A Leap of Faith.

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By Jehan Naseem

Published in Pak Tea House on Jan. 10, 2016

 

We are always seeking perfection or have an innate idea of what is in our minds and of other people. Fantasies are painted into a larger than life picture and are given vitality, expectations rise, disappointments are expressed and heartbreaks occur. Throughout this process no one wants to accept the reality of what it is; whether it’s good or bad or neither – it is what it is.

 

It could be when we are a little scared to realize what our self-worth is we are at our most vulnerable point in our lives. That’s when we feel weak and possibly even helpless, we connect vulnerability with weakness. If we are open, we are weak. If we let people know how we feel, we are weak. We mock those who are open, who do speak up, who do deem themselves worthy and accept things the way they are.  Have I been a part of this vicious psychosis? Unfortunately, yes.   Have I allowed myself to be vulnerable or hold back at the same time? Guilty as charged.

 

Recently I came across the work of the renowned researcher – storyteller Brene Brown  and she sums it up very aptly, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”  Vulnerability is not a weakness, it is the form of great power, but what fuels that power?

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” – Brene Brown

After reading this quote, I asked a mentor of mine (Ali Mirza), “Sir, what is vulnerability to you?” He laughed and said “vulnerability is equal to a leap of faith.”  I was very puzzled and asked him how. He sighted many religious examples that amplified faith. For example; When the seas parted Hazrat Musa (r.a)/Moses’s eyes were only on God, and when Hazrat Ibrahim(r.a)/ Abraham was taking his son to be sacrificed his love and belief in God were so strong, he knew he would not be wronged.

“Vulnerability is equal to a leap of faith.” – Ali Mirza

Now if you’re not religious person, all this may seem like gibber jabber to you. However, there is some truth in this ideology. When your belief in something is so strong and you have very little or no support surrounding you, but you keeping marching ahead with eyes focused on the prize – that is your most vulnerable point. And when you do win or get that prize – that marks the leap of faith you took.

 

Allowing ourselves to be worthy or deeming our self-worth is a tremendously painful process.  We have the power to move ahead and at the same time we hold ourselves back out of fear or a multitude of apprehensions. It is a struggle, however it’s never too late – so go ahead, use the power of vulnerability and take a leap of faith.

brene brown

What’s your story, Glory? by Jehan Naseem

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Published in Pak Tea House on December 30th, 2013

Without a doubt every year is full of experiences that are filled with; struggle, survival of the fittest, strength and an outcome most people feel that is life-changing.  This year was no less, for me or anyone else that I knew.

Making changes is never easy, never and they always happen when you least expect it. However, there were certain changes I made this year with the knowledge that, I was taking a complete 360 degrees in my life; personally and professionally. I changed my career completely from finance to advertising. I decided to use my passion of writing (which I have been doing professionally part-time, for over 4 years) into a full-time career. I even decided to cut people out of my life which I felt were causing a detrimental impact around me.  Many people near and dear to me made very similar decisions, maybe they thought it was a way of putting their foot down and moving on.

Sometimes the decisions we make are right or wrong and sometimes we learn there is no right nor wrong, it is just a decision.  I guess we make take such actions mainly because we are tired; tired of being judged, having fingers pointed at or just because your spirit feels broken.  Like I said, there is no right or wrong, its just a decision.

No, this year was not easy; it was not even close to be called “smooth-sailing”.  There were formative changes, “people” changes or changed people.  Some alterations were for the better or some for the worse or some were made out of “who cares” relentless attitude.

This year, I met the most amazing people and at the same time met people that had a twisted sense of reality or maybe my reality was twisted to them.  Who knows?  I did, however, realize one thing; your own personal attitude is highly impacted by the people that are around you.  Be it being called a “panic-freak”, a person that doesn’t focus on the positive or is never happy; is all a made on the basis from the outlet you receive on your surroundings.  Yes, your surroundings very much affect you, your stream of thought, the essence of who you are as a person, the root to your own soul.  This I believe is our test; of exactly how we can maintain our pulse without letting it beat too fast or too slow.  I too went through something similar along with some incredible friends of mine.  I guess the question does arise; how many people around you exude positivity?

The frustrating fact is, no matter how many times we go through a similar change in lives we don’t realize how it is different every time.  Everyone has a story to tell or play the part in one in order to tell their own.  Even if another person has gone through a similar experience, they cannot tell you how to go through your own and nor can you do the same for someone else.  Because every story is different even if the plot isn’t.

A very dear friend of mine had once said to me:

“Everyone has a threshold for pain. You just have to decide where your threshold ends.”

Keeping that in mind I have actually have started setting off internal benchmarks; what is worth it and what isn’t.  I am glad I kept by my decision to cut off certainties that are dauntingly energy-sapping, be it on a daily or on a long-term basis.  There is always a solution to every problem or challenge, it may not be what we expect or want, but at the end of the day it does give us peace and hopefully lasting internal harmony in small dosages.

All these changes without a doubt, allow us to learn something.  One thing I can suffice to say I did learn something new about myself; I don’t like being comfortable.  You’re not growing if you are comfortable.  I don’t like being stagnant.  I like what gives me the strength to grow or allows me to put up a fight.  Granted some fights are worth it and some are just best left alone.  Realizing your strengths and weaknesses are not just things people can use against you; in fact it is what you can use for yourself.  Your greatest strength can also become your weakness, just as your most damaging weakness can become your greatest strength that is if you allow it too; making it your moment of glory.

“What’s your glory story?”  I guess this question is something we all can ask ourselves, however I think it is more apt to ask “What’s your story, Glory?”

Happy New Year everyone and God Bless.

Translation of “Dil ke baat” or “A letter from the heart”

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My first go at translating an Urdu article of the brilliant Wasit-Ullah Khan, originally published in the Daily Express News Story

 

My dear middle class children,

God bless you. It was great to see you vote at the polling stations for the first time and that too in line for hours in this blistering heat.  It didn’t stop you from standing up for yourself and claiming what is rightfully yours. I do hope that, this level of passion that you have now, remains till the next election time.

Since you are young and filled with the utmost passion, it understandable if you believe that everything that is wrong can be changed overnight.

As laudable as your nationalistic passion is, along with your sense of idealism, your youth and vigor, you have all these characteristics that make you “The Youth”.  In fact who can call a young person “youthful” if they do not behold all these characteristics?  When I was your age, I too had the same level of passionate foolishness, possibly even more.  However, time taught me that the world is not idealistic; therefore, these changes that you want cannot happen overnight.  So instead of wasting away your precious youth in an careless manner, try and understand; the way this world functions, the problems it has, the restrictions that come along with it, the psychology of the masses, what makes it tick and how it’s heart beats and what its capacity is has to survive.  The masses of whose lives you want to make better, slowly try to understand them so you can trust them and make them trust you.  Come closer to them until; they wear your jeans and your wear their dhoti, they drink your mineral water and you their lassi, you have worn their simple cotton and they your branded t-shirt, you speak and understand the staunchness of their language so they can comprehend yours, smoke their hookah and as they should your cigar.  That is when you both might just be able to understand each other’s dreams and aspirations.

Look, you need to understand that, 90% of the voters in this country have never used the internet let alone know and understand the concept of e-mailing, Facebook, Twitter or any other form of social media.  For all of this, it is important for them to have access and know how to utilize a computer.  These poor people don’t receive electricity for 18 hours at a stretch, just think; how will they be able to charge their mobile phones?  Therefore, they will not be able to understand what this monstrosity of “Apps” is.  They are still living in the letter writing era.  In that time period people “listened” to the letters read out to them rather than reading it themselves, mainly because they didn’t know how to read.

My dear ones, you will have to de-class or de-snob yourselves and go to these people, in order to receive an education of; what nature is, what natural people are and what makes them real.  You may have received prime education from private institutions such as colleges and professional universities.  However, if you want true wisdom, you will have to meet and communicate with a villager; this is very important, because they may be illiterate but not uneducated.  To be able to understand the environment around you, you don’t need an agricultural degree nor able to read a gender chart.  The educational degree has been around for about a few hundred years now, but the understanding of “life” has been around for a few thousand years now.  The most you can do is learn from these experiences and apply them by creating an understanding of the tonality and try to feel it.  This way you can learn nature’s most treasured secrets.

Without a doubt medication is the best way to curing someone.  However, out of irrational passionate doctoring you may end up giving a patient 1000 mg instead of the required 250 mg dosage of medication, without thinking about the consequences may end up being.  If the patient does not survive the medical treatment, then what is the point of it? Therefore, the only way to find a cure, is taking the right steps gently and slowly through patience.

All this, is without a doubt is “easier said than done”.  The most difficult part is that there is no short-cut.  Otherwise all those stories of the experiences of deities that we have heard have gone through hardships to come to their nirvana stage and those esteemed people who had to walk on thorns to receive such experiences would have been in vain, had they not learnt from them.  Then all you would have to do is shout out for your right; the rest of the world would just listen and apply it without thinking twice.

Therefore, my children if you really want change you must; hold your tongue, think twice before you act and do it with patience and peace.  Learn to differentiate and separate your dreams and aspirations from your realistic rights.  Step aside from the bookish knowledge of a revolution or change, more importantly move away from the person that you are used to being.  Don’t let depression victimize you, but instead you should victimize depression.  Reason being, depression destroys a person’s passion and strength, the way termites destroy wood.  Therefore, in the next five years you will not being progressing with age and nor will your country to a “Naya Pakistan”.

I forgot to mention one very important lesson!  Unfortunately old age gets the best of me at times.  Remember, learn to be grateful.  Until yesterday you had absolutely no political ambition for your own for this nation.  It only took two to three years for you to become this country’s political strength.  Look around you, there are people who have spent most of their lives expressing themselves in a laborious manner to hold their political stance.  Nonetheless, no matter how old they may have become or how much of their lifetime may have passed, they are still fighting not only for political identity but also for their social one.  If all else fails take your leader as an example.  Yesterday no one supported him, however, he didn’t decide to quit and sit at home is despair, that being the reason why he is now standing.

I do realize how inspiring Shezhad Roy’s and Rahat Fateh Ali’s songs are and how they get you to march to the tune of revolution.  However, when media and social media portray such mediums of “no matter where you look its only you”, therefore a person’s reality instantly changes their stance and it becomes very difficult for them to see the truth.  You can, however, still attain something out of nothing.  You have received such a plot that, in a couple of years you can build your own platform as you choose too.  Who gave you all of this?  The people of this country did.  These are the people that helped me build this country, otherwise what could I have done on my own?  Hence, to swear at someone out of anger is the face of an uneducated person.  An uneducated person is such, who only sees what they want to in front of them.  Tell me; if I were to stereotype you as such a person, how would you like that?

Once again, do not close the door of your room completely.  At least keep a window open, so you can not only see the inspiring moonlight of your dreams, but the brightness of the sun’s reality. 

Yours Sincerely,

 Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Taliban Commander Maulvi Nazir Killed As US Drone Strikes

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Posted 3 January 2013 8:40 GMT Global Voices Online

According to reports a leading militant of the Taliban Maulvi Nazir has been killed by an American drone strike. This has caused apprehension on the social media site Twitter and blogs; about how Pakistan’s citizens and military forces may react to this news.

The News Tribe Blog reports that his vehicle was targeted:

Peshawar: Key Taliban commander Mullah Nazir was among five others killed in a US drone strike North Waziristan Agency of Pakistan’s north western tribal region during Wednesday-Thursday midnight.

Adil Shahzeb confirms it:

@adilshahzeb (Adil Shahzeb): “Maulvi Nazir was killed in Angor Adda in South Waziristan”.”We heard announcements on mosque loudspeakers announcing Nazir’s death”

Omar Quarishi, journalist and editor at the Express Tribune opines:

@omar_quraishi (Omar R quraishi): Would be fair to assume that the Pakistanis will be pissed as hell at the drone strike that killed Maulvi Nazir

@omar_quraishi (Omar R quraishi): Maulvi Nazir signed a “peace deal” with Pak Army in 2006 – According to Saleem Shahzad he had property in Kandahar

Omar Waraich, another well-known Pakistani journalist tweeted:

@OmarWaraich (Omar Waraich): Whoa. Mullah Nazir killed in drone strike. This is going to piss the Pakistan army off.

Following another tweet of his relating to the Pakistani Army’s alliance:

@OmarWaraich (Omar Waraich): Mullah Nazir had long enjoyed a non aggression pact with the Pakistan army. He was released from FC custody to take on Uzbek militants.

Ali Mustafa tweets:

@Ali_Mustafa (Ali Mustafa): The death of Maulvi Nazir can be the result of an understanding between Pakistan’s military and the Americans – it can… http://lnkd.in/fiVxz7

On the other hand Asad Munir opines:

@asadmunir38 (Asad Munir): As a reaction to death of Maulvi Nazir his followers likely to attack Army Posts/troops in Ahmedzai Wazir area of South Waziristan.

However, News Pakistan reports in their blog:

Taliban have neither denied nor confirmed the reports.

Malala: I am Pakistan By Jehan Naseem

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Published in Pak Tea House Oct. 13th, 2012

 

“Live #Malala Live. Can someone pls tell me how I explain to my 11yr old daughter why anyone would try to kill 14yr old”? That was one of the first tweets that caught my eye on October 9th, 2012 by Dr. Adil Najam the Vice Chancellor of LUMS. That was exactly the anxiety and dread I was suffering from. Since my nieces, ages ranging from 9 to 12 years old, have a habit of picking up the newspaper, attempting to read it and ask random questions. Unfortunately, if there is a picture of a 14 year girl with a severe gunshot wound on the front page, it is bound to catch another child’s attention and invoke curiosity.

The very next day, my 10 year-old niece did just that. The first question was “Who is Malala?” followed by a tirade of questions (which I let her ask in one go so I could attempt to give her a complete answer); “What happened to her? Has she been shot? Why has she been shot? The Taliban did this? Why did they do this? What did she do to them?”

After inhaling and exhaling a deep breath, my response to the 10 year olds questions was, “Malala is a 14 year old girl from Swat (up north of Pakistan). When the Taliban starting occupying or taking over the northern areas of Pakistan, Swat was one of them, they started closing down schools. They thought that this would lead children and people away from how they see Islam and make people to lead lives in a non-Islamic way which is forbidden. Hence, thought by using force they will get people to see their way. They even closed down Malala’s all girls’ school and that made her very upset. Since she wanted to continue her education and make something of her future. Education was something she really valued and was very important to her. She questioned them; they tried to make her quiet down and did not answer her with giving her a good reason. She spoke out for herself and all the children in Swat, still demanding a really good reason. She fought, she’s only 14 and she had more courage then all the adults combined in Pakistan. They did this to her, because they thought they could stop her like this. She is still fighting, the doctors have taken the gunshot out of her and now we all are waiting for her to heal. She should be an inspiration to all you girls, because even with the gunshot wound out of her, she is STILL fighting. Malala didn’t use violence to fight for her cause; she used the power of words and her inner strength to keep going.”

After I was done, I noticed niece’s expressions went from completely wide-eyed and slightly shaken to a little sterner and stronger. She then said to me, “She’s tough! I like her! The picture is showing her sleeping, is she still sleeping after the operation?” I nodded and said “Yes, she is still sleeping and while she sleeps she is fighting to wake up. All the doctors are doing whatever possible to help her.” My niece very gently touched her picture and even more gently laid down the newspaper saying a silent prayer with a little prided inspiration.

Every though I am grateful that the conversation is over, I am still mortified that I had to have this conversation with a child and am still filled with dread of the many more questions to come due to the aftermath of this situation. How do you know that you have said the right thing to a child? How do you know that the actions and words used to answer their questions, will not mess them? You don’t, you can just hope and pray that whatever you’ve done to protect and guide your charge will help them somehow. I bet that is exactly how Malala’s parents and guardians felt when they supported her. My heart goes out to them.

On October 11th, a couple days after this heinous crime, I saw on co-VEN’s facebook page (a Pakistani rock band) an e-mail from the TTP to Chris Cork (a Pakistan based journalist). In that they stated the justification to their actions and tried their level best to defame Malala Yousafzai, using Islam, religious citations and condoned the media. To them, that was their premise and anyone who will take action and commit such fervors in the future will be targeted by the TTP. They used citations of stories of the Prophets of Islam and of course Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). However, they forget very same Prophet that said “If a person raises his daughter, gives her good education and trains her in the arts of life, I shall stand between him and hell”. Not to forget Hazart Aisha (P.B.U.H), who was his wife that outlived him and was a noted scholar.

Children ask questions, that is how they learn. Some like to challenge you until their thirst for knowledge is satisfied; that is how they become individuals that are answerable for themselves. That is an essential need, to be able to think for themselves so they can live. Just as education is vital for them, it is their legal and humanitarian right as well.

“I Am Pakistan!”, the well known quote at times likes these makes me hold myself with shaken despondent positivity.

Heal Malala Heal. Heal well and heal strong child. So that your fighting spirit can give us hope and so that we can also add to the quote and say with pride “I am Malala”s strength and fighting fervor in the truest form. I am Pakistan.”

 

2011: The Turbulent Flight by Jehan Naseem

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Published in the Pak Tea House on Jan. 3, 2012

At the end of every year or the beginning of a new one, a very dear friend of mine and I repeat the same words, “God-willing, this will be our year,” to give each other a gentle yet positive push looking forward to the New Year ahead.

For some 2011 was a great year, as opposed to the preceding years which seemed far more devastating.  However, for others it had its ups and downs. Last year, I had witnessed many jumps and dips for my loved ones and myself.  It had extreme turbulences which seemed more life changing without any boundaries.

From the many lessons that I had to learn last year, the most important one for me was that to learn to deal with the root of a particular problem, in order to allow change to occur in a healthy fashion. We all know that the severe modification in the socio-economic political level affects all of us.  However, they also create internal conflicts on a personal level, by riling up a rouse or allow us to progress.  The previous year seemed no different from the preceding years in terms of the level of abruptness we all have seen.  These changes made purposely or unplanned seemed to have a different alteration on the train of thought on the large masses.  To me, this abruptness caused a visible shift in the paradigm and on a one-on-one basis.

The appearance of the shift was more apparent to me after witnessing something either devastating or extraordinary where humanity has been replaced by sensationalism. The base of the situation suggested becomes baseless, but very carefully camouflaged with morals. I wonder though, do the players at play ever realize that morals without logic are just that, baseless?  That the gaming preludes to the actualization of fear?  Fear, that makes us question our abilities rather than the choices we make?

There are many types of people in this world, some are the players and others are the ones that get played.  However, there are even those who are well aware that they are getting played yet choose to do nothing and at the same there are those will go to many levels to help themselves.  It is difficult to give the whole blame to the ones that ignited the gaming ploy, since there are so many out there who have seen and heard the truth and choose to do nothing.  I know the truth can be relative to most.  However, that can change if there is evidence and logic supporting it.  Taking out only the negative aspect of what is evident (that to only out of arrogance and pride), just so your own side can be supported isn’t self-righteous, but unfortunately puerile.  Not admitting to what is wrong around you is creating a toxic environment.  A right can not be made with two wrongs, just the way you can’t sensationalize something that isn’t there and throw the victimization card to the party in front of you.

Unfortunately, I have seen this happen many times.  I’ve seen religion, class, creed, ethnic backgrounds and race being slandered in acts of self-righteousness.  I would be defecated on in the middle of these acts, since there were directionless and attacked mostly everyone.  2011 year in particular seemed to be much rougher when it came to slandering or the glorified form of it called “sensationalism”.  A friend of mine said to me that to him, “even sensationalism was a form of fundamentalism.”  I couldn’t have said it any better.

Everything that I have stated affected me on a personal basis.  It decreased my tolerance level and increased my despair.  Oddly to say most of those around me would agree.

In 2011 I seemed to witness a re-run of emotions crashing into people like a terrible freak accident.  People that I know lost their loved ones in blasts and accidents or barely escaping them. They had been lied to out of omission leading to worsen the situation.  Someone would throw the victimization card at them (“you don’t know what I’m going through”) without being informed of what was going on.  Many have had their heart-broken in countless ways.  I have seen and experienced being spoken down to just for being individuals without disrespect and when standing up for yourself you get labeled (for a foul mood or just a terrible person).

However, every negative has a positive.  I saw many positive things come out of these scenarios as well.  I saw people becoming stronger after losing a loved one or barely escaping an accident/blast.  They became smarter after their right being held from them and developed the strength to fight for it.  Instead of allowing themselves to be played by a victim, they became martyr on their own.  Those who had broken hearts, allowed their own to have more surface area.  I chose and watched people standing up for themselves without worrying about being labeled, because those whom actually care without being fickle will never label you.

Something very small starts these train wreck of psychological emotions, which were created by situations that have occurred.  These small elements have been composed into something bigger than they are supposed to be.  For example; the cause behind a terrorist attack may be small, but when it is made into something bigger it literally kills.  You can see the application of it on a personal basis.  When something devastating does happen a part of you dies.  However, even if a part of you dies it is just so that you can be re-born once again.

Even though 2011 was the year of change, hopefully 2012 will be that of change filled with peace of mind and heart.

Happy New Year everyone and God Bless!

The Foreign Robber

Published in Pak Tea House on Oct. 22, 2011

A few days ago, I had gone to the bank to make a personal transaction. I had parked my car a few feet away from the steps heading towards the main door of the bank. All of a sudden, from the corner of the bank building, a woman (who seemed to be in her forties) and a late-teenage girl appeared out of nowhere. The woman did not seem to look like she was from Pakistan, possibly a foreigner and the girl relatively resembling the Pakistani heritage. Both were clad in crisp-clean shalwar kameezes and had drapped their heads with their duppattas.

The older woman, very frantically had stopped me, waiving her hand and hurriedly rushing towards me with the girl right behind her. She said to me “Madame! Madame! Please read this!” She handed me a ratty old note, in which you could even see the crease lines of the folded note tearing. In very opulent and neatly written Urdu, it was asking for help, for charity and to be precise money.

I quickly skimmed the note and while returning it to her I said “This is asking for charity, help.” She looked with a grim face and said in a strong foreign/broken-English accent “Yes, yes. My husband is out of a job and we need money to pay the rent by tomorrow or we will have no home. Can you help us? Can you give us money please?” I was very much taken aback. I quickly tried to make a quick break for it towards the side of the building; she blocked my way and asked me again. I said “I’m sorry I can’t help you.” She wouldn’t let me pass and said “How much do can you give?” I repeated my answer again and she blocked me again repeating the same question with an added “How much do you have?” I very adamantly said “I’m sorry I CAN NOT help you!” The two men walking towards us seemed to have intimidated her. The guard who was outside the building seemed a little startled by slight outburst which made him vigilant and a little more alert. She quickly took a step back and gave a disappointed little shrug and quietly said “Okay.”

This lady was trying to bully me into giving her money, using a bold yet submissive tactics that wouldn’t be too obvious to the public. This way not many people could tell she as trying to rob me.

As being a resident of Karachi, one would think the due to the precarious safety situation of the city, this is something that happens regularly, however it doesn’t. There have been several incidents that have happened very much like this to many other people all over the country. Unfortunately, not all of them have been as lucky as me.

Amir Khan, national correspondent The Education Watch Pakistan (National Weekly) Islamabad, experienced something like this when he withdrew money from an ATM at the G-11 Markaz on his way to a meeting. Unaware that he was being followed, after attending the meeting on his way to the supermarket, a car a couple of men in white corolla called out to him and he approached them. They were posing to be newly arrived UAE residents who were looking for an Arabic bank which they couldn’t find it for money conversion. Mr. Khan told him them he wasn’t aware of the bank and told them to go to a money exchange. They asked him to show Pakistani currency so they wouldn’t get cheated. He took out a few notes to show them and they kept insisting that he keep showing bigger value notes to the extent that he ended up showing them all the money he had withdrawn. After they returned the money, much later when he recounted the money turned out, Rs.10, 000 was missing from the total amount of Rs. 25,000. When Mr. Khan reported this incident to the police they told him that there is a local gang possibly impersonating foreigners that is going around Islamabad robbing people. This gang consists of a young man, another man in his mid-thirties and a younger woman who wore a veil. They speak in a half-broken Arabic-English accent.

After some research, Mr. Khan managed to find out quite a bit of information about this gang. There is a large network of these robbers in the major cities of the country. One of their major residences is in Lahore were they have preoccupied a hotel in which they reside. Normally, a female is used as a front person to make a move on the perspective victim. They mainly stalk and follow from certain ATMs and banks that are isolated. About 50% of the taxi drivers that Mr. Khan had gotten a hold of knew this gang, since they had dropped them. One of the taxi drivers’s even mentioned to Mr. Khan that he had dropped the female (who was apart of the Islamabad network) to Taxila University. Rent-a-car dealers told him that these people some times rent a car that is brand-new or old. Their main preference in the brand of cars is either Toyota or Corolla.

Mr. Khan and I are not the only ones that have encountered this mafia like network.
These “foreign” robbers have been terrorizing various cities of the country for the past 10 years.

Make sure when you do go to ATMs and Banks, that they are not isolated, try to be extra vigilant and that you are not being followed. Hopefully, there will be a sense of safety and security for a start once this gang is caught.

South Asia: Reactions on the New Beginning of Libya

 

Published in Global Voices Online on Oct. 21,2011

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/10/21/south-asia-reactions-on-the-new-beginning-of-libya/

 

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

The death of Muammar Gaddafi marked the end of more than four decades of autocratic rule in Libya. People from all over the world are expressing their views on his reign, the way he died and the new beginning it promises to Libya. South Asian bloggers were also quick to express their opinions.

Shiv Aroor, a journalist from Indian news channel Headlines Today, described his account of a day in Bin Jawwad, Libya. He was only a kilometer from Gaddafi’s forces with his colleagues, trying his best to survive:

It was bitterly cold that night. While rebel ack-acks continued to fire sporadically through the night, the whipping Mediterranean wind would make it one of our more uncomfortable nights. We drove back to the hospital, and asked Dr Altarash if he was sure he could accommodate us, since we didn’t want to stay at the hotel. “Don’t even think of staying at the hotel. That’s the most dangerous place around here. Stay the night here with us. You can eat what we eat, sleep where we sleep. If we have to die, we die together. We are family,” he said. And he really meant it.

Indrajit Samarajiva from Sri Lanka writes:

Ah, Muammar. One of an older breed of amusing psychopaths, something like the Mervyn Silva of the international stage. If you can ignore the torture, the murder, the corruption, the terrorism and the general FAIL, he was a funny guy. Zenga Zenga. Now he’s dead.

In my own blog, I highlighted my family’s experience of living in Libya in the beginning of Gaddafi’s rule:

Libya would never be the same under General Gaddafi’s rule. The Libyan Constitution ceased to exist. Whatever words he would utter, with immediate effect, become the law. No one had the choice to refute it, what he said, was as good as done. Since he had severe ambivalence towards any “western” foreign influences, all foreign languages were removed from the local schools. This was exceptionally difficult for my eldest sister’s education.

Pakistani blogger Kashif Aziz at Chowrangi wonders where the recent revolutions in Arab world will lead to:

I take this recent wave of revolution in Arab lands, labelled as the Arab Spring, as another phase of the New Middle East proposal floated during Bush regime. The wave that toppled the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, shook Bahrain and Yemen and spread anarchy in Syria while Iraq has already disintegrated, Libya has recently fallen down and Pakistan is in the crosshairs.

So what’s next? and to what this chaos and mayhem will lead to?

Indrajit concludes his post with:

From Prabhakaran to Bin Laden, terrorists are being found and killed. While I take no particular pleasure in this, it is probably a net good. War is never good, but wars that end and enable a better future can be. I wish creatures like Gaddafi would never emerge in the first place, but here’s hoping that we’re entering an era where such obvious douchebaggery is either weeded out or never takes root. Good luck Libya. You’re gonna need it.

As the world prays for the Libyans so they can have a start, they battle for their daily lives; hoping that their future generations can have a new beginning with ease.

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

Pakistan: Education, The Last Hope

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/08/25/pakistan-education-the-last-hope/

Posted 25 August 2011 20:05 GMT by Global Voices Online.

As the socio-political crisis in Pakistan is getting out of hand, emphasis on education has been stressed by the civil society. This thought mainly is due to the fact and hope that maybe, just maybe, education might be the key to bringing stability amidst the unsettling internal civil war that Pakistanis face on a daily basis.

Pakistani tweep Aly Nasser wrote:

@alynaseer: The education system in #Pakistan must be overhauled immediately with adequate measures for young scholarship programs for (the) middle class.

An education news blog (from Florida, USA) tweeted this shocking yet not surprising information:

@educationblog: Pakistan’s education system is in crisis, where literacy rate is below fifty percent. pcrschool.org/news/?p=30782

In a profoundly written blog at the Express Tribune by Asad Ali, titled “Riaz wanted to learn English”; the writer talks about a newspaper boy and his determination to read and write English. He tried his level best to help this boy and gave him his e-mail address to write back to him once he was able to read and write English. Here is what Asad Ali had to say after 11 years:

“Almost eleven years later (three days ago) I received an e-mail from Riaz for the first time. His determination to learn to speak the language proved to be truly remarkable.

Riaz’s story is a testament to the fact that our youths are thirsty for education. Unfortunately the political leaders have not provided the necessary infrastructure – but that story is old now.

We have run out of excuses to let things be as they are. If only one per cent of us took the responsibility to take one 10-year old from the street under their wing, in ten years we would have 1.8 million more educated people than what would have been otherwise. Ten years fly by. Imagine if two percent of us mobilised.”

Unfortunately not all opinions are motivational and uplifting.  Many blogs talk about how the level of education in Pakistan is not only extremely challenging but also very stagnant.

As Dr. M. Pasha states in his blog:

“I wish our politicians and bureaucracy can understand that educating young people in today’s globalized world is more complex and painstaking task than anything else. It involves caring for the development of students’ intellect, emotional, social and physical growth. Simply hard work, dedication and commitment is not enough. This requires professionalism. Quality education can only be achieved through an uninterrupted execution of intelligently crafted educational processes by a group of well trained professionals equipped with appropriate knowledge, skills and attitude working in a technology enhanced teaching-learning environment furnished with appropriate provisions. A small number of rightly educated students are more valuable for a secure and prosperous Pakistan than a large army of non-productive, misguided, frustrated young graduates. Vice chancellor is always a leader of his/her university. He/she is responsible of managing quality. What could we expect from a university which does not have a vice chancellor? I wish people in Pakistan could grasp the meaning of the latest concept of education in 21st century.”

Kalsoom Lakhani at Changing Up Pakistan highlights a new initiative called ‘Teach for Pakistan‘, which is part of the Teach for All global network (which includes Teach for America).  Here is what she has to say in an article titled “Teach for Pakistan: Bringing Innovation to Education”;

“In Pakistan, the challenges are enormous and they are complex. Most children are not afforded access to a good education. They are innocent bystanders to a fractured education system, where critical thinking is rarely taught, good teachers are hard to come by, and drop-outs are a common occurrence. The statistics may not change dramatically in our life-time. But efforts like Teach for Pakistan are taking innovative steps to getting us there faster, engaging our country’s youth along the way.”

Without a doubt, Pakistan has a long way to go to better its literacy rate.  Keeping in mind that education and literacy are two completely different forms of conformity, if they are not made to work together, “reading and writing itself” can be a futile and a lost cause.

My Family’s Story Part II: Egypt and the return to Pakistan By Jehan Naseem

Got published in the South Asia Pulse Online: http://www.sapulse.com/new_comments.php?id=3122_0_1_0_C   My parents had arrived in Cairo, Egypt in 1977.  They had been given a home by the company in Garden City and they had found out that it was the very same house that Anwar Sadat had been living in before the revolution.  A few blocks away was the Pakistani Consulate.  The building in which the Pakistani Consulate in Cairo operated was given to them by Agha Khan III.  The building was actually a palace which was later divided into portions.  Agha Khan III is buried is in Aswan, Egypt at the Mausoleum of Aga Khan.  My parents visited the Pakistani Consulate on many occasions, such as Pakistan Day, Independence Day etc. Since there was barely anything available, initially living in Egypt was not easy.  My father had to buy small things such as toothpaste from his visits to Kuwait.  This was a massive change for my family since in Libya, at that time, everything was readily accessible.  There was a time that our family’s housekeeper/cook bought about 3-4 kg worth of butter.  My mother was very astonished and asked her why she made such a huge purchase and told her it wasn’t necessary since our consumption wasn’t as much.  Her reply was “No Madame, it was necessary.  I don’t know when it will be available next.”  When the butter later on started spoiling, she then turned it into ghee to use.  It seemed that Sadat wanted to pay heed to the World Bank’s policies to be able to receive a loan from them; so Egypt’s debts could be relieved.  This was the result mainly due to the liberalization of the economy and ending the subsidizing basic food stuff.  However, when people started rioting, the state then reversed the position. Shortly afterwards, President Anwar Sadat had made the historic visit to Israel for peace.  In the west, many countries along with Egyptians lauded Sadat for taking such a bold step and encouraged it.  Many Middle Eastern countries, especially Libya; (who were the main supporters of Pan-Arabism) claimed that Sadat as a sell-out.  If you took Sadat’s side, you were a liberal dog.  If you opposed Sadat, you were a radical fundamentalist.  However, prior to him trying for peace in the region, he did make a surprise attack in 1973 called the Yom Kippur War.  So, therefore, the only way to get around was trying to instill some stability in the region through a treaty.  The very day Sadat went for his trip, his wife Jehan Sadat, kept a coffee morning with all the ambassadors’ and government elites’ wives just to keep calm, delay her nervousness so she wouldn’t have to constantly think of the dangerous risk her husband was taking. Eventually, the situation in Egypt was starting to get better.  Essentials were more available with proper price control.  The economy seemed to stabilizing along with the country’s international relations.  My family and their friends saw Egypt steadily progressing.  During that time period my mother had given birth to me and my eldest sister decided to name me after the first lady. However just a few months later, unfortunately the assassination of  President Anwar Sadat took place.  The Islamic Group; (al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya) was responsible for this;.  Their reasoning was that they were still enraged with the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty Sadat had signed.  My family remembers seeing the parade on the television live broadcast.  My mother said “Everything all of a sudden in the parade went berserk; we didn’t understand what was happening.  The network all of a sudden turned on Talawat (reciting verses from the Quran), then they announced President Sadat had been assassinated.  The whole day the network played Talawat.  I also remember them showing Jehan Sadat running towards Sadat’s body and her yelling to the bodyguard “What did you people do?  What did you people do to him?”  My eldest sister recalls that when they showed everything on the local TV channel, our housekeeper (different from the one mentioned before) wept terribly as she sat in front of the TV and kept saying in distress “They killed such a good man, he was such a good leader, why did they kill such a good man?” My mother told me that she had a seen on the local television channels a true-story based tele-film/documentary.  In that tele-film, they showed that Sadat was telling his wife he didn’t want to go and he was feeling very lethargic a few hours before his assassination.  Nonetheless, his wife pushed him to go since he had to make an appearance in the annual victory parade in Cairo to celebrate Egypt’s crossing of the Suez Canal.  Little did she know that her husband would be killed. Hosni Mubarak had taken over as President while the whole of Egypt grieved.  A couple of years later my family and I moved back to Pakistan.  It took my family time to adjust, but they were happy to be back home.  However, till this day they all remember Egyptians as very loving, warm, welcoming and family people.  These people have a very rich culture and strong history, whom very exceptionally loyal to the people that they served.  Time and time again our Pakistani friends, who were with us in Cairo, would return to visit.  After some 15 years or so, one of them mentioned how it is again becoming very difficult for the common man there to buy certain food items, which were apart of their staple diet; for example chicken.  A couple of years later our second time housekeeper came to visit us with another Pakistani family that she started to work for when we left.  I still remember the warmth and love in her voice and gestures.  According to her, Egypt was no longer the same. I don’t remember anything about Egypt and of course Libya is all stories to me.  Regardless; there is a certain melancholy and a strong sense of relief for my family and I, when watching the revolution happen again.  Tahrir Square was where my parents strolled with my push-chair and my sisters walked on each side.  When we watch of what is becoming of Libya, our heart goes out to them.  All in all, we know and hope that they will get through this ordeal.  Like the Tunisians and Egyptians, similarly the Libyans, have the ability to discipline themselves to have unity.  When they need work done, they manage to keep all the social/ethnical/religious politics aside and keep faith. Unity, faith and discipline; the same fundamental principles Quaid-e-Azam had stated for Pakistan. When the situation has stabilized in Libya and Egypt, I’d like to make a small visit; just to see how fierce the desert wind blows and how strong the currents of the Nile Flow.

The house that Sadat lived in.

Published in The Express Tribune (Partner with International Herald Tribune), Sunday Magazine, June 3rd,  2011.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/198767/the-house-that-sadat-lived-in/

My parents arrived in Cairo, Egypt in 1977. They were given a home by my father’s company in Garden City and soon found out that it was the very same house that Anwar Sadat had been living in before the revolution.

Every day necessities were not available in Egypt at that time. My father had to buy small things like toothpaste in Kuwait, which he travelled to frequently. This was a massive change for my family since in Libya, at that time, everything was readily accessible. There was a time that our housekeeper bought about 3-4 kilograms of butter at one go. My mother was astonished, and asked her why she made such a huge purchase since our family obviously couldn’t consume that much butter. Her reply was: “Madam, it was a necessary purchase. I don’t know when it will be available next.”

It seemed that Sadat wanted to pay heed to the World Bank’s policies, in order to be able to receive loans from them so that Egypt’s debts could be relieved — policies that meant the end of subsidised food. However, when people started rioting, the state reversed its position.

Shortly afterwards, President Anwar Sadat made a historic visit to Israel for peace. Many western countries and even Egypt lauded Sadat for taking such a bold step and encouraged it. However, many Middle Eastern countries, especially Libya, (which was the main supporters of Pan-Arabism) claimed that Sadat was a sell-out. If you took Sadat’s side, you were a liberal dog. If you opposed him, you were a radical fundamentalist. However, prior to him trying for peace in the region, he did make a surprise attack in 1973 called the Ramadan War. Therefore, the only way to get around this was trying to instill some stability in the region through a treaty. The very day Sadat went for his trip, his wife Jehan Sadat hosted a coffee morning with all the ambassadors’ and government elites’ wives just to keep things calm, so that she wouldn’t have to constantly think of the dangerous risk her husband was taking.

After this, the economy seemed to be getting more stable, along with the country’s international relations. My family and their friends saw Egypt steadily progressing. However, shortly after my birth, the assassination of President Anwar Sadat took place, during a victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate Egypt’s crossing of the Suez Canal. My family remembers seeing the parade on the television live broadcast. My mother says: “The parade went berserk; we didn’t understand what was happening. All of a sudden the network cut to the Talawat, then they announced President Sadat had been assassinated. The whole day, the network played the Talawat and they showed Jehan Sadat running towards Sadat’s body and her yelling to the bodyguard, ‘What did you people do? What did you people do to him?’”

My eldest sister recalls that when they showed this footage on the local TV channel, our housekeeper wept piteously as she sat in front of the TV and kept saying in distress, “They killed such a good man, he was such a good leader, why did they kill such a good man?”

Hosni Mubarak took over as President while Egypt grieved. A couple of years later my family and I moved back to Pakistan. To this day they all remember Egyptians as loving, warm, and welcoming people, with a rich culture and strong history. Time and time again our Pakistani friends who were with us in Cairo would return to visit. After some 15 years or so, one of them mentioned how it was again becoming very difficult for the common man in Egypt to buy certain food items — chicken, for example. A couple of years later our housekeeper came to visit us with another Pakistani family that she had started to work for when we left. According to her, Egypt was not the same anymore.

I don’t remember anything about Egypt, and of course Libya is all stories to me. Regardless, there is a certain melancholy and a strong sense of relief that my family and I feel when watching the revolution happen. Tahrir Square was where my parents strolled with my push-chair and my sisters walked on either side. We hope that Egyptians get through this ordeal.

When the situation has stabilised in Libya and Egypt, I’d like to make a small visit; just to see how fierce the desert wind blows and how strong the currents of the Nile flow.

 

Recalling the Libyan atura (Another version)

Published in The Express Tribune (Partner with International Herald Tribune), Sunday Magazine, June 26th,  2011.

 

http://tribune.com.pk/story/194146/recalling-the-libyan-atura/

 

When my parents arrived in Tripoli, in early 1969, Libya’s economy was thriving. The kingdom was known for its riches, particularly oil. Every necessity was readily available, people were allowed to voice their opinions, and education was at its peak.

International relations with other countries and with their preceding colonial rulers were credible. Historical landmarks made by the Greek, Roman, Arab and Ottoman Empires — that had taken over the region at one time — reminded people of the ties their culture had with the rest of the world.

In its own way, Tripoli was to Libya what Dubai is to the UAE. There was law and order and the constitution maintained human rights similar to Europe and North America, but by declaring Islam as the religion, Libya fell short of being a secular state. At the same time, the constitution emphasised equality in terms of civil and political obligations, opportunities and responsibility for every race and religion.

According to my mother’s recollection, the king had set up many contracts with countries that would import the best of the best to Libya. Argentina and Australia had contracts for halal meat; dairy came from Holland and Denmark; engineering contracts with Britain and the US arranged for arms. Libya’s oil and natural gas products ensured that the country did quite well.

Few Pakistanis lived in Libya back then. The Pakistani expat community in Libya actually swelled during Colonel Muammer Qaddafi’s rule. My parents had made friends with expat Yugoslavs, Britons and some of the locals. On occasion they would go sightseeing to Leptus Magna, on the outskirts of Tripoli, and enjoy the historical structures made by the Greek, Roman and some of the Arab and Ottoman Empires. My mother especially loved the fact that it was peaceful and secure enough for her to roam the streets whenever she wanted. At the same time though, Pan-Arabism was spreading to Libya and there were murmurs of King Idris stepping down. Apparently, a group of young army officers headed by Captain Qaddafi (ranked colonel right before the coup) were trying to overthrow the monarchy. Qaddafi’s main supporters were young men, who would roam the streets — including the one my parents lived on — playing his revolutionary songs and yelling “Atura! Atura!”. (Revolution! Revolution!)

The coup was bloodless. King Idris had decided to step down gracefully and the transfer of power was controlled and planned out. Overnight, Libya went from being a liberal, moderate kingdom to a police state. Qaddafi’s words were as good as carved in stone. The new head of the state wanted to rid the country of all western influence. He made most of the Europeans settled in Libya leave the country and cancelled the import contracts that the previous monarchy had made. But the desire to purge Libya of western influence rested on a weak foundation. Colonial influences pervaded the daily life of Libyans. The shurba or soup they ate had small, rice-like pasta; macaroona or macaroni formed part of their staple diet and the French bread, baget, was popular. Daily life in Libya was evocative of Italian, French and British culture — and so it remains, even to this day.

At the Friday sermons in our local mosque, my father used to have trouble understanding the preacher because of the dialect. Later he found out that there was a Green Book to teach locals about “one state” and how democracy was the devil. Libyans had no choice but to attend these sessions and follow what the leader said.

Around that time period, Pakistanis started coming to Libya to work. My mother’s cousin, who is a doctor, was sent through the Pakistan Army to Benghazi to practice medicine for a while. My father’s eldest brother, also a doctor, was posted at Benghazi and then Misrata, which, though called a developing town, was little more than a village at the time.

After living in Libya for about eight years, my father was posted to Kuwait for a few months and then to Egypt. Libya is the place where my family laid down its roots, at least for a while, the place where my two eldest sisters were born. Now, when news of turbulent times floods our television and newspapers, our hearts flood with memories and we say a prayer for the Libyan people.

 

She and I. (via I will find myself;)

I think that Maida Sheikh is an extremely talented short-story writer. This is a story that most of can relate with our own selves. Regardless of whatever religion, gender, class or creed we may be; we all have our inner demons that we are constantly are at battle with. This is a story of a girl, who does just that.

While you are at it, check out her short stories section in her blog: http://emmefemme.wordpress.com/

We chatted for a while, she and I. She told me how she felt. Lonely but not entirely lonely. 'Why?', I asked. 'Because there's that brick wall around me, and i let people in and then i grow weary and they keep hurting me and hurting me and then i just push people back out to the wall. It gets lonely, but there are people out there.' I wondered what she was thinking when she fell silent for a moment; and then she spoke: ' We're just hypocrites you … Read More

via I will find myself;

Pakistan: The Fight Against The Taliban and The Drones Posted 24 April 2011 19:42 GMT

24 April 2011 19:42 GMT

published: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/04/24/pakistan-the-fight-against-the-taliban-and-the-drones/

and

http://pakistanvoices.com/current_affairs/pakistan-the-fight-against-the-taliban-and-the-drones/

Imagine how it is to live in Pakistan knowing that you can have all kinds of misfortune in a day whether natural or man made. A place where a day without any suicide bombing or drone attack can make a news and every moment the citizens have to deal with emotions like shock, rage, discomfort and a deep sense of helplessness.

In a recent morning, the first tweet that caught my eye, was one by a Pakistani columnist, Fasi Zaka:

fasi_zaka: The last moments of a suicide bomber who didn’t die from the blast immediately

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=201156813237903

One of his twitter followers’ replied to this tweet:

Suprah_: The kid is still alive! He is recovering at a local hospital and even did an interview for BBC later http://bbc.in/gFbx1r.

On an average day many Pakistanis would re-tweet or share in Facebook such news based on suicide bombers, NATO’s Drone attacks and the Taliban’s retaliation to them.

Ali Chishti at Pakistanpal’s blog writes:

There have been a total of 234 drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004, according to the New America Foundation, including 22 in 2011. The estimated casualties are between 1,439 and 2,290 – of which 1,149 to 1,819 were described as militants in reliable press accounts. [..]

The Pakistani response has been full of confusion and contradictions. The military, after having come to an understanding with the United States in 2006, has allowed limited use of force inside Pakistan because of tough conditions in FATA purely for cost-benefit reasons. At the same time, it has constantly used Pakistani public opinion on the issue to pressure the US.

Acceptance of these drone attacks in Pakistan, have made the people of Pakistan an unwilling ally. However, regardless of which one-sided alliance is created, the people will still suffer. The sufferings will either be from, the drone attacks or from the attacks from the Tehrik-i-Taliban. Kathy Gannon, a former American correspondent of Afghan-Pak affairs during 1986-2005, states something similar in her article published in The Journal Gazette:

“Pakistan is frustrated by stepped up drone attacks and accusations it is weak against Islamic militants despite nearly 3,000 dead soldiers, a five-year war in its tribal areas and dozens of arrests of suspected al-Qaida operatives or affiliates.”

In my own blog I shared opinions of people I came across describing how lives in their cities had radically changed out of fear and frustrations.

Fahd Dar, a student from Lahore, says:

“Life’s going on but it’s definitely not the same. People have restricted their outings. Although the famous hang out spots still remain crowded, but the fear of the unknown is still there. With scanning apparatuses installed at almost every corner of the city, even at educational institutes, it naturally gives you a feeling of hesitancy and vulnerability. Lahore doesn’t feel that safe now, to eat your favorite eatables late at night, or watch a nifty play at Al-Hamra. Still, our hopes are high, things would get better.”

Haris Hameed, a manager at an advertising agency in Islamabad:

“A drive from one end of Islamabad to the other meant you had two options. Take the scenic route running parallel to the majestic Margalla Hills or the one that ran through the heart of the business district, fondly dubbed Blue Area. However, that was then. Now, when planning out your route, only one thing is considered: ‘Which route has the least amount of security check posts?’[..]

Understanding that these security measures resembling an obstacle course for mice in a science experiment are a necessity in recent turbulent times, the people of Islamabad have taken everything in their stride. There is always remorse and empathy for victims when there is a bomb blast or terror attack in the city, but with a day or two of caution, the local venture back into their routines. I believe the common thread between the people of the capital (regardless of what section of society they belong to), is that they keep on living. To cower at home in fear and stop leading normal lives is exactly what the terrorists’ want us to do. If we were to do that, it would mean that the terrorists would be successful in their goals, and that they have won. We certainly can’t let that happen. So we live, one day at a time.”

We can only hope that soon things will normalize in Pakistan, but hope seems to be far away.

The People vs. the Taliban vs. NATO By Jehan Naseem

Written November 8,2010

Recently, the new American ambassador to Pakistan: Cameron Munter has said that the drones are essential for the demise of the common enemy in the war against terror.  The rampage to find Bin Laden and the the Tehrik-i-Taliban’s binding alliance with him, are causing both sides to over look the collateral damage, which is essentially human lives.  That being said, acceptance of these drone attacks in Pakistan, have made the people of Pakistan an unwilling ally.  However, regardless of which one-sided alliance is created, the people will still suffer.  The suffrage will either be from, the drone attacks or from the attacks from the Tehrik-i-Taliban.

The drone attacks have significantly increased in Pakistan or even the raids by the American forces from Afghanistan; there has been a much speculation as to the ability of the Pak Army to make any political resolutions.  This speculation is mainly due to the fact that there has been restoration of non-military rule

The Taliban has stated that the aggression will intensify as the intensification of US drone attacks.  There has been news that the Pakistan authority has urged the need to work together in order to enhance global peace.  Regardless of the air strike set by the authorities, NATO still violated the airspace, again recently for the third time.  Therefore, NATO had been told that there is no guarantee of their supplies being protected.

On October 4, 2010, right outside of Islamabad, NATO supply convoys were attacked by the Taliban.  Two days later Foreign Minister Qureshi said that the attacks were an accident and NATO supply convoys will be protected.  A few days after PM Gilani stated that the previous government had made this alliance prior to the civilian rule.  Once again statements were going back and forth.  Futile attempts were being made to pacify everyone.

Regardless of NATO, insurgent activities had taken over Pakistan since the year 2001.  The “war on terror” had heavily affected Pakistan and its people, internally and externally.   The Taliban had taken responsibility for most of them.

Kathy Gannon, a former American correspondent of the Afghan-Pak affairs from 1986-2005, had said that; when the Taliban had been formed by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, their customs were not of those imposed by the Taliban today.  According to her there was a heavy pressure of village and rural-like practice of how daily life for men and women should be conducted and that Bin Laden has a significant influence in practice of extreme Talibanization  In her statements, “Talibanization”, was completely separate from the ideology of the Taliban and from how these acts are actually carried out today.  Hence, emphasizing the personification of Islamaphobia.  Tehrik-i-Taliban has said that they are separate from the one in Afghanistan but they do have an alliance.  Therefore, NATO insists on attacking not only Al-Qaeda, but all also any strong association with them.  Gannon’s book “‘I’ for Infidel” has many of these similar researched assertions.

There have been many life taking guerrilla warfare-like excursions based on the foreign policies which have affected many of the cities of Pakistan with heavy economic activity.  How have these terrorist activities affected in generalization the locals whom have seen the more peaceful time?  Let’s see what a couple of them have to say.

Fahd Dar, currently a student and living in the cosmopolitan Lahore, says:

“Life’s going on but it’s definitely not the same.  People have restricted their outings. Although the famous hang out spots still remain crowded, but the fear of the unknown is still there. You don’t really feel safe out there, you wonder ‘when will the next bomb attack happen?’  With scanning apparatuses installed at almost every corner of the city, even at educational institutes, it naturally gives you a feeling of hesitancy and vulnerability.  All and all, Lahore doesn’t feel that safe now, to eat your favorite eatables late at night, or watch a nifty play at Al-Hamra.  Still, our hopes are high, things would get better.”

Haris Hameed, currently a manager at an advertising agency, residing in the somnolent capital, describes Islamabad now:

“A drive from one end of Islamabad to the other meant you had two options. Take the scenic route running parallel to the majestic Margalla Hills or the one that ran through the heart of the business district, fondly dubbed Blue Area.  However, that was then.  Now, when planning out your route, only one thing is considered:  ‘Which route has the least amount of security check posts?’

For those who recently shifted to Islamabad, this may seem ordinary to them.  For those who have spent their youth driving through these now heavily barricaded streets, it is looked upon as an intrusion, a disturbance in the equilibrium of the country’s sleepy capital.
Understanding that these security measures resembling an obstacle course for mice in a science experiment are a necessity in recent turbulent times, the people of Islamabad have taken everything in their stride.  There is always remorse and empathy for victims when there is a bomb blast or terror attack in the city, but with a day or two of caution, the locals venture back into their routines.  I believe the common thread between the locals, regardless of what section of society they belong to, is that they keep on living.  To cower at home in fear and stop leading normal lives is exactly what the terrorists’ want us to do.  If we were to do that, it would mean that the terrorists would be successful in their goals, and that they have won.  We certainly can’t let that happen. So we live, one day at a time.”

So indeed, Pakistanis from every corner of the country are living one day at a time.

Tuning Out Reality-Original Version By Jehan Naseem

Published in January 9, 2010

The other day I randomly decided to check a link that a friend of mine had sent me to watch a video clip. This clip was a video report was done by Adam B. Ellick of The New York Times on the influential musicians of Pakistan, who have claimed to be politically involved.

“Tuning Out the Taliban”, didn’t really change my perspective of my thoughts of what was happening in the music scene. However, it did open my eyes up to different issues, pertaining to of what a clash the Pakistani music may be causing and in the media as a whole (since some of these musicians were internationally acclaimed) and to what was actually happening in reality within Pakistan’s youth. Unfortunately, I have witnessed my peers succumbing to witless, repetitive banter of which they so gleefully call intellectual theories. They are actually based on twenty year old clichéd mindless conspiracy theories that our predecessors no longer believe, even though they were conjured up in their time period.

Over the years I have seen many foreign policies being made, which I do not under any circumstances agree with. Therefore, I do agree with parts of the rants and raves made by some of the musicians that: the western countries have indeed meddled into our affairs making life which seems “tactically” difficult.

It shocked me to hear that the Ali Noor, the front-man of Noorie said “the Taliban is probably the smallest problem of Pakistan.” The one of the major according to him is the “WEST”. According to him, Pakistan is not affected by the Taliban; it’s the West who is. Hence, the big hoopla to remove them is being done.

Granted we have our issues as a nation stringing from poverty and corruption. This seems to be on a constant repetition as of on an old stuck record player whose needle needs severe boiling before being put to use again. Without a doubt, bills being passed, past sanctions being made, declaration of a terrorist state, have indeed had a severe affect on our economic and social paradigm. However, to say something as thoughtless without showing any level of considerable remorse, based on how many lives have been lost through these numerous bomb attacks on civilians, makes me concur of bipolar numbness. Especially to those of innocent lives being lost and to those whom on a daily basis are terrified of seeing unbelievable bloodshed and having petrified anxiousness of when they will be next. Be it in the mountainous Northern Pakistan or the posh residential areas of Lahore and Islamabad. The International Islamic University bombings do come to mind.

Ali Hamza the second band member and brother of Ali Noor, went on to give the reasoning, if they were to sing about this extremist group, they would be gotten rid of very easily. At the end of the clip, an alternate emerging band, Coven, stated that the other artists who are far larger in the media scene, should start speaking out in their songs. Hence, they will follow.
Fear is clearly their factor. I cannot blame them for fearing their safety along with their loved ones, for that matter their apprehension is completely understandable. However, I wonder if it came across their minds, that the religious extremist group probably already hates them for the fact they play rock music, which is adopted from the problematic West. Nonetheless, however, they play “the devil’s music”, which music in general is considered HARAM or impure and not permissible by the Taliban.

I would like an explanation of how the Taliban does not affect Pakistan and its people. This is a statement that for the life of me, I cannot seem to understand

There were three people whom Ellick interviewed and were the only three that actually made any sense at least to me. Two of which whom are well-known writers: Fasi Zaka, and Nadeem Farooq Paracha (aka NFP). The third person being, the only rocker/pop star who actually has some grasp on reality and should be lauded on his presence of mind, Shezad Roy.

Even though Roy had very little to say in this video clip, there really was no need for him to say anything at all. Since, his compositions have been saying it all. However, both Fasi Zaka and NFP clearly stated that this clichéd rhetorical garbage has done nothing but made the masses delusional and such music that actually enforces such thought is extremely detrimental for the public. Hence, taking them far from reality and even further away from life.

Between the recordings of these bands in the clip, the infamous Ali Azmat, who is probably known as one of the Rock icons of Pakistan and through the years he has gained immense respect not only for his talent but his outspoken nature and for the ability to speak his mind. His motto always being “Be yourself, because that is the hardest thing you can be.”

Azmat stated how nowadays if you don’t write music and compose songs about what is real and happening within your surroundings, people don’t’ want to listen to your music. The people want things to be based on realism. Hence, it is important that these days songs must be composed on issues pertaining to the country. In his album “Klashinfolk”, he like many other rockers, blames the West for the precedent Pakistan is now under. He blatantly has said he thinks that Taliban is funded by the West and it is their goal in short to “de-Islaminize” Pakistan by using the force of Taliban. That is, in his opinion, the goal of the new-age neo-cons and of course lets not forget the Zionists.

When the reporter, Ellick, asks Azmat, “Would you sing about the International Islamic University bombings?” Mr.Azmat’s reply: “You know, you can’t blame them for these bombings! Who funds the Taliban? The West!”

NOTE: Mr. Azmat did not answer Ellick’s question, his retort with another question. For that matter the question still remains. Would he sing a song about the Islamic University bombings, of where a large number of women who went to receive an education, got killed?

At this point, I’m devastated and completely crestfallen.

Let us just say for one hypothetical moment that the Taliban is getting funded by the West. Does it change the fact that innocent people are getting killed? Does it change the fact that educational institutes were being compromised? Does it change the fact that for some reason the difference between right and wrong is being lost sight of?

At this point I’m reminded of what Shahzwar Bugti had written in one of his written pieces and it seems very apt for me to quote him right now. As it goes like this:

“It is not me who is living in a dream machine, it is you. I’m living in the reality. The reality that explains objective truth. Though for a post-modernist, or for that matter, an ignorant person who doesn’t even know what they believe in, reality is constricted in the material world – they construct their own reality and deconstruct it at their convenience.”

I really couldn’t have said it any better.

The Taliban had banned the production of opium in Afghanistan because it is used by the infidels and is Haraam in Islam: without keeping in mind that opium also has medicinal purposes. The opium trade had been restored by them in the year 2001 in which they take a percentage of profit to maintain their funds.

The emerald mines in the Swat valley (not a tribal area) have been taken over by the Taliban which has taken control of the once ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’ (due to it being a popular tourist area for skiers). While the government did not react to the move and still is slow in perseverance, the Taliban has an agreement with the mining labor of the region wherein the Taliban deduct one-third of the miners’ yield while the costs are shared equally by both. The Taliban does not take part in the mining operations. Another source of funding that the Taliban has found.

Prior to the sugar crisis in Pakistan, there are and have been unfortunately huge bomb blasts in the city of Peshawar killing above 40 people at a time. One of the bombs was made of sugar. By the time the melted sugar reached the browning stage, it was beginning to decompose. Some of the decomposition products are volatile and flammable. It appears that the volatiles caught fire and then set the whole mass alight. Therefore, a massive explosion can occur, a massive bomb explosion.

Any lay man is aware of the fact that sugar burns quickly and heats faster, since it happens to be a household product. Should we blame the Zionists for this or the west for funding Rs.40/50 per kg of sugar to the Taliban?

Did these rockers once try to even do a little research before making such comments without once realizing their social responsibility? Did it ever occur to them that the music they play or the words they communicate have a major impact on our youth and the general public?
They seem very quick on playing the blame game, however, did it occur to them that the western musicians and celebrities that have immensely influenced them, try their level best to remember their moral and social obligations to their fans? For example, Rihanna being one to women in abusive relationships and Bono, well, Bono’s name speaks for itself.

I have always been taught that under any circumstances do not talk without any sufficient evidence/proof or substantial backing to your reasoning. In short “if you talk about the walk, you have to walk the talk.” In this case don’t just strum your guitar and bang your head to the music while being out of tune, because that is the music that will make your ears bleed and drive you insane.

My Family’s Story Part I: Libya By Jehan Naseem

Hosted on South Asia Pulse Online
http://www.sapulse.com/new_comments.php?id=2800_0_1_0_M13

It was the beginning of the year 1969 in Tripoli, Libya where my family’s story had started.  There were rumors dispelling and there were talks of King Idris being made to step down.  Later on it became true that an army official with the name of Captain Gaddafi was one of the main conspirators along with many junior army officers.

The fact that Libya was and still is, exceptionally abundant in oil, was one of the main reasons it remained an Italian and later on a British-France Allied colony for many years.  The influence was not only political, but it could also be seen in daily life.  The local grocery store, pizza shops, patisseries and the way the tailors would master the suits; all reeked post-colonization effects.

Even though oil seemed a blessing for the increase of Libya’s wealth, it seemed detrimental for Libya’s socio-political policies.  Which King Idris himself had helped construct when he took over from the colony and with his advisors, the Libyan constitution had been born.  However, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser had a severe influence on Gaddafi and his ideology of pan-Arab nationalism or Nasserism was slowly taking spreading in various parts of Arab states and North Africa.

My father had taken my mother to the hospital to give birth to my eldest sister.  Shortly after her birth, within less then 24 hours, the coup had been taken over and my mother had to be immediately sent home since there was a great deal of speculation and apprehension as to what would happen next.  The hospital was kind enough to send a nurse with my mother for three days to monitor her and her first-born.  Nonetheless, the coup was a smooth transition, a bloodless carefully planned one; as my mother thoughtfully recalls it.

Libya, from them on, would never be the same under General Gaddafi’s rule.  The Libyan Constitution ceased to exist.  Whatever words he would utter, with immediate effect, become the law.  No one had the choice to refute it, what he said, was as good as done.  Since he had severe ambivalence towards any “western” foreign influences, all foreign languages were removed from the local schools.  This was exceptionally difficult for my eldest sister’s education.  There were already less then a handful Pakistanis residing in Libya (as opposed to the present situation).  However, luckily my parents had found a small British school in Maadi and in another neighborhood there was a slightly bigger American school.  Regardless of the fact that Gaddafi wanted all of the western influences out of Libya, some of the international schools and international companies remained, however, in decreased sizes.

Since my father was with a British company, the size of the office had decreased significantly.  Most of the Europeans had left, hence promoting him to manager.  He then had to do a lot of traveling to neighboring countries such as Tunisia.  He mainly traveled to the capital Tunis.  Tunis was developing very rapidly and was known for its history, development in education, high growth prospects turning it into metropolitan and very clean city.  The Tunisians seemed very happy with the infrastructure of the country since it seemed to be beneficial in the long run.  However, this was all prior to President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 23 year rule.

A few years later my second eldest sister was born.  During that time Gaddafi had become an extreme supporter of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization).  He allowed many of the Palestinians to start living in Libya and make it their home.  He instructed the Libyan people to welcome them.  This caused a great deal of problems not only for the locals but also for my parents.

If Palestinians would see an empty house or and “extra” house owned by a Libyan that there were not living in, and then they would just walk in brashly and aggressively say “we are now living here”.  There was very little the locals could actually do about this.  My parents used to live in a rented house.  Hence, therefore, an “extra” house was being owned by a Libyan.  An old Palestinian man would very fiercely harass my parents to “get out” so he could move in.  Either he would turn up to the house or harass them on the phone.  One day on his way to work my father said to my mother “Take care of it!”  Later on when the Palestinian called and started misbehaving, my mother’s response was “This isn’t our home we have rented it, we have told you many times before we are not moving out of here. Leave us the hell alone!”  The old man was taken aback and wasn’t expecting such a response, his tone immediately changed and he said “I’m sorry Madame please don’t be upset, you see my family is scattered everywhere in different places if I get a place to live we all can be together.”  My mother’s response was “I’m sorry but there is nothing we can do, like we have told you before we have rented this house legally, I suggest you talk to someone else.”  His response “Okay Madame, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you.”  Later on in 1995, Gaddafi has expelled some 30,000 Palestinians living in Libya.  This was in response to the peace negotiations between the PLO and Israel.

The recollections of Libya and its people are done with fondness.  Even though Libyans in general were noted to be a little lazy when it came to the workforce, they were known as very warm, loving, welcoming people and the importance of family meant a great deal to them.

After my parents left Libya and my father was transferred to Kuwait for a couple months and then his got transferred to Cairo, Egypt for some time.  They bid the dessert winds of Libya adieu as the turbulent waters of the Nile beckoned them.

The road less travelled By Jehan Naseem

published in The Friday Times on June 4th, 2010

Jehan Naseem highlights the strength of non-violent protests

In history we have seen many acts of non-violent protests, and such a resistance can be a very powerful thing, with exceptional outcomes.

The very first non-violent protest took place in China BCE 470-391. This was conducted by the followers of Mohism. The Mohist philosophical school did not approve of war. The reason may be because they lived in a time of warring polities. Hence, they cultivated the science of fortification.

In 1919-1922, the “Egyptian Revolution of 1919”, Egyptians from all walks of life carried out a countrywide non-violent revolution in the wake of the British ordered exile of the revolutionary leader Saad Zaghul and other members of the Wafd Party in 1919. This event led to Egyptian independence in 1922 and the implementation of a new constitution in 1923.

Let’s not forget a series of nationwide people’s movements of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience, led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) and the Indian National Congress, in (then) British India. The Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920-1922 helped improve the status of Untouchables in Indian society. Almost a decade later in 1930-1934, the Civil Disobedience Movement was marked by rejecting British imposed taxes, boycotting British manufactured products and mass strikes. A decade later, in 1942, the Quit India Movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan or the August Movement) was in response to Gandhi’s call for immediate independence. This movement led to the end of British rule.

The African American Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America, lasted for more then a decade, from 1955 to 1968. The tactics of non-violent resistance, such as bus boycotts, freedom rides, sit-ins and mass demonstrations were used during the African American Civil Rights Movement. This succeeded in bringing about legislative change, and making separate seats, drinking fountains and schools for African Americans illegal.

There were worldwide protests led mostly by students in 1968. Around the world, campuses became the frontline battle grounds for social change. While opposition to the Vietnam War dominated the protests, students also protested in favour of civil liberties, against racism, for feminism, and the beginnings of the ecological movement can be traced to the protests against nuclear and biological weapons during this year.

Recent protests, some of which are still ongoing, in regards to Palestine from 1919 to date, during which Palestinian groups have worked with Israelis and foreign citizens to organize civilian monitors of Israeli military activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Peace camps and strategic non-violent resistance to Israeli construction of Jewish settlements and of the West Bank Barrier have also been consistently adopted as tactics by Palestinians. Citizens of the Palestinian village of Beit Sahour also engaged in a tax strike during the First Intifada Movement.

On May 19, 2010, Pakistan decided to follow many others in history. The “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” contest drew an angry reaction. This event was to be held on Facebook on May 20, 2010. It is widely considered offensive to visually depict the Muslim Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h). A number of hadith, or interpretations of the Islamic holy book, forbid figural representations. Many people decided to boycott the use of Facebook that day. The Lahore High Court ordered Facebook to be blocked until May 31 – after the date of the contest – when a longer hearing is expected. Hence, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority had to comply with this hearing. Later on sites such as YouTube along with more than 450 links on the internet containing derogatory and sacrilegious material have been blocked.

After the whole New York Time Square bombing ruse, of which the suspect was Faisal Shahzad (of Pakistani origin and an apparent employee of the Taliban), a non-violent protest seemed to be the most sensible thing to do. This would not only calm the moderate and the staunch followers of Islam, but it would also give way to some of the major factors of Islam’s practices: peace, tolerance, charity, goodwill and of course non-violence. Islam and the Quran are against the use of violence in any action where violence could have been substituted for non-violent actions.

We all know that a non-violent resistance is a protest which does not employ violence as a way of getting the message across. Some means of achieving this could be petitions, lobbying through emails, letters or media outlets, or carrying out boycotts. Demonstrations and marches can also be a form of non-violent protest, but often become violent as they progress.

Most pacifists would agree this was the right thing do. Since we all know if further rioting had started in Karachi, things would have gone from bad to worse and you can’t make a right with two wrongs. However, a few questions still do arise: How effective was the message of the ban? Before the non-violent protest had taken place, how well was the reasoning communicated to the masses? Will Pakistan be looked upon as a peaceful Islamic nation with the support of its people?

Freedom of speech without intelligence or wisdom is worthless. No one has the right to be purposely disrespectful to another person or people, regardless whether they disagree with someone’s beliefs. This whole scenario clearly strengthens the theory that, education and literacy are two separate things. Let us just be hopeful that after all the turmoil that has been caused, sanity prevails.

Our days in Libya by Jehan Naseem

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/08042011/page19.shtml Published in The Friday Times April 8, 2011

It was the beginning of the year 1969 in Tripoli, Libya. There were rumors that King Idris was being made to step down. Later it emerged that an army official by the name of Colonel Gaddafi was one of the main conspirators against the king and had had the support of many junior army officers.

Libya has exceptionally abundant oil reserves. This is mainly why it was an Italian and later a British-French Allied colony for many years. These presences were not only political; they could also be seen in daily life. You saw the foreign influence in grocery stores, pizza shops, patisseries and the way the tailors mastered their suits, all of it reeking of colonization.

Though oil brought about an increase in the estimation of Libya’s wealth, it was nothing but detrimental for Libya’s socio-political development. This was undertaken by King Idris himself when he took over from the colony. It was in his reign that the Libyan constitution was born. (Later, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser came to have a severe influence on Colonel Gaddafi, who was King Idris’s successor, and the former’s ideology of pan-Arab nationalism or Nasserism spread to many parts of the Arab world.)

My father had taken my mother to the hospital, where she gave birth to my eldest sister. Shortly after her birth, within less than 24 hours, Qaddafi’s coup had occurred and my mother had to be immediately sent home since there was a great deal of speculation and apprehension as to what would happen next. The hospital was kind enough to send a nurse with my mother for three days. The coup, according to my mother’s memory of it, was bloodless and carefully planned.

Libya would never be the same under Gaddafi’s rule. The Libyan Constitution ceased to exist. Whatever words Qaddafi uttered, with immediate effect they became the law. No one could refute it; what he said was as good as done. Because he was publicly opposed to Western influences, all foreign languages were removed from the curricula of local schools. This was a big blow to my eldest sister’s education. (There were, at that time, just a handful of Pakistanis residing in Libya.) Luckily my parents found a small British school in Maadi and in another neighborhood a slightly bigger American school. (Despite Gaddafi’s rhetoric about the menace of Western influences, some international schools and companies remained in Libya, though on a smaller scale.)

My father was in those days working for a British company in Libya, and the size of his office was decreased significantly. Most of the Europeans had left in a hurry; in this randomness my father was promoted to manager. He then had to do a lot of traveling to neighboring countries, especially Tunisia. Its capital Tunis was developing very rapidly in those days and was known for its historic charm, development in education, and high growth prospects, turning it into a clean and attractive metropolitan city.

A few years later my second sister was born. By then Gaddafi had become a supporter of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). He allowed many Palestinians to start living in Libya and make it their home. He instructed the Libyan people to welcome them. This caused a round of sudden problems for locals as well as foreigners working in Libya.

If Palestinians would see an empty house or an “extra” house owned by a Libyan, they would just walk in and say: “We are now living here.” There was very little the locals could do about this. My parents used to live in a rented house. An old Palestinian man would very fiercely harass my parents to “get out” so he could move in. Either he would turn up at the house or harass them on the phone. One day, while he was on his way to work, my father said to my mother: “Take care of it!” When the Palestinian called and started misbehaving on the phone, my mother’s response was: “This isn’t our home, we have rented it, we have told you many times before we are not moving out of here. Leave us the hell alone!” The old man was taken aback; he wasn’t expecting such a response. His tone immediately changed and he said: “I’m sorry Madame, please don’t be upset, you see my family is scattered everywhere in different places. If I get a place to live we all can be together.” My mother said: “I’m sorry but there is nothing we can do, like we have told you before we have rented this house legally, I suggest you talk to someone else.” Now he said: “Okay Madame, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you.” Later, in 1995, Gaddafi expelled some 30,000 Palestinians who were living in Libya. This was his response to the peace negotiations between the PLO and Israel.

Despite the harshness of that time, my recollections of Libya and its people are edged with fondness. Libyans, though the stereotype has them down as a lazy and work-averse people, are very warm, loving and welcoming, and give a special importance to the family as an institution.

Message from a Pakistani apologist By Jehan Naseem

Originally published for the e-zine The Green Kaleidoscope on June, 2009; then re-published for The Express Tribune Blog , October 4, 2010 at 5:30pm

A few months back I was having a conversation with an American of Pakistani ethnicity. An American born, however, not a confused desi. She seemed like a reasonably well-educated, knowledgeable and articulate individual. I have always enjoyed striking a conversation with such people. Since I believe it allows me to enrich and broaden my perspective.

This person asked me: “What do you think of the place [Pakistan]?” My answer was: “You can make your place wherever you go, but this is my home.”

It may have its many downsides, but it would be ridiculous of me not to remember its upsides and the fact that, at the end of the day it all boils down to where you come from.

I asked this person the same. Now, normally no matter how badly my country is spoken of I try my level best to remain or act as a pacifist. However, this time I was livid.

According to her Pakistan is a completely unlikable place along with its people. An acquaintance had told her that “Pakistani people are the only people that are willing to give up their culture without hesitation.” Not to mention that this person also thinks Pakistanis have no moral sense left, they are no longer “traditional”. Apparently it is all about the flashy cars, money and not to mention the immorality of Musharraf allowing open alcohol purchasing in addition to the ongoing corruption of locals. Traditions have been forgotten and Islam has been abandoned, after all Pakistan is an Islamic Republic.

I tried my level best to explain to this lady–whom I started to think of as a jaded ABCD, that most of these acts of alcohol purchase, rise of money, power and the influence of the West were triggered in this area way before Pakistan even existed. There were so many traditions that were linked with Islam and done in the name of Islam which have abused the faith and continue to do so on a daily basis. To make random accusations without actually living here is just not permissible. This logic had nothing to do with Pakistan as a nation, rather with the individual acts that affect Pakistan on a daily basis. Yes, there are ways of making things better, but not through lack of faith and hope in which the ABCD clearly pointed out with one finger and the rest pointing right back.

I have never believed in blatant attacks without listening to the other side of the situation and I try my level best to find a solution rather just than sitting there and pulling my hair out while loudly screaming in disdain: “the fallacy, the poor fallacy”!

I tried my level best to change the topic since the ABCD had never lived here. This breed of “our people” don’t know that they are “one of our own”. In lameness and in vain, I tried to end the topic with the statement: “Nothing can be said unless you actually experience it yourself, you haven’t lived here, and I haven’t lived in your country so there are going to be baseless misunderstandings”. The ABCD’s reply was: “You are making it so with logic without any premise that Pakistan is a failure, and your wish to ignore the problems makes you an immature Pakistani jingoist, and your denial makes you a Pakistani apologist.”

I stopped talking to this person and till day refuse to do so. However, this conversation did get me thinking and asking myself: “Am I an immature Pakistani jingoist and an apologist?”

For this reason I started asking a few people if they thought of themselves as Pakistani jingoists and why?

I am going to share with you some of the most interesting replies I received and more importantly I am sharing their replies with you for two reasons: These people have not only lived in Pakistan all their lives, they are also “foreign-returns”. They came back to serve their country in the best possible way as civilians rather then staying back in the UK and USA after completing their education.

Here they are with a slight briefing of their educational background:

1) This person would like to remain anonymous. However, this person has studied in a reputable university in the UK and now runs a well-established trading company throughout Pakistan and various parts of the world. His answer was, “What’s wrong with being a jingoist without harming anyone? (Not in pretext to the literal meaning of a jingoist). I want to run down the streets waving my country’s flag with pride and not harming anyone, then why the hell not? It is our country and we have to not only accept it but take of it and make the flaws history.”

2) Fasi Zaka happens to be an Oxford Rhodes Scholar, who is also a well-known writer and education enforcer. His answer was: “Jingoism implies mindless platitudes. So no, I am not a jingoist. I am a firm believer in my country, warts and all.”

3) Hasan A Gulfaraz, completed his education from Berkley (USA) and then went on to become a lawyer from the University of London. His answer was: “Hmmm…Let’s see here. I am a jingoist, yes to the extent that I am extremely patriotic, but not at the expense of other nations. Pride in your country does not translate to belligerence towards others and why am I patriotic? Well I’m a son of the soil. I think the educated Pakistanis I’ve met are the coolest people on earth and the common man is the most generous. If only we could get rid of the Neanderthal Taliban, this place would be ideal.”

Then it struck me. The ABCD I was enraged by wasn’t much of “our own”. She did not want to come back to help. By making assumptions on what she read, people she met momentarily, stayed in this country for a few days, did not make her “our own”. All in all, her predecessors never lived here and never came back as well. I am sure they have their own valid reasons as to why and why not, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to judge them as they were judging “us”.

This person kept confusing a secular form of State with non-secular. The only country I know that has completely balanced both secularism and non-secularism is Malaysia and has great economic strength in bad times and is a wonderful tourist attraction. We can learn from them, seek guidance and apply it. I am sure all of you agree with me that “we can”. Yes, granted Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, she kept forgetting that we are indeed still developing for the better. It is a long process; however, I am proud to say that with the likes of the “foreign-returns” I have quoted above, we as a nation will get there.

If me believing, having faith and striving as an individual in my very own country, without putting up with rubbish against the State on a daily basis and trying to make Pakistan a better place to live in the future, makes me an immature jingoist (without the harm intended and provoked) and a Pakistani Apologist – then so be it!