Sardar Ahmed Bhatti, the father of my dear friend Dr Shaheena Ayub Bhatti, is the author of the book, and although listed by the publishers as a biography, it is much more than that. It is a combination of family history, some glimpses of the author’s own life and, chiefly, a loving homage paid to a national hero, Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed (Nishan e Haidar).
Sardar Saheb’s style of writing is anecdotal. He calls it a labor of love, as he says, “It has taken time recollecting the past, and some memories are very painful.”
As the title suggests, the writer is the Shaheed’s brother and he projects the heroic qualities of his elder brother with respect, love and admiration. There is no doubt that Maj. Aziz Bhatti Shaheed had an extraordinary personality. Such characters find their niche whatever the circumstances.
Sardar Saheb’s style of writing is anecdotal. He calls it a labor of love, as he says, “It has taken time recollecting the past, and some memories are very painful.” The story of growing up in Hong Kong reinforces the fact that Sardar and Aziz were very close, sharing pranks, escapades and joint ventures where the young one always followed his elder brother unquestioningly.
After giving very brief sketches of his own life and that of his father’s, the author goes on to describe life in Hong Kong where the five Bhatti boys grew up. Descriptions of life at home and in school are intertwined forming the major part of the young boys’ transition to adulthood. In the background, there is a political narrative where the boys’ lives are pushed into the chaos created by Second World War. The British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese forces on the Christmas day in 1941. With this began a time of struggle and hardships.
With schools closed, no income and savings nullified, the Bhatti family needed the younger lot to pitch in. Even the building where they lived was bombarded. The various incidents in the war ravaged country are described with stoic resignation. The war also took the toll on one life from the clan. One brother, Bashir Ahmed, older than Aziz died in Japanese Naval Custody. When the war ended, the family returned to their village in Gujrat and the young men struggled to find employment opportunities. At this point in time, Pakistan came into being and the three elder siblings joined the armed forces of this newly established homeland created for the Muslims of the Subcontinent.
Most of the events of Aziz Bhatti’s life are written in chronological order in the biography. As for the narrative of his Shahadat, the author only gives us the text of the official citation for Major Aziz Bhatti who was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider
Aziz Bhatti was an outstanding Cadet at the Pakistan Military Academy. He received the Sword of honor and the Norman medal for academic excellence. Later he attended the Canadian Staff College. Having got married during his Cadetship, he shouldered this new responsibility as a hero should. With a growing family of seven children, life of an army major must have been tough. He built a house in Tench Bhatta, Rawalpindi and also persuaded Sardar to build one in the same locality.
Most of the events of Aziz Bhatti’s life are written in chronological order in the biography. As for the narrative of his Shahadat, the author only gives us the text of the official citation for Major Aziz Bhatti who was posthumously awarded Nishan-e-Haider. Aziz Bhatti’s valor, courage, devotion to the duty and leadership qualities speak for themselves. And the author has not added to the national narrative with further comments. He was buried in a corner of his father’s garden in his ancestral village, and his aged mother and father bore this great loss with fortitude and faith in Allah’s will.
A number of photographs are included in the book and naturally they are black and white. But if possible their quality may be enhanced in future editions. The font is large and the printing is also of high quality. A must read for all Pakistanis especially the young generation lest we forget our heroes.
The writer is visiting faculty, English Deptt, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi
After diving headfirst into the Olympiad culture and sponsoring numerous talent hunting competitions in the span of just a few months, Daastan started attracting the attention of the big names in the community and getting invited not just to help groom the talent, but also share our experience and inspire those who might want to walk down the same path. And so, with this, we zeroed in on providing sponsorship, technical and media related support, and marketing to the literature exclusive festivals and happenings across Pakistan. The team would then help those interested find their way to their first self-published works through Qissa, empowering them to monetize their hobby and – if they chose so – to make a career out of it.
A Seminar on Feminism:
The first of such events was a seminar titled “Feminism in Language, Literature and Marketplace”, organized on Women’s Day, where Daastan’s founder, Mr. Syed Ommer Ammer, was invited as a guest speaker. Ommer shared the success stories of Ms. Laiba Sehrish Nawaz – the youngest published author of Peshawar, Ms. Lareb Soomro – the youngest published author or Sindh and Ms. Faiza Kayani a police commando who defied all odds to chase her dream and published her first book through Qissa. He also spoke about how Daastan was enabling women voice their opinions through their stories, and also gain financial independence by training them to generate revenue from their writings and connecting them to resources which can help them do so.
NUST and LUMS Literary Fests:
Just a couple weeks after that, we sponsored not only the National Literary Festival by NUST in Islamabad, but also one of the biggest campus based literary festivals in all of Pakistan, i.e. the LUMS Literary Festival 2018. Through Daastan, the literary festivals received judges to adjudicate all their competitions, discounts on all books published on Qissa, the chance to talk to our team and learn more about utilizing digital tools to help them carve their out their niche in the industry. Not only this, the winners of the LUMS Literary Festival received wild card entries to the finalists of the on-going season of ‘The Stories Untold’, through which the authors would all go into print for free through Daastan.
If you want us to sponsor you event, or provide support, send us an email at email@example.com.
Daastan may have started small, but in no way was it destined to remain that way as the years rolled by. When the team started out, one of their primary missions was to help train raw talent from across the whole country and maybe even beyond, and enable them in setting up their literary ventures through the Qissa portal – or help them polish their skills to perfection, making them industry-fit and ready for hiring. We at Daastan, have always felt it as one of our responsibilities to reach out and give opportunities to anyone who has even a smidge of talent, along with a ton of passion.
Sponsoring the EME Olympiad:
It was to uphold this very ideal that Daastan jumped forward at the mention of giving support to the first competition which reached out to them i.e. the EME Olympiad. A delegation from team Daastan consisting of Ms. Sidra Amin, Co-Founder, and Ms. Mahnoor Naseer, Editor-In-Chief were invited to judge the Speed Writing as well as the Poetry Slam competition. The two exceptionally talented ladies were honored to have been given the opportunity to witness such exceptional work by some of the participants. The delegation also consisted of Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, a Literary Fellow graduate and a part of Urdu Editorial Board at Daastan, who was there to judge and score the participants enrolled in Urdu based literary competitions. Daastan provided a sponsorship of almost 50,000 PKR to EME Olympiad, along with social media support.
PIEAS National Olympiad x Daastan:
A month later, we had the opportunity to collaborate with and provide funding to the PIEAS National Olympiad. One of the biggest Olympiads being held in the twin cities, with participation from more than 30 Universities from all over Pakistan. The team of Daastan saw more than 800 participants competiting each other and showcasing their skills. Their literary modules were judged by a delegation of Daastan, consisting of Ms. Areesh Fatmee, Director PR Daastan, Ms. Syeda Aleena Bukhari, Urdu Editor Daastan, and Ms. Aaina Batool, published author at Qissa. Daastan also offered print publishing to the winners, along with marketing on social media to provide additional support to the event.
The IST Youth Carnival:
In the same week as the PIEAS National Olympiad, Daastan also collaborated with the IST Youth Carnival. Our published author Ms. Iqra Saeed set up a stall there and spread awareness on the literary industry and self-publishing scenario in Pakistan, and Daastan also provided judges to adjudicate the short story competition.
If you are organizing an Olympiad or Carnival at your University and require sponsorship, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exactly a month after the chain of events, titled “Literary Evenings” by Words and Metaphors, was kick started in the city of Peshawar, the team of Daastan traveled all the way to Karachi to hold the second one in its succession. The first event had turned out to be a huge hit, with a crowd turnout that amazed even the most hopeful among us. The poetry and performances we got to see in the event were of such good quality that weeks after the audience would find themselves thinking about the cozy environment in which all of the literary geeks felt connected as if they were a family.
Literary Evenings Volume Two was split into two events held at separate venues so as to celebrate each one according to its needs. The first event was the book launch of Daastan’s youngest published writer from Sindh, Lareb Soomro. The 15-year-old girl from Larkana wrote her very first novel “The Secret of Spring”, and finding no avenue to bring her work to the public, turned to what would become her enabling family – Daastan. Within a few months of her sharing her novel with the team, it was proofread, edited to its best version, and then sent to print. It was such a pleasure for Daastan to have empowered such a young but a creative and budding mind. Lareb’s book launch was held in Nizamani Labour Hall where students from different colleges, writers and people with an appreciation of literature graced the event. Her launch received extensive media coverage. The news report of the event and her interviews were featured on Samaa news, Sach Tv, as well as local Sindhi news channels like Awaz.
The second occasion of the volume two of Literary evenings was an open mic session which took place in Pakistan Chowk Community Center. The Open Mic was themed, and people from all walks of life came together to share their works and lift the stigma from society’s notion regarding “Abuse”. Over the course of the evening, with so many hearts opening up to individuals who had gone through more or less the same experiences as them, the air grew somber but bittersweet in the knowledge that they were not alone.
Daastan took over the digital space after graduating from Telenor Velocity, had authors singing up by the hundreds, and was creating waves in the trade of writing in Pakistan. With Qissa leading at the forefront, it was only natural that the team started to think of ways to expand their message to the populace previously untouched due to biased social media algorithms, lack of connectivity to the relevant resources, or dearth of awareness regarding how we worked and why it mattered. To address this, Daastan’s team geared up to hold campus drives all across Pakistan.
How to Connect with Daastan:
The idea was simple; we invited our family online to drop us an email at email@example.com or message us on our Facebook page or website if they wanted us to visit their campus. From there on, the team of Daastan would try to reach out to their resources in the said city, get in contact with the authorities or concerned people at the University campus they were planning on visiting, set a date and arrange a small event to which students would be invited. The invites that followed were received from all sorts of individuals of our community. We visited campuses where our members worked or studied, Universities in which we were hosted by our published writers and story competition winners, and places where we were invited simply because a person chose to volunteer with us as a literary activist to learn about self-publishing and get their fellows interested in literature.
What started as a few visits to some universities, ended up as a full-blown offline movement in which more than 40 campuses were visited to gather the literati from all over the country and walk them through the literature industry and its workings in the most transparent way. We were welcomed into campuses of Karachi such as NEDUET, to those of Multan like Bahauddin Zikriya University. In Lahore doors of the UMT were opened to us, in Islamabad those of COMSATS, and in Rawalpindi we made waves in a session so exuberant in FUMC, it left a mark on all that attended it. The team would go spearheaded by one or another executive member, hold an interactive session with the students and answer their questions regarding Daastan and Qissa publishing, set up a stall with our published books and cool bookmarks, and connect with all the hidden gems of the literary community.
Along with this, the team was also invited to speak in numerous literary fests all across Pakistan. Our Managing Director was invited to speak as a panelist in King Edwards Literary Festival ‘17, while Daastan’s founder himself, accompanied by Ms. Sameen Aziz – graduate of Daastan’s second batch of Literary Fellowship, represented Daastan at KATH ’18 . In each campus drive, a prize distribution ceremony would be held to appreciate our writers.
Somewhere in the humdrum that was the year 2017, Daastan’s co-founder Sidra Amin took it upon herself to launch a platform that worked solely for the propagation of literature through offline events. For months before the forum was founded, Sidra hunted for literati and like-minded individuals with a heart filled with sheer love for literature and related arts. In mid-summer, it finally came into being, and was named ‘Words and Metaphors’. They had the pleasure of introducing to KPK its very first spoken word performance by their debut artist Mr. Kayenaat Hameed Khattak.
Literary Evenings Volume 1:
Almost a year later, Daastan powered what was to become the signature event series of Words and Metaphors, titled “Literary Evenings”. The idea was to initiate a chain of events solely focused on encouraging the literature invested local community artists, and bring their work out into the open. The first volume of Literary Evenings, held in the city of Peshawar, had a two-tiered agenda. The first, was to hold a Poetry Slam Contest between the poets of the city, in both Urdu and English. The contest was divided into three rounds, each with its own unique theme to challenge the performer and their written content. A panel of three exceptionally qualified judges was assembled, which consisted of a research scholar pursuing her MPhil in Literature, Founder Daastan, and Co-founder Words and Metaphors, each especially suited to evaluate the poet’s abilities of speech, written word and body language.
The second purpose of the event was to hold abook launch for the most talented writer of Qissa, who also had the honor of being the fastest crowd funded author of Daastan, Ms. Laiba Sehrish Nawaz. Her book, Abduction from the Lethe, had hundreds of entries of poem and prose, which she had written since she was a little child, as well as art and photography that resonated with her work.
The event had an astounding turnout. More than 50 people showed up to witness the rise of the empire of literature, and cheer for those who had accomplished their dreams and visions related to it. The guest of honor was Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak, a professor at the University of Peshawar who wowed the crowd with his soul-searching talk about realizing one’s inner potential.
Three winners of the Poetry Slam contest were selected and were awarded gifts from Daastan. The book launch also received media coverage from multiple news channels, such as Geo News.