Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year :)

(Some Random Thoughts)
We have finally passed another year successfully !!! Doesn’t it sound great ?  It feels really worthwhile to look back and find yourself somewhat better than you used to be. Obviously, each year brings new experiences and new lessons to learn from.

For a person , like me, who resides in another country, but wishes to keep links with her roots, the things never leave me unastounded . My each visit to Pakistan, gives me an idea what I had been missing. Being a woman,  for me, the changes in local fashion, tastes and life styles are always worrisome. Once I landed here in dark red suit, only to get  critical looks while everyone was  wearing pastels !!! So before coming, I always make a point to be ready with extra cash and time for exclusive shopping which would make at least look like a normal local resident. Apart from these, there are other things which cannot go unnoticed. For example, the changing general attitudes of people.  I do miss the same old warmth, friendliness and hospitality.  Are they slowly becoming the words of yesterday?

Is this the same world ?
As if it was some relief to such negative thinking , I just came across this news that  the world population has reached 7 billion and the next 1 billion will be added in another decade. I checked when I was born, this figure was  around 3 billion and  … here I am living in a world with more than double that number of people !!! Does this have to do anything with what we are having as today’s life ?

Living in a megacity : Dream on…

Of course, the price of such a population explosion has to be paid.  I saw, the playgrounds, where being a kid, I used to run around, play,  have fun with friends,  are no more existing. I remember, there were such big empty grounds that my mom always warned me not to go far away to avoid getting lost.  Now you see the same areas filled with thousands of houses. People living in congested neighbourhoods, mostly talk about dearness and their sickness/ hospital visits (another added feature I have been seeing lately, probably due to increasing pollution, lack of clean drinking water and impurities in food stuff ).   You can see over stretched markets and  shopping malls but you cannot find a parking for your car. There are no walking paths, or by chance if you see them, are mostly  occupied by street vendors. People keep flocking to these vendors for  some bargains but leaving hardly any way for passersby. The cities are bulging with population overwhelmingly and more people keep migrating and settling here. No wonder, Karachi has become the third most populous city in the world.

Kudos to those living and coping in such conditions,  not to mention the daily problems of strife and terrorism. The city still thrives as modern shopping malls and hypermarkets  are being opened every other day. The best thing about Karachi is that people still have high hopes.

The Future ?

Back to the place I have been living for last 16 years (UAE), they have already  unveiled  a year 2030 vision, where I found quite futuristic town planning, emphasizing on the sustainability of environment.  There are plans for changing main streets of the city turned into traffic free places and initiating an alternative carbon free transportation system. There will be an extensive network of tunnels and new roads to manage estimated increased traffic. And as per the set targets,  they have started working on it by shifting city residents to suburban areas and making the city center exclusive for businesses. I see the people of the UAE having a bright future with a nice clean environment for their kids. Each year will bring more and more opportunities for them.

Our Future ?

On this new year’s eve, is it too much to ask, when and who will plan for me and my children’s future in Pakistan?  If we really love our motherland, we have to start thinking now. It has nourished us and gave us a ground to  stand. Now its our turn to give back whatever we can.

Looking forward to hopefully a better future. HAPPY NEW YEAR :)


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lets be Serious - Pakistan

I remember meeting the editor of a widely published newspaper in Karachi , in 1980s. Somebody asked what did they think was the future of Pakistan, during Martial Law regime, while all the political leaders were still in their 30s. (Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif & Altaf Hussain). The editor's reply was instant. " Let them reach 60s, then everything will be OK" .
Everybody enjoyed the spontaniety of the thought but felt the light of hope for  a brighter future of the country.

One of the leaders Ms Benazir Bhutto never reached that age but still managed to become Prime Minister of Pakistan twice and initiated some commendable programmes for the poor and needy. Now Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain (the leaders of other two bigger parties according to election results) and others have yet to show their best (or worst, ... in a lighter mode).

One must remember that its not 80s anymore. Only spiritual leaders like Dalai Lama may be  followed forever. The times are changing as well as demographics of the country. The population is now consisting of 65% of enterprising and ever enthusaistic youth. Many of them have achieved the education and experience of highest international standards and have had exposure to wide variety of scenarios to work in.

International corporates and businesses were first to identify and utilise this potential to a very large extent and despite some of the setbacks, it has always been rewarding.

Time has come that public administration and politics also remove the barriers to entry for these young professionals. Especially in the third world, and the countries like Pakistan, this paradigm needs to be shifted.

Pakistan needs young leaders, who are aware of the aspirations of the population of this country. It is not difficult for political parties to find and train them.

Sadly, there has been enough fun and mockery about various leaders of the country. Now there is dire need for sincere and energetic youth to be brought forward and hand over the rule to them.
 Senior politicians can  best guide and advise them, for the experience has no alternative in the course of actions.

This is the last resort to save the country. The majority of the population deserve to rule their country. This is their chance now.  Dont deprive them. They have the best intentions and capabilities to manage this land of great opportunities.

Pakistan Zindabad !!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lets Revive the Ideology of Pakistan

Pakistan is a great nation with a rich history of bravery, tolerance and hospitality. Now facing one of the most difficult periods ever experienced. The insecurity of our people and inability of our rulers to handle that, is, in fact, giving rise to the notion of making Pakistan a SECULAR country. Our youth are now being puzzled in solving the basic ideology given by its founders, instead of looking forward to the progress and prosperity here. No doubt, the extreme flow of information is also working towards our confusion about religion and the ways to live.
We have seen religious, ethnic, sectarian, including many other types of conflicts and the end to this is not in sight.  Someone has to stand against all this, tell the nation, where is it all going wrong and what are the remedies.

Did we have a Vision?

The leaders who dreamt and fought for this separate homeland, had a clear vision for this country. All of them respected each other's views and never belittled any one.
Sadly, after, they were gone, the country fell in the lap of a whole new generation, who had not been any close to the founders of Pakistan, had no clear vision about it, leave aside the ability to guide or lead the masses.

As a result, this led to a confusing mix of points-of-view , pro-western, Islamic as well as leftist.

Its not only about religion..

What we need to think is, the building of a nation is not based on the beliefs only, it also depends on the culture and the examples set by its leaders. The lack of good sincere leadership was the real reason behind the dilemma we have been facing since long.

I would like to mention just one example from the life of my grand father, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, who was a fierce freedom fighter, fearless speaker and well respected by leaders from all spheres.

Very few people know that Maulana Hasrat Mohani had suggested ARABIC to be made the national language of Pakistan in a Muslim League meeting, in the presence of Quaid e Azam and many other leaders. The reasons given by him were that with Arabic as a national language, the new country could have closer ties with Arab/Islamic block of countries. Also, it would be accepted by people from all corners of the country as a single language of Muslims. He also said that it could be waited for 10 or 20 years to make Arabic a national language, so all people could learn it, to be implemented completely everywhere.
As expected, this suggestion was not supported by many, including Quaid e Azam, as there were administrative and communicative  problems to be faced. Hasrat, being  a supporter of democracy, always accepted the decisions of majority so  he did not insist on this point any further.

Our Lost Path

Today, its a matter of sheer  grievance that people speaking the same unanimously accepted national language of Pakistan, including many others too, are being discriminated, targetted, mocked upon and even killed in the Land of the Pure.
This shows how we have lost our path by not conducting  democratic dialogue, becoming increasingly intolerant and  not looking ahead with even a little confidence in ourselves.

Above all, we have divided  our choice of leaders with respect to either religion, political or influential background.  Hence we have forgotten the concept of a true leader, who has to be inspirational and forward looking.  

DIVERSITY is the key

Here again , we can take the example of Hasrat Mohani, a multi-faceted personality, known as Maulana, a religious scholar, a staunch practising Muslim, who never missed a single prayer in his life and performed 11 pilgrimages to Makkah.
On the other hand, he was an open-minded and always fought for the freedom of expression in literature and speech. He had supporters and fans from all walks of life, beliefs and  sects. He saw communism as a tool for correcting economic inequality in the society. ( "Sufi momin hoon Ishtraki Muslim"). He is said to have actually founded The Communist Party of India first in 1921.
He strongly believed in sufism and always visited the shrines of various Sufis. Even, he went to  Hindu places of worship and wrote a few poems in praise of Krishan and on other sacred themes.  
His wife always accompanied him and actively participated in all the campaigns without having her face covered traditionally.  Surprisingly, no one ever doubted on his belief in Islam or could label him as a kaafir.  
He was incomparable in simplicity and honesty. In the words of Allama Iqbal, one could see the living example of Hazrat Abu Zar Ghaffari (RA), a companion of Holy Prophet (SAWS),  in the form of Hasrat Mohani in 20th century.

Today we need to revive this spirit of diversity, combining religion and practical life. Religious tolerance is supposed to be the hallmark of any developed society in today's world.

This is the dilemma, of such a great nation, that we dont know, who to accept as a leader.

We have religious leaders /politicians / liberals /landlords /industrialists /scholars...but there is clear lack of capability of inspiring and gathering the masses on one platform, as one nation.

Lets pray together, may Allah give us guidance and vision to become good humans and to find and follow good leaders, who could take us to the road of peace and prosperity.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who is Killing? Think Again

I am short of words today… the madness continues and no one knows who is carrying out the brutal killings in almost every part of the Pakistan especially in big urban centres.

Everybody is in the state of shock to see the scale and the methods of murders all over the cities and rural areas.. Firing, burning, bombing, mutilated dead bodies is what would be unfathomable in a country created in the name of peace (Islam).

Its a long debatable topic that who is killing whom and why? There may be many answers to this question just as many stakeholders and political parties in this scenario, each having their own interpretation of the incidents being taken place.

At this moment, what I could do only was, to look back into something someone shared with me long ago.

This was about 10 years ago. One of my senior Indian colleagues Mr. Abdullah ( lecturer/Hafiz e Quran, about 80 years old, not alive anymore, the name is changed for privacy concerns) told me an incident which gave me some answers to common questions like :” Is this Islam? What kind of Muslims are these killing each other, even in the Holy month of Ramadan? “

Mr. Abdullah told us about his visit to Karachi, Pakistan 10 years ago, during his summer vacations to meet his relatives here. He used to visit a mosque near his residence at PECHS , Karachi regularly. He, just like many others, used to discuss the same issues as what kind of Muslims would kill other Muslims.

Once during a Jumah prayer, he saw a familiar face praying just next to him. It suddenly flashed in his mind that the man was actually his neighbour in Delhi, two years ago,and surprisingly, he was not a Muslim. This guy was offering prayer in the normal way as all other worshippers.

Mr. Abdullah could not wait and as soon as the prayer ended, called his name (R, imaginary name) asking how come he was in Karachi and praying in a mosque. He first thought may be R had converted to Islam and had come to visit friends in Karachi. But to his shock , R, looked at him in horror, got up and hurried to escape in the crowd. Mr. Abdullah was an old man, could not follow him so quickly. He tried to tell other people that he had seen a non-Muslim praying in the same mosque, but people did not take it seriously, as in Pakistan, there are very few non-Muslims, and it made no sense why one would come to pray in a mosque with Muslims.

In our cities, there is no check and every one is allowed in mosques. Do we really know how many foreign elements have penetrated in our society living just like us and killing our fellow beings? We only keep hating and cursing ourselves, but never think beyond that.

But till when? Should we allow them to completely wipe us from the face of the land? Or identify them.

Be alert. Be aware. Be Safe.
May Allah help us. Amen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Karachi Riots = London Riots ?


We may be absolute fools when comparing the two of these... as Karachi has been through much more than what Londoners have seen...Yet it would rather be wise to recall the initial days of riots in Karachi, especially in 1986, which changed the city and its future forever.

Karachi : pre-1986:

Before this year, I remember my friends in other cities, jokingly called Karachi youth lazy, dumb, only interested in fashion, VCRs, movies and entertainment.

These riots/ burning/ looting which erupted in Karachi in 1986, left us all with no choice but to come out and defend our streets and communities. ( Note: Nobody knew about MQM then. Later people found it as a saviour. Many of our neighours joined it too..)

How it all started?

Anybody who was there in 1986, can never forget the incident of the death of Bushra Zaidi (a student who died in a road accident by a van), which, later, led the most of Karachi towards chaos. Students from nearby colleges and offices came out to protest for her killing.

It was almost the same time, when the police decided to raid Sohrab Goth, a market famous for drug sales. Ultimately, the drug dealers/ mafia, as previously announced by them, punished the whole city by spilling out from there, torching whatever came in their way.

That very day is still fresh in my memory, when I reached home with my friends after walking several kilometers, as there was no traffic on the roads. After a few hours I heard firing and sirens of ambulances.

I went up to the roof of my house, and all I could see was the smoke rising from various places in my vicinity. It was unbelievably horrible scene for someone who grew up in such a lively city playing and enjoying childhood in the open parks and grounds. First time, I heard many people reciting Holy verses of Quran and Azan loudly from their roof tops. They were shouting and telling everyone to be alert as the danger was near just in the next block.

How the rioters looked like and what stopped them ?

As it was expected, the rioters came in two trucks, having lathis/ batons in their hands, shouting as they were going for a battle. The people in our neighbouhood had instructed their ladies to stay indoors or on roofs. We were told to collect stones on our roofs in case they raided our houses. These attackers were believed to have been jumping inside the houses and creating mayhem.

Many of us tried calling police, even with the help of some influential officials/ministers. Police had nothing to say except that they were helpless, as there were many areas being attacked at the same time.

I remember, in my block of FB Area, only one retired army officer had a pistol. He immediately fired at the rioters, as they entered our locality which made them to step back. This one shot stopped them and they started running back to their trucks.

The Outcome:

Since then, many of us learnt a lesson that we had to defend ourselves. No wonder, after this nightmare, people started contributing to buy more bullets/ (or any thing which could serve as a small weapon) for future security.

One thing is for sure... after this incident, the lazy, dumb image of Karachiites was changed forever...

Still that VCR / relaxing / peaceful pre-1986 period seems like a dream now.

Still I miss that Karachi.


Are there any lessons for us in history? Can we learn something from it?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our Woes and Foes

Is not this high time we, sincere Pakistanis, got our thinking straight… and decide where it all went wrong ?

1. We may have provided them with refuge, and a congenial breeding home ground for their life time settlement. With our traditions of being the greatest hosts, we may have supported our guests in getting them work and let them practice, the only thing, they knew… warfare.

2. May be we have been deceived by the long beards and the continuous recitation of the Holy verses of Qur’an , without even their knowing the meaning or true interpretation of the Words of Allah.

3. May be we forgot that our religion teaches us the most precious lessons of tolerance, peace and harmony. Although, we say “Salam” (Peace) as we meet anyone yet we found inspiration in those who were all up against this very word.

4. May be we were deceived by their anti-Christian, anti-Jews, anti-Hindus and anti-any-Non-Muslim attitude and found it very similar with what our religion teaches us.

5. May be we thought that having such uncontrolled warriors in our homeland, will be a source of security at our borders as we were not sure of our own army’s strength.

6. May be all that seemed right, at the time, when we decided to tread on the path of patronizing warfare in our tribal areas only while being our peaceful lives in urban centers unaffected.

BUT TILL WHEN…. will we not see the ground realities, the misery and grief, inflicted upon us , by the presence of our most “revered” and “protected” foreign guests?

NOW… the signs of the times insist that we should look back and think for a while.. what was not right in what we did.

1. We provided them a with a place for refuge for a temporary period… not for ever …and definitely not to practice and teach their gun battles skills on our land of the Pure, to our upcoming generations.

2. We took pride in giving respect to those long beards and their recitation of Holy Qur’an, although we had no dearth of true believers and practicing Muslims within our own people. Instead of understanding the words of Allah in the true sense, we mistook it, and believed and practiced how and what was interpreted by them.

3. We held these migrants from across the border in great esteem, while growing hatred and hostility toward our own residents, Sindhis, Pukhtoons, Muhajirs , Biharis, and many others who had been living here and had contributed a lot in the development of our country.

4. We failed to realize and still do so, that why our citizens would create havoc and easily carry out such bloody & barbaric massacres ?

5. We were blindfolded by the huge amounts of foreign aid to counter terrorism and tried to play games with international community, never knowing that they could easily find our “open secrets” and embarrass us in our face and leave us in ever more dangerous situation.

6. We are now witnesses to the barbaric acts of these reckless anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Jews, anti-non-Muslims … as they apparently kill less of those and more of their fellow Muslims.

7. We now know that it was not about the preaching or promoting our religion or values… but a massive drama of creating terror, securing wealth, and finally establishing an undeclared parallel rule on the land.

When will we wake up? When will we stop sympathising with these foreign elements with a pre-set agenda? Are we waiting for them to reach our streets and doors and blow them up ?

Have we given up, lost all hope and choose to be their hostages?

Or do we have to resist and fight back?

Why should we have to suffer for big mistakes made by some selfish and irresponsible idiot government officials, who played with our nation’s image and destiny?

Think no more.. Things are very clear. Its time for action..

Stop supporting them, even morally…..

We deserve more help than them now.
Wake up Pakistan !!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Move On - Pakistan !!!

This is where today’s media has brought us. Embarrassment , confusion, grief, fear, future uncertainty… And for something which we, common Pakistanis, never did and never knew of..

Still a large segment of the population of Pakistan does not believe any repeatedly changing stories of the killing of Osama Bin Laden ( almost 9th time recorded in the media)
The news like this have appeared in newspapers several times:"Is Osama Bin Laden dead or alive?- Many think he died 8 years ago in Tora Bora Caves in Afghanistan"

Media has proved to be the most powerful force of today to carry anyone’s integrity, honor, self respect and reputation tumbling down to the dumps. It is now possible with a few vague reports, fake or no pictures for the proof, and the reviews and baseless accusations by some self-declared experts on politics.

What a Common Pakistani Thinks:
Below are the comments of some of my acquaintances, as how they perceive the whole situation.

Sadia Ghouri, an International Relations Graduate from Karachi University, says:
"This drama is played to present a valid reason to bring back NATO forces from Afghanistan ... disgrace departure as America had in Vietnam …Even people are not bothering to get into the details of this comic fiction of western media ..."

Saman Yusuf, writes in a facebook status:
"Osama has been declared dead 9 times on different occasions off the record by people in authority in US...this was a show to justify the war in the past and now sadly...the war in future (although I so hope that is not the case!)"

Mass Miskin writes:
"This death is simply propaganda. How come in such an open neighborhood nobody had seen Osama living there!? Seriously how dumb can Americans be to behave like children making up stories! “

This is what a common Pakistani thinks about the whole affair, nothing more than a big, pre-planned drama.

However, the damage is done. Remember, there is no escape now. The accusations, blames will keep coming now. Stories will be repeatedly made up and changed, with influential media campaigns backing them, as usual. The more we discuss and talk about them , the more this web of confusion will entangle us.
It may be the beginning of a long debate and then alleged punishment for the crimes never proved to have been committed. So why not prepare to ride through the tough times ahead as a nation.

Can We face It ?

The best way to avoid the ghosts of grief, confusion and guilt, is to MOVE ON .
Yes, move on with our lives and continue the efforts to gain peace and confidence back. What we have to do is, to believe in our strengths and stay firm.

Learn from the past and think for the future.

Above all.. LOVE PAKISTAN…

There is no place like Home !!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Teachers, get ready for iPads

Welcome to the new era of education ...

iPad is seen as making inroads to various sectors of education. We are seeing such new kids on the block, more frequently in the homes and classes now. In some international schools, the online homework is a commonplace .. and what could be more convenient than an iPad, for such an exercise !!! Students already have been practising on these lines making us (teachers) wonder, what more is there to come :)                                                 

Its not a new phenomenon in education just as desktops and laptops were adopted by students and teachers whole heartedly in a relatively short span of time, as seen here :
Schools Embracing iPad in Education to Improve Learning, Save Money

iPad is signalling the opportunity for a transformation in how technology is used in schools, colleges and universities. We should be looking at all age ranges across all areas of the curriculum and keen to see if the iPad makes technology cross-curricular as it should be.

Of course at this stage, we don’t know the true extent of the impact of the iPad on teaching and learning as it is too early to say. However, as it becomes widely available in the other countries outside of the USA, teachers and learners will start to explore its potential and begin to document how they use it, what works and what doesn’t. Especially in the countries, where American and British curricula are taught regularly.There are clearly many more questions than answers and in a way, this is the exciting part. Apple is pitching the device as occupying and therefore creating, a new space between the laptop and the smart phone (and iPod Touch), whilst at the same time describing that it as most definitely not a Netbook.

Although the vast majority of iPod Touch & iPhone apps will scale up to fit the iPad, or can be used in their original format, teachers should be focussing on educational apps which have been written to take advantage of the larger screen size and processing power of the iPad.

One of the great aspects of the whole iPhone and iPod Touch eco-system into which the iPad was launched, is the amount of free and cheap apps written for these devices. The iPad can take advantage of this existing situation and can run the vast majority of the current educational apps on the App Store. Fortunately many of the free and cheaper apps have been re-written for the iPad and its larger screen. Given the current financial situation for most schools, the resource of free and affordable software on the App Store is particularly valuable.

So teachers... be ready and make the best use of a new revolution beyond laptops in the classes....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Semi-liberal OR Semi-extremist?

The first few weeks of the second decade of the 21st century have already witnessed three momentous events that will impact on global geopolitics in the next few years.

These are: The Jan 4 shooting of a prominent Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer by his own bodyguard; the Jan 8 shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by the right-wing extremist Jared Loughner in the US, and the Jan 4 fatal self-immolation of 26-year-old fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi that led to regime change in Tunisia.

The Loughner shooting is a blowback from the nationalistic jingoism that has pervaded public rhetoric in the US in recent years. Overly obsessed with chasing ''Islamic terrorists'' as the primary source of its security concerns, the United States has paid the price of ignoring its own home-grown terrorists.

Similarly, the killing in Pakistan has exposed the influence of extremist ideologies on the common man.

When easily misguided people, regardless of their caste, colour or creed, become victims of incitement, be it via news channels or internet websites or extremist groups, the end result is the same.

But it is the Tunisian revolution that will trigger the most far-reaching change … real change that people everywhere can believe in. Bouazizi's suicide plunged all the supporters of the Tunisian regime into a state of shock.

According to a Gulf News Commentary: ''Colonialism and imperialism may have ended for much of the world in the last century of the last millennium. However, it still remains a reality in much of the Muslim world. Even though our colonial masters have departed, their legacy, policies and clout remain in some form or the other in this part of the world, ruling by proxy.”

In fact, in many places, the common man has lost not only his physical resources for survival but also is losing his all hopes for future amidst all this furore over extremism and liberalism. The frustration and hopelessness is taking toll on his strength to think positively and this is shown in end result of changing the histories of nations in a blink of an eye.

Times are changing at the fastest ever pace
 The times are changing at an unimaginable pace that the media goes off into a paroxysm of soul-searching about what happened, how and why it happened, the speed at which it happened, and the most critical question: Where will it happen next?

The example of Tunisia has taught us that now, we do not need expertise of some intellectuals to forecast the future of a country. Any insignificant incident may bring about a massive revolution within days, thanks to fast communication between common people and activists.

In Pakistan, there seems the rise of a new large segment in our society ---> Semi-Liberals or they may be called Semi-extremists (Neither Rightists nor Leftists) .. They are coming out in the open media and expressing their concerns about their image of being Muslims & Pakistanis being manipulated and projected in the most unwarranted ways.

Not long before a decade, hardly a few knew what it meant to be a nationalist / communist / socialist / extremist / moderate . Today, there you can find ample amount of definitions for all such terms everywhere.

In today’s world of free media and freedom of expression, young minds are choosing and adopting the opinions and philosophies of their choice, whichever they seem to fit in. This flood of information and awareness needs to be filtered, as it is leading to the growth of a new generation of ideologies and opinions, for which we are seemingly not yet ready.

Its high time, our leaders, intellectuals, thinkers, opinion-makers took up the challenge to pool this flow of information in the best interest of our nation and the world at large.