Noor Jahan (31 May 1577–17 December 1645) the Empress of the Mughal Empire was a strong, charismatic and well educated woman. She is considered to be one of the most powerful and influential women of the 16th century Mughal Empire. She was the favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who ruled the Mughal Empire at the peak of its power and supremacy.
The Maverick Queen: She ruled with an Iron fist
Noor Jahan wielded a significant amount of imperial influence and was often considered at the time to be the real power behind the throne. She remains historically significant for not only the sheer political power she maintained (a feat no Mughal women before her had ever achieved) but also for her contribution to culture, charity, commercial trade and her ability to rule with an iron fist.
Noor Jahan died on the 17th of December 1645 at age 68. She is buried at Shahdara Bagh in Lahore, Pakistan, in a tomb she had built herself. Her tomb is not too far way from the tomb of Jahangir.
Upon her tomb is inscribed the epitaph “On the grave of this poor stranger, let there be neither lamp nor rose. Let neither butterfly’s wing burn nor nightingale sing”.
A statue of Sir Ganga Ram once stood on Mall Road in Lahore. Saadat Hasan Manto, the famous Urdu writer, in one of his stories on the frenzy of religious riots of 1947 writes that an inflamed mob in Lahore, after attacking a Hindu residential area, ‘turned to attacking the statue of Sir Ganga Ram, the Hindu philanthropist.
They first pelted the statue with stones; then smothered its face with coal tar. Then a man made a garland of old shoes climbed up to put it round the neck of the statue.
The police arrived and opened fire. Among the injured was the fellow with the garland of old shoes. As he fell, the mob shouted: “Let us rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital”.
SIR GANGA RAM
The man who won like a hero – gave like a saint
Sir Ganga Ram (1851-1927) was a civil engineer and leading philanthropist of his times, who established the Renala Hydral Power Station in Renala Khurd in Sahiwal district in 1925.
In 1873, after a brief Service in Punjab P.W.D., Sir Ganga Ram devoted himself to practical farming. From the government, he obtained on lease, 50,000 acres (200 km²) of barren, unirrigated land in Montgomery [now called Sahiwal] district, and within three years converted that vast desert into smiling fields. These were irrigated by a water lift from a hydroelectric plant running through a thousand miles of irrigation channels, all constructed at his own cost. It was the biggest private enterprise of the kind, unknown and unthought-of in the country before. Through this enterprise, Sir Ganga Ram earned millions most of which he gave to charity.
In the words of Sir Malcolm Hailey, the Governor of Punjab, “he won like a hero and gave like a Saint”. He was a great engineer and a great philanthropist.
He designed and built General Post Office, Lahore Museum, Aitchison College, Mayo School of Arts (now the NCA), Ganga Ram Hospital, Lady Mclagan Girls High School, the chemistry department of the Government College University, the Albert Victor wing of Mayo Hospital, the Hailey College of Commerce, Ravi Road House for the Disabled, the Ganga Ram Trust Building on The Mall and Lady Maynard Industrial School. He also constructed Model Town, once the best locality of Lahore, the powerhouse at Renala Khurd as well as the railway track between Pathankot and Amritsar.
He built Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Lady Mclagan School and Renala Khurd Power House with his own money.
He was a promising agriculturist, too. He purchased thousands acres of barren land in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) on lease and by using engineering skills and modern irrigation methods, turned the arid lands into fertile fields. He retired in 1903. He died in London on July 10, 1927. His body was cremated and his ashes were brought back home. A portion of the ashes were consigned to Ganga River and the rest buried in Lahore on the bank of the Ravi.
A statue of Sir Ganga Ram once stood on Mall Road in Lahore. Saadat Hasan Manto, the famous Urdu writer, in one of his stories on the frenzy of religious riots of 1947 writes that an inflamed mob in Lahore, after attacking a Hindu residential area, ‘turned to attacking the statue of Sir Ganga Ram, the Hindu philanthropist. They first pelted the statue with stones; then smothered its face with coal tar. Then a man made a garland of old shoes climbed up to put it round the neck of the statue. The police arrived and opened fire. Among the injured were the fellow with the garland of old shoes. As he fell, the mob shouted: “Let us rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital”.
Whether it is the mundane feature of the Albert Victor Hospital porch, or the soaring tower of the Punjab University, the lofty domes of the Museum, or the grandeur of Aitchison College, Ram Singh imparts to his building that touch of genius that differentiates the ordinary from the truly inspired works of art.
BHAI RAM SINGH
An Unforgettable Architect Of Lahore
Apart from the walled city and some Mughal buildings that existed earlier, the rest of the city was built in terms of what he designed.
He designed the Chiefs College (Aitchison College), the Lahore Museum, Mayo School of Arts (National College of Arts), Punjab University Senate House and scores of other buildings including DAV College and Canopy at Chairing Cross. He was the chief designer of buildings in Punjab in those years, and the man who built them was Sir Ganga Ram. Between the two of them, they shaped pre-1947 Lahore.
Ram Singh, born 1st August 1858, to the Ramgarhia Sohal family at village Rasulpur, near Batala, district Gurdaspur, India, created a remarkable set of buildings in Lahore, Amritsar and other cities of the Punjab. His education, training and achievements illustrate the colonial environment in which a native Sikh boy of genius had the tenacity to surpass his British masters. By the age of sixteen he was sufficiently accomplished as a master craftsman, carpenter, to be called upon by the Deputy Commissioner’s wife to carryout the delicate and challenging work of repairing a piano.
His expertise and talent was spotted by a member of the British bureaucracy, which led to his enrollment as a student in the Lahore School of Carpentry established in 1874. John Lockwood Kipling, a sculptor and painter, trained in London and working in Bombay at the time, arrived in Lahore to set up the Mayo School of Industrial Art and students of the Carpentry School were enrolled as its first class.
With a remarkable clarity of vision Kipling sought to integrate European Art theory with a thorough study of the extant Indian heritage of art and architecture. Ram Singh, as Kipling’s star pupil, never abandoned his traditions nor did he turn away from contemporary challenges of architecture and thus integrated the two in a creative and magnificent manner.
On completion of his studies, Bhai Ram Singh worked at the Mayo School as a teacher and also participated in all the practical work that the School was commissioned to do. His designs in woodwork won prizes in various exhibitions, and, at the young age of 28 years, he was declared a co-winner with the famous architect Col. Swinton Jacob, in an all-India competition for the design of the Aitchison College, Lahore. He was commissioned by Queen Victoria to design her Durbar Hall, and she was so delighted with his work that she asked her court artist, Rudolph Swoboda, to paint Ram Singh’s portrait.
The portrait now hangs in the lobby of the Durbar Hall, Osborne House. Bhai Ram Singh rose to be the first native Principal of the Mayo School in 1909, and after serving for four years retired in 1913.
Bhai Ram Singh passed away in 1916. His impact on the architecture of the Punjab, and Lahore in particular, can be gauged by the fact that all buildings of the first half of 20th Century carry echoes of his design. Ram Singh’s buildings, Aitchison College, the Mayo School of Arts, the Lahore Museum, the Punjab University Hall, the boarding house of the Government College, the Albert Victor Hospital and other buildings in the Medical College complex show an integrity of design with a masterly handling of the details of construction, in proportion, texture and rhythm.
Whether it is the mundane feature of the Albert Victor Hospital porch, or the soaring tower of the Punjab University, the lofty domes of the Museum, or the grandeur of Aitchison College, Ram Singh imparts to his building that touch of genius that differentiates the ordinary from the truly inspired works of art. His use of the rope motif, the stylized animals, the variation in levels to play with the strong sun of Lahore and the resultant chiaroscuro effects of light and shade, give his walls a life of their own. The walls change with the sun, now shining with strong light and later brooding in the setting sun, they convey messages so typically Indian in their complexity of emotions strongly attached to nature and its vagaries.
The Poet of the East
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (Nov. 9, 1877 – April 21, 1938), also known as Allama Iqbal was a philosopher, poet and politician in pre-partition India and is widely regarded as having inspired the Pakistan Movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Urdu literature, with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages.
Iqbal is admired as a prominent classical poet by Pakistani, Iranian, Indian and other international scholars of literature. Though best known as an eminent poet, he is also highly acclaimed as “Muslim philosophical thinker of modern times”.
Iqbal’s best known Urdu works are Bang-i-Dara, Bal-i-Jibril, Zarb-i Kalim and a part of Armughan-e-Hijaz. In Iran and Afghanistan, he is famous as Iqbāl-e Lāhorī (اقبال لاهوری) (Iqbal of Lahore), and he is most appreciated for his Persian work.
Along with his Urdu and Persian poetry, his various Urdu and English lectures and letters have been very influential in forming the cultural, social, religious and political make up of Pakistan.
While studying law and philosophy in England, Iqbal became a member of the London branch of the All India Muslim League. Later, in one of his most famous speeches, he pushed for the creation of a Muslim state in Northwest India. This took place in his presidential speech in the League’s December 1930 session. He was very close to the founder of Pakistan, Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
— with Qaisar Nazir Khawar, Subash Nijhawan, Syed Fawad Hussain, Nabeel Toor, Tahir Yazdani Malik, Akram Varraich, Lok Raj, Javed Ghani, MBugi Bugi Bugiandassociates, Shahid Mirza, Chaman Lal, Raza Rumi,Sajjad Kirmani, Muhammad Qasim Khan, Azizi, Asif Saeed, Siddique Shahzad, Muhammad Asif Mongat, Raza Ali Abidi, Sarfaraz M Khan, Mujahid Barelvi, Saqib Maqsood, Bijay Singh and Shabnam Khan.
LALA LAJPAT RAI
The leading figure of Lahore in the freedom struggle
Lala Lajpat Rai who died on 17 November 1928 in Lahore, was an Indian author and politician who is chiefly remembered as a leader in the Indian fight for independence from the British Raj.
On 30th October 1928, Simon commission visited Lahore. Naujwan Bharat Sabha led by Bhagat Singh organised big procession against it. Despite differences with Lala Lajpat Rai, the tallest leader of Punjab in freedom struggle, they requested him to lead the procession, which he agreed and led the procession. SSP Lahore police Scot ordered lathi charge, which was led by ASP Saunders, Lala Lajpat Rai was hit brutally and was wounded gravely.
In the evening rally he declared that every lathi on his body will prove kneel in the British colonialism’s Coffin. Lala Lajpat Rai died of his wounds on 17th November and Bhagat Singh and his comrades avenged his killing by shooting down Saunders on 17th December, exactly one month after in day light in front of SSP office Lahore, at the call given by C R Dass’s widow Basanti Devi.
Lala Lajpat Rai’s mother, Gulab Devi, died of TB in Lahore. In order to perpetuate her memory, Lala Lajpat Rai established a Trust in 1927 to build and run a TB Hospital for women reportedly at the spot where she had breathed her last.
Photo (Top): A Color tinted photo of Bhagat Singh; photographed secretly at Lahore Railway Police Station, during his first arrest 29 May to 4 July 1927 – in connection with Lahore Dussehra Bomb Case (25 Oct 1926), with Gopal Singh Pannu DSP, CID Lahore.
Photo (Bottom): Central Jail Lahore where Bhagat Singh and many other revolutionaries were hanged.
The symbol of sacrifice in the way of independence
Bhagat Singh; (28 Sep. 1907 – 23 Mar. 1931) was a nationalist considered to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the independence movement. He is often referred to as Shaheed Bhagat Singh, the word “Shaheed” meaning “martyr”.
Born into a Sikh family which had earlier been involved in revolutionary activities against the British Raj, as a teenager Singh studied European revolutionary movements and was attracted to marxist ideology. He became involved in numerous revolutionary organisations, and quickly rose through the ranks of the Hindostan Republican Association (HRA) to become one of its main leaders, eventually changing its name to the Hindostan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in 1928.
Seeking revenge for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai [see above] at the hands of the police, Singh was involved in the assassination of British police officer John Saunders. He eluded efforts by the police to capture him. Together with another revolutionary friend, he undertook a successful effort to throw two bombs and leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly shouting slogans of Inquilab Zindabad. Subsequently both volunteered to surrender and be arrested.
Held on this charge, he gained widespread national support when he underwent a 116 day fast in jail, demanding equal rights for British and Indian political prisoners. During this time, sufficient evidence was brought against him for a conviction in the Saunders case, after trial by a Special Tribunal and appeal at the Privy Council in England. He was convicted and subsequently hanged for his participation in the murder, aged 23.
His legacy prompted youth in British India to begin fighting for Indian independence and thus continues to be a youth idol particularly in today’s India, as well as the inspiration for several films.
RASOOL BAKHSH TARAR
Zemindar & a Philanthropist in the service of Lahore
Contributed and Narrated by: Ch. Muhammad Akram Tarar
There was a beautiful five dome mosque on Data Sahab shrine, built by my grandfather Haji Ghulam Rasool Tarar (photo: left), a well-known businessman and a zemindar, originally from Koulo Tarar village in Hafizabad. The mosque was based on Mughal Architecture and existed till 1984. There was unusual happening which made him to build this mosque, when he lost an amount of Rs. Four lakh, while traveling in a train from Jammu to Lahore, he then decided to use if for construction of mosque if it is re-found.
Miraculously enough he regained the amount and hence dedicated it to build a mosque. Initially he wanted to build mosque at the mausoleum of Miran Shah Zanjani Sahib, a disciple of Data Ganj Bakhsh and even transported some building material to the site. Yet after three consecutive nights of premonition he decided to shift the project to Data Darbar.
Obeying the heavenly command, and after seeking permission of the mujavirs he laid down the foundation of the mosque designed by Mistri Sultan (a Nayyer Ali Dada of those times). The Mosque was decorated with Mughal miniatures, frescoes, elegant chandelier and gold plating on its five domes. Its rhythmic hammering in courtyard still sound for the descendants who now posses merely pictorial testimony of photographs and painting (photo: center) of Ustad Miran Bakhsh, of the then beautiful five domed mosque intricately embracing the diffused heritage of centuries, which on the pretext of growing weak and hurdle in expansion was demolished.
None cared for the emotional protests as I tried my level best to the authorities to preserve at least some part of it, yet all such requests were turned down and the present structure of the mosque was raised.
The contribution of my grandfather, goes beyond the construction of this unique building. He also constructed different other building like Ghulam Rasool Building on the Mall (photo: right) in which Ferozsons having a shop as tenants. A book titled ‘India and the War’ published in 1921 remembers him and his son, Mr. Muhammad Din (my father), as “one of our best known and most respected citizen’s”. His dedication to philanthropy and common good brought him respect.
Apart from the mosque at the shrine of Data Sahib in Lahore he built two mosques in Amritsar at the lofty price of two lakh fifty thousand rupees. He also gave a building “rent free” to the St. John Ambulance Association (later Red Cross) that is still being used by now Red Crescent on Fatima Jinnah Road. He and his two sons Chaudhry Din Muhammad and Chaudhry Ghulam Mustafa contributed his benign mission and contributed generously to various charities.
The Wrestling Champ beats his English adversary
Most countries have a traditional style of wrestling. In the subcontinent, wrestling takes place in a clay or dirt pit. The soil is prepared and tended to before each practice and the bout.
Wrestling in India and Pakistan isn’t just a sport – it’s an ancient subculture where wrestlers live and train together and follow strict rules on everything from what they can eat to what they can do in their spare time.
Drinking, smoking and even sex are off limits. The focus is on living a pure life, building strength and honing their wrestling skills.
Wrestlers belong to gyms called akharhas, where wrestlers practice under strict rules. Their diets consist of milk, almonds, ghee, eggs and chapattis and each wrestler has a job to do in preparing meals.
Wrestling is on the decline, nevertheless there are still many akharhas left and some dedicated people still endevour to keep this ancient part of wrestling culture alive.
In this vintage pic, wrestling champ Daula pins down his English adversary Clark to the patent dismay of the referee, at a fundraiser for the Lahore Warplanes Fund, the Police Spitfire Fund and the Minto Park Fund, in Lahore in the late 1930s.
The famed young painter
Amrita Sher-Gil, died on Dec. 5, 1941 just days before the opening of her first major solo show in Lahore, she became seriously ill and slipped into a coma, and later died around midnight.
Her vibrant canvasses and her short but dynamic life established her as one of pre 1947 subcontinent’s most celebrated modern artists.
Born in Budapest in 1913, to a Hungarian mother and Sikh father, she trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, where she became influenced by Realism. When she came to Lahore, she adopted this modernist approach to portray the lives of local people in her community.
The young painter with her husband Victor had moved to Lahore in September 1941. Lahore in those days too, was a major cultural and artistic centre. Amrita lived and painted at 23 Ganga Ram Mansions, The Mall, Lahore where her studio was on the top floor of the townhouse she inhabited.
On her death at a very young age [the real reason behind her death remained a mystery] she left behind a large volume of work. She was cremated on 7 December 1941 in Lahore.
Amrita Pritam, All India Radio #Lahore (Pre-Partition)
The wailing Bulbul
31 August 1919: Amrita Pritam was born as Amrita Kaur in Gujranwala, Punjab. She was a Punjabi writer and poet, considered the first prominent woman Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist, and the leading 20th-century poet of the Punjabi language, who is equally loved on both sides of the India-Pakistan border. With a career spanning over six decades, she produced over 100 books, of poetry, fiction, biographies, essays, a collection of Punjabi folk songs and an autobiography that was translated into several Indian and foreign languages. She is most remembered for her poignant poem, Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah – “Ode to Waris Shah”), an elegy to the 18th-century Punjabi poet, an expression of her anguish over massacres during the partition of India.
Rajinder Singh Bedi as Staff in GPO Lahore c. 1933, Photo and Detail by: Qaisar Nazir Khawar
RAJINDER SINGH BEDI
The progressive Urdu Writer
1 September 1915: Rajinder Singh Bedi was born in Lahore to a Khatri father Hera Singh Bedi and Brahman mother Sewa Dei. His father was in service of General Post Office Lahore and the family used to live in government residence behind it. However their native town was ”Dalley Ki, Tehsil Daska District Sialkot. Initially he started writing with the pen name ‘Mohsin Lahori’ but later started using his own name. He was a progressive Urdu writer, playwright, screenwriter, dialogue writer and a Hindi film director. Some of his best work as a dialogue writer can be seen in films Mirza Ghalib (1954)
Rattan Singh, the grand son of Mahraja Ranjeet Singh overseeing Lahore from a vantage point..Aug 1947..
Courtesy: Safdar Hamdani
اولیں ناشر اعلان قیام پاکستان۔ یہ تصویر1952کی ہے سر فضل حسین کی کوٹھی والے پرانے ریڈیو پاکستان کے اس تاریخی سٹوڈیو کی ہے جہاں سے 13اور14اگست 1947کی درمیانی رات قیام پاکستان کا اعلان ہوا تھا
MUSTAFA ALI HAMDANI
A unique voice and style in Radio Broadcasting
Radio Pakistan is an organisation that came into being the day Pakistan was created. On the night between August 14 and 15, 1947, the first announcement was made from Lahore by celebrated broadcaster, Mustafa Ali Hamdani, followed by a similar announcement in English by Zahoor Azar, a CSS officer who later became the Director General of Radio Pakistan.
Mustafa Ali Hamadani was the most senior announcer of Radio Pakistan Lahore with a voice and a style all his own.
He was also a poet and equally at home in Urdu and Persian.
·Dilip Kumar with his favourite poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. – File photo courtesy Dawn
Faiz was an avowed supporter of Sufism. He had close relations with several Sufi saints of his time. He was a favourite of Baba Malang Sahib, a Sufi of Lahore, Wasif Ali Wasif, Ashfaq Ahmad, Syed Fakhruddin Balley and other renowned sufis. Once when he was asked how he could compare Sufis with socialist comrades, he replied, “They [Sufis] are the real comrades”. He is also credited for coining the term Ana al-Haqq in the political sense.
FAIZ AHMAD FAIZ
One of the most loved poets of Pakistan
Faiz Ahmad Faiz (13 Feb. 1911 – 20 Nov. 1984) was an influential left-wing intellectual, a revolutionary, and one of the most famous poets of Pakistan. Faiz was listed four times for the Nobel Prize in poetry, and in 1962 he received the Lenin Peace Prize from Soviet Union.
Although his family was devoted Muslim, Faiz was brought up in a secular tradition of Islam. He was often accused of atheism by the political and military establishment, yet his poetry suggests a more nuanced relationship with religion in general and with Islam in particular. He was, in fact, greatly inspired by South Asia’s Sufi traditions.
Faiz was also a Pakistan nationalist, and often said “Purify your hearts, so you can save the country.
During his college years Faiz had met M. N. Roy and Muzaffar Ahmed who influenced him to become a member of the Communist Party. His wife Alys Faiz, a British national, was also a member of Communist Party of the United Kingdom, who was studying at the Government College Lahore where Faiz taught poetry. While Alys opted for Pakistan citizenship, she was a vital member of Communist Party of Pakistan, and played a significant role in Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case when she brought together the communist mass.
In 1941, Faiz published his first literary book “Naqsh-e-Faryadi” (lit. Imprints) and joined the Pakistan Arts Council in 1947. From 1959–62, Faiz served as the secretary of Pakistan Arts Council, and later became Rector of Abdullah Haroon College in 1964. The same year, Faiz became the vice-president of Pakistan Arts Council.
Faiz was a good friend of Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko who once said “In Faiz’s autobiography… is his poetry, the rest is just a footnote”. During his lifetime, Faiz published eight books and received accolades for his works.
Faiz was a humanist, a lyrical poet, whose popularity reached neighbouring India and Soviet Union. Indian biographer Amaresh Datta, compared Faiz as “equal esteem in both East and West”. Throughout his life, his revolutionary poetry addressed the tyranny of military dictatorships and oppression.
Faiz himself never compromised on his principles despite being threatened by the right-wing parties in Pakistan.
Faiz’s writings are comparatively new verse form in Urdu poetry based on Western models. Faiz was influenced by the works of Allama Iqbal and Mirza Ghalib, assimilating the modern Urdu with the classical. He used more and more demands for the development of socialism in the country, finding socialism the only solution of country’s problems.
During his life, Faiz was concerned with more broader socialists ideas, using Urdu poetry for the cause and expansion of socialism in the country. The Urdu poetry and Ghazals influenced Faiz to continue his political themes as non-violent and peaceful, opposing the far left politics in Pakistan
Later in his life, while giving an interview with the local newspaper, Faiz was asked by the interviewer as if he was a communist, Faiz replied in his usual nonchalant manner: “No. I am not, a communist, a person who is a card carrying member of the Communist party ever made. The party is banned in our country. So how can I be a communist?…”.
As said, Faiz was an avowed supporter of Sufism. He had close relations with several Sufi saints of his time. He was a favourite of Baba Malang Sahib, a Sufi of Lahore, Wasif Ali Wasif, Ashfaq Ahmad, Syed Fakhruddin Balley and other renowned sufis. Once when he was asked how he could compare Sufis with socialist comrades, he replied, “They [Sufis] are the real comrades”. He is also credited for coining the term Ana al-Haqq in the political sense.
Although living a troubled life, Faiz’s work, political ideology, and poetry became immortal, and he is often dubbed as “greatest poet” of Pakistan.
Faiz remained extremely popular and influential figure in the literary development in Pakistan’s arts, literature, and drama and theatre adaptation.
In 1962, Faiz brought a great name for his country in the Soviet Union who had been hostile and had antagonistic relations with Pakistan. The Lenin Peace Prize, a Soviet equivalent of Nobel Peace Prize, helped lift Faiz’s image even higher in the international community. It brought Soviet Union and Pakistan much closer, putting past behind and working for development of people of both sides.
Faiz, whose work is considered the backbone of development of Pakistan’s literature, arts and poetry, was one of the most beloved poets in the country. Along with Allama Iqbal, Faiz is often known as “Poet of East”. While commenting on his legacy, classical singer Tina Sani mesmerised Faiz’s legacy as she puts it:
Faiz Ahmad Faiz… (was) like a comrade, his thoughts were soft but effective and inspired the classical singers as it did others in the plays we did… Faiz’s poetry never gets old because the problems and situations in this country have not changed. Today we sing him because of his beautiful poetry, missing out on the reasons behind his poems that had predictions…
—Tina Sani, commenting the legacy of Faiz.
[Faiz died in 1984 in Lahore, Punjab Province of Pakistan, shortly after hearing a nomination of Nobel Peace Prize].
Roay tussi wi o, Roay assi wi aan
Ustad Daman with Faiz Ahmad Faiz.
Ustad Daman (real name Chiragh Deen) (Sep. 1911 – Dec. 3, 1984) was a Punjabi poet and mystic. He was the most celebrated Punjabi poet at the time of the Partition of British India in 1947. Ustad Daman was a severe critic of military dictators who ruled over Pakistan for many decades.
A tailor by profession, in 1930 he stitched a suit for Mian Iftikhar-ud-din (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mian_Iftikharuddin), who was impressed by his verse. He invited him to recite his poem at a public meeting organised by the Indian National Congress, where he became an instant hit; Pandit Nehru, who was present, dubbed him the ‘Poet of Freedom’.
He first wrote under the pen name Humdam, which was later changed to Daman. The title ‘Ustad’ was bestowed on him by the people. After that he became a regular participant in these meetings. He believed that the unity of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs was essential, if the struggle for freedom was to be carried on successfully.
An example of his poetry:
‘In China the Chinese are grand,
In Russia they do as they have planned.
In Japan its people rule over its strand.
The British rule the land of England
The French hold the land of France,
In Teheran the Persians make their stand.
The Afghans hold on to their highland, Turkmenistan’s freedom bears the Turkmen’s brand,
How very strange is indeed this fact, That freedom in India is a contraband.’
Urdu humourist, educator, essayist, broadcaster and diplomat
Syed Ahmed Shah, commonly known as Patras Bokhari, (1 Oct. 1898 – 5 Dec. 1958) was an Urdu humourist, educator, essayist, broadcaster and diplomat from Pakistan. He is best known for his humorous writings in Urdu literature.
Born in a Kashmiri familyof Peshawar, Bokhari received his early education in the city of his birth and in 1916 moved from Islamia College Peshawar to attend Government College, Lahore. After completing his Masters in English he was appointed as lecturer at the same institution
Bokhari left Government College, Lahore in 1925 in order to complete a Tripos in English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University. Many years later, the Bokhari English Prize was established there in his honour.
In 1927, he returned to Government College, Lahore, and as a Professor remained there until 1939.
Before the formation of Pakistan in 1947, he was the Director General of All India Radio. Being a Professor of English Literature, he also served as the Principal of Government College, Lahore from 1947 to 1950. The Urdu poets Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Noon Meem Rashid, were among his students
After the formation of Pakistan, he served as the first permanent representative of Pakistan in the United Nations from 1951–1954. From 1954-1958 he remained as the Under Secretary of the UN, Head of Informon. He died during his diplomatic service and is buried in New York.
Staff of “The Pakistan Times” #Lahore c. 1947: Faiz (standing fourth from right) with his other colleagues. Faiz joined “The Pakistan Times” the Lahore based English newspaper, as Editor at the age of 37-years as well as the head of the editorial board of its sister publications, Urdu daily Imroze and literary and political weekly Lail-o-Nahar, which started in 1957.
The voice of sanity that once was
Pakistan Times – the newspaper that to this day is called PT – was founded by Mian Iftikhar-ud-din (1907 – 1962). The newspaper a leading English daily in earlier parts of Pakistan’s history was started by the leftists in the Muslim League as a balance to the centrist League organ Dawn as well as the Hindu press.
The newspaper espoused social justice and agrarian reforms, it attracted many well known leftists including its first editor Faiz Ahmad Faiz. However in 1959, following the military take over by Ayub Khan, the paper was nationalised by the government and despite a legal challenge, its owner Mian Iftikhar-ud-din failed to obtain either compensation or the return of his paper.
During the days of Ayub’s dictatorship, the paper remained under effective, though indirect, government control for eight years. The company that managed the daily, Progressive Papers Ltd (PPL) was one of Ayub regime’s first targets.
The PPL was taken over because it was left of the establishment of the day. Progressive in its views, which bore the stamp of its owner and founder, Mian Iftikhar-ud-din, it advocated an independent foreign policy, subservient not to the West but to the national interest.
It also called for peace with neighbours and a more forthright assertion of national self-respect. In short, the PPL group – the PT, its Urdu sister Imroze and the weekly Lail-au-Nahar – was a voice of sanity in a land which had already witnessed the first organised and crippling assault on the concept of equality before law and the relegation of religion to the realm of the private, the latter in the form of the 1953 anti-Ahmediyya riots in the Punjab.
Mazhar Ali Khan, one time editor of the PT recalls: “When the people of our land attain full freedom and genuine democracy, and Pakistan’s history is written by honest scholars searching for the truth and not as a panegyric or an apologia for the Ruler of the Day, the Ayub regime will be found guilty of a long and varied list of heinous acts, of defying the most elementary principles of law and justice, of destroying institutions wedded to public weal, and of victimising individuals who could not easily be browbeaten or purchased.
Mazhar Ali Khan had taken over as editor of the daily Pakistan Times, when Faiz Ahmad Faiz was its chief editor. It was Mazhar Ali Khan who put the newspaper together and led the editorial team. Mian Iftikhar-ud-din, the chairman and the owner of the Group did not interfere. The story is told of Mian Sahib, as he was always called by everyone, from editor to office messenger, asking Mazhar if a speech he had made a day earlier at a public meeting somewhere in the city was to be carried. No, it wasn’t. More printable news had taken the space where that story might have appeared. It is a measure of the man called Mian Iftikhar-ud-din that he found the answer perfectly acceptable.
Sometimes Mian Sahib would joke about his “treatment” by his own newspapers. He would say to Mazhar, “O Mazhar, yaar kaday meri party di khabar vi chhaap dya kar.” (O Mazhar, my friend, do sometimes find space for news of my party.)
Such intellectual generosity and modesty of spirit is unimaginable in the Pakistan of today. Now we live in the age of the proprietor editor. Some of them want page one treatment and it never occurs to them that such conduct is in extreme bad taste. Not for them the old adage that the only time an editor should make his own newspaper as news is a day after he dies.
1.This part, on one of the leading English daily newspapers of Pakistan is an abridged version of the article by late Khalid Hassan (http://www.khalidhasan.net/2008/07/23/the-pakistan-times/)
2. Text in some parts of this post is sourced from Wikipedia.
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