The Cousin Connection

(https://www.dawn.com/news/1321263)

Cousins are to life what colours are to a black and white sketch on a canvas. Just like lively colours make a painting a joy to the eyes, cousins add enjoyment and pleasure to our lives.

They are always an integral part of our extended family. Whether we connect with them day to day, or we meet them after a number of years and whether we live in the same city or continents apart, we share with them a bond which defies age, distance and time.

The best thing about cousins is that you never disconnect with them. Discussions come naturally even if you have met after weeks, months or even years. You pick up a conversation as if you had only talked a little while ago. You talk spontaneously about common interests, your recent activities or important news about the family without any awkward moments.

A relationship with no match

Sometimes cousins are like siblings, sometimes like friends and most of the times, they are someone in between these two. And yes, they can be strong competitors and in extreme cases foes too! But most important of all, they share common ancestry and history. Whatever the status of our bond with them may be, they are an inevitable part of our lives, adding all the flavours of spice to it and making it more enjoyable.


Celebrating the unique bond shared by cousins


Cousins may be not as important a part of our lives as siblings are, but the knowledge that we can connect with them as much as and whenever we want to, brings them closer to us. We can freely discuss our problems with them (without the fear of being reported to an elder) as they will always lend a sympathetic ear and are ready with some good advice.

With a sibling you do not have a choice. Accept them as they are your only option. We live day in and day out with them, sharing strong ties of love, care and sacrifice. But at times it can be a bumpy relationship where you are fast friends one moment and fierce foes the very next. Although instinctively we are always ready to help and defend siblings against all odds, we also fight and argue on petty issues.

With cousins the scenario is totally different. Your likes, interests and preferences match with some of them and you may not look eye to eye with others. This strongly defines how close you are to them or the bond of friendship you share with them. This factor also strongly affects the amount of time or activities you share with them.


Cherish your cousins, they will be one of the sincerest friends you can ever have and the bond with them wouldn’t get weak with time and distance


You can always be yourself and feel comfortable when cousins are around, because you never feel the need to impress them with your looks, dressings or thoughts.

The relationship with cousins keeps changing with time and age, and can be strange in many ways. We grow up together playing weird games, getting in and out of trouble due to our silly mistakes and antics, sharing and fiercely guarding secrets, and loving each other with all our good and bad traits.

But we have differences as well! We can be arch rivals as we strive to compete with them in all walks of life, ranging from getting more importance from elders to performing better at studies or to be more popular among our peers.

Cousins of all ages

The age factor also strongly affects the kind of relationship you have with a cousin. You turn to the older ones for help when you are stuck in a problem, pamper and cuddle the younger ones and build a lifetime bond of friendship with those who match your age group.

Joys of sharing and caring

Cousins are witnesses to our achievements and failures. Always quick to encourage and reassure, they will celebrate with you in happy moments and lend a shoulder to cry on in sad ones. With them you share common family tragedies and take pride in the accomplishments of members.

No family gathering is complete without cousins. Whenever you are invited by an uncle or aunt, you instantly ask if so and so (one of your favourite cousins) is coming. It may be playing in-door or outdoor games, laughing till your stomach aches at something amusing you witnessed or just doing small talk, cousins always make attending a family gathering worth your time.

At weddings or larger gatherings, you find it very natural to sit in a group, sharing a common table, where you can crack jokes, share interesting experiences from your common past, pass remarks on other guests or just share what you have been doing recently.

When we are growing up, we take cousins for granted. Playing pranks at each other, sharing family jokes and laughing at them till tears roll out of our eyes, planning and enjoying get-togethers and overnight stays at our grandparents, enjoying grandma’s cooking and grandpa’s stories of his youth, we spend quality time together which at that stage of life seems to be endless.

And time flies by …

Like all good things, this memorable phase of life flies by with the passage of time. As years slip by and we enter adulthood, the childhood memories of the time we spent with cousins are often the most cherished ones in our treasure box of memories.

I belong to a large family and often share with my grandchildren interesting episodes from my childhood days. We were a big (and mischievous) lot and fell into different groups according to our ages. And each group looked up to the senior ones with respect and awe, as we considered them more experienced, learned and wiser than us. Whenever I had a quarrel with a cousin, I remember turning to our eldest cousin for arbitration, and her word was the final one as there was no question of an argument!

Family jokes, incidents which I would not like to share with everyone, the time I spent with cousins at our grandparents’ place, or the vacations which we enjoyed together, are all important pearls in my chest of memories. At the twilight of life, I often look back on those moments and cherish them fondly.

Marion C. Garretty so beautifully summed up the relationship between cousins, “A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost”.

So cherish your cousins, they will be one of the sincerest friends you can ever have and the bond with them wouldn’t get weak with time and distance.

What are you waiting for? Call them and text them the moment you put this magazine down, go and meet them this weekend and make memories that will light up your life when you all are living separate and busy lives.

Published in Dawn, Young World March 18th, 2017

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

THE MULTI TASKING WIZARD!

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 7th, 2015

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

It’s 6 a.m. and mum sleepily reaches for the alarm to snooze it for a couple of minutes. But the baby is quicker than her and gives out a loud wail.

“He must be hungry,” she thinks, still half asleep, as she heads for the kitchen to fill the milk bottle. On returning she thinks about snatching a few more minutes of sleep but realizes it’s almost time to make the breakfast and pack the lunch of the school-going kids. To get rid of the grogginess, she splashes some cold water on her face.

Running between the children’s bedroom and the kitchen, she manages to shove them towards the entrance door as the school van toots its horn.

“There are still two hours before the maid arrives,” she tells herself with satisfaction as she heads towards her bed to catch up on her sleep. But the baby is crying again as he doesn’t want to sleep anymore. His diaper needs to be changed too!

With a sigh, mum lifts him from his cot and shelves her plan of lying down again.

At 10 a.m., the milk on the stove is just about to start boiling. The phone and the door bell ring at the same time. The baby is wailing for no particular reason (maybe just for attention). She lowers the flame of the stove to the minimum, attends to the door bell, letting the maid in and scooping the baby in her arms, she picks up the phone. It’s her mum (or a neighbour, friend

or sibling) on the line and she quickly finishes a little chat and hangs up as so much still needs to be done.

Come afternoon and there is more to deal with. The older ones are back from school. The eldest is in a bad mood because she has not got good marks in algebra.

“I told you mum that I have a test, but you went away to the party at Salma aunty’s place,” she complains.

Mum sighs … and with a quiet smile declares, “It was important as she was celebrating the recovery of your uncle after a major surgery.


But the teenager doesn’t appear convinced. The school-going son has his own story to tell. He is brimming with excitement as he has been selected for the school cricket team. He wants mum to listen as well as watch, when he shows her his actions in the trials, ball by ball, and feels annoyed when she nods absent-mindedly while putting the lunch on the dining table for the hungry kids.

Evenings are as hectic as ever. The teenager wants to be driven to her friend’s place for combined studies. The second school-going child needs help for his science test. The baby is wailing again, maybe just for attention this time.

Dinner has to be prepared, the table has to be set and the uniforms need to be pressed. And for mothers who drive, there is sure to be something needed urgently which they have to get from the nearby store!

She also has to attend to daddy when he comes from office, he needs some refreshment and also time to talk about his day. There may be discussions regarding family matters, an upcoming event or the children’s progress in school.

Dinner is served quickly as the kids are sleepy and need to go to bed so that they wake up fresh in the morning. After tucking them in bed, mum wearily puts off the lights and heads towards the kitchen to clear up after dinner.

Working mothers have a tighter schedule as they have to divide their time between their home, children and job. Even when they are at their job, they are thinking about their children and home, and how they will manage to cater to their requirements once back from work.

If a baby is left at a day-care centre or with an elderly grandparent, she worries for the welfare and calls many times to make sure everything is fine.

Even, at times, if mum pinches out a short time to relax during the day, goes out to visit her parents, a friend or goes for shopping, her mind is occupied in thinking about her children and still scheduling her chores when she gets home.

Friends, these are only some of the physical activities of your mother. Mentally and emotionally, she is as active! She worries for you, plans for you and is always concerned about your welfare. If you hurt yourself, while bandaging bruised knees or elbows, she may be scolding you for your carelessness, but if you watch carefully, you will find a mist in her eyes as she feels your pain. She stays up at nights when you are ill and all her activities are planned taking your needs into account first. And nothing can match her silent tears and prayers when you are in any sort of trouble.

Children have you ever thought of how you can repay for all that your mother has done for you? Most kids think that by celebrating Mothers’ Day, serving her breakfast in bed, or giving her a surprise gift or her favourite flowers is enough to repay for all her efforts. But this is a very misguided notion. We celebrate Mothers’ Day to pay due homage to our mothers, but nothing we can do or say can be enough for her selfless services.

I do not suggest that you should not celebrate Mothers’ Day, because your mum will surely feel pampered and happy if you shower her with your love on that day celebrated annually. My point is, nothing you can do can be enough to repay your mother’s love, selfless devotion and the way she toils for you without complaint seven days a week, 12 months a year, and, of course, throughout her life. She never asks for or even expects a leave and enjoys her taxing job with all her heart and soul. A mother is a multitasking wizard, who performs day after day with no complaints of weariness or boredom.

You should make sure to always reciprocate your mother’s unconditional love, try to meet her expectations and help her out in every way you can. Always cherish her, make her comfortable and do your best to make her proud of you. Only in this way you can, to some extent, repay your mother for all her efforts!

Living within a budget

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Dear friends, most of you are too young or inexperienced to be aware of some harsh realities of life. Maybe you have no knowledge of the difficulties your parents must be facing. In the times of the ever rising inflation we are living in, it is becoming harder and harder for most people to make both ends meet.

Running a home comfortably, ensuring that the requirements of all family members are fulfilled to their satisfaction, providing quality education to their children and striving to save some amount for the rainy day, is becoming a daunting task for your parents.

Has it ever occurred to you that there are many different ways in which you can help your parents out to handle the expenses better. Here are some tips which could serve as tension releasers for your parents and help them to manage their budget in a better manner.

could serve as tension releasers for your parents and help them to manage their budget in a better manner.

Be realistic in your demands

Often children pester their parents with unnecessary demands, asking for things which they can easily do without. There is no need to change the school bag every year, get a new dress for an upcoming wedding or buy a gadget a friend had recently got.

Eating out is often expensive and you can refrain from pressuring your parents to take you out for dinner every weekend. A few hours spent in a park or by the seaside (with some homemade snacks) can be more relaxing and entertaining.

Most children ask for or do things out of peer pressure. You don’t have to do what others are doing or have what others have. You shouldn’t follow the crowd or the fad, follow your family’s instructions and be mindful of their priorities.

Learn to understand your parents’ financial situation and limitations and do not ask for things which may prove to be an extra burden on their budget.

Differentiate between needs and wants

Often we cannot draw a clear line between what we want and what we really need. You may want a new pair of jeans or joggers, but you may not actually need them. You may be asking your parents for a new rug or wall hanging for your room, but if you think rationally, the old one is good enough!

These are things that we ‘want’ but we don’t really ‘need’. So if we don’t have these things, it really will not make a difference to who we are as a person, but getting them can mean that parents have to spend the money that could have been spent on a household need or saved for the future for us.

Cutting down on your wants will go a long way in releasing the pressure on the family budget. Never buy anything in a hurry. When the urge to get something new hits you, take some time to think. And ask yourself these questions before insisting on getting something new: “Do I really need this”, “Can I do without it” or “Is there an alternate already at home”.

Shop wisely

When you do need to buy something, especially if it is expensive, spend some time in searching for it in different shops and you are sure to find cheaper options for the things you need. Some shopping centres, specially the fashionable malls, are more expensive and you can get the same things from other markets at much cheaper rates. Don’t feel shy to ask around, and always try to get a good deal for the things you need to buy.

There are also factory outlets of different products and brands, where some products and designs are sold at discounted rates. There are also wholesale markets of most things where you can buy things at wholesale rates, that are much lower than the retail prices of the same products.

All of us like to use branded stuff, but often we can get nearly the same quality in other brands in much cheaper rates. And if you really want to buy expensive brands, wait for their sales when you can get your required things at a reduced price. If you plan your shopping well in advance, you can always get the things you need at cheaper rates.

Be both penny and pound wise!

Only because a burger/pizza jaunt or a famous garment outlet is offering a “buy one get one free” deal, you needn’t rush to it. The shops are charging enough from the sale of one to give the other free to customers. Remember that you have to pay for one and even that can be an extra burden for the family budget.

Soft drinks slash their prices many times a year, this doesn’t mean that you must have them on the table all the time when the prices are down! These deals and advertisments misguide us into thinking that we are saving money when buying something, while actually you are being lured into spending unnecessarily!

Also remember that home-cooked food, plus homemade lemonade is always a better, healthier and cheaper option. The same rule applies for school lunch. Snacks made by mummy are always much better, healthier and cheaper than what you can buy at the school canteen.

Help out wherever you can

Be sure to switch off the lights and fans, when you are leaving the room. Keeping the television on the stand-by mode is unnecessary and it increases the electric bill.

If you help out a younger sibling in subjects he/she is weak in, your parents will not need to acquire extra help for them. This will be supportive as they will not have to pay expensive tuition fees which are always an extra load on the budget.

If you press your own clothes, make your beds in the morning, polish your shoes, assist mummy in laying and clearing up the table, you can help her in cutting down on the household help she employs. These small tips will prove to be both financial and physical relief for your parents.

Learn to save

Learning the habit to save money early on in life will go a long way in helping you in the later years. Small amounts you save from your pocket money, or the cash gifts you get on your birthdays and Eid, or even the loose change you throw about carelessly, can build up into a considerable amount. You can use this money to get things you may need without burdening your parents.

Be happy with little

The key to a happy life is contentment. Once you learn to be satisfied with the best your parents can afford, you and your parents will both feel happier and satisfied. Competing for material things with your friends or classmates will only enter you into a rat race which has no ending. And the end result of this race is frustration and problems for your parents and later on for yourself when you grow up and start earning.

Be grateful for what your parents can provide instead of grumbling about what they can’t! Leading a simple lifestyle and curtailing your wants will make you happier. Remember, every advertisement is just a ploy to make us spend our hard-earned money on something we don’t really need. Even the latest and most expensive thing and gadget can only give you pleasure, not happiness.

Over the years when you look back at your childhood days, you will be surprised at how these simple tips made life easier, happier and more relaxed, both for you and your parents!

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 19th, 2015

Tackling the Exams

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

January is usually a tough month for most children. They are back to school after the winter vacation and their minds are still occupied by the memories of the festive wedding season and visits from relatives who live abroad. It is hard to get over the holiday mood and be serious about studies as each one has an exciting experience to share.

Come February and the examinations schedule and the syllabus for preparing for the final exams are handed down. Those of you who are regular in studies the whole year round will be in a relaxed mood and looking forward to moving on to the next class. But those who are still trying to get back their focus on studies must be in a confused state of mind. How and from where should the preparations be started? This question is giving them the jitters as there is a lot to do in a limited time period.

Friends, those of you who are feeling nervous as the exams are approaching, must think over where you have gone wrong. You should try to find out why (unlike you) some of your peers are totally relaxed. They are the ones who have been steady in their studies all round the academic years. The grades of the students who have a non-serious approach to their studies in the early months of a new class usually suffer the most. They have to work harder than the more regular students, but still find it difficult to make up for the time lost carelessly.

Today, let us discuss some important tips which you should follow to make the most of the time left before your annual exams. Hopefully, these guidelines will prove to be a key to success, not only in your final tests, but most of the challenges you face in life.

Perseverance

A very important element of success is persistence in performance. This year you are frantically preparing for the upcoming exams during sleepless nights and exhausting days, but make a resolve that you will be more prompt and regular in the future. Setting aside a few hours each week for some extra studies, will keep you well-prepared and relaxed when the time for the annual exams arrives.

Optimism

A positive mindset is the most important key to success. Instead of sulking and spending the precious time left in the exams in bouts of nervousness, convince yourself that you can still do it! A firm belief in yourself, setting a realistic goal and planning the best way to achieve it, will help you to attain success.

Proper planning

Now that you have a clear picture of the days left to your exams and the syllabus you have to cover, plan your studies in a systematic way. Divide your time according to the time you feel you should give to each subject. Chalk out a day-to-day routine and follow it strictly, so that you can make your preparations in a systematic manner. But be sure that your plans are practical and can be followed with a little extra effort.

Hard work

Success and hard work go hand in hand! You cannot just sit back and wish that you get good grades without concentrating on your studies with dedication. Do not waste time on activities like watching television, playing video games, sharing useless text messages or hanging out with friends. Remind yourself each day that every moment is precious and all recreational activities can wait till the exams are over.

Remember, “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.”

Teamwork

Friends, some students can study better when they are in a group. Some of you may be good at mathematics, while others find languages easier. When they join heads in combined studies, students in a group can identify, discuss and overcome their problems. As time is running out on you, don’t hesitate in asking for assistance or make it an ego matter. But keep in mind that group study can only be fruitful when you utilise the hours with full devotion and do not waste time in chatting and cracking jokes.

Create a balance

With the regular school classes on, you have to cope with your day-to-day routine as well as prepare for the upcoming finals. Be sure that you do not lag behind in school. Divide your time wisely between school, homework and studying for the exams.

Healthy habits

A healthy lifestyle is a great component of success. Sleep well, eat healthy and drink a lot of water. Make sure that you do not over work yourself. A healthy body nurtures a healthy mind! You can only over strain yourself for a few days, but you will have to face the ill effects afterwards. Lack of proper sleep will diminish your learning skills and if you do not eat/drink properly, your concentration will be effected.

Take breaks

Instead of studying in long stretches, take short breaks when you feel exhausted. All of us need different activities to refresh ourselves. You can have a snack, go out for a brisk walk or exercise for a while so that you may feel better. Taking short naps also improves your learning skills.

Friends, you all must have heard the popular saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Instead of regretting that you wasted so much time and wasting more time in this process, get to work with fervour. There is still time to amend the loss but you must resolve to follow a better strategy from now onwards!

A quote from Carl Bard says it all, “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending!”

I wish all my young friends the best of luck.

Published in Dawn, Young World, February 27th, 2015

THE TRUE SPIRIT! (My article in Young World on 25th September)

Eidul Azha is just round the corner. As I step into my terrace with my evening cup of tea, I hear happy shouts of children. I peep out of my front door and see a few children of the neighbourhood having the time of their lives, as they race their goats in the lane. A group of those who haven`t yet attained this honour are participating in the celebration by running along, clapping, shouting and urging the goats to run faster.

Some have even managed to sneak twigs from their gardens and are offering it to the goats in the hope that the proud owner will allow him to race the goat for a while.

The most frequently asked questions among the children these days are, `Have you been to the mandi yet?` `When will your dad get the sacrificial animals` and the most troublesome of all `Howmuch did you (or your father) pay for this goat (or cow)? Eidul Azha is steadily becoming a competition, a rat race to acquire the largest or most expensive animal in the neighbourhood, whether it is a goat, a sheep or a cow. Those of us who have paid a hefty sum for their animals display them around proudly, grabbing every opportunity to mention the price. The people who are regular in performing the yearly sacrifice but cannot afford very expensive animals, feel a bit let down. Although they are sure to join the daily ritual of walking and racing of their goats, the feeling of embarrassment is written loud and clear on their innocent faces.

Is this display and competition the real spirit of this festival? Let us remind ourselves about the true spirit of Eidul Azha. This great Muslim Festival, which is second only to Eidul Fitr, teaches us great lessons every year. It is not about boasting how much we can spend or showing off how rich we are. On the contrary, it teaches the lessons of obedience, sacrifice, compassions and how we should share our blessings with those who are not as privileged as we are!

Apart from the religious aspects of the lessons we learn and relearn every year (total submission to the Will of the Almighty), Eidul Azha revives in us social and moral values. The lesson we learn from this festival of sacrifice is universal and applicable to all mankind. It reminds us of our blessings and kindles feelings of compassion in our heart for the poor around us.

Last year, just to check if the meat seller in my locality was charging me the correct rates of beef and mutton, I asked my maid at what rate she was buying these commodities. She looked at me with a rueful smile, “How do I know baji? It is difficult to manage daal roti (lentil and bread) for my big family, I can’t afford to buy meat. We have beef and mutton only at Baqr eid when people like you give us some, or sometimes when a baji like you gives away her leftovers.”

My maid’s reply taught me a disturbing lesson. We have more than one dish at our table each day and one of them is sure to be of meat, whether it is mutton, chicken or beef. But if I look around with a compassionate heart, I feel that I have more of everything than what I really need. And I always took this blessing for granted.

Dear friends, this year when your parents are distributing the meat from the sacrificed animals, urge them to give away bigger packets to the needy. Instead of stuffing our fridges and freezers with the meat, let us think about those who have not been able to afford sacrificing an animal and will so happily and thankfully like to receive some meat from others. These people cannot afford to buy meat otherwise the rest of the year too. Let them have a hearty feast with their families and enjoy the meat for a few days. If possible, make some extra place in your freezers so that you can store small packets for your household helpers, which they can take away after a few days.

Festivals are happy occasions meant to bring people together. They revive in us the spirit of sharing and on Eidul Azha we are taught to do this by sharing the meat from the sacrificial animals so that there is a feast in every home, regardless of status. And you can share your extra clothes, books, toys and other items of daily use which are more than your requirements. Spread happiness among the less fortunate by sharing your blessings with them because, in the end, the spirit of sacrifice, compassion and love for humanity counts, not the size, health or price of the goat, sheep or cow we sacrifice on Eidul Azha!

Two of the main lessons we learn from this occasion are obedience and sacrifice.

Obedience: Most of my young friends know that the sacrifice of animals Muslims make from the 10th to 12th of ZilHaj every year is to commemorate the great sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim A.S. He dreamt that he was sacrificing his only son Ismail as Allah had ordained him to do so.

Both father and son had no second thoughts in complying with this Divine Order, but Allah in His infinite Mercy, replaced the little boy with a ram. The lesson we learn from this great sacrifice is universal and applicable to all mankind. We should obey the Almighty without arguing or complaining. Our parents and our teachers are our greatest well-wishers in this world. Often young minds cannot contemplate what they ask or expect from us, but obeying without complaining always brings good results for us.

Sacrifice: Children are the most valuable assets of every parent, who leave no stone unturned to keep them away from all harm. Prophet Ibrahim’s A.S readiness to sacrifice his son on Allah’s command teaches us an important lesson. When we observe Eidul Azha and sacrifice animals, we part with a good amount of our money, but we make this sacrifice to help the people who are not as privileged as we are.

A TIME FOR REFLECTION (My Article on Ramadan in Young World, Dawn 20th June)

TIME TO IMPROVE OURSELVES!

       ramadan-greeting-cards1

      Friends we have been blessed again with a very important month of the Islamic year. Ramadan is the month when Allah gives us a new chance to become not only better Muslims, but also better human beings. This is a month which inculcates in us the good qualities of obedience, compassion, discipline and piety.

        We all are aware about the physical requirements of fasting. In the wee hour of the night, although sleepy, we get up for the Sehr meal.  But as soon as we hear the Muazzin call for the Fajr prayers, we immediately stop eating and drinking, even if at times we have to leave our meal unfinished. In the evening, we wait patiently for the Maghrib Azaan (although the Iftaar table is full of our favourite dishes) and start eating only when it is time to break the fast.

          We do all this is to comply with the requirements of a fast, because we all know that we have to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. In this way, fasting teaches us the importance of discipline and punctuality in life.

          But friends, have you ever pondered on the spiritual requirements of Ramadan and what is the true message of a fast? If we ponder upon the good qualities we can learn in this month and try to adopt them, we will avail of the full advantage of fasting. This will not only help us to lead and a better and content life, but also make the people around us happier.

Be Compassionate:

         Compassion is one of the most important lessons of Ramzan. Only when we go without food and drink for long hours, we can imagine the sufferings of the poor who often have to sleep on an empty stomach. Our abstinence is a choice, but they have no other option as their meager income is not enough for three square meals every day. When you sit in the coolness of your fans, try to imagine the hardships of laborers, fruit/ vegetable vendors and other daily wage earners. In spite of the scorching heat, even though they are fasting, they have to work hard just to make the ends meet.

Share your blessings:

       We are seldom aware of our blessings unless we witness a lack of them. During Ramadan, when we ponder on the lives of the people less blessed than us, we will learn to share our blessings. Your extra things can be very valuable for a poor child. Rummage your wardrobes for the clothes you seldom wear, the books and magazines you have already read, the extra toys you can do without! Donate all these plus a part of your pocket money in charity. The sense of serenity you will get from this act is too great for words.

Let go of all negative feelings and traits:

         Holding grudges or nurturing hard feelings only draws us towards negativity. This Ramadan, lets resolve to purge our souls of all ill feelings. If you have had a quarrel with a friend or sibling, try to sort out differences by giving a second thought to their point of view. Maybe you both perceive an issue from different angles. Discuss with them with an open heart whatever is troubling you. You can agree to disagree but still remain on good terms.

          Often children are envious or straight away jealous of their peers who are more intelligent in their class or more popular among their teachers and elders. Instead of harboring these negative feelings, try to find out the reasons behind their success. May be they are better in studies because they are more responsible students and do not waste their time in unnecessary activities. Some of them may be more popular because of their cheerful or helpful nature. Let go of negative thoughts and ponder on your own shortcomings.

        Resolve that you will never back-bite, lie or cheat. You will find yourself a much improved person by the end of the month.

Be kind to the young and polite to the elders:

         Humility, kindness and politeness are the important teachings of Islam. Remind yourself in this month how far we all have moved away from these valuable teachings. You must realize that your younger siblings and other children in your circle need your care and attention. Treating them with love will go a far way in inculcating positive traits in their personalities. It will also strengthen your bond with them.

            Resolve that you will always talk politely with elders. Being considerate and helpful towards them will not only make them happy, it will also give you a sense of satisfaction. Those of you who live in extended families should try to pay extra attention towards your aged grandparents and help them when they need your assistance. Running an errand for them, helping them use their cell phone or reading out a book or newspaper to them may take a few minutes of your time, but it will definitely make them happy.

Learn to control your temper

        A fast should be considered an exercise in self-restraint and patience! We all tend to fly into a rage more easily when we are fasting, as the hunger and thirst make us irritable. A very important lesson of a fast is to learn to be in charge of your feelings. Even if you are angry at something or someone, remind yourself that you are fasting. This may seem difficult in the beginning, but as the month will draw to its close, you will have improved your temperament to a great extent.

Do random deeds of kindness:

      Vow to be helpful during Ramadan to lighten the work load of people around you. It may be helping out the maid in her daily chores, making your bed and clearing up the clutter in your room, laying and clearing the Iftaar and Sehr table to make Mummy’s work easier or babysitting your infant sibling so that your fasting mother can have a short nap in the afternoon, offering a helping hand will make you a better and more compassionate person.

        Offering a plate of Iftaar goodies, dates or even cold water to the guard in your lane, people gathering in the mosque for food or even a stranger passing by your home are deeds of kindness which will give you immense satisfaction.

Be moderate in spending:

     The most enjoyable part of Ramadan for most children is shopping for Eid ul Fitr, the Muslim festival at the end of the fating month. You definitely deserve new clothes, shoes and toys after you have fasted for the whole month. But please do not get carried away in your expenditures. Spending in moderation will help you develop a lifelong habit which will also facilitate you when you start your practical life.  

Be regular in Namaaz and Ponder on the Quran during Ramadan:

        This is a month when we all feel naturally inclined towards prayers, good deeds and meditation. Offer your Namaaz on time and invite your siblings to do so. Often people get into a regular habit of praying five times daily during Ramadan. Set out time each day for reciting the Quran with translation and ponder on the verses you have read. You can also discuss what you have read with your parents/grandparents so that they can explain the meanings in a better way. In this way you will have an improved knowledge of the message of the Quran.

     We often witness Cleanliness Drives in schools, offices, hospitals and on a larger scale in cities. This month why not resolve to purge our souls of all impurities? We must realize that cleaning our souls is as important as physical cleanliness. We just have to ponder on our lives, our attitudes and our concepts and resolve to improve ourselves in all walks of life! This Ramzan lets resolve to make our World a better place to live in!

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.

BORN TO SUCCEED (My article in Young World..11th May, 2015)

http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=11_04_2015_371_003

BORN TO SUCCEED!

          All of us want to do something extraordinary in life. We wish to achieve something amazing and want our efforts to be acclaimed by the world. We work hard and put in all our abilities, both physical and mental; to attain the goals we have set for ourselves in life; to prove our mettle to the world. But there are people not as lucky as us! They also have their dreams, goals and aspirations, but severe physical or mental handicaps make the task of pursuing this task more daunting.

Friends, I would like to share with you details about some gifted people, disabled but never dispirited! These are people who won world-wide acclaim in spite of being severely handicapped. With the help of their sheer determination, indomitable spirit and hard work, they have risen to world-wide fame. By refusing to surrender to their limitations, these people contributed positively to the world, making it a better place to live in and proving that they were born to succeed!

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Few of us know that the famous inventor Thomas Edison had a learning disability in his early life and was not able to read till he was twelve! Due to a bout of scarlet fever and recurring ear infections, he developed hearing problems at a young age. This problem further aggravated with time, leaving him nearly deaf. But his disability did not stop Edison from hard work and his iron will earned him world wide acclaim.

Edison has more than 1,000 patents to his credit. When we talk about the electric bulb, his name comes to our mind instantly. The telegraph system and the phonograph are two of his famous inventions which changed the world of communication. He also made significant contribution in improving the X-Ray technology, storage batteries and motion pictures. Girls will be interested to learn that he invented the world’s first talking doll.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Renowned Mathematician/Physicist, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, had a learning disability and did not speak until age 3. He had a very difficult time doing Maths in school and had a weak memory. It was also very hard for him to express himself through writing. It is said that he did most of his experiment in his head, instead of a proper laboratory.

Einstein made many contributions to the field of theoretical physics and completely changed the way we understand the behavior of things as basic as light, gravity, and time.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)

FDR, as he is fondly called by the Americans, is one of the most inspiring famous people of the world who had a major physical disability.  Roosevelt was the president of USA who helped and guided the nation successfully during the World War II. Unfortunately, earlier in his political career, he contracted polio after drinking contaminated water at a campground. He was paralyzed from the waist downwards, but for several years, his illness was kept secret from the nation.  During his entire tenure, he used a wheel chair and worked only from his office. But his disability did not affect his services to the USA, which he served in a memorable way!

Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Helen Keller, an American author, political activist and lecturer is a household name worldwide. Losing her abilities to speak, see and hear after an illness when she was only 18months old, she overcame the adversities of her life to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians. Due credit must be given to her teacher Annie Sullivan, whose untiring efforts groomed her abilities to communicate in the sign language.

The first deaf/ blind/ mute person to get a Bachelors degree in Arts, Keller is famous for her campaigns for workers’ rights, for women’s right to vote in elections and many other progressive causes. She was outspoken in her views against wars. With Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller travelled to more than 39 countries and was especially popular among the Japanese

Keller’s disability in no way affected her social interactions. She met every US president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon. B. Johnson and was friends to famous personalities like Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain. She received many awards during her lifetime to acknowledge her great accomplishments.

Two famous Helen Keller quotes are,

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.

2… “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)

The man who is better known by children as the ‘Superman’, Christopher Reeve attained fame due to his acting achievements. He was an American actor, film director, author and activist. In 1995, he was thrown off his horse while participating in a horse riding competition and was severely disabled. He needed a wheel chair and was on a portable ventilator to breathe for the rest of his life.

His disability made him a great lobbyist for people with spinal cord injuries and the stem cell research.

 

Ralph Brown (1940-2013)

Ralph Braun was diagnosed with Muscular Atrophy when he was only 7 years old, and in the next few years lost his ability to walk. Doctors were dubious about his spending an independent life, but he and his parents were determined to prove them wrong. From engineering the first battery powered scooter, he went on to design and manufacture wheelchair accessible vehicles. His efforts have changed the lives of disabled people worldwide.

In his autobiography “Rise Above”, Braun describes the challenges he faced as a young and disabled man and the poor regard society generally has for such people. He throws light on how his physical handicap strengthened his determination to be independent; to prove to the world that disabled people can also lead an active and productive life! He created the Braun Corporation which is the leading manufacturer of wheel chairs and accessible vehicles.

For his untiring efforts to make the lives of physically handicapped people better, Braun was named “Champion of Change” by President Barrack Obama.i

Stephen Hawking (born 1942)

A British physicist with a world renowned career spanning over 40 years, Stephen Hawking is regarded one of the greatest scientist of the 20th century second only to Einstein.  He was diagnosed with a rare motor neuron disease (ALS), when he was only 21 and a student at the Cambridge University. Over the decades, this slow wasting disease gradually left him paralyzed as he lost control over his arms, legs and voice. Undaunted by his disability, he kept on his research work.  He is still teaching with the help of a computer which is supported by a word compiling machine. He communicates using a single cheek muscle which is attached to the device.

Hawkins is the author of “A short History of the Universe” and “A brief History of Time.” His Big Bang and Black Hole theories have drawn the attention of the world. He is an academic celebrity and among many others is the recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the USA. His famous words worth quoting are, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

SAIMA SALEEM

 Saima Saleem, the first blind diplomat of Pakistan is often called the Hellen Keller of our country. Due to a genetic disease she lost her eyesight when she was in her teens. But undaunted by this major disability, she struggled to overcome all odds in her path. A gold medalist of the Kinnaird College University for women, she fought for her rights to appear for all her exams in Braille, as she refused to trust a writer’s ability. Saima’s indomitable will and determination enabled her to join Foreign Service, previously out of bounds for the blind. Never looking back, she struggled and succeeded in having a computer based exam in which she stood 6th among all the participants and first among the women.

Topping all training and exams, she went on to getting another gold medal from the Foreign Service Academy and a scholarship to a prestigious School of Foreign Service in USA. After joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saima has been working passionately to improve human rights in Pakistan. She is currently serving as Pakistan’s Permenant Mission to UNO in Geneva and is working on human rights’ issues in which she is considered an expert.

Friends these are facts about only a few disabled people who rose to famous due to their firm resolve and determination to not allow their handicap to interfere with leading a successful life.  The list of such people is quite long. But there are millions of other ones who are not famous, but are still heroes. Heroes, because they live with, fight and overcome their disabilities every single day of their lives.

 

 

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.