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OCTOBER 25, 2012

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The Pakistan government, on Pakistan's Independence Day, has announced the award of Nishaan-i-Imtiaz-i-Pakistan (Pakistan's Mark of Distinction) to the late ghazal maestro Mehndi Hassan and the long dead Urdu short story writer Saa'dat Hasan Manto. The award is the highest civilian decoration conferred by the Pak government.


The Shehnshah-i-Ghazal (Emperor of Ghazals) Mehndi Hassan died after a long illness in Karachi recently . He had been confined to bed for long due to paralysis. Starting work life as a tractor mechanic in Jhunjhnu of Rajasthan, he later shifted to Pakistan, along with his family. He discovered his singing talent a bit later and went on to literally rule the genre of ghazal unchallenged.  Thousands of film songs and numerous immortal ghazals were graced by his magical voice. In fact, there was a time in the 1960s in Pakistan when no film was considered complete without a song in his voice.  So much so that India's melody queen Lata Mangeshkar had once said about him, "God resides in his voice".   

Ghazal aficinados will always remember with nostalgia his all-time greats like Ranjish Hi Sahi....,  Pyaar Bhare Do Sharmiley Nain....,  Zindagi Mein To Sabhi ... and Gulon Mein Rang Bhare. RIP



The second awardee Saa'dat Hasan Manto was an all-time great writer of Urdu short stories in pre-Independence India. His stories on the Partition and its barbaric results very poignantly portrayed the tragic, biting reality. He was accused of vulgarity and obscenity and he was, in fact, tried by a Lahore court  on these charges, but was acquitted by the Judge. His sharp wit, coupled with his hard-hitting style and matchless choice of words left a lasting impact on the readers's mind. He also worked in the Bombay film industry for a while after Partition. He died in 1955 at the young age of 42, leaving behind his wife and three daughters.




Ever since his death, the Pakistan government had been shying from owning up him precisley because of the unsparing nature of his writings. In honouring him with the highest prize, the government seems to be trying to correct its historical wrongs.


Among his immpotal classics are Toba Tek Singh, the best work on the tragic human reality of Partition and Thanda Gosht.


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