China more cautious, not less friendly
While the world is still in the throes of turmoil and transition following the events of 9/11 that provided the Bush administration with an excuse to impose pre-emptive diplomacy, the role of China demonstrates both maturity and vision.
Pakistan, for which China has been the only reliable friend among great powers over the past four decades, has virtually come into the eye of the counter-terrorist storm. Washington has found it expedient to designate Pakistan as a "major non-NATO ally".
China, too, has become an ally of the US in the war against terror. Yet long-term projections of future challenges in Washington continue to view China as the main credible threat to US hegemony. Bush launched the Ballistic Missile Defence initiative before the 9/11 events, basically to maintain total military superiority, with China as a possible target in the future. However, China has kept a low profile, giving priority to its economic goals and cooperating with the superpower where feasible, such as in the war against terror, and in an effort to promote a nuclear-free Korea.
The complexity of the situation in Asia has been further increased by the role being visualized by the US for India, the only power with the size and potential to challenge China. Beijing, displaying the foresight for which the Chinese are renowned, has proceeded to normalize relations with India, as far as possible, and to underpin the economic development of both by greatly increased trade, and other exchanges. It has also welcomed the start of a dialogue between India and Pakistan, and warmly supported regional cooperation under the aegis of Saarc. China has also become more cautious on the multiple disputes in South Asia, which it would like to be settled peacefully.
So how does one assess the current state of the traditionally warm and mutually supportive relationship between Pakistan and China, especially as Beijing appears to share the concern of both the US and Russia over Islamic extremism, of which it has faced manifestations in its western region? Pakistan itself is again a frontline state in the war against terrorism, but the status of "ally" pragmatically conferred on it by the US may not prove durable. Since the end of the cold war, it has aroused the suspicions of Israel and the powerful Zionist lobby in the US, on account of its status as the lone Islamic nuclear power.
The choice of Iraq for pre-emption by the US was questioned at that time by some conservative analysts, who had pointed out that Saddam was secular, and had no links with terrorists. They had expressed the view that if countries harbouring Islamic fundamentalists were to be identified, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would head the list. Both were considered to have also figured in the preparations of the authors of 9/11, the majority of whom were Saudis, and had transited through Pakistan repeatedly. Though they remain closely linked with the anti-terrorist drive, their internal policies and developments are kept under close scrutiny.
India had tried to exploit Pakistan's earlier support to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan by alleging that the violence in Kashmir was being perpetrated by terrorists sent through Pakistan after training in Afghanistan. New Delhi had further alleged that Pakistani extremists were backing Muslim dissidents in China. However, such is the value attached to the friendship with China that not only the government but all political parties in Pakistan made it a point to reaffirm the policy of non-interference in China's internal affairs, a policy China has also followed scrupulously.
The main reason why even those who have followed the evolution of Pakistan-China relations apprehend that this relationship is past its prime is that China is now a world power, that naturally interacts with the entire global community, and whose political and economic interests have grown proportionately to its role. It was isolated in the 1960s and 1970s and needed Pakistan as much as Pakistan needed the friendship with China. However, this manner of assessing China's foreign policy ignores some basic characteristics.
The basic difference in the approach of China and the western countries is that China follows principles, such as those in the UN Charter, as summed up in the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence (or Panchsheel), adopted in 1954. It could be said that it is the weak who seek the protection of the law, while the strong depend upon their strength, as evident from the policies of the superpowers during the cold war.
However, even as China has grown in economic and military strength, it has remained consistent in eschewing any ambition for hegemony, and in opposing the hegemonic ambitions of others. There is a deep-seated conviction in Chinese thinking that peace and stability can be established when there is a just order in the world.
Pakistan, that has confronted the hegemonic ambitions of India since its birth, has also attached importance to the rule of law and justice, rather than that of power, in the management of world affairs. Many things flow from the principles of Panchsheel, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference, and mutuality of benefit in interstate relations.
Though India was a co-signatory of the Five Principles in 1954, its international behaviour has changed perceptibly in the intervening half century. Since the coming to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1998, it has consciously sought the role of a great power, and invoked the threat from China, to justify its nuclear tests of May 1998.
The imperatives of its modernization policy require that China promote a peaceful and stable environment, especially in its own region. As such, it has engaged in a dialogue with India since 1982, and both sides have sought to normalize relations, while trying to resolve their differences.
However, India has maintained a rigid stance over the boundary, rejecting repeated Chinese offers to legitimize the situation inherited from history, whereby India occupies 90,000 square kilometres claimed by China in the east, while China is in occupation of 38,000 square kilometres in Aksai Chin (adjoining Kashmir) claimed by India.
Differences have also persisted over Tibet, with India granting sanctuary to the Dalai Lama since 1959. On the other hand, there exist no differences or disputes between China and Pakistan, after they signed a Boundary Agreement in 1963.
Over the past few years, as China has adopted a more cautious attitude in statements on Kashmir and other problems with India, some observers in Pakistan have begun to conclude that China is cooling off towards Pakistan. They take note of the rapid growth in Sino-Indian trade, which now totals $12 billion, as well as growing contacts in other fields. Even senior military personalities have exchanged visits.
China's long-term interests demand that relations with India are peaceful, and stable, since they are neighbours, sharing a long border. India also wants to remove the impression that it regards China as hostile, and Mr Vajpayee formally recognized Tibet to be an integral part of China during his visit last year.
Given their similar populations and divergent perceptions, it becomes plain that the long-term Sino-Indian relationship is likely to be competitive, rather than collaborative. India's military posture and preparations are predicated on a threat from China. It has supported the US BMD initiative that China strongly opposes.
The strategic partnership Washington has developed with India as well as Israel has the containment of China as a long-term goal. Not only does the boundary problem persist, but also China has not recognized India's annexation of Sikkim. The other major power that is supportive of US plans to contain China is Japan.
Keeping this background in mind, China's relationship with Pakistan retains its importance for its security as well as for its economic plans to develop western China. The US encirclement of China now includes the presence of American forces to China's west, in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Consequently, without precipitating a confrontation, China would like to preserve and promote its close relationship with Pakistan.
For Pakistan, the experience of wide fluctuations in its relations with the US, which can turn from alliance to pressure at will, makes the reliable equation with China a vital national asset. Therefore, as the recent visit of Foreign Minister Kasuri to China has again shown, both countries continue to cherish a friendship that has grown in cordiality and content with each passing year.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told his Pakistani counterpart that "the only country in the world with which we describe our relationship as all weather friendship is Pakistan". Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao also told Mr Kasuri that China-Pakistan relations were unique, and nothing could drive a wedge between the two countries.
How meaningful this relationship remains for Pakistan is evident from the fact that China is helping develop a modern fighter, and a state of the art battle tank, to strengthen Pakistan's defence. The US continues to retain reservations on selling F-16s to Pakistan even as it encourages Israel to sell the advanced Phalcon technology to India.
As fighting poverty, and developing the economy assume greater priority, the Sino-Pakistan friendship is taking the form of increased Chinese support through participation in mega projects, such as the Gwadar port, Mekran Highway, coal-based power in Sindh and the modernization of railways.
China now has enormous funds available for investment, and can play a key role in Pakistan's economic plans. Whether in terms of security, or development, the tried and tested relationship between Pakistan and China remains vital for both, and is also a factor for peace in the region.
Karbala a unique example
Karbala symbolizes defiance in the face of formidable adversity, an unwavering resolve in a righteous cause, a bold stand against oppression regardless of the cost, the highest example of steadiness, resolution, self-control, patience, self-abnegation, sacrifice, devotion to truth and firmness and purity of character, and above all the display of an unprecedented courage to pay the forfeit of life in submission to the Will of Allah.
Culminating in the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Husain along with his near and dear ones on Moharram 10 in 61 A.H. the tragic event of Karbala stands out as a unique historical phenomenon and a new experience in the entire history of human role in resisting tyranny and refusing to submit to the royal authority in order to protect and preserve principles of Islamic justice and the ideals of human brotherhood and social equality preached and propounded by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The event gave a new dimension to man's struggle for protecting the Law and preserving the Truth and Justice and thus proved to be a turning point in the history of Islam.
In taking the path of active resistance to the diabolical forces of falsehood, tyranny and evil ways, Imam Husain was responding to Divine injunction and Prophetic instruction that evil must be resisted by all one's might in pursuit of the truth, justice and righteousness and absolute submission before the Lord of the Universe. "And fight in the way of Allah and know that Allah is Hearing and Knowing" (2:244).
According to the word of God, there should always be among the faithful a band of people who proclaim virtue and decry evil and vice. This attribute finds supreme manifestation in the noble personality and virtuous conduct of Hazrat Imam Husain. Brought up and trained under the loving care of his grandfather Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), he was a symbol of piety and spiritualism.
He was committed to the Will of the Creator and would always say: "My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are sure for Allah". He used to pray repeatedly: "O God! I have entrusted myself to Thee, and have placed my hand in Thy hand. O God, Thou canst protect me from the mischief of every one else, but nobody except Thee may save me from Thy wrath".
The lifetime mission of Hazrat Imam Husain was to keep the spirit of Islam alive. He did not hesitate for a moment in his mission and achieved his goal of life despite the hurdles that were placed in his way. Throughout his life he behaved and acted in strict conformity with the inevitable principles laid down in the Holy Quran and further elaborated by Hadith and Sunnah. Life is man's dearest possession and the Imam gave it cheerfully for the glory of Din-e-Muhammadi.
Islam is a great revolutionary force and Islamic society a revolutionary society committed to promote certain values in life for establishing God's kingdom on earth. In Islamic society The Quran is the source of Law and God is the absolute Legislator. The Law and the Truth are inseparable. To permit what is forbidden by God and to forbid what is permitted by God tantamount to distorting the Truth, suspending the Rule of Law and substituting for God's one's own will.
Islam is a pledge, a submission and a covenant with God. It marks the perfection of Divine communication for guidance of the humanity to the end of time. Breaking the covenant of God and reversing the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) amounts to betraying the Islamic revolution. Islamic teachings seek to establish equilibrium between two astounding aspects of life - material and spiritual - for purification of the soul and the reform and reconstruction of the society.
The Prophet of Islam (PBUH) embodies the finality of prophethood to serve as guidance for the whole mankind. His way of life was the model of a perfect and ideal blending of piety and the fear of God. From the Holy Prophet (PBUH) passed on to his near and dear ones the wealth of absolute faith and total surrender to God's Will proportionate to their aptitude and circumstances. Such a firmness of faith and total submission to the Lord of the Universe finds supreme manifestation in the personality and conduct of the Prophet's grandson Hazrat Imam Husain.
Towards the end of 60 A.H. and in the beginning of 61 A.H. the Muslim ummah was faced with a dreadful social and religious crisis. The teachings and tenets of Islam began to be distorted and misinterpreted. Truth and Justice were being shaken to their foundations. Brute force and tyranny were riding roughshod over men's right to liberty of conscience.
Through usurpation, Yazid Bin Muawiah ascended to Musnad-e-Khilafat. He was a tyrant and a self-seeking ruler who derived a wicked delight in openly flouting the spiritual, ethical and moral values of Islam. Yazid's ascendancy to the pulpit of the founder of Islam in 60 A.H. inflicted the deepest wounds on the body politic of Islam. It posed a serious threat to the cardinal principles of Islam - Truth, Social Justice, Equity and Human Liberty.
Under his self-styled caliphate, the spirit of Islam was being smothered and the order and ideal preached and propagated by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was in danger of being subverted. The vile usurper was determined to set a dangerous precedent and perpetuate a vicious doctrine.
By usurpation, Yazid had proclaimed for himself the temporal leadership. With cherished desire to become the spiritual leader of the Muslims, he had the audacity to place his demand for "bait" from the grandson of the Holly Prophet (PBUH).
Husain Ibn-e-Ali who was the custodian of Islamic morality could not remain a mute witness to the sinister designs of the usurper of the caliphate. The explanations and interpretations of Islamic teachings by Yazid were unacceptable to any faithful Muslim let alone the grandson of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH). Imam Husain realized the serious implications of allowing such an aberration to go unchallenged and hold sway.
He had been the centre of affection of the Holy Prophet. He, therefore, decided to fight Yazid's foul design at all costs. So, when the usurper of the caliphate demanded allegiance from Husain Ibn-e-Ali, to give credibility to his own distorted version of Islam, he preferred to stake his head in defence of the enduring values of faith rather than surrender.
Along with a band of 72 souls including himself and his children, brothers and sisters, close kinsmen and friends, the old and the young, the infant, the sick, and the infirm, the grandson of the Holy Prophet displayed firm faith and indomitable courage in taking up cudgels and presented to the world the highest example of sacrifice at the altar of Truth and Justice.
The martyrs of Karbala wrote with their blood an immortal chapter of fortitude and sacrifice for a sacred cause. Such was the purity of the cause and nobility of the ideal underlying this most touching episode of human history that it has come to stay as a beacon of light for guidance of the seekers after Truth and Liberty in all quarters of the world. Hazrat Imam Husain stood and fell for upholding the cause that had its sanction in the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
- Chehlum of Hazrat Imam Hussain is being observed today.
Road safety day - down played
Some of us casually, but seriously wonder whether there is even a single road or street in the capital of Sindh that can be regarded as safe, in terms of road safety. Without the slightest regret or embarrassment, we all agreed that as soon as one steps onto the roads or streets of Karachi the flood gates of vulnerability are opened. Both as a pedestrian and as a motorist, or a two-wheel rider, or as an inmate of a rickshaw or a minibus, and so on, an absence of safety characterized all movement, and death is an easy possibility. More on this later.
Let us focus on the World Health Day that was observed here too like other countries and the theme was "Road safety is no accident". Having said this, I am unsure whether it serves any purpose at all to complain or even mention that the theme given above, went virtually unnoticed in the city. It should not surprise, even though in reality it deeply disappoints.
Does it symbolize the inner state of people's mind underlining the point that they are not even seized of the desperate need to have road safety in their lives. And they do not realize that as roads and vehicles, and population grow, the relationship between the three factors is hostile one. This triangular bond is proving to be dangerous. Does anyone realize this?
One would have imagined that not just all major schools, but also the education department, city district government, assorted NGOs seeking a better environment would make a beeline for this theme. Many of the seminar themes pursued are often so weather- beaten, and so repetitive in nature, or unimaginative in their handling that a zero level of motivation is the result. Here was an evergreen theme, crying for attention, in this city offered on a platter.
As if, for reaching out to citizens to make their contribution to road safety, one would have imagined that children being citizens of tomorrow would be an ideal target group. It makes one wonder whether schools in the city, or in this country, try and teach their students the do's and dont's or even crossing a busy road. A cynical colleague commented that schools don't even teach as well as they should, and expecting them to teach road safety as well is asking for too much.
I wonder whether it was realized that perhaps only one major school in the city -the Hamdard School- in association with the Hamdard Foundation, and the World Health Organization (WHO) observed the World Health Day and had a programme on that road safety theme. Let's say well done to the school, but certainly not enough for a city, where road accidents have assumed a grim terrifying dimension where traffic mayhem and downright chaos have become an integral part of the urban growth, that is taking place, planned and otherwise. A common interpretation is that even planned growth is assuming the shape of failure.
One reason is the attitude of people, their perception that rules don't matter, and that flouting the rules of the road is a matter of style and privilege. I have seen even in Islamabad VIP vehicles defy the traffic lights even though there is so much of vigilance and security. Somehow, what this society does not appear to realize is that there can never be cops alone to ensure an enforcement of rules. Society itself has to feel the need to be disciplined. But how and when?
It is here that we need to mention what was highlighted at the International Children's Conference. The WHO representative to Islamabad, and a former governor said: "The laws aimed at making the Pakistani roads safer are not being implemented properly and this is why a large number of people get killed or disabled in traffic accidents every year." And then as if reflecting a kind of popular but pessimistic view was that unless the existing laws were enforced, respected, and done with an inner conviction that they are good for society there is no hope.
Giving a touch of realism was a suggestion at the conference that like the United Kingdom there was a need to ban the use of cellular phones on roads, which makes it equally realistic that the use of mobiles while driving has grown enormously and alarmingly in Karachi. At present, traffic police only watches, like it often watches other violations quite helplessly.
There is an aspect of road accidents that calls for urgent concern. That fatal road accidents in particular or where pedestrians are hurt critically lead to violence, and unrest in many of the residential and commercial areas. It reflects the anger and the frustration that people have on the issue of road accidents, and quite often the belief is that the bigger the offender, the more guilty he is. For example, if a vehicle kills a pedestrian, it is assumed that the driver is at fault.
If a truck hits a rickshaw it is assumed that the truck driver is guilty, whereas it is quite likely that the pedestrian is responsible for his death or that the rickshaw driver had taken a wrong turn. One is not taking sides or casting aspersions, but the fact is that in such cases public has little or no sympathy with the driver of a bigger vehicle, which insinuates that the divide between the haves and the have nots is turning sharper and more identifiable.
It is pertinent to mention here what has been said by Dr Rashid Jooma, a professor of neurosurgery at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on this theme. "A neglected public health crisis" in Dawn last week, the two major causes of head injuries reported to the JPMC are falls and traffic accidents... these accidents are of great social and economic impact as those killed or disabled by them were frequently the breadwinners of a family that has to cope with the loss of family income, apart from emotional trauma."
He further went onto say that the results of a survey indicated that the most vulnerable users of our roads were those of socio-economic status, with 56pc of those injured on the roads being pedestrians or victims of falls from moving vehicles, usually buses. One third of these pedestrians had been knocked down by commercial vehicles."
It is very disturbing to see that Dr Rashid Jooma has said that in Pakistan a fatalistic approach to the problem and a lack of the political and societal responsibility needed to bring into operation the requisite multi-sectoral collaboration impedes the implementation of road safety programmes." That should give us some insight of where we stand, in a way.
There is another report stating that Pakistan is among those countries with a high rate of accidents, and that four to five deaths occur per 100,000 population in Pakistan annually due to road accidents, said the Bureau of Statistics and National Highway Authority. It added that 12,000 road accidents were reported last year from all over the country.
However, one has the feeling that statistics alone cannot be the way to convince people of the growing gravity of the situation that has arisen from an absence of safety on the city roads. What is the answer, then? one wonders. Perhaps the answer lies in a multi-disciplinary and multidimensional approach. Perhaps the education of school students, by their teachers and parents, besides other ways and means with a consistency that appreciates the challenge that lies in this field. A field that has fearful proportions.
So we have to begin at the base, for tomorrow. Admittedly the global context vis-a-vis road accidents is also worrying. Growing urbanization is leading to an increase in vehicular traffic, but, like other developing countries the challenge here in Karachi is much higher. Let me confess that the thought of crossing the road, any road in Karachi, is a scary thought. There is peril all round with our erratic impatient drivers.
Let me end with what a parent said about the thought of teaching his grownup daughter how to drive. "While it is a necessity to teach her how to drive, the thought of unsafe roads of Karachi is very much discouraging. See the way the public service drivers move on Karachi's roads. No holds barred..."
The gift from Adolf Hitler
The first time I heard of the 'Khaksars' was from my neighbour Haji Abdur Rehman, a gentleman of the type they do not make any more. As a teenager I experienced my first sight of them after Eid prayers at the Badshahi Mosque. My father whispered in my ear: "He was a friend of Hitler". The awe of Mashriqi had set in.
Just last week, my friend Syed Sikander Shah lamented the fact that Pakistan is probably the only country that loves to forget its heroes. He mentioned Mashriqi, and being a true Icchra dweller he subtly pushed forward the proposition that Mashriqi had a beautiful car presented to him by Adolf Hitler. That was bait enough for me to set off on a hunt for the gift from Adolf Hitler. On Thursday evening I walked through the narrow streets towards Zaildar Road.
Just before the main crossing, among the hundreds of vendors, is a cemented house with a red flag. A forbidding grey iron door awaits. I pushed open the small gate and before me, just as in a showcase, stood a rust battered car. There is no doubt about its vintage, for it is of the very highest order. I had managed to reach the car that the Fuhrer had presented to "a mind of the very highest calibre, a man whose integrity can lead India to great glory".
Just next to the old decaying masterpiece is the grave of Allama Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi and his wife. It is simplicity itself. His grandson is constructing a research library over the grave. Work stopped long ago, for money is scarce among these exceptionally honest followers of the great Allama, and they are not given to asking ... begging they call it. It is a desolate place. It makes one think about how we honour our greatest minds.
The car is a 1942 model Renault-Benz. For those not interested in vintage cars, let me inform that when the Nazi forces took over France, they manufactured a limited number of high quality Pullman versions of the Mercedes Benz. As they were made in the Renault factory, the car was named a Renault Benz. On the decaying front the name Renault is boldly written. The tyres, now decayed, are on old spoke wheels. There is a starting handle very much in place just below the front grill.
I climbed into the driving seat, those beautiful leather seats had decayed, and below the seat the chassis is very much intact. The chassis number is 381967. I shot off an email to the Renault company and promptly got a reply that the car chassis number, according to their archives, was a gift given by Adolf Hitler to Mr Inayatullah Khan Mushriqi of Lahore, India. It was one of only 1,000 produced in the world, and was a Pullman six-seater class of the Renault Nervasport. It was a 4278cc-powered super luxury version.
The original paint was cream on the engine and sides, and black on the wheel covers, front lights and back. The present condition is such, that rust has eaten into the entire paintwork. Adolf Hitler himself had six of them, and he presented over 150 of them to honoured guests from all over the world. He even presented Field Marshal Rommel with one after his triumphal return from the African campaign in the Second World War.
The company had offered US$100,000 to the Mashriqi family for the car, but they refused as ownership was disputed. That was way back in the 1970s. Since then a new generation has come forth, and there seems little interest in this million dollar vintage car. Locals report that till recently it was in a garage with "pigeons living in it". It had become a reflection of our times.
Just who exactly was Allama Mashriqi? I rang up five middle-aged "educated" persons, and only one of them had a faint clue about the great man. The man labelled as "the great test brain of British India" belonged to Lahore, and yet Lahore does not know, or own, him. In case you label him with Hitler, let me inform you that Cambridge University and the British newspapers of the 1930s called him a "genius of untold possibilities".
The fact is that he was a liberal scientific person who expounded the theory that the "cultural ethos and history of India is such, that the people behave exactly in direct proportion to the behaviour of their leaders. To imagine that the people do not know what their leaders are up to is a gross fallacy. They get to know every detail".
Allama Mashriqi was born in a wealthy family of goldsmiths on August 25, 1888, in Amritsar and died on August 27, 1963 in Lahore. A brilliant student, he set new academic records that stunned everybody in Britain and the sub-continent. He completed his masters' degree in mathematics in one year at the age of 19. He joined the Cambridge University and completed his Tripose barely in four years.
Though he passed all subjects with distinction, his real fame were his ability in mathematics. Due to his academic achievements, he earned a "Foundation Scholar" and "Wrangler" from Cambridge University. The Times of London and The Daily Telegraph wrote editorials on "this brilliant mathematician from Lahore".
After completing his education at the age of 24, he came back to India and served on different government positions under British rule. Keeping in view his personality, it was not a surprise even for British officials when he slapped the then British deputy commissioner, Peshawar, for using slanderous and abusive language.
He even did not shut his mouth as a "government official" on the massacre of Pathans in the Kissa Khani Bazaar, Peshawar, on April 23, 1930, and revealed the truth of mishandling the situation by writing in British papers about the reality of the situation. These columns shocked the British public. When Punjabi leaders criticized him for his views, he wrote: "The British government has hired my knowledge for the salary and not my heart or conscience". It was in this context that he refused kinghthood.
In 1931, Allama Mashriqi founded the Khaksar Tehrik (Movement of Humbles) and abandoned the luxurious life that he was used to. The ideology of his party was based on egalitarianism. There was no status quo and no wall between the privileged and the unprivileged. Allama Mashriqi was among those people who accepted the hard fact that "Pakistan would face immense racial and provincial prejudices because of the supremacy of feudalism and class-based bureaucracy". "The end result of this equation is total and complete disintegration. If they are removed, the end result will be prosperity of untold proportions.
The choice is stark". The mathematician instinct wrote in 1953: "East Pakistan, by my calculations, will declare its independence in 1970". He did not live to see that day. He also warned not to take the Kashmir issue to the UN, because we would never be able to liberate it from India. "Accept this fact now and you will be better off. It must remain a Pakistani province, and we must struggle to regain portions of our lost province, or one day we will accept the partition of Kashmir like we accepted the partition of the Punjab".
Need one say more about this remarkable Lahori who lived in a small, obscure lane in Icchra. Years later his nephew, the great Akhtar Hameed Khan set up the Orangi Project. The ideas of the great man were at work. The results were astounding. That Adolf Hitler presented him with the very best car did not come as a surprise to the British. The condition of that very rare car today is for all to see. It is about time that I was taken over by the State, restored and exhibited in a science museum. I can already hear a loud silence.
Surah Yusuf in Punjabi
Aizaz Ahmad Azar is a recognized poet of both Urdu and Punjabi. But, over all these years, I had never had an occasion of seeing any of his books in Punjabi prose. It was only after I received one published by Haider Publications of Urdu Bazaar, Lahore, that I came to know that he authors books in Punjabi prose as well. And the surprising thing about it is that it happens to be on a subject which I felt was quite distant from the personality of a person whom I always saw in Western dress.
The title of the book happens to be Naveikla, a word which should be self-explanatory to the followers of Punjabi. It stands for new or fresh, rather for something out of the ordinary. As the author explains in a brief introduction, the thought of writing it came to him because of the questions which befuddled his mind whenever he read the Surah Yusuf in the Holy Quran. As such, he has made special effort to bring out the geographical and historical background of the Surah.
Proceeding methodically, Azar has given a detailed account of the early life of Hazrat Yusuf, the death of his mother when he was still a child, his father's special concern for him, his dream in which he saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars paying obeisance to him, his father's warning that the dream should not be brought to the notice of his brothers who ultimately dumped him into a well out of jealously, his rescue from there by people in a passing caravan who took him to Egypt where he ultimately ended up as the ruler and finally called over his family members to join him.
Aizaz Ahmad Azar has very rightly concluded that the story of Hazrat Yusuf, known as Ahsan-al-qisas (choicest of the stories) provides lessons in all virtues which have been stressed upon in the Holy Book - strength of faith, determination, self-control, patience and thankfulness, purity and cleanliness, honesty and trust, forgiveness and pardon, obedience, fear of God, trust in the Almighty, etc. The author feels that the Surah provides a lesson in control over several desires. Azar has also done well to give a full translation of the Surah in chaste Punjabi.
* * * * *
My association with the Urdu literary journal, Makhzan, dates back to the days before my birth. This statement may surprise readers but it happens to be a fact. I'll explain. It so happened that the books which came to me from the library of my father had bound copies of the earliest issues of the monthly Makhzan which, in those days, was edited by one Abdul Qadir who did not have Sir attached to his name. It is unfortunate that I acceded to a request from a friend, a famous literary personality of today, and lent him those bound copies which never came back.
Anyway, it always makes me happy to receive a copy of the Makhzan now being issued by the Quaid-i-Azam Library as a six-monthly journal. I feel all the more happy because it is being edited by Dr Waheed Qureshi which goes to assure me that despite all his physical problems, he is mentally active. The latest issue of Makhzan is sixth in the line and, as usual, enlightens the readers with the thought provoking and, well written, material on its pages.
I may say that the article about the English novel before and after the year 1914 is rather sketchy and did not deserve inclusion in this prestigious journal. The same is my feeling about the article on Ehsan Danish by Muheet Ismail which happens to be too personal and can in no way be regarded as a piece of literature.
All the same, the articles about Shamasul Ulema Syed Mumtaz Ali, the founder of the famous publishing house of Lahore, about Sir Abdul Qadir and the Punjab Observer, and the one about Haider Dehlvi are highly informative. I would also give full marks to Dr Syed Rizvan Ali Naqvi for finding faults with the lexicon (Farhang-i-Tallafuz) compiled by Shanul Haq Haqqi.
It would be unfair if I don't make mention of three highly readable and masterly book reviews by Dr Saleem Akhtar (Yadgar-i-Anees), by Dr Khwaja Hameed Yazdani (Masnavi Gulshan-i-Ishq of Roshan Badayuni) and by Muhammad Saeed on Dr Anwar Sabir's Pakistan Mein Urdu Ghazal ka Irtiqa.
Before ending this piece I must ask all readers of Makhzan to pay attention to something important pointed out by Dr Waheed Qureshi in the editorial. He says some doubts are being created these days about the actual thoughts of Allama Iqbal. The points being raised, he warns, may well go to affect national politics.