Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Jafri Reveals the Truth

Jagan Nath Azad did not write any official national anthem of Pakistan nor was he ever asked, directly or indirectly, by Quaid-i-Azam to do so. This is what the Pakistani researcher Aqeel Abbas Jafri has shown - convincingly, it seems - in his forthcoming book from which excerpts were published in the Urdu newspaper Express (Page 20 of the Sunday Express Section) on August 15, 2010.

It seems that the poet Jagan Nath Azad (1918-2004) only claimed that the first “tarana” (anthem) broadcast from radio on the night of August 14-15, 1947 was penned by him. While even this claim doesn't seem to be true, in the video recording of a 1993 event where Azad is making this claim, he never says that the said anthem was the official anthem of the country.

There is no evidence supporting the sensational story in which Azad is dramatically called to Lahore Radio Station a few days before independence and asked to write the official national anthem because Quaid-i-Azam wants it to be written by a Hindu, and then the anthem remains official untill the Quaid’s death.

This version was circulated by the award-winning Indian journalist Luv Puri about a month after the death of Azad, with quotations from an alleged interview with the dead poet. Now Jafri has shown with the help of primary sources that Pakistan did not have a national anthem at the time of independence (an additional piece of evidence is an announcement, published in the lifetime of Quaid himself, promising a reward for whoever would write the national anthem of Pakistan).

Details can be seen in the above-mentioned article or in the forthcoming book of Jafri (the title has not been announced yet). Can we at least expect Wikipedia to now stop presenting the unsubstantiated account of Luv Puri as a fact, and the allegedly Pakistani writers and bloggers who promoted the same to at least publish a correction?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Quran Burning Event

"Church plans Quran-burning event" is a headline from CNN. It can be misleading for some  Muslims, among whom it is circulating widely, and some of whom may not grasp immediately that the "church" which has asked for burning of the Quran on 09/11 this year is not "the" Church - not the Vatican.

The very first line of the news clarifies this (but only for those who understand what is a "nondenominational" church):
In protest of what it calls a religion "of the devil," a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host an "International Burn a Quran Day" on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
According to Wikipedia, "In Christianity, non-denominational institutions or churches are those not formally aligned with an established denomination, or that remain otherwise officially autonomous." The Dove World Outreach Center (founded in the 1980s in Florida with a sister church in Cologne, Germany), which has called for the event is a "non-denominational" church and already its suggestion has  been opposed by many other Christian organizations. Perhaps one thing that we need to do, at least in countries like Pakistan where Muslim and Christian populations live side by side, is to make the clarification accessible to as many as we can.

It is yet to be seen whether the event takes off. Facebook, however, is likely to be in the related news once again because the Dove has set up a page on it for the event.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Martyrs of Pakistani Renaissance

For Pakistan, last July has been a month of grief. There was the tragic accident of the Airblue flight on July 28, claiming 152 lives. Floods started soon afterwards, claiming several hundred more by the end of the month.

Nobody knows how the strings of destiny move, weaving the fabric of our lives and deaths. Each of these lives was precious and the loss has wrapped us all in grief. Feelings that go seep so deep into so many at once are likely to stay there for a long time, even when they cease to become obvious. How the present grief is going to affect our actions in the future cannot be guessed right now. It is therefore important that the memories are preserved so that they could be revisited when need be.

Already, the memories and pictures of some of those who left us last month have started coming up on blogs. Here I shall mention only one group of the departed souls. They were some of the members of a "youth parliament".

These young men and women were star students to whom their peers looked up as role models. They were going to Islamabad as part of their activities, which were aimed at mobilizing the youth of Pakistan for a better society and a better world. It cannot be over-emphasized how noble a cause it was - one of the noblest aspects of that new awakening that has started in Pakistan since 2007.

As such, can we not call them the martyrs of that renaissance which is bound to happen in Pakistan and has already started? These youth were among the most well-known and well-connected of their generation. Their deaths are sacrifices that are likely to stay in the hearts of not a few but many. May God bless their souls and keep their memories alive like the lamps of tulips burning bright, with love and light.