Tag Archives: Manto

Manto and Sindh – Excellent write up of Haider Nizamani, it helps to understand why Sindh is tolerant and secular society in nature.

Punjab at the time of partition in 1947.

Manto and Sindh

By Haider Nizamani

SINDH has no equivalent of Saadat Hasan Manto as a chronicler of Partition. And the absence of a Manto-like figure in Sindhi literature on that count is good news. It shows the resilience of Sindh’s tolerant culture at a time when Punjab had slipped into fratricidal mayhem.

While Amrita Pritam called out for Waris Shah to rise up from the grave to witness the blood-drenched rivers of Punjab, Sindhi woman writers such as Sundari Uttamchandani were not forced to ask Shah Latif to do the same.

The tragedy of Partition inflicted different types of pain on the Punjabi and Sindhi communities and these peculiarities shadowed and shaped post-Partition communal relations between people of different faiths who traced their roots to these regions. What Manto endured and witnessed in 1947 and afterwards, became, through his eloquent writings, simultaneously an elegy and indictment of Punjab losing its sense of humanity at the altar of religious politics. The political air in Sindh was filled with religious demagogy but it did not turn into a communal orgy.

Urdu literati and historians interested in Partition and its impact on the subcontinent have used Manto’s birth centennial, that was recently observed, to remind us of his scathing sketches of lives destroyed by Partition. Ayesha Jalal in her essay ‘He wrote what he saw — and took no sides’ published in the May issue of Herald, writes Manto “looked into the inner recesses of human nature…” to “fathom the murderous hatred that erupted with such devastating effect” …in “his own home province of Punjab at the dawn of a long-awaited freedom”.

There was no eruption of murderous hatred between Sindhi Hindus and Muslims. They did not lynch each other en masse as was the case in Punjab. The violence against Sindhi Hindus and their mass migration to India was a tragic loss scripted, orchestrated and implemented by non-Sindhis in Sindh. As result of varying trajectories of interfaith relations during the Partition period, the intelligentsia of Sindh and Punjab evolved and adopted different views towards Hindus and India.

The collective memory of the Partition days in Punjab is marked more by the stories and silence of the victims and perpetrators of violence. Even the journey towards the safer side was fraught with danger. People who survived had bitter memories of the ‘other’.

The Sindh story is not the same. Ram Jethmalani, a leading lawyer in India today and a member of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was a young advocate in Karachi in 1947. His senior partner was none other than A.K. Brohi, a right-wing Sindhi lawyer who became federal law minister during the Zia period.

Jethmalani has no compunction in saying that there was no love lost between the two because of Partition. Jethmalani stayed back in Karachi and only left for Mumbai in 1948 when Brohi told him he could not take responsibility for his safety as the demography of Karachi had changed with the arrival of migrants from the northern Indian plains. That arrival was accompanied by violence against Sindhi Hindus.

Kirat Babani, a card-carrying communist, chose to stay in Sindh after 1947 and was thrown in prison in 1948. Released 11 months on the condition of leaving Karachi within 24 hours, Kirat took up a job with Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi, pioneer of the peasant struggle in Sindh. The administration pressured Jatoi for harbouring an atheist. Jatoi advised, much against his desire, Kirat to go to India. Even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that groomed L.K. Advani, a native of Karachi who later became India’s deputy prime minister, acknowledges that Sindhi Muslims did not push Hindus out of the province.

Continue reading Manto and Sindh – Excellent write up of Haider Nizamani, it helps to understand why Sindh is tolerant and secular society in nature.

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If there is a birthday present Pakistanis and Indians can jointly give Manto, it is to admit the reality of the problems he spelt out in his writings on partition

Curator of a hollowed conscience

By: Ayesha Jalal

Saadat Hasan Manto, whose birth centenary is being celebrated in Pakistan and India today, once remarked that any attempt to fathom the murderous hatred that erupted with such devastating effect at the time of the British retreat from the subcontinent had to begin with an exploration of human nature itself.

Continue reading If there is a birthday present Pakistanis and Indians can jointly give Manto, it is to admit the reality of the problems he spelt out in his writings on partition

Manto

Hindi and Urdu: Sa’adat Hasan Manto

by Shivam Vij

This is MUHAMMAD UMAR MEMON‘s translation of an article by SA’ADAT HASAN MANTO. The translation first appeared inThe Annual of Urdu Studies.

The Hindi-Urdu dispute has been raging for some time now. Maulvi Abdul Haq Sahib, Dr Tara Singh and Mahatma Gandhi know what there is to know about this dispute. For me, though, it has so far remained incomprehensible. Try as hard as I might, I just haven’t been able to understand. Why are Hindus wasting their time supporting Hindi, and why are Muslims so beside themselves over their preservation of Urdu? A language is not made, it makes itself. And no amount of human effort can ever kill a language. When I tried to write something about this current hot issue, I ended up with the following long conversation:

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In her novel “Aag Ka Darya”, a world class urdu writer, Qurattulain Haider, had raised questions about Partition and had rejected the two-nation theory

– The misfits of society

by Waseem Altaf

Qurattulain Haider, writer of the greatest urdu novel “Aag Ka Darya” had come to Pakistan in 1949. By then she had attained the stature of a world class writer. She joined the Press Information Department and served there for quite some time. In 1959 her greatest novel ‘Aag ka Darya’ was published. ‘Aag Ka Dariya’ raised important questions about Partition and rejected the two-nation theory. It was this more than anything else that made it impossible for her to continue in Pakistan, so she left for India and permanently settled there.

Sahir Ludhianvi, one of the finest romantic poets of Urdu language settled in Lahore in 1943 where he worked for a number of literary magazines. Everything was alright until after partition when his inflammatory writings (communist views and ideology) in the magazine Savera resulted in the issuing of a warrant for his arrest by the Government of Pakistan. In 1949 Sahir fled to India and never looked back.

Sajjad Zaheer, the renowned progressive writer Marxist thinker and revolutionary who came to Pakistan after partition, was implicated in Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case and was extradited to India in 1954.

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was a Pakistani citizen, regarded as one of the greatest classical singers of the sub continent, was so disillusioned by the apathy shown towards him and his art that he applied for, and was granted a permanent Indian immigrant visa in 1957-58. He migrated to India and lived happily thereafter. All of the above lived a peaceful and prosperous life in India and were conferred numerous national awards by the Government of India.

Now let’s see the scene on the other side of Radcliff line.

Saadat Hassan Manto a renowned short story writer migrated to Pakistan after 1947. Here he was tried thrice for obscenity in his writings. Disheartened and financially broke he expired at the age of 42. In 2005, on his fiftieth death anniversary, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative postage stamp.

Zia Sarhadi the Marxist activist and a film director who gave us such memorable films as ‘Footpath’ and ‘Humlog’, was a celebrity in Bombay when he chose to migrate to Pakistan. ‘Rahguzar’, his first movie in this country, turned out to be the last that he ever directed. During General Ziaul Haq’s martial law, he was picked up by the army and kept in solitary confinement in terrible conditions. The charges against him were sedition and an inclination towards Marxism. On his release, he left the country to settle permanently in the UK and never came back.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz, one of the greatest Urdu poets of the 20th century was arrested in 1951 under Safety Act and charged in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case. Later he was jailed for more than four years.

Professor Abdussalam the internationally recognized Pakistani physicist was disowned by his own country due to his religious beliefs. He went to Italy and settled there. He could have been murdered in the holy land but was awarded the Nobel Prize in the West for his contribution in the field of theoretical physics. Meanwhile his tombstone at Rabwah (now Chenab Nagar) was disfigured under the supervision of a local magistrate. This was our way of paying tribute to the great scientist.

Rafiq Ghazanvi was one of sub-continent’s most attractive, capable and versatile artists. He was an actor, composer and singer. He composed music for a number of films in Bombay like Punarmilan, Laila majnu and Sikandar. After partition he came to Karachi where he was offered a petty job at Radio Pakistan. He later resigned and spent the rest of his life in seclusion. He died in Karachi in 1974.

Sheila Ramani was the heroine of Dev Anand’s ”taxi driver” and “fantoosh” released in the 50’s. She was a Sindhi and came to Karachi where her uncle Sheikh Latif was a producer. She played the lead in Pakistani film ”anokhi” which had the famous song ”gari ko chalana babu” However seeing little prospects of any cinematic activity at Karachi, she moved back to India.

Ustad Daman, the ‘simpleton’ Punjabi poet had flair of his own. Due to his unorthodox views, many a times he was sent behind bars. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru offered him Indian citizenship which he refused. The reward he received here was the discovery of a bomb from his shabby house for which he was sent to jail by the populist leader Mr.Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Had Mohammad Rafi the versatile of all male singers of the Indian sub-continent chosen to stay in Pakistan, what would have been his fate. A barber in the slums of Bilal Gunj in Lahore, while Dilip Kumar selling dry fruit in Qissa Khawani Bazaar, Peshawar.

Ustad Salamat Ali a bhagwan in Atari turned out to be a mirasi in Wahga all his life. Last time I met him at his rented house in Islamabad, he was in bad shape.

We also find Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who went to India and was treated like a god. His compositions recorded in India became all time hits not only in Pakistan and India but all over the world. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Faakhir, Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam frequently visit India and their talent is duly recognized by a culture where art and music is part of life. Adnan Sami has even obtained Indian citizenship and has permanently settled there. Salma Agha and Zeba Bakhtiar got fame after they acted in Indian films. Meanwhile Veena Malik is getting death threats here and is currently nowhere to be seen. Sohail Rana the composer was so disillusioned here that he permanently got settled in Canada. Earlier on Saleem Raza the accomplished singer immigrated to Canada. I was told by a friend that Saleem Raza was once invited by some liberal students to perform at Punjab University when the goons of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba attacked him and paraded him in an objectionable posture in front of the students.

After returning to Pakistan the chhote ustads of “star plus” who achieved stardom in India have gone into oblivion, while Amanat Ali and Saira Reza of “sa re ga ma” fame have disappeared. And ask Sheema Kirmani and Naheed Siddiqui, the accomplished dancers how conducive the environment here is for the growth of performing arts.

A country gets recognition through its intelligentsia and artists. They are the real assets of a nation. The cultural growth of a society is not possible without these individuals acting as the precursors of change. Unfortunately this state was not created, nor was it meant for these kinds of people. It was carved out for hypocrites and looters who could have enjoyed a heyday without any fear or restraint.

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