Home » historian

‘About suffering they were never wrong’

Miniaturist Saira Waseem is the latest exponent in a long list of Pakistani artists resisting the country’s political, cultural and social erosion.

Saira waseem4Passion Cycle, 2005

Pakistani art going global is a remarkable story, for it typifies the ineffable contradictions of the country. In part it is a testament to the country’s creative expression, an explosion of sorts; and partly a mode of resistance to the anti-art ideology that is permeating the social fabric. It’s not just painting or the booming art galleries, there is a revival underway of the moribund television drama, the resuscitation of cinema and continuous experimentation with music.

Salima Hashmi, a leading arts academician and practitioner noted in a recent essay that the “proverbial worst of times are certainly the best of times for contemporary Pakistani art.” Our foremost historian, Ayesha Jalal in her latest book “The Struggle for Pakistan” views the creative expression as a resistance to Pakistan’s forced Islamisation. Jalal writes:

saira waseem5 Ethereal I, 2014

“The globalization of Pakistani music has been accompanied by a remarkable leap in the transnational reach of the creative arts…a younger generation of painters are making creative uses of new ideas and technologies to both access and influence a diverse and dynamic transnational artistic scene. The dazzling array of new directions in the contemporary art, literature, and music of Pakistan displays an ongoing tussle between an officially constructed ideology of nationalism and relatively autonomous social and cultural processes in the construction of a “national culture.”

Jalal as a contemporary historian reminds us that the domestic battle of ideas and ideologies is not over and is assuming newer shapes. At the same time, the issue of a crumbling Pakistani state haunts the future trajectory. Is the arts and literature renaissance of sorts an antidote to a state unable to fulfill its basic functions such as securing the lives of its citizens? There are some immediate examples from the subcontinent that come to mind: The reigns of Wajid Ali Shah and Bahadur Shah Zafar in nineteenth century India were also remarkable for their artistic endeavours before the final takeover of the British. Not entirely relevant, these are important phases of our recent history to be remembered.


K K Aziz: Historian Extraordinaire

The state, society and intelligentsia in Pakistan had forgotten about this towering scholar of our times. His books on Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, Sir Agha Khan III, the Pakistan Movement, the political system of Pakistan and other topics shall always be remembered and perhaps keep his legacy alive

The Historian – Online Journal of Government College University, Pakistan

Many months ago I received this link to the online journal of the Government College University, Lahore. It has an impressive editorial board and the editor, Tahir Kamran, is a respected historian whose efforts and contributions to revive the near-dead discipline of history deserve more than appreciation.

The said issue […]

April 23rd, 2009|books, education, History|4 Comments

Lost Imaginations

jinnah_with-fatima-and-dina2By Raza Rumi

Sixty one years have gone by but the creation of Pakistan is still a heated debate: contested, fractured and bitter. That history has been the preserve of the victors and the powerful is well known. But to spin and whirl the truth to the extent that it becomes empty and farcical is an art form practiced by the Pakistani state and its mock-historians.
In early January of this new year, a heated controversy entered the public domain. A famous Urdu columnist writing for the largest vernacular newspaper reiterated the widely-known fact that the pragmatic Mr Jinnah had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan and given up the demand for Pakistan in 1946. However, it was the […]

On Bhagat Singh, his vision and Jinnah’s support for his struggle

In his incisive speech to the Constituent Assembly on September 12 and 14, 1929, Jinnah harshly condemned the criminal colonial rule and the Government's actions against revolutionaries

March 28th, 2008|Culture, History, India, India-Pakistan History, Politics|21 Comments