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Archive for category Pakistan-A Nation of Love & Romance

Pakistan: Locally underrated, globally misunderstood


Pakistan: Locally underrated, globally misunderstood
Posted By Zahra Mohammed


“Out of all the places in the world, why on earth would you want to go to Pakistan?” 

A question I have heard in various forms by countless people. After six months of living in Pakistan, I imagined the questions and shock would have settled by now. However, I am still continuously asked why I am here. On many occasions, Pakistanis have been just as shocked as anyone else as to why a non-Pakistani would ever want to stay in such a country.
I am not only troubled with the misconceptions and ignorance of non-Pakistanis, yet find it just as upsetting that locals think so poorly of their own nation and people.  I am well aware of the socio-economic and political factors that are hindering the progress, prosperity and full potential of Pakistan, yet do Pakistanis really have nothing to be proud of?
Nonetheless, I can’t ignore the countless problems facing Pakistan. Poverty is widespread and visible on the streets.  It is rare to go out of the house without being approached by beggars. The gap between rich and poor is massive. Poverty levels match up with the extremely low overall literacy rate of approximately 50% and the millions of school-aged children that are not even enrolled in school. It is also linked to a number of other socio-economic factors facing millions of Pakistanis, however most of these issues are ones faced by many developing nations around the world and not specific to Pakistan per se.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has a reputation of being an uncivilized and inherently violent country. I was recently asked:

“So, are there roads in Pakistan?”

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Also, I cannot even keep count of the amount of times I am asked:

“Are you safe there?”

Contrary to popular belief, I have never felt in danger or unsafe while living in Pakistan and it is more developed than the average outsider might think. I have come to learn that a number of years back, quite a few foreigners used to study, work and vacation in Pakistan. Safety was not an issue for locals and foreigners alike and the image and progress of the country was significantly better than it is now. Pakistanis genuinely desire peace and security just as much as anyone else and many even reminisce about the good old days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Yes, the current security and development situation has deteriorated more recently. For example, I have been in Karachi during the horrendous bloodshed and indiscriminate killings going on throughout parts of the city. It seemed that almost every day I was hearing about how dozens of people were killed in the most gruesome ways. The general trend is such that the less privileged communities are most affected by these occurrences.  Sadly, locals seem to be almost immune to such violence and political conflict. Some might take a few moments to discuss, watch or read about such happenings but at the end of the day, life goes on. Can we really blame them?
In my eyes, one of the main causes of this violence and other problems in the country that are hindering Pakistan’s development is politics. Pakistani politics is as dirty as it gets and the average Pakistani is left suffering as a result. Corruption is rampant and the leadership has not shown a genuine interest in the well-being of Pakistanis and the overall progress of the country.
Yet, we can’t deny that similar or comparable problems are happening in different parts of the world; even places you would not expect. The ethnic/sectarian/political conflicts of Karachi are almost mirror images of those in Beirut (past and present). Various forms of violence have occurred recently in the UK and Norway on a relatively large scale. Security is not guaranteed anywhere. Every country has its set of problems. The point is, Pakistan should not constantly be singled out or misrepresented.
With all that said, I genuinely believe that Pakistan has great potential. People severely underrate it and discount all the wonderful things this country has to offer. Living here has made me appreciate the natural and historical beauty found in different parts of Pakistan. I still remember how captivated I was during my bus ride from Lahore to Islamabad. The serenity and greenery of the fields was truly breathtaking, not to mention the mountainous terrain once reaching closer to Islamabad. Also, Karachi’s beaches add character to the city and are enjoyed by all people, regardless of their background. Pakistan definitely has it all; from mountains to beaches, hills to plains and forests to deserts.
In addition to the scenic views, Pakistan is filled with countless historical and archaeological sites from various civilizations and empires dating back approximately 2 million years. Many sites are still intact or being restored and preserved. I visited a number of sites in Lahore such as the Badshahi Mosque from the Mughal empire and was fascinated and engulfed by the picturesque structure. Overall, Pakistan has a rich landscape, history and culture that should be appreciated by locals and foreigners alike.
An interesting observation I have made is that in some neighborhoods of Pakistan the homes are so unique and beautiful that it is difficult to find two that are exactly the same! Each has a particular style and touch to the exterior as well as the interior. Sometimes, I love driving around the streets of Lahore and Karachi just to observe the diversity of homes with their colors, shapes and landscapes. The houses are just lovely!
Since I arrived in Pakistan, I had been anxiously waiting for mango season to arrive as it is one of my favorite fruits. It was definitely worth the wait. Without a doubt, I have never tasted more delicious, juicy and sweet mangoes in my life. I was also unaware of the countless varieties of mangoes available till coming here. Mangoes aside, Pakistan has such an abundant selection of locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables that it could probably get by without needing to import such goods. In general, the natural and agricultural resources are plentiful.
On top of it all, I personally have met some of the most amazing, genuine and down to earth people in Pakistan. For the most part, I have felt welcomed and respected by locals ranging from the modest gatekeepers to the more affluent and educated populations. Even though my Urdu skills are basic, people really appreciate my efforts and are happy when a foreigner tries to use the local language.
For example, the first time I interacted with my friend’s gatekeeper  I said:

“As-salam alaykum, aap kaise ho?”
(Peace be with you. How are you?)

He had the biggest smile on his face and replied by saying:

“ Theek thaak! Wah wah, aap Urdu bol saktee hain? Bohot acha!”
(I am well thank you. Wow! You can speak in Urdu – fantastic!)

Additionally, I find many people from younger generations to have a strong desire to make Pakistan a better place and engaging in various forms of activism. At the same time, I am pleasantly surprised by the spirit of those who are less fortunate. Recently, Pakistanis celebrated Eidul Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. I loved seeing the masses out in the streets enjoying the holiday by dancing, playing music and gathering at the beach with friends and family. Even with all the problems and large poverty levels in Pakistan, people still manage to live their lives and make the most of it.
I have faith that Pakistan can overcome the obstacles hindering its prosperity through proper and genuine leadership. I find that many Pakistanis disregard the positive aspects of this country and my hope is that Pakistanis do not give up on their country but rather actively take on a role in making positive changes.
As for everyone else, I hope there will be a realization that Pakistan is in fact civilized, peaceful and beautiful in so many ways.
Article taken from The Express Tribune Bloghttp://blogs.tribune.com.pk
URL to article: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/8172/pakistan-locally-underrated-globally-misunderstood/

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Shukriya Pakistan – 30 November Islamabad

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Are we wrong about Pakistan? – Telegraph & Comments To Editor

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Khalid Nizami Saheb
Salam masnoon. I often say that don’t accept as the ultimate truths everything that western authors/mediamen say. They are Fasiq in Qur’anic terms: most of the time ignorant, a sizable number of them intentionally writing bad, knowing well that they are telling lies and their state of belief is questionable. The Qur’an commands: “O believers, if a Fasiq (sinner, liar, disobedient to Allah) comes to you with news, investigate, lest you harm people out of ignorance and later regret what you have done” (Al-Hujurat 49:6). This Ayat is about Muslim newsgivers and rumor-mongers. By that token I don’t have any trust of even the so-called Muslim media. They “sell” hot news and char it so that it reeks; they do never go for the truth. I know this by personal experience.
 
This tendency to accept everything from the sahib as the most right and denigrating Muslims however pious, honest, reliable they may be, was started by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his associates, so much so that now we often present opinions of Carlisle, Margoliouth, Montgomery Watt as testimony of truthfulness, good character and success of the Rasool-Allah, knowing nothing about the original sources of Islam and the early masters who are now insulted publicly.
 
As for Pakistan, let the Pakistanis know that with14 August 1947 as the baseline, the ratio of progress made by Pakistan is far higher than that of India, given the economic conditions and state of infrastructure inherited from the British by the two countries.
 
Present sociopolitcial situation of Pakistanis due mainly to wrong leadership it has been suffering from for decades and failure of the people to know their friends and foes; and more than that failure to know their strengths and relevance.
 
Change the perception and see the difference. It is not as difficult as people think.
 
Muhammad Tariq Ghazi
Saturday 29 November 2014
 
 
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Are we wrong about Pakistan? – Telegraph

When Peter Oborne first arrived in Pakistan, he expected a ‘savage’ back water scarred by terrorism. Years later, he describes the Pakistan that is barely documented…
 
 
 

Are we wrong about Pakistan?

 
When Peter Oborne first arrived in Pakistan, he expected a ‘savage’ back water scarred by terrorism. Years later (Feb 2012), he describes the Pakistan that is barely documented – and that he came to fall in love with
 
 
The beautiful Shandur Valley of Pakistan Photo: GETTY
By
 

It was my first evening in Pakistan. My hosts, a Lahore banker and his charming wife, wanted to show me the sights, so they took me to a restaurant on the roof of a town house in the Old City. My food was delicious, the conversation sparky – and from our vantage point we enjoyed a perfect view of the Badshahi Mosque, which was commissioned by the emperor Aurangzeb in 1671.

 

It was my first inkling of a problem. I had been dispatched to write a report reflecting the common perception that Pakistan is one of the most backward and savage countries in the world. This attitude has been hard-wired into Western reporting for years and is best summed up by the writing of the iconic journalist Christopher Hitchens. Shortly before he died last December, Hitchens wrote a piece in Vanity Fair that bordered on racism.

Pakistan, he said, was “humourless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offence and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity and self-hatred”. In summary, asserted Hitchens, Pakistan was one of the “vilest and most dangerous regions on Earth”.

Since my first night in that Lahore restaurant I have travelled through most of Pakistan, got to know its cities, its remote rural regions and even parts of the lawless north. Of course there is some truth in Hitchens’s brash assertions. Since 2006 alone, more than 14,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed in terrorist attacks. The Pakistan political elite is corrupt, self-serving, hypocritical and cowardly – as Pakistanis themselves are well aware. And a cruel intolerance is entering public discourse, as the appalling murder last year of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti after he spoke out for Christians so graphically proves. Parts of the country have become impassable except at risk of kidnap or attack.

 

Yet the reality is far more complex. Indeed, the Pakistan that is barely documented in the West – and that I have come to know and love – is a wonderful, warm and fabulously hospitable country. And every writer who (unlike Hitchens), has ventured out of the prism of received opinion and the suffocating five-star hotels, has ended up celebrating rather than denigrating Pakistan.

 

A paradox is at work. Pakistan regularly experiences unspeakable tragedy. The most recent suicide bombing, in a busy market in northwestern Pakistan, claimed 32 lives and came only a month after another bomb blast killed at least 35 people in the Khyber tribal district on January 10. But suffering can also release something inside the human spirit. During my extensive travels through this country, I have met people of truly amazing moral stature.

 
Take Seema Aziz, 59, whom I met at another Lahore dinner party, and who refuses to conform to the Western stereotype of the downtrodden Pakistani female. Like so many Pakistanis, she married young: her husband worked as a manager at an ICI chemical plant. When her three children reached school age, she found herself with lots of time on her hands. And then something struck her.
 
It was the mid-Eighties, a time when Pakistan seemed captivated by Western fashion. All middle-class young people seemed to be playing pop music, drinking Pepsi and wearing jeans. So together with her family, Seema decided to set up a shop selling only locally manufactured fabrics and clothes.
The business, named Bareeze, did well. Then, in 1988, parts of Pakistan were struck by devastating floods, causing widespread damage and loss of life, including in the village where many of the fabrics sold by Bareeze were made. Seema set out to the flood damaged area to help. Upon arrival, she reached an unexpected conclusion. “We saw that the victims would be able to rebuild their homes quite easily but we noticed that there was no school. Without education, we believed that there would be no chance for the villagers, that they would have no future and no hope.”
 
So Seema set about collecting donations to build a village school. This was the beginning of the Care Foundation, which today educates 155,000 underprivileged children a year in and around Lahore, within 225 schools.
 
I have visited some of these establishments and they have superb discipline and wonderful teaching – all of them are co-educational. The contrast with the schools provided by the government, with poorly-motivated teachers and lousy equipment, is stark. One mullah did take exception to the mixed education at one of the local schools, claiming it was contrary to Islamic law. Seema responded by announcing that she would close down the school. The following day, she found herself petitioned by hundreds of parents, pleading with her to keep it open. She complied. Already Care has provided opportunities for millions of girls and boys from poor backgrounds, who have reached adulthood as surgeons, teachers and business people.
 
I got the sense that her project, though already huge, was just in its infancy. Seema told me: “Our systems are now in place so that we can educate up to one million children a year.” With a population of over 170 million, even one million makes a relatively small difference in Pakistan. Nevertheless, the work of Care suggests how easy it would be to transform Pakistan from a relatively backward nation into a south-east Asian powerhouse.
 
Certainly, it is a country scarred by cynicism and corruption, where rich men do not hesitate to steal from the poor, and where natural events such as earthquakes and floods can bring about limitless human suffering. But the people show a resilience that is utterly humbling in the face of these disasters.
 
In the wake of the floods of 2009 I travelled deep into the Punjab to the village of Bhangar to gauge the extent of the tragedy. Just a few weeks earlier everything had been washed away by eight-feet deep waters. Walking into this ruined village I saw a well-built man, naked to the waist, stirring a gigantic pot. He told me that his name was Khalifa and that he was preparing a rice dinner for the hundred or more survivors of the floods.
 
The following morning I came across Khalifa, once again naked to the waist and sweating heavily. Pools of stagnant water lay around. This time he was hard at work with a shovel, hacking out a new path into the village to replace the one that had been washed away.A little later that morning I went to the cemetery to witness the burial of a baby girl who had died of a gastric complaint during the night. And there was Khalifa at work, this time as a grave digger. Khalifa was a day labourer who was lucky to earn $2 (£1.26) a day at the best of times. To prejudiced Western commentators, he may have appeared a symbol of poverty, bigotry and oppression. In reality, like the courageous volunteers I met working at an ambulance centre in Karachi last year, a city notorious for its gangland violence, he represents the indomitable spirit of the Pakistani people, even when confronted with a scale of adversity that would overpower most people in the West.
 
As I’ve discovered, this endurance expresses itself in almost every part of life. Consider the Pakistan cricket team which was humiliated beyond endurance after the News of the World revelations about “spot-fixing” during the England tour of 2010. Yet, with the culprits punished, a new captain, Misbah-ul-Haq has engineered a revival. In January I flew to Dubai to witness his team humiliate England in a three-match series that marked a fairy-tale triumph.
 
Beyond that there is the sheer beauty of the country. Contrary to popular opinion, much of Pakistan is perfectly safe to visit so long as elementary precautions are taken, and, where necessary, a reliable local guide secured. I have made many friends here, and they live normal, fulfilled family lives. Indeed there is no reason at all why foreigners should not holiday in some of Pakistan’s amazing holiday locations, made all the better by the almost complete absence of Western tourists.
 
Take Gilgit-Baltistan in the north, where three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges – the Hindu Kush, the Himalayas and the Karakorams — meet. This area, easily accessible by plane from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, is a paradise for climbers, hikers, fishermen and botanists. K2 – the world’s second-highest mountain – is in Gilgit, as are some of the largest glaciers outside the polar regions.
 
Go to Shandur, 12,000ft above sea level, which every year hosts a grand polo tournament between the Gilgit and Chitral polo teams in a windswept ground flanked by massive mountain ranges. Or travel south to Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, cradle of the Indus Valley civilisation which generated the world’s first urban culture, parallel with Egypt and ancient Sumer, approximately 5,000 years ago.
 
Of course, some areas of Pakistan are dangerous. A profile of Karachi – Pakistan’s largest city and commercial capital – in Time magazine earlier this year revealed that more than 1,000 people died in 2011 in street battles fought between heavily armed supporters of the city’s main political parties. Karachi is plagued by armed robbery, kidnapping and murder and, in November last year, was ranked 216 out of 221 cities in a personal-safety survey carried out by the financial services firm Mercer.
 
But isn’t it time we acknowledged our own responsibility for some of this chaos? In recent years, the NATO occupation of Afghanistan has dragged Pakistan towards civil war. Consider this: suicide bombings were unknown in Pakistan before Osama bin Laden’s attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001. Immediately afterwards, President Bush rang President Musharraf and threatened to “bomb Pakistan into the stone age” if Musharraf refused to co-operate in the so-called War on Terror.
The Pakistani leader complied, but at a terrible cost. Effectively the United States president was asking him to condemn his country to civil war by authorising attacks on Pashtun tribes who were sympathetic to the Afghan Taliban. The consequences did not take long, with the first suicide strike just six weeks later, on October 28.
 
Many write of how dangerous Pakistan has become. More remarkable, by far, is how safe it remains, thanks to the strength and good humour of its people. The image of the average Pakistani citizen as a religious fanatic or a terrorist is simply a libel, the result of ignorance and prejudice.
 
The prejudice of the West against Pakistan dates back to before 9/11. It is summed up best by the England cricketer Ian Botham’s notorious comment that “Pakistan is the sort of place every man should send his mother-in-law to, for a month, all expenses paid”. Some years after Botham’s outburst, the Daily Mirror had the inspired idea of sending Botham’s mother-in-law Jan Waller to Pakistan – all expenses paid – to see what she made of the country.
 
Unlike her son-in-law, Mrs Waller had the evidence of her eyes before her: “The country and its people have absolutely blown me away,” said the 68-year-old grandmother.
After a trip round Lahore’s old town she said: “I could not have imagined seeing some of the sights I have seen today. They were indefinable and left me feeling totally humbled and totally privileged.” She concluded: “All I would say is: ‘Mothers-in-law of the world, unite and go to Pakistan. Because you’ll love it’. Honestly!”
 
Mrs Waller is telling the truth. And if you don’t believe me, please visit and find out for yourself.
 
This article also appeared in SEVEN magazine, free with The Sunday Telegraph. Follow SEVEN on Twitter @TelegraphSeven

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THE REAL PAKISTAN

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http://amfunworld.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-reasons-why-i-still-love-pakistan.html

Please Visit These Great Pakistani Websites:

Articles Courtesy:

http://paksabka.com.pk/2014/03/10/be-pakistani-buy-pakistani/

http://amfunworld.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-reasons-why-i-still-love-pakistan.html

BE PAKISTANI, BUY PAKISTANI

Nadia Rafiq Butt.
Pakistan like many other countries is striving to get a positive image for one reason or the other. One can spell out a number of reasons. On top is sectarianism and extremism which has become plague for our society. Then is the law and order situation, frequency of murders and thefts and all such crimes. However, this doesn’t suggest that things are not under control. There are good people and good things to report. It must be admitted that human societies have their limitations. Freedom, justice and equality are only ideals. Total justice and peace is not humanly possible. Instead of looking at it in a negative way, one should look at those negatives with a glass half-full approach, and one should realize that spreading positivity instead of deprivation and scarcity would serve the cause better as we all hold responsibility being nationals to our homeland. Man will only remain on the right track if a mental discipline is shaped by education and if there is a fear of law, justice and punishment, in short dispense of justice without fear or favor. If a society enjoys justice and fair play it will surely portray soft image.
If our social, economic and administrative systems work reasonably and efficiently no harm can come to Pakistan. If all get justice and feel secure no one will think of any criminal activities. Every citizen must have confidence in its justice system. There can be no peace without justice and no civilized society without education. In the absence of justice and literacy no one can vision of credibility of sound reputation of the country.
Apparently Pakistan’s softer image is being portrayed by book releases, rock concerts and exhibitions nationally either internationally. Somehow we misunderstood the reality that the solution lies to the problems of country. We can somehow fix this problem by altering our international image of being naïve along with gratified and full of pride of our own culture and traditions. We have to come out of copying and competing others thereafter. If we can value our own culture and traditions showcasing higher values and norms with self-dignity only then we can gently put others on the track of respecting our culture and traditions in reciprocation. 
Pakistan is making all sorts of efforts to tackle deadly hazard of terrorism not only for its own good but for the whole world. Terrorism could only be defeated through dialogue, as it was the only way to eliminate terrorism where the outcome of using power would produce no positive results but would aggravate the situation. Unfortunately the western world is not giving Pakistan its due credit. It keeps on highlighting only those things through which the image of the country can be damaged and their national interests get served. More fuel is been added by next-door enemy India whose psychological warfare has always put serious harm to our country both nationally and internationally. But would it serve sensible if we keep waiting for due credit. Putting aside unhygienic debate of our war or others war enforced on our country and steered by our forces, political leaders should get our unparalleled sacrifices and unshaken resolve acknowledged by international world regardless of opposition’s propaganda which has been going since years and will keep going. 
Pakistan’s soft image can be portrayed through three resources i.e. culture economy and media. Pakistan is not being able to attract the western world through its historical and cultural heritage. Pakistan has great heritage from North to South. Tourism can bring a big change and can play a pivotal role. Cultural events, exchange programs, broadcasting or teaching country’s language and promoting country’s culture and society can be used as soft tools. Basant and Valentine’s Day celebrations will not help. We are in dire need of culture of tolerance in Pakistan but anything against the true spirit of Islam needs to be discouraged. Pakistan must think to start exchange programs between students. Teachers must be welcome from abroad to teach their language to young students in Pakistan and vice versa. Science and technology must be given high preferences. Helping other countries in disasters and emergency situations can prove our soft side instead of highlighting and pretending miseries in the greed of getting aid from international world. Government should stay alive to the issues of backwardness, unemployment and economic deprivation in the country and keep striving to address these through judicious distribution of resources.
People buy brands not products, this is an age old fact acknowledged by the researchers of the world. We need to develop our brand reputed Pakistan. Almost every other country is associated with its national characteristics. Italy is associated with style, Japan with technology, India with history and culture, so our efforts with branding must be guided to find our economic role. Here comes the question how we can package our self. The media particularly electronic media can play a major role. We need to have more of English news channels to have more international audience. Media has hyped bad news and have made it look like a demon.This does not mean that nothing good has happened or is happening. The only prevailing fact that bad news is more newsworthy than good news. Media has played a huge part in this feeling of desperation by mainly reporting bad news and harping on it. Calling the same idiots for discussions on prime time every day is hardly a way of finding solutions tour myriad problems. Media seems to be shunning every positive news because it is not sexy and gets no TRPs or advertising.We all know that publicity is what a company or individual receives when something prominent happens and when the notable event is good, the publicity usually attracts new client and gives the company something to brag about in future.We as a nation have to say that yes we are going through bad times and all of us in some way or other are contributors to this. Let’s all now resolve to get out of this rut by doing sincerely and honestly what our individual jobs are before we point fingers at others. We need to be more focused and targeted as generic strategies “Be Pakistani, buy Pakistani” “East or West, Pakistan is the best” will not work anymore. 

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Sohni and Mahiwal – A Punjabi Love Story

Sohni and Mahiwal – A Love Story 

 

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Sometime during the late Mughal period there lived in a town on the banks of River Chenab, or one of its branches, a potter (kumhar) named Tulla. The town has been identified either as present day Gujrat or one of the nearby towns. Tulla was a master craftsman and his earthenware was bought and sold throughout Northern India and even exported to Central Asia. To the potter and his wife was born a daughter. She was such a beautiful child that they named her Sohni (meaning beautiful in Punjabi).

Sohni spent her childhood playing and observing things in her father’s workshop. She watched pots being made from clay and shaped on the wheel, dried in the sun and then fired and baked in the furnace. Sohni grew up to be not only a beautiful young woman but also an accomplished artist who made floral designs on the pots and pitchers that came off her father’s wheel.

Sohni’s town was located on the trading route between Delhi and Central Asia and trading caravans passed through it. One such caravan that made a stopover included a young handsome trader from Bukhara, named Izzat Baig. While checking out the merchandize in the town Izzat Baig came upon Tulla’s workshop where he spotted Sohni sitting in a corner of the workshop painting floral designs on the earthenware.

Izzat Baig was immediately taken by Sohni’s rustic beauty and charm and couldn’t take his eyes off her. In order to linger at the workshop he started purchasing random pieces of pottery as if he were buying them for trading. He returned the next day and made some more purchases at Tulla’s shop. His purchases were a pretext to be around Sohni for as long as he could. This became Izzat Baig’s routine until he had squandered most of his money.

When the time came for his caravan to leave, Izzat Baig found it impossible to leave Sohni’s town. He told his companions to leave without him and that he would follow later. He took up permanent residence in the town and would visit Sohni at her father’s shop on one pretext or the other. Sohni also began to feel the heat of Izzat Baig’s love and gradually began to melt, so to speak. The two started meeting secretly.

Izzat Baig soon ran out of money and started taking up odd jobs with different people including Sohni’s father. One such job was that of grazing people’s cattle – buffaloes. Because of his newfound occupation people started calling him Mahiwal: a short variation of MajhaNwala or the buffalo-man.  

Izzat Baig soon ran out of money and started taking up odd jobs with different people including Sohni’s father. One such job was that of grazing people’s cattle – buffaloes. Because of his newfound occupation people started calling him Mahiwal: a short variation of MajhaNwala or the buffalo-man.

That name stayed with him for the rest of his life and even after.

Sohni and Mahiwal’s clandestine meetings soon became the talk of the town. When Sohni’s father came to know about the affair he hurriedly arranged Sohni’s marriage with one of her cousins, also a potter, and, against Sohni’s protests and entreaties, bundled her off to her new home in a village somewhere on the other side of the river.

When Mahiwal came to know of Sohni’s marriage he was devastated. He left town and became a wanderer searching for Sohni’s whereabouts. Eventually he found her house and managed to meet her in the guise of a beggar and gave her his new address – a hut across the river. Sohni’s husband, meanwhile, had discovered that he could not win Sohni’s heart no matter what he did to please her and started spending more time away from home on business trips. Taking advantage of her husband’s absence Sohni started meeting Mahiwal regularly.

She would swim across the river at night with the help of a large water pitcher (gharra), a common swimming aid in the villages even today. They would spend most of the night together in Mahiwal’s hut and before the crack of dawn Sohni would swim back home. She would hide the pitcher in a bush for her next trip the following night. One day, Sohni’s sister-in-law (her husband’s sister) came to visit. Suspecting something unusual about Sohni’s nocturnal movements, she started spying on her. She followed Sohni one night and saw her take out the pitcher from the bush, wade into the river and then swim across. She reported the matter to her mother (Sohni’s mother-in-law) and both of them, rather than informing Sohni’s husband, decided to get rid of Sohni. This, they believed, was the best way to save the family from infamy.

The sister-in-law secretly took out the pitcher from the bush and replaced it with one that was not baked but only sun-dried. As usual, Sohni got out at night for her meeting with Mahiwal, picked the pitcher from the bush, as she always did, and entered the river. It was a stormy night and the river was in flood. Sohni was soon engulfed in water and discovered, to her horror, that her pitcher was an un-baked one that would soon dissolve and disintegrate.

What shall she do now? Abandon the trip and go back or continue trying to swim without the pitcher and drown? Her inner struggle at this point – her fear of not being able to make the trip and thus not living up to the test of true love, her hope of making it, somehow, with the help of the pitcher Roughly translated and paraphrased the song runs as follows:

Sohni, addressing the pitcher:
It’s dark and the river is in flood
There is water all around.
How am I going to meet my Mahiwal?
If I keep going I will surely drown
And if I turn back
I wouldn’t be living up to my promise to Mahiwal
I beg you, with folded hands,
Help me cross the river and meet my Mahiwal.
You always did it. Please do it tonight, too.

 

The pitcher replies:
I wish I were baked in the fire of love like you are
But I am not. Sorry, I am helpless.

 

Sohni, addressing the pitcher:
It’s dark and the river is in flood
There is water all around.
How am I going to meet my Mahiwal?
If I keep going I will surely drown
And if I turn back
I wouldn’t be living up to my promise to Mahiwal
I beg you, with folded hands,
Help me cross the river and meet my Mahiwal.
You always did it. Please do it tonight, too.

The pitcher replies:
I wish I were baked in the fire of love like you are
But I am not. Sorry, I am helpless.

Hearing Sohni’s cries for help,Mahiwal also jumped into the river to save herAs the story goes,their bodies were washed ashore and found next day lying next to each other.

With their death Sohni and Mahiwal moved into the world of legends and lore. In their death the sinners became saints.

 

Reference

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