'I`m very close to Indian classical music'

New Delhi: Whatever be their views on relations between the two countries but there has always been admiration in Pakistan of Indian art.

One among the many such admirers is Ali Sethi- a young Pakistani writer, who has recently came out with his debut novel `The Wish Maker`.

"I am a writer but I also want to become a singer. Its my passion and that is why I am learning Indian classical singing
from Ustad Naseeruddin Saami of Delhi Gharana," says Sethi. "I
have been always close to Indian music as my mother used to sing gazals and thumris," he adds.

Sethi, 25, a major in South-Asian Studies from Harvard University, is a new entrant in Pakistani English literature, which in recent times has witnessed resurgence with names like
Kamila Shamsie, Mohammad Haif, Nadeem Aslam, Mohsin Hamid and
Daniyal Mueemuddin.

"Post 9/11, there is sense of self-consciousness and constant scrutiny among the more literate Pakistanis and this has led to the emergence of a new breed in Pakistani literature," says Sethi.

He also attributed the resurgence to the freedom of media in later 90s and earlier this decade.

"Freedom to the media during Musharraf regime- an undoing for himself- gave us the opportunity to see both sides of the coin. Earlier in Zia-ul-Haq span we had only PTV, which only showed the views of clerics."

Sethi, who has witnessed Pakistan politics closely and also suffered due to it as his father Najam Sethi, a noted Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of The Friday Times was arrested by ISI in 1999 and released only after a month due to global outcry.

He blames the regime of Gen Zia-ul-Haq during 80s for the present tumult in Pakistan. "He brought the idea of a Islamic Pakistan. He wanted to make Pakistan similar to Saudi Arabia, which was the biggest funding source for Pakistan at that time."

He also blames USA for giving a boost to extremist organisations Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

The protagonist of "The Wish Maker" Zaki Shirazi is close to his identity. "There are a lot of similarities. The backdrop of the novel is Lahore in early 1990`s, where I spent my childhood. Even Zaki`s mother is a journalist so as my mother Jugnu Mohsin."

He says that though due to Islamisation of Pakistan in Zia`s regime, there was a strong hold of clerics in the society but cities like Lahore and Karachi (which was facing ethnic violence) had a modern outlook. "In my childhood, donning veil and scarf was a rarity. Many females used to wear jeans and tops but now women are forced to wear veil."

He also says that these all is due to rise of media. In Pakistan, general talks are like, is nail-polish is Islamic or not? Should we cut cake or not?

"It will take a lot of time to undo the polices of 80`s and early 90`s," he says.

He also says that because of so much violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the region is treated as war-zone.

"Don`t separate us, Pakistan is a part of the sub-continent, and world should look at us and find solution to this problem keeping sub-continent scenario in mind along with India."

Sethi also thanked his education in USA, where he studied a lot about the history, culture, society and the politics in South Asia. "It inspired me to write the novel."

He says, "Everyone is a wish maker. When you will read the book, you will know that everyone makes a wish but it may not come true."

He also makes a wish for India and Pakistan. "Let more Indians to travel Pakistan and let more Pakistanis to visit India, this will be a solution to all the issues."

Bureau Report