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Pakistan’s Gramsci: Remembering Sibte Hasan (1916-1986)

2016 marks the birth centenary of Pakistan’s own Gramsci, the pioneer of the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) in undivided India and of the Communist Party in Pakistan, Sibte Hasan. Like the famed Italian thinker and activist, Hasan endured repeated jail terms, first during his sojourn in the United States, and then in Pakistan in 1951-55, and again during the Ayub dictatorship. Both thinkers chose to write in their native languages, Italian for Gramsci and Urdu for Hasan. But unlike Gramsci, Hasan was lucky to escape continuous jail terms, as well as an overzealous prosecutor who had decided in Mussolini’s Italy that Gramsci’s intellect had to be stopped from functioning for twenty years. Hasan’s intellect though, flourished after his release from prison. Both Gramsci and Hasan were also concerned with producing organic and original theories, using Marxist concepts to apply to their material realities rather than the other way round. Chances are that Pakistan’s younger breed of comrades know their Gramsci, but not their Sibte Hasan.

It’s surprising that despite Hasan’s iconic stature in the Indian subcontinent, very little is known about his biographical details; neither he himself nor some of his closest comrades like Sajjad Zaheer and Faiz Ahmad Faiz wrote anything about him. He was born in a village of Azamgarh district of India in 1916 and graduated from Aligarh Muslim University. He embarked on a distinguished journalistic career, serving Pioneer (Lucknow), National Herald (Allahabad) and the Bombay Chronicle besides Urdu daily Payam of Hyderabad, Deccan. He was also the editor of the renowned literary journal Naya Adab and the famous Lahore weekly Lail-o-Nahar. His own initiation into socialism began while he was a student in undivided India. In the preface to Moosa say Marx Tak (From Moses to Marx), which has for decades served as the bible of Marxism for thousands of left activists in the Indian subcontinent, he admits:

“I learnt the first principles of socialism from the prominent revolutionary historian the late Dr Muhammad Ashraf. Those were the days when the English were dominant in the country and the entry of socialist literature was totally prohibited. Sometimes a book by Karl Marx, Engels or Lenin would arrive clandestinely, its cyclostyled copies would circulate secretly, but we had no access to these documents. We would just be happy to read the works of Bertrand Russell, Bernard Shaw, D. H. Cole or Sidney Hook, even though none of them was a real socialist or communist.”

I have it on good authority that the two personalities which served as his lifelong inspirations were the maverick Dr Rashid Jahan, part of the group which published the incendiary short-story collection Angaaray, which later on served as the early pioneers of the PWA and the revolutionary Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

He went to the United States in 1946, as a correspondent of New Age weekly to the United Nations, later completing his MA in Political Science from Columbia University in New York; but on account of his leftist views he was imprisoned there and later deported. He migrated to Pakistan in 1948. In 1951, alongwith other comrades, he was arrested in the trumped-up Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case and remained in prison until 1955. He was re-arrested after Ayub Khan assumed power. After his release, he worked for a time with Ferozsons Publishers. Later he moved to the Eastern Federal Insurance Company as director in charge of publications and publicity. This vocation gave him the time and opportunity to devote his energies to writing. Owing to his significant works in Urdu – Moosa say Marx Tak (From Moses to Marx), Mazi kay Mazaar (Tombs of the Past), Naveed-e-Fikr (The Glad Tidings of Thought), Adab aur Roshan Khayali (Literature and Enlightenment), Pakistan main Tehzeeb ka Irtiqa (The Evolution of Culture in Pakistan), Inqilab-e-Iran (The Iranian Revolution), Marx aur Mashriq (Marx and the East) and his lone English work, The Battle of Ideas in Pakistan, Hasan became the pre-eminent popular intellectual associated with the propagation of progressive and secular ideas in Pakistan. But more on his works later.

Earlier in April last year, while on a visit to Karachi I accompanied a comrade to meet Naushaba Zuberi, Sibte Hasan’s daughter, in an attempt to piece together the latter’s life in Karachi, the city which he made his permanent home, as well as where he passed away. Hasan changed a lot of homes throughout his life, and never owned one in his lifetime. After moving to Karachi from Lahore, he stayed near the PECHS Society. The eminent painter Shakir Ali would often come and stay at the house, they were very old friends. Ms Zuberi’s wedding also took place in the same house, and he lived in this house for three to four years. The eminent poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz used to live near this house. The distinguished journalist Hameed Akhtar, Faiz and Hasan were great friends and comrades. Later he shifted to a house in Sharfabad, near Bahadurabad and lived there for two years. The famous Urdu scholar, Dr Ralph Russell used to come there quite frequently. Then again, Hasan moved to a smaller house on Amir Khusro Road. At that point, Roshan Ali Bhimjee offered him to shift to the former’s house in Hill Park.

He stayed with his good friend Tariq Suhail during the 1970s. In 1975, thanks to a lottery, Ms Zuberi and her husband won about 1500 yards of land in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and they asked Hasan to stay with them. This house was built in the same year. Hasan spent 11 years in this house and wrote many of his works there. The house did not have any partition or wall as per his request in order that the grandchildren might come and go freely. He even requested the architect to construct just two rooms for him: one for studying and the other as a bedroom. His study was a longer room which also had a kitchen. He also wished for a corridor which was duly built for him. In the new house, there was a shortage of water, and Hasan himself bored the earth for it. The house was long and small. Hasan planted mehndi and haar singhar plants in the garden.

Hasan stayed alone. His wife used to stay with their daughter. Ms Zuberi was fairly old by the time they had moved into this latest house; she was approximately in her 40s and had three daughters. When they had first started shifting house, she was in her thirties. Hasan spent his last twelve years in this house writing actively and died there in 1986.

Shedding light on some of his habits, I learnt that he was very much devoted to his home. He would never accept invitations for dinner and would only make an exception in case someone’s daughter would be getting married or in order to call upon a sick comrade in Landhi or Korangi. As to his daily routine, he used to wake up very early in the morning and had tea with a very small round salty biscuit before having breakfast. On Sundays, he would start writing early, while during weekdays, he wrote till late at night. He went to bed between 10 pm and 11 pm. His study was a long room with a long table, which is now in the possession of eminent journalist Sheen Farrukh. His writing materials were kept on the table. He used to write on this table and used very high-quality paper. His writing was beautiful. He often used to visit libraries for reading and research, especially the British Council and obtained a lot of microfilms. He had a ready reference for everything and would often comment on which book to read or refer during a conversation. For his book Mazi kay Mazar he visited the ancient cities of Babylon in Iraq and Petra in Jordan, and requested microfilms.

As for his writing routine, he not only had reference books in the house but used to go to the library to fetch them, a favorite place being the Goethe Institute. He did not have a strict writing routine. On a typical day at home, Hasan would beckon the grandchildren and teach them; so he would not write all the time. As mentioned above, he was a home-oriented person and if he was invited anywhere, he would say that, ‘I am happy here at home and will sleep here too.’ According to him, people who remain outside their home frequently, seek an escape from it. Hasan loved gardening. He also often dreamed about his ancestral home.

Reflecting upon some of the important events which took place in his home, Ms Zuberi said that Shakir Ali passed away in their former house. Another interesting thing she shared with us was that anticipating his arrest at any time, Hasan always had a carton of milk and tea by his bedside and instructed her to go to his friend Tariq Suhail’s house in case he was ever arrested.

In his final year, Hasan worked very hard for the golden jubilee celebrations of the PWA. It was due to this hard work that he became very sick. He was also involved in publishing a literary magazine Pakistani Adab and according to Zuberi, ‘a woman’ who was assisting him in running the magazine didn’t do her fair share of work, forcing the former to do most of the work. Although he did not have any formal rank in the PWA, he was the ‘all-in-all’; ninety percent of the work put into the celebrations of the golden jubilee was done by him. His last creative activities included organizing a mushaira (poetry recital) for the Saadat-e-Amroha (the ‘elite of Amroha’) as part of the PWA golden jubilee celebrations and submitting the final draft of his last book The Battle of Ideas in Pakistan to his publishers. Towards the end of our meeting, Ms Zuberi stunned me by sharing that Hasan had predicted before Benazir Bhutto ascended to power in Pakistan in 1988 that the latter would turn out to be more cruel in office than her father.

After Hasan’s death, Zuberi turned the house in Gushan-e-Iqbal into a library and even appointed a librarian for it, but when no one came there, she became heartbroken. Her own daughter was studying medicine at that time and circumstances were tough. At her husband’s advice, the house was sold in 1988; Hasan would not have approved of it.

He wrote his book Shehr-e-Nigaran in the house on Amir Khusro Road. Of all his books, he rated his last book published in his lifetime Naveed-e-Fikr as his best.

Following his release from prison, Hasan wrote prodigiously. From current affairs to anthropology, and from the history of Marxism to a people’s history of Pakistan and the roots of Islamic fundamentalism and secularism in the country, he wrote in a simple language and in Urdu, for the masses, despite his prodigious learning. Each of his books was steeped in the language of Marxism, illuminating the principles of historical materialism and class struggle, yet firmly grounded in the realities of Pakistan and South Asia. During the Cold War, while most communists in the country were divided between their loyalties to either Beijing or Moscow, underground, in jail or executed, he was one of the few intellectuals and activists who courageously opposed military dictatorships uncompromisingly and through his works tried to sow the seeds of progressive thought in Pakistan, be it Marxism or secularism. It was his lifelong mission to popularize Marxist thought in Pakistan; no wonder he chose Urdu as his medium and that soon his books were being read widely in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa and Balochistan, where powerful nationalist movements were demanding democracy for their oppressed peoples.

One of his books which deserves to be discussed is The Evolution of Culture in Pakistan, which was published forty years ago. It is one of the most seminal books published on the topic, and surprisingly ignored even by those on the left. In a recent discussion on Pakistani culture, one of our prominent cultural critics discussed the contributions of Maulana Maududi, Ishtiaq H. Qureshi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and a certain Dr Hameeduddin to the debate, but misses even a passing mention of Sibte Hasan’s book. Could it be because unlike most of the latter books, Hasan’s book was written in Urdu?

Nevertheless, Hasan’s intent in writing the book is nothing less than what his great Italian counterpart Gramsci had also similarly intended for the Italian national condition in his Prison Notebooks: to ascribe a central role to culture in explaining the people’s history of Pakistan. He writes,

There is great fanfare about culture these days in Pakistan. Seminars are being held at the official level for identifying and personifying Pakistani culture. Speeches are being broadcast on television and radio, and essays are being written in newspapers and magazines. There is no denying that culture plays a very important role in shaping and construction of personality, but the negligence which has hitherto been shown towards cultural problems, whether these discussions would contribute to remedying it, no one can tell. However it is no mean achievement that ’Where the eye hadn’t wandered before, it has now seen.’

There is great disagreement among the educated classes regarding Pakistan’s cultural problems and their solution. Some circles view all these problems in the light of religion, rather according to them the very foundations of Pakistani culture are – or should be – religious; therefore they think that all the elements and appearances of culture which are not in concordance with Islamic sharia should be discarded. For example, dance, music, painting and sculpture etc. Others say that since Pakistan was created on the Two-Nation theory, its culture should be directed according to this ideology and we should remove all those elements from our culture which even reflect Indian culture; so this group is trying its best these days to prove that our culture has never been related to Indian culture, both have always been separate and should be in the future as well; in fact we should erect a civilizational Chinese wall on the Indian border to protect against an Indian cultural invasion. Similarly, another group claims that the Pakistani state is the highest manifestation of our cultural spirit and since we have one state, one religion, one national language, therefore we also have, or should have, one culture. Those who scream about regional cultures, knowingly or unknowingly put the unity and integrity of Pakistan in danger. The fifth group says that Pakistan indeed is a complete historical reality but its citizens do not have one language, religion or culture, rather like Pakistan is a federal state, its culture is also federal and Pakistani culture is not something separate or above regional cultures. The sixth group maintains that a class society will have a class culture; therefore in order to think about Pakistani or regional cultures we will have to decide which class we want to secure: the culture of the big landlords, nawabs and the rich, or that of the rural cultivators, the culture of imperialists, capitalists and the petty-bourgeoisie or that of the ordinary workers. The seventh group believes that we are passing through the era of science and technology. We will have to adopt the modern industrial system for the construction and progress of the country and to organize our society and economy on the principles of socialism otherwise we will always be dependent on others. But what is Pakistani culture and what it should be like can only be agreed upon when we decide beforehand what do we mean by culture? What are the synthesizing elements of culture? What is the law of cultural evolution? What are the various eras culture has passed in Pakistan and what were the distinguishing characteristics of these eras? These are the questions without reflecting on which one can neither understand the cultural problems of the present time easily nor determine the path of cultural progress; because culture is Man’s journey from the present to the possible. What were our presents in the past and what were the forms of the possible these presents took? This is the topic of the book…From the arrival of the Aryans to the present time, the cultures of India and the Indus Valley have been so mixed and have influenced each other so much that it is not possible to study Pakistani culture by pushing Indian culture into the background. But still we have tried to limit this brief survey to only those historical events, movements and tendencies which were related to the inhabitants of the Indus Valley. ”

Unlike Gramsci however Sibte Hasan has spent considerable time in discussing the definition of culture. According to him,

“The system of meaningful creativity and social values of any society is called culture. Culture is the way of life of society and the quintessence of the way of thought and feeling. Therefore language, instruments and tools, methods of production and social relations, way of life, the arts, knowledge and literature, philosophy and wisdom, beliefs and magic, manners and habits, rituals and traditions, the behavior of love and family relations, etc are different manifestations of culture. ”

From this definition, Hasan moves onto the synthesizing elements of culture, which for him, form the basis for all the new and old cultures of the world. These are physical conditions, instruments and tools, the system of thought and feeling, and social values. From a definition of culture, Hasan adopts a wide panorama enveloping a discussion of the ancient cultures of the Indus Valley, the Aryans, the Greek, Saka and Kushan influences, the Arabs, Turks and Iranians, and the rise and decline of Mughals before concluding with a reflection of Mughal culture in the mirror of its contemporary Western culture.

A number of things stand out in Hasan’s analysis. Firstly,as mentioned before, this book came out in the mid-1970s when the democratic government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was in power and there was a debate on the definition of Pakistani culture on both the left and the right. Hasan wrote about the evolution of Pakistani culture in a detached manner, one not given over to emotion but tracing our five-thousand old civilization in a scientific and evolutionary manner. Thus in his hands, the narrative of our cultural evolution becomes a history from below, a people’s history rather than a mere chronicling of the exploits and adventures of kings and rulers and palace intrigues which is the manner standard history has come down to us and is still taught in textbooks. It is to Hasan’s credit that despite utilizing a Marxist framework to explain the intricacies of our cultural evolution through the millennia, he never once becomes dogmatic; in fact his narrative smoothly and eloquently establishes the similar and continuous nature of the class society from ancient Moenjodaro down to our own time.

Secondly, Hasan’s account painstakingly establishes the fact that subcontinental history has been a history of the separation of religion and politics. For example, one of the most powerful kings of the Mamluk dynasty in Delhi, Ghias-ud-din Balban used to say openly that matters of state were subject to national conveniences rather than the laws devised by theologians. Hasan writes, “It is correct that the rulers used religion for the benefit of their class and did not find anything wrong with using the services of maulvis, pundits and clerics, but they were unwilling to accept religious representatives as their masters.”

The third distinctive feature of Sibte Hasan’s work is the space he devotes to a discussion of the popular movements of the subcontinent. I want to mention at least two of them here. One is the Bhakti movement, which is usually dismissed in our standard history as a Hindu movement but in reality it was a joint movement of lower-class Hindus and Muslims which was initiated by Muslim sufis. According to Sibte sahib,

“This daring deviation from sharia could only have been undertaken by sufis who followed a specific order. Therefore the founder of the seven-creed sect of the Bhakti Movement was Syed Imam-ud-din Ismaili. If people become the devotees of love and abandon the rituals of display, there will no longer be any reservations between God and Man…obviously these well-intentioned bhakts were not conscious of the economic nature of the difference of caste and of great and the inferior (maybe they would not even have been conscious because revolutionary conditions were absent ) They were not even in favour of fighting with the ruler of the day and the upper classes for social reform, rather they were sure that the hearts of the opposition could be changed with love devotion. Obviously this movement could not gain any support among the upper and middle classes. ”

Furthermore, “The Bhakti movement and development of the Urdu language took place by following this route. Both are wonderful signs of Hindu-Muslim unity.” Thus Hasan proves that Urdu was never solely the language of Indian Muslims, as many are wont to believe.

The other popular movement which Hasan treats as more than a historical footnote in our history is the Roshaniya movement, founded by the ‘Pir-e-Roshan’ Bayazid Ansari during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar. Despite leading an egalitarian movement, according to Hasan,

“Historians and religious scholars too have presented Pir Roshan’s character in a very biased manner and have tried to prove him as an infidel, heretic, nonreligious, dacoit and even a robber. His historical greatness should be reviewed in the light of the longstanding enmity between the Mughals and Pakhtuns. The Pakhtuns never accepted Mughal suzerainty; in fact where and when ever they had an opportunity, they used to rebel…despite its religious mixture, Pir Roshan’s movement was the first independence movement of the people of the Northern frontier. His war was a people’s war of the Pakhtuns of the Northern frontier. His objective was to end Mughal dominance in the Pakhtun areas so that the Pakhtun tribes could live freely and independently like in the past. ”

It is easy to imagine for such a movement to be dismissed as a Taliban offshoot in the region today, in the current climate polarized by 9/11 and the US invasion of Afghanistan.

Also, “Pir Roshan also enjoys a very high stature in Pashto literature and music. Thus Pashto literary critics think that he has done a great service to Pashto literature through his prose writings, and founded a new school of thought. Before him, there was no tradition of qasida, ghazal, qata’a and masnavi in the Pashto language. Pir Roshan wrote Pashto verses in all these poetic forms.”

It is interesting that despite being different in form and content, but greatly secular and popular in orientation, both these movements eventually failed, one defeated in the battle of ideas and the other on the battlefield.

Women too have their fair share in Sibte Hasan’s narrative, especially the present underdevelopment of women and the growth of brothels in the subcontinent under the influence of Muslim notables. “Upper and middle class women were paralyzed because of the purdah”. Dancing and singing which was considered a sacred prayer in Hindu society was deemed as the forbidden tree among Muslims thanks to the cleric’s fatwas. And thereby Muslim notables began to patronize the dancing and singing establishments. “This is how this sacred art became a source of entertainment for the full-bellied and for the satisfaction of lust in the cities.”

The Mughal period also comes alive in these pages, and Hasan gives more credit to this era for leaving a lasting influence on our region than many are willing to give. One of his great achievements in the chapter on the rise and fall of the Mughals is the way he has treated Aurangzeb, the last major Mughal emperor. Historians either usually depict him as a fundamentalist successor to the four caliphs or a cruel tyrant who showed no mercy to his own father, brothers and progeny in his quest for unlimited power. Despite being the harsh secularist that he is, Hasan has refused to take sides, rather described the man and his times as he is. Writing about the celebrated battle of ideas between Aurangzeb and his learned free-thinker brother Dara Shikoh,

“If Aurangzeb won and Dara Shikoh lost in this civil war, it was because such was the need of the times. Regarding the charge that the sharia-compliant Aurangzeb betrayed his brothers and put his aged father in prison, in the period of personalized rule, this was the norm everywhere regardless of West or East. To shed the blood of father and brothers for throne and crown was not really a new tradition; and had Dara Shikoh won out, he would have treated Aurangzeb in the same manner as the latter with the former.”

One of the most crucial arguments of the book is the thesis that the chief blame for the decline of the Mughal Empire and subsequent British domination in India lay with the scientific and commercial short-sightedness of the Mughals, in short the self-sufficient feudal mode of production in practice during the Mughal times. Very much like their Ottoman contemporaries, even as far-sighted a ruler as Akbar refused to either set up the printing press or even to learn more about it, justifying this historic blunder by arguing for the inferiority of machines in relation to his calligraphers; and fearing for the unemployment of the latter with the arrival of the former. In a moving and lyrical passage worth quoting in full, Hasan writes,

“We should search for the main reasons of the decline of Mughal culture in their self-sufficient society which did not find the need for invention and innovation; in those instruments and tools which had not changed since centuries; in that feudal system which did not have space left for further progress; in that authoritarian personalized rule in which the authority to decide the fate of country and nation belonged to the king and the nobles, and the ruled had no right of representation at any level, neither could they participate or intervene in state affairs; and in those thoughts and beliefs due to which even the educated class had become a frog in a well, and whose abilities of inquiry and discovery, and of saying why and how had been drained. Had the British not come it’s possible that this sick man of Asia would have dragged on another hundred or two hundred years like China, but like the aged man whose hands are unable to move yet has forceful eyes; who cannot do anything by himself yet possesses the lust for sight .

This social inertia is also reflected in the thoughts and beliefs of those times; because it is pointless to expect a breeze of fresh ideas from a stagnant society. Like waves do not emerge in the water enclosed inside a well, in the same manner the passion for restlessness, doubt, inquiry and change rarely emerges inside a closed society. Therefore in the 17th and 18th centuries whether Hindu or Muslim, everyone was ensconced within the magic of fate. Whether the religious scholar or sufi, the saint, hermit or bhakt, all stressed the point that this world was a temporary shelter; do not put your heart into it but worry about improving the afterlife. Whoever emerged, educated about patience, contentedness, simplicity and austerity, rather than advising about changing the worldly affairs. These were the basic faults which ate away the foundations of the seemingly grandiose and huge building of Mughal culture like termites; and when the society confronted the energetic English, its intellectual and material senses did not have enough strength left to contest the enemy with determination anywhere.”

When the book was published in 1975, forty years ago, it immediately set off a debate in South Asian Marxist circles regarding the social conditions in India before the arrival of the British, and what impact the latter development had had on the mode of production. Since this was the first time such a thesis had been presented in Urdu, it drew in eminent Pakistani intellectuals like Safdar Mir, Muhammad Ali Siddiqi and others who lived abroad like Professors Hamza Alavi and Aijaz Ahmad, in the UK and US respectively.

Celebrating its fortieth publication anniversary in 2015, this neglected classic is still relevant and deserves greater readership and dissemination, especially amidst the intolerance, sectarianism and rapidly shrinking space for dissent in Pakistan. One indication of this is the recent preposterous claim made in a column for the country’s largest-selling Urdu newspaper Jang (War) by Dr Safdar Mahmood that the Turk invader Shahabuddin Ghauri should be regarded as the founder of Pakistan rather than Muhammad bin Qasim, since had the former not defeated Prithvi Raj Chauhan at Tarain in the 12th century, no other Muslim invader would ever have come to India to found a Muslim homeland. It is precisely such an ignorant and dangerous mindset that Sibte Hasan sought to challenge in Pakistan main Tehzeeb ka Irtiqa. This book firmly situates the historical narrative from the Vedic era to the downfall of the Mughal empire within the Indus Valley civilization; and what happened to the common man; and a balance sheet of the past, of the poetry and literature, dance and music, painting and sculpture, knowledge and the arts, expeditions and hunts through the millennia.

2016 will quietly – but not officially – be celebrated in Karachi and other progressive pockets of the Indian subcontinent as the birth centenary of Pakistan’s greatest Marxist thinker, who spent his life both as a writer and activist working actively for the popular elucidation and dissemination of Marxism, and for a secular, just and equitable society free from oppression and class discrimination. Throughout his life, he was respected in all circles despite his Marxist affiliations; his death in 1986 was widely condoled by all shades of political opinion, including political parties and heads of state. I was only six years old at the time. I never met him obviously, but I wish I had. Yet his seminal works are not widely known or taught in the so-called heartlands of Urdu or outside a tiny minority of dedicated leftists; they are certainly lapped up enthusiastically elsewhere in Pakistan, in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, those veritable provinces of perpetual oppression in 21st century Pakistan. Translation certainly can play a pivotal role here, for the many who still do not have access to Hasan’s work in English and non-Urdu languages, both in Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent. None of the eleven books he wrote in Urdu have been translated into English to date. Intriguingly, interest in Gramsci’s work outside Italy only sparked in the third decade after his death, with the first full translation of his works into English only appearing in 1971, forty years after the iconic thinker’s death. It is thirty years to Hasan’s passing away in 2016, and thousands of his admirers may yet be surprised by the appearance of an odd translation or two, thus establishing another unique link between the lives and afterlives of Gramsci and Hasan.

It is a tragedy that it is columnists, demagogues and opportunists like the aforementioned Safdar Mahmood, Orya Maqbool Jan, Zaid Hamid and Hasan Nisar who have now taken over the mantle of our public intellectuals here in Pakistan and appeal to our middle-class youth thirsty for change, rather than the gentle, modest and soft-spoken man born a century ago. The challenge which he threw to us while concluding The Evolution of Culture in Pakistan still remains:

“Now the question is what will be the fate of our national culture and regional cultures in the era of this industrial culture? Any clue to the personality of national culture has not even been found yet. Therefore the seminar on the problem of national culture recently held in Islamabad by the Ministry of Culture too failed to identify national culture. So it would be futile to say anything about the future of national culture. Although we can easily identify regional cultures with reference to their literature, art, language and skill; so their future can be speculated on. But do regional cultures have the ability to challenge or combat industrial culture? The history of other countries answers this question in the negative. But it is indeed possible that we attune our regional cultures to industrial culture, and develop the former further with the assistance of the blessings of the latter; cut the lifeless and dried boughs of regional cultures and irrigate the strong and healthy ones with the fertilizer and water of industrial culture so that the flowers which bloom among these plants contain the aroma of the earth as well as the colour of human skill. ”

Note: All the original translations from the Urdu are mine.

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