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Iqbal and Nanu - Exploring Pakistan's History

By Muhammad Maahir and Myra Ahmed

In June of 2020, Land of the Pure held its second public contest, urging young individuals to show off their talent and submit work representing the history of Pakistan. We received some amazing entries, all reiterating the sheer potential in Pakistani youth. The winner this month was Muhammad Maahir, with his inventive piece featuring young boy Iqbal and his grandfather. Below, we outline the inspiration behind the piece, why our winner chose to submit writing and more on Land of the Pure.

Originating from Karachi, Maahir is settled in Dubai, where he goes to high school. When asked about the inspiration behind the piece, he explained: "my grandmother’s family was among those who had been severely affected by the partition- in terms of wealth and life. Retelling of their strenuous journey to reach “pak sarzameen”, the land which gave them, and me in turn, a sense of belonging is what inspired this piece, written in keeping with the tradition of oral storytelling." He hoped to rekindle national pride and highlight the sacrifices made to bring us to a place of peace and security. His passion for writing is rooted in it's relation with one's speech, and how it is an alternative way to present opinions, ideas and beliefs.

Read below the winning piece!


"What was the partition like Nanu? How did you make it to Pakistan? What was the journey like?"

"Iqbal beta, if you’re asking for the truth then it was a difficult time, challenging and frightening. The partition was not just of land, it was a dividing force between neighbors, “friends” and even family members. Yes, even family members found themselves tangled among conflicting political ideologies."

Those once known as neighbors and friends were now looked upon with a different lens- a lens that zoomed in on differences in belief, it magnified them so clearly that the love in these relationships evaporated and was replaced by bitterness.

"Nanu, what troubles did you face? Was it really that bad?"

"Iqbal beta, let me ask you- how many members are in your family?"

"Four Nanu - Ammi, Abu, you and me."

"Iqbal beta, back in my day we were fifteen members. We lived in our own palace like havaili. Your mom’s phupho, chacha, chachi, taiaa, tai (aunts and uncles) and their children, the whole lot lived under one roof. Those fifteen were what we called family, not just the nuclear family.

Beta, the number fifteen was slashed and murdered in front of my eyes during the partition- almost as if a shooting game at a carnival. It was as if a tide of blood had washed over our havaili, leaving stains bearing the words ‘partition’ and ‘division’."

"Our wealth had turned into ashes as fires burnt down our neighbourhood. And the ashes of wealth found themselves buried with the graves of nearly half of our loved ones.

The remaining alive were five of us fifteen. We had lost everything, everything in the truest sense. Stripped of our family, wealth and the most basic of all our identity as humans, we became different. We had nothing to fear. Death was now martyrdom, the best death and afterlife one could ask for."

"Us five became active members of the Muslim League. From holding the pistol for the first time and shivering while pressing the trigger to painting banners for the rallies, I remember the journey vividly. And if you’ll ask Dada he’ll tell you his journey. And an amalgamation of the journeys of all whom were impacted by the partition is what I call Pakistan’s journey."

Muslim league was a huge group of patriotic “Pakistanis” (even before the word Pakistan landed on the map).

"We didn’t know each other’s names at times, but we always knew that we were a call of help away. That relationship of helping someone without knowing them was the most pure, sincere and selfless relationship I have seen- the relationship between two Pakistanis."

"And after years of struggle, when we first inhaled the air in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan- serenity and tranquility engulfed my soul. It wasn’t a feeling of victory or justice, it was rather a sense of being reborn almost, a sense of freedom, a sense of liberation. This was achieved when my true identity was established, loud and clear, that I am a Pakistani."

This land, this feeling, this rebirth was all entrusted to all of us Pakistanis in return for the countless lives, the mental trauma and physical pain faced by all of those families and people who brought our identity on the map. We are indebted to those pure souls for this land and identity. Their blood is what runs in the veins of Pakistan. Perhaps that’s why our country is Pak Sarzameen - Land of the Pure.


NOTE: The submitted piece has been edited to ensure grammatical correctness and clarity for publication.

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