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If you thought that the Muhajir versus son-of-the-soil debate took root in the 1980s, well, you are mistaken. Not many of us would know that in the 1960s there used to be a Pakistan Muhajir League. It had a chief organiser by the name of Inayat Karim, and the league had its meetings on a regular basis.

One such meeting was held on Feb 10, 1965. Prior to that some undesirable incidents had taken place where the migrants were pitted against West Pakistan’s native ethnic groups. In the meeting Mr Karim urged the Muhajir community to pursue the goal of peace and friendship with all. He argued refugees had made sacrifices for the country but had always suffered. Now, doesn’t that sound familiar… and recent?

Speaking of language-based issues, in the ‘60s Capt Gohar Ayub Khan, son of Field Marshal General Ayub Khan, too was involved in one such controversy. But in that week he was in the news for a different reason. An application had been filed on his behalf accusing a correspondent of the New York Times International, Jacques Nevard, of attempting to prejudice the minds of the Pakistani people against Gohar Ayub in an article. On Feb 8, Justice Amanullah Khan of West Pakistan High Court Karachi adjourned for three weeks the contempt of court case against the journalist who had pleaded not guilty suggesting the news item was not published in Pakistan.

On a lighter note, in those days what did Pakistanis do on Valentine’s Day? To be honest, the concept hadn’t even occurred to them. Or so it seems. The news item that caught the eye of many readers on Feb 14 had to do with the postal system (perhaps not an entirely unrelated matter when it comes to amorous liaisons, after all, you do need to communicate with your love interest). That day it was reported that the postal authorities were taking suitable measures to improve the delivery of mail in various areas of the city after a proper investigation into the system. Today, no such issue can bother the young at heart. There’s email, there’s facebook, there’s twitter and there’s mobile phones.

By the way, on Feb 14, 1965 the eighth death anniversary of Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar was also observed at a meeting organised by the Karachi Zonal Council of Muslim League at Theosophical Hall, presided over by Mr Husain Imam.

Time to shift gears. In the world of art, on Feb 9, an exhibition of artist Siddiqua Bilgrami’s latest body of work opened at the Arts Council Karachi. Critics hailed the show for the artist’s use of abstract inventiveness and colour compositions. Ever since, Ms Bilgrami has gone from strength to strength and exhibited all over the world.

The very mention of colours makes this writer think of the pictures of Karachi’s verdant parks. Pictures? Because: they’re not verdant anymore. There was a time when the construction and preservation of gardens was on top of the priority list of the authorities concerned. On Feb 11, the commissioner of Karachi, Roeded Khan, paid a visit to a park in Chakiwara to see the progress of work there. The facility had just been laid by the KMC at a cost of Rs20,000. You wonder, how that park looks in 2015! Will it remind us of the famous novel Chakiwara Mein Wisaal?

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2015

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