The book A Stranger in My Own Country is a recollection of memory of a patriot army officer who served in East Pakistan as Major General from 1969 to 1971. The book reveals number of facts which became a cause of separation of East wing of Pakistan doing an irreparable loss to the country. At the start of the story about East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Major General (Retd) Khadim Hussain Raja, says that certain opportunists in East Pakistan propagated against West Pakistan and put forth the distorted facts before the public just to disgust the image of West Pakistan in their eyes. A campaign amongst the masses was already on the move with a flawed idea that West Pakistan was usurping all the benefits which were generated out of the resources of East Pakistan wing. According to General (Retd) Raja, the propaganda was completely baseless and was launched in East Pakistan by certain groups with vested interests just to create an environment of hatred there for West Pakistan.

General (Retd) Raja sorrowfully points out that the rulers sitting in West Pakistan were aware of the situation aggravating in East Pakistan but they remained silent and negligent to nip the evil into the bud. It is also stated into the manuscript that the then President of Pakistan was continuously apprised of the situation with solid proofs of anti nationalist elements taking strength in East Pakistan and was requested several times to intervene for taking measures against them but nobody sitting in West Pakistan could comprehend the direness of the situation properly, hence no measures on time.

General (Retd) Raja is quite eloquent in his view that in evolving the circumstances leading to the fall of Dhaka, the first responsibility goes to the leadership of East Pakistan who motivated and disgusted the people of East Pakistan against West Pakistan for their personal political interests and the same was coupled with the sluggishness in performing state responsibilities by West Pakistan wing when it came about the East Pakistan; although, the geographical location of East Pakistan was a big hurdle in the performance of such responsibilities. He says that after the water had already run over, the rulers sitting in West Pakistan got alarmed of the aggravated situation in East Pakistan and they tried to overcome the situation through use of power, which was again a bad decision and resulted into a massacre due to the non-responsible attitude of the army command, there.

It can rightly be collected from various parts of the book that West Pakistanis considered East Pakistanis to be timid people but the same was true about East Pakistanis as well who hated West Pakistanis and thought that they were the usurpers of their national assets.

After reading the book one can easily reach the conclusion that the mutiny of 1971 was a result of lust for power of the political elite of the country in both wings. The final nail in the coffin was fixed when two parties which emerged on the political scene after the general elections, refused to share power with each other. The situation could certainly have been handled, if the politicians and the leaders had kept the national interests supreme and sorted out their political differences on table to find a mid way reconciliatory solution. Unfortunately, no such sincere effort was made throughout the period.

General (Retd) Raja at the end gives the moral of his piece of writing and says that leadership of Pakistan must learn from the past events and should not repeat those in future, as the result of making the same mistakes again would be no different from that of past. This is a message which speaks volumes for the leadership of the country reigning in the present era.

Khadim Hussain Raja (1922–1999) was born into an agriculturalist family at Haranpur, District Jhelum. He received his early education from Central Model High School, Lahore and graduated, with Honours in English, from Government College, Lahore. In 1942, he joined the British Indian Army and received the King’s Commission from the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun. He served in the Burma Theatre till the end of the Second World War in an infantry battalion, and opted for a career in the Pakistan Army after Independence in 1947.

During 1947–8, Khadim Hussain Raja volunteered and saw action in Kashmir. He graduated from the Staff College, Quetta, and later from the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth. He had the distinction of serving on the faculty of Command and Staff College, Quetta, twice. Later, he commanded the First Pakistan Battalion (Quaid-i-Azam’s own) at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, and subsequently rose to the rank of Major General. Before retirement from active duty, he served as Director General Artillery at the General Headquarters.

Title: Stranger In My Own Country

Author: Major General (R) Khadim Hussain Raja

Genre: Non fiction

Pages: 154

Price: Rs. 695

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Stories of Love and Sacrifice

In literary circles Shaheena Chanda Mehtab is not an unknown name. She is a novelist and short story writer. She is more famous in monthly women’s digests. She is the author of seven Urdu novels which published in different magazines. With her gripping stories and brave characters she has a large number of fans especially in females. All her work is compiled in three books which are ‘Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain’, ‘Ek Baar Muskara Do’ and ‘Dua’. The preface of first two books has been written by Fauzia Shafiq who is the editor of monthly magazine Hinna whereas the flip of the third book was written by senior journalist Dilawar Chaudhary.

Shaheena Chanda Mehtab is one of those writers who did not follow anyone in their writing styles. She has her own way of narrating stories and art of characterization. She portrays her characters beautifully which develops as the story progresses. She has good command over building a strong plot of her stories. Her characters are taken from the real life. While reading her stories one never feels alienated from this mortal world rather it seems it is the story of someone living around reader and he has a good acquaintance with the characters. As far as her writing style is concerned she writes short and pithy sentences. There is coherence in her narration.

Her stories are mostly about women fighting against the injustice and social conflicts. She describes their social problems which they face in day to day affairs either as house wives or as working ladies. What make her female characters distinct is that they never go beyond their social and cultural limits. They are eastern in their values and are not following blindly the western tradition. But instead of compromising on social injustice they are try to find some solutions but they are always ready to sacrifice for their families. Her every story ends with some moral which guides its readers that how to deal with social problems.

Titles: Mohabbat Isko Kahete Hain, Ek Baar Muskara Do

Author: Shaheena Chanda Mehtab

Reviewer: Faizan Hussain

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories

Price: Rs. 300 each

Publisher: Khazina Ilm-o-Adab

Exposing Pakistani Society

New coining of the idioms with creative ecstasy is the very core of literature, be it in any language or any genre. Rolling Gems by Hamza Hassan Sheikh is an admirable effort to unwrap the Asian idiomatic sense of English language in short stories. He is sanguine enough to hide his expertise and usually unfolds his locale to the English reader and English speaking world. Literature, whatever the way it deals with life, is nothing but to contribute a fragrance that has not been delivered to the global map. Moreover; with his own tailored style, he sews an appropriate Asian inside in his short stories that portray slaughtering, mutilating and denouncing the hoi-polloi of Pakistani environment. Hamza, in his Rolling Gems narrates the prevailing situation of Pakistani society with a courage which sometimes, becomes curse; off course a curse on the agent provocateurs’; who are working in the favour of vested interest. Yet one can smell a sort of incompetency in the editing of above said book. Now what he needs is to be to the point and brief with a concealment that tightens a short story and get it correlate for the title chosen by the author. I am glad to see a Pakistani young boy having pen in his hand and yet willing to put it on the paper. His jottings, till now are the emblem of would be important writer.

Hamza was born in Dera Ismail Khan, the city located on the bank of the Indus River. He got his early education from the government school of his hometown. After his Bachelor, he moved to Islamabad for higher education. He was also the editor of the literary journals of school, college and university. His first collection of poems Some Moments of Love appeared in 2004. The book was not only appreciated in Pakistan, but it was highly recommended in India, England, Japan and New Zealand. His poems have also been translated into Arabic, Persian, Urdu and other regional languages. In 2009, his second collection of poems Museum of Reminiscence appeared. In 2010, his debut novel Thirst All Around was published and in 3 years its editions have been published from Pakistan, India and U.S.A. He is also the author of 3 collections of Short stories for the children and these collections of Urdu short stories published in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Title: Rolling Gems

Author: Hamza Hassan Sheikh

Reviewer: Akhtar Usman

Genre: Short Stories

Pages: 86

Price: $16.00