Thursday, December 31, 2009

NEW YEAR RESOLUTION: Make it and break it

By Mahtab Bashir

At the end of the year 2009, I am greatly indebted to those who abhorred me- for they made me a stronger person. Thanx to those, who loved me beyond the fact what I am- for they made my heart bigger. My massive thanx goes for those, who got pain for me- for they have shown care for me. I'm also grateful to those, who left me alone in a lurch- for they made me realise ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’. And i'm deeply obliged those, who entered in my life and get intact- they made me aware ‘Who I am’. And lastly, I apologize to all my mates, if I ever hurt them and made them cry, ‘Please forgive me’.

Like birds, let us,
leave behind what we don’t need to carry…
FEAR and
Life is like an Ice Cream- Enjoy it, before i melts!!!

My New Year pledge is to write a Book or Memoir … & yeah that’s true!

Obviously, this one is more dedicated to a writer, but if Paris Hilton can write a book, anyone can write a book. It can be about anything, your work experiences, your friends or your goals in life.It doesn’t have to be anything that will get published, but something that you want to keep for yourself and look back 10 years from now to see what has changed or remained the same. Or you can pass it around to friends and families just for a good laugh.
Keep praying everyone!


A New Year's resolution or a commitment is done to make your new year a better one. If someone makes resolutions to reform a habit, then there are people who want to make changes in their lifestyle. These promises are made on New Year's Day, the first day of a brand new year. These resolutions are supposed to be either fulfilled or abandoned by the end of that year.
Here are 39 tips for the New Year 2010!

1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in plants (factory).
4. Live with the 3 E's - Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
5. Make Time for Prayers.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2009.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day & meditate/pray.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day - and while you walk, SMILE!
11. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't overdo; keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously; no one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/ her mistakes of the past, that will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and Laugh more often.

24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 7.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch. 32. Do the right things.
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. God heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel; Get up, Dress up and Show up!
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
39. Your inner most is always happy, So be Happy!

Let us pray that
it will be a year with New Peace,
New Happiness
and abundance of new friends,
God bless you all
throughout the New Year.


Saturday, December 26, 2009


By Mahtab Bashir

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee...?-John Donne

Folk and classical music survives in Pakistan but at a very heavy price. Musicians and singers live in most difficult times. The state institutions that are meant to promote art and culture ignore them. The art councils and other such institutions remain indifferent to the issues of artistes. Many artistes have passed away in abject poverty while others live in conditions that are not fit for an artiste who is protecting our rich cultural heritage. Some of these artistes survive by performing across the globe in different festivals and concerts. Few are not honoured in their native land but win accolades for Pakistan in other countries, and few goes out of the scene without being noticed.

Few days ago, I chanced to visit Lok Virsa (my ex-office, where I spend 3 years working on a project named “Pakistan Monument” as Reserch Associate and Sub-Editor), for an official assignment covering ‘Wakhi Festival’ organised by Lok Virsa.

I stayed there in front of Heritage Museum’s gate, where youth were enjoying with traditional dances, on the tunes of melodious native songs of all 5 provinces. Being a frank person and initiator of breaking the silence, I went closer to the artists trio, who were singing - and found that none of the troika members is the same I left at Lok Virsa- two years ago.

I asked one of the member, “Tuwada tay sara group e change ho gia ay- Kithay gay nay puranay log saraay,” and he responded with a sarcastic smile. “O aik patla jia banda hunda si, Chimta wajandaa si, nazar nai aa ria aaj,” I made another question. “O- mastana ustad? O saab gi … ohnu tay faot hoyay poora saal ho chalia aay”, the man wearing Sindhi Cape, not only broke the silence but broke my heart in a one go. “Hein… o yar o Patla jia banda- dhooti panda si- mera khyal ay tusi koi hor samjh raay o, I said with the hope that the diseased is not the one, I’m asking for. “O aho saab gi, may samjh gia waan, o tay saal pehlay faot ho gi si, balkay aithay daftar which e hoya si, os din ohdi tabiyat bohat khraab si, asi tay bohat akhiya, jao baba, aram kar ja kay, par o nahi gia. Sham nu ohnay cholay tay chawal khaaday san, ohday naal ohnu badhazmi ho gai,” he kept on to narrate the whole story. “Fair thori deir bad ohno dil da attack hoya tay, mokay tay ee chala gia wacharaa, tay aay apni nishani chadd gia aay saday kol,” he said pointing to Chimtaa lying beside him. “Inna Lillahi Wainna Ilahi Rajioon, bohat afsos hoya ay gi. Saday naal tay ohdi bari yaari si. May aithay takriban 3 saal kam kita ay, tay khoob gap shup hundi si sadi- may to ohnu Hamid Ali Bela keh kay cherna saan, tay o bara khush hunda si. Allah Bakhsay,” I said. “Bus g, Rab da hokum- 4 bachay nay ohday, Cosmos walay ohday ghar paisy bhej rahay nay, 4-5 hazaar,” the man in shabby shalwar Qameez said.

Khadim Hussain was one such icon (icon for me), who will long be remembered for his mellifluous vocals and skillfully handling of “Chimta” that soothed the spirit of listeners sitting on furniture at the wide courtyard of Lok Virsa (Heritage Museum) where his voice with the amalgam of Chimta give me the delight of Alam Lohar and Hamid Ali Bela at one go.

I remember, whenever I finished off my officially work, I ran immediately out of the office, that was just adjacent to the space, this three member group engrossed in singing folksongs and ghazals, sometimes by demand of visitors, sometime by their own. And I always used to request skinny Khadim for “MAA-AIN NI MAY KINNU AKHAAN- DARD WICHORAY DA HAAL NII”... and he kept on singining with the fusion of Chimtaa.

Born and hailed in Faisalabad, Khadim joined Lok Virsa in 2004 before working for Capital Development Authority (CDA) for quite some time. Khadim left 4 children behind him to mourn over his death. May God bless his soul in eternal peace & give his remnants peace of mind. (RIP).
Mahtab Bashir

Thursday, December 24, 2009


By Syed Talat Hussain

Pakistan’s security establishment should have no problem in coexisting with a president who co-chairs the country's largest political party. They must admit that losing political calm in these crucial years is not an option

‘Coup’ is the most popular four-letter word in Pakistan these days. It is on everyone’s lips. An outright military takeover, a sudden political change, ouster of President Asif Ali Zardari, formation of a national government – all sorts of scenarios are being debated in all four corners of Pakistan. It is almost as if a military-backed change has become an inevitable, imagined reality. The only question that remains is its shape and form.

Seemingly what has triggered this flight of analytical imagination is the Supreme Court’s verdict against the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). But at a deeper level, the issue is not about 17 judges’ judicial slant against a sitting government – the allegation that is so rife in the PPP’s inner circles. It is about a complete breakdown of trust between Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment and President Asif Ali Zardari.

The history of this mistrust is well known. It is born of the peculiar circumstances that threw up Mr Zardari as an accidental choice for the highest office in Pakistan. While the election of the president was beyond reproach and procedurally correct, concerns were common in the military establishment about Mr Zardari’s competence and qualification for the job. These in part related to his inglorious record, and in part his exceptional closeness to the American power brokers – something he did not hide, and in fact wore on his chest as a badge of honour.

But these objections were put aside under the pall of Benazir Bhutto’s murder. The single most important reason why Mr Zardari waded through the thicket of the establishment’s objections to his candidature was the feeling that this should pacify Sindh. The other reason was the assumption that Mr Zardari would not punch above his weight while in power. At that time there was little to suggest that Zardari would shake off his docility and transmute himself into a power centre dictating policy on national security matters such as nuclear weapons, India and even Afghanistan.

These assumptions were proven wrong. The first few months of Zardari presidency were defined by a monumental effort on his part to take charge and become the sole arbiter of the country’s fate. Like his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf, he attempted to become Pakistan’s only window to the world, not realising that Pakistan’s geographical situation had become far more complex than to allow any one individual or institution to be in the driving seat of power. The gap between him and the military establishment grew wider. No effort was undertaken to mend the fences and create functional communication with the generals he constitutionally commanded but seldom called to find out how they looked at the country’s situation.

Failing to grab the reigns of complete power, President Zardari swung to the other extreme. He completely vacated the field of strategic policy-making. Now the situation is that while official appearances are kept, there is no love lost between the army as an institution and President Zardari as the head of the state. This dysfunctional relationship looks more ominous now that the Supreme Court of Pakistan considerably whittled down the constitutional protection available to President Zardari against criminal investigation. Jurists are debating the finer points of the apex court’s direction to the ‘federal government and other concerned authorities’ to restart mutual legal assistance proceedings in cases abroad, including Switzerland. There is little disagreement over the message of this directive: cases of kickbacks and money laundering against President Zardari are no longer taboo. These, like thousands of other proceedings in cases of corruption and other heinous crime, are to be revived.

A controversial president, mired in a deep personal crisis of credibility and consumed by the passion to hold on to what he believes is his right – i.e. a five-year term in office – is in charge of a country that is in the eye of the storm of a peaking global war against terror. This is where domestic politics becomes an extension of defence and foreign policy. In the coming days, the outcome of this mounting internal turmoil would be defined by the stresses of the war against terrorists at home, and the anticipated backlash of enhanced international operations in Afghanistan, some of which are bound to spill into Pakistani territory.

But therein lies the opportunity for President Zardari to save the day for himself. Pakistan cannot be internally unstable at a time when its borders are becoming hot. The US war being lead by Obama is as much about Afghanistan as it is about Pakistan. And if you hear Obama’s civilian and military lieutenants, it is more about Pakistan than about Afghanistan. Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard C Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was typically blunt about the cause of and the purpose of this war.

“It is obviously true that the people who did the [9/11] attack were driven east into Pakistan, and that is why we now talk about Afghanistan and Pakistan as an interrelated situation. And I will state right upfront that success in one country requires success in both. We will not be able to succeed in Afghanistan unless our Pakistan policy is equally successful. While the [US] troops are in Afghanistan, the hard core of our core enemy is next door,” said Holbrooke.

This means that Pakistan’s security establishment’s first preference would be not to lose domestic ground to political agitation and friction. There are only so many wars the Pakistan Army can fight; and those fought internally never produce clear winners and losers. Pakistan’s security establishment should have no problem in coexisting with a president who co-chairs the country’s largest political party. They must admit that losing political calm in these crucial years is not an option.

At the same time, President Zardari should also carefully examine the state the country is in and make a businessman-like assessment of the options before him. Fake heroism borrowed from quotations sells well in party meetings. It has no place in level-headed politics. While his party seeks another crown of political martyrdom by playing the NRO victim, the fact is that Asif Ali Zardari has been a disappointment. But he can still hang in there if he changes the way he functions and what he brings to the presidency. If he is willing to do this much, it would not be a bad idea to have a meeting with his army chief to work out what can best be done to arrest this dangerous domestic drift.
The writer is a leading Pakistani 'Serious' journalist\12\24\story_24-12-2009_pg3_2

Dec 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

"EK DAFA VO YAD HAI TUMKO... bin batti jab cycle ka chalan hua tha ......."


By Mahtab Bashir

This melodious and very romantic yet nostalgic song from a movie called Ijaazat, written by Gulzar and beautifully sung by Asha Bhonsle is probably one of my all time favourite.

Mera kuch Samaan tumharay pas pada hay
Sawan kay kuch bheegay- bhegay din rakhay hein
Aur meray ik khat may lipti raakh padi hay
Vo raakh bhujaa do, mera vo samaan laota do

Ek dafa vo yaad hai tumko
Bin batti jab cycle ka chalan hua tha
Tumnay kaisy- nangay, becharon si acting ki thi
Hawaldaar ny ulta ik athanni dekar bhej diya tha
Ik chawanni meri thi, vo bhijwa do ...

116 Chand ki ratein, ik tumharay kadhay ka til
Gili mehndi ki khushbu, kuch Jhoot-moot ky shikway
Kuch jhoot moot ky waday bhi kuch yaad dila do
Mera vo samaan laota do .......

I have always been a fan of Gulzar’s poetry –ethereal, earthy and poignant. Particularly, in this song, he makes the pain of the lover come alive with his words, as a listener you cannot help but empathize with her. This song has a very nostalgic quality to it; it just transfers you into that 70s era. It is just the kind of song that you would want to listen to in a mushy, rainy day; while sipping tea and thinking about all the things you have lost.

Here are the lyrics to one of the most beautiful renditions of Asha Bhosle, of all times. I can listen to it again and again for n number of times.

Mera Kuch Saamaan Tumhare Paas Pada Hai
O O O ! Saavan Ke Kuch Bheege Bheege Din Rakhe Hain

Aur Mere Ik Khat Main Lipti Raat Padi Hai
Vo Raat Bhulaa Do, Mera Vo Saamaan Lauta Do
Mera Kuch Saamaan Tumhaare Paas Pada Hai

Patjhad Hai Kuch ... Hai Na?
O! Patjhas Main Kuch Patton Ke Girne Kee Aahat
Kaanon Main Ek Baar Pahan Ke Laut Aai Thee
Patajhad Kee Vo Saakh Abhi Tak Kaanp Rahi Hai
Vo Saakh Gira Do, Mera Vo Saamaan Lauta Do

Ek Akeli Chhataree Main Jab Aadhe Aadhe Bheeg Rahe Thee A
adhe Sookhy Aadhe Geele, Sukha To Main Le Aaye Thee
Geela Mann Shayad Bistar Ke Paas Pada Ho
Vo Bhijwa Do, Mera Vo Saamaan Lauta Do

116 Chaand Ki Ratain Ek Tumhare Kaandhe Ka Til
Geeli Mahendi Ki Khushbu, Jhoot Mooth Ke Shikwe Kuch
Jhooth Mooth Ke Wady Sab Yaad Karaa Do
Sab Bhijwa Do, Mera Vo Saamaan Lauta Do

Ek Ijaazat De Do Bas, Jab Isko Dafanaaungee
Main Bhi Vaheen So Jaungee
Main Bhi Vaheen So Jaungee …….

And ... today, when I listen to this song, I think of a crazy, effervescent and young Mahtab in me- madly hovering the cities of Lahore, and once Multan and a visit to The Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Iqbal’s tomb, Anarkali Bazaar, Fortress Stadium, clicking snapshots, Ice Cream, drops of rains, hot tea, waiting room of Daewoo Bus Terminals, warmth, cozy evenings, travelling and shopping all over, long walk along the roads, Asha Bhosle’s voice, the depth in the lyrics, pain which is sweet, … and everything romantic and beautiful slowly but surely haunts me head over heal!


Friday, December 18, 2009


"I am as old as my Eyes and Nose & a little older than my Teeth."

Most of us think we do a good job cleaning our teeth. But dentist Dr Phil Stemmer says many people don't, with 'potentially fatal consequences'.

'The state of our teeth affects the rest of the body, as bacteria there can get into the blood stream,' he says.

Bad oral hygiene has been linked to a range of serious health problems including heart disease and stroke.

Here, Dr Stemmer explains the proper way to clean your teeth:

* Choose a toothbrush with a small rounded head to get into all corners of the mouth without bashing your gums (which can trigger an ulcer). Make sure it's a medium bristle variety - any harder runs the risk of damaging the enamel.

* Don't brush your teeth straight after eating, especially after acidic foods such as citrus fruits, as the tooth enamel will have been weakened by the acid and you'll just brush it away. Either brush before breakfast - this helps to prevent dental erosion by coating the teeth with fluoride - or clean at least an hour after eating so that enamel will have hardened.

* Brush in short round movements moving across the teeth. Don't saw - running the brush backwards and forwards across the teeth - as this can wear away the gum. Make sure you include the margin between the teeth and the gums.

* Take two minutes to brush teeth to guarantee removing the plaque.

* Choose a toothpaste with fluoride, as this protects teeth against decay. However this doesn't mean fluoride-free varieties are ineffective. 'Efficient brushing, regardless of the toothpaste type, is vital to protect against gum disease. You can keep the gums healthy, even if your toothpaste doesn't contain fluoride.'

* Whitening toothpastes cannot lighten the teeth, they can only remove existing stains.
Courtesy MAIL

‘Dissident’ ulema rushed to hospital after eating 'toxic' Halwa

Hum Maulvi hein, Khaaty hein Din Raat Halwa
Bahaar ho kay Khizaan, La Ilaha Illallah

By Mahtab Bashir

ISLAMABAD: Dec 18, Nine clerics were hospitalised on Thursday after they ate ‘poisoned’ halwa.

According to details, some clerics decided to boycott the Ulema and Mashaikh Conference, saying they did not endorse the government’s stance on terrorism, jihad, drone attacks and the Taliban.

They had gathered at Abdul Ghafoor Haideri’s residence to discuss the conference. The guests were served the halwa when Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur
Rehman reached Haideri’s residence to take the “dissidents” into confidence over the draft declaration.
All of them immediately fell sick, however, Mufti Muneeb left the premises and fell unconscious when he reached the conference.

Meanwhile, according to hospital sources, the clerics are said to be in stable condition. Published in Daily Times, Dec 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009


PARIS: From the country that gave the world Brigitte Bardot and topless sunbathing comes a fresh expose of the human anatomy: man's enduring fascination with bottoms.

Large or small, pert or flabby, we've all got them, yet, since the dawn of time, buttocks have been seen variously as a source of inspiration and erotic desire, a taboo and a mocking V-sign at authority.

Now two journalists from France -- where else? -- want to get to the bottom of why the derriere casts such a spell and why it should be celebrated rather more than it is.

"If we looked at buttocks more," says Allan Rothschild, co-author of a new book called "The Hidden Side of the Bottom," "if we caressed them more, and if we made more drawings of buttocks, the world would probably be a better place than it is today."

While it's fair to say that caressing backsides seems unlikely to catch on as a driver for world peace, Rothschild and Caroline Pochon say the unassuming rear is getting a bum deal and deserves more attention.

As well as their book, they're also behind a television documentary on the Franco-German television Arte giving scientists, psychoanalysts, writers and artists their chance to wax lyrical on the subject.

It's all to a backdrop of depictions of the posterior through history, from stern ancient Greek sculptures to risque film extracts, posters, songs, poems and paintings.

"The attraction we have for buttocks is completely universal," Pochon told AFP.

"The notion of desire that's focused on that body part has been incarnated in every era and every culture."

It's a serious business, this study of the rump, taking in everything from art to spanking, physiology to gay porn.

An art historian compares Gustave Courbet's portrayal of the humble bottom to Rubens' well-proportioned women, while a French social scientist notes that the muscle that enables us to clench our buttocks is one of the most powerful in the body and helped allow Man to walk.

The documentary also relates the story of the so-called Venus Hottentot, a woman with unusually large buttocks and genitals who was working as a slave in Cape Town in the early 1800s when she was taken to Britain and then France.

There she was exhibited as a freak and, when the public tired of the show, was declared by scientists to be proof of their theory of the inferiority of certain races.

At first, Pochon and Rothschild were looking only to explain the obsession with the female behind. But they quickly found out men have a lot to offer as well, combining strength and vulnerability.

Rothschild says that a man's hindquarters "can be pretty, can sometimes be muscular and sometimes a bit flabby," and insists "it's a buttock that must be defended, must be shown, and that merits attention."

So they looked also at depictions of the male behind from Michelangelo -- who gave buttocks "a maximum of sexual and philosophical intensity," according to art historian Xavier Girard -- to 21st century gay culture via more than a passing reference to sodomy.

The bottom has also been cheekily utilised as a symbol of defiance against the established order of the day through mooning, or baring one's rear.

"It's a very political gesture to show your bum," noted Pochon, adding that "at demonstrations, you often see people pull down their trousers."

Quite. It may not have had much basis in historical truth, but Mel Gibson's ragtag army of Scots lifting their kilts in front of the wicked English was a highlight of his "Braveheart" epic.

It was the 19th century which accentuated the female bottom more than ever via the corset and its strangled waistline, said Philippe Comar, professor of morphology at the School of Fine Arts in Paris.

He said that century was the most sexist and misogynistic of all. "It's not surprising feminist movements sprang up at that time."

Courtesy AFP

Thursday, December 10, 2009



Love really does hurt, according to scientists, who found that breaking up can cause physical pain. Researchers discovered a genetic link between physical pain and social rejection.

Muhabbat Mukhtasar bhi ho
To usko Bhool janay may
Umr sari beet jati hay!

Psychologists at the University of California in Los Angeles have discovered that the human body deals with emotional stress in exactly the same way that it reacts to physical pain - by releasing a natural painkiller.

Believe their findings suggest that the experience felt by people is the same regardless of whether their body is injured.

The researchers measured levels of a gene used by the body to regulating the painkillers.

Researchers collected saliva samples from 122 participants to assess which form of the OPRM1 pain gene they had and then measured how they reacted to different senarios.

First, participants completed a survey that measured their own sensitivity to rejection. They were asked, for example, how much they agreed or disagreed with statements like "I am very sensitive to any signs that a person might not want to talk to me."

Then the emotions of 31 people among the group were tested when they were excluded during a virtual ball-tossing computer game.

Prof Naomi Eisenberger, the study co-author, said this overlap of physical and social pain makes perfect sense.

She said: "Because social connection is so important, feeling literally hurt by not having social connections may be an adaptive way to make sure we keep them.

"Over the course of evolution, the social attachment system, which ensures social connection, may have actually borrowed some of the mechanisms of the pain system to maintain social connections."

The same portion of the brain that is responsible for the response to physical pain became activated as a result of social rejection, suggesting that, to our brains, emotions really can “hurt.”

Their study also indicates that a variation in the "pain gene" is related to how sensitive a person is to social rejection.

Prof Eisenberger said: "Individuals with the rare form of the pain gene, who were shown in previous work to be more sensitive to physical pain, also reported higher levels of rejection sensitivity and showed greater activity in social pain-related regions of the brain when they were excluded."

This is the first time that it has been proved that genes involved in physical pain are linked to mentally painful times like social rejection and breaking up with a lover, she said.

The findings back up a previous study by the University of Queensland that indicated that descriptions of the agony of rejection as like a knife being thrust into the heart are more than just metaphors.

Dr Geoff MacDonald said it is no coincidence that people across different cultures and languages use similar terms to describe physical pain and what it feels like to be rejected.
Courtesy Telegraph


By Syed Talat Hussain

Much of Pakistan’s soft clout in Afghanistan in the coming months would be shaped by its ability to tag along with the world’s nation-building efforts. If Islamabad baulks at becoming a strong and willing partner in these, others would fill the gap

The American road-ahead policy presents Pakistan with a unique all-round policy opportunity to shape the strategic environment in Afghanistan, close festering sources of terrorism in tribal areas, and most crucially, regain broad-based clout with Washington. In other words, the ambitious multiple agenda the US has set for itself in Afghanistan, and partly also in the borders areas of Pakistan, provides exceptional room for Pakistan to make strong purposeful manoeuvres to earn solid diplomatic gains.

Take Afghanistan’s internal challenges first. Even though the US has lowered the bar for its nation-building stride, still it is committed to a tall order. In just under two years, endemic corruption has to be rooted out, drug lords’ formidable empire has to be torn down, and the economy has to be built-up and made self-sufficient. This is not all. In this tight time-frame, administrative efficiency has to reach a level where all of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts must have, in the words of General James Jones, the national security advisor, “economic development, good governance, and security”. Also included in the dreamland of benchmarks are “good and competent governors” for all the 34 provinces of the country.

It would be a miracle if even a fraction of this wish list comes true, especially by a weak and politically emaciated president whose second term election President Obama believes was marred by fraud. But Pakistan should resist the temptation of being the Jeremiah, the prophet of doom. Nor prepare to dance with vicarious joy in the event that the situation in Afghanistan defies Washington’s hopefulness. Instead it should, and seriously, partner in these efforts regardless of whether these are doomed to failure or destined for success. It is obvious that to make the first review of the progress in Afghanistan — in the middle of next year perhaps — a worthwhile exercise, the Obama administration will pull every stop to bring about visible change in all these indicators. Therefore, Washington is likely to be far more receptive to productive suggestions on pursuing its development agenda from other countries than it has been so far. Pakistan can step in with plans that enhance Afghans’ capacity to move in the right direction — infrastructure, education, agriculture, irrigation, basic science, technology, water management or many of the dozens of areas where it has expertise to proffer. Much of Pakistan’s soft clout in Afghanistan in the coming months would be shaped by its ability to tag along with the world’s nation-building efforts. If Islamabad baulks at becoming a strong and willing partner in these, others would fill the gap.

Helping rebuild the Afghan National Security Force, the army and the Afghan National Police, is another area Pakistan ought to eye for gaining goodwill and diplomatic ground in Afghanistan. Many of Islamabad’s objections to the conduct of the Afghan National Army (ANA) deployed on the border with Pakistan are sound. The ANA has lived up to its reputation of being a force viscerally hostile to Pakistan. Elements from the erstwhile Northern Alliance dominate the ANA. Its members are mostly Darri and Persian speaking. They have been trained over the past many years to mistreat Pashtuns, which is part of the problem in Afghanistan.

While this history makes them structurally inimical to Pakistan, the fact remains that for the Obama administration to build a truly national army, the institution’s ethnic imbalance shall have to be rectified. Pashtuns, former Taliban, even the personal armies of warlords, have to be integrated into the national army to become viable and take over responsibility of stabilising Afghanistan and paving the way for the start of the pull out of US troops. It is not known yet how much Washington would be willing to allow the Pakistan army to team up in efforts to train the ANA. However, for an Afghan force to be functional and effective in the south and the east of Afghanistan, its ethnic composition has to be such that Pakistan’s contribution to its training must be welcomed in any serious effort in building it up along strong durable lines.

At any rate, Pakistan must make a solid gesture on this project: ditto should be done on Afghan police reforms. Remember, Pakistan cannot afford to be left out of the efforts to create institutions that would play a critical role in defining Afghanistan’s trajectory in the coming months. Also, international confidence that an Afghan national security force has come of age will help endorse Pakistan’s long-standing argument that the prospects of durable peace are inversely related to foreign troop level in Afghanistan. They will have to leave for peace to be fully restored and the Afghan resistance to be neutralised politically. Then there is the issue of safe havens inside North Waziristan and the presence of the Quetta Shura in Balochistan. On the face of it, the room for agreement between Washington and Islamabad is the least on this benchmark. US officials believe removing these sanctuaries is the first and foremost task to bring about a strategic shift in violence in Afghanistan.

Members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment see the ‘safe havens’ refrain a stratagem Washington and its allies use to hide their long and spectacular military failure inside Afghanistan to stem the rising tide of the resistance. Beneath this mutual recrimination, however, lies the hard fact that Pakistan and the US have consistently cooperated with each other in combating cross-border movement of the Taliban. Their military operations, not always conceived in perfect harmony, have seen both parties alternately play the hammer and the anvil to smash and squeeze the militants moving across. In the last surge-related operation in Helmand, Pakistan ended up sealing a long stretch of the border with Afghanistan to disallow any spillover effect. A much deeper and wider cooperation will be required to manage far bigger and bloodier operations in the coming weeks.

It is in Pakistan’s core national interest to ensure that safe havens do not become Washington’s excuse for pinning the blame for poor performance in the battles with the Taliban on us. It also serves Pakistan’s paramount security concerns that the wild militant groups in the tribal belt are brought under the heel. The new and vicious wave of urban terrorism has rendered useless the distinction between North and South Waziristan militancy. Government officials themselves admit that much of this terrorism is now flowing out of Mir Ali. This is where Wali ur Rehman, Hakeemullah Mehsud and the other big fish are. Cleaning up this area is critical to making operation Rah-e-Nijat relevant to securing the people from the game of death the terrorists are playing. A hard hit at these safe havens will also take the US pressure off Pakistan and give Islamabad and Washington time to plan about the Quetta Shura.

Pakistani policy makers have a substantial window of opportunity to make wise choices — something they did not do when George W Bush and his neo-con cabal were sending forces into Afghanistan. Pervez Musharraf’s thoughtlessness landed the country in a heap of unintended problems. This nation cannot afford a repeat of a similar mistake now that Washington is seriously thinking about going home.

The writer is a leading Pakistani journalist who is ‘serious and committed’ in media industry of Pakistan
Courtesy Daily Times, Thursday December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This news item published in Daily Times, Wednesday, Dec 09, 2009 is dedicated to one of my venerated friend belongs to Bahawalpur.

PNCA displays textile crafts of Bahawalpur
By Mahtab Bashir

ISLAMABAD: Southern Punjab has a distinguished tradition of arts and crafts, which its people have retained in spite of the passage of time. For centuries the Punjabis are making intricate needle work, woven fans and mats, handmade bed sheets and cushions and many more handy works to choose from.

To promote this indigenous handcrafted works and develop textile industries of Bahawalpur by involving local crafts people, especially women to provide economic empowerment of the area, Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) in collaboration with UNESCO and Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC) on Tuesday held an exclusive exhibition of needle crafts from Bahawalpur at National Art Gallery (NAG).

Tauqir Nasir, PNCA, DG was the chief guest on the occasion, while Capt (r) Mazhar Hameed, Regional Manager (RM) Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC) and UNESCO officials were also present on the occasion. However, because of deteriorating law and order situation, the gathering remained very thin.
The exhibition displayed the artwork by the artisans from remote areas of Southern Punjab region and in Particular from Bahawalpur. Cholistani hand fans, carpets, ladies suits (block prints with vegetable dyes), bed sheets (block prints with vegetable dyes), crinkle (cross stitch and Banarsi stitch), towels, table mats, ladies and men kurtay, cushions, table sheets, ladies suits (Zardozi, Tarakashi and thread embroidery), scarves, cotton men’s wear, handmade shoes, women’s wear (block print and Sussi), crinkle Chiffon (with Gota work), Sandwich covers, Bed sheets (traditional Ralli pattern in traditional colours and styles), and a wide range of Choli and Ghagra (tie and die) were put on display with price tags.

All handmade items especially the needle work on textile appreciated by a number of people, who considered it a symbol of Southern Punjab culture that is effectively used as a tool for poverty alleviation on one side and promotion and development of colourful culture on the other.

UNESCO director Tarja Virtanen, who was unable to attend the ceremony because of worsening law and order situation, in her speech read out on the occasion said that Pakistan has a tremendous potential to become a leading player in the cultural industries. “The country’s rich traditions in craft and design have delighted people through generations and have become sought after items of value in world markets,” Tarja said.

She said culture is a treasure, a resource commonly available to all and free of costs, and cannot be separated, as it is the identity of a region. “Whether it is the potter working on the roadside of GT Road or a woman of Cholistan laboring diligently on their needlework, one can not help noticing and marveling at the look of pride on their faces as they are no less than Sadequain, Guljee, or Anna Molka, when they spoke of their most cherished work. She said that Norway has given them additional funds to conduct pilot activities to demonstrate the value of cultural mapping in NWFP and Punjab under the title of ‘Mapping of Cultural Assets in NWFP and the Punjab’. “Our programmes on handicrafts or cultural industries are geared towards quality assurance and providing access to the artisans to potential markets, therefore we invariably link these activities with UNESCO Awards of Excellence Programme, to encourage crafts persons” Tarja said.

PNCA DG Tauqir Nasir said that this exhibition is all about the colours of Cholistan area that has its own rich culture and tradition. “Long ago, I visited Derawar Fort and Cholistan desert, and while spending my time there, I felt different modes of colours in its ambience. The colours ranging from soft to scarlet, everything reflected diversification of cultural richness of the region,” Nasir said.

For edited published version, please click on the link below\12\09\story_9-12-2009_pg11_11


Wanted: leaders with integrity
By Andleeb Abbas

You only feel humiliated if you have the capacity to feel. The egos of our politicians are so big that they have blinded them to their own reality. They do not see the rightful and do not feel the painful

Leaders with integrity are an endangered species in Pakistan; in fact they are almost on the verge of extinction. The painful process of seeing the same faces shamelessly denying proven facts, making promises which are broken as a matter of routine, and continuing to use and abuse their political positions has become an agony the public can no longer bear. The fact that the president of this country has merrily and unabashedly announced that his position gives him amnesty despite the lapsing of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is an admission of the fact that his title is the only thing saving him from prosecution; this ‘exemplary’ leadership has set the pattern for many of his ministers to follow.

Politics and politicians in this country have become a joke; you really do not know whether to laugh or cry at the totally bizarre character and behaviour of the majority of the politicians around. They rant raucously, they lie unscrupulously and they cheat ruthlessly. Here is how the politician eligibility criteria goes in Pakistan: to qualify for a seat of power, your major qualifications are a graduate certificate from nowhere; you need to have tonnes of experience in hoodwinking, law breaking and leg pulling; your major skills are a fierce determination to put your self-interest above the interest of all else and a ferocious dedication to prove that wrong is right. Being insensitive and callous are of course bonus traits that will ensure your survival under the most penetrative and conclusive media attacks on your performance and behaviour (our Minister of Interior has abundantly proven how sans heart and soul he is while repeating again and again that “it is not possible to stop these terrorists” and thus advises patience to people who see their loved ones being massacred haplessly). Some additional pluses are their unbounded potential and talent at mudslinging and character assassination of all who oppose them; such abusive retaliatory powers will win you accolades from your party leaders; their personal integrity should be zero while their professional corruptibility should be hundred percent. With this lethal combination of qualification, experience and skills, you stand a very bright chance of coming into parliament again and again as every time you are in power you enhance these qualifications to a level where you become a veteran of politics at its filthiest.

The crowning glory for these highly eligible individuals is the NRO. The NRO is like an ISO-9000 certification for corruption of the highest quality level. The NRO list shows a total of 8,041 people. 7,793 high ups from Sindh have benefitted from the NRO, promulgated by former president Pervez Musharraf on October 5, 2007.

The NRO is a distinguished list. Befittingly, the leader of the country is leading the list from the front. From the SGS and Cotecna, to ARY Gold, to Pakistan Steel Mills, to the Awami Tractor Scheme, the president has really led the way.

Following suit are prominent leaders like Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Nawab Yousuf Talpur, Mir Baz Khetran, Sindh provincial minister Agha Siraj Durrani and Senator Jehangir Badar, Salman Farooqi, secretary-general to the president, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Hussain Haqqani and Wajid Shamsul Hasan, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom are all in line for this unique honour.

The MQM is the second highest accused party. Altaf Hussain had 72 cases against him, including 31 on murder and 11 on attempt to murder charges. Dr Farooq Sattar, the MQM’s parliamentary leader, occupied the second slot. A total of 23 cases were withdrawn against him, including five on charges of murder and four on attempt to murder. The third biggest beneficiary appeared to be provincial minister Shoaib Bukhari of the MQM, against whom 21 cases were withdrawn, including 16 on murder and attempt to murder charges. The PML-N also figures in this illustrious list but is overshadowed by the above two stalwart parties.

In any other country such horrifying exposure would have resulted in resignations and perhaps suicides. In the recent MPA expense scandal in London, from the speaker to the accused MPAs, all resigned; though in many cases the allegations did not amount to more than a few thousand pounds, the humiliation was too much for them to take. But you only feel humiliated if you have the capacity to feel. The egos of our politicians are so big that they have blinded them to their own reality. They do not see the rightful and do not feel the painful.

It is time for justice to take its turn. The judiciary should ensure that they shake the complacence of these alleged wrongdoers and once for all change the belief of this nation that in politics one has to compromise on character and integrity. You may compromise on style and procedures, you may sacrifice on processes and practices, but you can never compromise on principles and values. What we need are leaders with integrity, leaders with dignity, leaders with courage, leaders with conviction, leaders with vision and leaders with passion. This is a nation which came into being due to leaders of integrity and this is a nation which will once again rise and shine due to people of such character. Integrity maybe a rare commodity but not an extinct reality. Let us ensure that this human minority overrules the inhuman majority.

The writer is a consultant and CEO of Franklin Covey.
Courtesy Daily Times, Dec 09, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

HELLO GAYS…Here’s not a gay news for you!

Gays 'will never go to heaven': cardinal

VATICAN CITY — Homosexuals and transsexuals "will never enter the kingdom of heaven", a leading Roman Catholic cardinal said on Wednesday (December 2).

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said that while the Church regarded homosexuality as an "insult to God", this did not justify discrimination against gay and transsexual people.

"Transsexuals and homosexuals will never enter the kingdom of heaven and it is not me who says this, but Saint Paul," the cardinal said, in comments reported by the Ansa news agency.
"People are not born homosexual, they become homosexual, for different reasons: education issues or because they did not develop their own identity during adolescence. It may not be their fault, but acting against nature and the dignity of the human body is an insult to God," he said.

Barragan, the retired head of the Vatican's Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, quoted a passage from Paul's epistle to the Romans which speaks of "men committing indecent acts with other men".

"Homosexuality is therefore a sin, but this does not justify any form of discrimination. God alone has the right to judge," the cardinal said.

"We on earth cannot condemn, and as human beings we all have the same rights."