The Game of the Name

Vaqar Ahmed engages in some brainstorming - looking for a suitable name for the federal capital's new airport

The Game of the Name
Pakistan is a facing another major crisis in its troublesome history:  No one can decide on the name of the newly built international airport in Islamabad.

For William Shakespeare it may not have been an issue since he wrote in Romeo and Juliet:

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

But for others, like the whole political apparatus of Pakistan, it is all in the name. After all how far can you get without having a Sharif or Bhutto as your last name?

The new airport is facing the same baptising crisis that the city in which it is located faced more than fifty years ago. There was much debate on how to name this new city. The story goes that the brilliant M. R. Kiyani, the Chief Justice of West Pakistan, suggested the innovative name of ‘Tando Maulvi Gulsher Khan Kolo’ — Tando for Sindh, Maulvi for Balochistan, Gulsher for Punjab, Khan for NWFP and Kolo for East Pakistan.

Compared to the naming of the new capital, the issue of naming the new airport is more political than ethnic. No political party is willing to accept a name that will associate the airport with a political leader except Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. One simple solution could be to name the airport after his name but that may cause a plane headed for Islamabad to land at the Karachi Quaid-e-Azam airport.

A committee was set up that came up with three names: Liaquat Ali Khan, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, and Gandhara. All three were rejected by the Prime Minister without assigning any reason. And I agree that these names induce an immediate yawn. We need something livelier, soul stirring and symbolic of our great nation.

Since this is a deadlock situation I, as a concerned citizen, suggest the following names:

There was only one person in the history of Pakistan who was Sadiq and Amin and he is dead now. Since no one after him will be able to achieve this exalted ideal, there is no danger of it being used for political advantage

Bholu Pehlwan Airport

Now here is a properly heavy weight name. It will strike awe in the heart of anyone. Haji Manzoor Hussain (1922 – 1985) alias Bholu was the world heavyweight freestyle wrestling champion. There should be a large picture of the late pehlwan at the entrance to the airport to make the point that the airport is well protected. The only problem I foresee in this is that the pehlwan’s attire may be deemed rather immodest by the conservative elements of this society.

Sadiq and Amin Airport

There was only one person in the history of Pakistan who was Sadiq and Amin and he is dead now. Since no one after him will be able to achieve this exalted ideal, there is no danger of it being used for political advantage. And of course, it will communicate to the world that Pakistan holds its’ citizens to a very high standard of honesty. When a traveler arrives in Islamabad and needs transport, they can simply ask the taxi driver, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how Sadiq and Amin are you?” I think a score of 6 should be considered a passing grade because that will mean the taxi driver will jack up the fare by no more than 40%.

Mussarat Shaheen Airport

I have no doubt that the super star leading lady would get some resounding thumbs-up from all the four provinces of Pakistan. And the voters from KP and Punjab might even cast their vote twice. The word Shaheen will be very appropriate as a reference to the idea of the majestic bird from our national poet Allama Iqbal – who saw Pakistanis soar above the clouds.

The only problem with this name is that Mussarat is still alive and has political ambitions. If this is not acceptable, she can be replaced with Firdaus.

Biryani International Airport

Biryani is one food item that is not only uniformly popular in Pakistan, but also in most other parts of the world. I have come across Russian taxi drivers in London to immigration personnel at Johannesburg Airport who say “Pakistani? We love your Biryani!” I say, “Carry on loving please, carry on loving!”

Mera Piya Ghar Aya Airport

Imagine the sweet voice on the intercom as the plane approaches the destination, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be shortly landing at the Islamabad Mera Piya Ghar Aya International Airport where your loved ones are waiting to greet their Piya!”

This could be followed by the famous Qawwali by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.