Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A bit of laugh and fun...

Intakhab angry over Rana Naveed's selection!

Pakistan cricket team's coach/manager Intakhab Alam is agitated and angry over Rana Naveed's selection for Pakistan's ODI squad for Sri Lanka series.

His argument: ''How can a player be older than the coach. This is preposterous. If he can be selected then why not I? Ridiculous. If uncle (Naveed) is selected, than I sure as hell am playing too.''

The important thing to note is that Rana Naveed Ul Hassan and Intakhab Alam's late father were class fellows at school, and Intakhab refers to Naveed as Uncle Rana.

Rana Naveed is extremely upset over Intakhab's comments and has been heard saying, ''Iss ko goud mein utha kar mein chachay Raheem ki dukan pai le jaya karta tha Jubilee dilanay, aur aaj yeh aysi beaten kar raha hai meray khilaf. Aaj Alam zinda hota tou iss kay kaan khenchta,'' (I used to carry him in my arms to Uncle Raheem's shop to buy him sweets, and look at him how he talks against me. Had Alam been alive, he would have taken him to task.)

Reports are that Rana Naveed, or Uncle Rana as Intakhab Alam calls him, was really excited about the selection and was looking forward to the tour. So much so that he had ordered a brand new set of teeth for himself that he would take along. But now he is really upset and has canceled the order saying, ''Bas purani bateesi se hi kaam chala loon ga aur inn payson se naya khussa banwa loon ga. Eid pai kaam aa jaye ga.'' (I'll manage with my old set of teeth, and instead will buy a shoe with the money for Eid.)

Very few people know that Rana Naveed has served Pakistan in more than one ways. Rana actively participated in Pakistan movement while he was in college.

Later he fought the 1948 war against India and took a bullet. He also served as Miss Fatima Jinnah's polling agent at one of the polling booths in the 1964 presidential polls. He later got arrested in Bangladesh in 1971 while he was at a leisure trip to East Pakistan with his grand children.

His latest endeavor is cricket.

Some people also credit him with the invention of wheel.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

... for without victory, there is no survival!

It’s not just cricket anymore. It has gone much beyond the contest between bat and ball. This T20 victory is a kind of a vindication of a resolve, not just for Pakistan’s cricket team, but the whole nation at large. The nation that was hurt, hurt bad and bleeding, a nation that was longing for any news that didn’t involve death and blood, a nation that was mourning one death after another for past few years, a nation which had lost hope.

Finally the news came, a ‘good’ news. We were victorious, even if in a cricket game, and the victory was sweet, least expected, but a victory nonetheless. As Winston Churchill once said, “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” And who would understand these words better than us? This is a victory which has rejuvenated a nation that was down and out. A victory that gave 160 million people a reason to smile in the darkest of the days. A victory celebrated by and one, and a victory celebrated by all. A victory, that brought tears to my eyes.

A hope has finally emerged out of despair.

This T20 win has got much more symbolic value for Pakistan and Pakistanis than anybody could imagine. For others this may be a just another competition win, but for us this is much bigger, for it has given us a reason to re-imagine our future. A future that can be built on the principles of unity, faith and discipline, principles that helped Younus Khan and his men to lift the cup that nobody thought was their. May this nation witness plenty more victories and may the people of Pakistan be always as happy as they are today.

Pakistan Zindabad.

Friday, June 12, 2009

'President' Zardari's address to nation!

The whole nation was kept waiting for a presidential address by President of Pakistan last night for more than three hours. Finally when this much anticipated address came, it lasted only for five minutes. President appeared on television shortly after 1 am, surrounded by three photographs, one customary and two unnecessary. So far we were putting up with BB's portrait accompanying Zardari everywhere, now 'Z' has joined in too. I wonder if next speach would feature more Bhuttos. Anyways, coming back to the address itself, which was more of a 'reading' than anything else. Extremely uninspiring, in fact borderline funny at some instances. The first question that arose after the speech ended was, ' is this what we were kept waiting for 3 hours?' And why didn't president pre-read those 3 paragraphs before coming on to tv?

I know Zardari is no Churchill or Obama, but how hard is it to read a written 5 minute speech properly? All the announcements that he made are much appreciated, but the way it is done is amusing, if not embarrassing for the whole nation. I wonder what do the armed forces feel having such a commander in chief, especially in a war like situation that we have today in our country. Do they really accept him as their supreme commander? I doubt.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

• • • Junoon's Sociopolitical Music!

Pakistan has had a rich history of alternative sociopolitical music. Right from the it's inception, Pakistan got into a whirlpool of instability, and it saw its very first military rule as soon as eleven years after its birth. Sociopolitical poetry was already being done by the likes of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and other communist poets, but marshal law gave birth to activist music as well. That tradition has been kept alive still because Pakistan, unfortunately, hasn't stabilized yet.

Junoon, arguably Pakistan's biggest pop band to date has done its bit in keeping the tradition alive. I have been a big Junoon fan from very early days, with a special liking for their activist or sociopolitical music, which has more than once lead them to a country wide ban as well. Here I'll list down all such Junoon songs, with a two line description;

1. Ghaflat
Album : Talash

Not a very catchy tune, but with reasonably well written lyrics. The song basically is kind of a 'wake up' call for a nation that they thing is carelessly asleep.

2. Talash
Album : Talash

The title song, with a catchy tune and powerful lyrics. The song talks about the Nation's search for the 'homeland' that they had set out to make. It is among my favorite numbers.

3. Jazba-e-Junoon
Album : Inquilab

Jazba-e-Junoon is a motivational song and was released around the 1996 cricket world cup. It became an unofficial anthem for the whole Pakistani cricket loving nation. It still remains one of the most famous Junoon number.

4. Ehtasab
Album : Kashmakash

The song which led to Junoon's nation wide ban by the Nawaz Sharif government, Ehtasab, literally meaning 'accountability.' It was a very hard hitting song, with Junoon's activist music at its best. This is by far my most favorite Junoon song in this category. It has an awesome tune and even very direct, hard hitting lyrics dealing with a need of accountability of politicians of the country. Its message is actually directed more to the general public who vote the politicians in, rather than an institutional accountability.

5. Mujhey Azad Karo
Album : Kashmakash

Another anti establishment, anti government song with a beautiful tune and amazing lyrics. The name of the song is quite self explanatory, the songs is the nation's lament on being enslaved by a bunch of people, and now want freedom. Ironically, they were banned after the release of the album.

6. Dil Nahin Lag Raha
Album : Azadi

This was Junoon's first album after they were banned, so the name of the Album is quite fitting too - Azadi - Freedom. Dil nahin lag raha is a slow number, with a reasonably catchy tune and apt lyrics. The song explains how 'they' have been disenchanted under the increased oppression. One of my favorite numbers.

7. Kis Ne Suna
Album : Azadi

Another 'Azadi' number, and one of my favorites. It is an 'attack' on the government that how the were going about doing 'wrong' with any apprehension and 'we' were being punished for no reason. Beautiful song, talking about how our governments had no direction or goal and were were living in a fool's paradise, happily obeying 'others.'

8. Kyun Pareshan Hai Tu
Album : Azadi

Third entry from 'Azadi,' a song detesting despair and reassuring that there would be good and better times in future.

8. Khudi
Album : Azadi

A very famous poem by Allama Iqbal sung by Junoon. 'Khudi' or self is the core philosophy of Iqbal's thought, and in this poem Iqbal talks about keeping the self and conscience clean, and that is what Junoon is trying to convey through the song, that their conscience was clearly and they didn't regret what they were doing.

9. Abb Tou Jaag
Album : Parvaz

A Bulleh Shah poem sung beautifully by Junoon. Again a motivational song, asking the sleepy nation to wake up and welcome the dawn. It might be an indirect signal to Nawaz Sharif's ouster by Musharraf. Parvaz was probably the last 'great' album by Junoon.

10. Tara Jala
Album : Deewar

A decent tune, with good lyrics, Tara Jala is a song talking about 'efforts' of a common man for a better future, and hope that the day would soon arrive. Deewar, after Junoon's debut album, was their second completely commercial album and didn't have an impact synonymous with Junoon.

11. No more
Album : Deewar

An anti terrorism song, sung in the backdrop of the incidents of September the eleventh. It was also Junoon's first English solo, which was later included in the second edition of Deewar with a subtitle of 'The best of Junoon.'

12. Zamanay Kay Andaz
Album : Deewar

Again an Iqbal poem, an advice to the youth of changing with the changed times and ridding themselves of the 'bondage.' It was a well sung song.

(Photo Courtesy:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

• • • Ammara asks...

[ Ammara, a friend (actually my wife's, but what the hell mine too :p) raised following questions in comments section of a post titled 'Self Destructive Sub-Continent,' and I thought I'd post her 'comment', as it is, as a new blog entry. ]

Yesterday, another catastrophic event took place at Mall (road), some terrorists (so called Taliban) detonated a bomb and brought the police building to rubble. My office happens to be at Mall View Bank Square so it is hardly a few kilometers away from the disaster site. I can tell you that when the bomb went off my office building quaked such that we thought it is going to collapse; thankfully it did not. At first it looked like an earth quake but we could see a thick cloud of smoke in the sky and my colleagues knew then and there that it was a bomb blast. That was indeed a terrible incident and it shook me deeply and for the first time I was scared, though people around me were joking and laughing about it since this is the 4th time they have witnessed such a mishap.

Anyway, Rehman Malik (interior minister) promptly issued a statement that since Taliban are being defeated in Sawat and FATA this is their way of retaliation. President and Prime Minister as usual condemned the attack (it seems like this is the only thing they are capable of doing). My question here is why have we put these allegations on Taliban? What makes us so sure that only Taliban are capable of carrying out such activity? It is known to everyone that there are many external agencies (Iranians, Russians and others) actively operating in Pakistan these days and the mission is to destabilize Pakistan. So, why are Taliban being blamed for everything that is happening around us? It could be that the government wants people to strongly abhor Taliban and to wipe out any sympathies or doubts people have for them.

As per our prime minister, a recent Poll concluded that 75% Pakistani people voted for the army operations against militancy but we tend to forget that 80% of our population is do not have means or resources to the electronic media so which community does this 75% represent?

Another question is that if we allowed US to carry out drones in Pakistan territory, violating our sovereignty then why not allow Britain, India and others who have been the victims of the terrorist activities to carry out drones? I do not see the logic.

I get to read that Taliban are gathering in Karachi or Lahore so are we the next chosen one’s after Waziristan and Sawat? Do I see an end to the war that has started, the answer is NO, I don’t.

• • • A picture is worth a thousand words...

As I went to my farm this evening, I carried my camera along. On the way I was able to click two very interesting pictures.

1 - We have often heard a phrase, 'in the middle of no where.' The first picture is actually a visual translation of the phrase:

This is a house with no doors, and stands actually in the middle of nowhere. I was wondering how does it feel living at a place like this, where you have no one living around you at least for a good couple of kilometers. The house is on a piece of land right next to where my farm land ends. I'm still unable to understand why aren't there any doors installed.

2 - Second picture the I found very interesting is of a couple walking on a path.

The guy was walking with the help of a stick. He probably has polio, because his right leg looked a little shorter then the left one and his foot was extremely thin. But despite the disability, they guy was walking a couple of feet ahead of his wife. This is a usual scene in rural areas, men walking a few feet ahead of women, even if they are the only ones walking and no one else is around. What I find interesting, or weird is that why can't they walk side by side? Why do the men have to be ahead of women?

Monday, May 25, 2009

• • • Self destructive sub-continent!

As I turned on the TV this morning, the news channels were showing torched cars, burning trains, vandalized shops, blocked roads, and people with sticks attacking buses in different cities of Indian Punjab. Apparently a Sikh guru has been murdered last night in Vienna, Austria and the followers of the guru were protesting his murder by destroying properties of innocent people, who have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the tragic incident, not even remotely. As I write, at least two people have died and several others injured.

The incident reminded me of the protests held in Pakistan against the caricatures of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), that were drawn and published in Denmark. Protesters burnt dozens of cars, hundreds of motorcycles, vandalized several shops, attacked banks, international foods chains were set ablaze and several people died.

Now one may ask the protesters that why were they punishing their own innocent country men for cartoons that were drawn by someone living in a different continent? What was the fault of the owners of those motorcycles and cars? Why were the 'Pakistani' shop keepers being hurt? And all these questions should be asked to the Sikhs, who out of anger, have caused pain to fellow Sikhs. Why were they protesting violently against violence? Pictures of young lads with sticks in their hands destroying small shops, breaking windscreens of buses were scary, and unfortunate. I cannot understand how would this help them. I just can't.

Every time an unfortunate incident would occur, either in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, we'd start destroying things around us and call it a 'protest.' Why can't our protests be civilized like the ones carried out in West? Why do we have to be self destructive all the time?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

• • • Fading traditions!

I was invited today for a small 'wedding date fixing' ceremony by a family residing near my village. In local language it is called 'Gadh Ghatna' or to 'tie a 'knot.'

This is an ages old way to fix wedding dates. All the elders of the family and friends and other respectable people from the area gather, join the family in the decision, and pray for the success of the decision and give their blessings. Men, then, one by one tie a knot each on a 'string' presented to them. After the knots are tied, all the guests congratulate both the families. Everyone is then presented a traditional sweet (mithai), which is followed by a feast. Women sing songs all night, a tradition called 'Jaaga' literally 'staying awake,' which is still an important part of weddings, engagements, child births and other such occasions in rural Punjab.

The knots are later sent, one each, to everyone you want to invite on wedding, by hand. The person who delivers the knots informs the receivers wedding date as well. This is how it happened till some thirty, or may be even lesser, years back.

This was my first ever experience to attend a 'Gadh,' a tradition that is fading really quickly, and my guess is that would be redundant in few years. I wonder why these traditions aren’t important or practical enough for people anymore. I'm glad I got to be part of it, at least once, in my life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

• • • So thank you Twilight!

It is so weird. I mean you feel everything, you are sure, you have never experienced when you watch the movie, but when it comes to writing about it, you just fail to find words. Yes, I am talking about THEE movie released last year, “TWILIGHT.” I don’t know if I should confess this, but okay, I will in the name of writing, I like vampires, and I watch all the tv series and movies that has anything to do with them. Twilight was one of them, by far the best, so I watched it, some seven times. But when I watched it, it became more than just watching a film. It wasn’t just a vampire movie; it was a whole new realization that we are missing out on so much ‘intensity’ in our lives. Not that I am talking about the traditional vampire fights it had, but I am very sure I felt what every other woman felt after watching the movie. No wonder it became such a huge success. It delivered what everyone wanted to see; Edward Cullen (hehehe - men in our lives believe that he’s the only reason we liked the movie) in reality, he is just one of the many reasons.

I mean, who wouldn’t like a guy like him (Edward) who is not just simply beautiful, but who also realizes the importance of real love, something he hadn’t experienced in so many years, and no matter how much he wanted to stay away, he just couldn’t. In this age u don’t expect your guys to love u like that, do you? Not that my husband doesn’t love me like that but, but that look in his (Edward’s) eyes when he looked at her (Bella), to find watching her sleep satisfying, to protect her whenever she needed him, and to be always thinking for her, about her… hmmmmm... so hey Mr. Husband do u love me like that?

My mind tells me to be realistic, but somehow just like most women, I am not always using my mind. A lot many times, if not most, its just heart. I know it’s just a movie, and its objective was to bank on something they knew women are missing out on. That is the fantasy, undying (in every sense of the word) love that only Bella got to experience. Yes she had to suffer in the name of love too but every woman goes through that without getting all that appreciation, all that love in return. It gave me a belief that we all deserve a treatment of that kind, to be that ‘Bella’ for ‘Edward,’ no matter how many problems we face in our REAL lives, or how long our relationships have been going on for, or how many kids we have. But i would actually appreciate my husband for at least watching it for me (hehe); having said that, the fact remains that humans cannot be vampires. But the message of the film is so simple and profound, the message that ‘love is all we need’ that it may not be that hard to understand. So thank you Twilight, for at least letting us live the fantasy, even for an hour and a half, because this world is becoming a li'l too realistic.

• • • Golden Shower!

Out of all the trees (around 11) that I have planted at my house in last 5 years, the two Cassia fistulas or Golden Shower Trees are by far my most favorite, (along with two trees of a certain kind of delonix regia) and I'm sure seeing the photographs , you'd now know why.

Commonly known as Amaltas, it is a medium sized tree, usually above 10 meters tall when fully grown. It has a bright yellow beautiful looking flower, blooming in late spring, usually early May, and in abundance. The whole tree is covered by the pleasant looking flowers, and it does extreme justice to its name, ' The Golden Shower Tree.'

Seeing the successful growth of the two golden shower trees in my court yard, I'm now thinking of adding at least a couple of more to the landscape, alongside my Gul-e-Nishtar, Gul Mohar and couple of other flower bearing trees. It's a pity that the flowers are only there for a couple of months.

I always dreamt of living in a house surrounded by flower bearing trees, and now I am almost living the part of it. In another 5 to 10 years, I am quite sure, that I'll be able to accomplish the dream, hoping that all the trees that I have planted would fully grow in this time.

My other family members, especially my mother insists on shady trees and I'm more into pretty looking flower bearing ones, so I try and find trees which meet both the criterion. But just for my mom's satisfaction, I have planted 3 shesham trees too, and I'm glad I did. Shesham is an excellent tree to sit under in hot sunny summers. Another 'safe' tree to sit under is Alstonia. I call it safe because it has been observed that birds usually do not sit on it. So it is virtually a 'dump free' zone.

I would suggest everyone, if they have any space, to plant a Golden Shower tree. It remains green the year round, and the only time when it shed leaves is when it is raining gold. It is a beautiful tree to have in your court yards.
We need 8 trees per person to compete with per-capita pollution, so go and plant if you want your generations to come live in a clean and healthy environment. All of us should make it a point to plant at least one tree every year, and watching those trees grow is a wonderful feeling. I can tell that by personal experience. So lets work together for a clean, green earth.

(All the picture used here are taken by me, and haven't been copied from other websites)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

• • • A gem by Jalib!

Zulmat ko zia, sar sar ko saba, banday ko khuda kya likhna

Deewar ko dar, pathar ko gauhar, jugnu ko diya kya likhna

Hashr bapa hai ghar ghar mein, dum ghut’ta hai gumbad-e-bedar mein

Ik shakhs kay hathon muddat se, ruswa hai watan duniya bhar mein

Aay deeda-waro iss zillat ko, kismet ka likha kya likhna

Zulmat ko zia, sar sar ko saba, banday ko khuda kya likhna

Logoon pay hi hum ne jaan wari, ki hum ne inhi ki gham khwari
Hote hain toh hon ye haath qalam, sha’ir na banain ge darbari
Iblees numa insanon ki, aye dost sana kia likhna
Zulmat ko zia , sarsar ko saba banday ko khuda kya likhna

Haq baat pe korray aur zindaan, batil ke shikanje main hai ye jaan
Insaan hain ke sehme bethe hain, khoon-khwar darinde hain raqsaan
Iss zulm-o-sitam ko lutf-o-karam, iss dukh ko dawa kya likhna
Zulmat ko zia , sarsar ko saba banday ko khuda kya likhna

Har shaam yahan shaam-e-weeran, aaseb zada raste galiyan
Jis shehr ki dhun main nikle thay, woh shehr dil-e-barbad kahan
Sehra ko chaman ban ko gulshan badal ko rida kia likhna
Zulmat ko zia, sa sar ko saba, banday ko khuda kia likhna

Aye mere watan ke fankaro, zulmat pe na apna fan waro
Ye mehl sara’on ke baasi, qatil hain sabhi apne yaro
Wirsay main hamain yeh gham hai mila, iss gham ko nayaa kia likhna
Zulmat ko zia, sarsar ko saba, banday ko Khuda kia likhna


[Habib Jalib (1928-1993) was one of the most renowned Pakistani revolutionary Urdu poets of 20th century. A left wing activist and politician, he was a staunch democrat who opposed martial law, authoritarianism and state oppression.His poems have become today anthems of change among the youth of Pakistan.This particular poem was written against Zia Ul Haq, a military dictator.]

Saturday, May 16, 2009

• • • Nusrat and I

My oldest memory of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: It was 1986, I was just 6 six years old and it was my first year at Sadiq Public school. I had just gone back to school after summer vacations. One fine afternoon my maternal uncle visited my at my boarding house at school and took me back home for a weekend leave. I was really excited. But instead of heading home, we went to Bahawalnagar, a border town in Punjab and also the district headquarter of the Bahawalnagar district. On the way I was told that we were going to attend the annual horse and cattle show there, and it was going to be a fun filled weekend. I was even more excited. Anyways, we reached the town and went straight to my maternal grand father's official residence as he was the elected head of the district government, and the horse and cattle show was being organized by him.

That evening I saw a man sitting in the drawing room of the residence and I was really confused tosee him there. I had seen him earlier on television singing qawwalis, and I had never liked them. I was more into film songs back then. I had no clue how giant of a musician this rather humble man was. I remember shaking hands with him on my grand father's behest, and sat there, rather bored, for half an hour. That 'man' was the legendary Ustad Nusrat fateh Ali Khan, and this was first and only time I ever saw him in person. He was there to perform that night, but cannot recall attending his show. I must have, but I just don't remember.

... when I first started enjoying his music: 1991. It was around 6 am, and I was sleeping in my car on my way to Bahawalpur. It was a Saturday morning and I was being driven back to school after spending a weekend with my family at my village. Friday used to be the official holiday n those days. While I was sleeping, my driver put on music to keep him up and in process woke me up to. It was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and I still remember the qawwali. It was 'Jai tu rab nu manuna pehlay yaar nu mana,' [if you want to appease God, appease the beloved first]. I loved it. I was actually enthralled by what I was listening to. I fell in love with NFAK that very moment and thought to myself that next time I go home, I got to buy and listen to his music. And since then I've been a die hard fan.

There came a time that one third of my entire music collection was NFAK's cassettes and CDs. My Nusrat collection was popular among not only my boarding house mates, but my class fellows from the other boarding house used to come and visit me to listen to Khan sahab as well. It was 1997, the same year Khan sahab died. BBC broke the news, and I wept. It was in August, during my summer vacations and I was glued to the tv the whole day. It was a very sad day, but what Khan sahab had achieved at the age 49, it would take most multiple lifetimes to achieve even half of that. He was a maestro, often referred to as King of Qawwali, but he didn't limit himself to just that. His fusion albums were as popular and as amazing as was his sufi music. He sang all types of songs, composed all kinds of music, but never did he look out of place.

His international collaborations are as popular in west as they are in Pakistan, or even in India. He was one musician who put Pakistan on international music's face. A lot of his qawwalis and fusion albums are still part of my music collection and probably will always be. One album of his that I can't just get enough of is 'Night Songs,' which he did with the famous Canadian musician Michael Brooke. A song or two from the album are always a part of my play list. I wish he had lived for a few more years, and we would have gotten a few more memorable tunes from the legend. He may have left us, but his music is alive, and I'm sure will stay alive for decades to come.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

• • • Swat deal, A clever tactical maneuver ?

Swat peace deal with TNSM was met with mixed reactions. Some breathed a sigh of relief hoping for revival of peace in the valley, some reacted very strongly against it saying that it would do no good, and rest were clueless. The West and US had very strong reservations of the peace accord and they opposed it vocally. Still government of Pakistan went ahead and got it passed from the parliament. After a couple of months of signing the deal and a month after enforcing the new Nizam-e-Adl regulation, we can now judge it, more objectively.

First of all let's see what were the immediate outcomes of the deal, first the positives;

* Swat became relatively peaceful.
* Most of Pakistanis were finally happy that government listened to their wishes and gave peace a chance.

Now, the negatives;

* Militants started over estimating themselves.
* Rest of the world started accusing Pakistan of surrendering to the Taliban.
* Incidents like flogging girls in public started happening.
* Taliban started to move into other areas of Malakand, like Buner and Lower Dir.
* Finally, a military action in Dir.

Now the question that arises in my mind is that could the peace deal actually be a clever tactical maneuver by Pakistani military establishment, namely General Kiyani, to expose Taliban's true face and intentions and go after them with full force? The government has killed 3 birds with one arrow by signing and exposing the evil militants; 1- got the much needed public opinion swayed in favor of military action, 2- isolated Taliban from any political support that they had like Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Qazi Hussain Ahmad, and, 3- revived army's lost support in general public.

So if it was actually a calculated, planned strategy, then well done Pakistan! I just hope that the military action this time is decisive and result oriented.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

• • • Attitude Polarization and the future of our race !

Attitude polarization, also known as belief polarization, occurs when people who have a belief or attitude interpret evidence for or against that belief/attitude selectively, in a way that shows a bias in favor of their current view. If they are given evidence that agrees with their belief, they accept that it supports their position. If they are given evidence that contradicts their belief, they either ignore the evidence, criticize it, or reinterpret it so that it also supports their original view. According to Cordelia Fine, a Research Associate, at the Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, belief polarization can explain why we don't seek out views that challenge us. -- Wikipedia

It means that learning behavior is likely to be influenced by 'myside bias 'or irrational belief persistence' as opposed to learning behavior based on objective data, according to Ludwing's and Zampler's research on the subject. In even simpler words, you are most likely going to stick to your point of view or belief even if you receive evidence contradicting your views. You would either out rightly rejected the evidence or would reinterpret it in a way that it would support your views as well. And if you would receive an evidence supporting your views, you'd accept it without further inquiry, and as a result your point of view would become even more intense.

Another example of this phenomenon that I read at another blog suggested that people would become even more steadfast on their views if provided with either contradicting or supporting research. So in any case views are likely to get extreme.

This makes me wonder that what is the future of human race going to be? Will we be able to get out of the conflicts that we are in, and not just the physical one but the intellectual conflicts as well? Will we be able to, ever, bridge the differences between two extremes? Will we be able to bring two opposite views on table and form a third, more amicable, view? In Pakistan's and Muslims' context, will we be able to convince the ultra extremists and ultra liberals that there's a balanced, central path as well? Will we be able to ultra nationalist Indians and Pakistanis that India and Pakistan can have friendly relations too?

If this phenomenon of 'Attitude Polarization' is actually as influential as the research says it is, I really wonder what would the world be like a few decades down the lane.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

• • • Get aside, get aside !

This happened twice within ten minutes. I got off to canal from Jail Road towards the Punjab University. As I reached the FCC underpass, an elite force mobile van came rushing from the behind with the hooter on. It was escorting a black Toyota Corolla with a 'Government of the Punjab' plate and a Pakistan flag on the left side, probably a provincial minister traveling in it. Two epolice officer almost hung outside from each side of the van, with a gun each in their hands, pointed at cars traveling along, shouting, 'gaari side pai karein.. gari side pai karein,' "get aside, get aside. " As if there shouting wasn't enough, they made rude gestures with their hands with an even ruder and uglier look on their faces.

I moved to one side of the road, in fact almost off the road, with loud swears on my lips. Only a minute or two had passed that a similar incident happened again. This time gesturing and shouting got even worse. I felt humiliated and disgusted. It felt as if I was some second grade citizen, ruled by these high head opportunist politicians traveling in black Toyotas, who claim to be my 'servants' with their chief minister calling himself 'Khadim-e-Aala' or 'Chief Servant' of Punjab. Here are his ministers (khadims), traveling in a fast lane with literally no regard for the people whom they serve, or at least that's the claim.

When I was about to get off from the campus bridge, I saw another such motorcade coming, but thankfully I wasn't to be insulted this time, but others would have to bear what I had gone through, twice, all in the name of 'VIP movement.' In the process, we the 'aam awam' or the common people are made to feel our actual status, NIA, Not Important At all.

Somebody I know who lives in the DHA narrated another similar incident, this time involving the 'Khadim-e-Aala' himself. Khadim-e-Aala or the Chief Servant sahab resides in DHA, and every morning when he travels from his residence to his office, the roads of DHA give a picture of an active battlefield, with personnel armed with G3s covering almost every inch of the vicinity. The motorcade consists of innumerable number of vehicles, with Khadim-e-Aala sitting in one of the several bullet proof Mercedes cars, surrounded by elite force and his personal security guards. The whole area is literally cordoned off, allowing only the 'Khadim-e-Aala' sahab to travel and any cars that come in the way get heavy doses of shouting, gesturing or even rude knocks on the hood of the car. If that is how a 'khadim' lives, I wonder what would than a master's life be.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

• • • 'Dir' aaye, durust aaye !

On Sunday morning, the Swati Taliban, who have reportedly been gathering in Dir district, ambushed the security forces. The attack on forces lead to a counter attack on the militants by the Frontier Constabulary and as a result many are reported dead. Security forces lost a personnel too. This was inevitable. Despite governments efforts to bring peace in Malakand division through a peace deal with Sufi Mohammad's TNSM, this was inevitable.

To begin with, I feel, Sufi Mohammad's control over the Swati Taliban was somewhat overrated and overestimated. It was a little too much of an ask, and surely Sufi wasn't up to the task. Some of the points that were agreed upon in the Swat peace deal were;

• The Taliban would recognize the writ of the government and cooperate with security forces;
• The Taliban would halt attacks on barber and music shops;
• The Taliban cannot display weapons in public;
• The Taliban would turn in heavy weapons (rockets, mortars);
• The Taliban cannot operate training camps;
• The Taliban would denounce suicide attacks;
• A ban would be placed on raising private militias;

None of these agreed upon conditions were fulfilled by the Taliban despite Sufi Mohammad's promises. The government on their end did whatever was necessary like allowing the Nizam-e-Adl regulation to be imposed and halting the military operation. Muslim Khan, the Taliban spokesman openly defied the agreement vowing to carry the arms publically. Not just that, Swati Taliban were not only behind the 15th April Charsadda suicide attack killing 15, but they advanced to and took over Buner as well, only to retreat after talks and threat of action by the Army Chief.

Most of the country breathed a sigh of relief after the deal was signed in a hope that peace would finally return in Swat and adjoining areas. But that was not to be. Can an ordinary deal stop the men on divine mission from their duties? I doubt it. Sufi Mohammad still looks like a reasonable man, and reports from areas under his influence aren't that bad either. But his notorious son in law, Maulana Fazlullah, and Swati Taliban cannot be trusted. They can never be trusted. The use of force would be the only way forward, or else their areas of influence would spread.

A positive that has come out of all this 'deal, or no deal' fiasco is that the Swati Taliban have been exposed, and the sympathies, if the had any, in public have dimished. Even people like Nawaz Sharif, Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Imran Khan, who openely supported the deal with Taliban, have now come out in public to denounce them. Now the public, that was earlier against a military action, would support it, which should always be marketed as an option unless Taliban honor the deals like Swat in letter and spirit.

• • • Brownie Points

I have never been a MQM supporter. As a matter of fact, I've always been negatively prejudiced towards the party, it's leadership and all that is associated with them. I still have the vivid images of the torture cells, allegedly run by MQM, with the blood splashed all overall in my mind, and it is not easy to change a point of view as strong easily. I also have the scences of the gloomy and dark 12th May fresh in my head. So my prejudice is not that unreasonable afterall.

Anyway, coming to the point. One should never hesitate to appreciate when it is due. MQM's stance on the Pakistan Government's deal with Taliban deserves all the praise and applause that one can render. Altaf Hussain and his party's vocal opposition of this horrible deal has conveyed the feelings of millions of Pakistanis across the world to the world at large. It really takes guts to stand up an enemy as brutal and dangerous as the Taliban, and MQM deserves all thr brownie points for doing so.

Good work Altaf and MQM.

• • •Taliban Marriage Bureau

Life is full of surprises. These days most of the surprises that life is offering, unfortunately, are unpleasant ones. For example, ten years back, who would have thought that Taliban would be in Pakistan, ruling a tiny territory? Or for example, in Mush's era, who would have thought Pakistan Government would sign a deal with Taliban? But these surprises keep coming along, making it difficult to accept them and come to terms with them.

Now, the surprise that I plan to talk about in this post is something that I wouldn't have imagined even in the wildest of my dreams. Swati Taliban patronizing LOVE MARRIAGES. Exactly! I was also shocked as much as you are.

The Taliban in Swat have set up a Bureau called 'Uroosat' or 'Marriages' which will make sure the men and women who are in love, but cannot tie the knot because of family or tribal pressure can be gotten married. All you have to do is make a phone call, and Taliban will take care of the rest. They have given a fatwa or a religious decree that all the adult men and women have a right to marry someone of their choice or they love. Reports are that they have already arranged marriages of several such couples. They have also given assuarnces that these couple will not be targeted by their familes or tribes under the ages old brutal tribal custom of 'honor killings.'

I hope Government of Pakistan too could take out just this leaf out of Taliban's book and implement it through out the country. But only if wishes were horses...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

• • • Pain diminishes pain!

I had to rush my father to hospital this morning, as he was unable to pass urine since midnight last night. Last evening we were at a urologist's clinic discussing with him a problem exactly opposite, as he had to get up for 7 to 10 times to use the toilet. Anyway, we went to a near by private hospital, which by the way is among the top in Lahore, to seek medical help. We got to the hospital's emergency room, there a doctor and his support staff efficiently checked his vital stats and prescribed a manual way to clear the bladder. As they were carrying out this simple procedure (not operation), I heard light moans of my father, and his pain brought tears in my eyes, which I did extremely well to hide from the hospital staff, or at least I think I did.

The thought of a loved one, a father, in pain made me feel whatever he was going through and I prayed to Almighty to end it right away. As I was sitting there, with watery eyes and prayers on lips, a RESCUE 1122 ambulance rushed into the premises and after half a minute an elderly person was rushed in on a stretcher in the E/R. 3 to 4 doctors with 8 to 10 support stuff ran in to receive the patient and started trying to restart his heart beat. The gentleman had had a cardiac arrest. His two sons were waiting patiently outside, younger one crying. After some 10 minutes, the duty doctor came out and announced to them that it was all over. Their father had died. The elder son couldn't hold himself back this time and went on his knees crying, begging the doctor to try again. The younger one cried even louder, begging the doctors to do whatever they could possibly do. "Mein apna sab kuch de dun ga, meray waalid ko bacha lo," - "I'll give every thing that I have, please save my father." He kept repeating this again and again, asking doctors to save his father.

It was painful. So painful that I forgot my own worries. Even my father, for a good ten minutes, wasn't bothered about himself. Another pain had taken over our own, a bigger pain had diminished a smaller one. We were completely out of our senses. For the hospital staff, it was just another day at work.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

• • • Dil nahin lag raha !!

Had se barne laga, zulm ka silsila
Dil nahin lag raha, dil nahin lag raha

Us ne ehwaal poocha, to mein ne kaha
Dil nahin lag raha, dil nahin lag raha

Shehar mein to mere, jitne bhi yaar hain
Sab giraftar hain, sab giraftar hain

Kis ko ma'aloom ho, kaun ho kab reha
Dil nahin lag raha, dil nahin lag raha

Mein bhi paaband hoon, woh bhi paaband hai,
Raastein band hein, raastein band hein,

Ab to mumkin nahin, hay koi raabta,
Dil nahin lag raha, dil nahin lag raha

Had se barne laga, zulm ka silsila
Dil nahin lag raha, Dil nahin lag raha

(From Junoon's Azadi)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

• • • Bart Simpson and I !

Bartholomew JoJo Simpson or simply Bart Simpson to me is a dream character. He's someone that I'd gladly be as a ten years old, as you'd hardly find a kid as smart and wise as him at that age. I not only admire, but envy his guts and wish that I was at least half as cranky as him.

Bart is a character that I can personally identify with, or rather would want to identify with, in ways more than one. He, in my view, is by far the most misunderstood Simpson, and sometimes I feel so am I. He's constantly at loggerheads with the narrow mentality of the people around him. In many ways, I'm also stuck in a similar situation. I, like Bart, am also pained when people judge you on criteria that you don't even acknowledge. Bart's ingeniousness cannot be judged by the grades that he get in school, but yet the conventional wisdom would right him off just for the D-'s and F's that he gets.

Bart Simpson is actually someone that every boy would want to be like. He's opinionated, he's gutsy, he's straight forward, he's a risk taker and he would go lengths to achieve what he has put his mind to. He's rebellious and he challenges authority, something all great revolutionaries of the history have done. One may disagree with his philosophy of existence without purpose, but he does deserve the brownie points to actually have a philosophy. He may not be a 'smart' in conventional meaning of the word but then can you really blame him? I mean he's Homer's son after all, and had no control over who's gene dominated his DNA.

Another attribute of his that is admirable is his steadfast adherence to his ideal, Krusty the Clown. Now how many of us would be willing to idealise and help someone despite their repeated disinterest in you?

I have no hesitation in accepting that I have been taken over by Bartmania, only shame is that I can't really attempt on becoming any of what Bart stands for. I am sure many people, especially parents, would disagree with me and my answer to them would be, 'eat my shorts' ;) !

Photo courtesy:

Friday, April 10, 2009

• • • Jinnah's Pakistan, or something like that!

Following are the guiding principles that Mr. Jinnah's gave to the legislators of the infant state of Pakistan in his presidential address to the first Constituent Assembly of the country on the 11th of August, 1947. Let's see how many of his principles have been followed by the dwellers and rulers of this Land of Pure and what would be the possible response of those in power to the advised guidelines;

"... the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State."

I wish he could see how safe his 'children' are in his Pakistan today. It reminds of an sms that I received a few months back and it said, "Pakistan ka matlab kya - Bomb dhamakay aur aghwa," and how true is that. Sadly, nobody in power has listened to his advice.

"One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering - I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think our condition is much worse - is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison."

According to the annual survey by the Berlin-based organization Transparency International, Pakistan is 40th most corrupt country in the world with a ranking of 138 out of 180 countries. Pretty impressive huh!

"Black-marketing is another curse. These blackmarketeers are really knowing, intelligent and ordinarily responsible people, and when they indulge in black-marketing, I think they ought to be very severely punished..."

Sure Sir, but what if those who are responsible for punishing the culprits are the culprits themselves?? What an intelligent man Mr Jinnah was. This may not sound to be as important an issue as some of the others he has talked about in his address. But if we really think about, it is by far the most important. Food inflation can lead to criminalization of the society, break down of the law and order situation and in some cases even leads to civil wars. But it's a big ask, especially when those in power are actually the ones looking to starve the ones they rule.

"Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil, the evil of nepotism and jobbery."

"Dear and kind sir... please ask us to do anything but this. How else would we please our party workers? How else would we 'adjust' our supporters? How else would we 'strengthen our bases'? How else would we 'earn' back what we spent on elections? Oo father of the nation, we beg of you," or something on the same lines.

"If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be on end to the progress you will make."

But Sir... how could that be? I am a Sardar, I am a leader of a whole bloody tribe... he's from another tribe.. I dunno even if he has a tribe or not... he's a Sindhi I 'm a Punjabi, I have thousands of acres of land, how could he, this poor good for nothing down trodden curse of the society low-ling, be equal to me? I drive a Mercedes, and he doesn't even have a bicycle. I was born to a wealthy landlord, an industrialist, a sun of a gun, I can't be equal to an ordinary Pakistani. Could I ?

You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.

Mosques... sure.... but what's this temple business janab?? O Almighty Allah, please forgive Mr Jinnah for uttering such blasphemous words... tauba tauba.

Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

Yeah right... :p

... shall always be guided by the principles of justice and fairplay without any prejudice or ill-will, partiality or favouritism.

... guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality

Wow... big words eh.. Come on Sir... it's not even practical. Is it?


So the score is 10 on 10!! Good work Pakistan!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

• • • If instability was a sport . . .

"Pakistan aik intehai nazuk mor se guzar raha hai"

Lit:' Pakistan is crossing through an extremely tricky curve,' meaning 'Pakistan is going through tough times.'

This is an extremely popular line in Pakistan, and we get to hear it a lot, usually in official addresses on TV by our presidents or prime ministers. Now it's a common phrase on the lips of almost every politician almost every time they speak.

Instability and Pakistan go hand in hand, so much so that it now feels absolutely normal to be living in an unstable country. We have accepted it as a matter of fact, and do not seem much bothered about it. In the 62 years of Pakistan's short life, we have seen instability of almost every form, shape and kind. First five years were relatively stable under the prime minister-ship of Liaqat Ali Khan, until his assassination in in 1951. From October 1951 to October 1957, six prime ministers were changed in the country, out of which one lasted only for two months.

In 1958, General Ayub Khan took over in a military coup, and ruled the country for over ten years. After his resignation in 1969, General Yahya Khan, another army chief, took over and his two years in office saw the division of the country in 1971 with East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh. This forced Army out of government and Pakistan saw it's first ever elected government under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto after the 1971 general elections. Bhutto's five years were relatively stable only to end in the infamous and controversial elections of 1977. The elections opened a road to another phase of instability and martial law in the country. General Zia Ul Haq threw Bhutto in the gallows and took over as a military dictator. His elevn years are by far the darkest in Pakistan's history. After his death in a plane crash in August 1988, Benazir Bhutto took over as Pakistan's prime minister after winning the elections in December, but only to be thrown out in 1990 after 20 months in office.

Nawaz Sharif was the new elected prime minster after BB's dismissal because of corruption charges. Nawaz didn't last long either and was sacked in April 1993 by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Benazir's second term started in October the same year, and was dismissed in 1996, again without completing the full fiver year term. Nawaz Sharif's historic victory in 1996 elections, giving him 2/3rd majority in the parliament, gave him the second stint at power. He was ousted by General Musharraf in October 1998 after Sharif's alleged involvement in hijacking General's plane while he was on his way home from Sri Lanka. Mush's first 7 years were quite stable until his decision to dismiss chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Cahuhdary, starting country wide protests by lawyers. Before the elections of 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated which made it even more difficult for the General to hold on to power. His party lost the elections in February 2008 and he resigned later that year.

Zardari, alleged to be the most corrupt person in Pakistan and widower of Benazir Bhutto, took over as President in August, which is an act of instability in itself. Since then, we have seen an alarming rise of Talibanization in the north western province of the country bordering with Afghanistan. Taliban now pose a serious threat to the country, and pushed at least one province into extreme instability.

So I can safely conclude that if instability was a sport, we'd certainly be its champions.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

• • • Rain rain go away !

ains are usually attributed with romance, good weather, going out, cooking delicacies and having fun in the hot Pakistan. And it certainly is all that. I'm sure it's the same elsewhere too. But a mistimed rain may make a farmer anything but happy. While the rest of the population would be enjoying the rain, a farmer would be all tense and praying for it to stop.

It's like batting. Timing is of extreme importance if you want to score big. A rain at 'exquisite' timing, as Ravi Shastri would say, will reap you a lot more just like an exquisitely timed shot by Sachin Tendulkar. And you mistime the shot, in all it's likeliness, either will waste a precious ball or will get you caught out. Similarly, a mistimed rain would either make you loose precious time or even the crop.

Recent rains in Pakistan made all the wheat farmers nervous, especially in Punjab. Sindhis have already harvested and sold their produce, so they were relatively safe. What the rain does is that it makes a certain type of fungi grow in the grain portion of the ready to harvest plant, destroying the crop. It delays the harvest too, delaying the next crop cultivation.

I had more reasons to be worried. My canola harvest was not only underway, we had put it in open sun to 'dry', so much for the effort, huh.

• • • Irony - Only that its Goldy and Bronzy !

A call at my cell phone woke me up this morning. It was a call from a clerk in local MEPCO or 'Multan Electric Power Company' office. He's the guy who's been dealing with our applications for electrification of four tube wells at our farm, that I submitted over a year ago. Today he told me that hardware or 'material' , as he refereed to it, of my tube well electrification had finally arrived and I should meet this LS or 'Line Superintendent' in their office to get it released.

I told my father, as he has been pursuing this matter. We went to the office together to meet the clerk and inquired about the process forward. He started narrating a process which could easily take another 3 or more months till I could get my tube wells running, bearing in mind that we have a shortage of irrigation water in Pakistan. And I knew well that he was just making all this up. I got a bit irritated and wanted to go to his higher officer, but my father, with a nod of head, asked my to stay calm.

He(dad) then asked him if there was a shorter way to do it. And of course there was. He said that he would have to 'bend his principles' and would have to 'go out of the way' and 'off the book' to help us and it would cost us. Of course it would. Now I feel very awkward at such situations, though misfit for society.

Anyways, we paid him an X amount of bribe, unfortunately, to get a legitimate and legal work done and he accepted it without even a shadow of shame. He then offered us tea while paper work was being done, that we refused.

After exactly 15 minutes of asking for a bribe, and some 7 minutes after accepting it, he started lecturing us on Islam and morality.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

• • • Koi Ummeed Bar Nahi Aati, Koi Surat Nazar Nahi Aati!

Originally posted at Blurred Boundaries on Wednesday, April 1, 2009)

With every passing day I'm loosing hope, hope of a secure, peaceful and bright future, if I'll have one at all, in my beloved country - Pakistan.

Every incident (like the one of lashing a 17 year old girl publicly in Swat for going out with her father in law) instills fear in me. I think of the days, months and years to come.. I think of my own daughter and it gives me shivers, just the thought that what the future might hold for her.

Every news item makes me feel that things have gotten out of hands, that there is just no hope, only fear. And when I see my fellow Pakistanis not realizing this almost certain threat, it saddens me even more.

So I ask myself once again.... Hope - All's lost, Or all that remains?

• • • So what's Dullah Bhadera anyway?

From wikipedia:

"Dullah Bhadera is a village and Union Council of Bahawalnagar District in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It is part of Chishtian Tehsil and is located at 29° 48' 40N 72° 42' 0E with an altitude of 155 meters (511 feet).

The village is inhabited mainly by Bhaderas, a sub sept of Johiya Rajputs. The village is more than three centuries old . It was built by and named after Abdullah Khan Bhadera and is only a few kilometers from the bank of river Sutlej

I am Sikander Fayyaz Bhadera and I happen to live in this village. The purpose of this blog is to get all, or at least, most of my family members to share their views on different issues concerning them, in and outside Pakistan. We all talk lengths on anything and everything sitting in our drawing rooms, so why not put it in black and white and share it with the world? So far three members of the Bhadera Clan [ well... my family ;) ] have agreed to write posts for this blog, and I am sure I'll be able to convince most of them to write in days to come. I intend to keep the tone of the blog as informal and frank as possible, just like the way we are at home with each other.

So this is essentially a blog for my family to pen down their views on what's happening around the world and share them with the everyone in the family, wherever he or she might be living. I think this should be interesting. Lets see !