‘Punjab to remain as it is’

January 13, 2019

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Kalyan Singh, Khola Cheema, Jameel Paul and Amir Riaz in a ThinkFest session. — White Star
Kalyan Singh, Khola Cheema, Jameel Paul and Amir Riaz in a ThinkFest session. — White Star

LAHORE: Punjab is not changing and will remain as it is.

This was stated by Punjabi activist and writer Amir Riaz at a session titled, ‘South Punjab to Kartarpur: A Changing Punjab’, at the third Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest that kicked off at Alhamra Art Centre here on Saturday.

Amir Riaz deplored the lack of culture of discussion in the country even on the matters like Kartarpur corridor and south Punjab, saying the former was a matter related to policies of both India and Pakistan as states, while regarding the latter, he blamed English language for suppression (of both Punjabi and Seraiki languages), regretting that nobody would talk about it.

About the south Punjab as a separate province, he said when it came to creation of new province, Sindh was not touched. “For these matters, there are assemblies and Senate and these matters should be discussed there”.

Regarding the division of Punjab in different eras, Mr Riaz pointed out that the first division of Punjab was done in 1809 when a pact was signed between the Sikhs and the British and the latter kept a part of Punjab with them.

“Punjab was divided for the second time in late 1840s when Kashmir and Hazara were taken away from it. The third division occurred in 1901 when (now defunct) North Western Frontier Province was made and it was given many areas of Punjab. The fourth division occurred in 1947 and the fifth when India divided Eastern Punjab in states,” he explained.

Punjabi writer Jameel Paul said any discussion based on religion harms the language. He made it clear that Kartarpur corridor was not related to Punjabi language as it’s a matter of states. Talking about south Punjab, he said division of the province would not benefit the common man as even if formed, the new province would have someone like the son of Shah Mahmood Qureshi (PTI leader) as its chief minister. “The new province in Punjab would benefit only the feudal class,” he stressed.

Kalyan Singh, a professor at the Government College University, stressed close relationships between Indian and Pakistani Punjabs.

In a session on Lahore, 1929: Centre of Freedom Movement, Kama Maclean, the author of A Revolutionary History of Interwar India: Violence, Image, Voice and Text, and a teacher at the University of New South Wales, Australia, had a discussion with Christ Moffat of the Queen Mary University of London.

Ms Maclean said the revolutionaries, based in Lahore, under the influence of Bhagat Singh, had a very deep impact on the public. When Nehru came here and met the revolutionaries, he tried to curtail their emotions as he tried to channelise them for freedom struggle of Congress. She said in Lahore in 1929, in the famous Congress session on the banks of the Ravi, called Lajpat Nagar, the demand of independent India was made. “In Lajpat Nagar, 10,000 had gathered and Lahore wore a festive look,” she said.

Ms Maclean said it was in Anarkali, Lahore, that the revolutionaries, who were considered terrorists by the British, had got their manifestos printed.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019