Posts tagged ‘Pakistan’

March 6, 2016

Marvelous Manto: The Great Writer from Pakistan

mantoAn indie flick from Pakistan has been wowing critics and I found myself part of a 300 strong crowd at its premier in London last week.

Manto is the kind of literary figure that my mum becomes glaze eyed about and she’ll suddenly recite passages and look at me with an air of pride at how, clearly, all artists in Urdu are superior to any other.

Manto was a controversial writer whose career spans the 40s and

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September 30, 2015

Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years

AS Dulat Kashmir The Vajpayee Years Launch LondonThe truth can be elastic as it sometimes depends upon the perspective and knowledge of the person making the claim, however, Mr A S Dulat, formerly the head of India’s intelligence agency (Research & Analysis Wing) can perhaps claim to know the truth more than most of us. Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years by A S Dulat was launched in London last week at a lovely event at the Taj St James’ Court with guest of honour, Dr Farooq Abdullah (former Chief Minister of Kashmir, the Indian side).

It was a packed event with people standing at the back of the room. I had encouraged Mr Dulat to launch his book in London and as adorably humble as ever, he said ‘who would want to come to that?’ Loads of people was my reply! A couple of months later and there we were celebrating.

Kashmir is a well known and forever difficult subject for Indians and Pakistanis and often the

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May 19, 2014

Hall of Fame: Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie at Asia House Literature Festival 2014

Kamila Shamsie at Asia House

Internationally successful writer, Kamila Shamsie sat with the Chatterjis for a wee interview at the end of her event at the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2014. Quality literature could be Pakistan’s second biggest export after Mangoes and Kamila Shamsie’s work sits on the most coveted international shortlists. Calm, confident and endearing, Kamila gave a wonderful interview and we hope you enjoy it:

You live and work between three locations in three different countries, what aspects do you enjoy and dislike?

Now I only live in London, I used to live in Karachi, London and upstate New York. But now I live in London the most. What I love most about Karachi is that it’s home, it’s where I grew up it’s familiar. My family is there, the sea is there so it’s everything I’ve grown up with. So Karachi is in the way you love your childhood. And London I love in the way I embrace…the future I suppose.

Do you describe yourself a feminist/ what does the term mean to you?

I absolutely describe myself as a feminist. What it means to me is…being against patriarchy, there are more complicated ways of that. We live in a society that is structured in an unjust way and that’s wrong and should be changed.
What do you think identity means today for yourself as a dual citizen and for British born Asians?

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May 17, 2014

A New Saffron Dawn in Indian Politics

narendra-modi

‘The world’s largest democracy’ cast more than 500 million votes over five weeks to decide who would win and take India roaring into the future and Narendra Modi came out on top with a huge majority.  India has spoken. Decisively.

For the first time in 30 years Indian voters helped create a majority government blasting the incumbents to an insignificant minority.  Right wing and Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) had long been tipped to win the election but most Delhiites I spoke to last month were sure that they wouldn’t have an outright majority and would inevitably have to form a coalition of sorts.  My goodness was everyone shocked, it was time for a new generation.  Even former MPs that had held on to their safe seats for 15 years or more were ousted for the first time. 

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May 13, 2014

Polio Certificate to Leave Pakistan

WHO

From June 2014 if Pakistanis want to visit countries abroad they need a government authorised certificate that they have been vaccinated against polio after new advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO).  Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon have been singled out as the last threatening reserves of the disease.

Although adults can carry the disease it only affects children often leaving them disabled.  Polio workers in Pakistan have been consistently targeted

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May 13, 2014

Pakistan: Literary Treasure Trove

photo 2(1)

Kamila Shamsie at Asia House

Last week Bunty and I spent the evening at Asia House for the continuing literature festival sponsored by the Bagri Foundation. The festival is on until 21st May and there are still many wonderful events to attend! www.asiahouse.org and follow on twitter @asiahouseuk @festofasianlit

Multi award winning writer, Kamila Shamsie was the star of the evening and new writer, Omar Shahid Hamid was introduced and interviewed in Extra Words, a new segment created by Asia House to focus on new talent at the festival.

Kamila was asked all about her new book, A God in Every Stone (I’m reading my signed copy, review to follow asap!). Breathtaking in scope from

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September 16, 2013

The Voice From Heaven

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

Madonna, Kylie, Pink Floyd, New Kids, Daft Punk, Metallica, Asha Bhosle and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan  are all happily lying in my ipod’s music library albeit in different playlists!  Who is is this last chap, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan aka RFAK aka The Voice From Heaven?

Having recently performed to a capacity crowd of 12,000 at London’s O2 Centre, Ustad (Maestro) Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a Sufi qawaali singer

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May 17, 2013

A Letter To The Independent

Squirrel sisters first

Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, flow sister!!

I have a big sis and she is amazing and loads of fun and even acts like a big brother (why the F*** is that guy staring at you??!)!  She’s also a lawyer, something I mention to freaks around the world that I don’t want to do Bijness (business) with so they back off.

News of the Oxford child abuse ring is once again in the headlines as convictions are passed and the limelight once again falls on the Asian Community and in particular Muslims and Pakistanis.  It’s interesting as my sis and I discussed why it is that our white British friends aren’t asked to reflect on Christianity and feel guilty for child abuse and molestation by the likes of Jimmy Saville and everyone accused since.  We are meant to walk with our heads hung in shame and white Brits can Keep Calm and Carry On…abusing??

So today, my sis sent this letter to the Independent newspaper in response to a reader letter:

Dear Sirs

I am a Scottish Pakistani Muslim and now live in London.

Pakistan does not present  the world with immigrants from one all-binding culture, so why don’t some of your readers stop forcing one label on to all of us?  All  of my cousins are university educated

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March 17, 2013

Mr Wonderful

Princess-Diana

Princess Diana’s ‘Mr Wonderful’ also known as Pakistani heart surgeon, Dr Khan is reported to be pursuing maximum damages from News International after Scotland Yard informed him it was possible his phone had been hacked.

Dr Khan is of course one of the 600 potential new phone hacking victims

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December 11, 2012

The Mughals at the British Library

mughal-carousel-allahvardi

Have you heard that the British Library is showcasing its Mughal dynasty masterpieces?  The exhibition is only £10 and is open until April 2013 so there is plenty time to catch one of the most exclusive exhibitions of Mughal art for a very long time.

The British amassed an incredible vast treasure trove of artefacts during the Empire and these go on drip feed display.  A tiny part of me wonders whether it ought to be returned

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November 25, 2012

The Perfect Bride

An aunt recently lamented her mission to find her son a wife and the perfect daughter-in-law for herself.  The pair had hopped on a plane for a trip to Pakistan where her British-born and educated son was introduced to suitable young women but alas none would do.  She recalled

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November 4, 2012

Remembrance Day

During the First World War more than 1.3 million soldiers volunteered from India and it is estimated that more than 70,000 lost their lives.  Of course India at the time included Pakistan and Bangladesh.  I briefly mentioned this in a previous post about a debate I attended at the Royal Society of Arts.

Millions of people died during the First World War

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October 30, 2012

Asian Art in London Week

From 1 to 12 November 2012 London galleries and museums will be hosting antiques and fine art from Asia including India, China, Japan and the Himalayas.  The British Museum is hosting a lecture on the drawings of FN Souza and Picasso widely regarded as founding members of the modern art movement in Europe and India respectively.

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October 15, 2012

Marriage and Prejudice

Dear Diary,

I have been with my partner for over ten years. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, in the beginning we were just friends but then one day I realised that we were not going out to dinner as friends: we were on a date.

I am from Pakistan, though I have lived abroad for many years. My boyfriend is white British. I knew it wasn’t going to go down very well if my parents found out about him, they made no secret of how they felt about inter-racial marriages.  One day, while back in Pakistan on holiday, my mum found out about my boyfriend.  She made me promise to break up with him which I, very reluctantly, said I would do.

But I didn’t as I never intended to. My boyfriend and I continued our lives in London but I kept him a secret from most of

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September 24, 2012

Possession

Four members of one British Asian family from Birmingham were jailed today for killing a pregnant woman as they thought she was possessed.

The victim was a 21 year old woman from Pakistan who had come to Britain after marriage.  On the other side of the world from her own family

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August 21, 2012

Blasphemy

An 11 year old girl, Rifta Masih, with Down Syndrome could face the death penalty in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy. Mehdi Hasan reported in Huffington Post that the child was arrested for burning pages from the Quran. The police say she was arrested for her own safety as approximately 500 people gathered outside her home in outrage.

This is the legacy of General Zia Ul Haq who brought in these laws in the 1980’s to wage war in Afghanistan and to take a harder stance against India. It is not a divine-mandate, as seen by some Pakistanis.

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July 13, 2012

Disco Deewane

Apologies for the short notice but it has come to my attention that there will be a fabulous tribute gig on tonight in London for 80’s sensation, Nazia Hassan with proceeds to go to the Nazia Hassan Foundation.

Half of internationally successful

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July 11, 2012

Beware of Greeks Bearing Racism

An article in today’s New York Times highlights the increasing levels of racist attacks on immigrants inGreece and the relative complacency of politicians, police and the public at large.

In economic downturns, immigrants are always the easy target to vent political inaction and even the local population taking their fair share of responsibility and ‘blame’ for their own phobia against paying taxes and penchant for loans.

Of course it is more newsworthy and scandalous

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June 18, 2012

Calorific Cops

Obese members of the Pakistani Punjab police force have been to told to lose weight by the end of the month or receive a pay cut.  The target they are aiming for is

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June 7, 2012

Violent Politics

A Norwegian friend at university once made a hilarious impression of MPs at the House of Commons with their napping and sudden jeering.  It was the 90s and I confess his impression was accurate at the time although thank goodness things have changed.

The British political chamber is mild, however, compared to Indian, Pakistani and now shockingly that of GREECE.  I was surprised when I saw my first televised fist fight in Indian parliament but nothing prepared me for the physical attack on live television between a Greek far-right politician and two women MPs.

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May 28, 2012

Roots: The Great British Story

There is a wonderful TV series showing on the BBC called The Great British Story: A People’s History I just watched the first programme over a cuppa last week.

It was insightful learning about how important and beautiful some towns and cities used to be, particularly as one suburb of Glasgow, Govan, once loved by the Romans is now junkie heaven and infamoulsy connected to its fictional comedy resident, Rab C Nesbitt.

As the programme moved across Britain 

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May 23, 2012

My Daughter, My Property

The on-going trial of the alleged honour killing of Shafilea Ahmed and evidence given by her younger sister is a chilling reminder of what can happen to girls and women in the name of culture or religion, particularly those from a South Asian background.

Demonstrating the utterly shocking nature of this ‘cultural’ practice, the UK Forced Marriages Unit dealt with a case involving a girl who was only five years old and another of a woman who was eighty-seven! 

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April 24, 2012

Parallel Lives

I wouldn’t say I had a routine but usually my day consists of going to work, having lunch with friends, after work dinner or drinks and an evening at a gallery here or museum there, shopping and so on.   I’m currently in my family home in Scotland and as I sit watching the Pakistani news channels for a few minutes a day with my mum (trying to understand the Urdu and failing badly) it’s hard to believe that we share the same planet and I am shocked with the daily instability there.

In half a week so far there has been: 1 x plane crash, 1 x wedding shootout, 1 x bomb at a major train station.  In this summary I have not included

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October 25, 2011

British Pakistanis Discuss

Yesterday evening the RSA hosted an event with the practical title of: British Pakistanis and Pakistan: 21st century citizenship and diasporas.  I attended with my sister and although the event was disappointingly less the promised discussion and more a lecture it was interesting and I recommend listening to the panel here.  There was an assumption that British Pakistanis should give two hoots about Pakistan, a country that some of them have never even visited and a country that doesn’t care about the diaspora unless it’s for hand-me-outs or arranged marriages.

It was fascinating to hear

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August 22, 2011

My Other Interests Include

Gap years could be going out of fashion as tuition fees rise and job prospects for graduates fall.  I went straight to uni from high school as did everyone else I knew from school and those I met at university.  Anyone who took a gap year was suspected of not getting in to university and needing to re-sit their exams.

I’m sure my mum wouldn’t have let me go on a gap year like the ones I heard of

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June 16, 2011

Masks Of Modernity

A global survey in the Guardian on Wednesday reported that India was the 4th worst country for women to be born into. A country rapidly developing into an economic superpower is deemed to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world due to the high levels of female infanticide and sex trafficking.

The survey was conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation to mark the launch of Trust Law, a website providing free legal advice to women’s groups across the world. Afghanistan was polled as the worst, with The Congo, Somalia and Pakistan all in the top 5.

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May 9, 2011

Enter If You’re A Virgin

Around 80 unmarried Asian girl were subjected to intrusive and humiliating virginity tests at Heathrow Airport during 1970’s . Girls who failed the virginity tests were denied access into Britain.

The case that originally caused alarm was of an Asian teacher who was entering into the Britain with her fiance. British immigration did not believe that she was a bride to be and subjected her to a vaginal examination by a male doctor. Indeed the examination verified that she was a virgin.

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May 9, 2011

Revolting Recipes

Last week The Guardian published some recipes with ox tongue and pig cheek.  They sound pretty gross to me even though I’m not a vegetarian.  Some things are simply for dedicated carnivores and the brave.

The recipes reminded me of when my mum used to try to make us eat kidney (shudder) and trotter soup – yes your heard it.  Last year at my cousin’s wedding this soup was served up as a gourmet breakfast in my house

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May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Killed

Americans celebrate as the death of Osama Bin Laden, US’s most wanted man, is announced. A stealthy operation that had been in the planning for over 6 months  led to a raid of his mansion home outside Islamabad and  two shots in the head.

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April 11, 2011

The Khan Can

Jemima Khan has been trying to change her popular persona from IT girl to political interviewer and civil liberties supporter.

I must admit I was surprised to see her name in an article as the interviewer of Nick Clegg

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April 8, 2011

Sesame Street Gets Visa For Pakistan

A much loved childhood fave has been given funding by the US government to produce a version of Sesame Street in Urdu.

That is good news especially for Ernie and Bert

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April 2, 2011

South Asian Union Announced

History will be made: following the successful model of the United Kingdom and the European Union; India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will sign a treaty

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March 17, 2011

Indian Summer

This wonderful book by Alex Von Tunzelmann documents the end of the British Empire and the creation of an independent India and Pakistan from the perspectives of the key figures who changed our history

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