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What Are You Reading Currently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

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Relevant to Pakistanis:

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Muqadammah Sooba Saraikistan by Muhammad Akbar Ansari

(English title: A Case for the Saraikistan Province)

(First published 1989; This edition 2009; Language: Urdu)

Why it is absolutely necessary to carve out the province of Saraikistan out of preset-day Punjab? The author lays out his reasons with great gusto in this fiery polemic.

This is a case for a province for the Saraiki people who boast a unique language and distinct ethno-cultural ethos. This people inhabit the lower plains of present-day Punjab, the area which is informally known as the Saraiki Belt and includes parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh where sizable populations of Saraiki speaking people are native to those lands.

The argument kicks off with the refutation of objections found in the current political discourse on the creation of a Saraiki province. The author briefly brushes off each objection as unfounded, dishonest or sensationalist and goes on to make a case for the separate linguistic and cultural identity of the Saraiki people which necessitates a separate province.

The book rejects the claims of those who object to the name “Saraikistan” fearing it would lead to further fragmentation of the country. The author points towards provincial nomenclature current in Pakistan, which are, as they are, already named on ethno-lingual basis, that is, Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, and now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

It concludes that Saraikis do not demand something unique and new; their demand is in line with well established and existing principles of geographical organisation. Since Pakistan is divided into provinces on ethno-lingual basis, it only makes sense to give Saraiki people their due historical share and thus a province of their own.

There is a further and informative argument from history. A Multan province had long existed alongside Punjab since the times Delhi Sultanate up until when Ranjit Singh invaded Multan province and annexed it for Punjab. Then British came along but they kept the former Multan province within the boundaries of Punjab. It has remained in Punjab ever since.

The book states that provinces were created in British India on the basis of ethnical and/or linguistic identity. Then it proceeds to give examples of multi-lingual countries like Belgium and Switzerland where every language is accorded state recognition and given equal status in the constitutions of those countries. In former Yugoslavia too, geographical entities were based on language and/or ethnicity and so was the case in former USSR.

When the rights of a people are not given, they resort to violent means. There is a grim warning of the inevitable with the aid of the examples of Hungary and Bangladesh. Hungarian people carved out their own country when Austrians refused to accord equal status to their language, and by extension, their culture. Bengalis who were patriotic Pakistanis, says the author, rebelled against the status quo when Urdu was imposed on them, causing them to separate from Pakistan in favour of preserving their separate linguistic and cultural identity.

A good chunk of the book deals with assessing the demand by some Saraiki circles of the restoration of former Bahawalpur province. It is a bad idea in the view of the author. What Saraikis need is a unified province which includes all Saraiki-majority areas. If former Bahawalpur State’s provincial status is restored, it would leave out half of the Saraiki-majority areas inside Punjab. This would be divisive and counter-productive.

Successive waves of Punjabi migration before and at the time of Partition have caused a population shift in the cities of former Bahawalpur State. A census would reveal that settler Punjabis are actually in majority in most cities which means their political control on Bahawalpur will remain even if Bahawalpur province is created. To counter this, Saraikis across the board will have to unite and demand a unified Saraiki province if they want to end their exploitation at the hands of Punjabi settler elite who now rule the roost in Saraiki-majority areas.

A good picture is sketched of the systematic plunder of agricultural farms in and around Cholistan during Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship. It was a time when a potent and active movement for Bahawalpur province existed. Military and Punjabi bureaucratic elite from Upper Punjab were allotted large chunks of lands and made to settle in Bahawalpur to dilute the political influence of native Bahawalpuri families. They succeeded in gaining access to local votes through state patronage and thus weakened the movement for the restoration of Bahawalpur province.

He cites various examples of discrimination faced by Saraikis in their own lands at the hands of Punjabi elite, who prefer their own kind for civil jobs and appoint officials from Upper Punjab to exploit Saraikis whenever they have a chance. This, he says, goes back to relative underdevelopment of Saraiki areas.

This feeling of alienation and exploitation of the Saraikis at the hands of mostly Punjabi elite forms the core of the argument and the biggest reason, in author’s opinion, that why a Saraiki province is needed. Funds meant for Saraiki areas are diverted and spent on Punjabi areas of the Punjab. This is why Saraiki region, despite being the bread-basket for Pakistan, is impoverished and has high illiteracy rate relative to Upper Punjab. Every medium town in Upper Punjab boasts a state university but there are only two state universities in Saraiki Belt (a third university has been established recently in Rahim Yar Khan) even though the populations of Punjabi and Saraiki-dominated areas are relatively equal. This has led to a situation where state and provincial jobs mostly go to Punjabis simply because they are more educated. This is worst form of exploitation.

Having laid out the multi-layered argument in detail, let me also add that it’s a political polemic with sweeping generalisations, strong language against Punjabis, knee-jerk rejection of the objections of intelligentsia, and an unwavering faith in the efficacy of Saraiki province as the only and ultimate solution to fix all social and political ills of the Saraiki people.

http://gulgasht.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/muqaddamah-sooba-saraikistan/

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Kitab-e-Sulaym ibn Qays al Hillali

Well I was reading it until I came across threads questioning its' authenticity.

Is anyone familiar with this book and/or know if it is authentic?

^ Rijalists or the Wahabi-in-taqayya as we fondly call them, do have reservations about the book. The reason being .. that there are no isnaad / chains of narration mentioned for their convenience (despite the fact that Sulaym was a sahabi of Imam Ali (as) and author of the book so therefore unlike what the Rijalists are used to which are long "chains" of narrators, in this case sadly for them there aren't chains but a mere "ring" or buckle in their stead^^^).

Now what I'm reading currently:

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^ Don't judge this book by its title. I recommend any and all who are or plan to become electronics hobbyists to read this. Well, it is a beginner level book but it does the job of teaching the basics quite admirably.

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Some patients sleep away sicknesses. I can't. So what do I do lying there in bed, wallowing in self-pity and cursing the stars? I read books, so long as the fever stays below tipping point. Khayr, I read these few books over the long sickness period.

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Season of the Rainbirds by Nadeem Aslam

Bought it to accompany me to Europe last summers. This book toured with me across thousands of miles only be return home unread. It had had to be read this month.

A nicely worked out novel about life in a small Pakistani town during the reign of Zia-ul-Haq told through the mystery of lost letters in a train blast which are recovered (and delivered) after 19 years. Good one.

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Something to Tell you by Hanif Kureishi

After "Intimacy", this one is another of Kureishi's soliloquy-like rants that never bore you and depict contemporary ways of passion, desire and deprivation in Londontown in full swing. It's based on the troubled life of a psychoanalyst (Jamal Khan) and his sister (Miriam), grappling with issues of identity, family and love in a time that spans mid-70s til the present. Commendable narrated novel. Lots of talk about sex and sexual deprivation but nothing pornographic. No words wasted.

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Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Translated from German by Hilda Rosner.

Set in ancient India, it's a tale of a young Brahmin Siddhartha who is in search of the Self - the Atman - so he can achieve Nirvana but so far no path has led to it. He searches his way through gurus, sadhus, ascetics, through forests, mountains, jungles and towns....

Written in soft lyrical style which I am liking. I'm still reading it.

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Nautch Girls of the Raj by Pran Nevile

India has always been famed for dance and music. Britishers did not escape the seductiveness of the traditional dancing when they arrived to rule. A whole elitist culture was based and revolved around courtesans, singers, dancers who also doubled as highly cultured students of poetry and culture. How British fell for the nautch (corruption of "naach" aka dance) girls and made their presence an integral part of their parties.

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^ Rijalists or the Wahabi-in-taqayya as we fondly call them, do have reservations about the book. The reason being .. that there are no isnaad / chains of narration mentioned for their convenience (despite the fact that Sulaym was a sahabi of Imam Ali (as) and author of the book so therefore unlike what the Rijalists are used to which are long "chains" of narrators, in this case sadly for them there aren't chains but a mere "ring" or buckle in their stead^^^).

Now what I'm reading currently:

(salam)

Salam, brother. The reason it is thought to be fabricated, is not because that there aren't any chains, rather, the chain that ascribes the book to Sulaym Ibn Qays (ra), is weak. The chain contains Abban Ibn `Ayyash, who is very weak, and in fact, our scholars believe he is the one who forged the book and falsely ascribed it to Sulaym Ibn Qays (ra). So, it has nothing to do with Sulaym Ibn Qays being a trustworthy companion of the Imams (as), although, interestingly, Abban, himself, is a companion of four of our Imams (as), The book also contains very strange narrations, including historical errors.

I also agree with you that 'For Dummies' books should not be judged because of their titles. I have read part of the Calculus for Dummies books, and I have found them useful. ^_^

May Allah (swt) bless you,

(wasalam)

Edited by Crescent

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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

It's a new novel from the acclaimed author of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", written in the style of a self help book, about a man who rises from abject rural poverty to become a business tycoon in the metropolis, his tactics for survival, hard work, shrewd, and inevitable business dishonesty, fraud and cunning without which no businessman can survive. 3/5.

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The Crow Eaters by Bapsi Sidhwa

(First published 1980)

Set in the early years of 20th century in British India, it's the story of a Parsi businessman (Fareedon Junglewala) and his family, and his rise from oblivion to the heart of influential elite circle, for which Parsis as a community have been famous, one of the communities to accept new rulers and adjust to their politics before any other Indian community did. "For everyone else sun rises in the East; for Parsis, it rises in the Englishman's arse", is how the author introduces her community in British India.

It's a funny, linearly plotted, highbrow piece of intelligent writing that keeps you entertained and amused for the whole modest length of the book. 4/5 for material and craft.

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The Baloch Who is Not Missing & Others Who Are by Mohammed Hanif

First published 2013

This oddly named book is a collection of articles commissioned by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on the plight of Baloch nationalist activists whose politics and demands for rights have put them in the bad books of the establishment. The criminal intelligence agencies of Pakistan, rather than letting a political solution to work out, are "disappearing" activists and journalists, and whoever dares to raise their voice for the rights of Baloch people.

In this book the author tells us a few stories about completely innocent Baloch activist, not involved in any criminal and/or anti-state activity, but only pro-Baloch political activism, who are caught up by the agencies and brutalised through torture of which many are eventually killed and their bullet ridden bodies are found in gunnysacks from places where they were originally kidnapped.

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The Blackbook by Orhan Pamuk

Translated from Turkish by Maureen Freely.

(First published: original 1990; translation 2006)

Set in the 60s and beyond in Istanbul. The politics, culture and aspirations of the Turks during that time come alive. The conflicts between desire to emulate the West and also to keep alive their own culture, it's told through the tale of a lawyer, Galip, whose wife Ruya leaves him with a note of goodbye, promising to 'be in touch'. Galip embarks on a passionate quest to find clues to his wife. I'm nearly half way through so don't know how well it's done. This novel resembles in its plot and character makeup to Pamuk's masterpiece "My Name is Read", which is arguably his best novel, and one told with great narrative strength and impeccable research.

Edited by Marbles

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I give this 7 and a 1/2 /10

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Book Description

Asne Seierstad began her writing career as a Moscow correspondent; the conflict in Chechnya was the first war she covered. Now ten years later, she returns to Chechnya and discovers that though the world's attention has moved on, the tragedy has continued, killing 10 to 15 per cent of the population and leaving a brutalised society - with a particular toll on its children - in its wake. Combining the violent history of the Caucasus and the battle between freedom fighters and the empire, with the story of the journeys Seierstad undertook in secrecy and disguise over the last two years, this will be another landmark book from this brave and brilliant writer.

Edited by AJ 12

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope by Tariq Ali

(First published 2006)

A look at the political self empowerment in Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba; a chronicle of the rise of leftist politics in South America with emphasis on late Hugo Chavez's momentous years at the helm of affairs.

It's somewhat dated so the latest happenings aren't covered. But the book lays out why the free market enterprise promoted by the big neighbour up north has failed to impress the masses of Bolivia and Venezuela in the age of free market globalisation (of capital). Started the book; detailed review later on, Time-willing.

Get it on Amazon

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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Translated from German by Stanley Corngold.

(First published 1915; this translation 1972)

The trademark Kafka with its Kafkaesque absurdity in full swing. It's a novella I wanted to read for ages but only just found a copy, by accident.

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^ For some strange and uncanny reason I never quite got to read the last three pages of the book. So I don't know the ending; I don't know if the protagonist managed to reach and dig the (was it) pyramids(?) to find his treasure for which he took the trouble of travelling all the way from Andalusia to the wilds of Maghreb and the Middle East.

Not that I was bored to read it all the way through but somehow I left the book three pages before it finished, got busy in other things, and never quite went back to those final pages to finish off the story. Perhaps I don't remember it properly, or whether that's what he was trying to find and get to, or perhaps something else was going on. I am still thrilled to think about the ending I don't know 3 years after I had read the book minus the last three pages.

Don't tell me what happened -_-

On a relevant note, I, for one, personally, don't hold the book in high opinion, except perhaps the punch line that is as inspiring as it is pathetically poetic. But you know, we all have our ways of reading and relating to a story.

Edited by Marbles

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^ For some strange and uncanny reason I never quite got to read the last three pages of the book. So I don't know the ending; I don't know if the protagonist managed to reach and dig the (was it) pyramids(?) to find his treasure for which he took the trouble of travelling all the way from Andalusia to the wilds of Maghreb and the Middle East.

Not that I was bored to read it all the way through but somehow I left the book three pages before it finished, got busy in other things, and never quite went back to those final pages to finish off the story. Perhaps I don't remember it properly, or whether that's what he was trying to find and get to, or perhaps something else was going on. I am still thrilled to think about the ending I don't know 3 years after I had read the book minus the last three pages.

Don't tell me what happened -_-

On a relevant note, I, for one, personally, don't hold the book in high opinion, except perhaps the punch line that is as inspiring as it is pathetically poetic. But you know, we all have our ways of reading and relating to a story.

Never been a fan of Coehlo have you, Marbles. Read it completely, I think it's a good book to tick of the list.

I am *attempting* to read Longitude by Dava Sobel. Need to complete asap. Remind me why I'm at university? :(

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Never been a fan of Coehlo have you, Marbles. Read it completely, I think it's a good book to tick of the list.

Oh you know it don't you! But now that you say, I'll attempt to finish it, and break the aura of distasteful mystery I have for long nurtured in blissful unknown.

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Finished "the alchemist " in just 4 days :P

About to start,

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Its my second attempt to start it, and keep it reading. In first attempt I couldnt continue.

Here is the online book,

http://www.rafed.net/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3358:trends-of-history-in-quran&catid=291&Itemid=970

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Does it count as reading if I'm listening to an audiobook? :rolleyes:

Anyways...about a month ago I finished The Hobbit. Now I'm unto LOTR- The Fellowship of the Ring....awesomeness.

I think Peter Jackson could have made 2 full movies based on the fellowship of the ring....many events were left out....enough to make another movie..

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Wondering which book to read next. I'm done with books I acquired at the literature festival apart from a collection of lousy short stories I'm neither keen nor in a hurry to read -_-

Any world class fiction, classic or contemporary, can you guys recommend? I'm itching to place a new order with my favourite retailer.

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I read the English translation of the Quran, it has both the Arabic writing and English translation. I might get one with the Roman transliteration so I can teach myself more Surahs. I still can't read Arabic yet.

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