The lion and the jackal

Why do rulers of Pakistan take the suicidal ‘lion’ vow without thinking of the people?

Khaled Ahmed May 23, 2012

Should Pakistan be ghairatmand (honourable) and defy the world or be baighairat (shameless) and be opportunistic for the benefit of its long-suffering population? In both cases, you would be doing it for the people. Why is this binary self-contradictory if it is for the people? Ejaz Haider has wisely suggested in these columns a middle course which is actually what is in the interest of the state.

Be ‘transactional’, set aside emotion, and drive a hard bargain if you have one. But sad to say, emotion drives Pakistan these days. TV anchors refer to the saying of Tipu Sultan: “A lion’s life of one day is preferable to the jackal’s life of a hundred years”. Tipu Sultan’s unequal battle inflicted great suffering on his people. Why do rulers of Pakistan take the suicidal ‘lion’ vow without thinking of the people?

Jackal is ‘geedar’ in Urdu. Today, even the most powerful states are ‘geedar’. They all want to live a hundred years. Why should Pakistan roar like a lion and be content with living only for a day? It is a perversion to say that since the lion can tyrannise lesser animals, he should not live a day more when he cannot do it anymore. Two ISI officers calling themselves ‘Midnight Jackals’ tried to overthrow Benazir’s government. Today Benazir is dead; the ‘Midnight Jackals’ have prospered.

The British won in India because of India’s internally-divided rulers. They were despotic and were routinely betrayed by ‘ghaddaar’ ministers. Pakistan’s first president, Iskander Mirza, was the scion of just such a ‘traitor’, Mir Jafar. Mirza’s son Humayun Mirza wrote a book to overturn the myth we all nurture unrealistically even today: Pakistan: The Family History of Iskander Mirza, the First President of Pakistan (University Press of America 2000).

According to one Brigadier Qureshi, who did some research on this a decade ago, Tipu was actually named Fateh Ali but was known after the holy man who had blessed his birth, Tipu Mastan Auliya. Tipu was the Tiger of Mysore, so people thought that Tipu must mean tiger in Kannada, but Brig Qureshi found that tiger in that Dravidian language was actually ‘huli’. So what did Tipu really mean? Some sources opined that it probably meant nothing.

Then he looked up a Dravidian dictionary and found that ‘tipu’ meant ‘mound’ or ‘elevated ground’. He found the word in its various shapes in the Dravidian languages. He rightly connected it to our Punjabi ‘tibba’ (mound).

Then he made the ultimate connection. He realised that holy men are usually associated with elevated ground or mounds. In Afghanistan and Central Asia, many archaeological sites are suffixed ‘–tepe’ to suggest a mound. The most famous of them is Karatepe. The site is located in Termez in Uzbekistan near the border with Afghanistan.

In Punjab, there are thousands of mounds that promise archaeological finds. Lahore itself is a city perched on top of a mound, which means that many earlier settlements are hidden beneath the mound where the inner city is located.

The high area where Lahore’s Red Light Area is located is called Tibbi, which actually means simply a ‘mound’. Just as we have derived ‘tibbi’, the Persians too took it as ‘tappa’ (hill) without the hard ‘t’, which they don’t have.

What I find amazing is the wide commonality of origin of the root ‘tp’. English ‘tip’ and ‘top’ are both related. In the 15th century, English received both from Nordic ‘tupp’ and ‘typp’. Tip means ‘extremity’. Tip and top are related.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.


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ParaShankara | 9 years ago | Reply


I second that.

politically incorrect | 9 years ago | Reply

@dr khan

What's wrong with Tipu Sultan? He hails from a place much nearer than from where other heroes like Bin Qasim,Ghouri,Ghaznavi,Nadir Shah etc.came. But what disturbs me to no end is your depiction of ranjeet singh,raja dahar heroes. To start with raja dahar; he was a hindu king who tried to resist Bin Qasim's liberating force, but he lost (thank god) which was the begining of the Muslim conquest of this land that finally resulted in the birth of a country for Muslims. I ask you, who you consider the hero? raja dahar or Bin Qasim? Then, your ranjit singh; A king from a minority community (sikh) ruling over the majority(Muslim) population is not and should not be a hero in Pakistan. We have plenty of heroes among ourselves, we don't need to look outside.

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