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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014
A community that observes purdah cannot succeed
Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times
July 02, 2011
First Published: 22:52 IST(2/7/2011)
Last Updated: 01:48 IST(3/7/2011)

I have two nationalities, Indian and Pakistani. But I am finding it more and more difficult to understand what is going on in Pakistan. Every other day there are bomb blasts in and around Peshawar taking heavy toll of human lives — Muslims killing Muslims. Other cities such as Karachi and Lahore also have a blast or two every month and no one is sure why extremist elements like the Taliban and al Qaeda have increased their hold in the country. They regard America as their enemy number one and India as number two. I can understand their animosity towards the Americans because they do not respect Pakistan's sovereignty. But the hostility towards India is totally unjustified. We have not wronged them. We want a friendly and prosperous neighbour because we know it also ensures our own prosperity.

The mullahs seem to be extending their influence on the common people. The number of women in burqas is steadily increasing. They do not realise that a community that confines half its population in purdah can never catch up with countries that treat women as equals. Male chauvinism is on the increase. At the same time we have a woman like Asma Jehangir who is elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. She also happens to be the principal spokesperson for closer and friendly relations with India. She visits India frequently and makes it a point to spend an evening with me. I await her next visit in the hope that she will clear the cobwebs I have spun in my mind about Pakistan.

Regretting my past
I spend many evenings going over the evil deeds I committed in my early years. With an air gun I killed dozens of sparrows who had done me no harm. I shot a dove sitting on its clutch of eggs. It flew up scattering its feathers till it collapsed. I shot rock pigeons by the score every evening when I was staying with my uncle in Mian Channu, as their cotton factory was closed for a month. They were picked up by the children to be eaten. I joined shikar parties and killed many innocent birds. At one organised shoot in Bharatpur I shot over a dozen ducks in two hours. No one told me it was a wrong thing to do and also a sin for which there will be no pardon. I am paying the price for my sins as they haunt me evening after evening.

In One, two and three lines
Rajnish of Shimla specialises in compressing wisdom in as few words as possible. Here are some examples:
-Unless you can look interested when you are bored you will never a success socially.
-Early to bed and early to rise is a sure sign that you don't care for television.
-You can't fall out of bed if you sleep on the floor.
-One advantage of being stupid is that you never get lonely.
-The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents and second half by our children.
-Speech is a faculty given to man to conceal his thoughts.
 -Men have sight, women insight.
-When he that speaks and he to whom he speaks and neither of them understands what is meant, that is metaphysics.
-I quote others to better express myself.
-Mohan: I suppose you think I'm a perfect idiot. Sohan: Oh, none of us is perfect.
-What do you think of the two candidates for mayor? Well, I'm glad only one can be elected.
-A snorer is a sound sleeper.
-A reformer is one who makes others feel miserable about their pleasures.
-When prices are high, money does not talk, it whispers.
-If you can't think of any other way to flatter a man, tell him he is the one that can't be flattered.
-The hardest trial of heart is whether it can bear a rival's failure without triumph.
-There is no arena in which vanity displays itself under such a variety of forms as in conversation.

The views expressed by the author are personal.


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