Thursday, January 28, 2010

THE ISLAMIC VEIL: State of play in Europe

A ban on the wearing of the full Islamic veil is being studied in several European countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria. In France a parliamentary commission is due to present a much-awaited report on Tuesday, which is expected to recommend that new legislation be enacted to ban the full veil, known as the burqa or niqab, in public places.


THE NETHERLANDS: several draft laws concerning the wearing of the veil are in the pipeline, including a measure which would ban the garment for teachers. Another draft aims at a ban concerning civil servants.

DENMARK: The government is currently discussing the possibility of limiting wearing of the veil in public places, including school and courts. It is awaiting the opinion of a government commission before deciding.

ITALY: A 1975 law, aimed at protecting public order, makes it illegal to cover one’s face in public places. The provision applies equally to the veil and motorcycle helmets. Some mayors from the anti-immigrant Northern League have banned the wearing of the full veil, and the Islamic swimsuit, locally.

BRITAIN: The education ministry in March 2007 published directives allowing directors of public establishments and denominational schools to ban the niqab, after several high-profile court cases.

AUSTRIA: Social Democratic Women’s Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek launched the debate recently and is mulling a ban on the full Islamic veil in public spaces if the number of women veiled from head to toe increases dramatically.

FRANCE: In 2004 it passed a law banning headscarves or any other “conspicuous” religious symbols in state schools.

BELGIUM: numerous districts ban the full veil in public places under local laws and police ban the wearing of masks in the street except during the period of carnival. AFP

Monday, January 25, 2010

Drop by drop: life passes by as Tanoli drops from tinsel town to frying pan

By Mahtab Bashir

Art - both visual and performing genre, survives in Pakistan but at a very heavy price. Musicians, painters, singers or actors 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.

Khalid Tanoli is one of such artists, who brought laurels working for Pakistan Film Industry and Television over the last two decades but with the slump in Film Industry, is struggling to earn living, selling variety of fried fish at his small hut along the roadside at G-9/2, adjacent to F-9 park.

Narrating his miserable story of switching profession of acting to selling fried fish, 44 years old Khalid Tanoli, told Daily Times that he started off his career in film industry in 1990 with a popular drama serial “Ajj Di Kahani” from Pakistan Television (PTV).

Born in Abbottabad, and hailing from Lahore, fair complexion Tanoli said that his professional career in Film Industry is over but he is working with zeal and zest for small tube. “My ongoing television drama serials are “Amar beil”, “Zindagi Aik Safar hay”, from ATV, while “Bus Aik Tera Intazar”, “Insaan” and Nai Nasal” are forthcoming drama serial to be telecasted from PTV,” he said adding besides these number of serials he is working for two more Drama Serial “Jaago Magar Khamosh Raho”, and “Bhaag Ali” in the pipe line.

I have worked with all the leading casts of film industry and television artists. One of my current Punjabi Drama Serial is with the title of “Sohni Mahiwal” in which I am working along side Shafqat Cheema to be telecasted on Apna Channel, Tanoli added.

Tanoli said he has played different roles from peon to police officers, from driver to villain, and as a jailer and father in number of Urdu and Punjabi films. “Sher-e-Punjab”, “Dada Badmash”, “Mulla Muzaffar”, to name a few.

Settled in the federal capital since last two years, Tanloi said because of poor scriptwriting, acting, production and Indian and western cultural onslaught, pushed Pakistani film Industry into a quagmire and now it is almost finished. “It (film Industry) could never be revive again, because every quality movie is easily available on cable networks, and internet on different websites. Why should people bother to watch Pakistani current movies that has nothing to impress audience,” Tanoli said while inserting sticks into wood stove.

Sangeeta Begum, Rao Qurban Ali, Pervez Rana, Anjum Pervez, Arshad Dar, Babar Kashmiri, Irdees Bhatti, and Ajab Gul are few of noted produced to whom I have worked, Tanoli said. Besides this in television productions, I have worked with Yawar Hayat, Ayub Khawar, Tariq Ahmed, Abdul Aziz, and Yasin Malik.

He blamed Indian soaps and films are also responsible to down Pakistani film industry but flaws that caused industry’s decline are our own, also producer is reluctant to take chances on his investment, said Tanoli, who has three school going children.

I have learnt fish frying techniques from one of my colleague producer while working in Lahore, and it clicked. Now, by the grace of Almighty, I am the only fry fish seller who has all range of fried fish in the federal capital. “Rahu, Trout, Baam, Masheer, Mushka, Simon, and Surmai are the fish, I brought from Tarbela and Mangla Dams, and also from Kaghan and Naran while few fish I imported from Karachi,” Tanoli said.

Talking about the rates of mouth watering fried fish served with sauce, Tanoli said the rates of fish vary from one to another. “I have Rs. 200/ kg to 650/- kg with Trout is the most expensive,” he said adding Trout is the only fish that is served only by him.

When asked, why don’t you avail sui gas for frying and why sticks, Tanoli said, every spark of fire makes the taste and that is my specialty, that is why people not from posh sectors of Islamabad came here to taste my fish but people from remote areas also relish. “A car running on Gas has a low pick but with petrol it swiftly passed by- likewise, fire of sticks to makes my fish more delicious,” he said with a smile. He said his business is picking up momentum these days as the space along road occupied by customer’s cars, which troubled him sometime.

Tanoli said he is looking for a better spot where he could set up his fish selling business to serve fried fish in a better ambience. “I have struggled and I am satisfied with my life.” he said.
Tanoli requested government that time is not over yet; government must do something now for the revival of film industry, for the sake of promotion of art and culture. “I have worked with commitment and devotion for the promotion of art and culture and there are thousands of artists like me, who are looking forward government institutions to something for the welfare of artists- as they are the asset of the nation,” he said.

Courtesy Daily Times Jan 02, 2010
Mahtab Bashir

Saturday, January 23, 2010



“The trouble with weather forecasting in Pakistan is that it's right too often for us - to ignore it and wrong too often for us - to rely on it.”

I woke up early on Saturday morning (10: am :-) to meet few of multiple tasks including my visit to a bank. The weather was cloudy, heralding today might prove Met Office forecast of rain (that they have been making since last couple of MONTHS) right.

Settling down my tasks till 2:00 pm, I decided to go my office with multiple ideas to file a story regarding ‘Weather’ with emphasis on why our Met Office forecast go wrong constantly.

As I entered my office, I called telephone operator to make a quick call to Met Office. “Assalamu Alaikum Sir- It’s Mahtab from Daily Times Newspaper. How are you sir? I want to steal your 10 minutes,” I said in a single breath. “Walaikum Salam- OK, sure, please go ahead”, this voice was of Met Office duty officer. “Firstly, tell me today’s weather prediction and secondly temperature of Islamabad- Any drop of rain expected today? Why, having all the advanced technology and paraphernalia
Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) always predict what actually is opposite to it? Why you guys show sympathy with us when none of existing public sector organization is doing? You believe in hope or is it hope against hope? I heard and read, after occupying Kashmir territory, water of rivers flowing to Pakistan, now India is deviously controlling our climate, too? Is it correct or the poor Al Nino is to get all the blame??? “Hold on, please, duty officer said and there emerged another voice. Instead of continuing my strings of questions- I asked him to educate me about El-Nino phenomena or (Al Nino)! He said El Nino weather pattern had been prevailing over Pakistan since November 2009, and was blocking winter rains. The current El Nino conditions that started in June 2009 and suppressed monsoon rains in Pakistan were still continuing and were expected to last till 2010. ;-) I was surprised about the parrot-like cramming and promptly asked why our forecast never met to our words, (rather Met Office prophecy surprised all when it proved rightly). “I love watching Ashes- and in Lords’ Cricket Ground, experts (one of them with the lovely voice and accent – David Lloyd ;-) revealed that chance of shower later this afternoon- and it happened- it happened (always) and if it is an ODI, they told us the over number in which drops come down- and it happened (Hitting the bulls eye), I stretched our conversation. What I heard in response was a laughing voice and I again asked … but what is El-Nino? ……. “or line cut gai…

I peeped through the window, and found the Sun hiding among the black clouds. But weatherman knows best, I fancied considering that they do have today’s’ top technology.

In a frustration, after a while, I decided to visit the ‘Aqalmand’ weatherman to learn the ‘Brilliant methods of forecasting’. On entering the meteorologist room, I saw five wheels hung with the walls that can be rotated. Two wheels were imprinted with various sorts of weathers on them and the three had numbers on them.

I asked the weatherman about the techniques (methodology) they use for making prediction. “You see these wheels,” he began, “firstly I spin the first wheel and then see what come up. Then the second wheel is rotated in the same way. If both of them stop at, for example Sun- I forecast Sunny Day,” what about other possibilities”? I inquired.

“Well… if it comes Sun on one and clouds on second, then I guess that the
day will be partially cloudy with a chance of rain,” he said. “And the temperature?” I asked. “You see, that if it is a Sunny day, then I rotate the third wheel which has degrees from 65-100 imprinted on it, if a cloudy day- I use fourth wheel (ranging from 45-64 degrees). The fifth one id to predict the percent chance of rain.”

But what about the Satellite Photographs, you people show on TV screens? I further asked. “O! Don’t worry dear- about them… All of them are as old as Mohenjodaro. Don’t you know our space satellite has been destroyed for years. Whatever these wheels predict- Look into my files for a photograph corresponding to the prediction and this is to be shown on TV- and the system always clicked,” the ‘qualified’ meteorologist said.

As I left, I couldn’t help wonder that how modern technology and science making things appear so easy. Even a kid can do it. Have you ever thought about what is happening in our Meteorological Departments and where are we heading towards …….??? There are so many jokes related to it and few of them you must have read or heard!

On a serious note, El Nino, an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is one part of what's called the Southern Oscillation. The Southern Oscillation is the see-saw pattern of reversing surface air pressure between the eastern and western tropical Pacific; when the surface pressure is high in the eastern tropical Pacific it is low in the western tropical Pacific, and vice-versa. Because the ocean warming and pressure reversals are, for the most part, simultaneous, scientists call this phenomenon the El Nino / Southern O
scillation or ENSO for short. South American fisherman have given this phenomenon the name El Nino, which is Spanish for "The Christ Child," because it comes about the time of the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child-Christmas- and here I conclude my piece of writing.

Mahtab Bashir is a 'budding fiction-writer' & believes everything in Pakistan is a fiction. He may be contacted at

PS: All ‘Facts’ are ‘Fictions’ here, except the last paragraph about El-Nino.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


"Maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself." - A Siyana

Boys do not dump their immature antics and become men until they reach the age of 27, says new research based on a survey.

Lads do not grow up until they have had their first child by age 29 but would continue to indulge in boyish behaviour such as getting drunk, according to

Girls, on the other hand, become mature at 24 with the average woman swearing until she is 26, suggests the study.

Ladies also stop tumbling out of nightclubs at 25 and stop flashing their breasts and not pile on make-up by the age of 23, researchers found.

"The report proves that men simply don't grow up as quickly as women. They are still likely to indulge in some sort of immature behaviour," the Daily Star quoted a OnePoll spokesman as saying.
Courtesy ANI

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


"There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers."

It's all in the eyes when it comes to attraction. British scientists have found that women get more attracted to men with large pupils.

Edinburgh University study's scientists, who found that the attraction starts just as women are approaching their most fertile time of the month, believe that it could be because it indicates that the man is sexually interested in them and available for mating, reports the Daily Mail.

Pupil size made no significant difference for the rest of the menstrual cycle, according to the study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

To reach the conclusion, photographs of six equally attractive men were presented to a judging panel of ten women. But for each man, three versions of the photo were produced, with the pupils large, medium or small.

The pictures of the men were then jumbled and put into pairs for the women to rate. Volunteers recorded their age, whether they were using hormonal birth control, the date of onset of their menstrual period preceding the test and the length of their menstrual cycle.

The study's analyses revealed that attraction to large pupils shot up four days before day 13 of the menstrual cycle, the usual monthly peak in fertility.
Courtesy Mail

Na jany dhondty kya ho meri weeran ankhon main/ Chupa rakhy hain hum ne to kayi toofan ankhon main/ Tumhara zarf tha k tum ko mohabbat yaad nahi ayi/ Jala teri mohabbat ka diya har aan ankhon main/ Kisi ka hath le kar hath main mile jab tum hum se/ To kaise toot kar bikhra tha mera maan ankhon main/ Na samjho k chup hain, to tumse koi shikwa nahi hai/ Hum apne dard ki rakhte nahi pehchaan ankhon main !!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


By Mahtab Bashir

Of several songs in the movie "Pakeeza" (A 1972 Indian film) – that took 13 years in the making, a song's lyrics made by Kaifi Azmi, with the music of Ghulam Mohammad titled "Chalty-Chalty" surely stands out.

The sweetness in Lata’s voice as she slows down with “Yunhi Koi Mil Gaya Tha ... Sare-Raah …" is amazing! Towards the end of the song as Lata supposedly rushes through the song as the train whistle blows … is superbly captured! The song ends on a somber-note … “Ye Chiragh bujh rahe hain … mery saath jalty-jalty”. Superb!!! absolutely superb.

The movie is about the courtesan Sahibjaan, (Meena Kumari), who is born to a blonde courtesan, Nargis (also Meena Kumari). After being spurned by her lover's (Ashok KUmar) family, Nargis is driven to a graveyard where she gives birth to Sahibjaan secretly. Nargis dies during childbirth, and her sister, Nawabjaan, takes the child as her own. Sahibjaan was brought up by brothel madame Nawabjaan (Veena).

Unable to break away from the vicious circle, Sahibjaan grows up and becomes a beautiful and popular dancer/ singer. Forest ranger Salim Ahmed Khan (Raja KUmar) is enthralled by Sahibjaan's beauty and innocence, and eventually convinces her to elope with him, which she does. But trials and tribulations await Sahibjaan as she is recognized by men wherever she goes in the company of Salim.

When Salim re-names her "Pakeezah" (pure of heart) and takes her to a priest to be legally married, she refuses, and returns to the brothel. Salim eventually decides to marry someone else, and invites Sahibjaan to dance at his wedding, Sahibjaan agrees to this, not knowing that many secrets will be revealed at this wedding.

Achingly gorgeous songs and visuals, together with Meena Kumari's dynamite final performance make this a Bollywood costumer par excellence. Desire and shame vie for the heart of the courtesan, Nargis (Kumari), who yearns to fall in love and does, with an aristocrat (Raaj Kumar). But, for a woman of her profession, a happily-ever-after ending does not come so easily, as Nargis confronts dark secrets and humiliations that threaten to sabotage her romance and entrap her forever.

Here are the very touching lyrics, and I want to dedicate this song to someone -once very dear to me, who met me like a stranger and left me in a lurch like a "Perfect Stranger"!

Chalty chalty, chalty chalty- Yunhi koi mil gaya tha
Chalty chalty, chalty chalty- Yunhi koi mil gaya tha
Sare raah chalty chalety, Sare raah chalty chalty

Vahin thamkay reh gayi hain
Vahin thamkay reh gayi hain
Meri raat dhalty dhalty
Sare raah chalty chalety, Sare raah chalty chalty …
Jo kahi gayi na mujhsy, voh zamaana keh raha hai
Ky fasaana- Ky fasaana ban gayi hai
Meri baat chalty chalty
Sare raah chalty chalety, Sare raah chalty chalty …

Yunhi koi mil gaya tha - Sare raah chalty chalty
Yunhi koi mil gaya tha - Sare raah chalty chalty

Chalty chalty…Sare raah chalty chalty Chalty chalty Chalty chalty,
Chalty chalty Yunhi koi mil gaya tha…

Shabe intezaar aakhir
Kabhi hogi mukhtasar bhi
Shabe intezaar aakhir
Kabhi hogi mukhtasar bhi
Yeh chiraag- yeh chiraag bujh rahy hain
Yeh chiraag bujh rahy hain- meray saath jalty jalty
Yeh chiraag bujh rahy hain- yeh chiraag bujh rahe hain
Mery saath jalty jalty

Yunhi koi mil gaya tha
Sare raah chalty chalty …

Chalty Chalty, yuhein koi mil gaya tha (While Walking; While going along I met someone. My life has stood still since ...) !!!


Saturday, January 16, 2010


“Somehow, I don’t enjoy today’s literary writings as much as I enjoyed those produced a hundred years ago,” I said.

“Your age, my dear friend, your age! Don’t forget you have grown old and have not kept pace with time.”

“But my mind has not aged,” I protested, “I can still think young and dream the dreams of a young man. And I still love all such things that touch the heart of today’s young men — despite their preoccupation with television, computer and mobile phones.”

Seeing a possibility for some kajj bahsi to while away the evening, Babboo decided to continue the assault on my advancing age and said: “The problem is in your waning years, you have not been able to keep abreast of modern literary trends and their complex theories. And since they are now beyond you, you must continue to remain lakeer ka faqeer.”

“Stop it, yaar! Shuroo ho jatey ho!” I said, but looking at me closely, he asked:

“Be honest — for a change, if for nothing else — and tell me, what is it that you find lacking in today’s literature?”

“I find lack of style, lack of expression, above all, lack of romance — qualities that one found in the writings of the old masters.”

“You mean lack of Sense and Sensibility, lack of Of Human Bondage, lack of Farewell to Arms, lack of Lady Chatterley’s Lover — perhaps the only books you read?”

I ignored his remark and said: “In poetry I don’t find any ‘Daffodils’ or ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’… and … as far as humour is concerned, where are Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, or where are Shafiqur Rehman’s Shaitan and Hukoomat Apa? The novels too are more autobiographical than anything else and read like travelogues or history.”

“This kind of a sweeping statement reeks of jehalat and is a testimony to the fact that you have diligently kept yourself uninformed about modern literature. How else could you say with such fathead authority that there was no sensibility, poetic imagination or consciousness of the issues facing the human race?”

I still ignored the provocation and continued: “Where is that touch of Charles Dickens, Guy de Maupassant, Asadullah Khan Ghalib, a Mir Taqi Mir, Rabindranath Tagore or Haafiz Shirazi?” I wanted to tell Babboo that contrary to his biased belief, these characters were no strangers to me.

“Please stop name dropping. It is considered bad manners. I can list up more impressive names. And remember, these guys are dead and gone. They created literature in and for a different time for readers living under the dark shadows of two World Wars, a number of bloody revolutions, slavery, and a period of massive exploitation. If they preached love and kindness it was because their readers were famished and needed to be bestowed upon with alms — not only to satisfy their hunger but to keep them in good humour.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean, unlike yesterday when the reader was famished, he is better off today. He is living in a more affluent world. No longer, he is hungry for love and relationship. Today, he yearns for experimentation and innovation. Today, both he and the writer have become avant-garde. They also know how to catch the bull by the horn,” said Babboo.

“What nonsense. Writers today might have turned more practical and candid, but for myself as a reader dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din!”

“Who is stopping you from reading Shakespeare, Milton, Mir Taqi Mir and Ghalib? Go lie down in your charpoy and read Manto, Krishn Chander, Ismat Chughtai, even Ibne Safi and Wahi Wahanvi.”

It is difficult to argue with Babboo. After sometime, however, I asked him: “Who rules the roost today?”

“Arundhati Roy, Fehmida Riaz, Zeeshan Sahil, Kishwar Naheed and many others. They have concerned themselves with today’s problems — men and matter,” he replied.
“You have forgotten Faraz.” I said.

“That’s because I find his poetry for teenagers,” Babboo commented.
“So what’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing. Only that the teenagers today do not read poetry!” he said.

“You are wrong. Man cannot live without romance, in other words, poetry and literature. Just as today your avant-garde writers have taken inspiration from yesterday’s Masters, tomorrow’s writers and poets will be inspired by the present day writers and poets.”
“Rubbish. There will be no literature and poetry tomorrow.”
“Because there will be no books.”
“How will they read then?”“Blackberry zindabad!” said Babboo. This brought to an end our kajj bahsi.

Courtesy S M Shahid

Thursday, January 14, 2010


At my age I do what Mark Twain did. I get my daily paper, look at the obituaries page and if I'm not there I carry on as usual.

Old age begins at 27: Scientists reveal new research into ageing

Old age is often blamed for causing us to misplace car keys, forget a word or lose our train of thought. But new research shows that many well-known effects of ageing may start decades before our twilight years.

According to scientists, our mental abilities begin to decline from the age of 27 after reaching a peak at 22.

The researchers studied 2,000 men and women aged 18 to 60 over seven years. The people involved – who were mostly in good health and well-educated – had to solve visual puzzles, recall words and story details and spot patterns in letters and symbols.

Similar tests are often used to diagnose mental disabilities and declines, including dementia.
The research at the University of Virginia, reported in the academic journal Neurobiology Of Aging, found that in nine out of 12 tests the average age at which the top performance was achieved was 22.

The first age at which performance was significantly lower than the peak scores was 27 – for three tests of reasoning, speed of thought and spatial visualisation. Memory was shown to decline from the average age of 37. In the other tests, poorer results were shown by the age of 42.

Professor Timothy Salthouse said the results suggested that therapies designed to prevent or reverse age-related conditions may need to start earlier, long before people become pensioners.

He wrote: ‘Results converge on a conclusion that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s.’

There is some good news, though. The report states that abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or generalinformation, increase until at least the age of 60.
Courtesy MAIL

Age to me means nothing. I can't get old; I'm working. I was old when I was twenty-one and out of work. As long as you're working, you stay young. When I'm in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age.

Monday, January 11, 2010


By Mahtab Bashir

TWO YEARS AFTER (Monday, January 14, 2008, 1:17 am)
Bheer mein tanhaai mein/ Pyas ki gehraai mein/ Dard mein ruswaai mein/ Mujhe tum yaad aaty ho/ Geet mein shehnaai mein/ Khwaab mein purwaai mein/ Dhup mein parchaai mein/ Mujhe tum yaad aate ho/ Teri chaahatein meri zindagi/ Tere pyar ko main bhula na saku/ Karu koshishen bhaly raat din/ Tere aks ko main mita na saku… /Kabhi khwaab mein socha na tha/ Jeena parega tujhe chore ky/ Bheer mein tanhaai mein/ Pyas ki gehraai mein/ Dard mein ruswaai mein/ Mujhe tum yaad aate ho/ Geet mein shehnaai mein/ Khwaab mein purwaai mein/ Dhup mein parchaai mein/ Mujhe tum yaad aate ho …….

“HAPPY NEW YEAR” -perhaps is the only wish I hate to collect from people over the last couple of years. As the January approaches, my heart starts growing despondency in it- withering leaves all around the places adds insult to my injuries. Moazzam Bhai’s life’s leaf was the one that fall down in the same season.

Bhai ki tabiyat to Friday sy hi deteriorate hona shuru ho gai thi. He was sedated since many days. We consulted doctors for further advice & they said, pray for the
quality of your dear one, that may enhance quantity...
but keep praying!!! Bhai’s respiratory system was also perturbed. Me along with Nomi and Saqib, had installed all medical equipments to see him more around us- declaring it a “single room clinic”.

Us raat mujhay ajeeb ajeeb khayalaat anay lagay, and to hide my tears from Maryam, Zainab, Guria, mujhay jab bhi time milta may gate cross kar kay bahir road or kabhi park may aa jata. But I continued praying to Almighty all the times for a mi

Saturday night was the most troublesome, I remember while walking outside home with Nomi, we talked to each other- “There’s no more a good news for us that we go back home, and find Moazzam Bhai standing on his feet, greeting us with his trademark smile, and wit and admonishing us about our poor selection of attire and unpolished boots,” and… it didn’t happen.

Dard may bhi ye lab, Muskuraa Jatay hain
Beetay lamhay humain jab bhi yaad atay hain

Meanwhile, with the rapidly aggravating health of Moazzam Bhai, Nomi and me decided to call Ammi Abbu from Islamabad and to inform Bhabhi’s family members and to call them up- knowing well, it’s the time …?

After first surgery on December 2006, Moazzam Bhai stood up and overwhelmingly participated in life’s work. One day, he came to FBR for an official visit to Islamabad, and at night he said, ‘Yar subha tu meray naal chalna aay, Gujranwala- Bachiyaan nu ku
jh time day’. I said but I’ve to go to office but he refused to listen any of my excuse saying chadd yar, phone kar kay daas dena, menu kujh personal kam nay. Chall hun, subha 6 wajay da alarm laa day. And I did as suggested.

At morning, we started journey around 8:30 am. It was perhaps the only journey with Moazzam bhai whn I found him mystified, may be because of the disease he was fighting with -or may be the future of his family in his mind made him so. Otherwise, he was so vocal. Bhai gave me his cell phone and indicated to put it in dashboard, he refused to answer any call. However, after every 20 minutes, during driving, he pointed towards dashboard to give him cell phone. He unlocked it and watched the display picture of his youngest daughter Maryam and handed over to me to put it back with drops of tear in his eyes. And during our 3-3:30 hours drive, we both repeated the same act. Meanwhile, both of us listened the only song by Abrar-ul-Haq’s album ‘Nara sada Ishq Aay’, because it’s the only cassette available in the dashboard.

With passing of every five minutes, Bhai indicated me to rewind the song. Us wakt to may haqiqat taq na pohnch saka or na hi iss Sufiana kalam may chupi depth tak ja saka. It was a song full of tasawwuf and mystic poetry with a clear message- everything is mortal & death is the ultimate & sooner or later one felt sick of this worldly activities.

With listening the exact lyrics ‘Chal Melay Nu Chaliaay’ my heart is breaking from this whole missing thing. I’ve never loved someone like my dear bro- and it's just so damn sad. After two years, he's still in my head - makes things even harder. I just think about him all the time, just want to be with him. I want to be with him as he made me happy all the time and has borrowed me a lot to think over again and again. Here are the lyrics of song…

Hania ..orak jana e mar way Chal Melay Noo Chaliaay
Balia ... orak jana e mar way...Chal Melay Noo Chaliaay
Ailay phar kunjian way saanbh lay tijorian
Ailay phar kunjian way saanbh lay tijorian
khasman noo khanda e tera ghar way
chal melay noo chaliaay
Hania... orak jana e mar way
Chal melay noo chaliay

Pehla maila Aadam keeta
Malka sir sajday wich keeta
Pehla maila Aadam keeta
Malka sir sajday wich keeta
Tay Iblees gia wicho sirr way
Chal melay noo chaliaay
ania ..orak jana e mar way
Chal melay noo chaliay

Dooja maila Khaleel lagia
Zibha karan noo putar litaya
Dooja maila Khaleel lagia
Zibha karna noo putar litaya
Tay gia aap chaati utay char way
Chal melay noo chaliaay
Hania ..orak jana e mar way
Chal melay noo chaliay

Teeja maila raati hoya
Aan bohay tay Jibreel KhaloyaTeeja maila raati hoya
Aan bohay tay Jibreel Khaloya
Tay Sohna (pbuh) gia burraaq tay char way
Chal melay noo chaliaay
hania ..orak jana e mar way
Chal melay noo chaliay
Ailay phar kunjian way saanbh lay tijorian
Ailay phar kunjian way saanbh lay tijorian
khasman noo khanda e tera ghar way
Chal melay noo chaliaay
Hania... orak jana e mar way
Chal melay noo chaliay
Mujhay aaj bhi yad hay, school days may jab bhi hum may say kisi ko Khansi ati or rat ko Moazzam bhai bhi ghar pay hotay to ‘Khansi’ chupaani iti hi mushkil hoti jitna -
ISHQ or MUSHQ. Or hum store may ghus kar lock laga kar, khansi kar kay wapis aa jaya kartay. Aaj bhi may sochta hoon, khansi jaisi mamooli beemari or cancer jaisi deadly disease- wo to aik aik cheez jantay thay har beemari kay baray may or aksar doctors ko advice kiya kartay thay- ye sab phir kaisay ho gia? Or wo bhi with the blink of eye!

Multiple major surgeries, Biomap injections, Radiotherapy, (Radiation), Chemotherapy, coupled with father’s and relatives endless prayers- nothing worked.

On Saturday night, Nomi and me called Ammi, Abbu. On Sunday morning (January 13, 2008), Ammi, Abbu from Islamabad and Bhabhi’s brothers and sisters from Lahore,
arrived at Income Tax Colony, Gujranwala. All day, they remained busy in inquiring the health but Nomi & me knowing the fact, kept on lying, yes, Masha Allah he is improving. On that morning, when Ammi Abbu reached and went to Moazzam Bhai’s room, Ammi started weeping while father started recited some wird (Durood). Soon after father finished off Durood sending in the air towards Bhai, he gathered some courage and said to me in a whisper, “Masha Allah- Aaj to Moazzam ki sehat behtar lag rahi hay or swelling bhi kam hay,” and I said with my head down, “… G G aisa hi hay”.

Shaam hotay hi bhabhi kay relatives wapis Lahore jana shuru ho gay. Rat ko Ammi, Abbu, Bhabhi ki aik sister Safia, Saqib, Nomi or may along with 3 bhatejis were at home. Rat ko bhabhi kay aik bhai Abbu ke hamrah Lahore ye kehtay huye gay kay
“May medical clearance ka pata karwa kay, subha Insha Allah wapis aa jaoon ga."
He left home around 10:00 or 10:30 pm.

Hum teeno nay (may, nomi or saqib) nay raat ko 3 parts may divide kar lia tha, to provide bhai ventilation (oxygen). Sab bachay, ammi, bhabhi ki sister so gay. Sab sy pehlay Saqib ki bari thi as an attendant. May or Nomi, meanwhile, kabhi Lahore, kabhi Gujranwala, or kabhi Islamabad kay doctors say consult karty rahay and all of them replied for having DUA instead DAWA.!!!

We (Nomi & me) were sitting in drawing room; in front of heater, and unanimously planned to make a rep
eated call to Dr. Mukarram in CMH Rawalpindi and Dr. Shaharyar in Mayo Hospital Lahore at the dawn of Sunday. All of a sudden, Bhabhi went to Bhai‘s room and found his eyes in terrible positioning. She informed us and we all pierce through the room. I know he was on his last breath. All of us tried our level best to inhale him but… the eyeballs contacts of me, nomi and Saqib says its over- all over. Baji Safia was the one who initiated the mourning… Nomi called the doctor without killing a second, and me with Saqib went to nearby clinic. It was freezing, and I was in T-shirt but I drenched all over with sweat. On the way, Saqib whispered, “Mahtab- its over, no need to go”- I know it was … but we kept on knocking the doors. And when we came back, doctor pronounced Moazzam Bhai dead. Ammi and all Bhatejis were sleeping in another room- sudden hue and cry made all of them woke. I hold the hands of Maryam and Zainab and carried
them out of home. “What happened, Mahtab Chachu? Maryam asked, nothing Maryam, your papa was in hurry to meet God, I said with hiding my tears. “Hain, iska kia matlub hay, Mahtab Chachu,” asked Zainab. I asked, “Sardi nahi lag rahi aap dono ko”, “Papa ko kia hua hay’? Why Dadi ammi and mama are crying??? I was literally in snag what to say and what not… I lost the courage… I lost the words… because I don’t want to say your dad is no more dears!!! Bhabhi’s sister broke the news and called all relatives. She called father too, – who was just about to reach Lahore, It must have been a devastated news for him. I got my cell phone out of my pocket & called my sister Bushra back home at Islamabad (who whenever talked to me with dare consequences said bring Moazzam Bhai standing on his feet along you otherwise i will kill you) I called her and just told her … “Moazzam Bhai’s condition is severe, Dua karo yar,” She listened my murmuring voice silently, before she said any word.. I cut off the call… but I remember.. she was crying. Later, a quick words with doctor, revealed that Bhai never came out of malady, and we knew it- and we hide it like Bhai himself did.
Dear readers, please recite Fatiha and pray for Moazzam Bhai’s soul- That’s what only I need and that’s what all of you could do. Your prayers would help all my family members to smile back again!!! God bless you all. God bless Moazzam Bhai- (RIP).

Tujhay Kho kar bhi tujhay paoon’, jahan tak dekhoon
Husn-e-yazdaan’ sy tujhay husn-e-butaan tak dekhoon
Dil gaya tha to ye ankhien bhi koi lay jata
Mein faqat aik hi tasweer -kahan tak dekhoon’.



For more, please click on the following links...

Saturday, January 9, 2010


By Mahtab Bashir

After a span of over two and a half years, I am enable to take some time off, make few of my brain’s cells active, hold my pen, thought a bit, had a cup of tea & . ........ and put down few lines!!! Here it goes … with the title of WHY DO PEOPLE …

Why do people
Sell their esteem
Stoop so low
To replenish their need

Why do people
Forget the distressed
Replace their hunger
Devour bread of the bereft

Why do people
Not live for love
Heal the destitute
And gain their trust

Why do people
Murder pledges in inferior
All they need is
Devotion not desire

Lets prove it to them
That they are not alone
It was us- the ignorant
Not they- the indigent.

By Mahtab Bashir

HINT: Look NO further than PPP

Here are a few questions that might be set in a paper of politics.
All questions are compulsory.

1- Why was the police officer who ordered washing of the place of murder of Benazir Bhutto given promotion?

2- What do you know about the Ph.D. degree that Mr Babar Awan claims to have? Is it real or fake? Give arguments in support of your opinion.

3- Who said, "Promises are not hadith or Quran". Write a short note on the personality.

4- Why every new government says "all problems we have are legacy of the previous government"?

5- Name three of the most incompetent blue-eyed ambassadors of Pakistan abroad.

6- Name at least three CSPs who were given out of turn promotion in violation of all rules.

7- Which real estate tycoon presented fully-furnished, palatial bungalows to various VVIPs. Name at least one VVIP and the location of his bungalow.

8- What do you know about Surrey Palace? Briefly describe its architectural style and the living style of its owner.

9- Name the personalities who said:

a) I will turn Lahore into Larkana.

b) We will break the legs of whosoever tries to destabilize our government.

c) We will gouge out the eyes of our enemies.

d) Pakistan nah-khappay.

e) We should use Sindh card.

10- Name the ten most celebrated clowns in the present cabinet. Write a short note on at least two of them highlighting their shameless sycophancy of the President.
Courtesy S Mehmood

Monday, January 4, 2010


Lots of people have a favourite colour - but very few take it as far as one Los Angeles woman, who is so obsessed with the colour pink that all her clothes, her house and even her dog are the colour.

Kitten Kay Sera, 46, says that she's had her pink obsession for 25 years - and hasn't worn anything but the colour for much of that time.

Kitten, an actress, even wears pink to funerals, has decorated her home in California entirely with pink, and has gone to the length of having her dog Kisses dyed to match.

So strong is her devotion to pinkness in all its forms that she has even broken up with lovers if they didn't share her passion for the rosy hue.

Kitten insists that she isn't strange - she says that she simply has a natural affinity for the shade, which makes her feel 'lovely and luxurious'.
Courtesy METRO


By Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

The confrontation between the PPP and the PML-N is going to intensify in early 2010 with a focus on the political future of President Asif Ali Zardari. The statements by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari on December 31, 2009 clearly show that the battle lines are being sharply drawn. Nawaz Sharif targeted Zardari when he asked the beneficiaries of the NRO to resign and face the courts and argued that “the money deposited in Swiss banks was the property of the people of Pakistan” and that “it must be brought back to national exchequer.” This statement means that Nawaz Sharif has adopted the perspective of the hard-line elements in the party that have long argued for taking on the PPP in unambiguous terms.

The political outlook at the beginning of the year does not appear to be reassuring for democracy in Pakistan. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led federal government, including the presidency, find themselves in a siege environment with pressures coming from the superior judiciary, the military and the political opposition, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). One cannot go to the extent of suggesting that there is a carefully planned conspiracy to pull down the government. However, the political fallout of the developments in 2009 has raised doubts if the post-election 2008 system can stay intact for another year.

The political future of President Asif Ali Zardari is not the only thing in jeopardy. There are more serious issues involved here. Given the fact that Pakistan faces a grave terrorist threat and its economy is heavily dependent on external support, increased political wrangling and a ‘now-or-never’ struggle between the government and opposition can collapse the whole edifice of civilian political order. All political players will lose in the incident of the unravelling of the state and societal order.

The pressures on the current political arrangements are coming from four major sources, in addition to the threats of religious extremism and terrorism. These sources are the military, the judiciary, the opposition political forces and ineptitude of the government.

Traditionally, the military and its allied intelligence agencies have had a profound impact on politics and these continue to be important players even today. However, as the military has adopted a low profile and a subtle approach to power management, the superior judiciary has stretched the domain of judicial activism to build pressure on the civilian political elite, especially those in power. What has increased political bickering is the effort by different political parties to get political mileage against the PPP out of the Supreme Court rulings.

The confrontation between the PPP and the PML-N is going to intensify in early 2010 with a focus on the political future of President Asif Ali Zardari. The statements by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari on December 31, 2009 clearly show that the battle lines are being sharply drawn. Nawaz Sharif targeted Zardari when he asked the beneficiaries of the NRO to resign and face the courts and argued that “the money deposited in Swiss banks was the property of the people of Pakistan” and that “it must be brought back to national exchequer.” This statement means that Nawaz Sharif has adopted the perspective of the hard-line elements in the party that have long argued for taking on the PPP in unambiguous terms.

Zardari’s address on December 27 carried a clear message that he will fight back against his adversaries. On December 31, he was more categorical in responding to PML-N’s growing hostility towards him. He said that he possessed some “political weapons which he would use when he felt necessary.” He did not explain the nature of his political weapons.

It is noteworthy that parliament does not figure in different scenarios that the opposition is constructing for Zardari’s exit. No opposition leader talks of impeachment of Zardari on the basis the corruption charges because the opposition knows that unsubstantiated charges do not provide a credible basis for impeachment. Further, they do not have enough votes in the two houses of parliament to adopt this method.

The focus of the PML-N is on the developments outside parliament. Three possible scenarios can be constructed. First, the Supreme Court strikes down the presidential immunity from criminal trial and then Zardari is put on trial and convicted. The most dubious assumption is that the Supreme Court will strike down a clearly written article of the constitution and disregard the internationally established political norm of certain immunities to the head of state.

The second scenario hopes that the military top brass will apply enough pressure from the sidelines for Zardari’s resignation and, thus, clear the political deck for the opposition. This scenario is based on the assumption that the military top brass will facilitate the opposition agenda.

Third scenario perceives the PML-N spearheading a nationwide agitation against the backdrop of the alienated judiciary and the military. This agitation will paralyse the government, forcing it to accept the demand for the removal of the president. The dubious assumption in this scenario is that the PML-N can launch a nationwide agitation at a time when its main support is concentrated in Punjab and its political standing is weak in other provinces. Perhaps some religious parties may be willing to help the PML-N but these political parties, too, have major standing in Punjab.

The PPP is not expected to give a walkover to the PML-N, especially when it has strong presence in Sindh and Punjab and has a reasonable presence in the NWFP and Balochistan. There are strong doubts that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) will join hands with the PML-N to oust Zardari.

Another set of assumptions relate to the continuation of the PPP government minus Zardari. The underlying idea is that Yousaf Raza Gilani will play ‘Farooq Leghari’ and join hands with the opposition and the military establishment to knock out Zardari.

The available evidence suggests that the minus-one formula is not going to work. The PPP is not expected to stay in office if Zardari is ousted. It will not be an easy job to create an alternate political coalition at the federal level around the PML-N.

If the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence/Military Intelligence (ISI/MI) help to contrive a coalition for the PML-N, how long the PML-N led government will play subservient to these king-makers? Will it be in a position to change Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policy and pull out of all security and financial arrangements with the United States to satisfy its rightist and Islamist support base? If it does not do that, how far its policy will be different from the current PPP government?

The revised version of the Bangladesh model whereby the PPP and the PML-N are excluded and a government of technocrats, established with the blessings of the military and the judiciary, is going to run into political and constitutional obstacles. Any deviation from the constitution and established democratic norms, including the election of February 2008, will unravel the political institutions and processes. This will compromise Pakistan’s effort to cope with religious zealots and other extremists who are challenging the domain of the state. As the political forces get bogged down in unnecessary power struggle, these anti-state forces will have greater freedom of action, thereby causing the fragmentation of the state system.

The major political parties should show restraint in pursuing their partisan agendas. The PML-N and the PPP should work out a working relationship within the existing political arrangements. Any attempt to turn them upside down by any means and for any reason will be self-destructive for the civilian political forces. It may be easy to dislodge the present arrangements, but no credible political alternative is going to be available quickly.

The PPP should go ahead with the consensus constitutional amendments at the earliest. President Zardari needs to step back from active role in policy making and management and the federal government should devote more attention to improving governance. However, both the government and the opposition will have to review their present postures simultaneously, otherwise democracy can run aground in 2010.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst

Courtesy Daily Times, Jan 03, 2010


By Andleeb Abbas

The historical decision by the judiciary to declare the NRO null and void has created panic in a section of political ranks. The ruling party has predictably decided not to resign and is now looking at the two-pronged approach of denying and mudslinging at the opposition to prove that they are all in the same boat; and, technically, they are correct. PML-N and PML-Q have a history of taking loans and not bothering to return. While Mr Zardari is in the hall of shame for being a billionaire robber baron, the Sharif and the Chaudhry brothers are not far behind in this public money loot sale.

Truth can never be shot down. Somehow, this lesson has never been registered by the insecure leaders of our country, who still believe that position and power will eventually prevail over truth and reality. Herein lie the seeds of their own downfall. With the illegitimate protection of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) blown away, they find themselves exposed and insecure. With their legitimacy in question, they are using all ‘entitled privileges’ to shoot the messenger who brings the bad news. Suspending secretary interior on stopping the minister of defence from going to China is just the beginning of a predictable reaction of people who are desperate to hold on to their positions, as without that they cease to exist.

The historical decision by the judiciary to declare the NRO null and void has created panic in a section of political ranks. The ruling party has predictably decided not to resign and is now looking at the two-pronged approach of denying and mudslinging at the opposition to prove that they are all in the same boat; and, technically, they are correct. PML-N and PML-Q have a history of taking loans and not bothering to return. While Mr Zardari is in the hall of shame for being a billionaire robber baron, the Sharif and the Chaudhry brothers are not far behind in this public money loot sale. According to the latest reports, the Sharif brothers owe Rs 3 billion to banks. In 1998, as prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in a typical emotional drama on TV (similar to the one he did during the long march), had announced to surrender all the physical assets of Ittefaq Foundries, Brothers Steels, Ittefaq Brothers and Ilyas Enterprises to the nine banks. However, as we are familiar with his political histrionics and know that he is master chameleon, he managed to get a stay on the assets on the basis of some ‘technical default’ grounds. The NRO was a mockery, as is this technical default, which, in a ridiculous comparison to some strange term of ‘wilful default’ was declared legal. The defaulters’ list is as illustrious as the NRO list and includes many famous names and their kith and kin. The political elite is responsible for a majority of the Rs 193 billion default so far officially recorded. In fact, it has become a family heritage. The prime minister’s wife has kept up this tradition by also defaulting and then agreeing to settle the amount as media spotlight became uncomfortably glaring. Pakistan Green Fertilisers Limited Director Fauzia Yousuf Gilani, Ziaur Rehman, Khalid Hussain, Nasreen Munawar Chaudhry and Syeda Samina Abrar allegedly got a loan of Rs 71 million from the Zarai Taraqiati Bank in 1987 and did not return the money. However, NAB has withdrawn the case on their agreement to pay back the loan.

Like the Sharif brothers, the Chaudhry brothers have made merry of other people’s money. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, along with his cousin Pervez Elahi and brother Wajahat Hussain had borrowed massively for Punjab Sugar Mills and coerced the National Bank of Pakistan to write it off. The blatant attempts to legitimise their illegitimacy has been laid bare by the judiciary, and thus they are now trying to agree on a mudslinging ceasefire which, if continued, is likely to burn all of them in disgrace.

The common trait which brings PML-N and PML-Q together is their tainted and corrupt past. A few days ago, these two parties were sworn enemies. However, despite their inherent dislike for each other, they somehow always ended up ‘compromising’ with each other. Not long ago they were ready to slit each other’s throat and now they are almost at hugging distance. This change of colours and preferences is termed as flexibility, while in actual fact it is mere suitability to their own political designs. Such are the ironies in this ‘Political Corruption Association’.

With a record of failed collaborations in the past, it is but natural that this alliance based on circumstantial convenience will wither away with a change in conditions. Both the parties are playing on the nation’s nerves and patience and hoping that political fatigue in the public will once again condone their disastrous and callous decision-making. The reason given for this unwanted reconciliation is that the country cannot afford to have destabilisation which will result if these two ‘saviours’ of Pakistan do not let go of their grudges for the betterment of this country. However, by now the public is completely aware that each one of them is trying to save their skin. Fortunately, there are so many skeletons out of the cupboard now that there is no hiding place.

While the political leadership is focused on saving their positions, the country has been left politically, economically and socially stranded. The horrible potpourri of strategies to deal with the internal and external threats has led the government to a state of ‘no state’. The army is a pivotal part of this game and between the army, White House and the government, foreign policy has become a tragic caricature of shoot or not-to-shoot. On the one hand we have drones that have no sense of humanity, targeting the innocent and not-so-innocent in one go, on the other, we have the Taliban crushing any form of decency in the areas they can penetrate. While the government stands paralysed, anybody with the least of force can stamp on rules and laws.

This state of ‘no state’ is the result of moral bankruptcy. Moral default creates vulnerabilities in leaders in a situation of crisis. As the country faces food crisis, energy crisis and security crisis, the real face of these chronic defaulters has become frighteningly visible. The test of a leader is in testing times, which assess the leader’s ability to make the right choices. Therein lies the opportunity to rise above himself, above the petty issues and fight the temptations to take the easy way out. Strong leadership is all about not giving in and not giving up. Unfortunately, on these grounds every leader of ours has defaulted. They have been led by their own temptations and by the force of circumstances rather than choosing to be ones who would drive the circumstances. To be such a strong leader you need to sacrifice personal interests, ego, and financial, political and social comforts — a tough choice none of our leaders is ready to make. In every adversity there is an opportunity. Having exposed their weaknesses in the hour of crisis, these leaders are giving the nation an opportunity to make choices based on character, performance and behaviour rather than personality, sympathy and rhetoric. As a nation we have to stop believing that except for these faces there is no choice. As a nation we must see the unseen, speak the unspoken and choose the unchosen.

Andleeb Abbas is a management consultant and CEO of Franklin Covey
Courtesy Daily Times, Jan 03, 2010