Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jiye Jinnah Jiye Pakistan

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Special Interview – Kazim Aizaz Alam, A Young Karachi Man in the US
How are Americans treating him, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Letter from London - Why I Love Pakistan
Pyaasa for Pakistan, by Catriona Luke

Pakistan Floods - Is Indian Media Blacking Out Pakistan’s Worst Natural Tragedy
Pakistan's tragedy doesn't move India, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine
Requiem for the dead, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Karachi Landmark - T2F, Defence Housing Authority
Karachi's coolest cafe, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pakistan Diary - Reading Chicklit in Karachi
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority
The world of old books, by Yasir Malik

Pakistan Diary - At Home in Lahore
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pakistan Diary - The Dancing Girl of Heera Mandi
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pakistan Diary - The Karachi Kartography
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pakistan Diary - Jinnah's Mausoleum
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pakistan Diary - Is Karachi Safe?
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pakistan Diary - The First Karachi Literature Festival
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pakistan Diary - My First Evening in Karachi
A trip to the fatherland, by Mayank Austen Soofi

Karachi Scene – The Musical World of Saffia Beyg
A Karachite’s passion for Hindustani classical, by Junaid Zuberi

Dateline Karachi - Get Ready for Pakistan's First Literature Festival
Three cheers for Pak-lit; by The Independent's Andrew Buncombe

Blog Review - Two Indians in Isloo
They are blogging on life in Pakistan; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint - “And How are Things For You as a Woman?”
Novelist Sehba Sarwar in a round table chat; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Special Feature - Face-to-Face with Asma Jahangir
The symbol of a brave Pakistan; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Photo Essay – Pakistan’s Bright Stars
The people who constitute Pakistaniyat; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Book Review - The Coffee House of Lahore; by KK Aziz
Coffee, tea and revolution; by Raza Rumi

Special Feature – The Indian Who Loves Pakistan
Author Khushwant Singh's home is always open to Pakistanis; by Mayank Austen Soofi

"Today Islamabad, Lahore Feel Like War Zones, and Karachi is Calm" - Novelist Sehba Sarwar
Interview with the Karachi-born novelist - Part IV; by Mayank Austen Soofi

"I Would be Lost Without My Laptop" - Novelist Sehba Sarwar
Interview with the Karachi-born novelist - Part III; by Mayank Austen Soofi

"Houston is as Ugly, Polluted, Hot as Karachi" - Novelist Sehba Sarwar
Interview with the Karachi-born novelist - Part II; by Mayank Austen Soofi

"My Life's Not Dramatic but I Married Outside the Community" - Novelist Sehba Sarwar
Interview with the Karachi-born novelist - Part I; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Special Series - Interview with Novelist Sehba Sarwar
Understanding Pakistan through its artists; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Karachi Life - A Gay Man's Diary, Part II
Being gay in Pakistan's biggest metropolis; by by Jalaluddin

Special Feature – 9/11, The Day Mr Jinnah Died
The final day in the life of Pakistan’s founder; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Personal History – The Karachi Quotient
Growing up in Pakistan’s biggest metropolis; by Imran Ahmed

"Islamabad have diplomats & politicians, but also philosophers and scholars" - Faiza Khan, Artist
Interview-IV with an Islamabad artist; by Mayank Austen Soofi

"The Majority Who Buy My Art Are Still Not Pakistanis" - Faiza Khan, Artist
Interview-III with an Islamabad artist; by Mayank Austen Soofi

“It’s not wise to exhibit on political themes" – Faiza Khan, Painter
Interview-II with an Islamabad artist; by Mayank Austen Soofi

“I’m bothered by everything that snatches away my rights” – Faiza Khan, Painter
Interview-I with an Islamabad artist; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Freedom Day Special Series – Faiza Khan; Celebrating an Artist’s Life
Understanding Pakistan through its people; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Family Portrait – A Karachi Family in an Indian Mall
A slice of their Delhi afternoon; by Mayank Austen Soofi

"Our writing is older than the creation of Pakistan itself" - Ali Sethi, Novelist
Exclusive interview with a new Pakistani novelist; by Mayank Austen Soofi

High Life – A Pakistani in Sri Lanka
Columnist Irfan Husain finds a new home; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Dateline Karachi – The City’s first Monsoon Rain
When the tough weather surrendered to the people’s will; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Karachi Diary - Arundhati Roy in Pakistan
India's literary terrorist wows its 'enemy'; by Kazim Aizaz Alam

Viewpoint - An Insult to My Pakistan
Remember why we created Pakistan; by Sehar Tariq

Special – Hello Taliban
Background of the Swat peace deal; by Amir Hashim Khakwani, translation by Kazim Aizaz Alam

Obituary: Khalid Hasan, Journalist & Writer
He died of cancer, aged 74; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Eminent Pakistani - Naz Ikramullah, Artist
Snooping around a sari-clad Pakistani in the Indian capital; by Mayank Austen Soofi

2009 Happy Pakistan Series – Kamran Shafi's Wish List
Pakistani’s wittiest columnist shares an exclusive with Pakistan Paindabad

2009 Happy Pakistan Series – Yes We Can!
A Karachi blogger writes exclusively for Pakistan Paindabad

2009 Happy Pakistan Series – No Hope Here
Eminent Karachi columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee writes exclusively for Pakistan Paindabad

2009 Happy Pakistan Series – Finding Comfort in a Sindh Village
Author Sehba Sarwar writes exclusively for Pakistan Paindabad

2009 Happy Pakistan Series – 5 Hopes for the Nation
Academic Hassan Abbas shares his hope with Pakistan Paindabad

2009 Happy Pakistan Series – Get Out of Self-deception
Columnist Irfan Husain writes exclusively for Pakistan Paindabad

Special Editorial – A Happier Pakistan in 2009
Eminent Pakistanis to share their optimism with Pakistan Paindabad; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Remembrance - 6:16 pm, December 27, 2007
On Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s first death anniversary; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Karachi Diary - In Love with Arundhati Roy
A young Pakistani besotted with an Indian passport holder; by Kazim Aizaz Alam

Viewpoint - Should Pakistan Hand Mumbai Suspects to India?
A look at the costs and benefits; by Gaurav Sood

Viewpoint - Pakistan After Bombay 26/11
Policy shift needed, not war; by Raza Rumi

Exclusive - 'Dostana' in Pakistan
Dawn newspaper refused to print this op-ed on homosexualism in Pakistan; by Irfan Husain

Capital Culture - Making Music in Pakistan
Claiming back our heritage; by Raza Rumi

"The Only Country Where I am a Non-Muslim is My Own" - Interview with Saira Wasim
Chatting with a Pakistani artist who happens to be an Ahmadi Muslim; by Gaurav Sood

Special - Life, Love, Lahore
Life and times of Pakistan's premier monstropolis; by Raza Rumi

Scoop – When Mr Zardari Met Ms Palin
All he wanted was a hug; by Mayank Austen Soofi

In Mourning - Once Was Marriott
Terrorist attack kills more than 40 people in the Islamabad hotel; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Special – Mr Zardari, You've Got Mail
A Pakistani student writes to the nation's new Prez; by Hassan Masud

Xclusive – How President Zardari Courted Benazir Bhutto
Revealing excerpts from Benazir’s memoirs; by Mayank Austen Soofi

50 Pakistani Destinations Before You Die - Lawrence Garden, Lahore
Listening to the sound of trees; pics by Raza Rumi

Obituary – Pervez Musharraf, 1999-2008
Pakistan’s former CEO and a friend of George Bush; by Mayank Austen Soofi

14th August Series: Bina Shah - "I'm Not Free"
Pakistan's celebrated author on Independence Day

Capital Notes - Once was Islamabad
Mourning the demise of Pakistan's greenest city; by Raza Rumi

Memoir - Pakistan Paindabad Blogged Me to Fame
This blogsite has changed my life; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Bina Shah's Review - Pakistan Paindabad's Intentions are Good, the Execution Clumsy
Pakistan's eminent author discusses this blogsite

Pakistan Paindabad in News
This blogsite has reached a milestone; by Rezaul Hasan Laskar

New Series - 50 Pakistani Destinations Before You Die
Your guide to beautiful Pakistan; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Book Review – Goodbye Shahzadi, Shyam Bhatia
An Indian journalist’s disappointing biography of Benazir Bhutto; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint -- Lahore-Delhi Hip Factor
Young life in both cities is a blend of cafe culture, cool music and retail nirvana; by Raza Rumi

Travel – Journey to Pakistan
When an Indian goes to Lahore with excess baggage; by Rakhshanda Jalil

Trends - Reading Urdu Outside Pakistan
The homesick diaspora has online Urdu as refuge; by Raza Rumi

Dateline Lahore - Poetry in Pakistan
Poetry is a part of everyday life, including politics; by Henry Chu

Lahore Diary - Club Sandwich was Invented in Lawrence Garden!
Amazing stories you never knew about this city landmark; by Raza Rumi

Black Tuesday – 3/11, Lahore
Folks die, stuff happens; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Literature - Love Poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Ghazal by Pakistan's great Urdu poet; by Shaheen Sultan Dhanji

Special – William Dalrymple’s Cool ‘n’ Sexy Pakistan
The best-selling author has finally fallen for the country; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint - Mr. Zardari & Mr. Sharif, The Audacity of Hope
Their new friendship might not be good for the democracy; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Musing - Losing East Pakistan
A young Pakistani do a remembrance of things past; by Hassan Masud

Pakistan Elections – The Morning After
Life goes on after the landmark mandate; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Mourning Benazir Bhutto - Shehr-i-Qatl ke Log
Marking the end of the 40-day mourning period of Ms. Bhutto’s death; by Raza Rumi

Xclusive - Who is General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani?
Is Mr. Kayani the right guy for Pakistan Army; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Personal History – Fish Out of Water
A Pakistani-American returns home to re-discover her culture, language and religion; by Bina Shah

Parda Faash – Britney spears Pak Hearts
Benazir is gone, Britney is coming; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Opinion - The Sufi Links of Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto displayed the sufi trait in her death; by Raza Rumi

Viewpoint - Benazir is Dead, Long Live Pakistan
A young Pakistani remains hopeful even after Benazir's assasination; by Salman Ravala

Exclusive - 6:16 pm, 27/12, Benazir Bhutto is Dead
Eminent Pakistanis–Begum Nawazish Ali, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Ardeshir Cowasjee, Khalid Hasan, Shandana Minhas, Kamran Shafi, Raza Rumi–relive the moment with Pakistan Paindabad

Bibi Special - My Life with Benazir Bhutto
Eminent columnist and Bibi's friend looks back on the late leader; by Khalid Hasan

Obituary: Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2008
Pakistan's future Prime Minister and convent-educated mother of three teenagers; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Special Column - Courage in a Time of Chaos
Pakistan will survive the tragedy of Benazir's assasination; by Bina Shah

Special - Pakistan Paindabad Gets Good Press
Mullah Radio Quiz attracted 6000 visitors on a single day; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Obituary –Ismail Gulgee, Pakistani Artist
Abstract expressionist and portraitist of the Afghan royal family; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Special - Top 10 Pakistani Blogs
Pakistan Paindabad fails to make it; by Raza Rumi

Satire – Special Quiz on Pakistan
Jemima’s memoirs, Sharif’s symbol, halaal sex, and more; by Mayank Austen Soofi

In Praise and Criticism of Pakistan Paindabad
Message from readers

Commentary - The Three Musketeers of Pakistan
A not-for-dummies guide to the trinity of Benazir + Nawaz + Musharraf; by Gaurav Sood

Exclusive – Gay Planet in Karachi
A homosexual man’s guide to Pakistan’s biggest metropolis; by Jalaluddin

Satire – What Is to Be Done?
A few readymade revolutionary deals for Mr. Musharraf & Co.; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Culture - A Specie Called Pakistan Art
Excursions into a little known world; by Raza Rumi

Travel - Mr. Raza’s Tips on Pakistan
Counseling by Pakistan’s most lovable travel writer; compiled by Mayank Austen Soofi

“Writing a Novel is Like Ejecting an Infant from Your Uterus” – Interview with Shandana Minhas
Frank talk with the Karachi-based author of Tunnel Vision; interview by Mayank Austen Soofi

Emergency Column - Pervez Musharraf Arrested My Mother
But he is losing the match; by Maryam Arif

Opinion - Iqbal, Islam, and the Emergency
Our poet had envisaged a different Pakistan; by Raza Rumi

Karachi Life - A Gay Man's Diary, Part I
Being gay in Pakistan's biggest metropolis; by Jalaluddin

“Repressive measures have led to some spectacular literature in Pakistan” – Interview with Rakhshanda Jalil
The editor of a anthology of Pakistani short stories on the country’s vibrant writing scene; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Honey, How We Shrunk Musharraf's Emergency
Ripping apart international media's mis-coverage of Pakistan's crisis; by Gaurav Sood

Satire – Full Text of Mr. Musharraf’s Emergency Proclamation
Illegally obtained by Pakistan Paindabad; by Gaurav Sood and Mayank Austen Soofi

Book Review – Searching for Sister Pakistan
neither night nor day, 13 stories by women writers from Pakistan; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Indian blogger's website on Pak creates waves in cyberspace
Pakistan Paindabad is being noticed; by Rezaul Hasan Laskar

Recollection - Heartbreak in Lahore
A play that moved both Indians and Pakistanis; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint - On Pakistan Paindabad's First Anniversary
The blogsite needs a Pakistani collaborator; by Gaurav Sood

Memoirs – Confessions of a Grass Eater
Living a vegetarian life in Lahore; by Maryam Arif

Opinion - A Fight to the End
Pakistan's eminent opinion maker on BB's bloodied return, exclusively for Pakistan Paindabad; by Irfan 'Mazdak' Husain

Special Editorial - Blasts, Blitzkrieg, and BB
Is Benazir Bhutto’s second return as hopeful as her first; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pride, Prejudice, and Pakistanis
What does Pakistan Paindabad’s Indian readers think of Pakistan Paindabad; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Accolades for Pakistan Paindabad
The Daily Times newspaper has something to say about this website

Photo Essay - Celebrating the Canal of Lahore
Honoring the city's most precious treasure; Pakistan Paindabad revisits an old story on its first birthday

Pakistan Paindabad Exclusive - What Makes Pakistanis Laugh
Paksitan's celebrated writer Bina Shah investigates

Special Survey - What Do Young Americans Think of Pakistan
Pakistanis in the perceptions of their greatest ally; by Raymond Lee

Time Out Karachi - Sunbathing in the Metropolis
Imagine Karachi without its beaches; by Ameer Hamza

"Karachi's Anarchy Leads Me to Question Things” - Interview with Amin Gulgee
Pakistan’s most celebrated sculptor talks to Pakistan Paindabad

Memories - Once So Many Hindus Lived in Taxila
An old lady recounts the time when Pakistan came into existence; by Kamran Safdar

Dateline Wagah - Pakistan Versus India
Eyewitness report from Ground Zero; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Naan, Keema, K2, and Cricket in Pakistan
In love with my land; by Merium H. Kazmi

M. Hanif Raza - Mister Borat of Pakistan
A travel writer too naive to be true; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint – Indian Intellectuals Can’t Accept Pakistan
Exposing the anti-Muslim attitude of Indian writers like Ramachandra Guha; by Ali Eteraz

Viewpoint – Jiye Gandhi
We need more Gandhians in Pakistan; by Maryam Arif

Azaadi at 60 – We the Pakistanis
A young Karachite demands a new not-so-moth-eaten Pakistan; by Ameer Hamza

"Writing columns often moves me to tears" - Independence Day Interview with Kamran Shafi
One of Pakistan’s most acclaimed columnists sits down with Pakistan Paindabad

A Pakistani Riddle – Speaking Hindi; Reading Arabic
Making sense of our Pakistani identity; by Maryam Arif

Understanding Pakistan in Karachii
A single city defines the ethno-political dimensions of an entire nation; by Gaurav Sood

Exclusive Review – Pervez Musharraf and the Deathly Hallows
We’ve read the unreleased book purchased illegally from a Karachi store; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Karachi Chronicle – Slow Journey to Nationhood
Tracing the nation’s struggle for a common identity; by Gaurav Sood

Time Out Lahore - Dancing, Smoking and Crashing Out in Pakistan’s Sin City
Sharing a slice of the most happening city this side of the Indus; by Maryam Arif

Lahore & Karachi – A Tale of Two Cities
Two cities both alike in dignity; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint - Mr. Musharraf Stuck in Golden Temple Trap
Lal Masjid farce is over but it could have devastating results; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Lal Masjid Editorial – Flushing Out the Religious Blackmailers
Mr. Musharraf’s government finally showed its belated courage in dealing with the fanatics; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Bina Shah - "I Want to Foster Future Booker Prize Winners"
Pakistan's most promising young writer talks to Pakistan Paindabad; interview by Gaurav Sood

Letter to the Readers- On Gay Life in Pakistan
In response to accusations of maligning Pakistan's reputation; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Open Secrets- Gay Life in Pakistan
It's risky but easy to be a homosexual in this country; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Satire - President Musharraf’s Little Khaki Book
Exclusive excerpts from Pervez Musharraf's new book; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Bapsi Sidhwa: "I wrote naturally about sexuality..."
The grandmother of Pakistani writing in English talks to Pakistan Paindabad; special interview

Exclusive - Five things I love about Pakistan
One of Pakistan’s most respected opinion-makers on the country’s better side; by Irfan 'Mazdak' Husain

Editorial – Mr. Musharraf Gags Media, Ruins His Own Legacy
Can Pakistanis be pushed back to the bad old dictatorial days; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Because Heart Hai Pakistani
A Pakistani, living in America, muses on her land; by Nahal S

Special Report - Pakistan's Pink Purdah
Two women in love married each other and are now in jail; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Jiye Jiye Jiye Jiye Jiye Pakistan
A Karachi-based photojournalist loves his country and how; by Ameer Hamza

Book Review - City of Sin and Splendour: Writings on Lahore
Bapsi Sidhwa's Lahore is a lovingly embroidered family heirloom; by Gaurav Sood

Favourite Five – Why I Am a Proud Pakistani
Khalid Hasan, US correspondent of The Friday Times, lists his reasons.

Special Editorial - Pakistan’s Soul is Not for Sale
Searching and finding hope in these anxious times; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint - Chacha Chaudhry and Papa Pervez
Musharraf blunders, Karachi burns but is Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry all clean; by Gaurav Sood

Panch Pakistani Power Points
An eminent columnist shares his reasons for loving Pakistan; by Ishtiaq Ahmed

Top 5 Reasons for Loving Pakistan
Explaining the pull in terms of rating and ranking; by Raza Rumi

5 Heroes of Pakistan
Five Pakistanis who make me proud to be a Pakistani; by Hassan Abbas

Fiver for the Fatherland
Gosh, I love my Pakistan; by Jawad Zakariya

5 Stars to Pakistan
Here's why I'm proud of my nation; by Maryam Arif

Pakistan Top 5
Freedom, thrill, family, smartness, and girls; by Tehman Lall

5 Best Things about Pakistan – Difficult to List!
Is there anything beautiful about this country; by Saeeda Diep

Khyber Pass Memoirs
A retired British RAF Pilot discloses ‘Pakistan Paindabad’ was the first Urdu phrase he learnend; by Tony Connane

Heera Mandi - The Dream House of the Whores
Midnight excursion in the alleys of Lahore's red light district; by Mayank Austen Soofi

New Dawn for Pakistan's Least-Loved Citizens?
Pakistan has started taking note of its Hindu legacy; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Lahore Sight-Seeing - Fun on the Road
Passing instant judgments while driving in Pakistan's great city; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Pervez Musharraf – The 100 Percent Superstar
Mr. Musharraf’s passion for “percentage-analysis” makes him a unique statesman of our times; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint – Should Westerners Visit Pakistan?
The country has unleashed an ambitious "Destination Pakistan 2007" tourist campaign, but is the place safe; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Basant Photo Essay: Kat Gayi, Kat Gayi...Patang Kat Gayi!
Lahore went rangeela but debate continues on Basant’s legitimacy in Pakistan; Pictures by Usman Ahmed and Viewpoint by Maryam Arif

Interview with Ardeshir Cowasjee - The Grand Old Man of Karachi
One of Pakistan’s most respected citizens spills it out – about his beloved city of Karachi.

Editorial - Outrage and Unrest in Pakistan
Mr. Musharraf fires a judge and falls in trouble. Here is what he should do next; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Wagah Photo Essay - Spying in Pakistan
When an Indian, armed with a secret digicam, crossed into Pakistan; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Rang De Red - Spring Time in Pakistan
Love and longing in the time of "Enlightened Moderation"; Poetry by Ajit Shenoy, pictures by Usman Ahmed

Editorial – The Changing Face of Pakistan
Is it merely skin-deep; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint - Culture Shock in Hip Pakistan
A Lahore girl, living in US, returns home to find a changing society; by Maryam Arif

Dating Scene in Pakistan – "Liberal Parents Allow Arranged Love Marriages"
How western impact affect inter-generational relations; an interview

Dating Scene in Pakistan - "Good Girls Not Available"
A non-resident Pakistani recalls his non-dating days in Karachi; an interview

Samjhauta Express Editorial - Give Respect to Pakistani Travelers
A bomb attack exposed the travails of the traveling citizens; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Dating Scene in Pakistan – "There Are No Discos in Lahore"
A young man discusses the “scene in colleges” and in other "intimate hideouts"; talking with Tehman Lall

Dating Scene in Pakistan – The Correct Way
If you wish to go further, get married; by Usman

Dating Scene in Pakistan – "I Prefer the Oriental Ishq"
Where do young people meet in Lahore? And how things eased following Musharraf’s takeover; conversations with Raza Rumi

Making Love in Pakistan: An Introduction
On this Valentine's Week, a special series on the mixed-sex dynamics of the country.

How To Survive The Taunts And Jibes Of Pakistani Columnists?
Reading Pakistani newspaper columns in the times of Pervez Musharraf; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Viewpoint – What Is Wrong In Being A Muslim Fundamentalist?
A Taxila teacher reacts to columnist Ishtiaq Ahmed's interview with Pakistan Paindabad; by Syed Kamran Safdar

Exclusive Conversations with Pakistani Columnist Ishtiaq Ahmed
An eminent Pakistan-born intellectual on his native country, and on Islam as practiced in his adopted nation – Sweden; Interview by Mayank Austen Soofi

Photo Report - Running for Pakistan
A recent marathon in Pakistan made a political statement of its own; by Usman Ahmed and Mayank Austen Soofi

Special Editorial - Pakistan and India Will Never be Friends
The dividing wall of mistrust between these two nations won't come tumbling down anytime soon; by Mayank Austen Soofi

Blocking Blogs in Pakistan
While Time magazine makes bloggers the People of the Year 2006, Pakistan government is blocking access to blogs; by Mayank Austen Soofi

The State of Pakistani Economy – It’s the Time to Party

Acknowledgement: This blogsite is the ongoing consequence of constant inspiration and gentle prodding of my friend Gaurav Sood.

Special Interview – Kazim Aizaz Alam, A Young Karachi Man in the US

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Happy Families Are Alike

How are Americans treating him?

[Interview by Mayank Austen Soofi; pictures by Kazim Aizaz Alam unless specified]

Are Pakistanis considered pariahs in the world? How is a Pakistani treated in the West, especially the US? Pakistan Paindabad talked to Karachi’s Kazim Aizaz Alam, 25, who is in the US as a Fulbright student. I wanted to know from him if America - thanks to the growth of its ultra-nationalist Tea Party Movement and Islamophobia et cetera - is indeed becoming an intolerant society. Read this interview and find out yourself.

How you managed to get into the US?
One of my seniors at The News, the newspaper I was working in, got Fulbright scholarship in 2009. I thought of giving it a try. I took two English language tests -- GRE and TOEFL – and scored quite poorly. Still, the Fulbright Commission selected me for the 2010 master’s program. I'll be here for a year.

Where are you living?
I live in Hamden, which is in the state of Connecticut. The town offers both rural and urban lifestyles. The most striking thing is its greenery and scenic landscape. My landlady once aptly described this place as a “slice of heaven”. I cycle to university every day. On one side of the road is a 600-acre farmhouse that includes a golf course and a polo ground while on the other is the Sleeping Giant State Park, two miles of mountaintop that resembles a sleeping giant.

What are you studying?
I am doing Master of Science at Quinnipiac University in Journalism that includes courses on print, TV and radio journalism, besides studies on ethics, society and opinion journalism.

What do you miss about Karachi?
I want to go back now and stay with my father – he misses me a lot. I miss Javeria, my best friend and wife-to-be. I miss my colleagues and the heated debates we used to have on political issues. I miss office gossip.

What you don’t miss about Karachi?
It’s poor public transport system.

It’s your first time in the West? How is this new world?
Very kind and helpful. I live in a cozy apartment and the landlady’s family is my immediate neighbor. They handed me a fully furnished home. Refrigerator, microwave, stove, kitchen utensils, TV, lamps, food stuff for a week, everything I could need. Free of charge. They gifted me a cycle too. I don’t even have to purchase warm clothes for the approaching winter. One of their family friends has given me lots of winter clothes (that fit me well), which are going to last for the whole season. They invite me for dinner every now and then take me to parties, ice cream parlors, shopping etc. In short, they really care about me.

I had an evening class today and I was at university when it started to rain. I couldn't apparently cycle for at least an hour. It was already 9:00 p.m. And guess what? Mike (my landlady's husband) came in his jeep, put my bicycle in the back and drove me safely to my apartment. My landlady also left home-made delicious dinner in my refrigerator!

They are nice people.
Indeed. I never expected an American family could do THAT (sic) much for a stranger from Pakistan. Don't forget that the man behind the failed Times Square bombing bid (Faisal Shahzad) lived in the neighboring town -- and he was a Pakistani.

Are there Indian students too? Have you made friends with them or they have horns on their head?
On my first day in the University I was sitting in the library when an Indian-looking teenager came to me and said, “Hi”. We hit it off right there. Time is considered the most precious commodity in America, yet this stranger from India took me on a whirlwind tour of the campus and showed me around different departments. Akash was born in Karachi and his family moved to India in the ’90s because of the threats to successful Hindu businessmen from different mafias operating in the city. I was somewhat embarrassed by his kind and cheerful attitude towards me. After all, I belong to the city his family was forced to leave at a few hours’ notice.

How different are Pakistanis when they are abroad than when they are in their country?
I haven’t interacted with any Pakistanis here so far.

How different is Pakistan from this new world?
In Pakistan, car drivers don’t stop to let the cyclists go first – in America they always do.

How were you treated at the airport?
Politely. No one talked to me rudely. No one harassed me. No one bullied me. Immigration officials were all very nice and helpful. And the best thing that happened at the Bradley International Airport, Hartford, CT, was the presence of the host family members who had come all the way from Hamden to receive me in the state capital. I had boarded four planes in 25 hours and was about to faint. It was 10 minutes to midnight when I landed. They drove me to my apartment.

How is the behavior of Americans towards you? Are they eager about Pakistan?
Everyone is curious about Pakistan. From neighbors to professors, everyone wants to know more and more about my country. Sadly, all that the Americans get to hear about Pakistan in the mainstream media is bomb blasts, Talibanization and terrorism. They ask me about the lawyers’ movement that ousted Pervez Musharraf in 2008. They are often curious about the state of women in South Asia.

What do you wear? What do you eat?
I wear the clothes I used to wear in Pakistan: Blue jeans, shirts, sweaters and joggers. I miss home food a lot. Breakfast comprises bread with butter and tea. For lunch and dinner, there’s rice and pizza. You know what? Once I’m back in Pakistan, I’ll never touch pizza. I hate it now.

Mr Alam (right) in Jinnah's Memorial, Karachi (picture by Mayank Austen Soofi)

Special Interview – Kazim Aizaz Alam, A Young Karachi Man in the US

Somewhere in Quinnipiac University, Hamden

Special Interview – Kazim Aizaz Alam, A Young Karachi Man in the US

Somewhere in Hamden

Special Interview – Kazim Aizaz Alam, A Young Karachi Man in the US

Somewhere in Hamden

Special Interview – Kazim Aizaz Alam, A Young Karachi Man in the US

Mr Alam (left, sitting on the floor) with friends in Karachi (picture by Mayank Austen Soofi)

Happy Families Are Alike

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Letter from London - Why I Love Pakistan

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Jiye Pakistan

Pyaasa for Pakistan.

[Text by Catriona Luke; picture by Mayank Austen Soofi ]

I've worked in Mumbai and been in India many times, but have always had an ill-concealed soft spot for Pakistan, which sits in the west of the subcontinent.

Pakistan has a much longer history than its three-generational link to 1947 -- it's the land of Gandhara Buddhism, Ashoka and his pillars, the lovely city of Lahore and the archaeological remains of Mohenjo Daro as well as the Indus Valley civilisation. And, like India, it's a land of stunning landscapes, peaceful farming lands and a tight bond between land and people.

It is also at this moment a troubled part of the world. Like India, Pakistan has been able to do little about the rising poverty of its rural poor. Unlike India, it has a long way to go to expand the educated middle class which, over the border, has been responsible in great measure for a buoyant and expanding economy.

Pakistan trains fantastic lawyers (often called to the Bar in London), doctors, engineers, bio scientists, economists and statisticians, teachers and IT specialists, but they often struggle to find the rewarding careers that would be theirs in the west. However, this is beginning to change, largely due to the return of a young generation of American-educated go-getters.

Crucially, the middle classes have also found it difficult to penetrate politics through the National Assembly, where zaminder (landowning) interests and opaque power deals between the army and religious parties predominate. As in India, you need deep pockets and good connections to enter politics. As Salman Rushdie said in Shame (1983): "You can get anywhere in Pakistan if you know people, even into jail."

If India mutters about the ever-present "foreign hand" interfering -- with justification, as both the KGB and the CIA have held sway in New Delhi at different times -- Pakistan has it for real.

Saudi Arabia's charming export of Wahhabism (latterly in the form of the Taliban and al-Qaeda) has been wreaking havoc in the region for decades, destroying the indigenous and centuries-old subcontinental Sunni Sufi mysticism and putting pressure on Pakistan's courtly and aristocratic Shia intelligentsia as well as its Ahmadi, Hindu and Christian minorities.

It would have needed an exceptionally strong, moral, good, worldly and intelligent leader of Pakistan in the 1970s to avoid the lure and trap of Saudi money, which was accepted to improve the country's infrastructure and real estate. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was not it.

While Pakistan's international image has suffered immeasurably in the intervening years, I would urge all who love the subcontinent to look past the headlines and the international analysis, and see a country which, for the moment at least, is cut off from its continental neighbour. Here are my own reasons for loving Pakistan:

1. Women are noisily at the centre of Pakistani life. Challenging and vocal, they sit at the heart of the family and have made good progress into professional and political life.

Declan Walsh reported the terrible attack on the Ahmadi community in June, and noted that it was three women from different parties -- ANP's Bushra Rehman, MQM's Khushbakht Shujaat and PPP's Farahnaz Ispahani -- led by the former PPP minister Sherry Rehman, who crossed the floor in the National Assembly and made sure the legislature said "no".

In human rights and the state's nurturing of all religions and religious minorities, Pakistan has never gone far enough. But with 30 per cent of seats in the National Assembly occupied by women (India has 10 per cent), they are playing a more significant role in the legislature. That may help bring the country back to Jinnah's original ideals of a tolerant, secular nation.

2. Pakistan has a line in very attractive men, from old heart-throbs such as Tariq Ali and Imran Khan to a younger generation such as Lahore's most happening export to Bollywood, Ali Zafar.

Outlook India recently ran a fascinating piece about the film history of Peshawar: Shashi Kapoor and Shahrukh Khan's families were from this region. I very much hope that Sanjeev Bhaskar won't mind if I put his handsome features down to west Punjab, where his family lived for centuries (his father's ancestral village was Badhoki Gosaiyan).

And you will be hard pressed to find sweeter coverage than the respectful and affectionate writing about women in the weekend papers.

3. Pakistan has a varied and lively media, though perhaps not always on the side of the angels. But probably more than India, it has a range of sophisticated English-language newspapers (firmly on the side of the angels), including Najam Sethi's PEN Award-winning Friday Times and Karachi's Dawn. (Their closest competitors in India are Vinod Mehta's Outlook India and the Hindu.) Both are written in classic, poised prose and boast incisive columnists as well as world-class books, arts and cultural coverage.

In Mohammed Hanif, Ali Sethi, Mohsin Hamid and Kamila Shamsie, Pakistan has a growing raft of writers (some of them Harvard-educated) who explore political and social themes.

4. The country survives daily life on humour, a curious cross-blend of the subcontinental and something rather like Oxbridge Private Eye. But if in the west the well of ribaldry comes from the misfortune of others, in Pakistan, the humour is rather more subtly how people try to find their way out of that misfortune.

It's a richer hoard altogether that provides endless material at social gatherings, as well as for TV star transvestites such as Begum Nawazish Ali.

Over the border in India, the vaudeville slapstick of Mr Bean appeals greatly to audiences. Pakistan finds itself closer to Yes Minister.

5. Pakistanis adore their children: to be born into a settled family in the subcontinent is to enter a very happy world of love and adoration. Only Italians compare in their child-worship. It's not such a strange thing to mention, because in the west there are still hints of Victoriana in our upbringing -- don't talk with your mouth full, don't point, it's rude to stare, say you're sorry.

If you're a boy in Pakistan or India, you're on a winning ticket. Not only will be you adored and pampered, but you'll be allowed just as rich an emotional life as the girls. By contrast, British boys are expected to rein it in. Pakistani fathers are proud as Punch of their girls and their ability to outshine the boys with top marks at school and university.

6. It is a country that thrives on mixed metaphors. So, for those to the west of the border, the song I choose for you is the hauntingly beautiful "Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai" ("What Is This World to Me?").

It comes from the film about mistaken identity and lack of life's essentials Pyaasa (Thirsty, 1957), directed by and featuring Guru Dutt, a Hindu whose melancholy perhaps made him an honorary subcontinental Muslim. The melody was written by S D Burman (a Bengali Hindu), the lyrics were written by the Urdu poet Saahir (Abdul Hayee, a Punjabi Muslim) and they were sung by Mohammed Rafi (another Punjabi Muslim). You can watch it here.

It's worth remembering that although the song does not have a happy ending, the film does.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pakistan Floods - Is Indian Media Blacking Out Pakistan’s Worst Natural Tragedy

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Pakistan Floods - Is Indian Media Blacking Out Pakistan’s Worst Natural Tragedy

Pakistan's tragedy doesn't move India.

[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; picture by Faisal Mahmood of Reuters; the man is consoling his family members after they returned to find their homes destroyed after heavy floods in Nowshera, located in Pakistan's northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, August 3, 2010. ]

On the evening of August 16th, 2010, I was in Delhi’s Ambassador Hotel. The Indian capital’s leading opinion makers, including the Prime Minister’s wife, gathered to celebrate the launch of author Khushwnat Singh’s yet another book. If somebody mentioned Pakistan’s harrowing humanitarian flood crisis over cocktails, I did not hear it.

The same night I got this distress e-mail from Navaid Husain, an architect friend in Karachi. “The floods have knocked Pakistan to the absolute bottom. 20 million displaced people. So many houses, schools, roads, bridges, factories knocked out. Loss of so many cattle, goats will push up the price of milk & meat. On the pictures taken by satellite shows so much water all over. Much of this water will stay stagnant & will take months to settle down. Lack of clean drinking water is already causing sickness.”

I immediately called Saeeda Diep, my activist friend in Lahore. She had just returned from Amritsar, the biggest city of the Indian side of Punjab, where she had gone to light candles in the border post of Wagah. Diep was shocked that the biggest tragedy of her country was not causing even a whimper with the neighbour. “Except Lahore and Karachi, my entire country is gone. Pakistan is being wiped out. It’s worse than the Indian Ocean tsunami and Haiti quake but for two days I read the Indian newspapers and found nothing, absolutely nothing, on Pakistan’s flood crisis. The Indian news channels were busy bashing Pakistan on terrorism.”

Is it true that Indian media is silent on Pakistan’s worst natural disaster?

"Understandably, there is a considerable coverage of the flash floods in Leh but so little space has been given to a far far greater natural disaster across the western border,” says Andrew Buncombe, the Independent’s Delhi-based Asia correspondent who had just returned from flooded central Punjab. “There may be several reasons for this. One of which is that Indian and Pakistani journalists have difficulties of obtaining visas to visit and work in each other’s countries. However, it does seem as if there is a blind spot within the Indian media towards the current, obvious suffering of the Pakistanis. Instead, the stories that have come out have largely focused on issues such as the weakening of Pakistan’s civilian government, the increased power of the military and procedural difficulties in processing India's donation of $5 million – which, while something, is not a massive amount given the scale of the floods.”

Indian journalists may not agree. “In Hindustan Times, we are carrying 7-8 column space daily on the floods,” says Samar Halarnkar, the Delhi-based newspaper’s editor-at-large. “You can’t do more because your readership doesn’t care about calamities such as floods, unless it’s happening in their own backyard. This is a modern media issue. It’s not about Pakistan. How many people know that Bihar is reeling under a severe drought currently?”

I then e-mailed Indian Express columnist Taveel Singh known for her harsh views on Pakistan. “The truth is that there is very little sympathy for Pakistan in India after 26/11,” she wrote referring to terrior attacks in Bombay by Pakistan-based terrorists in 2008. “With the floods in Leh causing considerable loss of life people are more concerned about that. Also you may not be aware that after the Kashmir earthquake Indian construction companies working on rebuilding houses on our side offered their help to the Pakistani government and it was rejected. As far as I know the Indian government's offers of aid this time have also been turned down.”

I checked out the latest issue of India Today, the country’s leading news weekly. There was no story on the floods in its thick 152 pages. The last page, though, had a small anecdote on Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani being an admirer of Bollywood singer Lata Mangeshkar. The other reference, on page 22, had a weekly column by the magazine’s Editor-at-Large, S. Prasannarajan, in which he blamed the ongoing Kashmir unrest being “played out under the gaze of Pakistan, which has unarguably become the unofficial headquarters of jihad.”

“The fact is that the tragedy has stuck an enemy. The corporate media is there to serve the market or so they say. The market demands jingoism and that they focus on our ‘own problems’, you know ‘Peepli Live’ and Aamir Khan kind of Bollywood subjects,” says Gaurav sood, a Stanford University scholar.

I logged onto the website of Tehelka magazine, known for its activist-ridden stories that dares the establishment by presenting the alternative truth. I searched for the word ‘flood’ and found nothing.

“In Amritsar, I watched the live telecast of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 40-minute-long speech in Delhi’s Red Fort,” says Diep. “If only he had mentioned about our tragedy… just one line on how sad he is… it would have made us Pakistanis think that yes, Indians care.”

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Requiem for the dead.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

On the night of July 1, 2010, three suicide bombers struck in quick succession at the Sufi shrine of Daata Darbar in Lahore, Pakistan. 35 people died, 175 were injured. I consider the courtyard of this dargah as his home. I have spent a night there. May the loved ones of the dead find comfort in Daata Saheb's love.

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Maula Mere Maula

Sign of the Times - Terror Attack in Daata Darbar, Lahore's Sufi Shrine

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Karachi Landmark - T2F, Defence Housing Authority

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Karachi's coolest cafe.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Most regulars to The Second Floor, or T2F, are young and speak with an American accent. If this were some other city in some other country, T2F would have gone unnoticed. But this pricey café with a rather unimpressive bookstore and an art gallery is unique. There is no other hangout in Karachi — or in Pakistan — that brings such a crowd of writers, poets, painters, filmmakers, musicians, bloggers, book-lovers and trans-gender people to one place.

“This is an alternative space,” says Karachi-based author and former editor of the Internet magazine SPIDER Bina Shah whose new novel, A Season For Martyrs, has just been translated into Italian. “It’s not a pro-establishment place. It’s a little subversive.”

This isn’t Islamabad or Talibanland. The wall opposite Shah is decked with a painting of two nude men. “It was part of a mural done by the gay artist Asim Butt who committed suicide early this year,” says Sabeen Mahmud, who co-runs T2F. “I have queer people saying to me that this is the only place in Karachi where they feel safe.”

Opened in 2007, T2F, operated by — like most things in Pakistan — a non-profit organisation, quickly became the place for Karachi’s cool set to hang out. Urdu poet Zehra Nigah came here to recite her verses on America’s war against terror. A session on Mirza Ghalib attracted an unexpectedly large crowd after the 19th century poet was marketed as ‘the original hippie’.

T2F has also held events in the past that were not calculated to please the Pakistani establishment. It invited author Ayesha Siddiqa to talk about her book Military Inc., an expose on Pakistan’s military institution, screened a film on the country’s missing people while its director was being hounded by the Inter-Services Intelligence. Call it Pakistan’s radical chic spot.

This silent chattering class is also the set of people who make up Pakistan’s liberal, urban, globalised civil society – sandwiched invisibly between the politicians, lawyers, the generals and the Taliban-types. The hijab is non-existent in this layer of Pakistani society, but it’s still tucked away from the usual ‘international’ images of a country buttressed by violence and disorder.

In the past, Pakistan’s liberal ‘café society’ had more influence than it has now. In Karachi’s rival city Lahore, the now-closed Pak Tea House was an artistic hub frequented by poets and writers such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Saadat Hasan Manto. In Karachi’s Irani cafés, politics was dissected over tea and patties. “A modern successor to old-world cafés, T2F caters to a new generation that has grown up in the so-called ‘liberalism’ of the Musharraf era,” says journalist Beena Sarwar. “Here people come in with their guitars or laptops. They care about the state of the world and also like their coffee well-brewed.”

In keeping with T2F’s high-brow USP, TV journalist Insiya Syed is reading a Michael Ondaatje on the terrace. “The impression that Pakistani women come out only in a burqa or a dupatta is bullshit,” says Ms Syed, wearing skin-tight jeans and a t-shirt. “I usually wear jeans to office, which is on the busiest road in Karachi, which I cross ten times a day and no one frowns.”

In a city that hosted Pakistan’s first fashion week in 2009, the women wear is coming into its own after years of hibernation called ‘Chaadar and chaardiwari’. Dupatta is no longer necessary. Girls on streets are seen in hipster jeans and long skirts. In evenings, society ladies wear strapless dresses, long flowing gowns and even short cocktail dresses at charity balls and club dinners. Sarongs are popular in beach parties.

In Karachi lingo, you are either a ‘Burger’ or a ‘Bun Kebab’. ‘Burger’ kids live in the posh areas of Defence and Clifton, speak accented English, date in Zamzama Boulevard cafés, and party at the secluded ‘French Beach’ on weekends. ‘Bun Kebabs’ live everywhere except in the posh bits of Karachi, speak Urdu-peppered English, hang out at Jinnah’s mausoleum and meet extended relatives for social dos. Burgers feel at home at T2F, Kebabs don’t.

T2F’s posh reading tastes come out strongly. “We don’t accept John Grishams,” says Mohsin Siddiqui, a blogger who selects books for the café. “The point of this place is to encourage discussions. Trash literature such as the Twilight series won’t be able to do that. We keep Robert Fisk, not Dan Brown.” Literary snobbery in a country where a book is a bestseller if it sells 5,000 copies. “I wish Pakistan had a Chetan Bhagat and a Shobhaa De,” says Ameena Saiyid, managing director of Pakistan’s Oxford University Press, which, organised the Karachi Literature Festival with the British Council.

Wearing an embroidered salwar kurta, graphic designer Tehmina Fatima, is waiting with Ms Syed for a gig to be performed at the T2F by Karachi band, Look Busy, Do Nothing. As she lights up a cigarette, the talk veers towards terrorism. “Yesterday three people died in a blast in Saddar Bazaar but it was not breaking news as the number [of people killed] didn’t reach 30,” says Ms Syed.

“Sometimes it gets really depressing and then you come to T2F where you meet people who feel the same way as you. ” Ms Fatima butts in, saying, “You can’t imagine it in other hangouts. There, everyone lives in a bubble and talks about beach parties and boyfriends.”

But isn’t that also important? “Yes, sometimes I go to other cafés to talk crappy stuff,” says Ms Syed with a laugh. “It’s a release valve.”

Meanwhile the three-member band has swung into action. The pencil-thin Talha Asim is playing the lead guitar. The curly-haired Kayzad is beating his drums so fiercely that the cymbal falls on the floor with a crashing noise. Daniyal, the bassist, stops to look up but then resumes with his guitar. As the evening ends, everyone claps. A few hugs later, they all get into their BMWs. Most probably to the beach.

A T2Fite

Somewhere in Karachi

Novelist Bina Shah

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Journalist Insiya Syed

Somewhere in Karachi

Graphic designer Tehmina Fatima

Somewhere in Karachi

T2F's co-owner Sabeen Mahmud

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Blogger Mohsin Siddiqui

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Like-minded T2Fites

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

A fellow T2Fite

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Outdoor scene

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Look busy, do nothing

Somewhere in Karachi

Are they looking busy?

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Another world is possible

Pakistan Diary - T2F, Karachi's Coolest Café

Monday, May 03, 2010

Pakistan Diary - Reading Chicklit in Karachi

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Karachi Literature Festival

A trip to the fatherland.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Pakistanis love reading Chick Lit as much as Delhiites. The Delhi Walla discovered it while attending the two-day Karachi Literature Festival. Held on on March 21-21, it was organised by Pakistan's Oxford University Press (OUP) in collaboration with the British Council.

In the festival, rather than seeking appointments with novelists and critics, I was more interested in finding out the reading taste of young Pakistanis. So, between the sessions, I caught up with youngsters who said that they feel deeply for novels such as the Twilight series.

“I love India’s Shobaa De,” said Falak Abbas, a college student, referring to a bestselling Bombay-based novelist. “She is old and yet looks so sexy and her books are so easy to read.”

On the second day, I met Karim Aman, a Master's student of Karachi’s Aga Khan University who has studied Ms De more closely. “When Shobhaa De writes a novel, she brings in certain words which are pregnant with cultural symbols to which ordinary Indians can relate to,” he said. “For instance, she doesn’t translate ‘mirchi’ as ‘pepper’. However, Pakistani writing in English is still evolving. We still are tempted to translate ‘surahi’ into ‘pot’.”

Pakistani writing in English is making waves in the global literary circuit. Bestselling novels such as The Reluctant Fundamentalist and A Case of Exploding Mangoes are read widely by Pakistanis who take their reading seriously. But the country has no home-grown trash writers. For instance, Pakistan has no Chetan Bhagat, the wildly popular Indian novelist whose quickies are lapped up by the non-reading youngsters.

Quite a few Karachiites were frank in confessing that while they had come to the festival to look at famous authors such as Bapsi Sidhwa and Mohammed Hanif, they don’t care much for reading. “My girlfriend’s Facebook status never says that she is reading a book,” jokes Saquib Shaikh, an engineering student. “Our generation doesn’t read. We don’t like books. Even our university lectures are saved on the laptop.”

That said, romantic shairis are popular in Pakistan. Famous verses of great poets such as Ahmed Faraz, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Sahrar Ansari are routinely forwarded as text messages. “Sometimes, we save their entire collected works on our iPhones,” says Sultan Abbas Rajput, a business student.

One of the first sessions in the festival was dedicated to a creative writing workshop. Noor Ussana, a literature student and an aspiring poet, had specially come to attend it. “There is currently so much negativity in Pakistan and the world,” she said, referring to the unending terror attacks in her country. “To escape, one draws peace from nature and that’s why I want to write on the secluded world of forests and flowers.”

When a college student named Fatima Ansari, who had come to attend the festival, discovered that The Delhi Walla is from India, she said, “You must tell your countrymen that Karachi is as normal as any other city. We have no caves. Yes, there is instability and our parents get worried for us when we go out but we know how to have fun.”

Indeed, the popular weekend time out in Karachi is having nightlong parties on the city’s beaches. “French Beach is most prized,” says Saquib. “And when there’s a beach, there’s also booze.” Eh, why care for the books?

First day in the fest

Karachi Literature Festival

Novelist Mohammed Hanif signing copies of his novel

Karachi Literature Festival


Karachi Literature Festival

All ears

Karachi Literature Festival

Author Sadia Shepherd

Karachi Literature Festival

Columnist Irfan Husain

In Search of Lost Time


In Search of Lost Time

Friday Times editor Raza Rumi with OUP's Ameena Saiyid

Karachi Literature Festival

Lost in the literature

Karachi Literature Festival

The rest is lit

Karachi Literature Festival

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

"Pakistan Paindabad has set others a model of what a blog/site should be."
Late Khalid Hasan, US correspondent for the Lahore-based Daily Times and The Friday Times

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

The world of old books.

[Text and pictures by Yasir Malik]

For those of us born and brought up in Karachi, the Sunday Market has been a regular feature for household shopping ranging from ripe tomatoes to buckets and brooms. Given its success, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has upped the ante by transforming this dusty market into a well organized shopping place with proper paving, security & parking for a hassle free Sunday shopping. Such is the diversity of clientele that one can see rich begums stepping out of their imported cars as well as a family of six somehow saddled on a rickety CD70 bike. Anyway, the purpose of this blog is not to wax lyrical about the Sunday Market in general but about the hidden treasure of old books up for sale in particular.

If you are a book lover then maybe we have rubbed shoulders at the Liberty Book Shop or many other glittering shops in the few malls of this city. However, not everyone is privileged to buy books prized at more than the daily wage of most of this country’s population. What to do when the addiction to read is strong but the pocket does not allow a visit to the tempting bookshops in the city? Or what if the desire to get in touch with Mr. Dickens to remind you of English Literature assignments strikes and you would rather read it from an early 20th century edition that carries the smell of history rather than a neatly printed version of the 21st century? The answer is simple. Grab your bike, car, rickshaw or whatever means of transport you would like to employ and head for the Sunday Market.

There are quite a few bookstalls at the market but there are some that stand apart. The one run by Hussain Bhai is definitely the best when it comes to offering classic books dating to the early 20th century. He tells me that he has been in this business for 35 years and operates a shop in Khori garden, off I.I. Chundrigarh Road. Most of the classic books are imported from the UK in containers and the books are declared as paper waste and hence attract zero duty by the customs. These are then sold to people like Hussain Bhai who then sifts them and sells them to people like us.

I am not sure who in the UK is sending this treasure as trash but I have been able to get a book dated as old as 1917. Another book was a gift to a certain student in form IV for being the first in Latin exam in 1922. Upon researching the school in question, I wrote an email to the headmaster who was very happy to hear of my find and promised to get in touch with the town newspaper and try searching for the heirs of the gent in question. I thought to myself if they were interested in the gent’s life then would they have thrown away his treasured books? Leafing through some of these classic books, one finds odd tid bits like a small chit containing the grocery list inside. Oh what pleasure to go a hundred years in history!

There are a number of books on varied subjects available here. Though I personally do not condone pirated books, these are also available in abundance. However to be fair, it would be hypocritical to claim that I did not enjoy some pirated novels in my youth when these were the only things I could afford.

Hussain Bhai is a bit sad when I talk to him and says that people in this country do not read. They will spend the whole day in front of the idiot box watching cricket or some insane TV anchor but will not spend 30 minutes reading something that can shape up their character. He asks me to write something to convince people to come down and buy these books. He might not be very educated but he can certainly differentiate his Rudyard Kipling from Anton Chekhov. Can you?

[The author was born in Lahore under Mars-speckled skies. He lives in Karachi, where he works for an Oil Major and is one of the geniune booklovers of this world.]

Turn right

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

All piled up

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

That's Dickens

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Take your pick

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Mr Shaw's rare edition

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Penguin power

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Looks like pulp

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Get the Doyle

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority

Ruined by reading

Karachi Guide - Sunday Market, Defence Housing Authority