Saraiki Poet Rifat Abbas refuses the Pride of Punjab Award for Punjabi Poetry

rifat-abbas

All admiration and support to poet/educator Rifat Abbas for taking this action in favour of his mother language at this year’s International Mother Language Day.

“I’ve no moral ground to accept the award; I refuse it due to three main reasons: being a poet, being a Seraiki nationalist and being a neighbor of small nations struggling against the suppression of Punjab,” said Mr Abbas. Explaining the reasons, he said that being a poet he had not rendered any service for the promotion of Punjabi language but his all services were for the promotion of Seraiki language.
dawn.com/news/1316216/seraiki-poet-turns-down-punjab-award

As a Punjabi writer, i much appreciate his insistence on the three points he has mentioned: that he is a Saraiki language poet who doesn’t like to be packaged as a Punjabi poet; that he is also a Saraiki nationalist demanding independent rights and resources for Saraiki speaking people; and, that the harsh oppression of Balochis and Sindhis being carried out by the Punjabi power-holders can not be ignored.

It is my experience that Pakistan’s Punjabi writers, mainly based in Lahore, hold the few resources available for mother languages in the Punjab, and their bigoted attitude does not allow them to listen to people like Rifat Abbas who for many years are saying that Saraiki is not Punjabi and that it is a distinct language with it’s own culture and geographic location. It’s understandable that Pakistan’s federal and provincial state structures would have a negative view of this position but why is it that Punjabi writers feel offended by it? Perhaps some vested interests and literary hegemonies are preventing us from supporting another writer’s stand for his mother language.

As Punjabis, who are we to judge if a language is a dialect of Punjabi when the representatives and speakers of that language are saying that it’s not? Because not only that Saraiki is not Punjabi but it also does have it’s own culture (a Punjabi, for example, will greet another Punjabi in a different way than a Seraiki will greet another Seraiki) and land. If we don’t acknowledge it, we are putting forward the same colonial concepts and aspirations that make us complicit now on the suppression being carried out by Pakistan’s Punjabi-led state structures against Balochis, Sindhis and Pashtuns- like we were complicit against Bengalis in the 60s and the 70s.

Uddari fully supports Rifat Abbas and other friends in Saraiki wasaib for their ongoing struggle to get recognition and rights for their language and culture.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com

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Thanks Giving for Books

This November, we are motivated to remember the books that made a difference in our lives, and to offer thanks to the authors for writing them. Giving thanks below are Mariam Zohra Durrani, Sonja Grgar, Sana Janjua, Randeep Purewall and Fauzia Rafique.
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My ‘loved’ books

Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos Castenada
Affirmed personal metaphysical philosophy

Native Son, Richard Wright
Increased sociopolitical awareness about north america.

Primitive Offense, Dionne Brande
Influenced poetic work.

Sula, Toni Morrison
Touched by sula and toni.

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
Healing; reincarnation of my ancestors and homeland.

Incognito, David Eagleman
Affirmed and empowered my personal metaphysical philosophy.

The Biology of Belief, Bruce H. Lipton
Affirmed and empowered my personal metaphysical philosophy.

A Woman’s Herbalist, Kitty Campion
Gave knowledge of herbs and techniques and concoctions.

Mariam Zohra Durrani
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Books I am thankful for

Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions, Diana Johnstone
Academically rigorous exploration of the role of the West and NATO in the breakdown of Yugoslavia, and one that exposes many of the propagandist depictions of Serbia that were promoted by western mainstream media during that time.

Sophie’s Choice, William Styron
Artful and heartbreaking account of the effects of holocaust on those who have survived it, and on those of Jewish identity in general.

Anna Karenina , Leo Tolstoy
Complex and beautifully philosophical portrait of 19th century Russia and stifling social norms that drive its heroine to her demise.

The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
Stunningly eloquent and touching portrayal of the immigrant experience in America, and the complexities of composite cultural identities.

The Tyranny of E-mail, John Freeman
A much needed and rare critical look at the often blindly celebrated cyber world we live in.

Geographies of a Lover, Sarah de Leeuw
An incredibly skillful book of erotic poetry that uses the raw imagery of BC landscape as a metaphor for the vigour and fullness of female sexuality

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
A raw and brave account of a Pakistani woman’s life back home and in Canada, unflinching in its critical portrayal of patriarchy and chauvinism in both societies, yet laced with a warm, yet never sentimental, homage to the lead protagonist’s homeland

Sonja Grgar
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I love these books

In the Skin of Lion, Micheal Ondaatje

An Equal Music, Vikram Seth

The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon, the God

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

Black, George Elliot Clarke

The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi

The Little Match Girl, Hans Christian Anderson

Blindness, Jose Saramago

Native Son, Richard Wright

Sana Janjua
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Thankful for the following books

A Diary of a Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
It’s hilarious, a delightful and touching “light” read. I come back to it time and time again, probably because of its main character, Charles Pooter who is one of the great figures in English comic literature.

Dream of a a Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin
Reading this book was an experience. I almost felt like I was living the life of its characters, set in 19th century China. And the supernatural Buddhist/Daoist themes lend it a “timeless,” mysterious feel.

Deewan-i-Ghalib, Ghalib
I am still reading and learning Ghalib’s verses. His poetry is complex, challenging and captivating. His verses can be philosophical, melancholic and irreverant, telling us not only much about Ghalib’s life but of the twilight of the Mughal era.

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
This was my first Punjabi novel (which I actually read in its English edition). It was a novel that not only made an old literature sound contemporary but one that did so poignantly without being sentimental. The scenes in the novel are etched in my memory and I enjoyed how it dealt with “political” themes like class, poverty and patriarchy, without ever once sounding political.

Randeep Purewall
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Thankful for every book read (to the end), but for some, more so.

Kafian, Madholal Hussain
Shah Hussain’s (Punjabi) poems emerged as songs in my childhood. Later, i realized, Kafian speaks to my totality in some way as it gives me a perspective to view and experience life. From then to now, if planning to travel for over a week, Kafian comes with me because it’s home.

Diwan-e-Ghalib, Assadullah Khan Ghalib
Mirza Ghalib’s collection of (Urdu) poems came upon me a little later than Kafian but in similar ways, and though a very different flavour, it also is a continuous source of pleasure and profundity.

Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
Though i love Sartre’s trilogy The Roads to Freedom, thanks must be given for Nausea that I read in early youth and there it made me understand why i was feeling nauseous all the time.

After, i found two incredible books that helped me to make sense of the world that was unfolding in the ’70s, notes on alienation in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 by Karl Marx and The Second Sex by Simone de Bouvois. Much gratefulness for both.

Power, Linda Hogan
Thanks to Linda Hogan for all her novels, they allowed me to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the lived lives of her characters. As well, because in Toronto in the ’90s, i was having this recurring image of an upside down tree with roots as branches, and it was disturbing me to the point where i began to mention it to friends including poet Connie Fife, who later brought me three novels by Linda Hogan. And unbelievable though it was, i found the exact scene of an upside down tree in one. There also was a reason for it: a storm, and there were people who were able to deal with it. I did not understand why i was having it, i still don’t, but the stress went away.

The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
Special thanks to Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses (with Midnight’s Children and Shame since they come out from and flow into each other), the work that launched a strong and permanent literary assault on religious bigotry and its contexts of oppression; the telling of a story that showed us what literature can do. In its aftermath, the Author’s insistence on our right to freedom of expression, to discuss and to confront extremism, continues to strengthen the secular movement. The usage and expression is as revolutionary as the content. The Satanic Verses also is my most valued Banned Book.

The Beloved, Toni Morrison
Thanks to Toni Morrison for The Beloved, an unbelievable story of courage and endurance, of heroic survival and resistance, that claimed from me all the buried emotions of women’s system-sanctioned stoning-lynching-gangraping deaths, confinement and torture. I’m in awe of Toni Morrison for telling this story the way she has though i may not dare read it again.

Fauzia Rafique
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Inspired by
PEN American Centre‘s Facebook post ‘Giving Thanks for Books’
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‘Love and Bones’ by Bonnie Nish – Book Launch Vancouver Sept 20/13

loveandbones-cover

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LOVE AND BONES – BOOK LAUNCH
Friday September 20th, 2013!
7PM
St. Marks Church
1805 Larch Street, Vancouver BC

Poetry by Bonnie Nish
Cover Photo by Mark L. Tompkins
Publisher Karma Press
Love and Bones has been lovingly edited by
Sita Carboni, Mary Duffy, Evelyn Lau
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The night will begin with a few words from Evelyn Lau and be MC’d by Dennis E. Bolen with musical entertainment from Sharon McIntee-Birrell and Michael Peacock.

‘Remembrance and wonder imbue this debut collection of poetry that delves deep to explore “all that is carried in marrow” –from a child’s memories of the family home to a grandparent’s experience of the Holocaust. In poems about family and intimate relationships that are replete with rich images that reveal the complex tapestry of human connection and disconnection, Nish offers us the “eternal pictures” left behind by those we love.” ~ Fiona Tinwei Lam

“Love and Bones is aglow with every kind of love — love of parents, love of the romantic other, love of children, love of cultural inheritance, love of poetry, love of the implacable mysteries of life. On every page of this book you will see how poems can give passionate utterance to the depth, intricacy, and power of authentic human feeling. You will see also how the signature note in these pieces is one of praise. Out of regret, dark recesses of sadness, and mourning come elation, affirmation, and transformative creative joy as in a kind of miracle. This is an utterly moving, nuanced collection full of images and lyrical turns that match the orders of emotion it evokes — and mark it as an imaginative triumph.” ~ Russell Thornton

Bonnie Nish is the Founder and Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society a charitable organization in the literary arts based in Vancouver British Columbia. She is also Executive Producer of the Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival an outdoor festival now in its tenth year. Published widely you may view some of her work (both poetry, prose and book reviews) in “The Toronto Quarterly”, “Quills,” “WordWorks,” and on-line at Haunted Waters Press, blueprintreview.com, hackwriters.com and greenboathouse.com. Bonnie has a Masters in Arts Education from Simon Fraser University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy at the European Graduate School.

Contact
blnish_pandoras@yahoo.ca
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uddariblog@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/UddariWeblog
@UddariWeblog
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The Pity of Partition: Dr. Ayesha Jalal’s Lectures at UBC

jalal image

As part of the Virani Lecture 2013 series at the University of British Columbia, Ayesha Jalal delivered two lectures on the Partition, the first on March 14, 2013, the second on March 15, 2013.

The first lecture, “The Pity of Partition: Manto’s Life, Times and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide,” looked at Manto’s life before, during and after the partition and how he portrayed it in his stories. By looking at Manto’s early revolutionary aspirations in Amritsar, his days as a screenwriter in the film industry of cosmopolitan Bombay and his reluctant boarding of a ship to Karachi in 1947, Jalal showed how partition can be examined through analyses that are not communitarian in tone but, as in Manto’s case, cosmopolitan and post-communitarian.

manto book

The second talk by Jalal, “Separating at Close Quarters: Interpreting PartitionViolence,” sought to dismantle some of the dominant modes of interpreting partition. First, Jalal pointed out that it was not religion as “faith” that was responsible for the violence but rather religion as “difference” between people. Second, communal differences were affected by the material considerations of acquiring “zan, zar, zameen” (gold, land, women). Partition was as much about looting mansions, snatching land and appropriating women as it was about killing one’s fellow man.

Third, traditional analyses of partition forget to mention that most Punjabis refrained from violence, looting, rape and arson. Most of the violence Jalal argued was perpetrated by mobs, thugs and vigilante groups but little beyond that. Muslims helped Hindus and Sikhs helped Muslims reach safe passage. In other cases, women who were  kidnapped decided to stay on the “wrong” side of the border after the formal exchanges of abucted women had been made between India and Pakistan. Any analysis of partition violence Jalal argued has to consider factors beyond just religion.

Jalal is Professor of History at Tufts University and has taught at Columbia University, the University of Madison-Wisconsin and Harvard University. For more information on Professor Jalal’s book on Manto, please click here:  http://www.soas.ac.uk/csp/events/annual-lecture/file79820.pdf.

Fauzia Rafique gets Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

Uddari’s Fauzia Rafique has been awarded a medal for outstanding services to the community. The awards are given by Jinny Sims, an MPA of the National Democratic Party (NDP), as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth 11.

A presentation ceremony will be held at 1:00 on February 10th, 2013 at the All India Banquet Hall at 201-13030 76 Ave, Surrey. 

The ceremony will begin at 1:30 and last for approximately one hour.

More information about this medal:
http://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=14019&lan=eng

Contact Jinny Sims
(MP, Newton-North Delta)
p: 604 598-2200
f: 604 598-2212
113-8532 Scott Rd., Surrey, BC, V3W 3N5

Contact Fauzia
frafique@gmail.com
gandholi.wordpress.com
@RafiqueFauzia
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‘Pornography in Pakistan’ by Waseem Altaf


Untitled 17 – Art by Shahid Mirza

A Google survey carried out in June 2010
empirically substantiated that Pakistanis were No.1
in the world in searching pornographic material.

Any material in written form or pictorial, factual or fictional, aimed at arousing human sexuality through explicit sexual content can be referred to as pornography. Apart from treatise on sex which existed in ancient texts like kamasutra and Koka Shastra and were available in written form since centuries, very little pornography, be it verse, prose or illustration survived in the subcontinent. This was primarily due to the clandestine character of the subject which remains tabooed till today. Second, no effort has ever been made to collate and preserve such material from a psychosocial point of view. However man’s fascination with sex remains a hard fact and some of the most revered names in poetry and prose did create pornographic literature. Some of the poetry of Nazeer Akbarabadi is explicitly pornographic. There were also poets in the early twentieth century who wrote hazal or obscene verse. Syed Iman Ali Khan of Bilgram (a.k.a Sahib-e-Kiran) Kallan Khan who wrote under the poetic name of Bechain and Saadat Yar Khan Rangin were all hazalgo poets who described their boastful exploits of sexual intercourse with prostitutes.

Although extremely rare, yet books in Urdu language with sexually arousing content and hand made illustrations were available in the subcontinent since the seventeenth century. A book by Kaviraj Harnam Das published from Sialkot in the 1920s had two parts. The first part dealt with the physical and behavioral characteristics of women from various countries of the world, where the headings would go like this: Kashmir ki aurat(Woman of Kashmir), Inglistan ki aurat (Woman of England), Iran ki aurat(Woman of Iran) etc. The second part contained stories where brides and other girls would narrate accounts of their first sexual encounter. The details were fairly explicit and the book was embellished with pictures of women. Translations of texts of Kamasutra, Koka Shastra, Premshastra etc were also available in the market which were primarily created for sex education. Nevertheless these were also considered the right material to have sexual pleasure. The introduction of photography in the 1800’s and the invention of motion picture in 1895 broadened the scope of pornography to reach masses in much more graphic detail. Pictures of actors and actresses in intimate positions were now available to many. Although such material enjoyed mass appeal particularly among the youngsters, due to lack of social acceptance it’s use remains secretive.

It is believed that Shaukat Thanvi used to write pornography with the pseudonym of Wahi Wahanvi. Tigdam, Rukhsar and Bura Aadmi were some of his popular titles. Maybe it was him initially but soon this was a brand name for pornographic novels. It is believed that many others began writing with Wahi Wahanvi’s name as the author. Later Pyarelal Awara, Raheel Iqbal and several others entered the field and pornographic novels were easily available at the aana (dime) libraries. The librarian would charge eight to ten aanas for pornographic novels whereas other novels were available for two aanas. These novels were issued to trustworthy customers who would then hide the book and would read the text in seclusion usually at night when others were asleep. Wahi Wahanvi would use explicit language whereas Raheel Iqbal would give descriptions using similes and metaphors.

These novels generally had a weak plot while the emphasis remained on sexual exploits and its graphic narrative. Pirated editions of English pornographic novels were also available in the market which attracted those who could read and understand the language. Since the ’50s and the ’60s those returning from the West would also bring pictorial material with them which would then travel long distances by being passed along to all the near and dear ones to have a look before it was returned. Similarly blue prints were also available on 8mm film for which a projector was required. This material was equally popular among both the sexes. Cultural troupes from European countries and even Turkey and Iran would frequently visit Pakistan where seminude women would perform on the stage. Inter-Continental and other such hotels would also occasionally invite female dancers from other countries who would amuse the audience with erotic dances. Some cinema halls like Irum in Lahore, Khursheed in Rawalpindi and Palwasha in Peshawar also had the reputation of running imported blue films mostly in their late night shows. Semi nude, probably superimposed clips of actresses Rozina and Aarzoo were popular in the ’70s. Also in the ’70s, many pictorial magazines like Chitrali were also available in the market. Though not very explicit on heterosexuality yet semi-nude pictures of actresses would abundantly glaze the pages of these publications. While not very expensive this was the poor man’s choice to have some ‘recreation’. In 1976 came the VCR revolution. Now people could watch Indian movies of their favorite stars and blue films too in a cozy atmosphere. VCR was an expensive machine and not many could purchase it, however, it was available on rent which initially ranged from Rs.300 to 400 for 12 hours. Groups of like-minded would contribute the amount and watch blue films for almost the whole night. As video cameras were also available in early eighties, it was now possible to make blue films at home.

The blue prints of two NCA girls Hala Farooqui and Ayesha Shahbaz along with their boyfriend were perhaps made for private consumption; however, the film made its way into the rental circuit and was hugely ‘popular’. Similarly in 1991, the video of striptease performed by two girls hailing from Multan namely Zarina Ramzan and Qamar Ashraf in a South London nightclub also gained immense ‘popularity’ in Pakistan. The Lahore theatre with a very strong sexual content began to flourish in the ’80s. In the ’90s came the internet revolution and now everything one could dream of, was available in one’s bedroom. Simultaneously the internet cafes also mushroomed. In the privacy of one’s cabin one could watch pornographic material of sorts. Later webcams and mobile phones brought another revolution. Now real life sex could be recorded displayed and shared on the net. This practice was widely misused when net café owners installed secret cameras to film couples having fun in the privacy of their cabins. In some instances the footage was then released on CD’s of those caught on camera. However these ‘reality based’ clips had great demand in the market. Similarly sexually explicit mobile conversations, privately filmed footage and some photo-shopped content is presently the main attraction for many. Print material is almost outdated now and every conceivable aspect of pornography is available on the net; from full length movies to stories of sexual pursuits written in the nastaleeq script, to chat forums and ‘groups’; things for which one had to toil some decades ago are now just a click away from any corner of the world.

As precious as gold and as secretly guarded as a moonstone, the sole possession of the privileged few, that clandestine material is now available to all and sundry 24/7. However, the sex drive continues to create the desire to observe and delve deeper into the alluring world of varied sexual behavior of others.

From centuries old oral recitation of verses to prose laden with sexual content to online sex and physical intercourse with a digital celebrity in the 3-D virtual world, pornography continues to thrive in Pakistan.

A Google survey carried out in June 2010 empirically substantiated that Pakistanis were No.1 in the world in searching pornographic material. The survey further revealed that in 2004 Pakistanis were mostly searching ‘horse sex’, Since 2007 it was ‘donkey sex’, ‘Rape pictures’ between 2007-2009, ‘child sex’ between 2004-2007.Pakistanis were also found to be number one in searching ‘camel sex’. (http://wn.com/Pakistan_to_Pornistan__Pak_tops_the_world_in_internet_google_searches_for_porn_2_of_2)

From Waseem Altaf’s Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/mwaseemaltaf?ref=ts&fref=ts

Related content on Uddari
‘Child Porn Ring Uncovered Using Stuffed Toy Bunny’ by Denise Lavoie
Dancing girls of Lahore strike over ‘Taliban’ law
‘Sexual abuse of children by aid workers and UN peacekeepers’?
‘Porn Creation’ by Fauzia Rafique

uddari@live.ca
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