History: The city of lost dreams

Sibtain Naqvi in Dawn:

NazimIt is a universally acknowledged truth that an overwhelming majority of Karachi’s immigrant intellectuals once lived in Nazimabad. Talking about it invariably turns into a litany of famous names who resided there. Some well-known former Nazimabad residents include artists Sadequain and Iqbal Mehdi, Justice Lari, actor Shakeel, film-maker Saeed Rizvi, actress Sangeeta, writers Mukhtar Zaman and Ibn-i-Insha, scholar Alia Imam, poet Ahmad Siddiq aka Majnun Gorakhpuri, journalist Mujahid Barelvi, columnist Nasrullah Khan, singer Salman Alvi (then known on radio as Salman Mian the banjo player), plastic surgeon Dr Mohammad Jawad (of Saving Face fame), and Aale Raza, brother of Hashim Raza.

This isn’t surprising as from the 1950s to 1970s Nazimabad was the centre of India’s Muslim culture and an inheritor of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. Partly this has to do with the way history unfolded: most refugees to Punjab or Bengal, who fled persecution, moved from the Indian part of the province to the Pakistani. As a result, homogeneity of language and culture in Lahore or Dhaka was maintained. Immigrants who came to Karachi, however, were different. Many did come due to unrest in their hometowns but most came for opportunities in a new nation. They originated from cultural centres of the subcontinent such as Lucknow, Delhi, Amroha and Hyderabad. Among these new immigrants was the first generation of educated, socially-mobile Muslims; graduates of Aligarh or Osmania University who had played an important role in the Pakistan movement. As Jaun Alia once acidly remarked, “Pakistan … ye sab Aligarh ke laundon ki shararat thi” (Pakistan — this was the mischief of boys from Aligarh).

More here. (Thanks to Sadia Abbas)

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