Naming Names: Abads, Purs, Nagars, Pinds and More

Posted on April 2, 2007
Filed Under >Pervaiz Munir Alvi, Architecture, Culture & Heritage, History, Society
38 Comments
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Guest Post by Pervaiz Munir Alvi

Dinga stationLandi KotalJamrud stationThe way a society names its cities and places says a lot about its cultural history and social values. Pakistan is no exception to this either.

Quetta stationSukkhur StationThe cultural history of Pakistan could be traced from its naming practice. The names of its ancient cities like Peshawar, Lahore and Multan have no resemblance to the names of the newer cities like Islamabad and Faisalabad. Similarly the name of the newer Qasim Port has no resemblance to the name of its sister Karachi Port or for that matter Gwadar Port. In the field of naming names Pakistani society has come a long way since the days of ancient Indus Valley Civilization of Harrapa and Moen-jo-Dero. Even the days of the names like Texila and Ghandara are long gone.

Sargodha JunctionYes, the naming practice of the society has changed. Now the names like AabPara, ShakarPara, Seem-maab and Gulberg are in vogue. One may find a Lala Zar Colony even in a desert town but will not see a new Chak Lala any where. The most one could expect is Chak Lala I, II, or may be III but there are just no new Chaks any more; not even a Chak Wal I. Don’t come around expecting a new Chak Lala Airport for Islamabad either. Since names like Quaid-e-Azam Airport and Allama Iqbal Airport are already taken, the nation may be hard pressed to find a suitable name for the upcoming new airport for the capital city but fear not; the naming authorities of Pakistan are hard at work.

Mughals had no problem in giving names. They just simply kept all the naming rights to themselves. Go around Pakistan and you will find places like Shaikhu Pura, Shah Dara, and Jahangira, even a Sera-e-Alamgir. If the Shah was generous enough he will allow a Vazir Abad or a Begum Pura here and there. But that’s about it. No nasty practice of naming places after the common folks.

British on the other hand were very sensible people. During their rule of one hundred years they did not offend the natives by naming cities like Abbotsburg or Jacobville. They kept it local like Abbot Abad and Jacob Abad. They did make some mistakes though by naming cities like Montgomery, Lyalpur or Campbellpur. Pakistan naming police in order to save the souls of the citizens had no choice but to change the names of these cities to Sahiwal, Faisalabad and Attock respectively. Now there is nothing wrong with purs; there are plenty of purs around like Hari Pur, Rasal Pur, and Shikar Pur etc. etc. It is that some of these names are not Pakistani enough like Ali Pur, Mir Pur or Bahawal Pur. It is not the pur; its the person the pur is named after that may not be desirable.

Sadiqabad stationPeshawar StationBut even though the new names are in vogue now, there are still plenty of those old names that stubbornly linger on. For instance Pakistan has a good supply of Wals. Other than Chak Wal, there is a Malak Wal and a Sahi Wal too. There are also some variations to the postfix Wal in the form of Wala and Wali. Now a Wali may not necessarily be smaller than a Wala. Mian Wali is not smaller than Arif Wala. But Gujran Wala and Bure Wala are definitely larger than Rah Wali and Mansoor Wali. Nevertheless the nation is done with them all; there shall be no new Walas, Walis or Wals any more.

Karachi Cantt. StationMirpur Khas StationAlso there is no need of new Nagars either. No sir, no Ayub Nagar wanted here; just Ayubia like Persia or Arabia will be fine. No need of new Kots like Sial Kot or Shore Kot; no new Pinds like Pind Dadan Khan; not even a Dera like Dera Ismail Khan or Dera Ghazi Khan. Like Pakistan Zindabad, Hyderabad, Liaqatabad, and Qadarabad will do just fine. Pakistanis will take their Abads any day before they would take those old fashion Nagars, Kots and Pinds; definitely not Pinds.

Just like every pot has a lid, every circle has a center. Except in case of Pakistan there are more centers than circles. Center in Pakistani Urdu language translates as Markaz or Garh. There are plenty of centers every where like computer center, tuition center even shopping center. Also there may be an Urdu Makaz or Alaj Markaz but not too many Garh except may be an old MazaffarGarh. If you are looking for Towns, there is a brand new Johar Town for you.

If you want a Colony, Pakistan has a Defence Colony in every part of the country. But do not ask for new Nagars, Purs or Kots. That is so so passe.

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38 responses to “Naming Names: Abads, Purs, Nagars, Pinds and More”

  1. Watan Aziz says:

    Oh, I forgot, Chuthi Market and Bari Market.

    Hey, folks from Samanabad, Lahore are very practical.

    I was born and raised there.

    No wonder.

  2. Watan Aziz says:

    PMA, this was a good read on a slow day.

    But what about Chuburgi? Duo Moria Pul, Aik Moria Pul.

    And how about Dungi Ground, Phela Goal-chakar, Dusra Goal-Chakar, Tesra-Goal Chakar. These are all in Samanabad, Lahore. These are very reflective names and make total sense. And the order of the goal chakar was by the bus route. It was the bus conductors who named these places.

    People name what they know and what makes sense.

    Naya Kabaristan and Purana Kabaristan. Convenient and clear.

    And then the simpler names cannot get lost. Hall Road.

    Anarkali. is another good one.

    Sure, sometimes there is over reach in making things complicated. I think the name should have been Jinnah Road instead of Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam. Never caught on. Had it been Jinnah Road, people would still not be using the easy alternative Mall Road.

    Similarly Gujranwala and Gujrat make sense too.

    And then the names are by times too. Model Town. Federal B Area. Different era. Different ring.

    Sure no one is going to name a new neighborhood has Ramnagar, but that is because it will not be reflective of the people who live there.

    So there is not need to read more into the tea leaves. I admire the wisdom of the collective. People generally do not make a mistake.

    This is why democracies make sense. Even when the 49.9% seem to think that the world has come apart.

    Though Chak Chumran has a movement in the name, my favorite remains Toba Tek Singh. Got to admit, has a ring to it.

  3. Raheel says:

    Interesting read!

    Btw, traveling revealed that there are three “Hattar“s in Pakistan. Similarly, there is a “Chhota Lahore” too.

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