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 !