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Rampant Taliban, Cowering Kabul: New Age Islam’s Selection from Pakistan Press, 17 August 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

17 August 2015

 The Seven Long Years When Pakistan Did Not Sing Its National Anthem

By Akhtar Balouch

 When Was Pakistan Founded?

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

 Rampant Taliban, Cowering Kabul

By S Mubashir Noor

 Exploiting Tragedy

By Juggun Kazim


The Seven Long Years When Pakistan Did Not Sing Its National Anthem

By Akhtar Balouch

August 17th, 2015

For seven long years after the inception of their country, the people of Pakistan could not sing their national anthem. The reason? They simply didn’t have one.

During this period, they got on by playing patriotic songs at various state events. The political leadership was faced with two major dilemmas:

How to chart out a constitution that is acceptable to everyone,

How to compose a national anthem that all regions of the country could sing in unison.

Perhaps, in the case of the national anthem, too, language was a contentious issue; people in East Pakistan spoke Bengali, while those in West Pakistan spoke four different languages, which included Sindhi, Balouchi, Punjabi, and Pashto. Moreover, Quaid-e-Azam had already declared Urdu as the national language.

Aqeel Abbas Jafari writes in Pakistan Ka Qaumi Tarana: Kia Hai Haqiqat Kia Hai Fasaana:

“On 4th August 1954, the cabinet held another meeting and announced that it had approved the anthem written by Mr Hafeez Jallandhri without any changes. The meeting also declared that after the adoption of this anthem, the two national songs – one each in Urdu and Bengali – had been rendered unnecessary.”

The man who had written the musical composition for the national anthem had by then departed. He died on 5th February 1953, whereas the anthem and its music won approval in 1954. The recognition for his service, too, came very late.

On page 21 of Yaad-i-Khazana: Radio Pakistan Mien 25 Saal, veteran broadcaster Jamil Zubairi writes under the heading The National Anthem:

“The musical composition for Pakistan’s national anthem had been prepared by Mohammad Ali Chagla [This may be a proofreading error, as his actual name was Ahmed Ghulam Ali Chagla]. After that, all poets of the country were invited to write anthems that could be set to Chagla’s composition. The government had appointed a committee tasked with the selection of the best anthem.

“When Z.A. Bukhari, then Director General of Radio Pakistan, heard Chagla’s composition, he teamed up with composer Nihal Abduallh and others and brought it into musical form; he then wrote the lyrics for a national anthem, becoming the first man to do so. Meanwhile, Hafeez Jallandhri and other poets sent in their anthems.

“All of these were put before the National Anthem Committee, which approved the one written by Jallandhri. That irked Bukhari, who insisted that he was the first to write a national anthem. However, the committee maintained its decision was final.

“Mrs Feldberg, the supervisor of English programmes of Radio Pakistan, sent the anthem to London for the orchestrisation [sic] and notation. When the finished product arrived back from London, Z.A. Bukhari and Hameed Nasim, together, recorded the national anthem at Radio Pakistan. The singers included Nihal Abdullah, Daim Hussain, Nazir Begum, Rasheeda Begum, Tanvir Jehan, Kokab Jehan and others. Thus was recorded the national anthem by Radio Pakistan.”

Exactly, when Chagla finalised the music for the national anthem, and which songs served the anthem's function before it was created, I wanted to know. Veteran journalist Naimatullah Bukhari says that soon after Independence, his school adopted Allama Mohammad Iqbal’s poem “Cheen o Arab hamaraa hindostaan hamaara/Muslim hain hum; watan hai saara jahaan hamaara” as the morning assembly song.

Human Rights activists Iqbal Alvi remembers that pupils at his school would sing “Lab pe aati hai dua ban kay tamana meri”.

Aqeel Abbas Jafari has reproduced an excerpt from an article written by Aminur Raham in 1960. Rahman describes the circumstances around the musical composition of the national anthem:

“In the beginning of the year 1950, the youthful King of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi, arrived in Pakistan on a state visit. The customs and protocol required that the king be welcomed with an anthem ceremony. Hence, the need for an official anthem was direly felt, but Pakistan had not yet decided on its anthem. The officials were running short of time; they urgently needed a national anthem not only for this particular occasion but also for the future events, because it would have been impossible to change the national anthem once it had been selected and played.

“The decision called for a thorough examination of everything related to the issue; consequently, the National Anthem Committee hesitated, especially when they came across the apparent lack of a suitable person for the job in Pakistan.

“However, the officials demonstrated their acumen by picking up an artist whose selection warrants praise for the selectors. In the West, there are a number of great musicians, competing against each other, and if any one of them were asked to give musical composition for the national anthem of Pakistan, he would have accomplished the job excellently; but it would have attached with it a foreigner’s name to Pakistan’s anthem – something that could have hurt our national prestige. Hence, the selection of a Pakistani musician was apt.

“Ahmed G.A. Chagla was well-known as a skilled musician to the erudite section of our society – people who understood music. Possibly, there were superior experts of classical music in Pakistan at the time, but Chagla had not only developed an insight into the classical music of the subcontinent; he also understood the theory and technique of the Western melodies. He had studied Western music at the famous music academy of England, The Trinity College of Music, under Sir Henry Wood. As someone with intimate knowledge of both eastern and western traditions of music, he was the most suited candidate for composing the music of Pakistan’s national anthem.

“With time slipping away and his health worsening off, Chagla burned the midnight oil to produce a suitable composition for Pakistan’s national anthem. Long before the Iranian King arrived in Pakistan, the anthem had been produced. The entire process took no more than two weeks. Ahmed G. Chagla created a composition that reflects the patriotism and aspirations of our nation perfectly. When the King of Iran arrived in Pakistan, a navy band played the anthem to welcome him; the king was impressed.”

The ongoing debate among journalists and intellectuals over the issue of national anthem has generated another question: Who was the first person to write a national anthem for Pakistan?

Over the last decade, one group has claimed that Jagan Nath Azad was the first one to write a national anthem. Proponents of this claim cite one of Azad’s interview, in which he says that Jinnah had instructed him to write a national anthem. Historical facts, however, tell us that Azad had never termed any of his national songs as the ‘national anthem of Pakistan’. The debate rages on.

Senior Journalist Naeem Ahmed writes in one of his columns, “I don't think Mr Jinnah ever asked Jagan Nath Azad to write the national anthem; if that were the case, Azad would have been boasting about it. It's also a fact that Mr Jinnah had no taste for Urdu poetry; besides, he and Azad never lived in the same city.”

At the time, Bengalis living in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) had been demanding that the national anthem must also include words of Bengali language, but their demand was turned down.

Aqeel Abbas Jafari writes on page 37 of Pakistan Ka Qaumi Tarana: Kia Hay Haqiqat Kia Hay Fasana:

“A study of Radio Pakistan's archives and a research undertaken by Dr Safdar Mahmood have confirmed that Radio Pakistan broadcast on the night between 14 and 15 August did not include any song or anthem by Jagan Nath Azad. There remains a possibility that Radio Pakistan later aired a song written by Jagan Nath Azad, who called it a national song, and whose admirers continue to tag it as national anthem. However, that is not very likely, as neither the archives at Radio Pakistan nor any written accounts of the radio veterans confirm such a thing.”

Jamil Zubairi in his preface to Yaad-i-Khazana: Radio Pakistan Mien 25 Saal reveals that on 4th August 1947 then Sindh Government had launched its own radio service.

“The idea for the [regional] radio station was conceived by S.K. Haider, who owned a radio shop in Karachi. He discussed it with Ahmed G.A. Chagla. Subsequently, both of them met with Mr Adnani, an advisor to the Sindh Government. Haider and Chagla were able to set up a makeshift radio station when they successfully repaired some old transmitters. It was named 'Sindh Government Broadcasting Station' and it hit the waves on 10th August 1947.

“When Pakistan came into being on 14th August 1947 and Quaid-e-Azam was sworn in as Governor-General, this same radio station broadcast eyewitness accounts of these historic events. However, the radio station lived for a mere 10-day period, as it was shut down on 20th August, because the Wireless Act did not provide for the provincial governments to run their own radio stations.”

Take our history buff quiz: How well do you know Pakistan's past?

Renowned historian Gul Hassan Kalmati writes on page 247 of his book Karachi Kay Lafaani Kirdar:

“There is a possibility that the same makeshift radio aired Jagan Nath Azad's anthem, but almost all of the people in a position to confirm it are dead. The issue should be explored by researchers.”

The national anthem that we, Pakistanis, sing today won approval in 1954, seven years after Independence. So did the musical composition, though the latter had already earned a semi-official status in 1950. Chagla had put his heart and soul into the musical composition for the national anthem, and you can feel that by listening to it.

However, he could not see his composition being formally approved during his life time, and successive governments failed to recognise the service he had rendered to the nation. His family, too, had to wait for 43 years before the recognition came (if counted from the date of cabinet approval, it becomes a 43-year period).

Gul Hassan Kalmati writes on page 242 of Karachi Ke Lafaani Kirdaar:

"Finally, after a lapse of 43 years, it was during Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's term in office that the government announced Presidential Award for Mr Ahmed Ali Chagla. His son, Abdul Khaliq Chagla, who lives in Houston, received the award at a ceremony held at Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C. on 23rd March 1997."

Hafeez Jallandhri died on 21st December 1982. The government pondered over his last wish to be buried next to Allama Mohammed Iqbal. Renowned historian and researcher Mueenuddin Aqeel says that the government failed to fulfil that last wish of Jallandhri. First, he was temporarily buried in the Model Town cemetery, then he was interred in a tomb that had been built for him in the vicinity of Minar-e-Pakistan.

Akhtar Balouch is a senior journalist, writer and researcher. He is currently a council member of the HRCP. Sociology is his primary domain of expertise, on which he has published several books.


When Was Pakistan Founded?

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

August 17, 2015

It is not a wonder that the Pakistani youth are extremely confused about history and identity. Recently writing in the Urdu press, self-styled historian Dr Safdar Mahmood made a startling revelation: Pakistan was founded in 1192 and the real founder of Pakistan was Sultan Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori. The basis for this claim is a letter that he claims Sultan Ghori wrote to Raja Prithviraj Chohan of India in which he asked for the separation of areas that now constitute Pakistan from the rest of India. Apparently, that one letter has more weight than the constitutional and democratic struggle the Muslim League was involved in during the closing stages of the British Raj.

Nationalists often like to imagine primordial identities for their modern nation states. It is some sort of a psychological need. Gandhi spoke of the wisdom of ancient India. Nehru laid out the contours of one Indian nation by imagining a glorious past before the British Raj going back thousands of years. Israeli Zionists cling on to the ancient memory of original Israel from thousands of years ago. In that sense, Dr Safdar Mahmood may well be seen as just another nationalist trying to find an ancient logic for Pakistan’s existence but, as with other nationalists, it reveals much more of the insecurity and unease with the present than it does to justify it. Even in Pakistan an alternative vision of history was given by lawyer-politician Aitzaz Ahsan in the form of his much better argued Indus saga. Inevitably, all such exercises, however well-intentioned, detract from the actual facts about how Pakistan came into being.

There are some inalterable truths about the independence struggle and the creation of Pakistan that nationalists on both sides — in India and Pakistan — have been fighting in vain. First and foremost, India was never one political unit till the British came and gave it this unity, with two possible exceptions. The first exception was the Pan-Indian rule of Asoka the Great of the Maurya Dynasty from 269 BC to 232 BC. The second exception was the Pan-Indian rule of Aurangzeb Alamgir, the Mughal emperor who briefly held almost the entire subcontinent. Both emperors were men of faith, Asoka of Buddhism and Aurangzeb of Sunni Islam, who were driven in part by religious zeal. Both empires rapidly declined immediately after the deaths of these two emperors.

It was thus the British who gave India legal and constitutional unity in the sense of it being one legal realm. Even then it was essentially two different political systems: the British Indian provinces and the princely states that had accepted the suzerainty of the British Empire. How to bring about a federation of India that would be acceptable to all provinces and princely states was the question that vexed the rulers and leaders of the independence struggle greatly. Against this backdrop was the other big struggle of the time: how to find a constitutional formula that would satisfy the requirements of Indian diversity, in particular the two main religious communities of the subcontinent i.e. Hindus and Muslims. Jinnah — the eventual founder of Pakistan — spent a career trying to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims on the one hand and between his own all India vision with the requirements of his constituents i.e. the Muslims of India, who formed majorities on the north west and north east of the subcontinent. As a constitutional lawyer, he argued that on the basis of the majorities in the north west and north east extremities of India, Muslims were a nation, not a community, and therefore any constitution that was to be formed must be made by consensus between Hindus and Muslims, not by sheer majority. It was not a call for separation from the get go. More importantly, at no point did the Two Nation Theory — as it came to be known — ever postulate that the two nations could not live together. Indeed, the Lahore Resolution provided for the coexistence of the two nations in either state.

Muhammad Sharif Toosi, writing under the pseudonym MRT, compiled a series of articles and speeches both by Jinnah and himself explaining the League’s theory of nationalism. The case for Muslim nationhood, as given by this book, which was published at Jinnah’s behest, is based entirely on the western theory of nationalism and not its rejection. It bases the claim on the existence of contiguous majority areas forming homelands of the said nation. Here, the minorities — non-Muslims — would be part of the overall Pakistani nation. Meanwhile, it boldly claimed that Muslims outside the homelands were to be minority communities in the Indian nation. It further provided for reciprocal safeguards for minorities and did not rule out some kind of broader overarching union or treaty organisation between India and Pakistan. Interestingly, one such article in this book stated poignantly that India had room for many mansions. Jinnah’s own article in the book spoke of the joint governance of their common motherland as the objective of the Muslims. The name of the book chosen by the author and Jinnah himself was The Problem of the Future Constitution of India. Had the Cabinet Mission Plan been allowed to work, there may well have emerged a Pakistan without partition i.e. a Pakistan within an overall Indian federation. In 1947, Jinnah and the Muslim League attempted to woo the Sikhs into Pakistan in order to keep Punjab united. This does not square off with the idea of primordial separatism that Dr Safdar Mahmood would like to imagine.

Another outrageous claim that Dr Safdar Mahmood makes in his article is that Bengal was not included in the Lahore Resolution but only came into it after 1946. This is outright intellectual dishonesty. The Lahore Resolution stated: “That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions, which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the north western and eastern zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.” The resolution was moved by A K Fazlul Haq of Bengal. However, Safdar Mahmood would have us believe that the Lahore Resolution in 1940 was only to satisfy the primordial desire of Sultan Muhammad Ghori to separate Punjab and Sindh from the rest of India as he expressed in 1192. There has to be some end to such a distortion of history.

Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality.


Rampant Taliban, Cowering Kabul

By S Mubashir Noor

August 17, 2015

As feared, hopes of Afghan peace have crumbled quickly. The ‘moderate’ new Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, stresses that “Jihad will continue till an Islamic sharia system is enforced in the country.” He adds that notions of dialogue with the government are “propaganda of the enemy”. Is it now time to unpack the infamous ‘plan C’ and carve up Afghanistan?

If Mansoor is “playing to his own audience and trying to consolidate his position”, as Thomas Ruttig of the Afghan Analysts Network believes, the Taliban insurgency will get more vicious before it dials down. When ideologues are cornered, as Mansoor is with the succession drama, they scurry to their hard-line roots and return only when able to negotiate from a position of strength.

The carnage of the Kabul bombings in early August dispelled a myth that began with the news of Mullah Omar’s death. There was hope that many Taliban fighters, upon hearing this news, would disappear to do some soul searching. A few days later, they would emerge deflated and ready to put down arms. This has not happened because three years ago, according to scholar Antonio Giustozzi, the Taliban “decentralised their insurgency as much as they could” in response to US drone strikes.

While the non-Haqqani network Taliban, especially Mullah Omar’s family, may be angry at Mansoor for deceiving them, they will see no reason to stray from the path of reclaiming Afghanistan. Especially when they are gaining in battles against Kabul and the complete drawdown of US forces nears in 2016. A similar situation brews in Gaza where Islamic State (IS) allied Salafists duel Hamas for control of the strip but unite in actions against Israel.

Mullah Omar, without a doubt, was the spiritual spear of the Taliban. However, the death of a man absent from day-to-day command for over a decade could never have jammed the insurgency at a tactical level. The White House may again slow down the troop exit schedule but you wonder how much patience Congress has for Kabul’s training wheels. Deputy US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently warned: “We cannot and should not be the guarantor of Afghan security in perpetuity.”

Some in the Afghan government see the succession crisis as an opportunity to divide and conquer the Taliban. The Balkh province governor, Atta Mohammed Nur, thinks “defeating the Taliban is a very real possibility now”. His alliance with Tajik warlord, and old foe, Rashid Dostum though indicates that few among the Soviet-era Mujahideen trust Kabul to contain the militancy without US muscle. Moreover, such regional pacts only weaken an already under-fire President Ghani.

Anatol Lieven, writing for The New York Times, says Kabul should use Taliban infighting to “isolate the hard-liners in Afghanistan”. That said, the moderates will not bite unless Ghani grants sweeping regional autonomy. Lest we forget, all Taliban lost their perks after 2001, not just the diehards. Afghanistan’s US-style presidential system will need a revamp before countrywide devolution is possible.

In 2002, many Afghans wanted King Zahir Shah back. Even as a token monarch, he could be the uniting force in a divided country. However, the warlords and Islamists rejected this idea. Shah’s 1964 Constitution had been far too secular for comfort, and they feared an erosion of power if Afghanistan took a step back in history. The Cold War US had not been a fan either. A National Security Archive report from 1970 painted Shah’s rule as a “party-less parliament, the powerless prime minister and a King reluctant either to use or delegate his authority”.

Shashank Joshi, writing for the BBC online, believes the post-Mullah Omar Taliban “may be strong enough to keep waging war but too weak to make peace”. In short, the balkanisation of the group may result in a similar fate for Afghanistan. If the government cannot outgrow its “mayor of Kabul” tag, the country could return to the civil war era of the 1990s. There are few happy omens around. The Afghan national army has shrunk by 8.5 percent from its tally in February last year, mainly due to desertions. Competing factions could also emerge inside the Afghan security forces after 2016.

A UK member of parliament named Tobias Ellwood saw this coming in 2011. Worried that Afghanistan faced a “bleak future” after international presence faded, he devised “plan C” to divide the country into eight zones. Each zone would work under a local council overseen by some foreign power. This setup would allow for better representation and faster reaction times to on-ground situations.

Although discussed by senior members of the US and UK cabinets, the plan was never put into action. Perhaps there was enough optimism then about crushing the militants wholesale for it not to merit attention. Now, the other shoe has dropped and there is no going back. Otherwise, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan will have been for naught.

S Mubashir Noor is a freelance columnist and audio engineer based in Islamabad


Exploiting Tragedy

By Juggun Kazim

August 17, 2015

By now, most of us have heard or read about the horrific Kasur tragedy, about how hundreds of children were sexually abused and blackmailed. Everywhere you look, pictures and videos of the victims and their families keep popping up. And everyone is going on and on about how terrible the whole incident is. No doubt it is. But what is actually being done about it?

Please understand that I’m not trying to brush this tragedy aside or to sweep it under the rug. What happened in Kasur was incredibly horrible. The people who abused those children deserve to be punished. The officials who helped this tragedy last as long as it did also need to be punished. But that is not all.

Every time the Kasur tragedy is discussed on television, you either see people weeping or screaming. But how is this helping the victims and the families? Is this hysterical behaviour actually guaranteeing that children will be any safer or better protected from this kind of vile exploitation?

Let’s take a different crime. A woman gets raped. The incident gets noticed by politicians and the ‘higher-ups’. These people start visiting the victim and her family, of course, followed by throngs of journalists. This improves the profile and image of everyone involved except the poor victim. And let’s be very honest: all of these things are done for the purpose of point-scoring and higher ratings — whether in the media or in the political arena.

What happens then is that there are two crimes: first the girl gets assaulted by a criminal; and then she gets assaulted by the nation, at large. Is it any surprise that many of these cases end with either the girl or one of her family members committing suicide out of the humiliation of being pranced around like a prize horse.

The point I’m trying to raise is that we need to highlight the issue, not the individuals. There is no need to publish the pictures of a rape victim or of a child who has been abused. There is no need to interview their parents. Those children and their parents deserve some privacy, not 15 minutes of fame.

More importantly, those children and their parents don’t need our pity. They need our help.

Unfortunately, for the victims of Kasur, their wounds are not just physical. Had they been injured in an explosion or a terrorist attack, the government would have flown in doctors to treat their wounds and citizens would have lined up to donate blood. If they were hungry, people would have supplied food. If they were homeless, people would have given tents and mattresses. But how do you help children whose trust in humanity has been destroyed?

The short answer is that you treat them with respect and you make sure they get help from experts. Just like doctors can help people with physical wounds, psychologists can help people with scarred psyches. This is not something new or untested. It is something basic that other countries have understood.

Many years ago, soldiers in Western countries would get help only for their physical problems, but not for psychological ones. If you were shot, you would get patched up. But if you couldn’t function because of what is now termed post-traumatic stress disorder, then you were supposed to be a real He-man and suck it up. Of course, what happened was that many soldiers would either crack under the stress and either commit terrible atrocities or kill themselves. That is why even institutions like the US Army have realised that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Sticking a microphone in someone’s face and asking them how they felt about getting blackmailed over their child’s rape is not helpful. Yes, it will be good if the monsters who committed these crimes are punished. But that will not be enough.

We have already failed the children of Kasur by not protecting them. If we don’t help them heal properly, we will be failing them all over again.