Date: 6/16/2005


Comment on the nostaligic look on Lahore (BELOW) by Ishtiaq Ahmed, a MUSLIM WHO PREFERS TO LIVE IN EUROPE. Lahore at the time of its political "FALL INTO DARKNESS" in 1947 was 75% Hindu/Sikh. Its bazars, homes, mandirs and gurdwaras were full of colour and variety. It was a cultural mosaic, the envy of Paris. It was given to ISLAMIC Republic of Pakistan ONLY because it was the hub of communication in Punjab, not on the basis of "head count". Main highways and railways converged here. In the report below, we do not see any mention of a NON Muslim name, not even a mention of Great Ruler called RANJIT SINGH. We would have liked writer Ishtiaq Ahmed to recall the busy and free traffic between Lahore and Amritsar in those days, and to see in his mind Sri AMRITSAR linked to Lahore as Mecca is thought of within its walls FIVE TIMES a day, seven days a week, at prayer. He needs to read the chapter on Lahore in "Freedom at Midnight" to hear the cries of the helpless and vulnerable citizens being pursued and hunted down in streets, and feel the heat of those fires that destroyed shops, holy places, homes and even hospitals, Its soil has covered up the cries of the abducted and raped girls. It has not produced even ONE decent man or woman to suggest a Memorial to those who PERISHED for ever along with the civilisation and culture of that Lahore that some of us can remember but most of us have conveniently forgotten. ("Voices from inside the walled city", as the author puts it, are the wails and cries of Hindu and SIKH men, women and children, widows and orphans, in their tens of thousands, trying desperately to escape the Hell of Lahore for the freedom of "Guru ki Nagri" Sri Amritsar.) ......................=========== In a message dated 16/06/2005 05:11:51 GMT Daylight Time, xxxxxxxxxxxxx writes: Daily Times - Site Edition Tuesday, April 19, 2005 COMMENT: Voices from inside Lahore's Walled City -Ishtiaq Ahmed Whereas the blessings of the dead are always a great asset it must be the goodness of the hardworking folks, some of whom we had the pleasure of meeting, that keeps our ancient city alive and kicking. Despite everything, Lahore is Lahore There are many hyperboles Lahoris invoke when proudly talking about their great metropolis. Some of these are world famous or at least subcontinent-famous such as, 'Lahore is Lahore' or 'One who has never seen Lahore has not been born'. People in many parts of Pakistan and also Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and the rest of India and in faraway places such as London, New York, Vancouver and wherever else I go connect with me because they happen to belong to that city. Here in Stockholm, we have been meeting regularly once a month in the evening since 1991 to talk to our heart's fill just about anything, but since the majority of us have a Lahore connection we end up talking about it most of the time, recalling old cricket matches and kabaddi tournaments, Basant celebrations and famous wrestlers but also notorious badmashes (mafia dons). All this is part of diaspora sentimentality and I suppose immigrants can never do without their nostalgias and imaginary pasts. On the other hand, the homeland, or rather the hometown in case of Lahoris, which they long for changes and transforms as time passes by and things are never the same as when they left. The more removed they are in time from the present the greater the nostalgia, but also greater the disappointment on coming home and seeing familiar people gone and places they loved no longer there. I recently spent several days in late December and early January in the ancient Walled City. I took with me the well-known Punjabi poet and writer Ahmad Salim. We went to Taxali Gate visiting the famous chamber of the late people's poet of Punjab, Ustad Daman. In the room Ustadji used to receive eager visitors and meet old friends and political comrades is now the office of the Daman Academy. I recalled many meeting. We met the proletarian writer Qamar Yurish and talked to him about his life-long struggle to make the world a fairer place. We also met a young man, Natiq Hussain, who spent a whole afternoon with us while we searched for people who could tell us about the old Lahore. We went inside Bhati Gate seeking the Chomala locality where Mohammad Rafi once lived and worked in his father's shop. Many people gathered around us and the elders talked about the legendary singer whom they knew as a close friend when he was still a very young man struggling for a break. Bombay (Mumbai) gave him that break. It was really very moving to hear them speak with so much emotion and feeling; things I have not experienced for a long time living in the West. In the same area once lived AR Kardar who pioneered the Lahore film industry but then went and settled in Bombay. Other famous names associated with Bhati Gate are that of Allama Iqbal whose bethak (sitting room) we saw. Little further on once lived the actor Om Parkash. The house of Pran was not far from there. We also went across the Circular Road briefly to visit Mohni Road to look at the house of the veteran singer Shamshad Begum. The great short-story writer Krishan Chander also lived on Mohni Road. I intend to find out exactly where on my next visit. The visits to Lohari Gate, Mori Gate, Mochi Gate and what now remains of Shahalmi Gate were also very memorable. Everywhere people just assembled and began talking to us when they realised we wanted to learn more about the old Lahore, whose soul remains innocent and pure despite all the injuries to the body from the tyranny of time, the poverty of many of its inhabitants and gross neglect by the municipal and other authorities. I noticed that in almost every street and corner the locals had their bethaks (sitting places) and discussions took place everyday. I envied them that invaluable social bonding. Inside Said Mittha Bazaar we first met Iftikhar Sahib who very kindly offered to show us around the old buildings in that area. He turned out to be an educated man who everyday went on a round of narrow and winding streets, holding his bike with one hand talking to people to find out if they needed any help writing an application or petition or some other such task. He did all this selflessly, without any charge. This was very clear from the way people blessed him for his devotion to their welfare. We met Azim Pehlwan, a famous weight-lifter who had won many gold and silver medals in national and international competitions. He took us home and we talked at length about old and present Lahore. Everywhere we went the people were fantastic, but they complained about the apathy and disdain with which a power-wielder treated ordinary citizens. The grievances were put forth very eloquently by Haji Muhammad Shad, a poor but very proud young man who ran a tea-stall in Haveli Mian Khan, Rang Mahal. The glint in his eyes radiated immense intelligence and awareness. He told me he was 40 years old. He complained that poor people like him could not afford to pay the taxes and rates the government kept imposing on them. He remarked, "You ask me if I send my children to school, well I do but you know I can't afford to feed them properly. The tap water we get is contaminated with filth from the leaking sewerage. It has a nauseating smell and drinking it gives us stomach diseases." He complained bitterly that the elected nazims, mayors and councillors did nothing to alleviate their hardships. They were corrupt and worse than thugs. He wanted President Pervez Musharraf to come and see how people live in his locality and then say what he and his government had done for people like him. There is a widespread belief among indigenous Lahoris that holy men and saints buried inside the Walled City and outside it guard Lahore from harm and evil. I believe that whereas the blessings of the dead are always a great asset it must be the goodness of the hardworking folks, some of whom we had the pleasure of meeting, that keeps our ancient city alive and kicking. Despite everything, Lahore is Lahore. The author is an associate professor of political science at Stockholm University. He is the author of two books. His email address is ....................=================== The MUSLIM write does not realise the NOSTALGIA of tens of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs of Lahore, who became wretched refugees overnight, to GET BACK TO THEIR HOMES that were snatched by MUSLIM gangsters and mobs in the tradition of loot and plunder of their Rasul Allah in Arabia. PLO can insist on going BACK to their homes in Israel, so why not the Hindu/Sikh "dead mice" recovering their breath and guts to shout, "WE TOO, WISH TO RETURN TO OUR HOMES IN RAWALPINDI, MULTAN AND LAHORE."? WE, TOO, HAVE NOSTALGIA. ..........................000000000