You are a murderer!

YOU ARE A MURDERER!
You are a doctor, and yet you let someone die…just like that!
All you cared for was your fees… You were only bothered about your bloody fees…
You should be ashamed of yourself. Your degree should be torn and then burnt into the fire and your PMDC registration should be canceled right away and you should be hanged till death…because you were part of this murder!
I am a Pakistani and these above lines are wrenched from the bottom of my heart. I just found out that a woman died in a hit and run case yesterday, in Karachi, near Sea View. I am sure you all must be aware of this tragic incident; I am not going to focus on the mad driver who didn’t stop his car and instead, ran all over her and didn’t even stop for one second to look back at what he had done … He’s a murderer and he will rot in hell…
I am not going to comment on that bloody desperate thief who came forward to see the severely injured woman on the road…And in the pretense of providing a helping hand, he STOLE her mobile phone…without even thinking for one second that her phone could have been used for locating her family…or her family would have died a thousand deaths when they would have tried to contact her and her phone would have been turned off because that’s what thieves do, right? No… I am not commenting on this either…
I am commenting and condemning this DOCTOR who refused to treat her when the eye witnesses and some police constables took her to the nearest medical center. This DOCTOR had the audacity to refuse any kind of treatment because all she was worried about was the fact that the woman’s family was not there and her main question was that “Who would pay my fees?” That patient was dying… I am sure no one could have saved her…but at least some HUMANITY could have been expected from that DOCTOR…right?
My hands are cold right now, my eyes blurry with tears…I am mourning the death of humanity in our nation… our nation has stooped to the lowest levels and I really don’t know what to do now…my head is pounding with the images of this accident site and some flashbacks of the sanitary worker that died when THREE DOCTORS refused to treat him in Umerkot few months ago…but above all…my heart is HURT at the inhumanity of all these doctors… It’s killing me because I am a Doctor myself and we take OATHS to protect people. We have pledged to keep people’s safety and benefits before our own…and in cases of emergency…we are bound to come up front and take control…without thinking about money or any other superficial things!
It is my humble request to all, who read this post… Please do something… This nation is dying… Please please please become someone’s light instead of prying it away from them…
To all the doctors out there, don’t forget that YOU were bestowed with the power of healing… YOU were entrusted with the amanat of taking care of people before your own needs… YOU are going to be held accountable too!
Think a thousand times before you refuse treatment to any patient next time…
Dr.Ayesha Ansar Khan

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Edhi: the man, the legacy

For the last few days I have been struggling for words. So much has been written about Abdul Sattar Edhi, the enormity of his mission, his endless struggle to alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden, the sick and the neglected segments of our society.

Words simply fail me, what do you write about a legend, an institution? Where do I begin and where should I end? But perhaps I am wrong in my quest for words, because there can be no adjectives fit enough to describe the extent of the work Edhi started and kept on doing until his health failed him.

How can I pay a tribute to the man who unflinchingly bathed and enshrouded burnt and decomposed corpses, neither the acrid smell of burnt flesh nor the sickening stench of rotting bodies stopping him from his dedicated work?

started and kept on doing until his health failed him.

How can I pay a tribute to the man who unflinchingly bathed and enshrouded burnt and decomposed corpses, neither the acrid smell of burnt flesh nor the sickening stench of rotting bodies stopping him from his dedicated work?

I cannot find words fit enough to describe a man of Edhi’s stature. But the writer in me is restless and wants to try, although nothing I can write could be worthy enough for him. I also want my young readers to know more about Edhi and his mission.

Beginning from the scratch, Edhi Sahab created a charitable empire and his foundation is Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation, filling in the gap which the state should have covered. But the remarkable fact about our national hero is that he never gave up his simple lifestyle till his very end. Although he got millions of rupees in donations, he was content with only two sets of clothes of coarse cotton and he was never uncomfortable in meeting dignitaries and high officials in these clothes.

The two room apartment above the office of Edhi Foundation in Kharadar was his humble home for decades. He felt no shame in calling himself poor when he would get millions in donations. His ego was not hurt when he begged on the streets for charity.

We all should pay due respect to Edhi Sahab’s mother who instilled in him the habit of helping the needy since his early childhood. She would give him two paisa daily and make sure that he gave away one paisa in charity. In 1947 when the family moved to Pakistan, Edhi idealised the newly formed country to be a Muslim welfare state. But his dreams were shattered as he helplessly watched his paralysed and mentally disabled mother die, with no support from the state for the struggling family.

The passion of serving the downtrodden ran in Edhi’s blood like a fire which kept him restless and unable to concentrate on anything else. In 1951, full of idealism and hope, he stood on the streets of Karachi and asked for donations to buy an ambulance and a small space to set up a dispensary to aid the poor. He managed to collect enough funds to buy an old Hillman van and an eight feet dispensary. He spent hours washing and polishing the battered vehicle before proudly painting ‘Poor Man’s Van’ on both sides. The van became his prized possession as he drove round the city helping people to get quick medical assistance.

Edhi’s efforts were only the beginning of a new era of social services in Pakistan. What started off as a small dispensary in Mithadar, transformed into the country’s largest charitable organisation, comprising mobile dispensaries, ambulances, orphanages, shelter homes, animal hostel, maternity homes, old homes, morgues and graveyards.

Edhi began with a single van, and died with a fleet of ambulances, helicopters, orphanages and an army of volunteers dedicated to saving life. Today, there are 335 centres with 1,800 ambulances in the country, and thousands dependent on him for their free food, water, medicines and shelter. His centres are abroad too, in the US, Canada, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Middle East.

Edhi Foundation owns the largest fleet of ambulances in the world. With the network spread out in every part of Pakistan, whether there is a bomb blast, a terrorist attack, a fire or an earthquake, these white coloured ambulances reach out to the needy in just minutes.

Edhi devoted sixty years of his life helping the poorest of the poor. Bathing the mentally retarded, feeding the children at his orphanages, spending time with the abandoned people in his Old Homes, Edhi never had time for himself or his family.

He had nerves of steel but a heart of gold. Spending sleepless nights reaching out to those in need, he worked tirelessly for the under privileged. His frail figure bent by the workload he carried happily, his aging face never lost its humble smile. When he was exhausted after bathing hundreds of dead bodies after a calamity, natural or man instigated, his attitude never showed a sign of strain. When his health did not allow him to be physically active anymore, he would sit in a wheelchair with a box, asking for donations from people passing by. And even a humble donation was appreciated with a smile from the great man.

Edhi’s wife Bilquis was always at his side in his social work. Together they created Pakistan’s biggest adoption network, where abandoned babies are given up for adoption. But the couple made tireless efforts to ensure that the children were handed over to deserving couples, who could give them a comfortable and respectable life.

For Edhi, humanity was above everything. His philosophy was ‘love human beings, serve the humanity’. He beleived that to be a good Muslim we should pay importance to Huqul Ibaad. His services were beyond any consideration of cast or creed, religion or race. His passion to serve humanity inspired many more likeminded organisations to come forward for charity work, but Edhi Foundation surpasses their work by miles.

Edhi Sahab got nearly 250 awards in his lifetime, both national and international, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service (1986) and the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1989) the most prominent of them. He was twice nominated for the Noble Peace prize, which sadly he has yet to receive. But for Edhi, his greatest award was the happy smile of the children at his orphanages who called him ‘Nana’ and flocked around him lovingly when he made his usual rounds. For a man of his stature and the kind of legacy he has left, there needs to be an award established in Edhi’s name for those who perform outstanding humanitarian acts.

Edhi is around no more, the father of the fatherless, the man who shunned publicity, who lived the simplest of life till his very end, who proved that if there is a will, we do not need huge budgets to help the needy and destitute. Edhi preferred to die in Pakistan than go abroad for treatment. He had willed that his organs be donated after his death. Although poor health rendered most of his organs not suitable for transplant, even in death he made final act of charity. Immediately after he expired, his eyes gave vision to two blind people.

People like Edhi never die, they just move on to a world better than the one we are living in. He continues to live among us, in our hearts, in the old homes he created, in the orphanages where he was a father figure for the thousands of orphans. He is everywhere, all over Pakistan, in the vast network of ambulance service he created singlehandedly, the centres for the disabled and the destitute, the rehabilitant homes for drug addicts.

Pakistan is mourning Edhi Sahab and the sense of loss is beyond words. Friends, the only tribute which is fit enough for him is to try to keep his legacy alive and put in our best efforts to continue the great work he began. Even a simple act of charity or kindness everyday will help us to keep his memories and mission alive.

Published in Dawn, Young World, July 16th, 2016

UNESCO Heritage Sites in Pakistan

http://www.dawn.com/news/1184759/heritage-sites-in-pakistan

FRIENDS, I am sure most of you know that Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is an important agency of the United Nations. The main objectives of Unesco are to work for peace and security in the world, by promoting international cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture. It also strives to promote the rule of law, respect for justice and basic human rights.

Unesco also has the important mission of maintaining a list of sites which are of outstanding cultural, geographical or historical importance. The organisation chooses such sites worldwide and declares them Cultural Heritage Sites. It then ensures that these sites are well-preserved for the future generations.

Today we shall discuss the Unesco Cultural Heritage Sites in Pakistan. There are six such sites in Pakistan and at present, 18 more sites are under consideration by the Unesco.

The year the site was declared a Unesco Heritage Site has been written in brackets.

Mohenjo-Daro (1980)

MOHENJO-DARO, which dates as far back as the 26th to the 19th century BC, is located on the right bank of the Indus River in Larkana, Sindh. The ruins of this largest and earliest urbanised city of South Asia were first discovered in 1922 by Sir John Marshall. Major excavations were carried on in 1930, revealing a well-planned and maintained city with broad streets, an intricate drainage system, well-built brick houses, a community bath and a huge granary.

Further excavations were stopped in 1965 due to fears of disintegration and work for the conservation of this historical site is going on since then. Artefacts made from gold, ivory and lapis, etc., suggest that the dwellers of this city were rich people who benefited from the highly fertile plains of the River Indus and trade with the nearby Mesopotamia. The Dancing Girl and the King Priest are among the famous statues found in Mohenjo-Daro.

Taxila (1980)

SITUATED in Rawalpindi district, 30km northwest of Islamabad, Taxila, which means ‘City of Cut Stone’, is an important archaeological site. It dates back to Fifth Century BC and has nearly 50 sites spread over an area of 30 kilometres.

Taxila was an important Hindu and Buddhist centre and is considered to be of religious importance by followers of both religions. Here we come across the relics of Buddha, Alexander the Great and famous emperors Asoka and Kanishka.

Taxila reached its peak of development under Asoka and saw the most creative period under the Gandhara rule. For nearly two centuries it was a seat of great learning, with a university having more than 10,500 students. Science, medicine, astronomy, philosophy and mathematics were some of the important subjects taught there.

The ruins of Taxila are well-preserved and we can find the remains of the university, streets, houses, stupas and palaces, etc. During the excavations, gems, gold and silver coins, Gandhara scriptures and images of Buddha were discovered which can be seen in the Taxila Museum. The blend of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islamic cultures makes Taxila a rare and unique archaeological site.

Takht-i-Bahi (1980)

AN important historical site 16km from Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Takht-i-Bahi (Throne of Origins), is situated on a 152m high hill. It is the remains of a complete Buddhist monastery with four distinct parts. The history of Takht-i-Bahi and the neighbouring small fortified city of Sahr-i-Bahlol ranges from the First to the Seventh Century AD.

Takht-i-Bahi was originally a Zoroastrian complex but with the advent of Buddhism, was converted into a Buddhist monastic complex. Due to its high location, Takht-i-Bahi remained safe from different invasions and is exceptionally well-preserved to this day. It is regarded by archaeologists as the most imposing relic of the Buddhism in the Gandhara region of Pakistan. Many fine sculptures have been dug up from this historical site.

The Fort and Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, 1981

THE Fort and Shalimar Gardens in Lahore are outstanding architectural monuments of the Mughal era which are famous for their royal grandeur. In the mid 16th century, Lahore became a centre of culture and art. Emperor Akbar built the grand fort in the walled city and the Deewan-e-Aam, built in red stones belongs to this era.

His successors kept on making additions to the Fort and Shah Jahan’s Naulakha and Sheesh Mehal and Jahangir’s pictured wall are great tourist attractions to this day. Though the fort was destroyed and rebuilt several times by various rulers, we can still see beautiful marble palaces and mosques decorated with mosaics and gilt.

The Shalimar Gardens, built by Shah Jahan in 1642, are spread over 16 hectares. These sprawling gardens are influenced by Persian and Islamic traditions and are divided in three descending terraces. They have multiple fountains in water channels. The mosaic, marble nets, waterfalls, large ornamental ponds, flowering plants and trees are a beauty to the beholder’s eyes.

Makli (1981)

MAKLI, the necropolis in Thatta, Sindh, is among the largest Muslim cemetery in the world. Its history dates back from the 14th to the 18th centuries. The tombs belong to four dynasties of Sindhi rulers, as well as Sufi saints and scholars.

The monuments and mausoleums in Makli are built from high quality honey-coloured lime-stone, intricately carved bricks and glazed tiles.

Some tombs of famous saints and the one of Jam Nizamudin II, are well-preserved. Makli represents the civilisation of Sindh in that era and can also be called a blend of Hindu, Mughal and Islamic cultures.

Rohtas Fort (1997)

ROHTAS Fort is a garrison fort built by Sher Shah Suri after he defeated Mughal emperor Humayun in 1541. Situated on a strategic location on a small hill near River Kahan, it is a classic blend of early Muslim military architecture and artistic traditions of Turkey and the Indian Subcontinent.

Located about 16km from Jhelum city in Punjab, Rohtas Fort has massive walls and bastions which run for over four kilometres. The fort has 10 gates which enclose the citadel and army quarters. Haveli Maan Singh added later on by Emperor Akbar has Hindu architectural influence.

Friends, the above-mentioned places are not only Unesco Heritage Sites, but also precious national assets of Pakistan! While visiting them, we should take great care to preserve them so that they retain their original structure.

IN SEARCH OF QUAID’S PAKISTAN

In search of Quaid’s Pakistan!

Published Dec 27, 2014 06:22am

DECEMBER 25th is a day of national importance for Pakistanis, as it is the birth anniversary of the Father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. With his deep vision, indomitable will, intelligence, dedication and courage, Jinnah whom we Pakistanis call Quaid-i-Azam (the great leader), united the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent under the Muslim League. After a long struggle under his leadership, Pakistan came into being on the August 14, 1947.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah was admired equally by friends and foes. Stanley Wolpert, in his book, Jinnah of Pakistan compliments him in these words, “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”

The dream

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IT was Jinnah’s dream that Pakistan would emerge as a sovereign democratic state, where the law would reign supreme, the politicians would work with honesty and dedication for the state, all citizens including women would play an important role in the development of the country, human rights would be protected and quick justice would be within reach of all, poverty and illiteracy would be eradicated in the minimum possible time and non-Muslims would be treated with respect and tolerance and dignity.

By firmly holding on to the principles of unity, faith and discipline, he wanted the nation to move forward and carve its place among the developed countries of the world.

The golden principles

JINNAH once said, “I have no doubt that with unity, faith and discipline we will compare with any nation of the world. You must make up your minds now. We must sink individualism and petty jealousies and make up our minds to serve the people with honesty and faithfulness.”

A firm faith in Allah and religious values, faith in the power of hard work, truth and honesty and faith in each other, were the guidelines he gave the newly emerged nation.

Unity among all provinces, among the people belonging to the different sects of Islam and tolerance/respect for the non-Muslims, was his second golden principle. He also laid great stress on discipline which he said was essential for growth.

He repeatedly advocated that to move forward in the world as a developing nation, Pakistanis needed to practice discipline in all parts of life.

The reality

AS fate would have it, Quaid-i-Azam died only a year after Pakistan came into being. Sadly, the inefficiency of the successive politicians, deep rooted corruption at every level and a general lack of civic sense in the people, our country’s affairs are on a constant downslide since its early years. Today, after more than 67 years of independence, we find Pakistan has a poor image on the international level and even within the country we find people disillusioned and frustrated by the state of affairs.

The problems

SADLY, at present, the Pakistan that Jinnah had envisioned is nowhere to be found! We are facing a multitude of problems. Bad governance, poverty, inflation, terrorism, religious intolerance, sectarian issues, lawlessness, rising graph of illiteracy and poverty, shortage of power and gas are only a few of the troubles we are facing. Greed, lust for power, corruption, unemployment, putting personal gains over Pakistan’s interests and political/economical instability, are some of the factors which are worsening the problems we face.

Basically, Pakistan is an agricultural country, rich in natural resources like gas, coal and precious metals and has sites of great tourist attraction. But due to the mismanagement and corruption of successive governments, we cannot fain full benefits from these resources.

Current situation WE seem to have totally forgotten the principles Jinnah laid down for us! We have lost faith in Allah and the teachings of our religion. We do not have any faith in our leaders, nor do we trust each other. Attacks on minorities and desecration of their places of worship are something common in Pakistan.

There is no unity among us. Before realising that we all are Pakistanis, we proudly call ourselves Sindhis, Punjabis, Balochis, Pakhtoon or Muhajirs. We are a sunni, a shia, a deobandi or a barelvi, before we realise that we are Muslims who worship one Allah and follow one Quran. Killings due to the difference in religious beliefs are everyday news.

As a nation also, we see a total lack of discipline in our country. Whether you are at the airport, a railway station or a bus stop, you will see people pushing, shoving and shouting at each other. The corrupt politicians squander away precious tax-payers’ money on their extravagant life styles. Instead of merit, jobs are given out to undeserving persons while the talented and educated youth search in vain for reasonable jobs. Rules are bent and twisted to suit individual whims. We take pride in breaking rules and taking the law in our hands. Criminals go unpunished if they have the right connections.

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The solution

THE problems faced by Pakistan are so compound that it is not easy to find a way out! On this important day, instead of just paying verbal tribute to our great leader, let us join hands and heads and vow to find ways to change the disturbing situation. We all must vow to be truly patriotic to our country, to serve it by all means and work endlessly and selflessly to bring it back to the road of progress.

One of the most important steps to guide Pakistan towards a better future is providing quality and affordable education to all school going children, irrespective of their economic or social status. Literacy is the light which will create awareness among us, promote a sense of patriotism and responsibility. With education comes the proper balance between one’s rights and one’s duties, which in turn lead a nation towards honour, dignity and sovereignty as a state.

Quaid-i-Azam with his great vision, knew how important education is for the future of Pakistan. Addressing youth he once said,

“Without education it is complete darkness and with education it is light. Education is a matter of life and death to our nation.”

Quaid-i-Azam had great faith in the students of Pakistan. Addressing them on one occasion he said, “My young friends, I look forward to you as the real makers of Pakistan, do not be exploited and do not be misled. Create amongst yourselves complete unity and solidarity. Set an example of what youth can do. Your main occupation should be in fairness to yourself, to your parents, in fairness to the State, to devote your attention to your studies. If you fritter away your energies now, you will always regret.”

Friends, without hard work by each and every Pakistani and determination to change the state of affairs, Jinnah’s dream cannot be transformed into a reality. By holding on firmly to Quaid-i-Azam’s words, “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve” and ““Failure is a word unknown to me”, we can still find the road to prosperity and with our heads held high, march towards Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Sentiments of a friend on 14th August 2014

‎کیسا جشن ِ آزادی؟ آج ہم مناتے ہیں کیسا جشن ِ آزادی اک طرف ہے ہنگامہ، اک طرف ہے بربادی سرخ ہے زمیں اپنی، خوں سے بے گناہوں کے کیسی ناروا چنُری ماں کو اپنی پہنا دی ہم سے دشمنی تھی یا باغباں کی کوتاہی جس پہ آشیانہ تھا  ، ہر وہ شاخ کٹوا دی ہات پر دھرے ہم ہات، کوستے ہیں قسمت کو بے عمل روش نے یوں مشکل اور بڑھوا دی اس قدر ہے مایوسی ایسی بے یقینی ہے گویا اپنے کاندھوں پر لاش اپنی اُٹھوا دی اب بھی وقت ہے یارو، اب بھی کچھ نہیں بگڑا پاک سرزمیں کو پھر کردیں شاد آبادی مل کے اُٹھ کھڑے ہوں ہم، اتحاد اپنا لیں نظم اور یقیں کو ہم کر لیں رہنما ہادی مل کے بار اُٹھوائیں قوم کی امانت کا روح ِ قائد ِ اعظم ہو کبھی نہ فریادی خواب ِ شاعر ِ مشرق پھر سے کردیں زندہ ہم اور پھر منائیں ہم مل کے جشن ِ آزادی ۔۔ احمد صفی 14 اگست 2014‎

کیسا جشن ِ آزادی؟

آج ہم مناتے ہیں کیسا جشن ِ آزادی
اک طرف ہے ہنگامہ، اک طرف ہے بربادی
سرخ ہے زمیں اپنی، خوں سے بے گناہوں کے
کیسی ناروا چنُری ماں کو اپنی پہنا دی
ہم سے دشمنی تھی یا باغباں کی کوتاہی
جس پہ آشیانہ تھا ، ہر وہ شاخ کٹوا دی
ہات پر دھرے ہم ہات، کوستے ہیں قسمت کو
بے عمل روش نے یوں مشکل اور بڑھوا دی
اس قدر ہے مایوسی ایسی بے یقینی ہے
گویا اپنے کاندھوں پر لاش اپنی اُٹھوا دی
اب بھی وقت ہے یارو، اب بھی کچھ نہیں بگڑا
پاک سرزمیں کو پھر کردیں شاد آبادی
مل کے اُٹھ کھڑے ہوں ہم، اتحاد اپنا لیں
نظم اور یقیں کو ہم کر لیں رہنما ہادی
مل کے بار اُٹھوائیں قوم کی امانت کا
روح ِ قائد ِ اعظم ہو کبھی نہ فریادی
خواب ِ شاعر ِ مشرق پھر سے کردیں زندہ ہم
اور پھر منائیں ہم مل کے جشن ِ آزادی

۔۔ احمد صفی
14 اگست 2014

THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

The story is the same , only the names and faces have changed. January 2013 saw the heart breaking sit in of shattered protesters who defied the blood curdling weather and refused to bury their dead until their demands for justice were met. The story has been repated in January 2014, and the protest sit in has ended only a couple of hours back. Raja Parwez Ashraf has been replaced by Nawaz Sharif and the same tall promises have been made to convince the bereaved to bury their dead ones. They say History repeats itself, but I am hoping against hope that it does not do so this time. It is high time our government rises to the crying need of the hour and takes concrete and firm steps to stop the endless brutal killings going on and on and on!!!

Yasmin Elahi

 

I grumble, I protest, I rave, I rant and yes, I am not ashamed to admit that in weak and emotional moments I cry too! But in the depth of my heart there is a sad and sinking feeling that all this is in vain! I can not do anything to change the way things are going in my beloved Homeland. And then I realize that my pen is my only tool! At least I can give a path to my emotions, share with my readers my pain, my anger and my frustration at the non stop downslide in nearly every aspect of life in Pakistan! Being a stay at home mother and grandmother and also a senior citizen, my ageing body and mind hampers me from any active participation in the state of affairs; this is the only small contribution I can make. It may be a drop…

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RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

          Rain has always held a special place in my life! It mesmerizes me, enchants and takes me way back down the memory lane. It reminds me of the happy and carefree childhood I spent in my parental home with my siblings.

          As it rained more than half of the year in East Pakistan (now Bangla Desh), rain was a part and parcel of our lives. The staircase to the upper floor of our cosy little house overlooked a long alley. After lunch, I and my siblings would sit one child on one stair and watch with delight as rain came lashing down on the pedestrians. Some had umbrellas, other used large sheets of polythene to protect themselves and a few were seen running for shelter if they possessed none of these.

                    After nights when the thunder kept rolling, the clouds clapping ominously and rain pouring down as if it would never come again, I remember calling school expectantly. “Is the school off today?” And the predictable answer came “Why do you think the school would be off today” I would be counter questioned. The voice sounded irritated as if tired of answering the same question repeatedly. “It has been raining so hard all night” I would try to argue although I myself could feel my voice grow weaker. “Do think rain makes any difference to life in this part of the world?” and the phone was banged angrily.

          Rain made literally no difference to normal activities as schools, offices and markets opened as usual and everyone seemed to be carrying on his/her work as usual. Heavy downpours recorded in inches, were a part and parcel of life and there were no traffic jams, electric failures, overflowing storm drains or stagnant water on the roads. All that could be seen were small puddles in which children loved to splash around, but with a well maintained drainage system, these too disappeared in no time.

          Apart from natural calamities like floods or cyclones which were a normal feature in that region, little or no news of suffering of the low income class was witnessed after the routine heavy rains.

          Rain meant enjoyment to me and my siblings. If the rainy day was a holiday, picnic baskets would be packed immediately and we would set out for an outing to any of the green spots in Dhaka. Otherwise, Beisan or Potato Parathas would be cooked, to be enjoyed with Ammi’s unmatchable sweet mango chutney and ripe mangoes in plastic buckets were set out in the open courtyard to be cooled by the falling rain.

          I distinctly remember the long drives with friends after a rainy day, dashing to the famous Ramna Park of Dhaka for Chatpatti (Chat) and Puchka (Pani Puri) and the treat finished off with a Meetha Paan at the renowned pan shop outside the Dhaka Stadium. Traffic moved a bit slow but there was no disruption to its flow!

          After I migrated to Karachi, I used to miss the rains as these were limited to a couple of months only. As clouds came in, I would look expectantly towards the sky and pray for them to burst into a downpour. Until I witnessed the other side of the coin, i.e how rains could play havoc with the lives of people! To my dismay, unlike my birth city Dhaka, rain always brought misery to the lives of the residents of Karachi, especially those who reside in low lying or slum areas. Every year after the monsoon rains hits, life seems to be paralyzed as the roads are turned into rivulets in no time.

          Although in the four decades plus that I have been living in Karachi, I have seen that rains always disrupt and paralyze life in the city, I feel that things are getting worse with each passing year.

          This year, the 3rd of August began as a usual day, but before nightfall tragic news from all parts of the city came pouring in, as fast as the torrential rains we witnessed during the day. In all the years I have been living in Karachi, this was perhaps the worst rainy day I had witnessed.

          Loss of 16 precious lives was reported and all the major roads were flooded heavily. Most of the city was plunged into darkness as power went off as soon as the rain started lashing the city. Some areas, (like mine) had to go without power for nearly 24 hours or more! Emergency was declared in the city and army had to be called in to drain the stagnant water. As usual, action was taken too late as the CM dismissed the Karachi Administrator, as well as the Director Municipal Services from their respective posts. But could these belated steps bring back the precious lives or heavy loss to property? the question hangs heavily in the air.

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          But the depressing part of all the sufferings is that we Karachiites could have been spared this gloom. Although there was a forecast of a monsoon more severe than is usual to Karachi, the City Government had simply taken no steps to prevent the dwellers of the mega city from the misery it had to face.  Storm water drains (which are getting narrower each year due to encroachments) were not cleared up in time, and as these are usually clogged with the garbage slum dwellers throw in them, they overflew in no time, spreading stinking water on major roads and alleys.

          The poor dwellers of the areas lining the storm water drains were the worst affected as their homes were totally inundated! After the heavy downpour, although I was dreading the bad news, I had no idea it would be worse than my imagination. The domestic helper who has been cleaning my house for years, came frantically banging the door as the bell was not ringing. Her eyes burning with tears she was trying hard to control, she said in a voice lined with despair. “Ammi kuch nahin bacha, sirf badan pe ye kapre hain!” (Ammi, nothing is left except the clothes that I am wearing). She had lost the entire ration she had got from different affluent people (remember it was Ramzan), as well as her meager belongings. “Shukar hai, Bachon ki jaan bach gayi”! (Thank God, the lives of my children were saved). She said in a resigned tone. Such depressing stories came pouring in from other quarters as night fell.

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          There was a forecast of more rain for the next two or three days but it seems nature was also moved by the misery the heavy downpour had caused! Although the weather remained cloudy for the next few days, fortunately we only witnessed drizzling after every few hours!

          There was a time when I looked up at the clouds expectantly, praying for the rains to come. But after decades of living in Karachi, I mutter a prayer when I see the ominous clouds coming in. Rain, Rain, Go Away! We are not prepared yet to enjoy you! The burst of clouds which meant enjoyment and relaxation in my childhood days causes pain, anxiety, sorrow and darkness in this city of lights!

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE!

 

The young woman (a friend’s daughter) was fuming with anger! “Pakistan is not worth living anymore! I will migrate as soon as I possibly can.”

Her agitation was natural! Mugged by a scooter driving youth, she had lost cash, her ID card, credit card and cell phone. And as this was not the first time, the hassle she knew she had got herself into was more frustrating. As she knew from earlier experience that reporting at a police station was futile, she had to (again) set upon contacting the concerned people about her dilemma! Applying for a new NIC and credit card, getting her cell no. blocked until she got a new sim and trying to re-collect the numbers of her contacts was no easy job! And she knew that palms would have to be greased for redressing her genuine distress. And last but not the least, the cash she had lost was no small amount!

I couldn’t blame her as she was sharing the general dismal mood of discontent shared by the youth of our country! But like I always do in similar circumstances, I couldn’t stop myself from quipping back, “What percentage of our population can possibly migrate? Don’t you think that people living outside Pakistan have their own set of problems? And instead of planning to run away, we should firmly plant our feet on our soil and work hard to improve the conditions?”

Conditions in Pakistan are detoriating day by day, year by year! Caught in the clutches of greedy politicians, energy crisis, militancy, religious extremists (whom I refuse to call Muslims) blowing up themselves and innocent people in public places, the ever rising spiral of inflation, lawlessness, illiteracy, corruption and unemployment are only a few of the problems gnawing at the roots of our country.

Tall promises are made before every up-coming elections, pledges are made to solve all the problems in no time at all, but our leaders quickly forget about them and promptly busy themselves in amassing wealth in every possible and unethical manner, visiting foreign countries (with huge entourages), distributing ministries to appease their loyalists (competency being the least consideration), and stooping to any level to keep their rule intact. This is a quagmire we have been stuck in for decades now!

The brain drain from Pakistan towards the West has been continuing for the past two or more generations and is one of the reasons for the unfavorable conditions we are facing today. Qualified, young, talented, hardworking and honest people realize that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. A better paid job, much improved basic amenities, an atmosphere of general security and stability, bright prospects for their children’s future, more stable economic conditions and over all a more comfortable life style, attracts them so much that they opt for the greener pastures.

But as the saying goes “Everything comes with a price. Everything! Some things just cost more than the others.” The economic and living conditions may be much better in the greener pastures, but life is not all bliss in an alien land. Adapting to a foreign culture and still retaining one’s national identity is difficult for most people (and more so for their children) and safe guarding their religious and cultural values is an uphill task! Compromises have to be made, as leaving behind one’s roots, parents and childhood friends is always painful.

The most important negative factor is that these people are forced into raising a confused generation, which is neither Eastern nor Western, but a misfit in both cultures! Many a parents have to go through a nightmarish phase when they can no longer control their adolescents, who are attracted by the so called freedom of their native peers. Protecting their children from the culture of drug abuse, extra-marital sex and violence becomes a difficult task for them. The children who have been brought up in a totally alien culture, feel all these are normal part of life and often clash with their parents when the older generation tries to impose restrictions on them!

Sadly, inspite of these difficulties, most people who move out of Pakistan, think it is better to cope with these issues rather live in the difficult conditions back home. And so in their quest for greener pastures, they leave behind their culture, their values and a motherland which is bleeding to the core!

But I say again and again that to run away from problems is not a healthy way to solve them! We must not behave like ostriches who bury their necks in the sand! We have to face our troubles and overcome them, catch the bull by its horns and try to control it with all our might! Fighting the problems by finding out solutions and trying our best to implement them inspite of the odds is the only way things can improve!

Pakistan needs fresh blood more than it ever needed before! Dedicated, talented, hard working, honest and educated youth must come forward to control the helm of affairs! We need them in every field of action, bureaucracy, politics, military, judiciary, education and governance! Personal gains must be sacrificed for national causes! Our youth may be disenchanted and angry, but their angry outbursts show that they still care! And they know that all is not lost in Pakistan, as deep down they also feel that it is high time things should change for the better. I am not supporting or opposing any political party, but to prove my point I must remind people about the steep rise in the percentage of voters especially the young ones, when in the recent elections hope for a change was offered!

 There is always light at the end of the darkest tunnel. We must move forward, even if we are on our hands and feet, to reach that end! We have to start at the grassroots and corruption has to be eliminated at all levels. Awareness about striking the perfect balance between rights and duties can only be achieved through improving the literacy rate. Each and everyone has to put in his/her share. The effort may be small and seemingly insignificant but when a major change comes, every small endeavour will prove to help in making the difference!

Only then the plight of or Homeland can change!

I know and accept that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Life in the conditions prevailing in Pakistan is not easy! I fear for my children when they go out (and quickly recite a prayer for their safety), get panicked if one of them is late in coming home or  responding to a call on his/her cell phone, worry day in and day out how to stretch the household budget to make the ends meet, cry when I see the pictures of innocent children killed in terrorist attacks, rant and rave at the conditions in Pakistan when I read the newspaper or watch the news on the TV, but if given the choice of moving out, without even thinking for a moment, my answer would be “No thanks, the grass may appear greener on the other side, but inspite of the difficult conditions here, I still prefer my side of the fence!”

 

 

Drama In Islamabad!!

          I feel angry today, disturbed, ashamed, disappointed and a bit amused too! The weird drama in Islamabad, the way a man, a woman and two children kept the capital on hold, and the manner our security personnel handled the situation has again made Pakistan a laughing stock for the world. 

          And our media, our TV channels licking their lips in delight, reported the whole incident minute to minute! For six long hours! I am no television buff, and had just switched on the idiot box to check out on the weather conditions in Lahore, I was worried because my son and his family were scheduled to reach there from Murree and the rumour was that the roads in Lahore were flooded! (This proved to be wrong as I came to know later).

          There was no news about the rains in Punjab but all channels were covering the Islamabad incident and the drama had started only a few minutes ago! Glued to the Television, I kept on watching in surprise as the police and Commandos were being shown keeping a distance from the car. The woman and children in the car were first reported to be held hostage by the man who started the whole drama by firing wildly in the air. And this was the Blue area of Islamabad, the area with the highest security as all important venues i.e the Prime Minister House, National Assembly, Supreme Court of Pakistan are stuated in this locality.

          In sheer disgust, I kept on posting updates on FaceBook and here I would like to share them with my readers. Although I cannot state for sure what was the exact time but it all started at around 6 in the evening!

OMG….. Police have surrounded the car in the Blue Area Islamabad from which an unknown man fired wildly in the air…I wonder what the police is waiting for!

The car was snatched from a nearby area n there is also a burqa clad woman in the car…hostage or accomplice? The police hv still no clue..Allah reham kare, Ameen

  • The body language of the woman is V suggestive…she hardly looks panicked or nervous as she took something out from the car’s trunk
  •  

Bhaaiyon!!!! Car k tyre hi puncture kar do fire kar ke!!!

 

Two kids in the car Too!!!

My notion was right…….!!!!! the woman claims to be the wife of the man in the car plus the two children are their kids!!! 

 Aaj TVdekhein…I am sure Geo wala will also b enjoying this breaking news…but can not switch channels now…the situation is too weird!!   

Our police keeps on bringing shame to the whole nation!! And the TV channels are having a great time!! All claiming to be the first to report this drama!!I am feeling like a reporter at the moment but cant stop myself from commenting!! Sharamnaak situation!!! Look at the way the woman is coming n going conveying demands! 

Hikmat e amli ki tafseelat bhee bata dee mulzimon ki Sahulat k lye!!! I think these people have never heard of GPRS!!!Humari helpless police bechaari!!! Police dept should be dissolved…the law of the jungle is good enough for us!!!! Both of the miscreants were far enough from their car but still the police didn’t dare to overpower them! 

7.30 PM….I am  getting late for Maghrib.. have to take a short break now! 

High level Drama in Islamabad!!! Baghair ticket enjoy karein!!!  

Latest on Islamabad drama….aap sab ko mubarak ho!! Police ne musslaah shaks ki giraftaari ki tayyaari mukammil kar lee!!!! 

Islamabad Drama smells fishy from Miles!!!! How come no action has been taken although it is already dark?

Easy load for the culprit’s cell by the POLICE…how sweet of them!!

Bachon ko Pizza khana hai!! SSP Operations se naya mutalba!!! Its only my notion: P 

Operation ki tayyaryaan Mukammil!!! Bas anesthetist ka intezar hai!!

I couldn’t stop myself from Re tweeting this!

  •  A Good Soldier (@Soldier_pk):
    One thing is certain, all vehicles carrying families will face extra scrutiny at police barriers, thanks to Sikandar ‪#‎BlueA
  • My Tweet…
  • Media personal manhandled! Kumhar pe bas na chala gadhia ke kaan amethe!‪#‎Bluearea ‪#‎islamabad d security forces hs brought d nation 2 shame!!

          The nation is waiting for the drama to end! First it was being suggested by our TV channels that the security personal are waiting for the dark! But on second thoughts, I feel they have decided to wait for the Sun to rise!

          9.30 PM…After this post, I had to be pull myself away from the television as I had to go to a dinner. After exchanging pleasantries with my hostess, I requested her to switch on the TV. The drama was just ending, I could see the PPP leader Zamurrud Khan pouncing on the man and the later, as if taken by surprise, falling down and being overpowered by our brave Commandos!

(I guess Zamurrud Khan will be given Hilal e jurrat for his bravery!!)

        12.30….It is being reported that the gunman has been taken to the PIMS Hospital and is undergoing emergency surgery as he has been shot in the stomach and leg! I only wonder why this couldn’t have been done earlier!

          Frustration and shame has become the lot of the common Pakistani nobodies like me! Helpless, surprised, disappointed and angry at the (mis) performance of our police, rangers and most of all the so called Commandos we just watched the ongoing drama in sheer disgust!

The security personal seemed helpless, spineless and confused! We, the patriotic Pakistanis, demand an immediate explanation! Why were we made the laughing stock for the world once more! For Heaven’s sake, don’t hurt our pride again and again in this manner! We love this country and want it to rise from the dust… and shine!

Long live Pakistan!!

 

 

 

 

 

WHO IS TO BE BLAMED?

This is an edited version of an article published in The Financial Daily

 

WHO IS TO BLAME?

 

Independence Day is approaching yet another time. Yesterday I had a sudden idea and impulsive that I am, decided to implement it at once. Throughout the year, we are busy celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Why not have an Independence day party? Happily I started to call close family members but I was a bit confused at the reaction of the young generation, who seemed to decline my invitation politely at one pretext or another.

I called Sohail, my nephew, on his cell many times and on not getting a response rang him at his office. “What’s wrong, Sohail? Why are you not attending to your cell? And no one is receiving the phone at home?” “Oh, Auntie, my cell has been snatched a third time and I simply can not afford to go on buying mobile phones for muggers.” Sohail’s tone was very cross. “Shazia has gone to her parents with the kids. We have no electricity and so no water for the last two days. How could she manage with the children with no water in this heat?”

Warily I told Sohail about the party. “Come on Auntieji, you must be joking! What is there to celebrate about anyway? Insecurity?  Power failures? Corruption? Suicide bombers blowing up innocent people whenever and wherever they want? Or the sky-rocketing cost of living which is making a respectable difficult day by day? What has Pakistan given us anyway? Please excuse me Auntie, I shall rather stay at home and catch up on my sleep”.

Sohail continued in an angry tone, “I simply see no logical reason left for celebrating the Independence Day. Though we have got a homeland but still we have no freedom. We have to free ourselves from the shackles of religious extremism, poverty, illiteracy, greed and corruption before calling ourselves a free nation and planning any celebrations. The struggle for independence is not over yet!”

 Sohail’s outburst helped me to understand why the people of his generation were not showing any interest in my party. They all belonged to a disenchanted and disappointed generation which had seen Pakistan going on the downwards slide, year by year! Although I tried my best to convince Sohail, his arguments were so strong and he seemed so agitated, I decided to talk to him later.

I was born in an age when the people who had strived, suffered and sacrificed for the sake of independence were all around, so I felt deeply disturbed at the frustration of our new generation. In those days Patriotism was the order of the day and our parents never tired of telling us true stories about the Pakistan movement. Precious lives were lost, ancestral homes and properties were left behind but no one considered this a price too heavy for Independence. I vividly remember my mother shedding tears when she talked about Mohammed Ali Jinnah or Liaqat Ali Khan! Love for Pakistan seemed to be in the blood and everyone seemed proud to call himself a Pakistani.

I can still remember how enthusiastically we celebrated 14th August at school. The principal hoisted the national flag and gave a short speech stressing on the importance of independence and love for one’s Homeland.  As we fervourly recited the National Anthem in a chorus, it was a proud moment and the fluttering green flag never ceased to bring tears to my eyes. Sweets were distributed among the children and all of us were as happy as if it was Eid.

Sohail’s questions brought a rush of guilt to my heart. What is the reason behind this change in emotions? Have we failed to transfer this love for Pakistan to our next generation? Did we take independence for granted and did not strive enough to pass on its importance to their young minds. Or is it our poor and inept education system which is to blame.

Today our young generation has but a fleeting knowledge of the hardships faced during the movement for Pakistan, something which they have learned in the dull and drab books on Pakistan Studies! These books also keep changing with the advent of every new ruler who want the syllabus to suit his whims, trying to write a new history after every few years.

Or should we blame the greedy and incapable politicians, who are too busy filling their pockets (which are already bursting at the seams), to care for the peace and prosperity of Pakistan?

Our country is rich enough in resources. But whose purpose does it serve to keep them untapped and underutilized? Job opportunities which can be created but are not, the rain water which can do wonders for our agricultural lands but instead floods and destroy standing crops, the beautiful valleys were no tourists dare to visit due to fear of the so called religious extremist, growing unemployment and a steep rise in the inflation level are only a few reasons of the causes leading to the frustration of our young generation. These and many other such thoughts kept troubling me as I lay awake in the darkness of the night.

The next morning I called Sohail again, “Whether you come or not, I am celebrating 14th August according to my plans. You asked me many questions yesterday. The only question I have to ask you is ‘What have “We” given to Pakistan’? Nobody from the Heavens will come to change our lot. It is our choice, either we sit in our drawing rooms, sipping tea and blaming each other for our failures, or firmly resolve to strive and sacrifice, step by step, for the prosperity of Pakistan”.