Let’s Paint Pakistan Green https://www.dawn.com/news/1428668

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

There is a fable about an old man who was planting a tree by a roadside. A passerby stopped to watch and asked in an inquisitive tone, “Why are you planting this tree, when you won’t live to enjoy its shade?”

The old man replied with a smile, “I am not planting it for myself, but for the generations to come.”

Martin Luther, a German theologist, once said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Friends, every day we read about global warming and climatic changes and how disastrous it is for the human race and all living things on our planet. In simple words, climate change refers to the changes in Earth’s climate, especially the gradual increase in temperature. Out of many reasons for this rise in average temperatures, a major one is the high level of carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases in the atmosphere. This in turn is due to the diminishing forest cover around the world, a negative effect of the rapid industrialization taking place all over the world.

You all must have learned in your science classes how trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, for the process of photosynthesis, a cycle nature has devised for them to create their own food. In return, they give out oxygen and moisture, which are essential for our survival. As forests are decreasing, this natural process to keep a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has become badly disturbed. The importance of increasing the green cover and forests, is one of the most important steps suggested by experts.

You may not be aware that Pakistan is one of the worst affected countries from climatic changes. Rising temperatures, severe droughts, flooding due to heavy rains and melting glaciers are some of the problems we are facing. Here we will not discuss the reasons, but our small input to fight this grave problem.

Friends, we all can put in efforts, big or small, to make a difference and fight this enemy which is not knocking at our door, but has already entered our precious motherland. Although the international standard for forest cover for a country is 12 percent, a World Bank study shows that Pakistan has only 3.3 percent of forest area.

Let’s make a vow that from now on, we shall paint Pakistan green! As I have mentioned above, deforestation is a major cause for the rising temperatures in our homeland. Ruthless felling of trees by the timber mafia for their selfish gains, for fuel by the poor people who do not have alternate source of energy and an indifferent policy by the government, have reduced our forest cover and greenery to a disastrous level. Instead of lamenting on our national loss, let us decide to take our destiny in our own hands and strive for what contribution we can make to control the situation.

Friends, here are a few suggestions for a greener Pakistan.

Start a green drive

You may be surprised at my suggestion, thinking that this is something for older people to do. But if you think deeply, you will realise that you can work according to your age. Your plantation drive can start from your homes, your family and your neighbourhood, and you can work on it according to your age.

You can start by planting small plants in pots, and trees in the open areas in your homes. Those of you who live in apartments or small houses, can reserve a corner of your house or a part of your balcony where you can keep small pots of plants of your choice.

Spread awareness among your family and neighbourhood and request them to join your plantation drive. You can offer to volunteer to help in planting, watering and taking care of the green areas on weekends for those who do not have a lot of helping hands and find it hard to take care of their plants and trees.

One tree for every child

Recently I was deeply impressed by a story I read about a prospering village. This village adopted ‘A tree for a child’ policy on a self-help basis. With every child born, a new fruit tree was planted and handed over to the child when he/she was old enough to look after it.

Although this was fiction, if we think seriously this measure could make our country green in a few years. Whenever a baby is born in your family, ask the parents to plant a tree dedicated to him/her. Trees can also be planted for older children and they will feel proud as they see their saplings grow with them, out beating them in height in no time.

Plant according to your age

The younger ones among you can look after small pots, after requesting your parents or elder siblings to plant seeds or saplings for you. Make sure that the plants get enough sunshine and water them regularly according to their requirement. But be careful not to over water your seeds, as it will destroy them.

The older ones among you can go for bigger plants, shrubs, creepers or trees, whichever you like more. Ask around, consult your science teachers or search the internet for the vegetation best suited for your area. Your mum will be delighted if you grow vegetables or herbs in big pots or open areas in your homes.

Plant according to your region

Pakistan is a country with diverse physical features. We have highlands, mountains, plains, valleys, deserts and a long sea shore. Find out which plants and trees are the best to grow in the climate of your region and the best months of the year to plant them.

Choosing wisely will save you from disappointment if the plants you sow wither away quickly.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Plant in open spaces, roadsides, parks and public places

We often see open areas which are devoid of any greenery. With the permission of an authorised person, you can work in a group in such places in your neighbourhood and plant suitable trees. Take turns to water these plants and look out for any pests or other problems.

You can consult an older person to help you out in solving your problems if using pesticides or adding manure is required. You will feel proud when these trees grow and create a green cover for the previously barren area.

Save your seeds

Friends, we all enjoy fruits at our homes. Make it a point to save the seeds of these fruits. Dry them in shady place for a few days and then you can replant them in a more open space so that they can flourish into a large tree. If you do not have enough space, give them to your acquaintances who live in bigger homes.

In the same way, some vegetables can also be grown. Tomatoes, lady finger and spinach are some of the vegetables which you can easily grow at home.

Create a green fund in every home

My young friends, you will need money for buying seeds and plants to paint Pakistan green! Create a common fund in each home.

You can request your parents and grandparents to donate to your ‘green fund’ and also save some amount each month from your pocket money. We all love to go out and enjoy on weekends. For the love of trees, I would suggest that for at least one weekend every month, you all skip this outing and add to your fund instead.

At the end of each month, if you have money left in your green fund, plant some more or give the amount to those who cannot spare money to create a green corner in their homes.

Follow the instructions in parks and green areas

I feel sad to write these lines, but as a nation, we love to break rules. Often clear instructions in bold words are written at important points in parks which read, ‘Do not walk on the grass’, or ‘Do not pluck flowers’, but people ignore these instructions with impunity.

Do not follow the example of those who break rules, but create awareness among your peers that protecting and taking care of greenery (and following rules) is not only our duty, but it is also for our own good.

Cut down on paper usage

I hope you all know that the paper we write on, the paper plates and cups we use during outings and the tissue papers we throw away after using once, are all made from wood. Use your exercise books carefully, utilising them as much as you possibly can. Cut down on items of onetime use and avail recycling measures wherever possible.

Although these steps are simple, they may be time consuming. But staying out in the open will also be beneficial for your health. In the long run, adopting these measures will create a big difference, a difference for a better tomorrow.

Best wishes for a greener and better Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, Young World, August 25th, 2018

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Attitudes: Insensitive sympathies…http://dawn.com/2011/12/18/attitudes-insensitive-sympathies/

The only predictable fact about life is that it is totally unpredictable! Consoling (or trying to do so) people who have lost a near and dear one has some norms. But often, in our eagerness to ease their pain, we forget these norms.

Yasmin Elahi

Death has different ways of striking and carrying away the people we love dearly. Sometimes it comes on tip toes from behind, taking us by surprise, hitting like a tsunami, destroying our peace of mind and happiness in just a moment and leaving us agonised and dazed by the intensity of the pain it creates.And on others, we watch in despair and anguish the ebbing away of the tide of life from a cherished person, hoping against hope that some miracle would stop it from striking.

When it comes to the passing away of our loved ones, the sorrow it causes has the power to sweep off the feet (though momentarily) even those of us who are emotionally strong. Only time can heal the heartache we experience. But this is also the time when we expect and need maximum emotional support from friends and family, and more often than…

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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

Lets agree to disagree but with due respect to each other!

Lets agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other!

In the times we are living in, discussions and arguments have mostly gone online. The debates which once were a part of the drawing-room culture have become an integral part of the electronic, print and social media. The options for people to comment online on news, blogs, posts and write-ups etc, have opened up new opportunities for the readers. There were times when after reading something of importance or interest in the newspaper or a magazine, I would discuss it with the people around me. We would talk about the issue, argue, agree or disagree, but never in a manner where the other person would feel that his opinion has been brushed aside, or he is being demeaned for his views. Maybe being polite in a face to face discussions was not only an important requirement of a debate it was considered an essential part of good upbringing, and no one wanted to seem rude or disrespectful to each other.

But the huge swing of technology and the easy access to it, has changed people’s attitudes and also the way they discuss issues these days! As a regular visitor to the blogs of reputable publications, I have noticed how ugly a discussion can become. It may be about politics, religion, a social issue or even a game! Most people with differing opinions mock, insult and in extreme cases verbally abuse those who have a different way of seeing things. This I-will-punch-you–in-the-face-if-you-dare-to- disagree-with-me approach is on the rise by the day.

disagree

People make an argument an ego matter, and win they must, either by hook or by crook! Instead of making it a means to a better understanding of a controversial issue, and trying to see things from the other one’s point of view, they prefer to belittle or mock those who do not agree with their way of perceiving an issue. The use of profane words is on the rise and some people really think it is “cool” to use these words in their comments. The words which once no gentleman even dreamt of using in public, have become so common that even our children are using them! While reading comments I often come across words like absurd, shit, nonsense, unintelligent, ridiculous, repressive, trash (just to mention the softer ones) etc. Some call the other’s views silly, illogical and appalling! All barriers of civility are broken and we seem to forget that there are always two faces of a coin.  

It is perfectly okay to disagree, because it is our basic right to have our own opinion on different matters. But the point we often overlook is that each and every individual has a different view, which depends on his/her social and cultural background, religious beliefs and the moral values which run in a family! And education, though last mentioned, should be the on the top of this list.

Why is this new approach getting so common? What are we teaching our young generation? Have we becoming more egoistic by the day and feel it is our right to thrust down our opinion down our opponents’ throat, least caring that we may even choke them with our efforts? Why is our society becoming so brutally intolerant, with a total disregard for a difference in opinion? Where will this frame of mind lead us too? Why are all barriers of civility broken when we do not see eye to eye with someone?

lets agree

All these are disturbing questions that I ask myself! There is already too much hatred and dissent in our world. Instead of being judgmental, raising accusing fingers and resorting to mudslinging, let’s try to create a more tolerant world through discussions and trying to understand differing views. Or else, we should be prepared to hand down a legacy of hatred and contempt to our younger generation.

In Pakistan, the illiterate have no access to newspapers, magazines or the social media. The less affluent, even if they have a formal education, are too busy trying to make the ends meet to spare time reading and commenting on posts and write ups.  So only the educated middle and upper class are among those who take interest and can take out time to participate in these virtual discussions. Education brings with it tolerance; a respect for the views of someone who sees things from another angle or perspective. And keeping in mind the class who has an access to the social and print media, I think it should try to be more open-minded and flexible. Instead of making our comments sound like a slap on the face, we can make them polite and respectful. Mocking, insulting or ridiculing someone who does not see eye to eye with us, only proves that we are educated illiterates!

Let’s agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other’s opinion. Proving yourself right and the opponent wrong should not be important, a debate should be a means to hone the mind and bring a broader perspective to one’s outlook on controversial issues!

An Obituary printed in the London Times…..

(This is something too good not be shared! With the passing away of Common Sense, we all are living as a confused and direction less generation!)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:-
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm…
– Life isn’t always fair;
– And maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death,
– by his parents, Truth and Trust,
– by his wife, Discretion,
– by his daughter, Responsibility,
– and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
– I Know My Rights
– I Want It Now
– Someone Else Is To Blame
– I’m A Victim
– Pay me for Doing Nothing

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

EID UL AZHA… A YEARLY REMINDER

(This article was published in Young World today. But I feel that the grown ups need these lessons more than the children do!)

ONCE upon a time, long long ago, there lived an old man whose wife was also quite old. They did not have any children, but never gave up faith and kept praying to Allah for a child. It was quite late in life when their prayers were answered and they were blessed with a son. But the Almighty, who keeps on showering His bounties on us, can also take them back when He wishes to do so!

One day, the old man had a dream in which he was asked to sacrifice his young and most cherished son. As the saying goes, ‘Like father, like son!’, when he mentioned this dream to his son, the young lad was all willing to lay down his life to fulfil Allah’s command. But our most Merciful Creator was only testing the obedience of the old man — a test which he passed with flying colours! As he was about to sacrifice his beloved son, an angel arrived and replaced the little boy with a ram.

Friends, this is the true story of the prophet Hazrat Ibrahim A.S and his son Ismail A.S. Allah was so pleased with their obedience and willingness to sacrifice just to fulfil His command, that Allah has made it obligatory for all affluent Muslims to sacrifice animals in His name on the Eid-ul-Azha.

This second major Islamic festival is just round the corner. Soon we will see that the city has taken a festive mood, which both children and older ones will heartily enjoy. Children, especially boys, will be after their fathers, requesting them to take them to animal markets to purchase an animal of their choice. Those who will get their sacrificial animals earlier than their neighbouring friends will wear a triumphant look, as they will proudly display their prized possession for all to see!

Image

During these days, temporary tents are usually put up on roadsides and alleys, as most houses do not have enough space to keep the animals inside. Cows, goats, sheep and an occasional camel will be pampered with all kinds of fodder goodies. Stalls selling food for animals and all kinds of adornments (which the kids proudly call jewellery for their prized animals) will spring up in every nook and corner of the city.

Children will be seen comparing the size and rates of the animals with each other, and the question, “How much did yours cost?” is perhaps the most widely asked one these days. Those who would have bought expensive animals will have a proud look on their faces, while the others will appear a bit apologetic because theirs would be less expensive.

Image

Goat and cow races are common, and we hear happy shouts as children enjoy conducting them on a daily basis! But there are times when the goat, sheep or even cow, proves stronger than the child. A furore is then created as desperate children frantically try to control the runaway animal, and usually have to seek the help of an older passer-by!

The enjoyment continues until the Eid Day, but on the night before Eid, reality starts setting in! Everyone finally realises that their love affair with the sacrificial animal is about to be over! And when the butcher arrives, some of us move away from the place where the animals would be slaughtered. Some soft-hearted even break down in tears. But soon this depression is over as they have to help out in distributing and storing the meat. When mummy lays down the table with tempting dishes prepared with the sacrificial meat, they eat their favourite dishes to their heart’s delight.

But friends, is this all there is to Eid-ul-Azha? Amongst the merriment and enjoying don’t we forget the real message of this big day? This festival teaches us the lesson of obedience. It reminds us that we should bow to the Will of Allah, under all circumstances and without questioning! It also teaches us about sharing our bounties with people who are not as blessed as we are!

Every year at Eid-ul-Azha, I come across people who so sadly declare, “This is the only time of the year when we get to eat meat! With the rising cost of living, we can hardly afford three meals a day, so buying meat is totally beyond our means.”

Eid-ul-Azha comes each year to give us lessons of sacrifice, obedience, discipline and sharing our blessings. But I feel sad to say that over the years we have forgotten the true spirit of this great Muslim festival. Our superficial values have changed it into an occasion to show off our riches and enter into a race of who can buy the largest number of animals and the most expensive one. In addition to celebrating, enjoying and feasting this Eid, let’s vow this year to make this festival a reminder of its true essence!

 

 
 

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IF I LOVE ALLAH….!

 

                I am in the middle of an important discussion, attending a wedding reception, watching an interesting talk show (or play) on the TV, enjoying a long drive or just hanging out with friends laughing and joking, when my cell starts to beeps!

                “We have started to recite Kalma (or Durood or Ayat e Kareema) 100,000 times. Please recite ten times and forward to all your contacts. Do not break the chain, as we must finish this today!”       My reply usually is, “This is not the proper way to recite a Wazeefa! We should recite with full concentration and fervour and also in a proper atmosphere”!

                   Every day I receive a number of forwarded text messages about Hadith of our Holy Prophet, Quranic Ayats or an incident from Islamic History! And in the end the sender has the cheek to write….. is msg ko itna phelaao jitna tum Allah ya Nabi SAW se mohabbat karte ho! (Spread this message as much as you love Allah and the Prophet PBUH.) Or it would taunt, “I know that 99% people will not forward this message, if you are a true Muslim, be among the 1% who will forward it! And this one is usually the most annoying, “Allah will ignore those people on the Day of Judgement, who ignore Him in this world!”

          What sort of emotional blackmailing is this? I feel irritated.

          In answer to most messages, I usually hit Delete or if it is from a close friend, I reply, “Sorry, I won’t forward this! Because I feel that this is no criteria to prove my love for Allah or the Prophet PBUH”. And if it is a Hadith or an incident from the history of Islam, I demand “Are you sure this is authentic, if so please let me know the source”.

          The huge strides in communication technology have changed our lives completely and deprived us to some extent of our privacy! Today we text more than we talk, use our cell phones (Whatssapp, VChat etc) and social medias like Face book and Twitters more than we interact with people, even if some of them live within our walking distance. But although this has made life easier (or should I say lazier) there are many irritants to these luxuries also. Unwanted messages at the wrong time, posts on Face book by contacts who keep on insisting (in the name of love for Allah) that I forward whatever they are sending in, always frustrate me!

          Why should I prove my love for Allah and His Prophet PBUH by forwarding messages about Quran and Hadith, which I am not even sure are reliable? Is this the criteria to prove that I am a good Muslim? In my opinion this is definitely not so!

          I ignore the call of the Muazzin when he is calling for Salaat, I do not help the needy, pay Zakaat or perform Hajj although I am filthy rich; I lie and cheat, disobey my parents, I am rude to the elderly and unkind to children, forget about a promise a few minutes after I have made it, but because I forward these (unauthentic) messages, I can safely presume that I have booked my place in Paradise!

          Sigh! If only the path to Jannah was only about hitting a forward key or sharing a post on Facebook! But alas, it is not!

          If I practice the teachings of Islam, fear Allah, follows the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, strictly try to adhere with the compulsory acts every Muslim has to practice, (i.e Eemaan, Namaaz, Roza, Zakaat and Hajj), try to understand what the message of the Holy Quran is and practice the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, I think I have sent the message through louder and clearer!  

         

 

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”.

WHITHER, GOOD MANNERS?! MY ARTICLE IN YOUNG WORLD

Whither… Good Manners?

          (Before coming to my point today, I would like my young readers to know that I do not mean to offend or charge them. I have great faith in our young generation and consider them more enlightened and intelligent than ever before. Our children are the architects of a better tomorrow. But, just in good spirit, I would like to point out to some short comings which they and their parents are overlooking).  

We are living in an era where life is moving at a fast pace. The world has changed into a global village. Lots of things are changing around us.  Being a grandmother, I have observed five generations; two senior than me and two who came after me. I feel that a lot of our cultural and moral values are not keeping up with the fast paced life and without realizing it, we are simply leaving them behind. Norms and mannerisms, which were considered totally unacceptable a couple of decades ago, have stealthily crept into the behavior and attitude of our children.

Usually parents and other older people are quick to point accusing fingers at the children and state that this was not the way we behaved when we were young. We can not (and should not) blame children for this change. We must realize that they have been born and brought up in a world totally different from our own childhood days. Children of today are overloaded with information. They have access to the computer, the internet, e- mail, text message, I phone and the television churns out information round the clock. They have the world at their finger tips. Interaction with human beings is on the down slide as children are happier to spend time with these gadgets

          In the 1950s 0r 60s people usually lived in extended families, with three or more generations under a single roof. Children had a lot of time to interact with their grand parents and other senior family members. Like today, parents usually were pressed for time, but the grandparents played a great role in the character building of the little ones. Through stories, anecdotes and sharing the wisdom they had gained from their experiences, they instilled good values in the children. They were often the role models which the children idolized and followed with great zeal.

          A grandmother (who prefers to remain anonymous) shares her views “Back in the sixties, when I was a schoolgirl, there was a firm set of rules for children which we were taught (and expected) to follow firmly. There was long list of does and don’ts. Never talk back to your parents and elders, do not interrupt when a person older than you is speaking. During a discussion, although we were encouraged to give our views, we had always to wait for our turn to speak our mind. Not only the elderly family members, but older siblings were treated with respect and sometimes when the parents were not around, they easily slipped into the role of the caretaker and the person in charge.”

She adds, “When a Buzurg (an aged person), entered a room and there was no empty seat, we were taught to try to be the first to offer ours. We were expected to stop our chatting and laughter and change the topic to something interesting to the newcomer. Keeping our voice and tone soft, sitting in an upright position whenever our parents or elders were around, were all considered parts of good manners. But now more often than not, the children do not even notice you, they keep on doing whatever they were busy in, whether it is surfing on the internet, chatting with friends, listening to loud music, watching the TV or just lying down.”

          Where can we draw a line between appearing ‘Cool’ and being insolent? This is the question where I find our new generation a bit confused. It is good to stand out in the crowd, but the difference should be in a better performance in all fields of life, rather than being ill behaved and bad mannered.

The world has changed but the relationships remain the same. You may not live with your grand parents, but they deserve the same amount of love and respect that they did three or four decades back. At times they may sound ill informed or old fashioned, but this does not mean that you should ignore, or worse still, ridicule them. Inspite of all your knowledge, they are still wiser because of the experiences they have gained over the decades.

Parents often complain that their children feel offended when they are asked where they are going, with whom and when they will be back. The new generation find the “Ws” (who, why, when) very irritating. Shirmeen, a teenager says, “Whenever I plan to hang out with my friends, my parents act weirdly. I am bombarded with questions! Why don’t they trust me? Parents should have faith in their children.” Her mother on the contrary says, “With the insecure conditions in the city, I want to know where and with whom my daughter is going and when would she be back. I simply don’t understand why she gets mad when I ask her a couple of questions.”

Most children take the parental intervention as a big obstacle in their enjoyment, as they feel it is an invasion into their privacy. Instead of being irritated by your parents’ questions, you should realize their concern for your safety. Communication gaps always lead to misunderstandings. If you sit down with them and discuss politely why you feel annoyed by their queries, you will be able to explain your point of view, as well as understand what they want or expect from you in return.

A mother of three kids, Hina Nauman says “Manners of our children have changed drastically as we have confused “badtameezi” (misbehavior) with confidence. And parents to an extent are to be blamed for this attitude. They often ignore children’s wrong manners saying that they do not want them to lose their self-confidence. What they don’t realize is that to discipline your child doesn’t mean you are making him under confident. The standard of being cool today is to stand out in the crowd at the expense of hurting or belittling others, others could be the parents themselves, the older members of the family or friends. I often get shocked when people are actually happy when they see their kid answering back to elders, which is not confidence but plain insolence. We can wrap it the way we want to, but this is not right for the character building of children. We are looking at a confused value system all together.”

In the end I would like to quote my late mother who was a woman of great wisdom, “Your behavior, speech and body language is the mirror to your family”, she used to say, “Wherever you go and whoever you meet, people should realize that you come from a respectable background. And respectability is by no means related to wealth! The way you have been brought up, the values you learnt in your early childhood and the role models you follow, strongly affects your personality”.

So, my friends beware of all things which may appear ‘cool’ today! Tomorrow, even if you realize that they adversely affect your personality, you may be so much addicted to the bad behaviour that you may not be able to shake it off even if you want to do so! 

Yasmin Elahi

24-3-13
I posted this blog last year, but the situation and my feelings have not changed! Frenzy about branded lawn is on the rise and new designers are mushrooming to make the most of this mindset! What if political instability, religious intolerance, inflation, illiteracy, crime and uncertainty is on the rise! Who cares for it as long as I can pay for what I want and whenever I want it. Whether I need it or not is another question, to be ignored and brushed under the carpet!

The lawn season is on! To be more accurate it was on even when we were still braving icy winds from Siberia and pulling closer our woollies to stay warm! The designers were racing each other to be the first to launch their lawns and exhibitions were being held on prestigious venues as early as in February! The city was painted blue, green…

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