Among the most fearless, most resilient creatures on earth are the soldiers of a country that fight and bleed for the protection of their beloved homeland. Over the course of 72 years, Pakistan has been no stranger to war. Today our history books are filled with countless sombre and often gruesome yet heroic accounts of our brave soldiers. We hear about them from our grandparents, watch and read through their lives, priding in their bravery; basking in their glory
The Tale of One Such Sacrifice:
One such life story is of the receiver of the Nishaan-e-Haider, Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed. His is a name familiar to every man, woman and child of Pakistan. He is a national hero; an awe-inspiring leader who led a limited number of soldiers to carry out a fiercedefense of the Burki area of the Lahore sector in the 1965 war with India. Despite being outnumbered and under unceasing fire from the enemy, Maj. Aziz Bhatti launched a strong, impenetrable defense against the Indian Army. Dismissing offers to rest or even see his family members in Lahore, our hero soldiered on. During an intense exchange of artillery fires between the two armies, he was hit by an enemy tank shell and embraced Shahadat.
The valiant soldier stood undaunted in the face of the raging enemy and laid down his own life to protect countless others.
Bringing his Story Back to Life:
This is the aspect of his courageous story that we are familiar with. But what most don’t know is who Maj. Aziz Bhatti was, without the title. Who he was as a person, a son, a friend. When, earlier this year, his brotherSardar Ahmed Bhatti reached out to Daastan with the intention of publishing a biography he had written about his brother, we were honored to be chosen for the task. Written from the perspective of a loving brother, the book gives an insight into previously unknown events of Maj. Aziz Bhatti’s life, his relationship and closeness with his brother, his life in Hong Kong as a boy before and during World War II and several unpublished, memorable pictures.
As a platform bent towards literary revival, Daastan strives to bring lost stories to life; stories that are worth being told and preserved. We are proud to be the means of bringing forth this heart-warming account of Maj. Aziz Bhatti’s life away from the border, to the public. The book titled “Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Hero” is available on Qissa’s website and has received over-whelming responses and appreciation from all over the country on our social media.
To honor the story of Pakistan’s son, a book launch ceremony is being held on the 12th of September from 14:30-17:30 at the Pakistan Academy of Letters, hosted by Daastan. On this Defence Day, as we look back to the lives of our warriors, let us seek inspiration from their courage and glean wisdom from their actions. Join us on the 12th to remember the sacrifices Maj. Aziz Bhatti has made for the protection of this beloved homeland. As we stand with the Shaheed’s family, we stand united under the slogan that kept him standing for so long, holding his own– unbroken, relentless–in front of the enemy: Pakistan Zindabad!
You can order your copy of Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed: My Brother, My Herohere.
During the mid-summer of 2018, before Daastan Naama app was made available to the public through Google Play Store, an extensive marketing campaign was conducted on social media websites. The campaign, recorded under the hashtag of #OneOftheFifty, gained so much popularity and garnered an astonishing amount of traffic. People from all around the world wanted in on the new hit thing that was Daastan Naama, and would reach out to the team constantly to find out what it is that needed to be done to become a part of it. Speculations bloomed about who these celebrated authors were, how they were selected, and what is it that they were a part of.
Creative posters were designed which had the picture and name of the author, along with the title of their work which was to appear in Daastan Naama. The posters were titled with hashtags of #Top50AuthorsYouDontKnowAbout and #OneofFifty, which created a buzz in the whole community of Daastan over what was coming. Eventually it would become clear that not only would the work of these authors be uploaded to the app, but in fact, it would be done so in the way of poetry recitals and podcasts. This innovative twist on sharing their work brought it to life, and that too in their very own voice.
Each author in the spotlight had something unique to add to the app. The very first one was Ms. Kayenaat Hameed Khattak, an English poetess whose poem “God is Great” was chosen for the app. The next author was Ms. Dania Shah, whose Urdu humorous prose “Muhabbat ki Shadi” found its way up, followed by Urdu prose of Ms. Durre Shahwar Ali. Other English poets featured included Ms. Waneeza Zia, Ms. Momina Latif, Ms. MaryamMr. Hassan Naqvi, Mr. Saad Ahmad, Ms. Maryam Arshad, etc. Mr. Morgan Melhuish, from the United Kingdoms, also contributed an English poem. Another very curious and pleasant feature was the addition of two Pashto poems by Ms. Spugmai Alee Khattak, and also a poetry piece in Punjabi by Mr. Abrar Nadeem, an award-winning author and script writer for PTV. A Punjabi play was contributed by Ali Usman Bajwa.
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Daastan’s vision for the revival of literature was never limited to the widely used language English, nor was it bound to our national language Urdu. In fact, when Daastan launched its Qissa self-publishing portal, it was one of the very first forums to recognize the need for an online tool that allows users to upload their works in regional languages such as Pashto and Punjabi. After that, the team worked hard to bring on board specialists that would help us realize the dream of thousands of writers, and breathe life back into the literature of such languages, that were heaving its last breaths. And so, Daastan finally upgraded its tool into one that accepted most of the regional languages of Pakistan.
To further this idea, Daastan in collaboration with Punjabi Parchar, launched its very firstPunjabi Writing Competition by the name of “Likh Punjabi”. Punjabi Parchar is a hub of intellectuals from the Punjabi community, that works exclusively for the preservation and promotion of Punjabi literature, art and culture. The editor of Punjabi at Daastan, Ali Usman Bajwa, helped bring them on board with us – and he also took lead on Likh Punjabi and became project manager for the module. Such a competition being held in the language which is very dear to his heart was his lifelong dream, and in Daastan the team is willing to work day and night to bring the dreams of their family to reality.
Dream Turned Reality:
Likh Punjabi became an excellent initiative to revive and rebrand Punjabi literature. It helped us reach the legendary authors who, even in this day and age, refused to part with their ancestral language. Due to this movement, we got the opportunity to work with Punjabi authors, helping them digitize their stories and tales, and preserve their work so that it could reach lands as far and wide as they wished.
Daastan has had the honor of knowing, providing services to, and publishing various distinguished personalities from all across Pakistan. All of them have been working in one or another innovative way to help our country summit mountains, helping our knowledge and economy move forward by leaps and bounds. To be trusted by these individuals and to be able to fulfill their criteria of an effective service is the reason that Daastan has grown exponentially. The latest in the list of such personages was Hassan Mueez – a business man who was also highly educated from a school that was held in very high esteems not only in Pakistan, but all over the world.
Belonging to an otherwise underdeveloped area of Punjab, Burewala, Hassan had the extraordinary passion of reading and writing. From the start, it seems, he knew how to get ahead, and it was this quality of his which eventually lead him to pursue and complete his master’s degree from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). After his graduation, he moved back to his hometown and started his very own business, launching a rice factory by the name of Al Majeed Rice Factory.
His Secret to Success:
The book that he chose to publish digitally through Daastan, on our Qissa portal, fell in the genre of self-help and was titled “Fear Management”. A strong believer in the word of God, Hassan introduced a way to handle and even get the most out of our fears, proving to both ourselves and the world that we cannot be held back by something that resides only in our minds. The book approaches the topic with a practical mindset, providing accurate explanations regarding where these feelings stem from and how to outsmart them. Hassan’s book was later also published on Amazon Kindle.
Come the summer of 2018, having just successfully conducted a ground breaking season of The Stories Untold, Daastan teamed up with a few others who were also in the race to bring quality literature to their readers. Since its inception, Daastan and Qissa had scaled, and eventually launched a writing competition which was dubbed “Literati”. The team was once again taking not only Pakistan by storm, but were also slowly but surely taking over the world too. And so, to bring another round of thought-provoking stories that made one bite their nails with the anticipation of what was coming next, which would eventually lead to an unavoidable heartbreak on the part of the reader as the story would slowly draw to a close, we opened the award for participants from all over South Asia.
Literati Micro Fiction:
Literati was brought to the public in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing, a company that provided the services of self-publishing much the same way as us and encouraged quality literature to find its way to the surface, but across the border in India. Another collaborator of the micro story writing competition was Outcast, a queer lit magazine which was founded by a graduated Literary Fellow of Daastan. The authors of the micro fiction award were given a time period of one month, in which they were to write short stories with no more than 2500 words on the themes of “The Fifth Rivulet” and “Mosaiced Souls”. The themes themselves were enough to get any true storyteller thinking and dreaming in their world of imagination, spinning and weaving tales which would eventually find their way to our screens.
The award was closed a month after its launch, and all the partners were delighted to received more than a hundred submissions of gripping and awe-inspiring literature. The submissions were all carefully reviewed, and the top 20 were selected. These finalists would receive the exciting prize of seeing their work go into print, along with exclusive opportunities to further their career as a writer.
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It was William Shakespeare who said that, “Some are born great, while others achieve greatness”. For the young girl Lareb Soomro, we at Daastan believe it might be both. Being able to bring our author’s writings to print, and in turn their long pinned after dream to reality, is one of the most fulfilling feelings we have ever as a company witnessed. From our Founder to our Editors and Designers, we all hold our breath and stare in awe as each piece finds its way to the racks of Qissa. Every once in a while, however, there comes along an author whose story of having gotten where they are now and achieved all that we can see is so grand that the feeling of awe becomes tenfold.
Lareb’s story of greatness didn’t start when she published her book, in fact they began the day she came into this world. She was born in the small town Larkana, which is filled to the brim with history of resilience and courage, and she became another who would contribute to the legacy. She was born with a genetic defect that required her to go into surgery in the tender age of 3 months. And after she grew up, in her early teens she faced and survived a road accident that left scars on her face. She was haunted by criticisms and taunts, which followed her all the way to her passion of writing, for which she was continually discouraged. She stood strong in the face of everything, and finallypublished her book through Daastan, proving that she had everything that it took to aim for the skies.
Rising to Stardom:
The book made her a celebrity. She was interviewed by 14 news outlets for her story, and even offered the role of a news anchor at Larkano News HD. She believes in facing her demons face first, and encourages all her readers to find solutions for their problems instead of giving up.
Want to be Daastan’s next sensation? Sign up and make a profile on Qissa and upload your work right away to get the process started!