Home » Tragic

Farzana’s honour killing is a national shame

My outrage – sadly limited to social media on the brutal stone age murder of a pregnant woman in Pakistan’s ostensibly ‘developed’ city

May 28th, 2014|Culture, Extremism, human rights, Lahore, women|0 Comments

In memoriam – Asim Butt (1978-2010)

But it was Asim’s venture into public art and his subsequent adoption of the Stuckist creed that turned him into a major figure at a relatively young age. Unlike his peers, he broke out of the studio and its sensibilities. His murals at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi were electric, and involved the transitional communities of beggars, prostitutes, and the dregs of society who had been rejected by convention.

Killing Shias is not jihad – stop this carnage in Pakistan

This is an old article – When the state kills – authored by Pakistan’s eminent intellectual Khaled Ahmed. It remains relevant for what is happening today – the carnage in Karachi and targetted killing of the Shia minority is a cause for concern for  Pakistanis who want the country to become a plural, tolerant and progressive society for all its citizens irrespective of their faith, caste or creed.
Many of us – who identify themselves as neither Sunni nor Shia (only Muslims) – strongly condemn the Karachi incidents and will continue to raise voice against extremism and sectarianism. […]
February 18th, 2010|Extremism, Islam, Pakistan, terrorism|10 Comments

Farewell, Asim

Dear Asim: you left us in such a hurry – you will be missed, always..RIP

Asim Butt: A rebel from his conventional background, Butt continues to defy the conformist meanings of family, career, security, sexuality and that elusive bourgeois pursuit of happiness. Inspired by the Stuckism movement of […]

January 22nd, 2010|Pakistani Art, Personal|2 Comments

We can smile in adversity too – the Biharis in Bangladesh

I took this photo at a Bihari camp in Dhaka. Thousands of ‘Pakistanis’ are stranded in Bangaldesh since 1971 and both the states refuse to acknowlegde their existence. Hence, a few generations have been born in the refugee ghettos who live in sub-human conditions.

I was extremely happy to read this report in the NEWS today that is a little ray of hope:

BD court gives stranded Pakistanis citizenship right

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s High Court ruled on Sunday that some 200,000 Urdu-speaking refugees have the right to be Bangladeshi citizens, a lawyer and a news report said.

Rafiqul Islam Mian, the counsel of a group of refugees, said the court made it clear that they also have the right to cast their votes in upcoming polls, expected to be held in December. “The refugees who were minors in 1971 or born after the independence of Bangladesh are citizens of Bangladesh,” the court said in its ruling. […]

Of humanity, Keshav and anonymity

An ordinary man has reinforced our belief in humanity. First the story and then a poem:

Surat: A man, who tried to prevent three men from molesting a woman in Surat, succumbed to burn injuries at Surat’s Civil Hospital. Thirty-five-year old Keshav Vishwakarma tried to prevent 40-year old Lilavati a mother of two from being harassed. Four hours later, the accused allegedly doused him with kerosene and burnt him in his house in the Pandesara area of Surat.

Just before he died, Keshav recounted the horror. “I tried to reason out with them that it was wrong and help the woman. Instead, they set me on fire, he said. Such was his willpower that even after sustaining 75 per cent burns, Keshav walked about two kilometers to the Pandesara police station and reported the matter.

My friend Annie was moved and inspired by this act and immortalised Keshav Vishwakarma who may never acquire the status of this towering hero but will continue to reinforce our faith in the essential goodness of human beings. Here is the elegy composed by Annie – […]

February 28th, 2008|Poetry, South Asian Literature|3 Comments

People of this Murderous City

The other day, I translated my poem in Urdu written after the events of 27 December, 2007. It has been published by this blog. I am reproducing it here.

In this island of grief
Where all journeys stand directionless
Fragrant Roses adorn your image
And, We, your murderers, impotent accomplices,
Cast guilty shadows across this barren land

O, the gifted leader, that inimitable image
You had given a new meaning to resplendence
Dragging your worn feet
and covering your bare head
You had borne invective upon invective
And the half-dead people of this city
gaped at your strength

This was the murder of all my visions
And all my dreams cracked
as you entered hades*,
beneath the weight of roses

Though a grave shall unfold its fragrance
We the ashamed,
fighting our tears
holding the placards of our dreams
Will analyse, compose elegies

And the bleeding wound shall scar
all the paths
The moon shall keep waxing
As the illumining candles of your tomb
reveal an endlessly humiliated Yazeed**

There is just a little request
Enact another wonder
what the city of Yazeed could not do
Forgive those
Who could not forgive you
and pushed you over the edge of Euphrates***

And today,
locked in the mist of wistfulness
gripping their torn shirts
they search for their forsaken hearts

* the underworld kingdom in Greek mythology inhabited by the souls of the dead.
** Yazeed (645 – 683), the second Umayyad ruler who established monarchy and killed Husain and his family members, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad who had challenged the principle of rule without the consent of the ruled.
*** The location of the legendary battle of Karbala.

The Urdu version can be read below. […]

February 13th, 2008|Poetry, Urdu|10 Comments