|01||Pakistan, Partition And The Present - Part One||20170808||Shahzeb Jillani explores Pakistan’s uneasy relationship with its violent history|
In Pakistan they are racing against time to record the memories of those who witnessed Partition: people like Syed Afzal Haider, now in his late 80s, who recalls, as a 15-year-old, creeping through the deserted streets of Lahore and watching dogs sniffing around the scattered corpses.
Hundreds of thousands died in 1947 as Muslims were driven across the partition line into the newly created Pakistan and Hindus and Sikhs were forced in the opposite direction.
Taha Shaheen and Fakhra Hassan are making sure the stories of 1947 are not forgotten. They are collecting the testimonies of people who remember the carnage. Taha’s grandmother was driven out of her village in the Punjab and could only watch as her mother and brother were cut to pieces on the journey to Pakistan. Fakhra met a man who helped set fire to Sikh houses in Lahore. He was seven years old at the time.
But young Pakistanis learn only a partial version of these events, as Shahzeb discovers at a government school in the walled city of Lahore, a school that once carried the name of a local Sikh ruler. The 14-year-olds in the history class are taught that Moslems were the victims of Partition. There’s no mention of the atrocities committed by Muslim mobs against Sikh and Hindus.
Shahzeb is disappointed by what he hears. How, he asks, can Pakistanis learn to be tolerant of people of different faiths, if history is distorted in this way?
One answer may be the Partition Museum, which will open soon in Lahore, and which will put the stories of Partition on public display. Aaliyah Tayyebi of the Citizens Archive of Pakistan believes this will encourage a true understanding of why Pakistan was created and how it can learn to live at peace with itself and its neighbours.
(Photo: Shahzeb Jillani at Lahore station, Pakistan)
|02||Pakistan, Partition And The Present, Part Two||20170809||Shahzeb asks if Pakistan has lived up to the vision of its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah|
Has Pakistan has lived up to the vision of its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah - to create a unified national identity for the country with Islam as the great unifying factor? Pakistan was founded as a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent, but religion, nationality and gender have caused faultlines in the region.
For women, Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to live in and yet it has also spawned a thriving women’s rights movement with thousands of activists such as Tanveer Jahan, “Societal transformation, ? she says, “is a very, very long struggle ?
(Photo: Presenter Shahzeb Jillani standing outside in front of a mosque, Pakistan)
It was the ambition of Pakistan’s founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah to create a unified national identity, with Islam as the great unifying factor. This was the spirit in which Pakistan was founded, as a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. But Monty Mashooqulla experienced at first hand that other identities could be more important. Of Kashmiri heritage, he was born in Chittagong in the 1950s. Chittagong was in the predominantly Bengali-speaking East Pakistan, and by the early 1970s the Bengalis were seeking freedom. As East Pakistan became Bangladesh after a short war, Monty was already in exile in far off Karachi.
The Bengalis weren’t the only ones. The Pashtuns, too, feel that in 1947 they swapped one colonial master, the British, for another, the Punjabi and Urdu-speaking elite that came to dominate the new country. Traditionally Pashtuns live in the mountains that straddle the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the biggest Pashtun community today is in the seething metropolis of Karachi, where Dost Mohammed, a businessman and politician, says that he may have been Pakistani for 70 years and Muslim for 1400, but that he’s been Pashtun for at least 5,000.
In Quetta, the capital of the vast desert province of Balochistan, the sense of alienation goes far deeper. The Baloch are proud of their history, language and culture. This is a difficult place for journalists to visit, a place where the Pakistani army has been battling a little reported separatist insurgency for more than a decade. Those who dare to speak up risk their lives. But speak up they do, to bemoan their lack of educational opportunity, their alleged oppression by the army, the lack of economic development.
Pakistan’s women make similar complaints. This is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for a woman to live in. Yet it has also spawned a thriving women’s rights movement with thousands of activists. One of them is Tanveer Jahan, who reaches back into history to point out that Jinnah thought women had an essential role to play in the creation and progress of Pakistan.
“Societal transformation, ? she says, with a measure of understatement, “is a very, very long struggle. ?
(Photo: Shahzeb Jillani standing outside in front of a mosque, Pakistan)