Naya Qanoon censored

Published: March 2, 2012

The writer edits a quarterly Urdu literary journal Aaj from Karachi, runs a bookshop and City Press, a small publishing house [email protected]

In the previous column, I had started reproducing, in Khalid Hasan’s English translation and commenting on those passages of Saadat Hasan Manto’s famous short story Naya Qanoon, that were expunged by the Sindh Textbook Board while including the story in Gulzar-e-Urdu (Part 2) meant as the sole Urdu textbook for class XII. Here is the next deletion: He took a deep breath, drew on his hookah reflectively and said: “These Congressites want to get India its freedom. Well, you take my word, they will get nowhere even if they try for a thousand years. At the most, the Angrez will leave, but then you will get maybe the Italywala or the Russian. I have heard that the Russiawala is tough. Hindustan, I can assure you, will always remain enslaved. Yes, I forgot to tell you that part of the saint’s curse on Akbar was that India will always be ruled by foreigners.”

This whole paragraph is not to be found in the Gulzar version. The reason seems simple enough. Laughable as it may sound, the official history in Pakistan never credits the Indian National Congress with wanting — let alone struggling for — India’s freedom. The fact that India was ruled by foreigners might also have encouraged dangerous thinking in the minds of the students — who knows!

The socially and intellectually stifling environment which obtained early in the life of the newly-created state coincided with another factor: Pakistan’s political dependence on the United States, which itself was experiencing the worst kind of repression under McCarthyism. During the Cold War years, Pakistan openly sided against the Soviet Union and thus, ostensibly to counter the threat from the north, found a convenient excuse to muzzle political and social criticism of any kind. Over the long haul, this intolerance has irrevocably injured the social and moral fabric of Pakistani society in a number of ways.

Not much insight is needed to figure out why the following paragraph was considered unsuitable for students: He then went into a detailed description of the changes the new constitution was going to bring to India. “You just wait and see. Things are going to happen. You have my word, this Russian king is bound to show them his paces.” Ustad Mangu had heard many stories about the Communist system over the years. There were many things he liked about it, such as their new laws and even newer ideas. That was why he’d decided to link the king of Russia with the India Act. He was convinced that the changes being brought in on April 1 were a direct result of the influence of the Russian king.

Throughout the Cold War, the Communist Party had been banned and severely suppressed in Pakistan. The mere mention of its name was considered taboo by the authorities. The official attitude appears to have survived the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

For some years, the Red Shirt movement in Peshawar had been much in the news. To Ustad Mangu, this movement had something to do with “the king of Russia” and, naturally, with the new Government of India Act. There were also frequent reports of bomb blasts in various Indian cities. Whenever Ustad Mangu heard that so many had been caught for possessing explosives or so many were going to be tried by the government on treason charges, he interpreted it all as a curtain-raiser for the new constitution.

The reference to the Red Shirt movement — its local name being Surkh-posh Tehreekled by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the erstwhile North West Frontier Province (NWFP), points to the political atmosphere of the province during the 1930s and later, as a result of which the All India Muslim League failed to win a majority in NWFP’s 1946 Provincial Assembly elections or to have NWFP support the demand for Pakistan. Nevertheless, NWFP was made a part of Pakistan based on the results of a referendum, the credentials of which remain doubtful to many. Early in the life of the new nation, the elected provincial government led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s brother, Dr Abdul Jabbar Khan (officially called ‘Dr Khan Sahib’) of the Congress was duly dismissed, reportedly on the orders of the first Governor General of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah himself, and an unrepresentative government was imposed on the province under Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan of the Muslim League. The Red Shirt movement was banned and its workers were severely persecuted. No mention is made of the existence of any such movement in the official history of Pakistan. Manto has pointed to these later events in a few other places in his stories and essays. The Textbook Board seems to be faithfully following the same policy as was adopted by the country’s establishment in its early years.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

Reader Comments (15)

  • Zalmai
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:19PM

    A shocking revelation. But then again nothing about Pakistan ceases to amaze me anymore. Social engineering and distorting facts by employing tactics of revisionist history is how you create false states like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Israel.

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  • Mar 2, 2012 - 10:56PM

    well.. we did read the same story (translation by the same translator) at graduation level at Punjab University, and it had all these excerpts… it is interesting to note that Sind is more loyal to the deep state

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  • IndianDude
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:10PM

    “These Congressites want to get India its freedom. Well, you take my word, they will get nowhere even if they try for a thousand years. At the most, the Angrez will leave, but then you will get maybe the Italywala or the Russian. I have heard that the Russiawala is tough. Hindustan, I can assure you, will always remain enslaved. Yes, I forgot to tell you that part of the saint’s curse on Akbar was that India will always be ruled by foreigners.”

    The irony is that pakistan has been exactly the state they described/wished india to be.
    First its was the current US masters, then came the oily saudi masters, now the chinese masters. Seems like pakistans will always be ruled by the foreigners.
    P.S. I have heard that the Amrikawallah is generous but tough and chinese will be cheap and tougher! :)

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  • Reema
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:23PM

    and history sucks…!!!

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  • Zaid Hamid
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:26PM

    Manto was a Zionist agent. End of story.

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  • Faraz
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:45AM

    I am proud to be a Pakistani …
    If some one wants history so he should be reading books other then the text book no country in the world tells their citizen the correct history …

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  • Zalmai
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:54AM

    Zaid Hamid is a simpleton and dismissive of everything that deviates from his parochial sensibilities.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 3, 2012 - 1:36AM

    Every day something new about pakistan and its caretakers. hahahahah

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  • Geronimo
    Mar 3, 2012 - 3:21AM

    This has been an amazing series of columns from Ajmal Kamal – It is so heartening to hear things from a historical perspective and explained without emotion, sensationalism and with such clarity. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your very informative pieces.
    Pls keep writing.

    Geronimo

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  • harish
    Mar 3, 2012 - 12:12PM

    in my opinion, pakistanis being unaware of national freedom movement, led by congress, is one of the biggest factors that misguides them.

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  • Babbarsher Khan
    Mar 3, 2012 - 11:30PM

    @Zaid Hamid:
    and a hindoo and amrikan too!Recommend

  • Cynical
    Mar 5, 2012 - 4:50AM

    Judging by most of the comments here, it seems we are missing the point, the author is trying to make.
    It’s not about claiming or apportioning the credit to the freedom movement, rather it’s about censorship on creativity, distortion of history which shapes peoples’ perception about self, his identity, his heritage and so on.
    It’s a great disservice to the people of this country, to deny them a saner voice like Manto.

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  • Deb
    Mar 10, 2012 - 5:37AM

    @Ajmal Kamal
    Sir, every post from you leaves us hungry for more.
    Thanks for this revealing piece of history.

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 10, 2012 - 11:12AM

    @Cynical:
    Good comment. I agree with you..

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  • Mar 13, 2012 - 5:30AM

    We as a nation have learned how to lie and be unfair and corrupt over time.Dishonesty is counted as a virtue. Because of evolution away from truth our anxiety level is high nationally, we settle things with murder and do inhuman things thru jirga system.Our women have the most brutal life. We believe in Islam devoid of spiritual values.We are just fake. We need more Manto Faiz,Faraaz and Nadim Qasmi. We need hundred of Edhi’s

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