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Crazy Diamonds – IV


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In this fourth 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 Crazy Diamonds – III


Waheed Murad

When, in the early 1980s, Pakistan’s film industry began its long and painful decent into near-oblivion, a number of actors and filmmakers who had been joyfully reaping fame and fortune from the creative and commercial harvests that the industry was sprouting, suddenly found themselves stranded and abandoned.

As if overnight, the industry started seeming like a pale reflection of its glamorous and lucrative past.

The VCR had arrived and with it Indian films (on video tapes). This machine boded well with what was happening to the film industry’s main audiences: i.e. the urban lower and middle classes.

Ziaul Haq’s reactionary military coup against the Z A. Bhutto regime in 1977 and then the military dictatorship’s strict censor policies, along with its concentrated crackdown on social activities that it deemed ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘immoral,’ began to push the urban middle-classes indoors.

The VCR fitted perfectly in this new, introverted setting. By 1984, Urdu films in Pakistan had already lost almost 50 per cent of its audiences. This was also the period when many cinemas began to close down or be converted into gaudy shopping plazas and wedding halls.

A number of once famous and rich film stars found themselves out of work. Some took to drinking and slipped into obscurity; some compromised their egos (and fee) and began doing teleplays; while others ventured into taking roles in loud, violent Punjabi films whose stock and popularity rose rather bizarrely with the strengthening of the Zia dictatorship.

This tragedy of the once untouchable and idealised film stars suddenly losing all their shine in Pakistan is most strikingly exemplified by the fate of a man who for more than a decade was perhaps the country’s leading film icon: Waheed Murad.

From the early 1960s till about 1977, it seemed that anything that Murad touched turned into gold.

His hairstyle after 1967 was repeatedly copied by young men and his lively romantic roles turned him into a heartthrob among millions of college girls and housewives.

Being highly educated also helped as he only accepted roles of ‘refined’ and gentle romantic men, who wore their hearts on their sleeves and demonstrated their optimistic disposition with an unabashed rejection of both irony and cynicism.

But when things in the industry began to experience multiple jolts after the 1977 military coup, Murad became the calamity’s first casualty.


As Murad’s contemporaries, like Mohammad Ali actually turned right to start making films that were according to the ‘correct moral lines’ laid down by the reactionary dictatorship, Murad’s romantic heroes who would dance, sing and shed tears at the drop of a hat suddenly went out of vogue.

He tried to reinvent himself as a character actor but the image of a jolly romantic attached to him was just too fresh and overwhelming for anyone to take his more grounded roles seriously.

Even though another contemporary of his, Nadeem, was still dishing out hits till 1979 (mainly due to his penchant of playing more realistic romantic roles), Murad began being ignored by the filmmakers.

The fall from where he was till 1977 was just too sudden and rapid.

Disoriented, baffled and bitter, the man whose car was once mobbed by dozens of collage girls and literally painted red with lipstick (in 1971), began to drink heavily and pop sedatives like they were candy.

When he appeared on a TV show in 1982 (Anwar Maqsood’s ‘Silver Jubilee’), Murad, by now skinny and with deep, dark circles underneath her eyes, sounded like a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

A battered, bitter and bruised Waheed Murad on Anwar Maqsood’s stage show, Silver Jubilee, 1982.

His wife of many years had temporarily left him when some film producers offered him to return as a hero but only if he would clean up his act. Murad agreed.

In 1982’s minor hit, ‘Aahat,’ he seemed to be playing himself. A broken man surrounded by empty whiskey bottles, medicines and the shattered pieces of what was once such a radiant life.

But destiny had marked him to fall even further. In early 1983, while driving under the influence of alcohol and sedatives, he smashed his car into a tree, giving his face a terrible scar.

After the accident, he tried to find solace in his two children and yet more (empty) promises by film producers.

They had to keep saying ‘yes’ to a man who had helped them make millions of rupees in the past. But, of course, they were in no mood to hire him again. Theirs was just a polite pitying gesture.

Frustrated and refusing to resign to his fate, in early 1984, the now 46-year-old former star, heartthrob and Midas, died of an overdose of sedatives. A film writer lamented that it wasn’t the pills and alcohol that killed Murad. It was a broken heart.



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A few years after Imran Khan was officially recorded as the third fastest bowler (in 1979) in the world – behind Australia’s Jeff Thomson and the West Indian tearaway Michael Holding and ahead of Australia’s Dennis Lillie – and before Pakistan cricket began firing in a spat of genuine pace men in the shape of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Muhammad Zahid, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, there was one Atiqur Rehman.

Even the most passionate Pakistani cricket fans know very little or maybe nothing about a bowler who could have become the Waqar Younis or Shoaib Akhtar of the 1980s.

Those who are old enough to remember the 1983 Sri Lankan Under-19 team’s tour of Pakistan, may remember the sight of a young 17-year-old fast bowler from Karachi who was terrorising batsmen with sharp, fast and awkwardly rising deliveries even on the most placid of wickets.

Yet, Rehman failed to play in even a single Test or an ODI.

Arriving on the scene in 1982, by 1986 he was history (rather, a footnote).

Born in 1965 in Karachi, Rehman grew up playing cricket on the streets of Karachi and then on the cemented pitches of the city.

Australia’s Jeff Thomson (who, in 1975, had been recorded to have bowled deliveries that clocked up to 99 mph), became Rehman’s ideal.

Thomson’s record was finally broken by Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar in 2003 when one of his deliveries clocked at 100.2 mph!

At just 17, Rehman was knocking out some of Karachi’s finest club cricketers, but his rebellious and hotheaded temperament meant his advent into first-class cricket was halted by those who could have put his name up for Pakistan’s first-class teams to consider.

Nevertheless, in 1983, the then Pakistan cricket team’s manager, Intikhab Alam, while looking for bowlers who were good enough to bowl at the team’s front line batsmen in the nets, spotted Rehman playing a club game at Karachi’s Bakhtiari Youth Centre.

Impressed by Rehman’s pace, Intikhab asked him to report the next day at the National Stadium where the Pakistan team was practicing in the nets just before a Test series.

Rehman was one of the many young bowlers who were called up for the nets. However, when it came the turn for Pakistan’s two most talented and premier batsmen, Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad, to get some batting practice, Intikhab tossed the ball over to Rehman.

He bowled straight and fast to Miandad, who hopped around a bit, but negotiated Rehman’s pace pretty well.

He didn’t say anything and moved away to make room for Zaheer.

Zaheer too hopped around, but played Rehman’s straight, fast ones well until the young 17-year-old changed tact.

He delivered a vicious bouncer that rose and headed straight between Zaheer’s eyes. Zaheer jumped and just managed to block the ball from hitting his face with his left glove.

Shaken, Zaheer received another fast bouncer that almost knocked him off his feet.

Bruised and angry, Zaheer threw away his bat and began to hurl abuses at the young pace man. ‘Are you trying to kill me?’ he shouted.

But Rehman had had his moment. Right away he was picked to lead the pace attack for Pakistan U-19 team’s series against the Sri Lankan U-19s.

In that series he sent at least three young Lankan batsmen to the hospital, and it was during this series he caught the eye of Imran Khan who went on record to suggest: ‘This kid is bowling as fast as I am …’

Khan was out of the team at the time, suffering from a serious back injury. Zaheer had taken over the captaincy from him for Pakistan’s 1983 tour of India. Right away he insisted Rehman’s inclusion in the touring squad.

But Rehman could only get one game on the tour – a well-attended and televised day-night charity ODI against the Indian team.

After making a few Indian batmen hop and jump, Rehman got carried away and began bowling bouncers, most of them flying over the wicketkeeper’s head.

Warned by the umpires, he was taken off by the captain. Then, he got embroiled in some disciplinary issues with the team management and was sent back home.

In Pakistan he managed to get a contract from Habib Bank’s cricket team on the behest of the team’s captain, Javed Miandad.

When Imran returned as captain in late 1983 (though he was still struggling to bowl), he picked Rehman for Pakistan’s 1983-84 tour of Australia. Rehman bowled quick in some side games but broke down before the first Test.

He regained his fitness but his hotheadedness got the better of him. While visiting a club with some players in Melbourne, he got into a fight with some locals. He was immediately sent back home.

Imran suggested he start playing English County cricket to refine his talent, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) decided to coach him at home.

PCB’s top coach at the time, former fast bowler Khan Muhammad, was given the task of training and ‘disciplining’ Rehman. The first thing he did was to ask the young bowler to change his action. Bad idea.

Immediately Rehman lost much of his pace and bite. But the coach and Habib Bank insisted that he bowl with his new action.

By 1985 the young 20-year-old had fallen into a state of depression. Clearly losing pace and the fear factor with his new (enforced action) he tried to defy the PCB coach by reverting back to his action. But the sudden reversion wrecked his back.

In early 1986, after the end of the last day of a first-class game in Karachi, he disgustingly picked up his kit and left the ground never to come back.

He was just 21 when he decided to ‘retire’ and slip into oblivion.


Sikandar Sanam

Unwilling to continue doing conventional comedy, Sikandar Sanam in Pakistan, pioneered the straight-faced absurdist comedy found in such Hollywood parody films like ‘Airplane,’ ‘Naked Gun,’ and ‘Scary Movie.’

Like these films, Sikandar too embraced a rather absurd and anarchic strain of the irreverence in which famous personalities and social issues were viciously parodied not just through spoofing, but by making perfectly normal looking characters deliver the most ridiculous dialogs with the straightest of faces.

Despite the immense popularity that his parody films generated, Sanam remained rooted in the social and cultural conditions from where he had first emerged.

He had surfaced from a vibrant tradition of stage comedy that mushroomed in Karachi in the late 1980s.

One Umar Sharif – a young, lower-middle-class resident of Karachi’s Lalukheth area (now Liaqatabad), and influenced by the spontaneous and witty ways of film comedians like Munawar Zarif (who died young in 1976) and Lehri – had risen to become one of the most street-smart comedians in the city.

When Sharif began doing stage plays, his scripts were entirely written in the kind of slang-ridden Urdu spoken on the streets of Karachi.

What’s more, it was his dialogues that the people came to listen to and laugh at and didn’t care much about the plot and acting.

That’s why from 1980 onwards, Sharif began creating cassette albums of comedy skits that sold in their millions.

Umar Sharif with actress/model, Arzoo, 1978.

Sharif’s audacity to bring on stage and tape the rough social wit found on the streets of Karachi began to impact and influence a number of other aspirants emerging from the same socio-economic background as Sharif’s.

They all came from lower-middle-class backgrounds and localities and were either Urdu-speaking (like Umar) or Gujarati speaking (Memon).

Each one of them reveled in using exactly the kind of lingo in their art that they did in their everyday lives.

Sikander Sanam was one such person. Sanam’s father was a struggling Gujjrati poet and the family lived in a congested locality of Karachi where Sanam went to school.

Sanam very early got involved with the street scene of such areas, where smoking, drinking, chewing paan and visiting gambling dens and brothels was a norm for young men.

Like Umar, Sanam too was a huge cinema fan and wanted to enter the industry as a comedian.

Already famous for his sharp wit among his school friends, in 1977, aged 15, Sanam found himself attending a stage play featuring Umar Sharif.

He was pleasantly shocked to see hundreds of people laughing away at Sharif’s jokes that were being delivered through a language and imagery that Sanam’s daily life was surrounded by.

That’s when he decided to become a stage actor. But his entry into the field was slow and unspectacular.

In the early 1980s he began to get bit roles in Sharif’s plays but he continued to study the master closely.

He noticed how Sharif (in everyday colloquial Urdu and Karachi’s street-speak), would brilliantly satirise, parody and mock everything from his own class background, to the ‘burger classes’ (the elite), the police and the mullahs, but then pad his mocking with a raving, rhetorical spiel on nationalism and patriotism.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s when the comedy theatre scene in Karachi hit a peak, Sanam had become an important part of Sharif’s team.

But Sanam was still just another Umar Sharif clone and sidekick.

He was also a good singer and tried to make a place for himself by releasing albums of parody songs.

Album cover of Sanam’s parody songs. He was as serious about his hairstyle as he was in his belief that he had a better body than Salman Khan’s.

It was in these albums that one began to notice Sanam trying to break away from Sharif’s influence and also getting rid of Sharif’s formula of padding his satire and parodies with rhetorical flourishes of patriotism.

Though the albums were not big sellers, they did bring Sanam close to a style of comedy that would finally turn him into a star; or someone not entirely attached to Sharif’s circle.

Influenced by Hollywood parodies like ‘Scary Movie,’ he began scripting, directing and acting in telefilms that spoofed famous Indian movies.

The idea was simple: Get actors to play characters from famous Bollywood blockbusters and then put them in the most typical social situations found in the congested areas of old Karachi.

It was like putting Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Sanjay Dutt doing their glamorous Bollywood bit around paan stalls and rickshaw stands in Karachi.

Sanam always played the lead roles in these parodies, in which, undeterred by his paunch and skinny arms, he kept a straight face playing Salman Khan in ‘Bodyguard,’ Aamer Khan in ‘Gajni,’ et al.

The results were hilarious, and soon Sanam graduated from doing these ‘fims’ for local cable operators to doing bigger budgeted ones for the mainstream ARY TV.

Sanam had finally become a star in his own right. But just like Sharif, though loved by the ‘masses,’ he too continued to be rejected for being ‘crude’ by those more into the sophisticated comedy of men like the great Moin Akhtar and Anwar Maqsood.

It didn’t matter. Sanam had found his own style and recognition and he was now making more money than ever.

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Sanam as ‘Aamer Khan’ in ‘Gajni 2.’ The words on his body say (left arm): ‘Zubair Shaukat Ka Phone Number (Zubair Shaukat’s phone number); (on his chest): ‘Mera baap bhi ganja tha’ (My dad was also bald) …

He had not only slipped from under his mentor’s nose, he had also bypassed the auto-erotic outbreak of so-called political parody shows on TV that have now become a mediocre nuisance if not an outright embarrassment!

But, alas, fate dealt him a cruel blow. Some of his ‘indulgences’ of the past took this vital and bright hour in his career to come back and haunt him.

In late 2012, when at the height of his popularity, Sanam was diagnosed with liver cancer.

Within days after the horrific diagnosis, Sikandar was dead. He was just 48 when he suddenly passed away and at the peak of his art, popularity and career.

It had taken him almost two decades to be where he wanted to be, but just two weeks to lose it all when death came calling.


General Rani

Her real name was Aqleem Akhtar. In the late 1960s she began being called General Rani (the Queen General). Between 1969 and 1971 she was considered to be perhaps the most powerful woman in Pakistan.

A muse and mistress of Pakistani dictator, General Yahya Khan, and many-a-times the main brain behind the swinging General’s regime, General Rani was the person a number of bureaucrats and politicians approached if they wanted Yahya’s attention.

Born in the Pakistani city of Gujrat into a well-to-do but conservative family, Aqleem was married off early to a policeman who was twice her age.

For years she played well the role of a good wife, bearing six children and never venturing out of the house without a burqa (veil/abaya).

Then one day in 1963, while holidaying with her husband on the cool hills of Murree, something snapped in her.

Walking with her husband among the tall pine trees of the hills, a gust of wind blew away the burqa from her face.

Enjoying the wind softly breezing across her face, she let the wind to continue making the burqa flap away and expose her face.

Agitated by her callousness, her husband admonished her. She stopped walking. She stared back at him and then casually proceeded to take off the burqa from the rest of her body.

Then after tossing it athim, she walked away, asking him to wear it himself!

She also took the couple’s six children with her but struggled to make ends meet when her parents insisted that they would only help her if she got back with her husband.

Alone, with six kids and without a job, Aqeel plotted to get close to powerful, rich men.

She began visiting those nightclubs in Karachi and other such clubs in Lahore and Rawalpindi that were frequented by the political, military and business elite.

Finding the men bored with their wives she began arranging ‘dance parties’ for them.

She used beautiful young women who had run away after facing poverty and harassment at home.

But instead of doing her ‘arranging’ business from the country’s two most famous red light districts (Karachi’s Napier Road and Lahore’s Heera Mandi), she operated from an apartment in Rawalpindi.

It was at a club that was frequented by the country’s top military men in Rawalpindi where Pakistan’s future dictator, General Yahya Khan, fell for her.

A compulsive drinker and womaniser, Yahya began an affair with Aqeel sometime in 1967. But throughout her relationship with Yahya, she kept insisting that they were ‘just friends.’

Nevertheless, when a leftist movement between 1968 and 1969 forced General Ayub Khan to resign as head of state, he installed Yahya Khan as the country’s new Martial Law Administrator.

It was at this point that Aqeel began being called (in the press), ‘General Rani.’ It is believed that apart from looking after Yahya’s ferocious appetite for booze and women, she also began ‘advising’ him on policy and political matters.

Those who met her in those days described her to be far more informed and astute in the field of politics than Yahya.

Soon she was being visited by all kinds of politicians, bureaucrats and military men, some asking her to arrange her now-famous dance parties for them, or get the General to meet them or do certain favors for them.

One of her clients was also Pakistan’s legendary singer and actress, Noor Jehan. She had approached Aqleem after the Income Tax Department had charged her for withholding thousands of rupees worth of income tax.

Noor Jehan asked Aqleem to request Yahya to intervene. Aqleem did. The General asked the income tax people to back off and then proceeded to begin an affair with Noor Jehan.

A 1969 newspaper photo of Yahya Khan, Noor Jehan and guests at a party arranged by General Rani.

The daring woman who had rebelled against her husband’s conservative and demeaning behavior towards her, and then was left with nothing more than six hungry children and no consistent source of income, became a powerful, influential and rich woman during Yahya Khan’s short dictatorship.

The good fortune lasted till early 1972. Yahya, after leading Pakistan into a disastrous war against India and Bengali nationalists in former East Pakistan in December 1971, was disgraced when asked by the military and political parties to step down and then put under house arrest.  He died in seclusion in 1980.

Z A. Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party that had won the majority of seats in West Pakistan in the 1970 election took over the reigns of power from the military.

Bhutto at once began to arrest military men, bureaucrats and politicians who had supported Ayub and Yahya’s dictatorships.

And even though it is believed that Bhutto was on good terms with Aqleem, he did not hold back and asked the police to put her under house arrest as well.

During the Bhutto regime (1972-77), Aqleem was constantly shuttled between house arrest and jail. Her cases were mostly challenged in the courts by famous lawyer, S M. Zafar.

She was finally released from house arrest when in July 1977 General Ziaul Haq toppled the Bhutto regime in a military coup.

But by then, she had lost most of her wealth and property and was back to being a pauper.

In the early 1980s someone advised her to get into a new kind of business that had begun to thrive during the reactionary Zia regime: drug smuggling and trafficking.

Though it is not known how much she got involved, but it is believed that after having a fall-out with some of Zia’s top military men, she was charged with drug trafficking and jailed.

She was bailed out by a few friends and the cases against her were quashed at the end of the Zia dictatorship in 1988.

Though, all her children had by now established themselves and become independent, Aqleem became a recluse, living alone and disallowed (by her children) to speak to the media or anyone who was not family.

She outlived most of her friends and foes, but it was largely a lonely, broken life. Suffering from cancer in the later days of her life, she quietly passed away in 2002 at the age of 70.


Meraj Muhammad Khan

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In 1963 when Pakistan’s first military dictator, Field Martial Ayub Khan’s young foreign minister, Z. A. Bhutto, approached the podium to speak at a Muslim League rally in Karachi, a group of students belonging to the left-wing National Students Federation (NSF) stormed the stage and disrupted the proceedings.

The group’s attack was led by a fiery student leader called Meraj Muhammad Khan. The students were kicked, punched and arrested by the police and thrown in jail.

However, just four years later, the same student leader was sitting with Bhutto and a cluster of intellectuals, trade unionists, journalists and politicians all of whom became the founding members of Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Meraj was one of the most passionate student leaders to have emerged from the student politics of Pakistan in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Coming from an educated middle-class family based in Karachi, Meraj was a committed communist who joined the NSF in 1957 at college. He quickly rose to become an influential leader in the party.

He was also at the forefront of student agitation against the Ayub Khan dictatorship and was constantly arrested and jailed.

In the early 1960s due to the tension and hostilities between China and the Soviet Union, the NSF split into two factions, one pro-China (Maoist) and one pro-Soviet.

Meraj moved in to lead the student party’s pro-China faction along with his contemporary at the Karachi University, Rashid Ahmed Khan.

Meraj with famous progressive poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz at a NSF gathering in Karachi in 1965.

In 1965 when Pakistan went to war with India and the conflict ended in a stalemate, Bhutto accused Ayub of ‘losing the war on the negotiating table.’ He was chucked out from the cabinet by Ayub.

Of course, what Bhutto was saying was nonsense, but it did turn him into a hero of sorts for millions of Pakistanis who, during the war, had been told over and over again by the state media that Pakistan was devastating the Indian forces.

Bhutto became particularly popular among leftist student outfits that (in the 1960s) controlled the student unions and councils at most universities and colleges.

Mirroring the rise of leftist youth uprisings around the world in the mid and late 1960s, NSF’s pro-China factions fell behind Bhutto, urging him to lead a socialist revolution in Pakistan.

(From left): Meraj Muhammad Khan with Z A. Bhutto and Rasheed Ahmed Khan at a NSF convention at the Karachi University in 1966.

More a politician than a revolutionary, Bhutto instead decided to form a left-leaning social-democratic party and work towards replacing the Ayub dictatorship with multi-party democracy.

Energised by the support he got in West Pakistan for his stand against Ayub, Bhutto, along with Marxist ideologue, J A. Rahim, socialist theorists like Dr. Mubasher Hassan and Shiekh Ahmed Rashid, and ‘Islamic socialists,’ Hanif Rammay and Meraj Khalid, formed the PPP.

The party’s first convention was held in Lahore and attended by leftist and progressive intellectuals, trade unionists, journalists and politicians.

The most prominent student contingent at the convention was led by a 28-year-old Meraj Muhammad Khan who also joined the party.

Bhutto described the young Meraj to be a mirror image of himself and ‘my right hand man.’

When a widespread movement against the Ayub regime broke out in 1968, NSF factions were in the forefront, soon followed by labor and journalist unions and parties like the PPP and National Awami Party (NAP).

In East Pakistan, the movement was mostly led by the Bengali nationalists.

After Ayub was forced to resign in 1969, his replacement, General Yahya Khan, promised to hold free, multi-party elections.

During the campaigning, PPP rallies were disrupted by the members of the fundamentalist Jamat-i-Islami (JI) who had accused Bhutto and the PPP of being ‘atheistic’ and a ‘threat to Islam.’

It was Meraj and Sheikh Ahmed Rashid who, to fend off attacks by the JI, organised groups of NSF members to form the ‘Red Guards.’

The PPP won the majority of seats in West Pakistan. And when East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh, Yahya was forced out and Bhutto’s PPP took over the government.

At just 33, Meraj was made the Minister of Labor in Bhutto’s first cabinet. He was one of Bhutto’s most active ministers during the regime’s most left-leaning period (1972-74); and when the PPP’s leftist lobby was dominating the proceedings.

The movement against Ayub had radicalised leftist trade and student unions. The radical factor continued to grow after Bhutto came into power.

The PPP’s left-wing urged him to quicken the pace of socialist reform.

The slow pace of reforms forced trade and labor unions to begin a movement in Karachi (the most industrialised city of the country).

Factories were taken over and locked up by the unions leaving Bhutto fuming.

He saw the unions (most of whom had backed him in his fight against the Ayub dictatorship), as irresponsible.

‘How can you do this?’ He asked. ‘How can you lock up factories when we have just come out of a devastating war that has crippled our economy?’

He asked Meraj, who was close to the union leaders, to curb the agitation. Meraj refused and instead asked Bhutto to hasten industrial reforms.

Bhutto’s ego was notorious and he didn’t like the way his youngest minister was challenging his judgment.

In late 1973, Bhutto eventually ordered a severe crackdown against the trade and labor unions, and factories were forced open. Meraj resigned from the ministry.

Shortly after his resignation, Bhutto got Meraj picked up from his house by the police, beaten, and thrown in jail.

‘Bhutto’s right hand man,’ and the person who was destined to lead the PPP after Bhutto,  spent the rest of the time during Bhutto’s regime in jails, and in and out of small communist parties. Suddenly he was a no-one.

Meraj sprang back to life when a movement against the Bhutto government began to take shape in early 1977.

Meraj was one of the many leftists alienated by Bhutto’s ‘betrayal of the socialist cause,’ who joined a movement that was primarily led by right-wing religious parties.

The movement created enough chaos for the military to justify its third take-over. In July 1977, the reactionary General Ziaul Haq toppled Bhutto and declared Martial Law.

Meraj after taking an active part in the movement again went into the background.

However, when the Zia regime got the courts to implicate Bhutto in a murder case and issue a death sentence against the former prime minister, Meraj now pushed to mend fences with the PPP.

Now leading his own small communist party, Meraj approached Bhutto’s widow, Begum Nusrat, to form an anti-Zia alliance of progressive-democratic parties.

But not before Nusrat demanded that he apologise for taking part in the movement against Bhutto.

Meraj was seen crying and distraught when he visited Nusrat Bhutto after Bhutto’s execution in 1979.

Nusrat finally agreed to form the alliance with seven parties (including Meraj’s). It was called the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD).

Bhutto’s daughter and future prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir, refused to work with men like Meraj, Maullana Mufti Mehmood (the father of Maulana Fazalur Rehman), and Asghar Khan, all of whom had taken part in the anti-Bhutto movement.

She is said to have barged into the alliance’s first meeting and screamed at her mother: ‘Mummy, how can you work with the people who murdered my father?’

But Benazir was made to apologise and accept the arrangement.

Meraj played an active role in all major MRD movements against Zia, and was jailed and tortured on a number of occasions.

It was as if he was trying to use the MRD as a cathartic exercise to exorcise the guilt of going against his former mentor and then watching him being hanged by a military tyrant.

Meraj being arrested by the police during the 1983 MRD movement in Karachi.

After the Zia dictatorship folded when the General was assassinated by a bomb placed on his plane in August 1988, Benazir Bhutto was elected as the country’s new head of government.

It was expected that since Meraj had played an active role in the MRD, he would be taken back into the PPP fold.

But Meraj instead decided to reorganise the country’s communist parties, even though he insisted that his children stay away from politics.

Throughout the 1990s Meraj kept falling in and out of various small Marxist groups, until he realised that his political career was going no where.

In a surprising move he joined Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in 1998 – a party that was rightist in orientation but populist in rhetoric.

Meraj, however, saw PTI and Imran as progressive. That is at least until 2003 when he stormed out of the PTI accusing Imran of being ‘dictatorial’ and a political novice.

By now in his late 50s, Meraj again went into the background. The man who could have had one of the brightest careers in politics almost vanished from the scene only to reappear briefly a few years later.

He could hardly speak and was suffering from severe health issues. Today, he lives a retired life, contemplating what could have been but wasn’t.

Many have blamed Meraj’s overtly emotional and impulsive disposition to be the main culprits behind him not realising the full potential of his political promise.

But there are also those who say that decades of activism for democracy and justice on his part should count for more than the many ministries he could have bagged in his almost 40-year career.


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.

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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.

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Imran Dec 08, 2012 03:37pm
TK, apart from No 3 i.e. democracy, all other points are very suspect indeed and highly subjective. Even democracy in India is limited to the regular holding of elections while the other benefits and pre-requisites of democracy are as easily ignored in India as in Pakistan. Its easy to punch holes in all your claims. Big holes.
TK from USA Dec 07, 2012 11:17pm
I only have few. 1) Accountability. India, since inception - Pakistan Never. 2) Abolishing Feudalism. India, 1947 - Pakistan, Still thriving. 3) Real Democracy, India, since 1947 - Pakistan ???? 4) Hope and Future. India, on the the right path - Pakistan ????? 5) Movies. India, awesome - Pakistan some. 6) Religious Freedom. India Fair to above average - Pakistan Hmm.
abbastoronto Dec 09, 2012 01:05am
AOA And we do not want even that one, No, 3 Democracy. While Republic is the rule of ALL (i.e. public) through learned men, Democracy is the rule of the few, the Demos. Originally in Athens it was 5% moneyed males ruling over 95% rest (women, plebs, helots, plebs). Take India for example. Its "Middle Class" is some 150-200 million. Taking conservatively 4 to a family on average (man, wife, 2 children) that is 200/4 = 50 million males, and that is some 4% of total 50/1200 million total, not far from the 5% in Athens times. Elections have nothing to do with Democracy or Republic, as either can exist without the other. We in Pakistan favour a Republic, just as in USA and France. India prefers Democracy, as in UK and Canada. Democracy is good for stratified societies (caste systems like India, classes like England and Canada). Republics are for egalitarian societies like USA, France, Pakistan. India has Democracy, the rule of the 4% Demos. They can keep it, and we want nothing of it.
abbastoronto Dec 09, 2012 12:59am
Please delete my this 12:19 pm post. This is a needless repeat.
Sumit Dec 08, 2012 09:25pm
Dear Mr Abbas: Please check out the science and engineering faculty in the IIT's, Indian Instt of Science and Tata Instt of Fundamental Research. You will see countless highly qualified Indians who have gone back from the west to teach and do research in India. There exist now many jointly funded research grants in the US which allow Indian Americans to spend time in India with their colleagues there. No, we do not have a Hindu ummah, but we contribute. About Indian greats who went back to India after Gandhiji and after spending time abroad here's a short list: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Netaji Subhaschandra Bose. I hope the moderator publishes this, which is not being written with malice. Just to poin out that love for one's people need not come from religion.
abbastoronto Dec 09, 2012 01:18am
JA: AOA According to Stalin
WAQAS Dec 06, 2012 09:08am
just your series like also pakistan,this one and cult pakistan.....
abbastoronto Dec 08, 2012 12:00am
Laskhar Khan Sahib: AOA Indeed. In 1700, while under the Muslims, Indian industrial (non-agricultural) output was a quarter of world industry, it fell to close to zero by 1860. But again rose to 2% by 1900.
Imran Dec 08, 2012 03:32pm
Terrorism.......... the final card an Indian can play in an argument with a Pakistani.
riz Dec 06, 2012 12:08pm
Please dont fail to mention the relation singer Adna Sami Khan has with general Rani!
abbastoronto Dec 09, 2012 05:46am
Sumit: Namaste I am not speaking of professors et al. I was speaking of political greats who went back. I mentioned a few names. AFTER Gandhiji, not before or at the same time as him. For every Indian professor who studies and goes back there are more proportionally who go back to Pakistan. So what? When I ask my Indian friends here if they have any intention of going back they laugh at me. My Pakistani friends do it all the time. I personally know a few who routinely spend 5-6 years here, and then 5-6 years in Pakistan, and so on. Best wishes
abbastoronto Dec 08, 2012 06:48am
TK: Greetings 1) One up for you 2) My main argument is that Pakistan is going through the Civil War of Transition from agrarian to industrial. This was well handled by Nehru. 3) Nehru wanted a Democratic India, Jinnah wanted a Republic. To know the difference, google "republic vs democracy". Democracy is for stratified societies (UK, India, Canada) and Republic is for egalitarian ones (France, America, Muslim countries). Yes, yes, there is Republic in official name of India, but let us leave labels aside. Just as America was founded as a Republic against the Democracy of PM Frederick Lord North, Pakistan was founded as a Republic against the Democracy of Nehru. Mohammed (AS) founded the Secular Republic of Medina against the Meccan Democracy, the rule of the Demos, the 5% moneyed males. Islam is fundamentally Republic minded just as Socrates was, and against Democracy. 4) No comment 5) Silver screen takes you away from Reality. Pakistan has rightly opted for Dramas and reality tv. Selling fantasy will take you nowhere. Interesting to compare Cinema of 1950s - Raj Kapoor showbiz and heartbreaks vs serious and love triumphant positive stuff like Dupetta, Saat laakh, and Kartar Singh. If Pakistan wants to compete in it, we can outdo any one. 6) Of all Freedom Fighters, only Jinnah declared explicitly freedom for all religions. Pakistan has a temporary problem because of Saudi funding of Jihadists, but Pakistanis are more tolerant in nature than all other Muslims countries, and certainly more than Caste oriented Hinduism. We wish our Indian neighbours well. However, i worry about the current economic model of Reaganomics/Thatcherism that is short term gain for long term pain. Just look here in the USA where we are paying for it 30 years later (1981+30). India will face the music in 1990+30= by year 2020. Plus, there is a terrible practice of killing of female fetuses (worse so in China) that will lead to a shortage of women, the real engine of growth. No kids, no future. Best wishes
Jalaluddin S. Hussain Dec 06, 2012 06:17am
I agree 100 percent!
Vin Dec 09, 2012 03:53am
Hi....i also think that NFP is bit running out of options....though i admire NFP's writings but the 'crazy diamonds' should be crazy and as well as diamonds.....but in this fourth version most of them seem just crazies.... By the way i m an Indian living in US now and a keen follower of DAWN since last few years... it really gave me a new, different and most certainly a better prospective of our neighbors.....
Cyrus Howell Dec 08, 2012 05:52pm
There is a lot of prejudice against women like General Rani because of the Sin of Erection, which finds is zenith in the public Eve teasing of hapless women.
Cyrus Howell Dec 08, 2012 05:47pm
To think, all this was plotted at Cambridge University.
Cyrus Howell Dec 08, 2012 05:44pm
"She used beautiful young women who had run away after facing poverty and harassment at home." Who had run away from poverty, harassment and rape. Pakistan does not exist in a vacuum. Young women are raped inside the family by uncles, cousins, friends of the family, and even fathers and brothers in homes that are not the best. Do not think that doesn't happen. When it does happen these women would risk anything, because what else do they have to lose? Being invited to "parties" with powerful men is what they wanted and needed.
Javid Afzal Dec 08, 2012 03:23pm
I salute you , I was not even born in Pakistan , You truly love & respect the Nation of Pakistan .
observer Dec 08, 2012 05:45am
Another argument: If Pakistan had a sincere ruler in place of Zia, Pakistan would have cashed its role in Afghanistan war of 1980s by securing resolution of Kashmir and Siachin issues through Western mediation or pressure. Also, Pakistan would have got permanent guarantee of territorial security and lots of money to stand on its own feet. Instead, Zia chose to prolong his own rule and looked at becoming Ameer-ul-Momineen of Pakistan + Afghanistan. If he had some sense of ideological foundation of Pakistan, he would have pursued a better path. But he forgot or did not know what Pakistan was all about and acted on fundamentalist agenda and got nothing but continued trouble for the country.
Capt C M Khan Dec 08, 2012 11:02am
@ wrote "Then Pakistan is not a country, for in Islam there is no concept of a nation". This is the biggest BRAIN WASHED LIE....I have stayed and served 15 years in Saudi Arabia, was always treated as a SECOND CLASS CITIZEN....there ...Saudis First, then WHITE RACE and then us. I could never marry a Saudi or get their nationality. On the contrary Saudis can come anytime to Pakistan marry anyone , take nationality and live anywhere. Gosh when will you guys get rid of concepts and start calling A spade A spade.
Capt C M Khan Dec 08, 2012 10:51am
TKhan Dec 08, 2012 12:27am
And if do take up on observer's suggestion to become a comedian; please don't lose your day job!
Suraj Dec 08, 2012 10:48am
Let the times and peace prior to 1947 return to Pakistan.
Capt C M Khan Dec 08, 2012 10:47am
My Edwardian only ALLAH knows how much one lives on this earth. THINK BEFORE YOU INK.
Kamil Dec 08, 2012 05:46am
I wish if u can include Late Omer Asghar Khan in the series of Crazzy Diamonds.
abbastoronto Dec 08, 2012 10:21am
This is a repeat. Please take it down. Thanks
observer Dec 08, 2012 10:19am
I have some more comments to make on the points you made. But you are free to believe what you think is right. So, I will refrain from using Comments service of Dawn for back and forth exchange of arguments.
Capt C M Khan Dec 08, 2012 09:45am
abc... you presume a lot my friend I am a Muslim and will die as such. I think you have lost your marbles or are using some sort of sport DRUGS or out of Pakistan for long. You are enjoying life in a developed country where as I visit my village in JHANG often and see my tribe eating two meals a day with onion and lassii.
Edwardian Dec 07, 2012 08:05pm
I think capt, you have lived your life. We have a long way to go. God willing.
Ara Dec 08, 2012 09:18am
1) Accountability. India, since inception
Ara Dec 08, 2012 09:00am
What about the present chief minister Raisani ? Who famously said after being caught on a fake degree. "A degree is a degree, weather fake or real".
Ara Dec 08, 2012 08:56am
And that's what makes her crazy. And she was also a glittering diamond as well for sure to get the eyes of the most influential men.
Ara Dec 08, 2012 08:52am
Got it.
observer Dec 08, 2012 08:53am
This is response to TKhan's comment that I like PPP KoolAid: I don't know what KoolAid means. I prefer PPP over PML-N for example, but I would not like to be branded a 'pipliya'. I have my reservations about the present style of PPP politics (based on emtions and slogans than on ideology, for example). I am also not at all comfortable with present government performance on not doing the following: de-weaponization campaign, revamp of foreign policy, concrete steps against lawlessness and terrorism, concrete action on Baluchistan situation, energy policy, science and technology policy, etc. These reservations should give you an idea of how much I like PPP.
Ganesh (Indian Dec 08, 2012 08:10am
1 Biggest world economy. - USA since 195o's - India -- When ?? 2.Biggest/best Quality Automobile Manufacture in world. - Japanese since 2ooo -- India When?? 3 Biggest Electronics consumer products OEM. Japan since 198o -- India When ??? 4 Biggest Manufacturing base of world. China since 199os -- India when ??? 5 Biggest Oil/energy exporter in world . Arabian Region since since 196o - India When ???? 6 Biggest Military exporter of world -- USA/Russia since 195o's -- India when ??? 7 Leaders in Aerospace / Space technology / Military technology -- USA since 198o's -- India When ?? 8. County with highest no of foreign tourists -- France since 2ooo's - India when ??? 9 Consistant good/best performance at Olympic medals tally -- USA since 19oo -- India When ?? 1o Least Economic un-equality (World bank gini index -- European contries -- India When ??
TKhan Dec 08, 2012 02:27am
Mr. Observer It seems like you like PPP KoolAid.
Jehanzeb Idrees Dec 08, 2012 07:47am
Maria I would respectfully disagree here, my understanding is that the subject is about individuals who were gifted but somehow couldn't fulfil their potential and looking at the long list I hope you do get a good idea about it by now. My take is that people like General Rani did nothing commendable to be considered as some diamond and put in the list alongside Ahmed Parvez, Manto, N.M. Rashid, Saagar Siddiqui etc. And of course, it's only a series and we all are just giving a few suggestions for NFP to consider for as long as it goes, nothing much. P.S. Forgot to mention the late and young Omar Asghar Khan as rightly pointed out by Kamil.
observer Dec 06, 2012 11:38am
Javed, you are free to have your own impressions of ZAB. My honest, personal impression is that real rot of Pakistan started when Ayub Khan denied right of vote to people. This created gulf between East and West Pakistan until in 1971 a military operation was attempted to keep the country united. On ideological front, Ayub Khan opened the door for military chiefs becoming President of the country and working hand in glove with 'mullah' lobby. To me, ZAB (I object to his quest for power more than his dictatorial personality) did more good deeds than bad in his short tenure. Then the boss of the crooks really ruined the country by confusing people in the name of Islam. His list of crimes is unfortunately longer than the comments space permits. If you take out military rulers, Pakistan will not be as rotten as it has become. If you take ZAB (and PPP in general) out of the equation, any hope for Western democracy (or call it Indian style democracy) is gone. Having said this, I know PPP is far from an ideal party and has a lot to learn. But PPP is the only democratic force in the country and I tolerate it only for that reason.
TK from USA Dec 07, 2012 10:36pm
UMAR Daraz Maang Kay Laie thhay 4 din 2 ARZOO Mein Kut Gaye 2 Intizar Mein Get it Umar and Arzoo!
abbastoronto Dec 08, 2012 07:19am
TK: Greetings 1) One up for you 2) My main argument is that Pakistan is going through the Civil War of Transition from agrarian to industrial. This was well handled by Nehru. 3) Nehru wanted a Democratic India, Jinnah wanted a Republic. To know the difference, google "republic vs democracy". Just as America was founded as a Republic against the Democracy of PM Frederick Lord North, Pakistan was founded as a Republic against the Democracy of Nehru. Mohammed (AS) founded the Secular Republic of Medina against the Meccan Democracy, the rule of the Demos, the 5% moneyed males. Islam is fundamentally Republic minded just as Socrates was, and against Democracy. BTW elections are neither germane to Democracy nor to Republic. 4) No comment 5) Silver screen takes you away from Reality. Pakistan has rightly opted for Dramas. Selling fantasy will take you nowhere. 6) Of all Freedom Fighters, only Jinnah declared explicitly freedom for all religions. Pakistan has a temporary problem because of Saudi funding of Jihadists, but Pakistanis are more tolerant in nature than all other Muslims countries, and certainly more than Caste oriented Hinduism. We wish our Indian neighbours well. However, i worry about the current economic model of Reaganomics/Thatcherism that is short term gain for long term pain. Plus, there is a terrible practice of killing of female fetuses (worse so in China) that will lead to a shortage of women, the real engine of growth. No kids, no future. Best wishes
abbastoronto Dec 08, 2012 07:10am
observer: AOA The attacks on Indian Parliament and the Bombay tragedy are not a war situation. I can bet my last $ that there will never be a war again between India and Pakistan as both have arrived at a stalemate. Neither side can win. Even Pak Army has bought into peace. Pakistan and America were in the same Camp since day 1, and will always be no matter what. The current difficulties are due to internal problems in both Pakistan and the USA as the internal social contracts are being redefined. In an invited lecture at the Pak Naval College in Karachi last year I argued that no two countries are similar in national psyche as Pakistan and USA (not India/Pak, not Canada/US, not USA/UK) and presented the following traits of Pakistanis and Americans for being the birds of the same feather. 1. Same National Symbol - Eagle soaring free above the clouds; Individualists, freedom-loving government-hating 2. New nations
Gulmitic Dec 06, 2012 11:33am
Another excellent article Crazy Diamonds IV NFP, this is a unique article of those peoples who have struggled a lot and did not have come to a stage where they have to be. I loved to read about the Rani Generals unique information relating to the life of Generals and their relation with people like Aqleem Akhtar. I will be waiting for the Crazy Diamonds V. Thanks
Yusuf Dec 06, 2012 03:41am
As always lovely article, informative.
mehrish Dec 06, 2012 03:48am
i was desperately waiting for the 4th part of the series.. keep disclosing unrecognized and extraordinary talents . :)
Muhammad Rameez Javed Dec 06, 2012 03:57am
This brought back some memories and some Legendary characters. apart from the fast bowler i guess the rest had their fair share of fame..
Muhammad Rameez Javed Dec 06, 2012 04:03am
Sorry to say but women like General Rani are a disgrace to women all over the world,let alone Pakistan.
A Subhan Dec 06, 2012 04:12am
Simply a great piece of writing, you rock NFP, you rock!!!..... By the way, is Sohail Rana on your list of "Crazy Diamonds" series? It would be great to read details about this music maestro, who has left us, for some, God knows what reasons.
TK from USA Dec 07, 2012 10:46pm
If crazies don't use drugs & alcohol then they will be religious fanatics, and that is far more dangerous! Diamonds have to shine - be in the rough or in the crown!
abbastoronto Dec 07, 2012 10:53pm
Raj Ji: Namaste Well put. Thanks.
Suleman Dec 06, 2012 04:53am
Another excellent article....
Faisal Dec 07, 2012 09:24pm
very true
observer Dec 06, 2012 05:26am
Good to know so much about Meraj M. Khan. I wish we can rewind Pakistan to late 1960's and start all over again from that point (and not allow Pakistan to disintegrate and not let Zia ul Haq ruin Pakistan).
Capt C M Khan Dec 06, 2012 05:41am
Mr Paracha you keep me taking down the memory lane. 1. In 1969 I started wearing white kurta/pyjama and copying the hair style of Waheed Murad. And I saw it live, the interview of Waheed Murad in 1982 in which he said about making the movie HERO. quote: " My face was not matching with the pictures when movie started" unquote. Sad. 2. One of the sons of General Rani joined PNSC as deck cadet and sailed with me for a short time in 1974. So now we know Meraj is RESPONSIBLE for all the mess that was created in Karchi's industries during 1973 onwards. Sad. Excellent collection.
Ranganath Dec 06, 2012 05:46am
Who is responsible? Was it her husband? Was it her poverty? Or the Society?
Mehreen Dec 06, 2012 05:51am
Sad! didnt know the details on Waheed Murad.
Muhammad Rameez Javed Dec 06, 2012 07:23am
85% of the world is suffering from poverty,most of them dont take this route. So we cant blame poverty for this. Society, No. I guess we cant single out a reason in her case.
yawar Dec 06, 2012 07:34am
how do you know that Rameez? Majority of drug and alcohol addicts and those involved in prostitution usually come from poverty-stricken backgrounds, my friend.
yawar Dec 06, 2012 07:35am
Stunning stuff once again, NFP. Your 'Also Pakistan' and 'Crazy Diamond' series are epic.
Javed Dec 06, 2012 07:36am
Meraj M Khan joined and then left ZA Bhutto, later joined Imran Khan and left him as well for somewhat similar reasons. Is there a common thread here ? Many believe that Pakistan's current rot was started by ZAB with his dictatorial personality and betrayal of the aspirations and commitments made to the millions including Meraj M Khan who put him in power. Did Meraj see the same situation happening all over again with PTI and Imran Khan?
Muhammad Rameez Javed Dec 06, 2012 07:47am
agreed but still we cant stereotype poverty stricken masses All i can see in her case was craze for power which turned a woman into General Rani. But i agree all these factors must have played some part in this...
Paras Dec 06, 2012 11:50am
"Crazy diamonds" and "Also Pakistan" articles are a window to vibrant and tragic history of Pakistan for young people. NFP is doing a great job. I am looking forward to read more of his writings.
yahah Dec 06, 2012 07:56am
yOU ARE scratching the barrel mate.
Asad Khan Dec 06, 2012 08:04am
Thank you for this excellent compilation. For whatever odd reason, these series of articles have left me in a mix emotional state everytime - happy, goosebumps, nostalgic, worried, sad. I can't help but talking about these stories with people i meet everyday to discuss. Yet I do not know how to feel about these stories, or what lessons I can draw from these peoples lives (apart from of course those related to drugs). Thank you again.
abdulrehman Dec 06, 2012 09:19am
how about adding tasleem arif the pakistan wicket keeper and opening bat, i think he would fit this too.
observer Dec 08, 2012 05:36am
W. A. Salam, Sorry for the sarcasm. But if you think India and Pakistan are not in war situation any more, please recall what happened after a petty attack on Indian Parliament. Also recall what happened after (sad but still relatively petty) Bombay shooting. The countries were just a shot away from another war. The basic reasons the situation is not close to war is that people from both countries have realized that war is mutually destructive, especially considering that both sides are nuclear powers. So war has become somewhat of an politically un-popular thing unless Indian government and media start beating the trumpets of war after some minor terrorism incident. Kashmir issue has lost its steam over the decades (due to inept handling by Islamabad and also because Pakistan is embroiled in domestic terrorism and mess in Afghanistan). Also, Pakistan is not in US camp any more like it used to be in 1980s, for example. Regarding gains from Afghanistan war of 1980s, Pakistan sided too much with USA and got very little in return for playing a big role in sinking USSR. Recall USA giving Pakistan an outsider treatment in Clinton era. It was not until 9/11 happened that USA realized value of Pakistan again. To me, Pakistan-US relationship is purely based on gains. I don't see any weight in your argument that India has become a friend of Pakistan based on US pressure. There is just no reason for war at present. I hope my point is clear.
Crazy Diamond too Dec 08, 2012 05:36am
Dear NFP! It seemed from all of you Crazy Diamonds Articles. These Diamond mostly hailed from Lahore and destroyed.
observer Dec 06, 2012 09:24am
Almost every article NFP does is some inspiration for further thought. His good ones are really great.
She Dec 06, 2012 10:02am
I love your crazy diamond series!
Ahmed j Dec 06, 2012 11:00am
Aqleem Akhtar is dead but many General Ranis still live on. The last dictator and his fellow senior colleagues had colourful camouflaged lives.
WALEED FAKHAR Dec 07, 2012 08:32pm
abbastoronto Dec 07, 2012 08:49pm
Capt Sahib: AOA Yes, yes. In fact the worst may yet to come, but in the end there is Promise of Allah. [2:214] Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "when (will come) the help of Allah." Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near! [2:155] Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. I presume you are not a Muslim. But Islam aside, I did not make a religious argument but a rational one based on world history and politics. Please indicate what fact or inference is faulty in my presentation.
pakistani Dec 07, 2012 07:30pm
Does any body knows what happened to actress/model Arzoo?
Muhammad Omer Farooq Dec 06, 2012 01:31pm
I dont know why people like Meraj took part in the movement against ZAB Government, which eventually was bound to emerge as a Military coup. Well as far as present in concerned, People like him derive their health from participating in Politics, i wish he could play a role in any form in the near future. As far as our favorite NFP is concerned, keep going, and keep exposing the bright crazy diamonds this country produced.
Jawed Dec 06, 2012 01:37pm
NFP wrote Atiq ur Rehman retired in 1986, although his cricinfo profile saying his First Class career spanned from 1981 to 1990, who to trust ?
Shahid Latif Dec 06, 2012 01:39pm
This is very interesting. A good roundup of our immediate and not so distant past. Need more of it.
Imran Dec 06, 2012 02:44pm
I can see some resemblance!!
TKhan Dec 07, 2012 01:37pm
Why Zia Mohiuddin, he doesn't fit Crazy Profile from any angle.
skeptic Dec 07, 2012 05:32pm
Jinnah made Pakistan.Nehru and Patel divided India.
Rafi Dec 06, 2012 03:24pm
Why most diamonds have to end as alcoholics and druggies????
Irfan ul Haque Dec 06, 2012 03:36pm
I would like to draw attention to two other "crazy diamonds" of Pakistan. One was Dr Masood Khan, a world-renowned celebrated psychoanalyst during the 1950s and 1960s, who worked with Winnicott and became editor of the leading journal of psychoanalysis in England. He was a prolific writer and a highly controversial figure, both professionally and in personal life. An American psychologist, Linda Hopkins, wrote a detailed biography on him a few years ago. A fascinating but tragic character. Check him out on Wikipedia. Hardly anyone knows of him in Pakistan The other was Imdad Husain, who joined Pakistan's foreign service in the 1950s but was a highly talented violinist. While on a tour of duty in London, he played for the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s. He was also a composer who tried to fuse western and eastern music. But his was basically a very tragic life. About two years ago, I heard a programme on him on France Musique, a radio station in France. His was also a very tragic life. He was son of the celebrated Professor Serajuddin, a celebrated English teacher and principal of Government College, Lahore, during the early 1950s.
Javed Dec 06, 2012 03:38pm
Dear Observer, Your point is well taken. However, one can also argue that the rot really started with Jinnah's death, and the hijacking of his vision of Pakistan by the leadership and other special interests at that time. ZAB remains one of the most brilliant and smart statesman of his time representing Pakistan and the Islamic world. But the tragedy is that his quest for power ( as you correctly pointed out ) and other weaknesses overtook his brilliance. Within 6 years he had gifted us ZIa ul Haq who promptly turned around and walked him to the gallows. And we are all in agreement with what ZIa bestowed to the country. I will concede that the PPP is a true democratic party when they first hold free and fair elections in their own party, and stop inserting 23 year olds as party leaders only because they have the Bhutto or Zardari name. Otherwise the PPP is like all the rest - just a different flavor.
Changezi Dec 07, 2012 07:50am
Qayum Papa was one of the finest footballers Pakistan ever produced; carrying the title of 'Pakistani Pele'. Quetta's football grounds were thronged when he was to feature in any competition.
Jehanzeb Idrees Dec 07, 2012 07:54am
Sigh! At last ... I bet with my life buddy! Where are you, I want to give you a big hug brother!
zahidharis Dec 06, 2012 03:54pm
Great Article Parachs Shahib One minor correction Imran Khan was nursing shin injury not back injury during tour of 1983 tour of India
abbastoronto Dec 06, 2012 03:59pm
Raj Dec 07, 2012 05:20pm
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Worst is still pending in case of Pakistan so prepare for the worst and then hope for the best.
Omar Dec 06, 2012 04:05pm
PPP the only democratic force in the country !!! which is owned by the Bhuto's & now Zardari's. Do you even know what democracy is, it also requires real elections in the parties with opportunities for others.
Omar Dec 06, 2012 04:07pm
Add Z A. Bhutto to the list, a genius with influence from bad surroundings.
abbastoronto Dec 06, 2012 04:36pm
Capt C M Khan Dec 07, 2012 09:43am
abbastoronto Dec 06, 2012 04:57pm
It is not a "tragic" history. It is history period. These things naturally happen when a society transitions from agrarian to industrial and rural to urban. Moreover, leadership requires sacrifice. What other country could boast having played the central role in ridding the world of the Corporate Soviet Socialist System that kept the free world awake at night for 70 years?
Magister Ludi Dec 06, 2012 05:04pm
I hope one day someone from Baluchistan will be mentioned in the list.
Ali Amin Dec 06, 2012 05:04pm
Both are right. I knew Atique. He did drop out in 1986, but came back to play just a few games, but then vanish again. He had lost all his pace and passion. Btw, did you know NFP was a pretty good cricketer? He played top grade club cricket and faced Atiq on a number of times in inter-collegiate matches.
observer Dec 07, 2012 08:46am
I like your sense of humor. Consider joining 'Toronto 21st Century Philharmonic Comedy Orchestra'.
Jehanzeb Idrees Dec 06, 2012 05:27pm
It seems you clearly ran out of options NFP, I am still wondering that where does this 'General Rani' fit in the list? I personally believed that Waheed Murad had lived his potential as a 'Chocolate Hero' after he ruled the roost for almost two decades. An analogy could be drawn with Vinod Khanna from across the border but then we know how his contemprary Amitabh Bachan played his cards well despite the fact that Bollywood wasn't really impressive during the 80s till late 90s . Only if Murad had gotten out of his 'chocolate hero' mode and be a little realistic, he would've been able to survive like Amitabh did. P.S. You should have included Riaz Shahid, the famous film-maker, Sadaf Muneer, who sang ''Tum sung naina laage, the actor Saleem Nasir, Ismail Shah and for a change you can also add the daring Brigadier TM (Tariq Memood).
Ahmed Dec 06, 2012 05:30pm
Great singer of his time Akhlaq Ahmed could be another person to add into this list..
Jehanzeb Idrees Dec 06, 2012 05:37pm
Mehnaz, the beautiful singer, who also had an equally tragic personal life like Roohi Bano, I think she is mentally ill now. Poet Mohsin Naqvi is another name that comes to mind.
Hasan Dec 06, 2012 05:39pm
I wonder if Pakistan will every produce a socialist of Meraj Khans calibre. It is the absence of a true left that has left Pakistan in the political mess it is in today.
asfi Dec 07, 2012 04:37pm
I think the writer shall also include the names of Zardari, Maulana Fazal, Asfandyar Wali, Altaf Hussain, Nawaz Sharif, Pervez Musharraf and Qazi who all are responsible for todays dismal Pakistan.
Tariq K Sami Dec 10, 2012 12:20am
Impressive postings by Abbas and many others. I would like to make a point. History is shaped by Demography. Every thing else can change in a 20-25 years. Many of the parameters of progress are cyclical and short lived. The most impressive achievement of Mohammad Ali Jinnah is the Demographic Shifit. Demograpic change requires huge expenditure of time and energy. The great Mohammad bin Tugluk or the Abdali King Ahmad Shah or the great Moguls none were able to achieve the change in Demography. Else where even Alexander and Timerlane and Ghengis Khan and Attila the Hun, Stalin and Adolf Hitler all failed. Only George Washington and Mohammad Ali Jinnah succeded in this making it happen,but Washington may have to share this honor with others Jinnah is the sole author of this narrative. Both in the East and the West of the Subcontinent( East and West Pakistan ),the Muslims are 96-99%. Bangladesh is technically a creation of 1947 Divide. This alone is mind boggling historical event. Let me explain: Karachi was 52% Hindu and Delhi was 15% muslim in 1947.
abbastoronto Dec 07, 2012 04:29pm
observer: AOA Please respond rationally to a rational argument, not by sarcasm.
abbastoronto Dec 07, 2012 04:26pm
Capt. CMK. AOA I have made a rational argument. Please refute point by point. Wassalam
Syed Haider Dec 06, 2012 06:03pm
As "crazy diamonds " the title implies, these are people who swam against the tide of society and the establishment, even to their own detriment. We aren't reading about them to judge them. Wrong or right, fighting the law or for the law, you have to admire their gall.
Javed Dec 06, 2012 06:08pm
Or conversely why do alcoholics and druggies end up as 'diamonds' in Pakistan? Something to think about...
Omar Dec 06, 2012 06:14pm
If someone is worth mentioning, name 'em.
bajwa Dec 07, 2012 10:31am
Consider John eliya !!
observer Dec 06, 2012 06:35pm
I don't essentially disagree with your comments but, in my mind, having no intra-party election in PPP makes it more imperfect but does not disqualify it from being somewhat of a hope. Actually, PPP is nothing but an imperfect political party of a 3rd world, poor country with not so proud history. Maybe only slightly better as it believes (so far) firmly in Parliamentary democracy and Constitution.
observer Dec 06, 2012 06:44pm
You forgot to mention continued transition of Pakistani society from urban to highly non-pluralistic and terrorism friendly. Don't you know how easily misinformation and hatred fluorish in today's Pakistan (for example, recall a deranged man who was killed by a mob as he was thought to have desecrated Quran)? Pakistani society needs to readjust its wrong impression of jihad of 1980s. On Pakistan playing a central role to make USSR crumble, what is of concern is that Pakistan did not gain anything from the whole episode. Wasn't it 'sacrificing' for others by the hands of incompetent 'leadership'.
skeptic Dec 06, 2012 06:50pm
how does Gen Rani qualify as a diamond. crazy she might be but certainly was not a diamond.on the contrary she was part of the elite which read the last rites on Pakistan's break up.
Javed Dec 06, 2012 06:54pm
I don't think NFP wanted this series to be a "provincial" thing. They and we are all Pakistanis. But why don't you make some suggestions
Iqbal Dec 06, 2012 07:42pm
perhaps you want Akbar Bugti to be mentioned here
shakeel Dec 06, 2012 08:02pm
Please include Zia Mohiuddin in the next one. Pretty please
abbastoronto Dec 06, 2012 08:05pm
We gained a lot by helping destroy the godless Soviet Union. It forced India into the American Camp. So now, both India and Pakistan are in the same Camp, and so the prospects for regional peace are infinitely better than during the Cold War when Pakistan and India fought 3 wars, but since 1990 the situation has been relatively less bloody between the two neighbours.
Raj Dec 06, 2012 08:16pm
If I am not mistaken none of the person made to this crazy diomand list from East Pakistan ( Now Bangladesh after 1971 ). So it is clear that if the broad minded people like Nadeem Paracha couldn't recognize any personality from East Pakistan as a diamond of the era before 1971 then there is no reson Bangladesh would wanted to remain as East Pakistan.
Lakhkar Khan Dec 07, 2012 03:14pm
abbastoranto, very well put. To add to what you said, present time India inherited much more from British raj like top notch manufacturing and railway industries.
A.H. Sheikh (@ahsheikh) Dec 06, 2012 08:46pm
Pity on you, you ask for naming some one ? Aren't you Pakistani ? Shakeel Abbasi from Quetta, he did 2 goals, leading Pakistan Hockey team to semis of champions trophy TODAY!
Mubarak Dec 07, 2012 12:04pm
Jinnah divided India into Pakistan in the name of Islam,Mujibur, Zia and Butto divided Pakistan in the name of Bengali,Sunni and Shia.
Rashid Dec 07, 2012 10:17am
Hockey teams in Pakistan were represented many times by Balochis but there are many more who Pakistan has forgotten, Baqi Baloch the leftist poltician and Faiz Baloch the singer are two to name but there are many more. I being urdu speaking cannot name Balochi writers and poets but I am sure some Baloch friend can name many.
Sumit Mazumdar Dec 09, 2012 06:05pm
Dear Mr Abbas: ``For every Indian professor who studies and goes back there are more proportioanlly who go back to Pakistan''. Perhaps. But - again not out of malice but a plain observation - you take the top 100 Universities of the US, look up the faculties of Engineering and Sciences, and you will find that there is not one department without an Indian. In my 30 years as a professional scientist in the US I have not met one Pakistani senior scientist. Muslim professors who are seen come from Egypt (including one Nobel prize winner), Bangladesh and Israel-Palestine-Jordan. So may be the Pakistanis are going back because they do not have the option to stay? Also - what are the Pakistanis who have gone back achieved? One just has to read Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy to figure out that one.
Karachi Wala Dec 07, 2012 02:40pm
Correction @ Mubarak, Mr. Jinnah was all for confederation but was forced to go for Independence due to 1- extremists factors like Sardar Vilbh Bhai Patel within Congress, 2- Next to none leadership after him within Muslim league 3) Mullah Mafia within Islam who was responsible for uneducated Muslim masses of India and because of this he feared the exploitation of Muslim interests in undivided India at the hands of the majority. Pakistan was divided because of 1- After Mr. Jinnah
Muhammad.Quddus Dec 07, 2012 03:03am
Perhaps a good politician and certainly far better than the rest. But to call him a "genius" is incredible. He was presiding over a country with high illiteracy especially among women and simply content that his own daughter had the best education. Showing admiration for Napoleon and then selecting a sub-standard army officer for the highest position? Napoleon has said that, "career open to talents." Why not call a "sociopath" for hiring bunch of incompetents to kill an opponent?
Javed Dec 07, 2012 04:18am
Dear Raj, Please take a chill pill. The personalities selected in these articles are not an affront to people from Bangladesh or East Pakistan. As I mentioned to a previous poster I don
Maria Ahmed Dec 07, 2012 07:31am
@Jahanzeb there are a lot of names that can be written about here but ofcourse the writer is not writing a book, he is just mentioning a few that came to his mind. Also by IV I believe there is a series of such articles so in future issues the mentioned people might show up. @Jahanzeb and Skeptic the subject of the article says "Crazy" diamonds, the word shows that the writer is mentioning those people who are lost in history but they played such major roles in others lives, be it in a good way or bad. these are the stories of the fall.