This blog is being moved to my brand new website sabaimtiaz.com. This won’t be updated from now on.
برکات حکومت غیر انگلشیہ
عزیزو! بہت دن پہلے اس ملک میں انگریزوں کی حکومت ہوتی تھی، اور درسی کتابوں میں ایک مضمون “برکات حکومت انگلشیہ” کے عنوان سے شامل رہتا تھا. اب ہم آزاد ہیں. اس زمانے کے مصنف حکومت انگلشیہ کی تعریف کیا کرتے تھے، کیو نکہ اس کے سوا چارہ نہ تھا. ہم اپنے عہد کی آزاد اور قومی حکومتوں کی تعریف کریں گے. اس کی وجہ بھی ظاہر ہے.
عزیزو! انگریزوں نے کچھ اچھے کام بھی کئے لیکن ان کے زمانے میں خرابیاں بہت تھیں. کوئی حکومت کے خلاف بولتا تھا یا لکھتا تھا تو اس کو جیل بھیج دیتے تھے. اب نہیں بھیجتے. رشوت ستانی عام تھی. آج کل نہیں ہے. دکاندار چیزیں مہنگی بیچتے تھے اور ملاوٹ بھی کرتے تھے. آج کل تو کوئی مہنگی نہیں بیچتا، ملاوٹ بھی نہیں کرتا. انگریزوں کے زمانے میں امیر اور جاگیر دار عیش کرتے تھے، غریبوں کو کوئی پوچھتا بھی نہیں تھا. اب امیر لوگ عیش نہیں کرتے اند غریبوں کو ہر کوئی اتنا پوچھتا ہے کہ وہ تنگ آجاتے ہیں. خصوص ان حق رائے دہندگی با لغان کے بعد سے.
تعلیم اور صنعت وحرفت کو لیجئے. ربع صدی کے مختصر عرصے میں ہماری شرح خواندگی اٹھارہ فی صدی ہوگئ تھی. غیر ملکی حکومت کے زمانے میں ایسا ہو سکتا تھا؟ انگریز شروع شروع میں ہمارے دستکاروں کے انگھوٹے کاٹ دیتے تھے، اب کارخانوں کے مالک ہمارے اپنے لوگ ہیں. دستکاروں کے انگھوٹے نہیں کاٹتے ہاں کبھی کبھی پورے دستکار کو کاٹ دیتے ہیں. آزادی سے پہلے ہندو بنئیے اور سرمایہ دار ہمیں لوٹا کرتے تھے. ہماری خواہش تھی کہ یہ سلسلہ ختم ہو اور ہمیں مسلمان بنئیے اور سیٹھ لوٹیں. الحمدللہ کہ یہ آرزو پوری ہوئی. جب سے حکومت ہمارے ہاتھ میں آئی ہے. ہم نے ہر شعبے میں بہت ترقی کی ہے. درآمد برآمد بھی بہت بڑھ گئی ہے. ہماری خاص برآمدات دو ہیں. وفود اور زر مبادلہ. درآمدات ہم گھٹا تے جارہے ہیں. ایک زمانہ میں تو خارجی پالیسی تک باہر سے درآمد کرتے تھے. اب یہاں بننے لگی ہے.
اردو کی آخری کتاب
As Professor Saba Dashtyari, who was killed last week, says in this video – “Iss tarah shor machane se haqeeqat nahi badalti”.
In this country, it used to be easier to lie. Everyday, at 9 PM, we saw footage of Indian troops shooting at Kashmiris. What we did not see was the hundreds of men being shipped off to fight in Kashmir from Pakistan.
Everyday, at 9 PM, we were told that we would one day be an Asian powerhouse.
Everyday, at 9 PM, we now see evidence of the lies revealed, as tales of death and destruction and poverty emerge as a result of the policies bragged about in the 9 PM Khabarnama.
Now that they cannot hide the truth – it hasn’t stopped them from lying though – they harass, harangue, threaten, cajole, bribe, blackmail, torture, shoot. Kill and dump.
The noise of the 9 PM Khabarnama has been replaced by the noise of politicians and talk show hosts screaming at 10 PM. But shorr machane se haqeeqat nahi badalti.
I started writing this post two months ago. I saved it as a draft then, because I couldn’t bring myself to write it. But on Saturday, while I was editing an article, I thought of how I could call Uncle Mansoor and ask him to weigh in on the issue, and I realised I could no longer do that.
In so many ways, I owe Uncle Mansoor, who died after a short illness this May, my life.
Had it not been for him, I would have never managed to pull myself together or stayed in school. When I was 12, he told me that I had to write, I had to start writing based on what I knew and what I read. He introduced me to Urdu literature, through old, well-thumbed books that he promised all summer he would get. He was the life of a dinner, whose quirky one-liners made the evening, who you could always count on for a passionate argument about politics or theatre or life or family.
Eleven years ago, he convinced my mother – who had accurately pinpointed the medical problem she would be diagnosed with by an army of doctors but refused to do anything until she had completed work – that she needed to get away from her desk and took her to see a doctor.
When my mother died five days later, he and his amazing wife ensured we stayed in school and were amongst the few positive influences in my life for the next few years.
There were so many lives that he touched and influenced, but he never took credit for any of it.
I have been trying to write this for days now, trying to believe that if I write – as he constantly advised us to – it will become real and I will realize I will never see him again. But I never imagined he would leave before I could thank him – properly – for acting when he did.
The King of Tennis. What a f**king well-deserved victory.
I’ve always been sorta fascinated by the story of the Saddam Hussein lookalikes. When I first moved to Amman I was convinced one of them was working next to my favourite cafe – and looking at him always made me feel disconcerted and I had to repeat to myself, “he’s dead, the whole world saw it” – and then someone told me all the lookalikes were apparently executed after the fall of Iraq.
I digress. The National has published this fascinating interview with Latif Yahia – who was Saddam’s son Uday Hussein’s body double for years. (Link via Syria News Wire’s Twitterfeed)
Mr Yahia’s account begins during the 1980-88 war with Iran, when he served as an officer in the Iraqi army. The scion of a wealthy family, Mr Yahia had attended an elite Baghdad school with Uday, where he was teased about his remarkable likeness to the dictator’s unruly son. In 1987 Uday asked him if he would play his “fiday”, an Arabic word for double that also implies the role of a deputy and bodyguard. Mr Yahia at first resisted, but after Uday locked him in a tiny cell, daubed entirely in red paint, and made “vile threats” against his family, Mr Yahia says he succumbed.
An intensive training period began. Mr Yahia was subjected to dental surgery to recreate Uday’s “chimpanzee” grin and lisp: work that he says he has since reversed. He watched countless hours of videos of Uday to learn how to mimic his master’s mannerisms, from the way he held his fat Cuban cigar to his one-handed driving style.
To desensitise him to the regime’s brutality, Mr Yahia says he also had to watch tapes of Uday and his security forces torturing dissidents and personal enemies to death.
The job came with a lifestyle of expensive cars, fine clothes and access to the clannish corridors of power in Baghdad, although Mr Yahia says none of this was an attraction: he came from a wealthy family anyway. The drawbacks, however, were unimaginably bad. Effectively he was a prisoner in a gilded cage. As Uday’s fiday, he says, he survived 11 assassination attempts by people who mistook him for Saddam’s elder son. There are deep scars on Mr Yahia’s right hand, the result, he says, of one of the most serious attempts.
…The Iraqi dictator, unlike Uday, had been decent to him. “I never saw Saddam kill anyone or give the order to do so. He was always calm and smiling, always quietly spoken,” Mr Yahia says. Nor, he argues, was the Iraqi dictator informed of the full extent of Uday’s excesses as a serial rapist and killer. But once, “after Uday did a lot of terrible things, he [Saddam] said to me, ‘I wish you were my real son’. I said to him: ‘I am your son’.”
The article tells Yahia’s account of trying to find a home for his family and himself, his life in Iraq and his views on the US invasion of the country. Definitely a must read.
Undoubtedly one of the best articles I’ve ever read: I was so transfixed I felt like I was watching a film. This is the must read of the month:
Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging. Johann Hari reports for The Independent
The wide, smiling face of Sheikh Mohammed – the absolute ruler of Dubai – beams down on his creation. His image is displayed on every other building, sandwiched between the more familiar corporate rictuses of Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders. This man has sold Dubai to the world as the city of One Thousand and One Arabian Lights, a Shangri-La in the Middle East insulated from the dust-storms blasting across the region. He dominates the Manhattan-manqué skyline, beaming out from row after row of glass pyramids and hotels smelted into the shape of piles of golden coins. And there he stands on the tallest building in the world – a skinny spike, jabbing farther into the sky than any other human construction in history.
But something has flickered in Sheikh Mohammed’s smile. The ubiquitous cranes have paused on the skyline, as if stuck in time. There are countless buildings half-finished, seemingly abandoned. In the swankiest new constructions – like the vast Atlantis hotel, a giant pink castle built in 1,000 days for $1.5bn on its own artificial island – where rainwater is leaking from the ceilings and the tiles are falling off the roof. This Neverland was built on the Never-Never – and now the cracks are beginning to show. Suddenly it looks less like Manhattan in the sun than Iceland in the desert.
Read the rest here
While I have given up on the idea of counting just how many adjectives the TV channels can use to describe Benazir Bhutto, my mind draws back to the year I saw her being elected Prime Minister, planting the idea that anything and everything was possible.
And for that hope – that hope that inspired a generation of women to believe that power was just not a men’s domain – I remember Benazir.
Having watched television sporadically today (which is fairly hard because of the frequent power cuts Pakistan is suffering at the moment) I wonder whether the excessive coverage of Benazir’s first death anniversary stems from Pakistan’s collective guilt at not being able to mourn the deaths of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and even Shahnawaz Bhutto properly. Perhaps, with Benazir, there is a chance to mourn, properly – the tragedies that have befallen the Bhutto family.
I have had the most miserable time shopping today. 4 upscale stores. Price tags that were so ludicrous I was wondering whether my brand new glasses had given up on me and I was just misreading four-digit-numbers for t shirts. And why the hell is everything made for a size 0 teenager addicted to those horrid stretchy shirts?
If I am shown yet another t-shirtdress with a belt, I might just throw it on the floor and walk out in a huff.