Is Ranjit Singh’s statue in Lahore worth celebrating?

Searching for the 'real' Ranjit Singh is not important. Discussing the legacy being created is.

Updated 28 Aug, 2019 05:09pm

In August 2017, following a controversy over Confederate monuments in Virginia, the American Historical Association (AHA) issued a joint public communiqué urging a revisiting of the state government’s decision to honour individuals associated with slavery.

President Donald Trump had opposed the removal of monuments that had been in place for over a century, arguing that they were remnants of a troubled past that could not be erased.

But as the AHA statement pointed out, the idea was not to erase history, but to open a healthy public debate on matters relating to public recognition of individuals based on their contribution towards society.

Many of such monuments throughout the United States, the statement pointed out, had been installed decades ago without wider consultation from a broad spectrum of society, especially African Americans.

The statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the evening of its inauguration at Lahore Fort last week.—Photo via Press Information Department on Twitter
The statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the evening of its inauguration at Lahore Fort last week.—Photo via Press Information Department on Twitter

I am reminded of this important discussion on the politics of commemoration by the recent installation of Ranjit Singh’s statue at the Lahore Fort. There are, however, huge differences between the troubled legacy of Confederate monuments and a single act celebrating Ranjit Singh who, even by the standards of what his critics say, does not trigger such painful memories.

The unveiling of Ranjit Singh’s statue has not sparked any controversy, let alone demand for a public debate. This is even though the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) made the decision without broader consultation.

The primary motivation seems to be commercial, as the statue would help draw tourists, especially the Sikh diaspora, though the authority must also have taken into calculation the political implications of such an act.

What prompts me to write about the Ranjit Singh statue is the celebratory language in which it has been received by some. The best example is to be found in the way the federal minister for science and technology, Fawad Chaudhary, tweeted about it:

Other than its jubilatory tone and use of such anachronistic terms as ‘reforms in the governance’ for early 19th century, the tweet is hopelessly faulty on historical counts as well. Even though he commanded a large area under his control, the Maharaja didn't even rule over entire Punjab, let alone Kabul and Delhi.

Ranjit Singh’s legacies

The statue derives its support from different constituencies based on varied legacies that they ascribe to the man.

Widely celebrated as a warrior and an able statesman, Ranjit Singh established a strong, expansive empire that encompassed a vast area of present-day Pakistani Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, along with Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh.

For a section of Punjabi activists in Pakistan and most Sikhs, Ranjit Singh is a local hero — 'son of the soil' — who successfully thwarted aggressors from the north and established a strong centralised government that provided relief to the people of Punjab after decades of chaos and violence.

There is also a counter-narrative which denounces Sikh rule under Ranjit Singh as an era of darkness in which Muslims were persecuted and their sacred sites were vandalised.

For me, the search for the ‘real’ Ranjit Singh is not important. I am more concerned about the legacy of Ranjit Singh as it is being created, invoked and commemorated.

The question of ascertaining Ranjit Singh’s contributions assumes the historian to play the role of a forensic expert. It assumes the craft of the historian to be precise and scientific that can, on objective and impartial scrutiny, reveal absolute truth about a historical figure or event.

Punjab Tourism Minister Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfraz, WCLA officials and visitors from Amritsar at the inauguration of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh statue in Lahore last week.—Photo via Press Information Department on Twitter
Punjab Tourism Minister Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfraz, WCLA officials and visitors from Amritsar at the inauguration of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh statue in Lahore last week.—Photo via Press Information Department on Twitter

History, at best, can be an approximation of the past in an academic idiom that is contingent on the personal outlook of the author, and informed by a range of personal influences, ideologies, affiliations and worldviews. It is just one way of recording the past.

There are other ways, especially in the South Asian context, in which competing ideas about the past percolate to sections of the society, internalised, passed on and then reimagined. For example, the creation of Pakistan in 1947, was seen as a culmination of, as well as a foundational moment for, new myths and reimagining of older ones.

In one such instance, immediately after independence, a formal ceremony was held to open the Lahore Fort for the public, revoking its status as a military garrison. This act was interpreted as marking the fulfillment of a longstanding prophecy that the Fort would be reopened once Muslim power was reestablished in this region.

So, it is not about ascertaining the truth about Ranjit Singh’s reign, especially the status of his Muslim subjects. What is important is that he founded an empire on the strength of Sikh militaristic prowess and ran it on ideas of moral legitimacy inspired by the Sikh gurus and their teachings.

The way Ranjit Singh’s rule has been interpreted by his admirers today is a different process of past-making which makes use of such anachronistic terms as ‘secularism’ to explain Ranjit Singh’s fair treatment of all his subjects and the fact that he had a Muslim as one of his closest aides.

Constituencies of Ranjit Singh

It is no surprise that this adulation for Ranjit Singh is most common among the Sikhs in India and the wider diaspora, as he is recognised as the embodiment of Sikh political power.

There is a huge nostalgia for empire that celebrates the memory of the Sikh rule and the materiality of it classified as ‘heritage’. It is no wonder that Ranjit Singh’s life-sized statue has been gifted to the WCLA by SK Foundation UK, an organisation based in the United Kingdom.

In one of the major events sponsored by Sikh groups in London (UK Punjab Sikh heritage) was a 2018 exhibition, titled Empire of the Sikhs, held at Brunei Gallery, SOAS. The Sikh nostalgia for the empire — a veritable will to power – is a product of both an impulse towards anchoring the communitarian identity in state power, and the historical peculiarity of the Sikhs — especially since the 1940s.

Partition set into motion a series of setbacks for Sikhs. They lost material wealth and were uprooted from the land they held sacred and relocated to a part of Punjab where an uneasy relationship with the Hindu majority followed.

A similar process of past-making, albeit with a completely different reception of Ranjit Singh, has taken place among Muslim nationalists who talk about oppression suffered by Muslims during the Sikh rule. This opinion has been based on historical works written in post-annexation Punjab that speak of Sikh violence against Muslims and vandalism of their sacred sites. Such a narrative served well to portray the British as the harbinger of peace and stability in the region.

Punjabi nationalists in Pakistan, however, have been jubilant as they see the installing of the statue a symbolic act of recognition from a state that, despite its domination by a Punjabi elite, has been oblivious to the history and language of Punjab.

Punjab Tourism Minister Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfraz, WCLA officials and visitors from Amritsar at the inauguration of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh statue in Lahore last week.—Photo via Press Information Department on Twitter
Punjab Tourism Minister Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfraz, WCLA officials and visitors from Amritsar at the inauguration of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh statue in Lahore last week.—Photo via Press Information Department on Twitter

Punjabi sense of nationhood has been sublimated within the larger Pakistani nationalism conflating Islam, Muslim and Urdu. This made it frustratingly hard for Punjabi intellectuals, mostly affiliated with Marxists groups, to plead for or articulate an idea of Punjabi nationhood that could be rooted in its language and mobilised for a progressive polity addressing class issues.

In other words, the statist project of an Islam-based identity with Urdu as its flagship has made such massive inroads that the successive generation of Punjabi activists has found it difficult to counter it.

For them, the Ranjit Singh’s statue, therefore, is a breath of fresh air that could possibly become a precedent for similar steps to be followed. For them, it remains important that the act of recognition — whether for Dulla Bhatti or Bhagat Singh — should come from the state as it signifies a symbolic reversal of policy.

From the perspective of Pakistani liberals, it is a welcome step as it interrupts the singular telos of Muslim history that is taught at schools and rhetorically championed in the larger public sphere. There is a strong element of truth in this approach.

Also read: A forgotten shrine near Lahore stands witness to the havoc wreaked by Ahmed Shah Abdali

The inclusion of Ranjit Singh sits uneasily with a historical timeline which, simultaneously, champions the exploits of Ahmad Shah Abdali. Widely hailed as a saviour of the Muslims of Punjab from the excesses of Sikh and Maratha violence in the mid-18th century, Pakistani textbooks pay lavish tribute to his military campaigns and services to the 'glory of Islam' — so much so that one of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles is named after him.

Similarly, Pakistani textbooks pay glorious tributes to the jihad led by Sayyid Ahmad against the Sikh rule. This militaristic attempt was also aimed at ‘liberating’ the Muslims of Punjab.

Any historical representation for a statist project — whether as a museum artefact or textbook — is marked with erasures of some aspects of history that do not conform with the rest of the narrative. Historical narratives, therefore, and especially statist narratives, have seeds of subversion within. They are marked by silencing of voices and insist on a particular type of truth about a historical figure or event.

Up until now, it has been the erasure of Pakistan’s non-Muslim pasts and their richness. For once, there has been un-silencing of this past, so it counts as a welcome step for Pakistani liberals.

Languages of commemoration

What I find problematic, however, is the celebratory language used on this occasion rooted in the language of power, state and empire.

Tweets and comments ‘welcoming’ Ranjit Singh hailed him, not as the ruler of Punjab, but the founder of an empire whose boundaries stretched up to Afghanistan in the west and Kashmir and Ladakh in the north.

This valourising of the Maharaja, thus, is thinly veiled othering of the Afghan as savage — with a certain fear and appreciation for the adversary as well — whose savagery could only be matched by a noble savage who was able to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Now read: Remembering Dulla Bhatti, the landlord who stood up to the mighty Akbar

Regardless of what Punjabi nationalists think of their ‘son of the soil’ and reasons for honouring him, it cannot be overlooked that, in contemporary Pakistan, where Punjabi-dominated military and bureaucracy is seen responsible for the misery of every other ethnic group, such an act of state recognition — that, too, for a figure known for military exploits outside of Punjab — is interpreted as a celebration of Punjabi chauvinism.

People outside of Punjab may not be willing to understand the reasons for which Punjabi nationalists, a handful as they might be, are celebrating him, given what they have suffered at the hands of the same Punjabi-dominated state.

Counter histories and memories

This occasion of honouring Ranjit Singh has prompted other ethno-nationalist ideologues to demand similar recognition for their warrior-like figures. The most interesting is the case of Nawab Muzaffar Khan of Multan.

The afterlife of his battle with the Lahore Darbar can be aptly summed up using Agha Shahid Ali’s words: “My memory keeps getting in the way of your history”.

The expansion of Singh’s Lahore Darbar, brutal as it was like any other empire, brought him into conflict with the ruler of Multan. The war that followed was violent, where Nawab Muzaffar Khan died fighting along with his sons.

Later, as a Seraiki national identity coalesced in postcolonial Punjab, Muzaffar Khan was to assume the role of a ‘freedom fighter’ who resisted against the aggression of ‘Punjab’.

Taj Muhammad Langah, one of the leaders of Seraiki nationalism, tried to transform Muzaffar Khan’s final resting place into a mausoleum which he would visit every year with a handful of enthusiasts to lay down a floral wreath and chadar.

This shows how collective memories are formed, draw upon a peculiar version of the past that, in turn, itself, is subject to change under different political contexts.

The same holds true for Sindh where a section of hardcore nationalists glorifies Raja Dahir — the ruler of Sindh defeated by Muhammad bin Qasim — as a hero.

One could interpret these responses as an effective way of subverting statist narratives glorifying Muslim rulers and invaders. Such a reactionary approach, and the elusive search in the history of strong men as heroes, is the most unfortunate consequence of authoritarian state practices in Pakistan.

Ever since the notorious imposition of One Unit in 1955, much of progressive politics from smaller provinces have been tainted with ethnic chauvinism.

Explore: How old is Lahore? The clues lie in a blend of historical fact and expedient legend

In the end, coming back to the politics of commemoration, choosing Ranjit Singh among an ideological range of representations is a political act which aims at signalling a specific kind of historical narrative.

It replaces one set of state practices with another, though its supporters don’t think of it as replication and expect a different outcome from such practices.

It is as if all those celebrating Ranjit Singh — or those demanding recognition for Ahmad Shah Abdali for the Pashtuns, Nawab Muzaffar Khan for the Seraikis and Raja Dahir for the Sindhis — are vying for an imperial legacy under the regalia of a sovereign whose politics they agree with, who conforms to their present-day ethnic imaginary or whose religious beliefs they share.

They have convinced themselves that their imperialist treated everyone fairly, and thus ascribe to him such terms as ‘secular’ and ‘liberal’. This, unfortunately, means that their investment remains in the idea of state itself, conquest as state-making and the power that comes with it to establish and safeguard a singular idea of nationhood.

Their commitment to the idea — in this particular case — of Punjab and its history that addresses questions of caste oppression, gender violence and class dispossession should have taken precedence over everything else.

In endorsing the symbol that the state has chosen for them, the nationalists and the liberals have chosen unwisely.


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Ali Usman Qasmi is an associate professor of history at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He tweets @AU_Qasmi


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

Comments (83) Closed

Khawar T khyam
Jul 02, 2019 05:59pm
Maharaja Ranjit Singh is the son of this land Whereas all the Mughals and other fellows are migrants I am a muslim by faith but I do not see any conflict in praising the the Sikh religion and the people of the land
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Just Saying
Jul 02, 2019 06:00pm
Good or bad, Punjab has produced only one emperor and Punjabis can lay claim to the legacy of only one empire, that of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He ruled over Muslim, Sikh and Hindu majority areas and he could not have got there by persecuting any of them or desecrating their religious sites.
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Chatterjee
Jul 02, 2019 06:05pm
Very strange! A true student of history will not celebrate of the legacy of RS! This statue will create more controversy than any benefit!
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saeeds
Jul 02, 2019 06:11pm
Its a part of the History. Treat as a historical figure and charge extra fees for those who want celebrate.
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mirza
Jul 02, 2019 06:23pm
I think its a part of history and we must support the Sikh brothers in celebrating the leaders they had.
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HashBrown®
Jul 02, 2019 06:23pm
Very interesting, thought-provoking article, and a good job explaining both sides of a complex story. As a Punjabi, I'm happy to see the statue up - but I strongly dislike language such as "Punjabi supremacy". We should celebrate all the illustrious leaders who have shaped the destiny of this nation - bin Qasim, Ashoka, even Alexander himself. Each of them are a tribute to the rich diversity woven into the tapestry of our country's history.
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Ahmad Ibrahim
Jul 02, 2019 06:28pm
Yes. 100%. He is part of our history
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bhaRAT©
Jul 02, 2019 06:35pm
@HashBrown®, Very true.
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Najma Hisham
Jul 02, 2019 06:39pm
It is quite ironic and much to the chagrin of some academics that perhaps the very earliest mention of Pakistan came from one young Budh Singh who later came to be known as Ranjeet Singh. The young Ranjeet or "son of the soil" as the author states, and his band of warriors had won a small tussle with another band of warriors of another Sikh Misl near the banks of the Indus river and he remarked to his warriors as he sauntered along the river bank that one day this land would be "Stan-i-Pak".
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soumen ganguly
Jul 02, 2019 07:31pm
that statue will attract tourists? did not have enough budget or what? anyway your history starts from mid east people's invasion and ends at partition, so trying to find an identity is good
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Vellaichamy
Jul 02, 2019 07:45pm
Highly intellectual analysis.
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chengez k
Jul 02, 2019 07:55pm
Why Not????
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Nick NY
Jul 02, 2019 07:58pm
"In endorsing the symbol that the state has chosen for them, the nationalists and the liberals have chosen unwisely. " Very well said!
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Sridhar Raghunatha Rao
Jul 02, 2019 08:11pm
Standing at this point of time, more than centuries, I honestly feel that it is not fair to weigh the merits and demerits of a glorious ruler from the present norms of our social standards. Similar analysis was made about Tipu Sultan who ruled Mysore Kingdom two centuries back, which also was not accepted on same grounds. They are our heroes. They ruled gloriously and effectively on factors as was necessary at that point of time. Celebrate their famed valour and their role in history.
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Srinath
Jul 02, 2019 08:34pm
Searching for heroes from Punjab who have made a mark in the history is indeed an interesting exercise. You can rule out Ahmed Shah Abdali as he was a pathan who founded the modern state of Afghanistan. The only worthy heroes I reckon are Puru ( Greeks called him Porus) who stood up to Alexander, Maharaja Ranjit Singh who gave political stability and identity to the region and Bhagat Singh who inspired generations to come for his uncompromising struggle against British Imperialism.
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Sarai Alamgir
Jul 02, 2019 08:37pm
@Chatterjee, Why?
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Sarai Alamgir
Jul 02, 2019 08:39pm
He is part of our history, whether people like it or not.
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Yara
Jul 02, 2019 08:42pm
The personality is part of history therefore keep the statue in a museum and collect fees from tourists. Most countries do the same. No brainer. Keeps everyone happy and content.
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M.Azad
Jul 02, 2019 08:55pm
History is just a perspective, adopted by nations to motivate their youths towards achieving objectives. How do Raja Dahir and Ranjit Singh fit into our national perspective ? The answer is not too far. Just take a look how Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi is portrayed in the neighboring India and Afghanistan or Nadir Shah Abdali is views in India, Pakistan and Iran. Same characters with pole apart impressions made by different historian strokes.
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Lalit S. Jamwal
Jul 02, 2019 09:23pm
Read your history. His ancestors were not Punjabis but Jats who came to the Punjab from Rajasthan and took up the Sikh faith. Most of his top generals, were Kshatriyas (Rajputs) from Jammu, Brahmins from U.P. Lal Singh, etc and Brahmins from Kashmir, Col. Ayodhya Prasad, etc. He was as humane as impartial as one could be and had many Punjabis in his army as well. Please do respect him and do not distort history for your agenda.
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HashBrown®
Jul 02, 2019 09:25pm
@soumen ganguly, "anyway your history starts from mid east people's invasion and ends at partition" Pakistan's land was the location of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the turning point of Alexander the Great, the flourishing of the Mauryan Empire, the advent of the Muslims, the rise of the mighty Mughals, and the dreams of our beloved Quaid-e-Azam. Virtually all the culture in the subcontinent comes from the land that is ours today. But don't worry, you still have Bollywood. Congratulations.
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Jawwad
Jul 02, 2019 09:48pm
@soumen ganguly, - we separated not only from you but from the capitalistic mindset of your as well. Why is everything is seen from the prism of money?
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dilip agrawal
Jul 02, 2019 09:49pm
the sikkhs are defender of punjab.invaders cross indus and attack punjajab.sikkhs defended punjsb.the rsnjit singh won kabul and proved that punjab can control kabul. so ranjit singh was glory of punjab.
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Akram
Jul 02, 2019 09:52pm
@soumen ganguly, Is that the best you could come up with?
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Adeeb
Jul 02, 2019 10:40pm
Since its a newly crafted statue we should not support the reminiscent of tyranny, since the statue itself has no historical value it should not be installed in public place.
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JayJay
Jul 02, 2019 10:44pm
@Sarai Alamgir, Read history and expand your insights!
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Osama
Jul 02, 2019 10:50pm
Very well written article. Brilliant.
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sqb
Jul 02, 2019 11:34pm
History is never singular, it is always a multitude of memories and identities, with few of those identities being paramount. In the case of Pakistan, our religion of the majority, our singular dress the Salwar Kameez, our shared cultural values which different to most of South Asia, and our links to the Indus Valley civilisation that almost matches the map of present-day Pakistan, these things bind us to make us a single nation, a single people since the dawn of civilisation.
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Malik Saab
Jul 02, 2019 11:45pm
Punjabis irrespective of their religion respect Ranjit Singh. He brought them out of the slavery of invaders and they were set free under his rule. He was the son of the soil of Punjab and it was his homeland. Many non-Punjabis and Islamic historians tried to morph history to create hatred against him, but it will not change the original history. As a Muslim Punjabi I am proud of Ranjit Singh and I am happy that his legacy is preserved in modern day Punjab.
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USA man
Jul 02, 2019 11:48pm
@Sridhar Raghunatha Rao, You are reading writing of beloved Jawaharlal Nehru.He was not a historian and imagined the history the way it should be as per his mind set.
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Rashid Khan the Afghan
Jul 02, 2019 11:57pm
It is time that punjabi peoples regardless of religion they were born into reassert their identity in their own language culture and heroes and heroines be they Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Parsee, Muslim or non believers in the supernatural.
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Rashid Khan the Afghan
Jul 03, 2019 12:00am
@HashBrown®, Only if it not fabricated veneration of conquerers, despots, slavers, prosletisers and destroyers of existing civilisation and culture.
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SecondPilot
Jul 03, 2019 12:13am
@soumen ganguly, I think you missed entire the point of the article.
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Jagdeep
Jul 03, 2019 12:24am
@Chatterjee, What is your probelm. The statue is founded by private intiative not by govn of pakistan. They merely were invited. What you want? Failed killer bose statue whith fish at his right hand and gulabjamon on his other?
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Shah
Jul 03, 2019 01:04am
Slap in the face of all those who lost their families in East-Punjab ethnic cleansing of 1947 and those who value Mughal monuments which were stripped of their marble and gold and reused in the Golden Temple. On the other hand you have Indians placing the statue of Shivaji Bhonsle in Agra (Taj Mahal) as a way to express Hindu supremacy over Muslims as Marathas and Muslim sultanates were at war.
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Hussain
Jul 03, 2019 01:06am
No one cares. DO something useful with your life.
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Majeed at Thani
Jul 03, 2019 01:44am
Whatever else one might say of Ranjit Singh, he was a true hero of the Punjab, unlike some of the more recent and more egregious pustules that have infested local politics for far too long. Sikha Shahi - much like a metaphor for misrule - can be more appropriately applied to the successors of Ranjit Singh leading up to the present day. I say, let the statue stand, if only to remind us that we still have to get rid of our colonial legacies.
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Shahidam
Jul 03, 2019 02:35am
To the title question, answer in no; it was neither necessary not appropriate. As to why not, the article alluded to many reasons and lot more b/c this is not ancient history of times to glean through. WCLA accepted and erected this gift w/o due diligence.
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Daskalos
Jul 03, 2019 02:57am
The author has given valid facts. The Sikh Khalsa rule of Ranjit Singh never extended beyond Peshawar, Hazara and Kashmir in the north and north-west ; and parts of East Punjab were lost to the East India Company etc. However, there is no denying his role in Punjabi history and he well deserves a statue in Lahore. I'd also add that Ahmad Shah Abdali/Durrani was no hero, just an Afghan looter -conqueror. Khushal Khattak is a more suitable Pakhtun hero.
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Daskalos
Jul 03, 2019 03:01am
@HashBrown®, right. Why not? There can be a historical peagant of sorts, depicting all these famous historical figures from ancient, legendary times at Lahore fort- maybe starting with Lav and Kash (sons of Sri Rama Chandra ji) who founded the cities of Lahore and Kasur, down to the time of the Freedom Movement of the 1940s?
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Daskalos
Jul 03, 2019 03:01am
@Sridhar Raghunatha Rao, quite agree.
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TQ
Jul 03, 2019 04:20am
@Sridhar Raghunatha Rao, A very good comment. "Standing at this point of time, more than centuries, I honestly feel that it is not fair to weigh the merits and demerits of a glorious ruler from the present norms of our social standards."
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M.Jan
Jul 03, 2019 05:44am
It is disturbing that Chaudhry Fawad is praising Ranjeet Singh as his Punjabi hero even though his armies committed atrocities against the Muslim forefathers of many of today's Pakistanis. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging Ranjeet Singh considering he is part of the local history but to celebrate him as a hero in a country with many decedents of his victims is highly inappropriate.
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Reader
Jul 03, 2019 07:39am
Punjab and Bengal were the two main pillars of a united subcontinent and of the many empires that ruled from Delhi. Partition of India affected them both more than any other province of the subcontinent since it was essentially partition of Punjab and Bengal.
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Ramana
Jul 03, 2019 07:42am
He was a ruler and rulers are power hungry and cruel. The common Punjabi whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh did not benefit. This is true except in rare cases where rulers built infrastructure, irrigation facilities and most importantly freedom.
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Faran
Jul 03, 2019 07:47am
We should have a monument of King Dahir of Sindh!
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Habib A. Zuberi, PhD
Jul 03, 2019 07:51am
Rs kit Singh was awarded Lahore by the King of Afghanistan. Just like any King of his time he awarded Sikhs higher positions in his administration, but did not leave completely out of his administration. His Statue should remain there. it is part of history.
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K P RAO
Jul 03, 2019 08:01am
@Najma Hisham, what a figment of imagination.
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Tanvir Khan
Jul 03, 2019 08:22am
The great revolutionary Bhagat Singh is nevertheless an undisputed hero of our Punjabi culture. He was born in Banga (district Faisalabad) and hanged from the British in Lahore!
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Rehmatullah
Jul 03, 2019 08:30am
@Najma Hisham, *...he remarked to his warriors as he sauntered along the river bank that one day this land would be "Stan-i-Pak".* Is this fiction? Where did you get this one from?
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Sunnyboy
Jul 03, 2019 08:36am
At least they should tile the floor which looks horrible. Statute is beautiful.
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Umar Makhdumi
Jul 03, 2019 09:33am
The inauguration of Ranjit Singh's statue is a step in the right direction. It will definitely send a positive signal to the world about the inclusiveness and broad-mindedness of Pakistani society.
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kp
Jul 03, 2019 10:40am
i hope there are guards/police to protect the statue of this great ruler of Afghanistan & India.
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khan
Jul 03, 2019 10:45am
This statue is relevant to sikhs in amritsar or ludhiana rather than Lahore. How will followers of Nawab Muzzafar Khan, losing most or all his sons in battle, feel about it. Will our neighbor erect celebrity statues of a ghaznawi, ghauri, khilji, lodhi or suri?
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UChak
Jul 03, 2019 11:10am
If he should not be celebrated, for the reasons you mention, then not a single person in history can be celebrated. You find a single ruler (whether religious or military) who satisfies your general points and be truthful about it. There are none.
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Jollygood
Jul 03, 2019 11:13am
Until the Lion tell his "Own" story, History will always glorify hunters!! Today you can only ignore past HIstory, But can`t denies it.
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Iftikhar Khan
Jul 03, 2019 11:19am
The article is so freakin long that the author is advised to write a booklet about it, i'm seriously not much interested in Ranjeet Singh, or the author's ideas to waste an hour on it. We already have enough stress from daily lives. can't take a dozen pages of history lesson that don't benefit or harm my life one bit.
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Paiwanida M
Jul 03, 2019 11:34am
Since these nationalities like Punjabis Sindhis Afghans Seriakis Baluchis are far more older than the newly created Pakistani Nationality. There will be always an urge to return back to roots. As a Pashtun Afghan I support Punjabi nationalist no matter how they portray us savages or what "Kaata peta jaasee baqi Ahmad Shah See".
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ahmad
Jul 03, 2019 11:44am
"anachronistic terms as ‘reforms in the governance" are you serious?
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amit
Jul 03, 2019 12:00pm
Very interesting argument, actually in India too, we are having such arguments that should we actually remove all symbols of Mughals who forced Hindus to convert in Islam. Actually I feel this is very difficult debate to judge past based on current politico-social environment. How far will we go in history to clean-up mistakes of human being
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HashBrown®
Jul 03, 2019 03:42pm
@Daskalos, Agreed. In the UK, every historical leader is cherished, going back to the Celts. All of them violently conquered their predecessors, but they are all remembered as instrumental to the building of the nation. Let's not go down the route of Hindustan or the US, frantically scrubbing out entire chapters of our history due to racist insecurities.
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Syed Ahmed
Jul 03, 2019 03:44pm
It seems that its okay that Indians have to countenance 500 years of Muslim rule in India but Pakistani Muslims have issues with one Sikh ruler of Punjab. Strange!
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mohsin
Jul 03, 2019 04:08pm
Mughals came from Mongolia, Mamluk from Egypt, Lodhies from Afghanistan, all these was invaders . while Ranjeet was a son of his soil so he deserves the statue.
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Yogeshwar
Jul 03, 2019 04:23pm
Processor Sahab.. ...there can be Number of Sons of soil & all can be celebrated by their next generations by sharing their happiness with others without creating conflicts. This may unite also if looked at positively. And also may be used to divide further as was done by britishers for their political & economical usage. Such a rich country has become dependant on so many ways.
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Connie
Jul 03, 2019 04:33pm
I don't believe Confederate monuments trigger painful memories. I think that is a fabrication concocted solely to foment division in the USA and demonize white people. .
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BELLEVISTA
Jul 03, 2019 05:05pm
@HashBrown®, And look what have you done with it!
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SachBol
Jul 03, 2019 08:35pm
If Sindhis start putting huge statues of Raja Dahir in parts of Sindh will that be agreeable? Stop putting controversial figures and glorify them. Pakistan existence is based on two nation theory and not pre partition status. If we digress from that belief then Pakistan will further disintegrate on ethnic lines.
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Fazal Karim
Jul 03, 2019 09:17pm
The real losers and sufferers of partition are sikh brothers and ultimate gainer are Bengali from former East Pakistan.
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Abraham D Haque
Jul 03, 2019 09:44pm
@Just Saying, like we do in today's Pakistan
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Anand
Jul 03, 2019 10:11pm
Country that does not value its history will not secure its future
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Abdul Muqtadir
Jul 03, 2019 10:21pm
@sqb, Even after 70 years unfortunately the people residing in the Map of Pakistan have not become one Nation.
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Kris
Jul 03, 2019 11:47pm
Purpose of studying history is to learn from our past mistakes. It's not meant to re-open old wounds or create new ones. There is a difference between studying history and glorifying historic figures. Some of these historic figures were deeply flawed by modern standards. Unfortunately we live in a black & white era today - you are either a hero or a villain. You can't be both. But many of these people were both. Therein lies the problem. That's why history lessons should always be contextual.
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Sid
Jul 04, 2019 06:30am
@Shah, where did you learn your history??
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Dushanbe Kid
Jul 04, 2019 09:17am
@mirza: Maharaja Ranjit Singh was one of a of the rulers. tHere was at least one before him and at least one who came after him--each with his own legacy. Why not line up the heroes and let each cheering community bask in the glow of victory and in the sunshine of understanding --with time?
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MA
Jul 04, 2019 10:00am
@soumen ganguly, We have much bigger identity than this sir, we don't need to be recognized by it. Just appreciate the article and leave.
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Factual error
Jul 04, 2019 10:34am
There is a factual error in this article. The Statue was gifted by the Sikh Foundation International based in California, the United States and not United Kingdom. This foundation was not responsible for the exhibition “Empire of the Sikhs” as incorrectly mentioned in the article. Some more fact-correcting is needed in this piece.
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Observer
Jul 04, 2019 12:58pm
The statue of RS belongs only in the Museum.
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Observer
Jul 04, 2019 01:01pm
In our strategic competition with Bharat, we are trying to leverage the Sikhs. But we should tread with caution.
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Babu
Jul 04, 2019 01:35pm
His statue should also be placed in all the areas which were under his rule including Afghanistan territory. People should know their past.
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mykhan
Jul 04, 2019 01:41pm
this is just to please sikhs any nothing else. He was not the greatest king.....
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Asad
Jul 04, 2019 03:10pm
Very nice job done.
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almas mohommad
Jul 04, 2019 03:57pm
good one keep it up/
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danish
Jul 04, 2019 04:56pm
Ranjit Singh belongs to Punjab and every Punjabi is proud of him. Punjab and RANJIT SINGH are made to each other. No Punjab no Ranjit Singh . Mughals and Afghans were foreigners and should not be praised or promote.
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