Saturday, 19 June 2010

MQM Renames Places And Animals

Whenever a new Pharaoh ascended the Egyptian throne, one of the first things he did as the Sun god was erase the names of previous Pharaohs off important stone structures and have his own engraved instead. Many Pharaohs fooled the Egyptians but none hoodwinked the gods.

That was Egypt; welcome to Karachi’s MQM era. Karachi Saddar’s TMA (Town Municipal Administration) recently decided to replace the names of the colonial era names of roads and streets located in the city with those of MQM workers killed in bomb blasts, target killings and shooting matches with rival political parties. Let there be no doubt that the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) is well-supplied with martyrs to the cause of speaking Urdu with great clarity.

Considering that Pakistani authorities always resort to naming everything in sight using just three names (Jinnah, Fatima and Liaqat), the MQM has shown that as a party it has more than three brain cells in its political head. Up north in the Punjab, Nawaz Sharif or his chief minister brother have not copied the MQM’s idea since none of their workers died for them or for their novel Muslim League (N). There exists the real danger of other political parties competing with the MQM to relocate their party headquarters to war-torn Karachiland, a move that could bring in scores of heaven-bound martyrs to their earthly causes.

Karachi’s Town Naib Nazim, Muhammad Nisar Khan Temuri, disclosed that the Saddar TMA has changed 400 names during the last four years. That is one change every three days, and at this speed, I am afraid the MQM’s bespectacled founder might inspire them through the telephone to change Karachi’s name to Altafabad. If they are not careful in the city, the name-change plague could also spread to other provinces of the Land of the almost-Pure.

The administration announced changing the names of eleven locations in Saddar alone, and very kindly, it issued a public notice asking the people to submit objections or suggestions within a fortnight, against or in favour of the new names.

The names of two parks, a cricket stadium, a roundabout and a road will now be named after Muhammad Khaleel Shaheed, a former MQM Nazim, who died in a blast outside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre emergency ward.

Although the notice refers to ‘the powers vested under Subsection 7 of Section 52 of the Sindh Local Government Ordinance, 1979’, former Karachi Nazim Niamatullah Khan opposed the name-change move and said ‘the MQM is making a fake claim since nobody can change the historical names of places, streets and roads.’

Temuri countered, “It is not a matter of powers vested under the ordinance; we issued the public notice as a formality, otherwise we can simply change the name without asking anyone. Whoever came into power in the past did the same thing, and if our administration has done it, it’s not a major problem. Nobody questioned the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) when they changed the name of Kharkar Chowrangi to Bilawal Chorangi. What has Bilawal done, except that he is the son of President Asif Ali Zardari? So what is the problem if we change the names of places and roads too?”

Leave the MQM’s cause alone for a while and focus on the clever Bilawal factor. May I too ask Bilawal’s father and Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, what has his son done for Pakistan? Or more appropriately, what will he be capable of doing once he grows up—considering he has inherited from his father the tradition of serving the Fatherland in ways unknown to the entire nation?

Sadly, Temuri also justified MQM’s name-change plan by claiming that ‘most of the sites are from the pre-Partition era and were named after Hindu leaders of that time.’

Who is this Chatumal? Does anybody know him now and is it better to replace such names with the names of dead political party workers? As it turns out, the Chatumal Road in Garden was named after the famous philanthropist and politician of the city, Sobhraj Chatumal, who built a maternity hospital and several other welfare organisations in the late 1920s.

Elder residents of the area in question defended by insisting that ‘the compound, comprising of twelve houses, is over a century old and it was built by two brothers Chela Ram and Chhela Ram. One built the residential compound, while the other built the Usmanabad compound. The name shouldn’t be changed.’

Let us see now. Muhammad Khaleel Shaheed’s name will replace the names of Street 6 Park, UC-11, Block 2, Clifton; Cricket Stadium UC10, Block 5, Clifton; Gulshan-e-Faisal Roundabout, Block 7, UC-10, Bath Island; Albert Road, UC-9, Clifton and Bukhari Park, Block 7, UC-10, Clifton. In addition, Preet Road in Garden will be rename Arif Shabeer Road; Chatumal Road in Garden to Imran Hussain Shaheed Road; Hard Davis Road in Garden to Yaseen Chipa Shaheed Road, Chela Ram Compound in Garden to Musheeruddin Shaheed Street, Sotara Street in UC-5 in Nanak Wara to Haji Zafar Shaheed Street and a service road in Clifton Block 8 to AW Adamjee Road.

In the past, many sites were given new names but the citizens did not adapt to the changes and continued using the old names such as Geedar Colony in Landhi Town (now renamed Muzzafarabad Colony) and I.I. Chundrigar Road (previously McLeod Road).

What the MQM leadership does not realize is that the pre-partition non-Muslims did things for humanity, and not just for those who belonged to their caste or a clan that spoke a certain language. MQM is a personality cult meant for Urdu speakers and as such, their attempt at using their dead for the renaming campaign insults those who did greater things for the good of the common man. Justifiably, the residents of Chela Ram Compound located in Garden area said they ‘would not accept this move’.

In order to jump into a new bottle, the MQM itself changed its wine’s name from the original Muhajir Qaumi Movement to the politically appealing Mutahidda Qaumi Movement. They have at last realized that not everyone here is an Urdu-speaking immigrant who crossed over from India in 1947 when the colonialists divided the land and its people.

If we must change names, efforts must be made to reveal the pre-British Raj names so that we may step back in time without the aid of a fictional time-tunnel. We are a resilient nation and are now ready to withstand the shock of seeing everything in sight named after one Arab conqueror: Muhammad bin Qasim.

12 comments:

  1. tgh - we got bigger problems than change of names, of which no one cares about ....

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/metropolitan/03-thirsty-pakistan-gasps-for-water-solutions-ss-10

    Bilal

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  2. They keep doing this in India also, changing the names of cities, roads, parks. Changing names does not change our history. Plus, I get lost when I am looking for Willingdon Crescent... and drive by Mother Teresa Crescent!!

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  3. Thanks for caring to comment, Bilal. You have the potential to change things. Keep trying in your own way.

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  4. Thanks JB. Let's meet around Mother Teresa Crescent then! :)

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  5. Yes I do TGH and you are wasting it on stuff that does not benefit anyone ... who care what they wear in ukrine or what name mqm wants to keep ... etc etc ...

    when you write better, I always express my views but recently ... your posts are becoming boring.

    I believe you are either selfish or keeping a blind eye on what goes around you. When was the last time you wrote something ... something that the whole country go thru everyday or what matters?

    Regards

    Bilal

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  7. Bilal, when you have children, never tell them they're wasting paint and paper drawing useless things.
    As I writer I'd like to write about what appeals to me at various levels.

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    1. TGH your article truely reflects your racist attitude. Words like fled, animals etc. shows you are a typical racist punjabi. How about writing about what PPP did to this country.

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  11. Keeping names of places after persons is a centuries old way of honoring Them for the sacrifice or services they made for a good cause. Changing names is something political, Challenging name change is something intellectual and ignoring name change is ignorance. I welcome opposing opinions but read the story of a famous city on the bank of river Volga, what made it Tsaritsyn, Stalingrad, Volgograd and its likely to be Stalingrad again.

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