Tuesday, 21 August 2012

No country for Shia men!

The bus is stopped. People are pulled out. Without asking any questions armed men start filtering the crowd. Almost everyone is asked to get back inside the bus but your family is left behind. You suddenly realize it is because you look different. As everyone else around you look of Turko-Mongol decent your family and you look Indo-Aryan. In a matter of seconds you feel like you are in a foreign country amidst alien people. But your father and your mother were born and raised here in Pakistan.

Gun Shot! You are too scared to look who fell but you know it’s a kin. Your only fortune is that you won’t have to feel that agony and pain for long as the gun barrel is now pointing at you. Reverse the ethnic equation and that’s just how the Hazaras are made to feel in Balochistan. A pre-dominantly Shia ethnic group, it isn’t hard to recognize them in a crowd because of their distinct facial features. Fair skinned, pointed cheek bones with oriental eyes and nose, the Hazaras migrated to Pakistan from Afghanistan to escape the very discrimination and persecution they are suffering here.

They are being mercilessly killed not because they look different but it’s because their distinct looks gives away their religious belief. To those who got offended by the use of the phrase ‘gives away’ as if the religious belief of the Hazara is something they should be penalized for, it appears it is. Such is the horrifying state of freedom of religion for the Hazara in Balochistan and Shias in general in Nothern parts of Pakistan. 20 Shias were pulled off a bus in Mansehra and shot dead in broad daylight just for being Shia.

Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was also a Shia. Before I am accused of spreading a fitna in this Land of the Pure please refer to Fatima Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan’s sworn affidavits submitted along with the former’s Application (C. M. A. No. 54 of 1948) before the High Court of Sindh. It makes me wonder if Jinnah would also be scared of living in Quetta or Mansehra if he were alive today? Would he also be dragged out of the bus and shot dead in front of his family? Would the Government also display criminal silence on his murder?

Jinnah never used a single opportunity to try and shape the Pakistan or give it a religious model based on his personal school of thought. In his first address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan he said:
“If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you… is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make. …We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities… Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on …will vanish.”

65 years later, the minorities are still co-operating, forgiving and burying hatchets as the majority keeps digging them back up. No, not every Sunni is picking a gun and killing a Shia but every Pakistani’s (Sunni) inaction on these atrocities is encouraging another Pakistani’s (Shia) murder. Jinnah was against the notion of a theocratic state, the very demon which we are turning into. An exorcism is not expected by the Supreme Court this time which appears more concerned with curing the ill of vulgarity on national television. Honourable Mr. Chief Justice, obscenity may corrupt us morally but this indifference of the state machinery towards the plight of the minorities is just inhumane.

The case here is not of lack of representation of the minorities. Pakistan’s all powerful President, for the past four and half years is a Shia Muslim. We do not need successful politicians like Zardari who believe in saving vote banks but brave leaders like Salman Taseer who died for the for the rights of the people he represented i.e. the people of Pakistan. Leaders who are willing to guard its people not just from the terrorists but even from the state's own manifested perversions such as the Blasphemy Laws, which is a man made law written and drafted and passed by the members of the National Assembly and not by God Almighty.

Furthermore, our mainstream media also needs to display some social responsibility. Sacrifice their ratings and discuss topics which may not exactly be the liking of the majority of the viewers. Nobody likes seeing in the mirror after all. There is a surge of dramas on tv channels where the female of male protagonist is a confused westernized youth who after having identity crisis for most part of the show becomes a born again muslim in the end. He/she starts to pray 5 times a day the apparent qualification of a good and complete muslim and the show ends. What about a show which goes beyond the ‘Jannamaz.’ Which actually shows a good muslim practicing actual Islam which teaches us that saving one human life is like saving humanity and how for a good muslim, Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadis, Ismailis, Bohris, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Atheists etc. are all equal humans with equal rights to life.

Moreover, a word to our celebrated news anchors dedicate endless hours of prime time television making us sit and get sermons from the likes of Mr. Zaid Hamid who tells us how our neighboring is a living hell for the Dalits, the Sikhs of Khalistan, the Naxalites, the muslims of Gujrat and the people of Assam. Not for any religious or political beliefs but purely out of the need of sincere and honest journalism do justice to the opportunity you have and use your precious analytical minds for making us more aware of the problems of the people of Pakistan and their respective solutions. Quit living in a state of disbelief and calling this country ‘Madina-e-Sani.’

As to the people, who believe in freedom of religion, Online Petitions may get the Government to take some positive steps for the time being but this country needs an overhaul. Take your passion to the polling booths next year. Encourage your friends to not just like your ‘status update’ about the vision of a better Pakistan but actually go and vote for one on Election Day.

I dedicate this blog to the memory and vision of Jinnah, a minority and the Father of this country (using the adjective of ‘nation’ seems misplaced at this time.)

Eid Mubarak 2012!

"For many, Eid will be not an occasion of such great joy and rejoicing as in Pakistan. Those of our brethren who are minorities in Hindustan may rest assured that we shall never neglect or forget them. Our hearts go out to them, and we shall consider no effort too great to help them and secure their well-being for I recognize that it is the Muslim minority provinces in this sub-continent who were the pioneers and carried the banner aloft for the achievement of our cherished goal of Pakistan. I shall never forget their support, nor I hope the majority provinces in Pakistan will fail to appreciate that they were the pioneers in the vanguard of our historic and heroic struggle for the achievement of Pakistan, which today is an accomplished fact." - Mohammad Ali Jinnah, 18th August 1947 (First Day of Eid)

The father of the Nation, Jinnah,spared a thought for the minorities in India on Eid 1947. Taking note of today's reality let us all show consideration and become more responsible towards minorities in Pakistan on Eid 2012.

Faris Shafi - Awaam (Feat. Mooroo)

Life by Maaz Maudood.

Being positive never hurts!

Kamra: Our soldiers deserve better than this!

I was woken up around 3:30am for Sehri and I was looking forward to this one. ‘Chicken Karachi’ was on the menu. I sat down on the table around 4:00am and turned on the tv for the Sehri transmission just as I jumped into my plate full of deliciousness.
“Kamra Airbase pay hamla hoa hai aur hum sab Pakistan ki salamti kay liye dua kar rahay hain.” (Kamra Airbase has been attacked and we are all praying for the safety of Pakistan.)
These were the first words I heard as an anchor person was updating the viewers. I quickly flipped to a news channel to learn that an airbase was attacked by militants at 2:00 am.
“God bless Pakistan,” I sighed and got back to enjoying my Sehri. Yes, at that time even I didn’t realize my superficial concern. I had handed the responsibility to God after making my little prayer. I could see all my friends doing the same – making little prayers on their Facebook. After all an attack on a secured military site is just another day in Pakistan. Pakistan Military Academy, Mehran Naval Airbase, Mardan Base and even the Almighty Army GHQ have been breached by militants in the past. They come, they attack, they all die and a few of ours are martyred. At times they destroy planes worth millions but they all die. We all share the pictures of the young and brave army officers who selflessly sacrifice their lives and we all tweet and write updates about how we kicked some terrorist butt so Mr. Taliban, don’t mess with Pakistan.
It was 4:35am and Sehri was over. My mother walked in and asked me to go to sleep now and that is when it hit me. This 27th night of Ramadan, believed to be Shab-e-Qadr, the night of peace, how did the mothers of all those soldiers in Kamra have their Sehri? As we were all returning to our warm cozy beds after making our little prayers what sort of horrors were those mothers going through since the news hit the tv screens?
8 to 10 militants using hand grenades with gunfire continuously being heard ushered a call for reinforcements from Tarbela base. A darker and sadder picture was being painted by news channels every minute. No military spokesman was briefing the viewers directly was a cause of even more anxiety. At this moment in time I could not fathom what those mothers are praying for. It is easy for us. We just pray that whatever happens at the end, Pakistan makes it. We would not mind another Lt. Syed Yasser Abbas help save the day at Kamra this time. But for those mothers it is not just country, it is also the well being of their respective sons. Who are they keeping first in their prayers? It does not really matter. They have gifted their sons to the nation anyways. But I cannot use enough adjectives to try and adequately narrate the brutality of that moment of them having to go through that conflict.
Militants defeated again! One soldier martyred, 6 injured and one in critical condition (It may be noted that these stats released by Army and they will sadly remain our lone source of information as to the damaged caused by this attack). The injured and the dead, both will be decorated with medals. Those who have survived will sing cadence and get their spirits up and will march on because they know this is their job. This doesn’t mean that their lives are taken for granted. They won’t question the how the breach happened. Soldiers are not trained to review their seniors they are trained to report to them and every army needs that discipline to survive. So I am looking towards our elected representatives. They have the mandate to review every office even that of the COAS. They allocated 20% (Rs. 545 billion) of the Federal Budget to army this year i.e. after the controversial declassification of certain accounts.  I was expecting bigger walls, stronger surveillance, more frequent patrolling and more stringent security checks.
It was apparently a 4 tier security system that was breached at Kamra. Kamra houses the state of the art aeronautical complex which assembles JF-17 thunders and Mirages. Kamra currently had 30 fighter jets plus 4 Saab-2000 (worth US$ 866 million), parked around its runway. This was the third attack on Kamra since 2007 and this was the most successful one of the three. All the more appalling in the background of the military having already received a threat alert 5 days ago.
It is high time we review our security and intelligence sharing policies to safeguard our military assets, our soldiers being the most important ones. Simply because they deserve better than this.

14th August: Celebrate for what?

A cricketing hero in his capacity as the brand ambassador of a mobile network company is telling the youth of this nation that,
“Kion kay ajj agar hum dobara jhanday lehrana shuru kardain toh yaqeenan jhanday garna bhi shuru kerdain gay”
(If we start waving our flags today  then definitely we will once against start hoisting our flags every where.)

An advertisement well-made indeed.
Good drama that touches that ever so sensitive and emotional patriotic chord in our hearts, making us believe that just by being Pakistanis we are the greatest nation in the world. I was even tempted to buy another mobile connection just for texting ‘Happy Independence Day’ till I realised how shallow was that message.
Every country got the chance to wave its flag at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics 2012 and we all know that the athletes who managed for their flags to be hoisted as they stood on the winners’ stand were the ones who put in hard work day in day out, who showed dedication 365 days of the year and who were backed by national sporting bodies which kept national pride and interest at heart at all times since Beijing 2008 games.
None of them was a Pakistani! It is not just sports we have lagged behind in for so long, we have also become a sad excuse for a sovereign nation.
A corrupt government, a weak and politicised notion of rule of law which apparently hinges on the existence of one man in the Supreme Court, a deteriorating economy, a polarised society and every religious occasion being less of a harmonious event and more of an excuse for putting the security in the country on red alert. However, there is still an ever swelling arsenal of nuclear bombs so, bravo! (that was sarcasm just to be clear).
I don’t intend to spoil the festive mood but I do not get why we celebrate August 14 as if we didn’t get freedom 65 years ago but got it last year. Is it perhaps because as a society we haven’t progressed but regressed with every passing year? With the flag hoisting ceremonies, the flag marches and the flamboyant ad campaigns of multi-national companies all aim at getting the youth charged up about a day which actually marks the anniversary of our collective failure as a nation.
Stand up for the anthem and hoist the flag but do it not to markindependence unless we take pride in being ignorant morons. Do it to remind yourself that the anthem is a promise that this is the land of the pure and that this promise has not been kept. It has not been kept by our leaders, our elders, our peers and even by us.
Every gang rape victim, every acid attack victim, every Hazara’s murder, every Ahmadi living in fear, and every Hindu framed under the blasphemy law are just a few things to name that hinder my heart from wanting to celebrate.
Every mother selling her children out of poverty, every father committing suicide after failing to provide for his family, everymadrassa preaching a narrow and conservative notion of Islam is what stops me.
Every school preaching a westernised notion of what culture and religion should be, every news channel exploiting the misery of the people and desensitising viewers, every private car with an MPA and MNA plate, are things that have weakened my faith in celebration.
Moreover, every elected representative with a fake degree, every student who cannot afford quality education, every patient who cannot afford health facilities, every mall which charges an entry fee so it can filter out different sections of society; all create a heap of reasons for me to be in no festive mood today.
Every imposter who is celebrated by the media as a religious guru and the fact that I just wrote these ills at the top of my head right now, remind me that I should not fool myself with the August 14 celebrations which instil in our minds a fabricated notion of pride.
Just reading the examples given above highlight to me how far we actually are  from being a civilised society. Mark your freedom when you can respect the freedom of your fellow Pakistanis and enjoy your rights with pride when the same are available to your fellow countrymen. Observe this day as a reminder that we all have a duty to fulfill.
Let us be Pakistan, before we celebrate Pakistan.

The Pakistanis :)

Pakistanis sharing what they like about their motherland.

Happy Birthday Pak Watan!

Originally written on August 14, 2012. 

You have given me every reason to criticize you but you have also given me the opportunity to improve you. You have given me a legacy I am not entirely proud of but you offer a future which holds promise. You have given me enemies I didn’t need but you also gave me friends which at times care more about us than our leaders. You have given me a polarized and corrupt society but you have also given 
me the resources to shape a better tomorrow. You allowed me to be raised by a generation which stood like cowards in the face of dictatorship and extremist policies but you also gave me the children who are fighting for democracy and human rights. You have given me perverse laws but you also gave me free media. You have given me disappointing Olympics but you have also given me Worldcup glories. You have given me Taliban but you also gave me Malala Yusufzai. You have given me target killings but you have also given me Edhi. You never gave me free health care but in doing so you gave me Dr. Adeeb Rizvi and so many like him. I can go on Pakistan because with all your failures you never failed to give me hope and in giving me hope you have given me Everything! 
Be as bad as you want Pakistan, just don’t take that hope away from your people who all love you. Hope they can learn to love each other as well. 
Happy Birthday Pak Watan. As you grow old may we Grow Up!

Media Iftaari

Originally written on July 30, 2012.

Yaad atay hain bachpan kay rozay, woh ramzan kay mahinay
Saari Khushiyan qaid ki theen Jalebi ki dukan main kisi nay
Ek Sukoon tha, sabar tha, Saadgi thi fiza main
Samosay aur pakoray bhi shamil thay meri ghiza main
Masjidon main gharoon main hoti thi aman, bardasht aur sach ki baat
Aray main kesay bhool gaya woh dahi baray aur fruit chaat
Dastarkhawn toh ab bhi sajta hai hamara
Magar kuch alag andaaz say iftaar hota hai, ab hamara
Tv dekh kar kuch hojata hon main pareshan
Yeh Geo pay kara raha kon Ramzan say meri Pehchan
Chalo Ghalib film dekhna koi buri baat nahi, yeh mana
Mager behind the scene Amir bhai ko dekh chuka hai zamana
Yeh akalay nahi in jaisay aur bhi hain nadaan
ARY nay bhi basaya hai ajab Shehr-e-Ramadan
Jawan Larkay Larkiyon ki izzat jo tv per kerti thi nilaam
Woh Park wali Moral Police ab kerti hai Qaum ki iftaari ka ihtemaam
Ek Hindu ko Musalman kar kay Deen ka Jhanda lehratay hain
Kamal Deen hai kay Gojra, Rabwa aur Hazara main bachay is say ghabratay hain
Main Soochta tha har ek ka Imaan us ka zaati sarmaya hai 
Woh har cheez ka bazaar lagatay hain, yahan sab MAYA hai
Koshish kerta hon lakh per ati nahi sharam hai
Khoon thanda par gaya hai aur dard ki TASEER garam hai
Itna bay-his, itna madhosh, itna munafiq toh ho gaya hon meray yaar
Shayad kuch gunah kam he jotay gar Veena ker leti meray liye Astaghfaar