Saturday, 24 September 2011

Pakistan and the prisoner of Centrail jail

Funny it may seem but experimenting with highly-dangerous and psychotic criminals is not such a good idea after all. The experiment with the element 'Z' turned out to be one of the worst manifestations of the claim above. While elsewhere criminals are regarded as a potential threat to  the entire system we Pakistanis have proven, with a generosity beyond measure, the same untrue. the results though have been disastrous and in some cases beyond repair. 'it is a bloody mess' are the words that come to my mind as i lay back thinking of how to spit it out so that it doesn't come across as a mean piece of writing. But sadly writing words like ' chaos', 'disorder' or even for that matter 'calamity' doesn't quite give the scope of the tragedy. Am i being too pessimistic? hardly so!
after spending years in the Central Jail, Z seems to have escaped in an almost Sirius-like manner(BINGO! by turning into a giant black dog) and has taken over the nation. Most of us are still baffled as to how this tragedy struck us and there is no explanation that makes sense as to why we let this happen. I have  grown up in a country where the military is the strongest political force (paradoxically) which has a mega-influence on all state matters, including those who take up their roles as mannequins on the political front. These puppets only manage affairs like education, economy(limited control of course), health (actually makes me laugh) and trivial affairs of state management while the military decides everything else from the foreign relations to the internal threats and takes all the major decisions on behalf of the state.
what frustrates me is that if the military is such a power-hungry, egotistical, controlling setup, the least it can do is to give us a competent set of puppets. But hang on if they give us a working government, that very government would ALSO end up questioning the very setup that brought them in. So people like Z and people like R Malik, Y Gilani and B Awan end up in post of high power with zero degree of competence as their primary concern is NOT to work for the people but for their own interests.
There are inherent flaws in this system that need to be changed. If people like I khan are brought to power they will have to deal with these flaws first and then move on to solve the bigger problems. I doubt if any country would be able to function with two parallel systems of governance, in such a case probably anarchy might be more suited !

Thursday, 22 September 2011

pakistan and the deathly hallows

i sit here watching 'the most respespectable show' while half my country is destroyed by floods while the other half living in fear from dengue and i cant stop wondering what went wrong. year in year out all i can see is devastation and destruction, cries of the ones whose children were killed by suicide bombers, moans of the ones whose men were killed in Waziristan, tears of those whose houses were submerged in water and they sat atop broken litter and junk, their animals dead and homes left as twigs and mud. the earth quake of 2006, the floods of 2010, the dengue of 2011? where is the 'pakistani dream'? where are all the promises that were made? Political strife, cultural disorder, social corruption and on top of all that natural disasters? where is this country heading to? or is it that like illnesses it has to get to the worst condition before it becomes better? i am neither too sure nor too optimistic and to be honest its not just me; we as a nation have lost all hope. J.K Rowling said "a grim mood has gripped the nation" in one of her books and i find that to be very appropriate here, are the death eaters taking over? is it 'voldemort' who is responsible for all this distress. in our case the voldemort might very well be the 'you-know-which-country' and the death eaters our own leaders under the 'imperius' curse.
This is high time that some one takes over and brings about some sanity, its time that things start getting better, its time that we stop suffering. But how? by writing notes? by talking boisterously in tv shows? i am afraid not. It time that we stop talking and start doing, ironic it may seem that while I am writing this article i ask you for action, But sadly thats how it is. I believe that the 'order of phoenix' has to step in now and take control of the things. we need the 'cricket captain' to step in and solve it all for us probably.

on hypocrisy

It is a stark display of two-faced behavior, a blatant hypocrisy when we talk about our relations with India with India as opposed to those with the Indians. When we got rid of the British raj and found a country for ourselves on the basis of religion, the two-faced-nation theory played the major role. We hated each other’s guts for the religion we followed. However, we notice that when Hindus come here we welcome them graciously, when Hindus are stuck in a problem, case in point the M.V. Suez and the pirates episode, we feel proud of helping them, when we go to India we face a likewise behavior. From the taxi-drivers who refuse to charge fare to the open-heartedness of our ‘Indian brothers’ who force us to live in their homes we see a display of such brotherly feelings that can’t be expressed in words. However, when we think of India as a country we get these strong, equally inexplicable, feelings of such abhorrence that are almost inhuman and this feeling of hatred is matched by the people living across the border.
This makes a lot of people wonder how we are able to manifest such disparate feelings at the same time. Are we ambivalent about our feelings? Or is it merely the fact that we have been led to believe that we should detest each other? is it the presence of political tensions that have been imbued through the international community for their own interests? are we just hypocritical about our feelings? It’s very difficult to identify which one of these is true. I believe that it’s an amalgamation of all these that results in this two-faced exhibit of sentiments.
One other factor to note is that the anti-Hindu sentiments are the one on which most Pakistanis feel unified; other than that, over the past 60 years, we haven’t seen any other major issue that unites us so well. Therefore, it logically follows that we just hate the Indians for the mere sake of hating someone together as a nation. I am, however, of the opinion that these sentiments are never going to get us anywhere, except being a major burden on already thin budget.People on both sides of the border respect each other, and only the so-called political tension that has been instilled in us, the ‘other-ization’, the belief that we can’t live peacefully, is the reason that our relations with India are so taut. We need to respect each other, we need to address other important issues that we are both facing and ideally we should collaborate with each other. Both countries have faced the same humongous problems since the partition like education, health and poverty.
Shouldn’t our aim be to solve these problems? Shouldn’t these problems unite us as nations? Do we actually need the fear of a war to unite us? on the contrary no war ever unites nations for long enough. 60 years of solid hatred, I believe is enough, it’s time to move on and look at the bigger picture and our bigger problems. Our peaceful co-existence would not only stabilize us but also give us the strength to move on and shape a better future for the generations to come.
friends or foes?

Friday, 8 July 2011

who let the dogs out

While most countries move forward with the passage of time ours seems to move in the backward direction with each passing day. With times the countries stabilize, we however have decided that nothing can change. Countries like China, Malaysia and numerous others, which were liberated in almost during the same era, have gone through massive constructive changes, we have seen nothing but a country put into the reverse gear since the death of its liberator. Three marshal laws, several failed democratic governments later we see our country on the list of the failing states. 12th on the failed states list to be specific.
And why shouldn't we be there? Pessimistic though it is, it is true. While I sit here writing this article, sweating, and in a foul mood millions in my country can’t even afford the basic facilities of health, education and shelter. They wait earnestly for someone to tell them that they might just survive, that they might just make it. Unfortunately, it’s not even just a lack of resources; it is the general attitude of the people. Somehow we have all internalized that this country is going to the dogs anyways and like hungry dogs we should all fighting for a bigger share. We keep blaming our leaders for their follies, but what we do not register is the fact that these leaders have come from amongst us.
Yes, one can certainly argue that our leaders are a different class altogether: landlords, industrialists, military personnel. One can also argue that since the creation of Pakistan, it has been run as an oligarchy, the power changes hands very rarely and even if it does its still influenced by a certain echelon. The stratum that reigns over this country, its constitution and its judiciary is the one that has more riches. As the wealthy keep getting wealthier their influence grows and it’s only the opulent class who can run for elections so it follows logically that they are not the true representatives of the population. We are a country where the middle class is fast diminishing, and that truly is a dangerous sign. It is a harbinger to the difficult times ahead. The unidirectional flow of wealth is creating a plethora of problems today which will have devastating effects for our future generations, if there are any. 
The solution to this predicament in my humble view is a just distribution of wealth. One might wonder how we might snatch and distribute in an egalitarian manner from this insanely corrupt, self-centered and egocentric pack of ravenous wolves. The answer lies in the method that was adopted millenniums ago: taxation. It is true that this is easier said than done and it is almost impossible to collect it from the most influential class of people of the country and it is also true that it would be imprudent to let the wealthiest class of the country off the hook since they are the ones which would make a significant contribution to the collecting tin.
We therefore have to tweak the system in such a way that wealthy can be taxed. We need to enforce tax on those who always shy away from it through proper check and balance. The proper distribution of wealth might allay some of the problems that this country is facing, it might appease those who are hopeless and it might make those optimistic who have lost all faith in this country and its future.​k/2011/07/our-political-woes/

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Knowledge (ilm) has a priority over Gnosis (ma’arifa)

The explosion was a deafening array of horrific sounds that reverberated through the khayaban-e-Iqbal₁. Blood, dust and an assortment of broken junk littered the once busy yet peaceful road. Through the dust, two figures, one wearing white robes and the other adorned in a patched heavily-mended tunic materialized, as if by magic. They seemed to be attracted towards the source of the disaster and glided over all the dust and the blood and the assortment of broken junk littered everywhere. They looked strangely out of place. The one in the patched tunic looked mockingly at the elegant white robed man and called out in heavy voice:
World of soul - a world of fire, ecstasy and longing;
World of body - a world of gain, fraud and cunning;
Get over with it already, Arabi! It is insolence that you answer me in my own words which remind me of my past. I am done with you and your arguments. WHY have you brought me here now? I know there is misery and hopelessness and destruction, but that has nothing to do with our prime argument of knowledge.
You are mistaken, Iqbal, for our prime argument lies in gnosis rather than in such superficial things as knowledge. You talk of knowledge, you talk of rationality. Where is your nation going today? It has knowledge, and established mosques and schools. There are valid hadiths. And on top of everything else, THE KORAN. There are dozens of Madrassas within a 5 mile radius where thousands of people pray. They are hafiz and ulemas. Despite all this, where is your nation going today? If only they could have seen past these worldly distractions, they would have been much closer to God and would have been in peace.
Arabi for the love of God. Islam is NOT a religion for hermits. We both know that Islam never asks you to give up world and seek refuge in mountains and forests. Islam is a way of life and life exists with the world. The world of body, as opposed to the world of soul, is a reality. You expect God to make a world and then ask you to give it up?
1 Previously known as Margallah Road in Islamabad now has been renamed as "Khayaban-e-Iqbal.
The first two verses are a translation of Iqbal’s “The world of body vs. The world of soul”

It’s a test. The path to Allah is clear. If you want to achieve the highest level in religion you have to sever all your mundane earthly ties.

My argument remains the same. Islam is a way of life; it’s a zaabat-e-hayat. After seeing so much I have to say that if you give up the world you give up everything. For with the appropriate knowledge of the religion and a rational mind you can achieve any level of religious scholarship you aspire.
Iqbal raised his hand at this point and pointed toward the heavens and looking into the eyes of Al-Arabi said:
Arabi what do you have to say about the fact that the mystic state is a single unanalysable unity in which the ordinary distinction of subject and object does not exist. For if the mystic state is devoid of the subject-object distinction, how is it possible that the mystic experiences God in this state as an independent other self?
Al-Arabi however looked unperturbed by this argument and calmly responded with a slight smile playing around his lips
There are various levels of the manifestation of reality. At the highest level, reality is absolute unity, devoid of distinctions, but at the lower levels distinctions emerge and they are also real. In this experience the mystic reaches just short of the stage of absolute unity, which is the unity of plurality, yet he is convinced that there is a more fundamental level as well.
My ideology remains firm that knowledge and not gnosis leads to the attainment of the highest level in Religion. Allah has himself claimed in the Holy Quran that: “surely in the heavens and the earth there are signs for those with faith; and in your creation and the beasts. He scatters abroad, there are signs for a people having certainty; and in the diversity of the night and the day, and the provision that God sends down from heaven, and therewith gives it life after its death, and in the turning about of winds, there are signs for people who have intelligence. These are the signs of God that we recite to you truly. So in which speech, after God and His signs will they have faith?” Surely Arabi you are intelligent enough to understand and decipher the meaning of this verse. And I am also assuming that you are amongst those who have faith. This verse clearly points towards knowledge of the religion and in the signs of God given through the Quran. This is surely the best way to reach God and understand him.
Iqbal I am one of those who have faith. But intelligence is a virtue that has not been distributed to all. You see your nation today. Look around Iqbal. You will see for yourself that this Sufi’s words hold some truth in them. Your nation, in following your views of rationality and knowledge, has ended up killing themselves. Humanity cannot be trusted with knowledge. They only path to the Almighty is to give up the worldly pleasures and devout your life for Him. You have to sever your ties from the world and find reason yourself in isolation. Mari’fah is the only way to ensure the attainment of Allah’s will. Remember when you said yourself:

Delve deep into your buried self, and find the clue to life;

If you cannot be mine then be not, but be your own;

The clue to life is hidden in yourself. You just have to work hard and find it. And that Allama is your way to God. Gnosis.
When you talk of gnosis and you undermine the importance of knowledge it just seems to me that you are ignoring an important doctrine of Islam. The very essence of religion lies in the knowledge of Quran, of Sunnah and Hadith. You cannot be ignorant of the knowledge that is in these doctrines. If you talk about MY NATION being misguided and the one in misery then you are largely denying the fact that most in my nation do not understand the real knowledge. They are misguided. They are driven by the worldly desires. They have no idea about the real path of illumination. If you think about it, knowledge does not come easily; hard work and labor are required to get knowledge of the deen. The path to God is not an easy one. There are many stray paths which sometimes deceive the unwary. In the first period, religious life appears as a form of discipline which the individual or a whole people must accept as an unconditional command without any rational understanding of the ultimate leaning and purpose of that command. It is beyond the initial phases that man has to decide which Path to choose. Yes my nation believes in knowledge to a greater extent and most of them are pious people like yourself, they can initially see the path to God clearly and can understand religion easily. It is after the initial stage (manzi) that they wander on different paths; the result of which you can see clearly.
Iqbal at this point shook his head and looked over to a dead body, the head now bowed down
And that my friend is the sole reason why I believe that knowledge is not a sure way to God. For knowledge requires skills like rationality and logic and this Knowledge cannot be arrived at by the intellect by means of any rational thought process, for this kind of perception comes only by divine disclosure. The ONLY possible path to God is that you give up your rationality and with your heart and soul, strive for DEEN. You will have to cut your ties with this materialistic world, give up all your earthly desires and work your way towards the Almighty. Your relation with Khuda will strengthen by every moment you spend in gnosis. My beliefs remain strong and I ask you to reconsider yours for this argument of knowledge is not striking enough. It doesn’t have any supporting evidences.
Al-Arabi looked closely at Iqbal and gave him a haughty look
Your arguments are lifeless. Gnosis has always been the stronger argument. It has been the way of the prophets. Follow it to be a part of the reality.
You remain as arrogant and ignorant as before. There is no point arguing with you such delicate matters as religion. I leave you in peace.
Having said that, the white clad figure of Iqbal looked up at the heavens and was noiselessly lifted off his feet. Al-Arabi followed him with his eyes until he disappeared into the heavens. Al-Arabi too drifted over the dust and was sucked by the bright blue sky. The sun shone on khayaban-e-Iqbal and blood, dust and an assortment of broken junk littered the once busy yet peaceful road.

our failing, falling Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Sleeping under the open sky, Imran Khan is a text book example of a leader with a vision, a man with a heart, a visionary with perspective and a human with a conscience. It makes us all sad when we think how the USA has been crossing all possible lines; known, unknown and some which may not even exist but are still there. Terrorism which emerged as a global phenomenon has been USA's prime stance when it decides to invade other sovereign states. When we 'invented' Pakistan, we wanted it to be a state where Muslims can live in peace, where people from all religions can live in harmony, where we will be sovereign and independent. What we did not intend on creating was a weak state which would flounder, fumble and eventually fall in the hands of those who aim at destroying it. It indeed brings tears to my eyes when I think of how we have, for our own benefits, for our own personal gains sold this country; we have been eating away at its very foundations for the past six decades. This has to stop! Someone has to stop this!

We live in a country where people are not safe in their own homes. You never know when a bumbling missile might land in the middle of your mud house and blow the bodies of your innocent children into a million miniscule particles. It’s true that we have one of the best military forces on the planet, but what’s the point if we cannot even defend our own children? what’s the point if other states can twist and manipulate this force into something that their objectives can benefit from? are we this helpless that even our own strengths will be used against us?

Why are we fighting a war on behalf of someone else when we cant even afford to feed a major proportion of our population, provide basic facilities of health and education, when we don’t have money to buy fuel for our power plants and our industries are shut up as there is neither gas nor electricity to run them. Our defense budget keeps on exceeding all imaginable thresholds and currently consumes more than 500 billion rupees most of which would contain money from taxes. These taxes are, unfortunately, paid only by a single class of people as the lower classes don’t have anything to pay and the upper ones refuse to pay a penny. We are thus utilizing the hard earned money of our working class to fuel a pointless battle and its time before this working class realizes this and we see a further gruesome affair
It is time, I believe, that our leaders start thinking in a clearer fashion, it is time that we stop juicing our working classes, it is time that we stop this blind massacre of our own people and it is time to re-enact the original philosophy and ideology of Pakistan. We are soveriegn and independent nation and it is time that we prove it to ourselves and the world!
Published on April 28, 2011

Friday, 8 April 2011

Reminiscences of Pakistani child

Its been ages since I have seen my country this united ! over the past decade we have seen this nation flounder and fail...everything we have touched has turned to ash.Every decision we have taken as a nation has backfired. From the ousting of Musharraf to trusting the old duo with power, from supporting America's so-called war to the massacre of of the innocent. All we have seen is a decade of disappointments, failures, discontentment and social decay. When I was young 14th august, 23rd march and 6th September were NOT just holidays. They had a purpose to them. kids roaming around with 'jhadian', buildings adorned with the green flags, 'diye' and candles, everyone from the janitor to the PTV newscasters carrying tiny Pakistan badges. There was a sense of unity, patriotism and loyalty. Celebrating 14th august with just one channel was much better than sifting through the gazillions that we have now. Yes men were killed all over the country, people complained about high prices, the government was decried everyday of its existence. But everyone was in it together. In these past ten years we have caught glimpses of this but only in times of calamities; the 2005 earthquake and 2010 flood are two examples. 

Last night was a reminder that this nation still has it in them! True it has been marred by a series of grotesque events but we still are patriotic. When I saw people wearing green shirts, faces showing clear signs of anticipation, praying to Allah and promising to fast if the team wins I could see that this Nation was NOT just emotional (an intrinsic Pakistani trait) but truly patriotic. Even though the country lost, we stood behind our team.Yes, we were disappointed. Yes, we were hurt.And yes we cried. But, this ONE match proved that in spite of all our sufferings, all our failures, all our disappointments. we are still a nation

This, however, is an important pointin time to answer a few vital questions. Why is it that we unite just for one day? why is that only certain events can gravitate us towards loyalty and remind us of our patriotism? And why is it that we pray only for a match? There are hundreds of issues that our country is facing today: inflation, food shortage, terrorism, illiteracy, suppression and poverty are just a few. Why dont we pray to God, promise to Fast, pray nafals for this? Arent these problems way more important than a one-day match?
We seriously need to rethink our priorities. This is high time we realize our faults and try to mend them before it actually gets too late. 

April 3rd 2011 issue

Disintegrated in the name of Pakistan

After over sixty years of creation one would have expected things to have become slightly if not magnanimously better. We have, however, seen a paradoxical disintegration in the nation on all fronts. Be it our renowned irrigation system, or our profound nationalism (that made us a nation in the first place), be it our diverse culture or our hardworking people we have known just one change: deterioration. In a surprise move the government has laid a trail for the dissolution of the HEC, another major blow for the already suffering people of Pakistan. A country with soaring illiteracy levels might not be able to even stutter anymore, it might not be able to limp anymore. The HEC represents more than just an institution it represents economic growth, scientific development, exposure and if I dare go this far I may even suggest an educational revolution. 
However, out of the very many naive decisions made by the current leadership the disintegration of HEC seems to have the worst repercussions in the years to follow.  HEC has contributed alot to the country in the past eight years, however, most of the impacts made by HEC are far too early to be noticed. Over 5000 international scholarships have been provided for PhDs, over 4000 research papers have been credited to Pakistanis over the mere 8 year period and the university enrollment has tripled. These figures might seem humble in proportion to the population of the country but to be fair its an excellent start to put the country on a track for educational development.
The breaking up of HEC would have very severe consequences; if the power to grant funds is given to provinces we will see the same level of corruption as we see in the other fields. It would also be unfair to the people coming from more illiterate provinces since expectantly these provinces will be given a smaller cut from the money bag. We will see our politicians fight over educational funds and not water anymore. With a federal body of education gone we will see new policies spring up; policies that will be only in the favor of our illiterate politicians. How difficult would it be to forge a degree when the power to do so rests in your own hands? The breaking up of HEC is preposterous and would impact the lives of thousands.
This is right time to protest, this is the right time to stand for our rights and this is the right time to rebel against such policies that may alter the country on numerous fronts. Our myopic policy-makers must re-evaluate their policies before they plummet the nation into an educational catastrophe. 

published on 7th April 2011