|0 Comments

Social media and Pakistan – prospects and possibilities

By Raza Rumi

In a picture taken on May 27, 2010 Pakistani IT professionals Omer Zaheer (L) and Arslan Chaudhry browse their newly created networking site in Lahore. Pakistanis outraged with Facebook over “blasphemous” caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed have created a spin off networking site that they dream can connect the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. A group of six young IT professionals from Lahore, the cultural and entertainment capital of Pakistan, launched for Muslims to interact online and protest against blasphemy. – AFP Photo

When I started to blog, almost by accident, a few Pakistani bloggers were found in cyberspace. Within half a decade the number has multiplied beyond belief.

From the senior writers to young students, blogging is now an avenue that allows forunfettered self-expression and also puts the mostly urban youth in touch with the world. Most importantly, blogging has broken the geographical and ideological barriers with the neighbouring India. A decade ago, such prompt and often real time link was unthinkable.

The pace of change in Pakistan’s crackling society is rapid enough to confound any observer. Within South Asia, its rate of urbanisation is the highest and informal estimates suggest nearly 40 per cent of its population lives in urban spaces. Add to this the growth of young population, social transformation is guaranteed. […]

May 13th, 2011|media, published in DAWN|10 Comments

The Breeze at Dawn


Courtesy Isa Daudpota

September 27th, 2008|Personal, Rumi, Sufi poetry, Sufism|1 Comment