save the children

As a mother myself, its rather difficult for me to imagine another mother’s plight who might have lost her child. in fact i dont even want to imagine that kind of pain. it will be unbearable for me.
But the attack on APS and their brutal slaughtering of approximately 150 children forced me to think otherwise. i thought of the pain the mothers of all the martyred children will go through the rest of the lives. for the next 24 hours i could think of nothing else. And then i started reading about the other victims of this heinous act: children who were still alive but were seriously injured. i started thinking about the pain of their parents, standing beside their child’s bed in hospital, unsure of their child’s future. that was not any less painful to even think about. imagine the uncertainties, the insecurities these parents must have and might still feel. they dont know if their child will live and if will live, will he be able to walk properly or will he ever be able overcome this horrific incident.
i feel goosebumps every time i even start thinking about the pain.
and then each time i cant stop myself think about parents in tharparker where children are dying in front of their parents, in hospital beds due to malnutrition. is it less painful to lose your child in one blow? or to lose your child bit by bit i front of your very own eyes?
every time, i break down into tears because i dont have an answer.

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Of shoes and men with balls

Amidst all the heart wrenching news that has been coming from Pakistan for the past two weeks now, I cant believe things have started to sound so funny all of a sudden.

Just a day ago a pair of shoes were hurled at President Zardari in Birmingham and no matter how much Kaira is denying the incident, there must be some truth in it as it has been covered by international media. Not that I believe everything that the international media says but if the news was wrong in fact, I am still unable to comprehend why was the transmission of most news channels banned in Pakistan? And from what I have read, I understand Jang distributors were threatened too and thus the distribution got delayed by several hours. Whether it really happened or not, it did bring smiles to faces of thousands of Pakistanis all over the world who were tingled just by the thought of it. Add to it some of the funniest tweets and there you have it: a comical whirlwind which was more of a relief for the distressed people.

But there was some even better stuff coming up. In the last test between Pakistan and England, Umar Gul emerged as the highest scoring Pakistani batsman. It was actually a bit embarrassing to see how the rest of the team just toppled. The 2nd test was proving to be no different till later during the day, Zulqarnain Haider and Mohammed Amir came on the crease. Magic happened from then onwards. It made me proud to see (while following score on cricinfo.com) how these new young players were fighting back for perhaps not a victory but for an honorable defeat. And then came Ajmal. His maiden 50 alongwith Haider’s 88 gave Pakistan some hope. We have a match on our hands now, baby!!!

We should now only have 10 bowlers in the team alongwith a wicketkeeper who can bat. That actually seems like the only combination that’s working for a change!

Happy Independence Day?

32 killed in Karachi over MP’s murder. 2.5 million affected by floods. President chilling in the UK. And begging. Mostly chilling though.

Whether I like her not, Fatima Bhutto’s tweet summed up the whole situation in a manner that can only be called complete.

Pakistan is going through a really tough time and the President’s visit could not be more untimely than this. During this one past week, there has been a plane crash killing 152 innocent civilians, the country is drowning in a flood which is most probably the worst in 80 years, an MPA has been murdered brutally in a masjid and the violence that followed has already taken lives of nearly 50 people already. And its not only about people who have died, what about the people who are still alive? There has been a financial fall out of all these events. The flood has hugely affected agricultural lands in both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, 2.5 million people have been displaced and immediately need food and shelter, vehicles worth millions of rupees were torched yesterday in Karachi and businessmen have lost billions in the strike today.

And our politicians are happy justifying their fake degrees while our President is partying in London in his suite at Hyatt Regency where he has booked 18 rooms on the same floor where half of the rooms will remain unoccupied during his visit. I wish the President had listened to other politicians for a change!

Just 10 days later Pakistan will be celebrating its 63rd independence anniversary, but is there something to celebrate?

Just another random post

Right now, I just had some random stuff to share with everyone.

To start off, here’s something which I received as a forwarding from an old friend. Safi this one’s for you 😉

1. Once, all villagers decided to pray for rain, on the day of prayer all the People gathered but only one boy came with an umbrella…

THAT’S FAITH

2. When you throw a baby in the air, she laughs because she knows you will catch her…

THAT’S TRUST

3.Every night we go to bed, without any assurance of being alive the next Morning but still we set the alarms in our watch to wake up…

THAT’S HOPE

4. We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future or having any certainty of uncertainties…

THAT’S CONFIDENCE

5. We see the world suffering. We know there is every possibility of same or similar things happening to us. But still we get married??…

THAT’S OVER CONFIDENCE

Movie Recommendation

Traitor

A lil old, two years to be precise but for me its something which I didnt even know about till just a few days back. It’s  an intelligent  movie with mesmerizing performance by Don Cheadle (Samir) who plays a quite, devout Sudanese-American muslim snatched early in the movie for having ties with a terrorist organization. The best thing about the movie is that it stays away from racial/religious stereotyping and very clearly shows how the so called ‘jihadists’ are actually damaging Islam.

Green Zone

Wont say much about it, its an angry film and Matt Damon does a good job enacting the role of a US army officer who wants to do more than just follow the commands. So as not to add any plot spoilers, all Id say about the movie is about how power-hungry politicians would maneuver any situation to keep themselves in power. Might not have done too well at the box office (perhaps cuz at times it starts to feel like a documentary) but the movie is very well made.

Dear John

Sweet and romantic. Its a story of a handsome, polite young army officer and a beautiful girl whose love gets tested when they stay apart because of the war on terror. The whole movie rests on a very thin plot but it works because of the great chemistry between the lead characters. I would have appreciated if the ending was better thought of but over all it was a nice chick-flick.

Shutter Island

Loved it to say the least. A dark and creepy psychological thriller which may not work for everyone, especially those who want to see action packed or sci-fi thrillers. But it surely works for people who look for a strong storyline, great performances, the director’s vision about their favorite book and dont mind watching really long movies: well over two hours. This is one of the few movies with story adapted from a book that didnt really let me down. I just hope the ending was better portrayed, it leaves the people, even those who have read the book, a bit confused and asking for more explanation. In a nutshell, its a technically sound movie with a very carefully constructed plot and the type of performance that you expect from an actor of the caliber of Leonardo di Caprio.

And the Biggest Surprise!

I never imagined, not even in my wildest dream, I could ever like Arif Lohar, but this one really rocks. Or perhaps its just the team at Coke Studio that has made this version so awesome. Btw, the girl, Meesha Shafi, is Saba Hameed’s daughter and lead singer for the band, ‘Overload.’ She has an amazingly strong voice to say the least.

What really went wrong?

A country which was thought of as some state in India merely a decade ago now seems to have some sort of connection with anything and everything hat makes headlines. Be it the alleged father of MJ’s youngest son ‘Blanket’, Sania Mirza’s husband Shoaib Malik who notoriously married an Indian girl and then denied it only to later accept it, the young men who paralyzed Mumbai for 3 days and the lone operator Faisal Shehzad who nearly blew up Times Square all happen to be Pakistanis.

I wonder at times what really went wrong? Was it Jinnah’s death when Pakistan was only in its infancy days? Or was it the undemolished (is that a word!?) feudal system? Or was it the corrupt political system?

The story of Majid Nawaz

Note: What follows is by Majid Nawaz himself and was published in Guardian.

Ten years ago, I was sent from Britain by a global Islamist group to recruit in Pakistan. Stepping off the plane in Lahore, I slowly breathed in the scene around me. With minarets and azans almost like background props and mood music, the Muslims I saw in every direction whetted my appetite for revolution. We were going to radicalise the country and foment a military coup against the democratically elected “client” ruler, Nawaz Sharif. I was 21 years old. I was part of a vanguard to set up a Pakistani branch of Hizb ut Tahrir (HT), so that their future caliphate could go nuclear. Nothing was going to get in my way. Nothing did.

Ten years on (during which I spent five years as a prisoner of conscience in Egypt), I recently returned. I had left HT and recanted Islamism. I was back, determined to reverse some of the Islamist fever I had helped instil. Whereas in 1999 Pakistanis thought my wife and I were Arabs due to her “Egyptian” headscarf, now rumours were rife about acid attacks on women walking the streets uncovered. I was older, wiser and smarter. This time, the revolution would be against Islamist hegemony.

I was on a four-week, nationwide university tour to speak against Islamism and to urge students towards pluralistic, democratic values. Contrary to western mythology, Islamist radicals are found among the educated, the elite and the socially mobile. Yes, a minority of Pakistani madrasas provide an ample supply of jihadists, but the ideologues are smart and modern.

Bin Laden, Zawahiri or, indeed, the many pseudo-intellectuals of HT are highly educated and socially mobile. Many madrasas are simply antiquated religious schools belonging to the conservative but apolitical Barelvis, Pakistan’s majority religious denomination. Jihadists despise this faction. Nine days ago, a jihadist blew himself up in a Pakistani mosque, murdering the leader of the Barelvis, Dr Sarfraz Naeemi. The poor are simply used as jihadist cannon fodder.

Thus it was that we began in Karachi and worked our way around the country. We ventured deep into the deserts of interior Sindh and then across into the turbulent outback of Quetta, Balochistan, where the Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are said to be headquartered. From there, we crossed into the Punjab, ascended into Kashmir and then finally up to Islamabad. In our flak jackets, with a security detail in tow, we addressed thousands of students.

In Quetta, armed separatist students threatened to shoot anyone coming to the talk. Their gripe was with the Pakistani government from which they wanted independence. Like so many things in Pakistan, our role in this was eventually settled over a cup of “chai”.

My first real taste of the diversity that is Pakistan came here. I met popular revolutionaries who despised Islamists, yet wanted to secede, in some cases by violence, from Pakistan and “Punjabi hegemony”. They began their speeches in the name of Allah, but ended with: “Death to Pakistan.” They blamed the “Punjabi” government squarely for the ills of jihadism. Destroying Pakistan was not exactly on my agenda.

Pakistan and its problems are not monolithic and are not all related to Islamism. Corruption, ethnic and economic factors and a lack of leadership all play out differently in each province. I found the people of Sindh to be hugely sympathetic to our message. Conversely, the people of Mirpur, in “free” Kashmir, from where more than 90% of British Pakistanis come, and where sterling is a currency of choice, were hostile to the west. It was in Punjab where I found most of the denial culture. The west was to blame for everything, including sending me as an agent to set up HT in Pakistan and then as an agent trying to push back HT. You see, the trouble with conspiracy theories is that they were invented by the infidel west to stop Muslims thinking.

In Lahore, I was attacked by a British member of HT. He, like many others, had left the UK to recruit vulnerable Pakistani students. He was also a teacher at a private university. After this attack, we started receiving death threats. Our security advised us to cancel the rest of the tour. We chose to carry on.

It is true that Pakistan has exported its fair share of Jamaat-e-Islami Islamists and pro-Taliban jihadists to British shores. Many Pakistanis are in denial about the role their country has played in the growth of Islamism and jihadism. When we pushed them, however, most acknowledged the rise of the “religious right”. Denial is never a good thing when trying to solve a problem.

Here in the UK, after the release without charge of the 12 Pakistani student terrorism suspects, we could do with a dose of truth serum too. During the rise of British Islamism in the 1990s, HT was exported to Pakistan from Britain by the likes of me. In London, in 2000, I met Sandhurst-trained Pakistani officers who had been recruited from here and were being sent back to Pakistan to instigate a military coup.

The man who physically attacked me was a British citizen who joined HT in the UK. British members of HT also played crucial roles in exporting their group to Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Mauritius, India, Egypt and Denmark, among others. I know because in each case I know the people who did it. Only when the people and governments of Britain and Pakistan take responsibility for the rot on their doorsteps can we start moving seriously towards solutions for the problem of extremism.

Our tour was partly to initiate such a thought process. By showing people that one does not have to be against Islam to be against Islamism, we hope to resolve the moral dilemma that many face.

Military means can only ever be a stop-gap. As the near Taliban takeover in the northern regions of Pakistan showed, if civil society cannot segregate the masses from Islamists, then American drone attacks will be the least of our worries.

Do more

Continued from the previous post. Obviously wat follows is merely my opinion based on wat I have read, seen and gone through. It will be a bit random as I am only trying to put everything in one single post.

After the death of the Prophet (SAW), the time of the Caliphate of Hazrat Omar (RA) is usually deemed to be the time wen the maqasid of sharia were being achieved although a lot of people had (and still have) reservations. Obviously, the best time has to be that of the Khulfa-e-rashideen but the other three Khulfa had to deal with many civil wars during their eras and most of the time we forget talking about their reforms and ‘good governance’. Since then, there has been no muslim ruler (Hazrat Omar (RA) hated to be called a ruler, he preferred the modest Ameer-ul-momineen) who has been able to achieve even a fraction of that.

Today, as we see the world, it is a shame that it is in fact the Scandinavian countries that come close to achieving the maqasid of sharia. Obviously they have laws that permit vulagrity, illegitimate live-in couples and so on so forth but they value life and the government protects their right to be allowed to practice the religion they belong to, to get free education, to get opportunities of employment and to get their wealth and property protected (arsonists dont go around burning other people’s property there).

Challenging the writ of the State

Soon after the death of the Prophet (SAW), the Ridda Wars broke out because Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq’s (RA) Caliphate was not accepted and the writ of the State was challenged. The issue got so heated up that there was no option but to go on war.

Although there were lot more misunderstandings in the coming years, the writ of the state was once again challenged in a brutal way during Jang-e-Siffin by a group of people who were known to be very pious Muslims but in fact ended up calling Hazrat Ali (RA) kafir. This whole issue led to Jang-e-Neherwan and later shahadat of Hazrat Ali (RA).

Today, the writ of the state is being challenged in the worst manner. I dont like the government and it is their mistakes that its all come so far.

It is important to understand that everyone sporting a beard is not someone who has the authority to implement a sharia. The Prophet (SAW) has very clearly talked about such people: “There would be a group of people among you who would recite the Book but it will not go beyond their throats, they would pass through teachings of the Deen as an arrow passes through the prey. They would kill the followers of Islam and spare the idol-worshippers.” [Sahih Muslim]

Zaid Hamid on Operation Rah-e-Haq

PS: I am not a Zaid Hamid fan and I do not necessarily agree with everything that he says but I think he has summed it up quite well in the video