Archive for category Pakistan

Cricket Scandal

The cricket stars, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have been accused of match and spot fixing, causing much distress to the people of Pakistan, and to all cricket lovers worldwide. This accusation has done more than shatter people’s hopes; it has made them lose interest in cricket. I feel that for a team that was working towards its peak, it has completely demoralised those few cricketers who actually wanted to continue with a fair approach to the game.

In my opinion strict action should be taken against the guilty players including the mastermind behind the fixing- Mazhar Majeed. A sting operation was carried out by the a newspaper News of The World in the UK which quoted him as saying,

“This is exactly what’s going to happen, you’re going to see these three things happen. I’m telling you, if you play this right you’re going to make a lot of money, believe me!”

Now this being quoted in a tabloid newspaper does kindle some hatred and anger to say the least. Is this country not suffering enough? Has it not been through trauma after trauma (i.e. a plane crash, devastating flooding, rioting, use of performance enhancing drugs and most of all terrorism) that it is now being stabbed by delinquents in the want for money?

Apart from the disgrace and shame that was thrust upon the country, it also presents a very damning image of Pakistani morals. They were ambassadors of Pakistan, they were supposed to possess the qualities of dignity, prestige and honesty— but they quite venally accepted illegal sums of money and had to be release was based on regonisance. I’ve come across people saying that Mohammad Amir is a juvenile and could be easily manipulated. Now this and other explanations are just excuses and it shocks me to the core, that even after such substantial evidence (i.e. tape recordings, bespoken witnesses, videos, undercover footage as part of the sting operations) has been given, some are still finding loopholes and are quite oblivious of the consequences. This is not being the first time that such allegations have been put forward. In fact in 1994 allegations were put forward against some other cricketers that eventually led to a conviction in 1999 by Justice Mohammad Qayyum after a detailed investigation. The cricket captain at the time, Salim Malik, and fast bowler Ata-ur-Rehman were banned for life along with penalties imposed on Pakistan’s star cricketers, Waseem Akram, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Waqar Younus, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq. Although, severe action was taken Pakistan has still not been able to rid itself of this menace. India, our neighboring country, with their at that time cricket captain, Mohammad Azharuddin and players Ajay Jadeja, Sharma and Nayan Mongia all received life bans for similar offences. Also, South African captain at that time, Hansie Cronje, was also convicted and placed under a life ban. Taking into account these examples where prompt and effective action was taken  resulting in no further convictions since, Pakistan continues dealing with incessant charges for other illicit activities such as altering the shape of the ball, the use of drugs for a better performance etc as our efforts are incomplete and ineffective.

There is a litany of scandals in Pakistan that the world media has fed on,  and now it is  time when prompt and decisive action must take place and Pakistan’s name should be cleared and put back in its place of dignity, where it rightly belongs!

Shanzeh Javed Agrawala                   X-K

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Pakistan and Conspiracy Theories

By M. S. Najam FY-W

We, as a nation, are obsessed with conspiracy theories. It’s become our national pastime. It’s fashionable to attribute everything from the floods to the cricket scandal to a global conspiracy against Pakistan.

It’s suprising to see the number of ‘educated’ individuals of the bourgeois who think that the world as we know it is run by a group of Zionist Jews who sit in a secret room deep in the Pentagon and conspire against Pakistan. There, this cabal wearing black robes and holding bloody daggers thinks of ways to undermine our nation. They used HAARP to cause the floods. And Photoshop to incriminate our cricketers. And don’t forget how the lasers they had hidden in the Margalla hills shot down the Air Blue jet.

9/11 must have been a conspiracy  and the suicide attacks that bleed Pakistan continously could never have been done by the Taliban. It must be a Zionist-Hindu-American-Blackwater-Xe conspiracy. Haven’t you heard that the bombers were actually Sikh RAW agents in disguise? It’s all India’s doing. They are the ones causing agitation in Balochistan. They are the ones who fight us with ‘water terrosism’, whatever that is. Pakistan is under developed because of the Illuminati and Freemasons. Not because of years of military dictatorship that left only one viable instituition in the country: the army.

Democracy is an evil, ‘Western’, ‘forgein’ concept. And how can it work in a country where the ‘masses’ are illiterate? And since politics is dirty and democracy clearly isn’t for us, let’s have ‘enlightened despotism’. We are an idiotic nation that needs a dashing ruler on horseback (and in his khaki uniform). Oh and give him a big stick to keep us in line.

This is the kind of garbage that is floated about in our drawing rooms and by our civil society.

But why are we so vulnerable to these ‘theories’? Conspiracy theories offer an easy way out. They seem to reduce the complex, chaotic social earthquakes of our world  into a managable, nay, fantastic framework that is as spectacular as it is sinister.

These theories speak of a deep insecurity. They speak of a deep-seated desire to know that social ripples are not random but are systematic, thought-out, long-term strategies by a cabal of men. Psychologists attribute this belief to a need by some to know that man isn’t adrift but part of a scheme. This belief further implies that the evil group can be defeated (or joined).

Conspiracy theories are an easy way out. Unfortunately, we are at a stage where there are no shortcuts, no ‘quick-fixes’. Instead of looking outward, it’s time for us to look in and see what we have become. It’s easy to place the blame on outside forces and that is exactly what we are guilty of doing.

Enough of this nonsense! Enough of this intolerance! Enough of this myopia! Instead of sipping coffee and bemoaning the state of the our ‘becharay’ proletariat, Pakistan’s ‘educated’ class would do well to get up and help Pakistan achieve it’s rightful place among the civilised nations of the world.

This requires constructive critisism, not blatant pessimism. It requires us to use our common sense. It requires tolerance of those who are different in religion, ethnicity and political ideology. It requires us to actually listen to the other person’s point of view before agreeing or disagreeing. How someone who does not know and practice this can claim to be ‘educated’ is beyond me. But Pakistan is full to the seams with such educated illiterates.

Although it’s now clichéd, Kennedy was right on the mark when he said that ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what YOU can do for your country’.

Pakistan Zindabad!

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The War on Terror – And Us

The Effect of the War on Terror on the Average Grammarian

When the World Trade Center collapsed on that fateful day that was September 11, I was in seventh grade. It was evening and I was watching an episode of Friends – coincidentally situated in New York City – when my screen flickered to an image of two buildings imploding into flames and dust and an ‘America Under Attack!’ caption blinking furiously underneath. This was clearly no comedy.
Going to school the next day was a feat. Everyone was talking about it. Students, teachers, canteen-wallas. All I remember was a general and unmistakable feeling of excitement. We knew what had happened was big – tremendous even. But few of us knew what it meant. And perhaps none knew what would happen next.
As Grammarians, we didn’t realize the implications of 9/11 for us when it just happened. We did a good job of distracting ourselves, first with the ‘What were you doing when the towers collapsed?’ and then the ‘Would you turn in Osama if he was hiding in your garage?’ epidemic. And then we distracted ourselves with the politics. We debated about the impact this would have on America’s foreign policy and budget. It all helped us get our minds off what it meant for our future. And perhaps that was good. Because that’s where it would hurt the most.
In the year 2000, 34 Grammarians got accepted into the top 10 US Colleges. In 2002 – one year after the September 11th attacks – that number was slashed by less than half and 14 students were admitted into the same top colleges. Ironically, even though we are moving further away from 9/11 – it is 2008 now – the numbers remain stuck where they are. Since 2001, a growing number of students have opted for UK colleges over American ones. Even those who are offered positions in US colleges may not eventually make it. Student visas are much harder to come by today. The War on Terror has broken homes; destroyed families. But it has also broken the dreams of many hopefuls; shattered the hope of getting into that college that many of us have worked tirelessly all our lives for.
It is not only college hopefuls who have been victimized by the War on Terror. Indeed, those already in college were dealt greater blows. Immediately after the attacks, one old Grammarian was asked to step off an American plane as it was ready for take-off on the requests of suspicious on-board passengers. Another Grammarian in college was approached by an American and asked, ‘Why do you hate us? What have we ever done to you?’ A third Grammarian, let us call him Ahmed, was taking a train from Canada to America. An official came by to check everyone’s passports and when he saw Ahmed’s green passport, he told him to stand at the back of the train so he could keep an eye on him. Tragically, it is not only us Grammarians but Muslims from every country around the world who have been victims of this discrimination.
We’re too enmeshed in school life and tests to really think about the war on terror’s affect on us. But the debris and shards left by that explosion are with us all. It has made us, as Grammarians re-examine and question our religion. It has created uncertainties. And it has given bloom to anti-West feelings where there were none.
The short drive to school is no longer safe. Suicide bombings occur by the day and protests rage on steps away from our campus. The War on Terror is now a natural, routinely part of our lives. Whether this War will ever end, is anyone’s guess. Until then, and for now, the War on Terrorism continues to terrorize all of us.

By: Minal Khan

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Benazir Bhutto…Welcome?

So a date has finally been set. Fireworks have crackled and mithai has been distributed among the more eager PPP stalwarts. It’s as if Eid were already here. Our ex-prime minister is finally on her way home.

Benazir Bhutto is a name that has done nothing short of creating waves across the media. Whether we love her or hate her, we can’t ignore her. That, and she has no qualms about making herself heard. Whether it was stridently announcing that Musharraf should make a public apology to the Chief Justice back in April, or recently denouncing the ban on Imran Khan’s return home, Benazir has never been afraid to express her opinion. Clearly, she doesn’t need to hold office of Prime Minister to make her presence felt.

And now, the ex-Prime Minister is homebound. But if we have learnt anything from recent events, we should know to be skeptical. How do we know Bhutto won’t be turned away by the Government once she arrives? Yes, the Government has pledged it won’t oppose her arrival. But it doesn’t take a cynic to know that that pledge has no guarantee. Zia-ul-Haq similarly ‘pledged’ to hold transparent elections within 90 days of imposing martial law back in the 70’s. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ‘promised’ the poor food, clothing and shelter when he took power. Even President Nixon promised the people of America that he would end the Vietnam War upon his election in 1968. None of these promises were met.

“Politics,” minister Chuadhry Shujaat Hussein is quoted to have said, “is like a game of cards in which sometimes you have to call bluff.” Yes; politicians lie. Governments can lie. Are we to blindly trust the Government to hold back this time? Certainly not.

But what about the general populace of Pakistan? Do we want her back? Some do trust Bhutto’s shrewd insight. We admire her dedication to a true democracy. But in today’s day and age, democracy is a vague ideal. Our first democratic Constitution in 1973 has systematically been amended, clipped, chopped and refuted. In our third world country, we no longer know what democracy is. She says she will commit herself to restoring democracy. But let’s not be naive. The only thing Benazir seems keen to restore back to position is her self. In a ‘you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours’ political maneuver, Benazir pledged to support Musharaff’s re-election…if he promised to withdraw all cases against her. But if she upholds Democracy as she claims, why would she consider negotiating with a military dictator?

And then of course, are the allegations that she has been corrupt. But then corruption, like democracy, is yet another vague term. It is used so lavishly – and readily – with politicians that we’ve become desensitized to the word. What does it mean to be corrupt? As with democracy, we just don’t know anymore.

The return of Benazir may be a God-send for many factions of Pakistan. Musharaff’s time bomb is ticking and is set to explode any second. As his popularity decreases, hers rises. As he fails to keep his promises, the people look increasingly towards Benazir to grant them the ideals of democracy and freedom. Yes, the word ‘Bhutto’ seems almost to be synonymous with the word ‘corruption’. But that certainly hasn’t stopped them from being popular!

“Fashion is a bourgeoisie pastime.” Benazir once said icily to an Indian reporter. Yes, Benazir has given us her share of memorable quotes. But will she give us democracy? Only time will tell.

Minal Khan

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14th August

The streets of Karachi light up with jubilation as a people are bound together. Flags mark each street corner , road and car whilst banners uphold the 60th anniversary of the nation. It is that special day of the year where people from different segments of society and walks of life are united with the zeal of patriotism. And perhaps just for one special moment , we are one people , one nation with one leader.

The Celebrations of August 14th mean a great deal to me. It reminds me of Jinnahs ever ambitious plan to create a secular state. However the thing we all must realize is that we do have a long way to go before fulfilling this dream. The one reason why muslims were compelled to demand a separate state was because of religious intolerance. The 1930’s Congress rule was a testimony to the oppression felt by many muslims from their Hindu counterparts in the government; an oppression they would continue to experience unless there would be drastic change in the system of government. 60 years on , our “secular” Pakistan still suffers from this kind of intolerance. Pakistan remains to be one of the only nations in the world where an individuals religion is branded on a passport. It is also the only nation that requires you to denounce a religious sect to obtain a passport. We are a nation plagued by religious fundamentalists who press for radical demands. Religion is really Opium for the masses and serves as the best vote-catcher in elections. Pakistan has deviated a long way from the course initially set out by the Qaid in 1947. In many ways we still await to liberate ourselves from this hopeless episode of theocracy. We can never taste the true freedoms of independence until this happens.

Perhaps a more significant independence in this context is the liberation of the subcontinent from the British Raj. The origins of this liberation date back to the revolt of 1857 after which the British stronghold over India began to crumble. The subsequent Independence 90 years later went a long way to show that the people of the subcontinent are a strong and worthy people who deserve their own space in the world. As both India and Pakistan continue to weather the odds , their economies develop and progress – the people of the subcontinent continue to prove their worth to the world. India and Pakistan not only exist as two independent nations , but they are key players in today’s political scenario. We have come a long way from our past history of subservience to the Western world and the white man. The nations of the subcontinent with their giant strides in the spheres of economics , world affairs and science have marked their place on the globe. We only await to emulate the glorious state of our Mughal past.

Behind the grandeur of those fluttering green flags , there is an underlying tone of a much needed reconciliation. It is important to remember that both nations worked tirelessly to secure their mutual independence from the British. Both Gandhi and Jinnah put tremendous effort into obtaining liberation from the British Raj which had gripped the subcontinent for over a century. The people of both nations must identify with this common goal that was once shared between the two nations. We must look back and remember that their was indeed a united struggle. It is vital that India and Pakistan put behind the Kashmir issue and develop better relations. Too many lives have been wasted settling old scores. The Jammu Kashmir issue must be dismissed from any further diplomatic negotiations between the two nations. The people of the subcontinent are one independent people

With events such as the Lal Masjid fiasco casting a dark shadow in the background , Pakistans future hangs in the balance. A nation torn apart between liberals and fundamentalists , democrats and dictators can only be described as chaotic at best. As the celebrations fizzle out and excitement dies down a glowing nation degenerates into its former self. Corruption , greed and indifference begin to slowly grip the darkening roads of Karachi once again. The time for thinking ahead and patriotism slowly evaporates. Religion and ignorance envelope the country like two sinister clouds. A storm awaits.

Shahryar Kamal Malik

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My Little Green Notebook

“Stripped of my name and identity?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Today Job cried out
Filling the sky:
Don’t make and example of me again!
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don’t ask the trees for their names
Don’t ask the valleys who their mother is
From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport!”

By Mahmoud Darwish

Today thousands of brilliant over–achievers are turned away from foreign education. At first they were denied their visa, now they are denied admission. The Pakistani passport is the deep cause of all of this. Events such as 9/11, 7/7 and Virginia Tech have made foreign applicants seem dangerous, and committed to spreading terror. Why should any university risk the lives of competent students and its prestige for a forgone conclusion? They cannot be blamed for having such simple concerns. It is policy makers of the day who have bred this new form of discrimination: The Green passport discrimination!

Although the long chapter of black discrimination and gender based discrimination have come to an end , one dangerous type of discrimination prowls the earth this form of discrimination to me really encompasses all forms of discrimination. It is a violent atrocity against justice and the bedrock of human rights. The deep green passport today serves as the labeling brand or chain any slave would wear before the abolition of slavery. Its effect is frighteningly similar to that of the star badge worn by the Jews prior to the holocaust. It has the alien like capability to horrify college admissions officers and customs officials. Whatever we may familiarize it with, it is bound to us. Not even tremendous efforts and funds can free us off this doom. It is our past, present and future. It is our curse.

The most ironic feature of this discrimination is that it comes from nations who have fought hard and long wars to free themselves from discrimination. The Western world has freed itself from the tyrannical communism. Now they fight wars for equality and democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq. The history of this struggle dates back to the stories of female and black emancipation. My question here is simple, if wars have been waged against oppression and tyranny – why do these liberators turn their backs on this new genre of discrimination.

The crux of my argument lies on one key pillar. It is wrong to stereotype or generalize about nations and people. A simple green passport or one unified religion are not binding factors that bring people together to do the same deeds. This simple green color does no good in bridging the gap between the intellectual and civilized class of Pakistan with the fundamentalist and extremists such as the Mullahs and the Taliban. Why are we expected to posses the same beliefs, life experiences and influences just because of a shade of green.

I am neither afraid nor ashamed to carry a Pakistani passport. In fact I treasure it as my identity set out by Qaid-e-azam, The Muslim league and the struggle of the Indian Muslims. I prize my heritage and my culture. Pakistan was chartered to be a secular state. Why is it than that my passport reeks of Talibanization, fundamentalists and extremists. Each time I am honored with a customized checking at the airport terminal, it is a crime against the very bedrock of what my nation was built to stand for. I feel a mighty un-doing of our country and our great patriotic flag. Each time a green passport holder is randomly screened for possible weapons of mass destruction our flag deteriorates a little more. The green symbolizing peace fades to a violent aggressive red. The white outlining toleration flickers to a faint decayed brown of ignorance. And the marvelous crescent and star solidify into the skull and bones logo. The long and short of it is that the more we are discriminated on the basis of our passport, the more integrity we lose as Pakistanis committed to peace, tolerance and discipline. The more you blame someone for committing a crime, the more guilty he or she will feel. The effect is obvious here. As Pakistanis are condemned terrorists they will lose track of their true identity.

The world owes the Pakistani community an apology for its harsh stereotypical attitude. Just as illegal immigrants from Mexico and Haiti are pardoned for their violations; Pakistanis too must be forgiven for a crime they did not commit. As outlined true Pakistanis would never do such inhumane acts of violence. It is against the code of the nation on which the true identity of every Pakistani rests.

Shahryar Malik

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Street Crimes

The incidence of snatches and thefts at gunpoint, of cars, motorcycles, cell phones, purses, cash and other personnel belongings in markets, bazaars, parks and roadsides, collectively referred to as STREET CRIMES, has been growing at a frenetic rate over the past few years. Everyday, on an average nearly 100 cases involving such crimes are reported, much larger and now growing numbers remained unreported owing to the increasing skepticism amongst the victims over police ability to ever recover their property. Very often, offering some form of resistance to the perpetrators ends up in some form of injury or death for the victim. As I was reading the newspaper on Saturday I came across an article.

“28th Oct 2006:In Korangi, a man was killed and his father was injured when they offered resistance to bandits late Friday night. Police said that bandits intercepted Abid, 24, and his father, Abdul Rasheed in Gulshan-i-Millat. Both father and son resisted when the bandits demanded cellphones at gunpoint. On their resistance, Abid was killed and Abul Rahseed was wounded. The bandits snatched the cellphones and escaped.”

Since resistance usually results in the death of the victim, it has certainly generated a general rule in the mind of the average man to hand over all his possessions when confronted with such a situation. Since a single episode usually just takes a minute or two, the perpetrators are able to commit several crimes and collect a handsome bounty. According to Dawn reports, “on 28th October 2006, around 50 people were deprived of their cars, motorcycles or cellphones in various localities of the city on Saturday(Oct 28th). Police sources said that eight vehicles and 42 mobiles phones were either snatched or stolen. Three motorbikes were snatched at gunpoint and an equal number were stolen. Two cars were stolen. Twenty-two people reported that they were held at gunpoint and robbed of their cellphones, cash and other personnel belongings. Twenty others reported that their mobile phones were stolen. Khokhrapar police claimed recovery of 20 cellphones and four TT pistols following the arrest of four suspects namely Zeeshan, Arbab, Akbar and Hadi alias Sher Khan. Many of the cases of snatching of cellphones at gunpoint and theft of other valuables is not even reported. Lack of trust in the police is the main and perhaps the only reason behind this. The victims generally believe that it is useless filing a report and informing the police since the people don’t have much confidence in the ability of police force to recover their property. And even if the proper is recovered, chances of it being returned to the owner are very slim. Perhaps the only exception are vehicles, these too, whenever recovered are usually stripped off the expensive parts and then returned.

Regarding this the Paktribune News’ reporter wrote, “The opposition leader in Sindh Assembly, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, has said that Karachi has appeared on the world map as worst victim of street crimes where citizens are deprived millions of rupees and valuables by criminals and about 500 street crimes were reported daily in the city. In a statement issued, the PPP leader said the military regime and its “puppets” in Sindh might disagree with his survey as most of the victims of street crimes avoid going to police stations due to lack of faith on police, while many of those that approached police stations were denied registration of their FIR. He accused the federal and provincial governments of dragged Karachi into what he called world’s worst victim of street crimes .

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On Tuitions and Global Warming-Karachi Getting the Straight A Treatment

You don’t need an introduction to the tuition wave in Karachi. It’s in your classroom, it’s in your face, it’s on your dining tables and lets not beat around the bush – it could be you. It isn’t healthy which is why I’m describing it like some sort of deadly sci-fi epidemic. In the KGS(karachi grammar school) alone, we’ve got seven sections of approximately 26 children each. Out of these 182 children, you know and I know that around 60 percent are down with tuition syndrome /compulsive tuition taking disorder/tuition fever. That’s 109 children per class, from KGS alone.

This scares me sometimes.

When the majority of the class are tuition-takers, it’s hard for teachers to gauge exactly how well students are performing without extra help. In other words, it’s hard for a teacher to tell whether teaching methods being put to practice in class are successful. a teacher will find it hard to improve on lessons. Students who aren’t taking extra help may also begin feel stupid and run out of hope sooner than they ought to since the rest of the class seems to be way ahead without even trying. But we can get around problems like that, and we have been. We’re lucky to have some teachers who’ll go to great lenghts to counter such problems, and to help us with work. A lot of the time these school teachers do give us a lot more help than the school timetable allows, (and not all of us are fast learners) which is why, some way or the other people are able to bridge the “I’m not taking tuitions, what about you?” gap. Help is given to those who need it in school .

Unfortunately, not taking that help, or simply discarding the option as ‘not good enough’ seems to be a popular choice. The alternative – tuitions. 

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When the Worst Brings out the Best

Here is an article I wrote last year after I had visited some of the affected areas last year. One year on, the memories I have of the people I had met there live on. Here is the article which was not published last year.

A week working at The Sungi head office in Abbotabad was an emotional roller coaster ride and an eye opener. The energy, generosity, and courage demonstrated by the affectees and the relief workers was a bittersweet taste of the reality of life after the earthquake. This is a story of some of the heroes of the earthquake. The people who are still standing when everything around them has fallen.

Kamyla Marvi, who has a background in Public Health, and I were teamed up with a couple of Sungi doctors, Dr. Waseem and Dr. Iftikhar, to set up a Halfway House for patients needing post operative and nursing care.

First up a suitable building was needed. After checking out a couple of homes slightly damaged by the earthquake we found one that was completely intact and quite frankly spanking new. A tireless and resourceful Sungi worker Sajjid took us to this place called Mufti House. Its owners had heard of our project and Landlord Zahid Khan was eager to give us his place no questions asked. He would not hear of taking rent and in fact asked if he could donate money towards the project. No stranger to social work, He, his cousins Reza Khan and social worker Nisar Khan had been distributing tents and food nightly till sehri under the name of their organisation AlRehman Trust. Nisar Khan was also the owner of a nearby private school which had been destroyed by the earthquake. All but one child survived and Nisar Khan believed that he could only thank God by helping others less fortunate than himself. His own wife, a teacher in the school, and children had been pulled out from under the mud, by him. When the earthquake had come his wife had got all the children to gather around her in a part of the school where the roof was less likely to fall. She could not, however, prevent them from being swallowed up by the mud and rubble. Nisar Khan hearing of the disaster had run over to dig them out. Even after pulling his own children out he did not stop to comfort them but threw himself back into the effort to pull out the other children whom he considered to be equal to his own. One of his students recalls hearing voices while she was buried under the sand. She reached out her hand which broke through the surface and grabbed hold of a man’s ankle. Nisar Khan pressed his hands to his cheeks and shook his head while relating the story unable to comprehend the horrors he had seen over the last month. His magnanimity is awe inspiring yet he feels he has not done enough. He was instead impressed by the spirit of generosity of the people of Karachi whom he said have sent so much including so many volunteers who have been willing to inconvenience themselves despite being so far removed from the situation.

Not all school children were as lucky as those in Nisar Khan’s school. In Ghari Habibullah, a young 6th grade Boy called Zohaib took us to see his school from which he had made a narrow escape. A large well built structure around a courtyard. It was like many school in the area very impressive to look at. . . what remained of it anyway. Zohaib appeared to be a light hearted cheerful student when we first met him. Like so many people in the camp a first glance gave no indication of the trauma he had been through. Warm hearted , generous, laughing and smiling their will to live life to the fullest is astounding and inspirational. Their stories however nightmares from hell. Zohaib had run out of his class into the courtyard with his teacher when he heard a loud sound. As he turned round he saw the second floor classroom filled with students come crashing down upon his own class. The very class he had run out of. The class that was filled with all his friends. He still feels afraid coming to the building and it sometimes gives him the shakes. A parent of another survivor says he has handled the situation better than her daughter who cannot bring herself to come anywhere near the school.

Psychological Trauma is another reality in these towns. A man Javed said he was unemployed and in need of a job. He said he wanted to go look for a job in a nearby town but was not able to leave his wife and children alone. His 15 year old daughter Sana, who had been buried under rubble for 4 hours, is a beautiful girl who 3 weeks later still looked scared. She had finally stopped shivering just three days ago but she was still having nightmares which resulted in her waking up screaming “ I’m falling.” She does not go back to sleep till Javed holds her and comforts her. His wife is so traumatised she cannot perform simple tasks like cutting vegetables. Javed cannot leave them alone, so stays in the village. His presence there is appreciated by all, as he is a helpful member of the community. He is full of initiative and capable of hard manual labour and is trying to find ways of improving the tents to prevent flooding in case the rains start. While busy trying to serve others he is not fulfilling his won basic needs. Clearly a once well off man, he has never had to ask for anything and feels shy asking for help even now. He is at a disadvantage against those who are willing to grab and hoard that which is not necessarily theirs. Unemployment is a huge problem. Poeple have lost their shops. A Jeweller, who’s shop has been reduced to rubble, went into recover whatever gold he could from the remains of the shop and distributed it among the villagers.

The mainstay of the community is however a woman called Irum who was once a Sungi worker. A strong and sensible woman with a very pragmatic approach to life Irum contacted Sungi and brought the Relief effort to her village. Irum survived the earthquake when her dog grabbed her shalwar as she ran towards the door. She stopped and turned around to push him away when a beam fell in front of her. Now dirty with matted hair the dog is kept with her in the tent city. Some villagers protested his presence but Irum was firm in the fact that he had saved her life. Irum’s colleagues offered to find her a house in Abbotabad but she refused their offer saying that she and the others were in this together. She has no intention of turning her back on her community. This way she feels she can help -by relaying the community needs to her friends in Sungi. When the trucks filled with goods come It is Irum to actively distributes. She is aware of the number of people in each tent, their ailments and problems. People are continuously entering her tent with demands or just looking for comfort. An elderly lady walks in carrying her 5 month old grandson Saad. A red cheeked boy dressed in woollen hat and sweater he is your picture perfect baby. He is sleeping peacefully in his grandmothers arms having just received an injection. Tetnus vaccinations have been given to all children in the area. A continuous stream of tears run down her face as she is desperately missing her son Jamil, who was killed in Muzzafarabad. Saad wakes up and grabs her face with his two little hands. His face breaks into to a big smile and he gurgles with happiness at the sight of her. She lifts him up and he covers her face with kisses. She is now laughing. The whole tents is laughing at his antics and the conversation changes from one of mourning the dead to the celebration of his life. Saad is apparently a carbon copy of his father. His memory lives on!

Such paradoxical experiences epitomise life in the NWFP today. The beautiful scenic roads to the villages all indicate that heaven is a place on earth. One minute later inside the affected villages and suddenly hell is a place on earth. People sitting inside tents talking on expensive mobile phones have no access to washrooms. Hearing the stories is depressing, there is no doubt about that. But more than that talking to them is uplifting. The human spirit is unbelievable. The will to live. The ability to laugh in the face of death and destruction inspires us all.

Saman Shamsie

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The Passion for Sports is there, All we need are the Facilities

The only sport in which Pakistan seems to excel internationally is cricket. Gone is the time when Pakistan were world champions in hockey; they came sixth in the Hockey World Cup 2006. What is the reason for that? More and more people embrace cricket as it can be played almost anywhere. How many fields do we have in which people can freely go and play hockey?

The worrying issue is that the government is paying absolutely no attention to the many complaints that have already reached Dawn and Daily Times. Why then do we still declare Hockey as the national sport of Pakistan when nobody is willing to devote himself or herself to it? Even cricket has been undergoing a slight but steady decline. Whilst people play cricket very often, ninety nine out of hundred times one will see them playing with a “tape ball” (this needs no explanation) on the streets. Playing cricket with a tennis ball is very different from cork ball cricket, which is played internationally(not to mention at high grades of club cricket as well as first class cricket). Playing cork ball cricket requires a field and, of course, we have very few people who can afford daily or even weekly practice in such fields to attain mastery in the sport.

 

Let us move to the growing sport of football. Sure, a lot of us can access the Khayaban-e-Rahat ground ground very frequently and enjoy the sport more than cricket. But what of the rest (and I dare say majority) of us? There are only three local football grounds in Karachi: The Rahat Stadium, the Aga Khan Football Ground and the KMC Football Ground. All of these three grounds are quite expensive to book. Besides this, due to the lack of fields these grounds are almost always booked and thus not only is it tedious to arrange a football match, but the grass is worn out due to over-usage.

 

Athletics is another area where Pakistan may prove to be very good at but seeing that there is only the National Coaching centre available to the entire population of Karachi, the chances of Pakistan excelling are very dim. Even swimming is difficult to access. Public swimming pools are so dirty that many are afraid to use them in fear of a skin infection, if not anything worse.

 

Undoubtedly private clubs such as the Karachi Club or Karachi Gymkhana have excellent sporting facilities. Yet the question is: How many of us have access to them? Membership costs can go up to an incredulous one million Pakistani Rupees(not to mention monthly fees etc) and due to Pakistan being a developing country a small minority can afford it.

 

The Government must do something about this increasing problem as the population grows each day. Sporting facilities can not only serve as a source of revenue to the government but can also produce sportsmen who can raise Pakistan’s stature in the world of sport as well as providing local people a better, healthier society to live in. If the government does not make such facilities available to all, then many potential world champions will die as commoners which will be a great loss for everyone. 

 

Hasan Abbas FY-M

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