Around 200 mosques across Punjab have been repaired, rebuilt or built from scratch with the help of Sikhs and Hindus in the last 10 years. Many destroyed during Partition riots are now being restored by village communities. It’s a reassertion, after decades, of Punjab’s unique religious and cultural synthesis
By Mahim Maher / Photo: Suresh K. Bhavnani / Photo: Ayesha Mir / Photo: Mahim Maher
HAWAI’I / HYDERABAD: This story starts in Hawai’i and ends in Hyderabad, spans half a century, includes a death threat and arson, 27 heirs, Rs28 million and a happy ending. (Jawaharlal Nehru makes an appearance too, although in passing.)
This December, if all goes according to plan, 79-year-old Indru Watumull will travel from her home in Hawai’i to see her family home in Hyderabad, Mukhi House, whose building has been 95% restored after five decades of abandonment. “Every time I hear[d] of something happening in Pakistan [over the years], I’d wonder what’s happened to Mukhi House,” she told The Express Tribune at her home this summer.
Mukhi House was built in 1920 by prominent Hyderabad figure Mukhi Jethanand (see box). “Mukhi wanted a real palace,” explains Kaleemullah Lashari of the antiquities department and the one-man army who has been working for five years to restore it. Indeed, one of the Mukhi family daughters, Dharam, who has incredibly sharp memories of the place even at 95 years of age, refers to it as ‘Mukhi Palace’ and not ‘house’ as the plaque says outside.
Unfortunately, Lashari’s searches of municipal archives and interviews with the family did not yield an architect’s name. But this much is clear: The house had all the trappings of a palace. It was built in the Renaissance style, but has strong influences from art deco in the form of murals, art nouveau via the stained glass windows and the Classical in the shape of its columns. And it looks magnificent.
By Durdana Najam
Why should the Pakistan Army borrow the mullah alliance to restore its image? Perhaps the language of Islam is the easiest to use as an exploitive tool for an emotionally charged Muslim community
The religious-politico parties have become active owing to the US’s increasing intrusion into Pakistan’s territorial precincts, the latest being the Salala checkpost attack that killed 24 soldiers in November 2011. The investigative report prepared by NATO, which revealed the determinants of the attack, termed the incident to be a joint sin committed by NATO and the Pakistan Army, suggesting that on a border as volatile as the one between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal region, the rage of wrath can unleash itself at any time in any mode. Pakistan rejected the findings of the report, alleging it to be biased and obsessive. The attack irked even the government and, for a change, the NATO supply route was completely shut down — to this day. A parliamentary committee on national security is working to define new contours for Pak-America relations. In the meantime, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is sending strong massages to the American government about the so-called sovereignty that we guard so close to our bosoms (depending largely on our whims and wishes).
The recent collaboration of 40 religious parties going by the name of Difa-i-Pakistan Council, comprising the likes of General (retd) Hamid Gul, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, President Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq and the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami, Munawar Hasan, geared towards defending Pakistan against foreign aggression, has raised national and international concerns, especially since the definition of foreign aggression from the point of view of Difa-i-Pakistan relates to none other than the US and India. ….
Read more » Daily Times
– In a press statement issued today [July 16, 2011], World Sindhi Congress (WSC) strongly condemned the barbaric massacre of innocent people in recent clashes in the major cities of Sindh including Karachi and Hyderabad.
The killings started when Sindh Assembly withdrawn the so-called Local Government system and restored Commissionerate system in Sindh. The local government system was imposed by force by the military dictator General Musharaf against the popular wishes, demands and struggle of Sindhi people. The system completely undermined the historical, political, social, economic and educational rights of Sindhi people. Under the patronage of this system the complete control of the urban centres was handed over to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The historical Hyderabad district was divided in four districts, five districts of Karachi were amalgamated in one, other districts were also divided. Most districts were handed over to criminal feudals to punish Sindhi people and suffocate their social and economic progress. As a result of this system the entry to educational institutions and jobs in the urban areas, particularly in Karachi was systematically denied to Sindhi people, Sindhi villages in Karachi were bulldozed and Sindhis were forced to live and suffer one of the worst apartheid in their own land.
The first thing that all Sindhi people hoped and demanded from Peoples Party was to abandon the draconian local government system when they came in power on the almost unanimous vote of Sindhi people. Unfortunately Peoples Party failed to deliver for three and half years on this issue of utmost significance for Sindhi people resulting from their compromise with MQM to remain in power at the any cost. MQM was and is the strongest supporter of this system as it provided them a disproportionate and complete hegemony over Karachi and Hyderabad.
The withdrawal of the local government system was completed in all other parts of Pakistan almost a year ago. It was kept only in Sindh at the sole insistence of MQM. It was withdrawn from Sindh by an over-whelming majority of Sindh Assembly. All parties in the Sindh Assembly except MQM supported the changes. In all the democratic sprits and norms MQM should have accepted this verdict as it was a unanimous demand of Sindhi people and democratically passed by an overwhelming majority of Sindh Assembly. However, it is really unfortunate to see how MQM has reacted violently and undemocratically. Consequently the situation is very sad as it has resulted in the massacre of scores of innocent men, women and children.
WSC condemn the irresponsible statements of Zulfiqar Mirza which were divisive and aimed to flame the riots among people of Sindh. ….
Sindhis have thousands year old traditions and civilisation of tolerance and peace and have demonstrated this times and time again. Sadly MQM in spite of their proclamations that they are sons of Sindh, have demonstrated through their actions that they only represent the narrow and many-times anti-Sindh ethnic interests ….
Read more → UNPO
– WONDERS never cease. In the second decade of the 21st century, the transfer of power to the units of a federation has been made controversial! Efforts are being made to help the centre retain the privileges that rightfully belong to the provinces.
No student of politics will deny that Pakistan broke up in 1971 largely as a result of the policies designed to make the centre strong at the expense of provincial rights and aspirations. Nor can anyone forget that the failure to restore to the provinces what has always been due to them poses the greatest threat to the state’s integrity today.
We are also familiar with the arguments employed while calling for making the hands of one ruler or another strong. It was said the country faced so many threats that a centrally organised security edifice alone could preserve its integrity. The centre alone had the mental and physical wherewithal to achieve economic progress. In an Islamic state there could be only one centre of power and Pakistan had a special reason to crush centrifugal forces and fissiparous tendencies which were being fanned by the enemies of the state — democrats, secularists, advocates of the nationalities’ rights, separatists, et al.
For six decades, the politics of Pakistan revolved around the federal question. Any stratagem that could prevent the state from becoming a federation was in order — the fiction of parity, the abolition of provinces in the western part of the original state, the imposition of martial law and the state’s declaration of war against the majority nationality and the smallest nationality both. No wonder almost all democratic movements in the country have had their origins in the federating units’ struggle for self-government.The central demand was that the centre should keep only three or four subjects such as foreign affairs, external security, currency and communications. All other subjects — internal security, local government, planning, education and social welfare — were to be restored to the provinces.
It is in this context that one should examine the national consensus on re-designing the polity by meeting some of the main demands of the federating units. The endorsement of the 18th Amendment by all shades of opinion in parliament is nothing short of a miracle. It not only marks a giant stride towards realising the promise of the 1973 constitution, in several respects it surpasses the 1973 consensus.
A sad day for justice and democracy in Pakistan
by Khalid Hashmani, McLean
It is indeed a sad day for democracy and justice in Pakistan. Even though the policies of PML-N in general and Nawaz Sharif in particular have been anti-Sindhi and anti-provincial autonomy, the recent actions by the controversial judges of the Pakistan Supreme Court and subsequent imposition of Governor’s rule in Punjab should be unfit.
Taking one step forward to restore democracy and justice in Pakistan and two steps back does not bode well for the future of Pakistan. The same politics of agitation and supressing opposition of yester years continues to prevail, bringing Pakistan one step closer to becoming a failed state.
Feb 26, 2009