Where lies the identity of the Punjab? Shafqat Tanvir Mirza

Punjabi Themes

THE TV drama serial, Shanakht, expose those Chaudhris of the Punjab who had betrayed the nation after the British had invaded and captured the province. Shanakht is not only the identity of the Punjabi ghaddars but also of the traitors of other areas of the subcontinent. For instance, Bahadur Shah Zafar found in his son a real betrayer when the king refused to accept this British dictation: "The Court of Directors gave direction that only Bahadur Shah Zafar would have the title of King, and after him the palace should be vacated and the royal family removed to a residence at the Qutb The father refused but Fakharuddin, the king's eldest son, in 1852 accepted the terms and in reward of that the British government recognized Prince Fakharuddin as heir to the throne." The failure of the 1857 uprising was planned in 1852 under the very nose of the King and his wives and daughters.

The message of Shanakht must be conveyed but in the time framework spread between 1757 and 1857.

The critical aspect of TV productions on history lacks an in-depth study of the subject and the use of too much rhetoric ... both by the writer and the producer. Moreover, the places where these incidents or tragedies took place are mostly in India and, unfortunately, both India and Pakistan never thought of allowing each other's media teams to work in the areas where history is buried. Now should I say that it was the Mughal rulers of Delhi who collaborated with the British to first occupy the Punjab across the River Sutlej and at a later stage the rest the Sikh state, including Jammu and Kashmir, the Frontier, Laddakh and the northern areas.

One would have hoped that the National Channel of. PTV would deliver, but the first shocking element was that even in cultural affairs the Senate-equality formula has been followed. Punjabi may be a very rich language with a literary tradition of 800 years, but it will have only two hours while the other three provincial languages have six hour chunks.

The establishment at this juncture, may have a smooth sailing but denying due rights to any nationality of Pakistan will in the long run create problems. You may abuse the Punjab and the Punjabis through Shanakht, through the Greater Thal Canal, through the aborted Kalabagh or other dams like Tarbela and Mangla (All outside the Punjab), but keep in mind that the toughest battle was given to the British by the Punjabis and it was Jallianwala Bagh just after the First World War which turned the tide of the freedom movement and had made the colonialists uneasy even in Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi which they conquered much before the Punjab. It is unfortunate that drama in Punjabi in the perstecive of the Punjab was mainly written by the non-Muslim writers, including Balwant Gargi.

Born in Batthinda, (east Punjab) Gargi did his master's from the FC College. He started his career as a dramatist from Lahore where he wrote a famous drama Loha-Kut for the Lahore station of All India Radio. Gargi had to migrate to India in 1947.

Another playwright of that period, Sant Singh Sekhon, writes about Gargi: "He started writing one-act plays under the influence of the Preet Nagar School (A great institution of Lahore on which Lahorites were proud of) and later as a member of the Indian People's Theatre Association (of which the late Safdar Mir was once a very active member). In as much as he wrote these plays for the immediate purpose of producing them on the limited stage of the above-mentioned two associations, there is some obvious theatricality in them. Some are written to serve the propagandist purpose of the Kisan Sabhha like Mohga (outlet) which is based on the agitation of the peasants against the government, and m Mohga, a town in Ferozpur district, hundreds of agitators were killed by police and the paramilitary forces after partition. His drama Ghughi (The Dove) is obviously a play for peace, Sail Pathar is about the labour movement and Gagan Mai Thaal (Sky and the Earth are the Platters) is about Nanak when he was arrested by Babar, near Aimanabad (Gujranwala) where Nanak becomes the identity of the Punjab." The Sikhs were here last week to commemorate the bold stand of Baba Nanak against the oppression of the Babri Forces which even Babar himself disliked and ordered the release of the Guru.

The Shanakht of the Punjab are Nanak, Balwant Gargi and Dr. Laeeq Babri who died last week in an Islamabad hospitalHe was a scholar and teacher of French language and literature, but he contributed two collections of Punjabi poetry.