Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Tareekh-e-Norway by Khalid Mehmood

There used to be a king who was mentally handicapped. He was married to a beautiful lady who was the sister of the king of England. The queen would draft a document and get the signature of her insane husband on it. The document would become a law for the people. Using the pen on paper was the only manly thing, king was capable of doing. The queen was the indirect ruler of the country. Perturbed by the mental condition of her husband, the queen arranged a doctor for her husband. The doctor was competent and handsome, gaining access to the palace and the queen’s heart.
He became the queen’s paramour sooner then he started treatment of the king, becoming the indirect ruler of the country meanwhile. He was a man of liberal leanings. He helped the queen draft a new law which was to end all types of censorship in the country. The satisfied queen happily obtained the signatures of her psycho husband on the draft and it became the law. People were allowed to write anything and they also started questioning the running of the state’s affairs.
The doctor also abolished all those religious festivals which, according to him, were a time waste. The doctor also reduced the laws which provided for death sentence. For one-and-a-half-year, the doctor changed the political culture of the country and kept the queen glowing. The doctor and his sweetheart became victim of the palace conspiracies. The queen was ordered to leave the country and the doctor was sentenced to death. This time someone else obtained the signatures from the mad king and the doctor was sent to the gallows.
The country was Denmark, the king was Christiaun, the queen was Karolina, the doctor was Struenses and the time was 1770 AD.
Khalid Mehmood Chaudhry, a Pakistani expatriate who left Pakistan and settled in Norway in mid 70s, has narrated this event in his book (تاریخ  ناروے ) (History of Norway). The Danish love affair paved the way for liberalism in the region, including Norway.
The majority of Pakistani expatriates, that I know, don’t acclimatize in their new countries, don’t educate themselves, do minion jobs ranging from slaughtering chickens to driving taxis, and remain alien to the political structure of their new countries. Chaudhry broke the stereotype of expatriates by writing this book.
Chaudhry’s political career spans over more than two decades. It started in 1983, when he became the first expatriate member of the Oslo City Parliament (similar to MPA in Pakistan) for the first time. He kept winning that seat for the past 28 years. His political career was at its height in 2004, when he became the member of the Norwegian Parliament. This is Chaudhry’s first book in Urdu. In political circles of South East Asia and Scandinavia, Chaudhry is known as a political analyst and author of various publications in English and Norwegian newspapers. He is a known face on electronic media in Scandinavia whenever Pakistan comes in the headlines in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Chaudhry starts his book from the days when Norway was not a country and its people were ferocious Vikings– an image contrary to the present day rich Scandinavian country. The book is written in chronological order starting from 900AD and discusses all events that proved turning points for Norway ranging from the establishment of the first university to the digging of first oil well in the sea. The book is must read for all those who still hope Pakistan will cope with its present day problems. The language is easy, sentences are short and there are no fillers – conditions that are must for any book to find room in anyone’s library. The Norway of the past looks not much different than the present Pakistan.
PS: The book is scheduled to launch in the middle of January 2014. I have received a pre-launch copy and this is the first review of the book in Pakistan.  


  1. Beautiful review. Lucky you got to review it even before anyone got a chance to read it.

  2. Just got copy today after reading few pages missing bookmark ribbon already or may be good books don´t need bookmarks should be finish one sitting.... :-)