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Crazy Diamonds – III


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In this third installment of our ‘Crazy Diamonds’ series, we continue our tributary look at those promising Pakistanis who experienced the flip side of genius – an awkward and often torturous state of being that some describe as being a kind of madness.

Previous Parts:

Crazy Diamonds - I Crazy Diamonds - II


Sagar Siddique

Though there is precious little information about one of Pakistan’s most melancholic poet, Saghar Siddique, there is enough evidence to suggest that he was a child prodigy. A just 15 he was writing mature poetry and being invited to poetry recitals.

He migrated to Pakistan in 1947 (without his parents) and settled in Lahore.

The sensitive 19-year-old was excited by the prospect of becoming a citizen of a newly created country and at once got down to writing a national anthem for it.

Though he failed to get his version of the anthem accepted by the government and state of Pakistan, he moved on to publish a well-received literary magazine.

The magazine was a critical success but a commercial flop. Disappointed, Saghar shut down the magazine.

Unlike most Indian Muslims who had migrated to Pakistan, Saghar did not ask the government to settle him on the properties left behind by the Hindus and the Sikhs.

Instead he preferred to stay in cheap hotels. He paid his rent from the meagre amounts of money that he received from magazines for the poems he wrote for them.

Within a decade his early, youthful enthusiasm for Pakistan had eroded as he saw corruption, nepotism and mediocrity being rewarded at the expense of genuine talent and honesty.

Broke in more ways than one and at a stage where even the fast acting cheap whisky of Lahore failed to keep his crumbling self numb, Saghar discovered morphine.

He bought his daily dose from corrupt janitors of Lahore’s hospitals.

What’s more, when some poets used to find this thin, shaking addict outside their homes asking for money, they would give him a few rupees but only after he had written a poem or two for them.

These poets would then sell the poems to magazines for a lot more money and some even went to the extent of getting them published in their own names!

With both friends and strangers exploiting his genius of writing the most evocatively expressed Urdu ghazals to meet their own greedy needs; Saghar plunged even deeper into a state of despair.

Soon he was turned out by the cheap hotels he was living in and ended up walking the streets of Lahore.

A fan of his once wrote how (in 1966) while he was driving down Lahore’s Circuit Road, the radio in his car began to play a ghazal written by Saghar.

As the fan was quietly revelling in the power of Saghar’s words, his eyes caught a fleeting glimpse of a thin man with unkempt long hair and in tattered clothes walking aimlessly on the side of the road. It was Saghar.

As the world abandoned this genius, Saghar abandoned the world.

For years he could be seen walking and sleeping on the streets of Lahore, living on the food and money given to him by those who took him to be a beggar or a fakir.

Amazingly, he continued to write powerful poetry in spite of the fact that he could hardly utter a single coherent sentence when he did decide to open his mouth to speak.

At times he would write brilliant poems, read them out loudly with a void look in his eyes, then tear the papers he’d scribbled these poems on, make a heap and set the heap on fire.

A rare photograph of Saghar squatting at a street corner of Lahore and about to set fire to a bunch of his poems.

After 15 years of morphine addiction, depression and living on the streets, in 1974 he was found dead on one such street of Lahore. Exposed to the cold winter of Lahore, he passed away in his sleep. He was just 46.


Professor Fazlur Rehman Malik

It is bemusing to note that in a country that has increasingly become obsessed with religion and the role it plays in its politics and society, very few remember one of the finest and most refined Islamic scholars produced by Pakistan.

Maybe this is because for years the image of an Islamic scholar that has been peddled by the state and accepted by society in Pakistan is that of a man with a long beard, speaking Urdu in an Arabic accent (!), or a woman fully draped in a jet black burqa, mumbling moralistic little nothings on TV.

Professor Fazalur Rehman Malik was nothing of the sort. Clean-shaven, well-spoken, always looking sharp in Western suits and ties, and more importantly, extremely well-informed and well-versed in Islamic literature, philosophy and history, he was on the verge of almost completely undermining the role of religious parties in Pakistan when he was forced to flee the country.

After studying Arabic at the Punjab University in Lahore, Rehman went to Oxford University in the UK for further studies.

He was teaching Islamic philosophy at McGill University in Canada when in 1961 he got an invite from Pakistan’s head of state, Field Martial Ayub Khan, to come to Pakistan and help him set up the Central Institute of Islamic Research (CIIR).

Khan who had come into power on the back of a military coup in 1958, was not only allergic to civilian politicians (whom he described as being selfish and corrupt), but he also had a great dislike for religious parties and the clergy.

With the ambition to create a Pakistan driven by his ‘benevolent’ military dictatorship, and based on state-facilitated capitalism and a constitution culled from the ‘progressive and modernist Islam of Jinnah,’ Ayub wanted the CIIR to help him achieve this through legislation and the necessary laws.

It was the CIIR under Professor Rehman who advised Ayub to constitutionally curb the religious parties and their interpretation of Islam.

Rehman then drew a social and political framework for making Pakistan a ‘progressive, modern Muslim majority state.’

Though Ayub did not act upon each and every aspect of Rehman’s framework, the workings of the CIIR certainly made the Ayub regime become perhaps the most secular in the history of Pakistan.

However, Rehman was not a secularist. Instead he saw himself and his work to be a modern extension of the ‘Islamic rationalism’ of figures like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Syed Aamir Ali, Moulana Shibli Naoumani, Niaz Fathepuri and the 8th and 9th century Muslim rationalists, the Mu’tazilites.

The influential research papers that the CIIR produced under his guidance emphasised the application of reason in the interpretation of the Qu’ran, and the absorption of western science, philosophy and economics to help Islam survive as a progressive and flexible religion in the modern world.

However, when in one such paper he suggested that laws and society in Pakistan should be based on a rationalist and modernist interpretation of the Qu’ran, and that hadith (Islamic traditions based on hearsay), should only play a minimal role in this respect, he was vehemently challenged by his more conservative counterparts.

Leading the attack on him was the prolific Islamic scholar and founder of the fundamentalist Jamat-i-Islami (JI), Abul Ala Mauddudi, who demanded that Rehman be expelled from Pakistan.

Then, in 1967, during a lecture that he was delivering on Pakistan’s state-owned TV channel, PTV, Rehman suggested that drinking alcohol was a not a major sin in Islam and that alcoholic beverages with less than 5 per cent alcoholic content should not be considered unlawful.

The cover of one of the most influential books written on modern Islamic thought by Fazlur Rehman (1979).

Even though alcohol was legal in Pakistan till 1977, the religious parties went berserk and held a number of rallies against Rehman.

Rehman, more or less, was basically repeating what early scholars of the Hanafi School of Islamic jurisprudence had already suggested.

And ironically, some 40 years after Rehman’s musings and 30 years after the sale of alcohol (to Muslims) was banned in Pakistan, the highly conservative Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan finally decreed that consuming alcohol indeed was a minor sin.

In 1969 as Pakistan entered a turbulent period in which a far-reaching political movement led by leftist parties and

student organisations forced Ayub to resign, Rehman continued being perused and harassed by the Islamic parties until he was left with no other choice but to leave the country.

He went to the US and distinguished himself as a highly regarded Professor of Islamic Thought and researcher at the University of Chicago.

The 1970s and 1980s were also his most prolific years as an author in which he wrote some of the most influential books on modern Islamic thought (especially 1979’s ‘Islam’ and 1982’s ‘Islam & Modernity’).

He never returned to Pakistan and died in Chicago in 1988.


Agha Sikandar

When in the 1980s heroin made a dramatic appearance on the streets of Pakistan, the malevolently seductive drug at once stamped its destructive mark on the lives of a number of young Pakistanis.

As Pakistan’s misadventure in the anti-Soviet Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan brought in even more heroin and guns from across an anarchic Afghan-Pakistan border, the drug began to attract the attention of young middle-class Pakistanis as well.

It broke families and even took lives, and a time came when its easy availability also drew in quite a few TV and film artistes into its deadly allure.

Young Agha Sikandar was one such TV actor. He was an educated young man in Lahore with a dream to make a name for himself as a respected film personality.

His early talent and good looks helped him bag a few small roles in TV plays in the late 1970s.

Emotionally fragile and romantic in disposition, Agha excelled in his first major role in which he played an emotionally vulnerable son of a widow in 1979’s Waris – a TV serial that tackled the growing tensions in Pakistan between rural traditions and urban modernity.

Waris was a massive hit. Sikandar followed it up with another brilliant performance in Ashfaq Ahmad’s philosophical (and at times satirical) ‘Cinderella aur Sakina’ in 1981, and soon he was being showered with offers from filmmakers.

Directors saw him to be a naturally romantic hero, but unfortunately by the early 1980s Urdu cinema in Pakistan was in decline and being replaced by the rise of violent and loud Punjabi films.

But Sikandar did manage to experience at least one big success in film. The 1982 comedy, Mian Biwi Razi, turned out to be a box-office hit and in which Sikandar played a comic role alongside such Urdu film veterans as Sangeeta, Kavita and Nadeem.

Agha Sikandar in 1982’s ‘Mian Biwi Razi.’

When he returned to the mini-screen in 1983, Sikandar was already an established TV and (for a while) film star.

But after 1985 his output on both the mediums began to decline.

Like so many young Pakistanis, Sikandar too had stumbled upon heroin. His addiction to the drug had made him unpredictable and even more emotionally fragile than he already was.

He was in and out of rehabilitation centres on numerous occasions but every time he tried to rekindle the fame he had tasted between 1979 and 1983, he couldn’t find any takers.

By the early 1990s he completely disappeared from the scene. Emotionally battered, haunted (and taunted) by his addiction and failing to come to terms with the loss of fame and friends, Agha’s name finally reappeared once again in 1993.

But this time it was spoken only to announce the former star’s untimely death.

He was only 40 and according to his contemporaries he had utilised only a small portion of the talent he was blessed with.


Shoaib Akhtar

Former Pakistani tearaway fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, was a throw-back  of  the maverick, fast-living and flamboyant players of the 1970s and 1980s.

It was his bad luck that when he became a regular member of the Pakistan squad, the culture of the Pakistan cricket team had begun to change radically.

Akhtar did manage to rise as one of world cricket’s fastest bowlers and a bonafide star, but during the period when it was expected of him to peak, he found himself under the captainship of Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Haq’s batting style was almost an exact opposite of his personality. A dashing, immensely talented batsman, Haq as a person was first laid-back and then, after he joined the Islamic evangelical outfit the Tableeghi Jamat (TJ), he became critical of players whom he thought were not conforming to the ‘religious zeal’ he had injected in the team.

Haq was convinced that this was the perfect way to keep the squad disciplined and away from controversies.

Shoaib became the most prominent victim of Inzi’s religious dabbling. He constantly squabbled with Inzi, calling him a hypocrite for dragging religion into sport.

During the start of his career in the late 1990s, Shoaib had seen the last vistas of the team’s old culture in which the players combined their cricketing skills with a love of visiting nightclubs, drinking and having fleeting affairs.

By the mid-2000s, Inzamam, convinced that discipline in the squad can only be achieved by imposing a strict religious regime, put a stop to this.

Akhtar, however, refused to give up late night partying, saying that it was his personal matter.

He would also often mock Inzamam’s religiosity. For example during a series against England (in 2005) in Pakistan, Akhtar kept calling Inzamam in the middle of the night, sarcastically asking him to get ready for prayers!

Shoaib believed that most players were just ‘pretending to be religious’ because they wanted to remain in the good books of skipper, Inzamam.

Inzi rubbished the accusations reminding that his top spinner, Danish Kaneria, was a Hindu.

Inzimam also felt disappointed when former Pakistan captain and cricket icon, Imran Khan, critisised Inzamam for ‘mishandling Shoaib.’ Khan said that he had dealt more unpredictable and rebellious players than Shoaib in his side, namely Sarfraz Nawaz and Wasim Raja.

Some players pointed at Shoaib’s past for his ‘rebellious behaviour.’ It is said that Akhtar grew up as a ‘hooligan’ in his hometown (Rawalpindi) and had gotten into numerous fist and knives fights at school and college.

Whatever the case, Shoaib remained an outsider in Inzamam’s team, and Inzi’s tableeghi contingent that became a regular fixture in the dressing room, avoided him like the plague.

‘They found him to be mocking and rude, and stayed clear of him,’ wrote one cricket writer, Osman Samiuddin.

Fighting the team’s new culture, his isolation and his vulnerability to regularly break down and lose match fitness, Akhtar failed to get the number of wickets he was first expected to bag.

In a career spanning over 10 years, Akhtar played only 46 Tests and 163 ODIs.

Though he bowled the fastest delivery ever recorded in cricket history (100.2 mph), and almost single-handedly won a number of games with his fearsome pace, throughout his career he was plagued by controversy, bans, bust-ups and criticism.

Alienated by Inzi and the team’s overt religious fervour, Shoaib stumbled from one controversy to another, unable to fulfil the early expectations his fearsome bowling had promised.

Over the years his critics have believed that he was too unpredictable, quarrelsome and injury-prone — not to forget having a history studded with reports about a number of indulgences involving both medical and recreational substances.

However, what got missed in all the racket about Akhtar’s eccentricities was something ironic: Despite his bad boy image or of someone who would not submit to the dictates of the team’s puritanical new culture, never once did his name come up in the many match and spot-fixing episodes that the Pakistan cricket team has found itself in over the last many years.

In this respect he remained absolutely unstained and clean.

In his autobiography that was published after he retired from the game in 2011, Shoaib lamented his self-destructive personality and also the way he was mishandled by his captains.

He wrote that had he played under former Pakistani captains like Imran Khan or Mushtaq Muhammad, he would have achieved a lot more as a bowler.

But that was not to be and Akhtar retired from the game only partially doing justice to what his talents had initially promised.


Sara Shagufta

When one enters a conversation about Pakistan’s poetesses, he or she usually can’t talk beyond the brilliance and poetic charms of women like the elegant Parveen Shakir, the fiery Fehmida Riaz and the redolent Kishwar Naheed.

Though many do know about one Sara Shagufta as well, somehow a lot of local literary critics feel a sense of dread, confusion and even frustration while critiquing her poetry and personality.

Sara’s work has attracted polemical and highly polarised responses. Some have gone on to call her the Virginia Woolf of Pakistan while others have scorned at her for being a self-obsessed rambler.

One of the reasons behind the contrasting responses that her work has provoked is perhaps to do with how she suddenly exploded as a poet after living a pretty ordinary bourgeoisie life of a housewife.

Sara Shagufta was born in Gujranwala in 1955. She wrote poetry only fleetingly as a teenager, going through the motions of schooling and willingly being prepared by her parents to one day become a good housewife.

What was unknown to her parents, and maybe even to her, was the fact that her obedience was an unconscious attempt on her part to severely repress a rather volcanic emotional side to her personality that would finally come bursting out much later.

When she first got married in 1972 at the age of 17 she tried her best to become the ‘good wife.’ But her insightful personality and intelligence somehow offended her husband. The marriage didn’t last and she moved on to marry a second time, this time on her own accord.

But when the couple’s child died at birth, the husband (albeit silently) blamed Sara.

This is the moment where what she had been repressing for years finally erupted.

It was a rebirth of sorts but an extremely painful one. The emotional volcano in her had been simmering for far too long. She stormed out of the marriage and began to use the lava that poured out as ink with which she began to write some of the most controversial and intense poetry.

For the next decade or so she would write manic, provocative and yet overtly sensitive poems and looking for a man who would sacrifice his ego to empathise with her now stirred state of mind and sense of love.

She rapidly fell in and out of love, marrying twice more but storming out of these marriages as well.

When the reactionary military man, General Ziaul Haq, toppled the Z A. Bhutto regime in July 1977, Sara turned political.

Though her poems were still mostly about misunderstood women and a longing to be loved and understood despite her turbulent emotional state and individualism, she plunged into political activism, taking part in various anti-Zia rallies and movements.

Parveen Shakir, the famous Pakistani poetess wrote a special poem on the trials and tribulations of Sara Shagufta called ‘Tomato Ketchup.’ Shakir too died young in a car crash.

In the early 1980s she was arrested at a time when the military regime was jailing opponents, torturing poets, student activists and intellectuals and publicly flogging journalists.

Many chose to escape into exile, but Shagufta decided to stay. However, as Zia continued to strengthen his grip on power, and Shagufta’s fourth marriage too crumbled, pressed to the brink by her ongoing emotional, intellectual and now political tribulations, she finally ran out of the emotional and intellectual corners that she had constructed for herself to retreat back into.

Then on the night of March 1984, she committed suicide by swallowing poison. She was only 29.


Abdul Rashid Ghazi

Last year while on a visit to Islamabad I got in touch with an old college and then university friend of Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

Ghazi today is remembered as a radical Muslim cleric of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and a jihadist who had asked his followers to burn down CD shops and kidnap ‘obscene women’ in Islamabad.

After refusing to give in to the restraining orders by the government of General Parvez Musharraf, the mosque and its madressa were stormed by the army and Ghazi was shot dead.

There are two prevailing views about Ghazi. The first one describes him as a terrorist and a brute who wanted to impose his version of the Sharia by force, while the other hails him as a ‘mujahid’ who stood up to the might of an ‘infidel state.’

But the person I met in Islamabad (Ghazi’s friend) had a third view. He said that Ghazi was all this for a very brief period of his life. In reality, he was an extremely bright man with an equally bright future.

‘He could have been a brilliant diplomat in the foreign office and maybe even an ambassador or a great educationist,’ his fried told me.

Actually a diplomat at the United Nations (UN) is what Ghazi was planning to become when he joined college in 1982.

Born in a highly conservative family, Rashid’s father was a cleric who had founded the Red Mosque in the late 1960s.

The father wanted his two sons to follow in his footsteps and for this he enrolled them in a madressa. Ghazi rebelled and quit the madressa, demanding that he be put in a ‘normal school.’

His father reluctantly got him admitted in an all-boys school from where Ghazi did his matriculation in 1979.

A lover of music, films and political histories, Ghazi also began dreaming of becoming a diplomat or an ambassador.

He once again got into an altercation with his father when he refused to keep a beard and then joined a co-ed college where he got involved with various anti-Zia student groups.

He was not on talking terms with his father after graduating with flying colours from college. In 1984 he joined the Quaid-i-Azam University that was then a hotbed of anti-Zia activities.

He enrolled as an MSc student of International Relations. His friends remember him to be a brilliant student and an active member of a progressive student group.

This created a problem for his father who was being facilitated by the Ziaul dictatorship to help him produce jihadists for the anti-Soviet Afghan insurgency that Pakistan was backing.

‘He hardly ever went to a mosque, let alone visiting his father’s mosque,’ his friend claimed. ‘He was reading writings by Marx, Max Weber and Henry Kissinger rather than what was being produced by his father. He was lively, always looking to have fun, dressed in fine T-Shirts and denims, but always focused on becoming an international figure in world diplomacy,’ the friend added.

Ghazi’s brother who had followed his father into becoming a cleric would never miss the opportunity to admonish Ghazi for going against family traditions and bringing a bad name to their father due to his ‘westernised’ ideas and lifestyle.

‘But Ghazi never took him seriously,’ the friend informed me.

So what happened then?

According to Ghazi’s friend, two things triggered Ghazi’s radical transformation.

After getting his Masters degree in International Relations, Ghazi ended up getting a job at the Ministry of Education.

‘He was so bright and intellectually engaging that we all thought he’d be on his way to the UN right after university,’ his friend smiled. ‘But these sorts of things take time and Abdul was impatient.’

Estranged from his family and not achieving his goal fast enough, Ghazi became agitated. Then when his father was assassinated in 1998 (by a rival Jihadi group), Ghazi fell into despair.

‘All that guilt that had been put into him by his brother came to the forefront,’ his friend explained. ‘His brother told him how he had hurt his father’s feelings …’

Ghazi went into depression after his father’s murder and began attending gatherings of a variety of Islamic evangelical groups.

Then, in 1999, he joined his brother at the Red Mosque where both became leaders.

After Pakistan entered the ‘War on Terror’ as a US ally, the brothers established links with militant organisations, including the al Qaeda.

Before his violent death, Ghazi was a changed man. He’d grown a beard, renounced his ‘secular’ past and became a vehement Islamist.

But his friend rightly added: ‘He wasn’t built to fight. He was too intelligent to become a jihadi. His philosophy might have become aggressive, but I don’t think he was willing to die for it.’

This statement kind of bodes with what some TV channels began to report when the military operation was going on against Rashid and his colleagues.

These reports suggested that Rashid was willing to surrender, but was held hostage (through ‘emotional blackmail’) by some front line jihadists in his group until the military finally barged in and shot dead each one of them.

This man who had dreamt and studied to be an international diplomat died for a thought he had actually rejected for most of his life. He was 41.


Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (99) Closed

ahsananwari Nov 29, 2012 08:30am
this was one heck of a scary read! But very essential!
Tahir Ali Khan Dec 05, 2012 03:55pm
Yes, Rashid wasn't willing to die. When army entered his hiding place, he is reported to have told an anchor in his last statement "The army has come upon us. You can hear the shots. Though I might have done some bad things, I don't think I had done something which warranted my killing..."saying this he took out his gun and came out of his hiding place into the open and was killed
Javed Nov 30, 2012 06:08pm
Either there wasn't much gray matter between the ears or there was an abundance of intellect that was used to manipulate matters of team selection, settle personal scores, establish a coterie of sycophants etc. Take your pick.....
Casino1127 Nov 30, 2012 01:28am
An excellent article by NFP, as usual.
Mani Dec 02, 2012 04:11pm
So was Jinnah... and So am I. Stop spreading Hate!
Muhammad Nov 30, 2012 07:27am
Countries created based on language,sect,culture,religion,cast,creed,tribe are not real countries.There is only one country that is the universe.We are all part of this universe we are all one. That's called Unity in Diversity.That's Universal brotherhood.
Cynic Nov 30, 2012 07:23am
80% of the country cannot understand this simple concept; how can you expect Inzi to do so. Education is the only way out.
Jehanzeb Idrees Nov 30, 2012 01:09pm
I think you just got over reading ''The End of Education by Neil Postman'' .. So much to speak for the 'Unity in Diversity!' .. :)
Faraz Nov 30, 2012 06:56am
This one is good again.. second one was politicized.
She Nov 30, 2012 06:32am
A very interesting read! And yes, I'll be waiting for Crazy Diamonds IV.
fahd Nov 30, 2012 06:32am
Agreed. But like I said there were plenty of people in the team that were not as religious as Inzamam or Mohammad Yousaf. Examples are Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt. All of them were brought in the team by Inzamam. So I dont agree with this analysis of NFP that shoaib was sidelined due to Inzamam's religious views. Yes Shoaib akhtar was a crazy diamond but to relate his career problems to inzamam is unfair.
Liberal Nov 30, 2012 06:26am
Story of Abdul Rashid Ghazi shows that how easy its to make a liberal Muslim to communal Muslim espcially in Pakistan,Jinnah,Zia,Iqbal were also one of them. God is Liberal.
SBB Nov 29, 2012 08:49pm
Good one NFP. I wasn't a big fan of the other articles in this series, but this one has some very pointed reasons for nominating these individuals. There's a lot of diversity in Pakistan, which is what I'm learning.
Shahryar Shirazi Nov 30, 2012 08:56am
Not sure what Ghazi the terrorist is doing on this list. NFP, missing Dr. Abdul Salam's name in three episodes is not justice to the service he has done to our country ... SS
Imran Nov 29, 2012 09:26pm
Seems like the only purpose of NFP's articles is to depress an already depressed nation. Maybe that's the mindset of the gentleman himself. Nicely researched article but give us something good to read about once in a while. I mean, seriously.
gulkhan320 Nov 29, 2012 03:43pm
Well done sir You should also talk of Abdul ghafar khan, Abdul wali khan, GM Saed, Abdul Ghani khan and so many others duped as traiters by state and the media. Let people know more about these unsung heroes. It will be a tribute to them, although late, yet well narrated.
Azam Nov 30, 2012 06:14am
Wah Nadeem Sahib. Excellent.
vijay Nov 30, 2012 11:50am
People do all the thing just for happiness.They kill for happiness,they become suicide bomber for happiness,root of every act is happiness :)
Jehanzeb Idrees Nov 30, 2012 01:18pm
@jayzee : Bingo! The best comment so far! ... :) @ observer : I see all your points applied with the same zeal and spirit on the other side of the fence as well. Don't always try to find a scapegoat in religion, its the extremes on both sides that is plaguing this country and your comment stands at the extreme opposite end from where you're pointing towards the other.
FQ Nov 30, 2012 05:24am
This is brilliant stuff. I would not have known about Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Sara Shagufta!
Anwar Hakam Nov 29, 2012 07:40pm
You can not just fleetingly describe the great Bacha Khan. Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan will need a little bit more attention from NFP.
observer Nov 30, 2012 04:32am
Is it another 'fatwa' Jadoon?
observer Nov 30, 2012 04:31am
Slow down folks. When we read about 'crazy diamonds', don't we have some inner desire to be like them (emulation or insipration source or whatever). Would someone have a desire to be like A. Rashid Ghazi? It was on this basis that I did not like including A. Rashid Ghazi in the list. I don't mind being like Saghir Sidiqui or Agha Sikandar, for instance. These people never harmed others. But if A. Rashid Ghazi is presented as an equal to the people who harmed only themselves but not others, don't expect me to not feel the pain. I hope it is clear.
observer Nov 30, 2012 04:24am
Haris, You are not the first one to say such things. Most people in Pakistan are judgmental, hypocrat, narrow-minded, intolerant, low in sportsmanship, low in sense of humor, hasteful, etc.
observer Nov 30, 2012 04:20am
Kiran Imran, most of TV anchors who appar to over-expose themselves do so because they are on payroll of one or another agency or individual (refer to youtube where videos of such exchange of allegations by the best anchors are posted). In this type of media ehtics (a standard thing in Pakistan), people like NFP - who apparently are not sold out - deserve double appreciation.
Dilawer Nov 30, 2012 04:18am
you are at your best for brown nosing.
observer Nov 30, 2012 03:59am
Javed, what you said is very simple and I can understand it perfectly. Was Inzimam not capable of understanding this simple and clear idea?
observer Nov 30, 2012 03:58am
BRR, don't worry. There are tens of millions of Pakistanis who think their religion is the solution to all problems of humanity. They will bring religion into everything and try to answer questions and situations using religion. Same people see Taliban and terrorism as a justified tools to answer USA's foreign policy and pursuit of its interests. They would advocate against democracy, equate Constitution to a piece of paper, hurl 'fatwas' left and right, openly lie, distort history, stereotype everyone, justify killing and murder, stop progressive thinking as their agenda. Lack of commonsense, selectiveness in terms of what they pick from the canvas of reality, intolerance, judgmental attitude, absolutism, etc. are their traits. No wonder Pakistan is the only country in the region going downhill culturally, politically, and economically.
BRR Nov 30, 2012 02:58am
a rather meaningless, and silly statement -
hamid Shafiq Nov 30, 2012 12:13pm
only diamond was saghar my favourite poet burn his life in the fire of words.
Ali Nov 30, 2012 02:44am
Thank you NFP for making me aware of these 'Crazy Diamonds' ! If not for you, I would have never known most of these wonderful countrymen at all! Thanks!
Karachi Wala Nov 29, 2012 05:23pm
After going through NFP's series of Crazy Diamon I,II and now III, two books come to my mind. 1- Mumtaz Mufti's "Okhay Log" (difficult people) in Urdu and 2- Death at my doorstep by khushwant Singh in English.
Prakash Nov 29, 2012 10:54pm
I fail to understand how Abdul Rashid Ghazi made into the list.
Najam Nov 29, 2012 11:44pm
Awesome piece!!! Just superb
Suraj Nov 30, 2012 10:25am
What ever has happened in history of this world or in Pakistan in particular is Good,bad and worst politics.History is all about politics.
Ali G Nov 29, 2012 03:48pm
I want to see NFP name in Crazy Diamonds one day too...
Monayem Chowdhury Nov 29, 2012 10:14pm
I wonder how DR. Fazlur Rahman, the great Islamic Scholar, fits into the categorization of " CRAZY DIAMONDS". His brilliant career had no shades of decline, rather continued to shine to the end. I used to work in Karachi office of the State Bank of Pakistan during the time when he incurred the wrath of the Ulemas. In those times, the Bank established a cell to study Economic System in Islam as they relate to operations in Finance and Banking. DR.Rahman came into disfavor following his research article on INTEREST.
Magister Ludi Nov 29, 2012 09:33pm
The article is written in the similar vain that presents a fashionable version of history that is so common among the romantics: where a saintly hero is undone by the injustices of the world.
Cherian (Melbourne) Nov 30, 2012 09:27am
Though knowing for the first time I am sad to read the tragic fate of Sagar Siddique. What a waste of precious talent. If Pakistan gave a raw deal why didn't he contemplate moving back to India? Despite there being no guarantee of betterment, at least he could have found inner peace in his land of birth. Just a fleeting thought.
Spitfly Nov 29, 2012 02:47pm
Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy, Ali Saleem aka Begum Nawazish Ali, Meera Ji the poet, Asim Butt the artist
Spitfly Nov 29, 2012 02:55pm
Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy, Asim Butt the artist, Meera Jee the poet, Ali Saleem aka Begum Nawwazish Ali
Jawed Nov 30, 2012 12:53pm
Could not understand why the suggestion of curbing political parties even religious is being hailed by a self proclaimed liberal ? Doesn't it violate their most adorable principle of freedom of expression?
Yawar Nov 30, 2012 09:54am
This is the third part of the series, I'm sure there are more to come.
Dilawer Nov 30, 2012 07:58am
Since we are on the case of politicians then include Akbar Bugti and Bizinjo and also Sardar Mari.
Dilawer Nov 30, 2012 08:00am
and he was responsible for the decline of Yusuf Yohana. Coverting anyone is the worst crime.
Karachi Wala Nov 29, 2012 04:53pm
The average life span of a typical romantic hero in Indo Pak Urdu/Hindi movies is anywhere between 10-15 years with few exceptions. If one searches Waheed Murad's career, he remained popular from mid sixties to mid seventies. In later part of his career he could not keep up with the image bestowed upon him of a "Choclatee Hero". Neither could he transform himself like Amitabh. Another factor for his rapid decline that comes to mind was the intellect gap between him and most of the film industry. In his last public appearance on Silver Jublee he sounded sour when he said; to survive in Pakistan film industry you do not have to be highly educated. He himself had a master
Nargis Nov 30, 2012 07:45am
Good article,Its just shows how life can change for the better or for worse.
Karachi Wala Nov 29, 2012 04:27pm
@ Fahd, On Shoib, I agree with you and NFP both. Part of it was his own doings and the other part was the Tableeghi march on and in Pakistan cricket. Tableeghi trend in Pakistan camp in modern Times started with Saeed Anwar who was basically an introvert and retired quietly. The real Tableeghi influence what I hear was started with another Saeed namely Saeed Anwar, older brother of Younis Ahmed of yester years who loved to party during his playing days. He like many others became born again Muslim during Zia era. But no doubt just like his batting Inzimam took this trend to another level.
Aniket Nov 29, 2012 12:05pm
There was another such man. He loved cricket in his childhood, delved in student politics in college and could not complete his Post Graduation degree. He came to journalism, became an icon, almost died of heroine abuse, but came back and was able to rehabilitate. He has sobered down somewhat and continues to pen his own special brand of progressive and inclusivist articles and is admired and loathed in equal measure. He has an especially big following among the youth. When will we get to know more about this man, NFP?
jayzee Nov 29, 2012 04:04pm
Only difference between very secular and very religious ppl is that one die by smoking crack other one by suicide jacket.
Talat M Nov 29, 2012 03:37pm
I have not read this article yet just scrolled down and unable to understand what the hell SA is doing here in the company of some very fine master pieces of our history.
Javed Nov 29, 2012 03:34pm
Religion is personal, and Inzamam was wrong to impose it on the players in the Pak cricket team. They are there to play cricket. As long as team rules and discipline was maintained, what the players did in their free time was none of Inzamam's business
Javed Nov 30, 2012 06:17pm
@Cynic: agree with you 100%. We have the distinction of producing both a suicide bomber(s) and a Nobel prize winner, so I will qualify my response by saying that education shouldn't just mean sitting in a classroom like robots to get meaningless degrees and certificates. What matters is the quality and relevance of the content that is taught in the schools and madrassas.
Dr Khan Nov 29, 2012 02:48pm
I don,t know whether you have written about Javed Ahmad Ghamidi in your previous blogs. He is one of the few brilliant Islamic scholars Pakistan has ever produced. He is in Malaysia these days paying the price of telling the truth in " the land of pure". Also worth mentioning is Dr. Faruq khan who was killed 2 years back.
Mubarak Nov 30, 2012 07:41am
God loves all,God does not love Muslims or Sunnis or Wahhabi only.All are equal in front of god,sinners(Talibani's) too if they ask forgiveness.God does not love sunni more than shia or muslim more than Hindu or Wahhabi more than Deobandi.
Indian Nov 30, 2012 06:23pm
Islam is the fuel of Pakistani politics.Without Islam the vehicle of Pakistan cannot move.
fahd Nov 29, 2012 11:55am
Totally do not agree with your comments on shoaib akhtar. You have made it suggest as if Inzamam destroyed his career for he was not religious. That is totally wrong. Shoaib was injury prone, rude and arrogant. As a bowler he was great but his personality was not. Did Inzamam force him to take drugs and be banned for an year? did the tableeghi jamat tell him to hit mohammad asif with a bat? did inzamam force him to fight with bob woolmer and be sent back from south africa? Only Wasim Akram was able to control shoaib but the biggest enemy of shoaib was shoaib himself. And you quoted Imran Khan as saying that inzamam did not handle shoaib well. That is totally out of context. What imran said was that inzamam had failed to handle him as a bowler, because Inzamam made shoaib akhtar bowl many overs on a flat pitch at faisalabad, and shoaib later complained that he will get unfit. That is why Imran criticized him. Or perhaps the faisalabad pitch was made flat because inzamam wanted to punish shoaib for flirting with girls?????
Saleem Khan Nov 29, 2012 02:26pm
Mr. fazlur Rehman, I met him in i975 when he was here for a visit at Hyderabad.
Safari Nov 29, 2012 02:09pm
I understand where Goga and Observer are co ing from. But they are missing NFP's point: It wasn't Rashid's 'secular' like that destroyed him, but the brand of religion he was forced into.
Karachi Wala Nov 29, 2012 01:59pm
@ Observer and Goga Nalaik Sahib, Down the memory lane one gets emotional but, when it comes to Abdul Rashid Ghazi, if you have a thrid dimension to add please do so. Othewise, kindly do not try to stop the pen of NFP. Thanks
Kiran Imran Nov 29, 2012 01:53pm
The best thing is that in spite of being a prolific writer with all this knowledge, histories and of course his wit that he shares with his readers, NFP has not allowed to over-expose himself on TV like so many contemporaries of his have done. It's good that he has largely remained introverted and a mystery.
Ansa Nov 29, 2012 01:39pm
The story of Sagar Siddique pinched my heart. May God bless his soul.
Shahid Nov 29, 2012 01:32pm
Please write more about such Pakistani personalities. It is very interesting. It is never enough. Your columns with old pictures are also fascinating and a reminder of good old days. I was sad to read about Sagir's fate. I just knew him as faqir shaair( Beggar poet). Did not know that he was deep into morphine addiction. I wish some one had taken charge of him and saved such a jewel of a poet and his work.
Ahmed Nov 29, 2012 01:28pm
Yes, the all introverted and reclusive troubled soul NFP.
a123lad Nov 30, 2012 08:14pm
Reblogged this on A123LAD.
Rabia Shahbaz Ali Nov 29, 2012 12:33pm
Yes, and as you not-very-subtly alluded, that man is NFP - the journo who in spite of being so prolific, has remained a mystery.
haris Nov 29, 2012 12:25pm
I don't need spoon feeding. If you read my comment clearly then you would never post such pathetic reply. I just want to learn NFP's point-of-view about Secularism. PS:You should use antonym of 'observer' as your nick. It suits you better.
Sameer Dec 04, 2012 04:44pm
@ Atif: ... Apparently...
Viqar Qadir Nov 30, 2012 10:52pm
This is interesting. A few weeks ago I was reading (or rather watching) one of your pieces about how Pakistan used to be and the first thought that struck my mind was to send you a mail thanking you for not having died in your own turbulent years...sorry to mention this so frankly and crudely here but you have been close...and I could not bear the thought of not having had this "contribution" from you. When I wrote you that email, I had just recently finished reading a whole lot of stuff from V.S.Naipaul. I was feeling he understood what it felt to be uprooted. When you leave your country and go to another place you are not only uprooted and misunderstood, you are actually not relevant enough to be understood. And Naipaul knew this...and this feeling of something shared was like a soul caress. What was still taking a shape but not fully clear at the time was that this uprooting was not because I had left Pakistan, I was uprooted while I was living there. And I know many others were...being irrelevant is hard on your self respect. I decided I would leave Pakistan the day I learned my father had gone out to vote for Parvez Musharraf in that funny referendum. I am saying all this because, having read Naipaul, having understood at least part of the person that he was, I was seized by this almost urgent need to thank the guy...for doing the incredibly tedious research that he did...for having the ambition to want to share it...for making all that effort, that I know he must have made. He did not need my acknowledgement, the need to acknowledge was entirely mine. It is now the same that I am beginning to feel towards your effort. Having felt immensely frustrated at what a waste it was of your talent and your ability to empathize. And now seeing that you made the effort to grant that token of respect to me, your reader, makes me grateful. And believe me I am grateful for the part you are playing. At times like this I think about what I am missing, sitting out here, only occasionally catching glimpses of all of the wonderful things that are happening back home. Only the other day I discovered Najam Sethi on youtube. I got news of these articles from a tweet of Sabahat's(I still have to figure out if I am made for twitter). Nostalgia is easy to is like a pink cloud over everything. You can clearly see something pleasantly colored and vaguely shaped and painfully attractive. That's about it. Nostalgia is easy to sell. And cataloguing too. I am not saying that cataloging is not a service. It is one of the most important ones. In a ludicrously redefined society like ours, cataloging is probably the only way to at least account for, and to begin to get a feeling for, what was there before all the historical plastic surgery that we went through. What I see coming from you is only at its start. I am saying this because I want to be among the first to review the first draft of the book you will write. I am a critic at least by will be worth it.
Atif Dec 01, 2012 12:47pm
@Indian, Dilawer ANP, MQM and PPP are all liberal parties.
Dilawer Dec 01, 2012 02:07am
I agree with you 100%. If you impose a penalty or make a bet against using the religious term such as Inshallah, Mashallah or invkoing the name of Allah then most of us would go silent forever. The Pakistani speech is nothing but the religious words. Listen to any TV program or watch even the most educated they can not say two lines without the religious reference.
Mustafa Kamal Nov 29, 2012 11:38am
Krish Chennai Nov 29, 2012 11:31am
@Observer - good observation, you really belong to our sub-continent of diamonds and lumps of coal. Anyway, this article of NFP, is really gripping.
Goga Nalaik Nov 29, 2012 11:30am
You seem to have missed the very sprit of blog! I'm not here to dictate but to express my point of view. FYI, I've been reading NFP for years now and I am his fan
Kamran Ahmad - India Dec 01, 2012 03:24am
The writer's obsessed with 'islamization' concept and he is looking everything through those lens. I am sure that anything that has been even remotely done by keeping religion in mind is anti-liberal to him. - good to see he recognizes this and calls himself a cultural 'critic'
Assam Nov 29, 2012 11:22am
I really like the title. I must say that I fail to understand why Shoib Akhtar is there? He was given a fair chance in my opinion. He was the bad boy in the team, do we need to remember the amount of money spent on his physical fitness, board guarding him despite failing dope test and the list just goes on. I guess writer is missing the research in the example of Shoib Akhtar.
EA Nov 29, 2012 11:17am
Sir NFP...
Shahid Masud Nov 29, 2012 10:00am
I don't know how to express my feelings
WALEED FAKHAR Nov 30, 2012 08:47pm
observer Nov 29, 2012 10:59am
I agree. Abdul Rashid Ghazi was not a good choice.
observer Nov 29, 2012 10:56am
I have a lot of questions that I need to research myself but please NFP solve all my problems. I don't want to work hard. I want spoon feeding.
Asad Shah Nov 29, 2012 10:54am
I have never been a fan of NFP but this article is a very good read. Gives a different perspective than what is usually offered for these people. So one should give credit where it is due. Well done NFP
Yawar Nov 29, 2012 10:48am
Loved it. Each part of this series has been eye-opening. Also, intrigued by the way you put Ghazi on the list. In Part 2 one of the people you discussed was Salamullah Tipu, a man who was once a rightist but turned leftist, and here Ghazi, a leftist who turned rightist. Both became terrorists. You have captured well all the somersaults that life is about through the people you have chosen in this series. Kudos.
Fahad kamal (@Fahad_Kamal) Nov 29, 2012 10:39am
NFP u should have collection of ur all articles on one spot.....if u had thn please share//
Suleman Nov 29, 2012 10:36am
Yes, I also think that NFP have made some controversial selections...
haris Nov 29, 2012 10:32am
This article is not about What you like and what you don't. You cannot dictate anybody's writing based on your own imagination.
Dudenator Nov 29, 2012 10:28am
I am an Indian but Shoaib Akthar has been my all time favourite cricketer and the reasons for that, apart from his great cricketing skill, has been mentioned by NFP in his article. He is a straight talker and never minced words in describing what he thought of religious practices that Inzamam forced upon the cricketers. Most importantly he never sold his soul for money when everyone around him were selling theirs. I always failed to understand how could the Pakistani Captains not understand the rare talent that they had in the form of Shoaib. Basically to everyone who were fans of Shoaib, it seemed that he was being kept out not due to his cricketing ability, but due to his lack of religious ability. What NFP didn't mention is that Shoaib is flat footed and he only started walking at the age of 4. The very fact that he is able to bowl so fast is nothing short of a miracle given the fact that flat footed people have serious difficulty in walking too.
Suleman Nov 29, 2012 10:34am
It is sad that I only know about Shoaib Akhtar...
haris Nov 29, 2012 10:28am
I request the author, NFP to share his idea of Secularism. Please compile an article that precisely tells us your idea of Secularism. I am 30 yrs old and for past 4-5 years I did some research about Secularism but never found any confrontation against any religion including Islam. Please NFP do write about it. Its my humble request. Please highlight some of the Secularist personalities of Pakistan. Thanks
Iftekhar Mahmood Nov 29, 2012 09:41am
NFP, haven't u missed one of the craziest of these diamonds... Waheed Murad?
Goga Nalaik Nov 29, 2012 09:39am
Report about Sagar Siddique brought tears in my eyes. And I did not like the report about Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Preaching a special brand of Islam we are fighting against, you could have avoided this fellow. Considering the mindsent of Pakistani masses, I'm sure his number of fans will increase and it was not really needed. But I still remain your fan!
Aamir Nov 29, 2012 09:34am
One good composition
Zeta Nov 29, 2012 08:25am
Another epic list
Seeker Dec 01, 2012 08:55am
Defeat of Osama Bin Laden was defeat of radical Islam and lesson for all Islamist.
Kaiser Waziri Dec 01, 2012 04:40pm
I almost cried when I read about Saghir Siddique! So tragic stories of real people!
Osman Nov 29, 2012 10:15am
I may not be your fan... but this series is really amazing. Well done! Nazia Hasan would be high on my list for Part IV.
Jadoon Nov 29, 2012 09:11am
Thanks a lot for acquainting the young generation with the forgotten pages of history. But this is Mr. Paracha's interpretation of history based on his socialist views.
Muhammad Nov 30, 2012 01:49am
NFP,How do you do this!!!
Ghani Dec 05, 2012 05:20pm
Awesome piece NFP, like always. You're one of the voices that keep us Pakistanis feel that there are sane people who remain here.