Letters from Manto to Uncle Sam

May 11 was the anniversary of the birth of famous writer, playwright and author Saadat Hasan Manto. Writing primarily in Urdu, he has produced 22 collections of short stories, a novel, five sets of radio plays, three collections of essays, two collections of personal sketches and numerous film scripts. His best stories are held in high regard by writers and critics.

He met its creator in 1955 but his sensitive mind was aware of Pakistan’s leanings towards the United States through the SEATO and CENTO security pacts. Manto highlighted the pitfalls of getting too close to the United States through a series of nine letters, written between 1951 and 1954, which he addressed to Uncle Sam (USA).

Manto was probably the first observer to oversee America’s disastrous foreign policy in various parts of the Muslim world in the 1950s and 1960s, leading up to the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan to aid Islamic fundamentalists against the threat of the rise of communists and secular nationalists. . These nine letters provide an excellent critique of Pakistan’s foreign policy formulation and American goals and objectives as it enters this bilateral relationship, where Manto’s foreknowledge has allowed her to prophesy that she will evolve into a patron-client relationship.

In Manto’s first letter dated December 16, 1951, he introduced himself by saying, “I was born in a place which is now in India. My country is Pakistan, which is poor. He adds, “You are going to ask and ask in astonishment why my country is poor when so many Packards, Buicks and Max Factors are reaching it from your country.” He writes that “the people of my country that ride these Packards and Buicks are not my country; my country is where I live and those who are worse than me.

In the second letter, Manto, taking Pakistan as an example, underlines the dependency factor of American alliances with third world countries in the face of the emerging communist threat.

The third letter, dated March 15, 1954, begins with the mention of Omar Khayyam and his poetry. He mentions that the beauty fled this country and in a light humor he shares that if the women are out of the veil but looking at them he realizes that it was better for them to be behind the veil like the news Max Factor mode did it. made them even uglier. Manto says that when America sends free wheat, free literature, and free guns, why not send pure American femininity.

Manto innocently asks his uncle Sam to present him with a Packard, which he will walk through at Mall Lahore, dressed in an American Bush shirt, a cigar tucked in his mouth, which will arouse jealousy in the hearts of all progressive writers in Pakistan. . He asks that the fuel to run the Packard also be supplied by the United States. He promises to write a short story titled “Iranian Oil and Radha”, which will deal with Iranian oil.

Manto continues to criticize the United States for the destruction and havoc it has caused in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then asks Uncle Sam to give him a “tiny atomic bomb” to kill the mullahs.

The fourth letter dated February 21, 1954 speaks of America’s military aid. He writes: “Regardless of India and the turmoil it causes, you must sign a military pact with Pakistan because you are seriously concerned about the stability of the world’s largest Islamic state since our mullah is the best. antidote to Russian communism. Once military aid begins to flow, the first people to arm are these mullahs. They would also need rosaries and prayer rugs made in the USA, not to mention small stones to use after urination. This should keep these fellows happy and in business ”.

In the fifth letter, Manto commented on the fact that America is trying to please both India and Pakistan because neither America wants India to align with Russia nor to lose the Pakistan. He writes: “You want to see Pakistan free because you love the Khyber Pass, which has been used to invade us over the centuries. The Khyber Pass is indeed a thing of beauty. I mean what else does Pakistan have? And the India you want to see free because after witnessing what Russia has done to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Korea, you fear that the Red Empire will throw itself into India with a hammer and a sickle. If India lost its freedom it would be a great tragedy and I can see that it makes your back shiver ”.

The seventh letter dated April 14, 1954, he continues to focus on the American war economy. Consistent with reports of a stagnant U.S. economy, Manto suggests that Washington should consider starting another war or at least start fueling or supporting one, alluding to the dangers of the military-industrial complex identified by Dwight Eisenhower.

In his eighth letter, Manto says that in my humble opinion you must immediately declare Islam as your state religion. This will lead to several benefits. Each married man will be able to take our four wives, and if after exercising the utmost care a woman gives birth to four children, each family will produce sixteen children as living proof of the man’s manhood and the woman’s fertility. Just think about the difference these numbers could make in wartime.

The ninth and last letter begins with a mention of a drinking ban in Punjab and how this ban can easily be violated by paying a price of twelve rupees and two annas. Money allows drunks to drink even after the ban. He also talks about the alcohol ban in the United States which resulted in the growth of gangsters and smugglers who almost ran a parallel government. He also mentions that the decision was made after following some mullahs while the government pleases everyone to keep mullahs and drunks happy by imposing such rules and at the same time keeping loopholes.


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