Friday, December 31, 2010

OLD IS GONE- WHAT IS NEW?

By Mahtab Bashir
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Islamabad

Today is the first day of the year 2011, another round of beginning and end, another slice of eternity to count our days all over again. It is just another year, putting the eternity in motion like frames of photographic images are spliced to produce a movie. We shall call the same name of the days, the same name of the months, repeating our daily chores, body functions, habits and mannerisms. We shall still get hurt by our mistakes, we will again be befooled by the hollow promises of political actors, we will smile and weep, fight, curse, scream, shout and draw each other's blood again.

Still the advent of a new year brings excitement. It's like turning the page of a spellbinding book, pulling the reader to find out about the characters, the plot, the turns and twists which throw the mind into surmises and surprises. We look forward to the New Year because of our fascination for the new, the new, which brings change, and the change, which brings hope.

Is that all there is to the New Year's Day? Valentine's Day celebrates romance; Twenty-third March celebrates Pakistan Day, 14th August- Independence Day, 25th December, the birth of founder of nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Then we have religious days like Eidul Fitr, Eidul Adha, Eid Miladun Nabi, Shabe-e-Barat, Shab-e-Qadar, etc. What exactly do we celebrate on the New Year's Day? What do we signify with fireworks, champagne, singing and dancing? Is the New Year just another excuse for getting drunk?

I don't know about the average number of resolutions taken by people in other countries. But people take resolutions all over the world, which should add up to hundreds of millions. Many people take vows to quit smoking or drinking in the New Year. Others resolve to plan their lives better, to avoid the mistakes of the past and look forward to healing their wounds in time.

In essence, the New Year's Day is the time for optimism, hope against hope in mankind's fierce struggle against the futility of fate. It's a symbol of renewal, revival and revision, a celebration of the fresh start to correct past mistakes and capture future opportunities. We toast, we boast, our minds rejuvenated, our hopes revived, we indulge in the expectation that life gives a second chance like amnesty offers clean slate.

We have welcomed the New Year already, despite the bomb threats, despite tight security, despite political confrontation, terrorism, economic and financial hardships hanging over us like mushroom clouds. Nothing stopped us from the celebration of one night, from wishing each other a Happy New Year, our mobile phones bleating with SMS to exchange goodwill.

We all know it would not lasts forever, our resolutions mostly forgotten by the time we get done with our hangover, by the time the sun goes down on the first day of the New Year. By that time the flower shops, mobile phone companies, liquor stores, hotels and restaurants have done brisk business. Some people buy new dress, new shoes and then cook rich food. Many people are superstitious. They believe that how they live on the first day will determine how they also live for the rest of the year. There are those who don't incur any spending, because they believe they would squander throughout the year unless they start saving from day one.

In a way, the New Year's resolution is a selfish business. Everyone wishes what is best for him, may be also for his family, but the larger interests don't count. People don't think of the country, their community, neighbours or friends. Perhaps it's a time for reflection, but that reflection is confined to parochial interests, each for his own, and none for all.

It is this selfishness, which made it possible to welcome the New Year in the midst of so many tragedies. Our nation was still quivering in the impact of suicide bombs like the body of a slain beast in its last spasms. We welcomed the New Year while hundreds of thousands of farmers, teachers, flood and earthquake victims are still freezing in the cold, fasting to death in the hope that the government was going to pay attention to their pitiful plight.

Yet we danced and sang in drunken frenzy, flesh pressing flesh, limbs going up and down, bodies twisted in the senseless reflex of primal instincts. The liquor brewed storms in our head, our blood boiling in the heat of ecstasy, our minds howling like raging beasts. There was unprecedented security in the capital. God knows how much it cost the taxpayers to keep some people in their drunken stupor!

At the philosophical level, nothing was wrong with it. Nothing was wrong with having an extra day of party. We need to have more fun to sublimate the pain and anxiety that are wasting away the vitality of our nation.

The question is whether we have resolved anything. Have we had the time to think of the common good as we got incrementally drunk, and the music got louder with our hysteric bodies? Did we take the time to talk about our woebegone country and its fraying future? Or did we behave like the village idiot who sawed off the same branch of a tree on which he was sitting astride? If we rejoiced on the New Year's Day, did it occur to us that we were immersed in the sea of sorrow, our past depleted, our present diminished, our future threatened?

What faith is to ritual resolution is to the New Year. No relief without belief. A conversation without a concept is nothing but an empty prattle. When men and women are inebriated, their minds fermented with inordinate ecstasy, it shows nothing more than their own hollowness. It goes through the night, left and right, dark and light, dim and bright, idle talks and drunken walks. Then the countdown at midnight comes as if we can't wait to drop the old and pick up the new.

Now, if the old is gone, what is new? What is new that we have resolved before walking into the dense cloud where our minds plunged into false pretense? What have we got to celebrate when the parliament doesn't protect, the government doesn't rule, and the people don't have power? What have we got to celebrate when the faithful are ferocious and the devout are deluded? What have we got to celebrate when education doesn't give knowledge, wisdom doesn't give foresight, and character doesn't give courage?
In the drunken spree between the last night of one year and the first morning of another, did we get to think of it? Probably yes? Probably no? Let us have this one resolution for next time. When we wake up in the morning, we shall at least remember if we thought of it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

MY NEW YEAR RESOLUTION for 2012

NEW YEAR RESOLUTION: As I always make it and break it

By Mahtab Bashir
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Islamabad

At the end of the year 2011, 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 ‘Expect the unexpected’ & ‘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 last but surly not least, 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…
GRUDGES
SADNESS
PAIN
FEAR and
REGRETS.
Life is like an Ice Cream- Enjoy it, before it 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 I believe 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!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012

A New Year's resolution or a commitment is done to make your new year a better one than the previous 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 2012!


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 2010.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day & meditate/pray.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/ her mistakes of the past, that will ruin your present happiness.
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. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day - and while you walk, SMILE!
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. The best is yet to come.
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. Smile and Laugh more often.
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 of mind,
New Happiness, and prosperity
and abundance of new friends,
God bless you all
throughout the New Year.

MAHTAB BASHIR
03335363248
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
ISLAMABAD

Sunday, December 19, 2010

SMILING DUO GETS APART

Those we love, never go away
They walk beside us everyday
Unseen, unheard, still near
Still loved, still missed & still very dear

By Mahtab Bashir
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Islamabad

There are several prominent incidents, which took place on the day of Aashura- the 10th of Moharram-ul-Haraam, making their place in the glorious Islamic history. This is the day in which Adam- the first man on this universe was created, Ibrahim was born, it rained for the first time, Mercy was revealed for the first time, Noah’s ark rested at the mountain of Joodi, Ibraham was released safe from the fire of Namrood, Ayub was relieved of his illness, Moses (Musa) was born, Yunus was born and later was freed from the belly of the giant fish, Yaqub regained his eyesight, Yusuf was freed from the well and also from confinement, Isa (Christ) was born, and also was raised to the skies, Muhammad (pbuh) was married to Khadija, and Imam Hussain attained martyrdom.

This is supposedly a day on which the Qiyamah (dooms-day)- a Day of Judgment will take place. This blessed day of Friday (10th Moharram), December 17, 2010 was proved out to be a Judgment Day for me as nature snatched my beloved friend Tahir aka Uncle- as I call him.

As I opened my eyes this Friday morning, I extended my hand towards cell phone and started checking the miss calls and text messages on its screen. Tahir’s miss call was there followed by his text message ‘Mataabi, pichli masjid may aa ja, udhar hi ikathay Juma Parhtay hain’, I read the text with one eye closed. I slept again. When I opened my both eyes next time, It was 1:20 pm. I hurriedly off to washroom, took bath and whil e taking my brunch I realised the time of Juma is out of my hand. I slowed down the pace and took out newspapers to read.

At 3:20 pm I rang the bell of Uncle’s home. ‘Kon Hay Ye Choti Tango Wala’ a voice came out; it was uncle’s favourite one-liner, whenever I pushed the bell of his home. I smiled and replied absurd answer that made him smile. Within few seconds, uncle opened the gate and came out with his trademark smile, wearing Bright White Shalwar Kameez and Black pullover. ‘Chal yar Uncle’- he understood my 3 words & there we were off to our walk. Taking just few steps Uncle asked, “Aaj Juma Kidhar Parha Hay, Mataabi,” I stared at his face and bend down my head. ‘May Samjh Giya Hoon, Tu Nay Parha Hi Nahi’, Mainay Tujhy Phone Bhi Kia Tha Subha or Text Bhi, Uncle said smilingly. ‘Bus Yar Uncle, raat deir may soya tha, ankh khuli to Juma hony wala tha’, I said with extreme innocence. Yaar Aaj to Bara Khaas Din Tha Mataaby, Aaj to Tujhy Juma Nahi Tha Chorna Chahiay, chal kheir hay, Uncle said. ‘Idhar say aa Yar- Upar ki Taraf chaltay hain’, uncle said pointing towards Rajput market in I-10/2. I said ok. While reaching to market, Uncle said Yar Matabay- Hamaray or Goron ki research may kitna farq hay. ‘Kia Hua Uncle? I asked laughingly. Yar may kuch din pehlay TV pay dekh raha tha Goray bata rahay thay ‘Chocolate Heart Patients Ky Liay Bohat Achi Cheez Hain’- Taqat Milti Hay is sy dil ko - or hamray Doctors pata nahi kia kehtay hain. Mainay to pichlay mahenay sy Choclate khana Shuru kar di Hay’, he said. I laughed again and said bus Uncle harmary or goray ki treatment bohat contrasting hay, or diagnose to hay hi nahi yahan pay. Hum beemar ko kehtay hain, Pankha Band kar do or garam kapra lay lo, Paseena ay ga to theek ho gay, Gora kehta hay, jo kuch pehna hua hay sab utaar do or jab body ka temperature environment temperature ky equal hua to theek ho jao gay. Phir uncle- hum Khansi may bhi isi tarah kartay hain, Koi Khatti cheez nahi khani, or Gora Aisy Syrup or Drinks suggest karta hay jo Khattay hon or jismay Citric Acid ho, I kept on talking…. Uncle laughed and said … Tu bari cheez hay Matabi and said ‘Chal Mujhay Choclate ly ky day’. I put my hand on back pocket and gave 50 Rs to shopkeeper, Tu nay bhi Khani hay’, Uncle asked me. Kio g mujhay kia hay, may apka Moonh dekho ga kia, I said, and found Uncle laughing again. On our way back, Uncle said to me, Yar Mataabi, Kal Kashmir Chaltay Hain, ground may ja kay larkon sy mshwara kartay hain. Monday ko Tyar Raheen Yar, Blue Area jana hay Paisay lenay. Gari ka Kaam karwana hay phir,” ok Uncle, may tayar hoon. Kashmir janay kay liay to Garam Kapray parso hi nikaal liay thay. Or haan Abhi Cricket khel kay motorcycle nikaal, mainay aik pharmaceutica l store ka pata kia hay, wahan chaltay hain apni medicine lenay. Shaheen or D-Watson bohat mehngi detay hain yar, Uncle said. I said yar uncle dekh lay kaheen 2 number na hon jahan ka address day rahay hain, I replied. Nahi yar check karwa lain gay kisi sy. Cricket khel kay chaltay hain bus. I said ok Uncle.

It was the first over, I was keeping the wicket while Uncle was fielding on straight boundary line. Just 2-3 balls delivered and we found two boys of our team scuffled with each other. We all came closer to them and tried to untie the boys while Uncle with his full volume hurried near to them. He was in sheer anger over the boy who started the brawl- the things were settled down soon with our interference. Again a boy (an associate of the one who started the fight put down the wickets- Uncle got furious and shouted ‘Wicket kis nay girai hay- Khari Karo Wicket’- these were the last words I heard from Uncle. As soon he uttered these words, he fall down the ground. We, without wasting a second ran towards Uncle. His eyeballs were not visible, his face changed colours first in yellow than red. I started rubbing back side of his feet, few tried to pump his chest, one of boy appeared with a glass of water. We put Uncle in a car and off we went to Hospital. After 30 minutes struggle to keep Uncle breath going Doctors pronounced him dead. And Uncle made this smiling duo separated. It all occurred in a blink of eyes that gave me a message of man being a mortal and planned never works for anyone- for me and Uncle for sure.

Before doctors of Family Health Hospital says it all- and all hands outside emergency were in the air for Uncle’s recovery, one of our senior colleague hinted me from a distance, its Over! Hiding tears in my eyes, I went straight to Osama, a darling of Uncle and family. ‘Mahtab Bhai, Uncle theek ho jay ga na- Ya Allah Meray Uncle ko Theek Kar day’, this angel faced little fellow pleaded. I caressed him softly and said Osama beta, Uncle ky liay Dua kia kar, yar- and I widened the distance to get a spot where no one could see my drenched face.

As soon I reached to the road outside, Uncle’s Bhabhis hurriedly got off from vehicles crying and asked me ‘Mahtab, kia haal hay Tahir ka, theek to hay na wo’. I knew its all over but I don’t want to break the news- not atleast for Tahir to whom I spend my major chunk of life. ‘Emergency room may hain, Treatment ho rahi hay, Bhabhi. Ap please Dua karain’, I told them and left the hospital premises.

Later, the ambulance appeared on the main gate of Hospital- many believed that Tahir is going to be shifted some another hospitals- PIMS, or Shifa or Nescom while I remained busy in maintaining my composure. The news of Uncle’s sudden and uncertain demise, however leaked down within few minutes later. This is how I remember this blessed day of 10th of Moharram when Tahir embraced martyrdom. I often heard, people saying ‘Kahmiri Bewafa Hotay Hain- and I became stanch believer of this one-liner the moment Uncle left me in a lurch.

And just before the cracks of dawn got wider, around 4:00 am we were heading towards Kashmir- the village of Uncle, near Rawalakot, a place we both planned to visit few hours ago. I was sitting on a front seat of a vehicle right behind the ambulance where Uncle was sleeping cool and calm and with the tears in my eyes I whispered to Uncle, “Uncle hum Jaa To rahay Hain Teray Gaon- Par Tu nay Ambulance may janay ka to nahi bola tha.”

Our friendship started blossoming right after the moment I was shifted to I-10/2, from F-6/4 back in 1999-2000, and since than there was nothing hidden between us. We shared everything relating to socio-economic to religio-political to sports, from domestic issues (national) to international- and yes of domestic (home issues).

I haven’t seen a person more avid observer than to Tahir on this planet earth. Whenever I met him he straightaway had a quick glance from head to toe and then initiated the talk- most of the time funny. On a serious note, he was a man who could think beyond his heart and mind. Whenever, I discussed him an issue he promptly jumped to the conclusions and with his reservations and suggestions, we concluded the topic. And every time I found the result was the same in a longer run as Tahir fancied long ago.

Tahir thought I am the most mature, sagacious and confident boy whom he could always spend his time- Perhaps that’s why no matter wherever he went, he telephoned me to join him, be he is going to a barber shop for cutting, going to Sabzi Mandi, or shopping clothes or buying interior stuff for home or going to a bank. I distinctly remember, the day (December 16) prior to his martyrdom (December 17), I told him- ‘Uncle, I want to get some furniture- a 4 seater for drawing room’. And then I forgot. The next moment he forced me to get bike and there we were first in Islamabad furniture markets and later to Rawalpindi. He was a perfectionist, as he went through all minor aspects of anything within few seconds. I just told him the requirements of furniture and he started peeping the windows and inside the show rooms of markets. Finally, Uncle hinted me to go inside a showroom where an elegantly wooden made 4 seater was waiting for us. I started bargaining with the owner as I always did and uncle kept on smiling as he always did. After spending half an hour we finally ‘Lock’ the price and I told Uncle you better go on a Suzuki pick up with furniture and I am following you. He did the same. Reaching my home, Uncle told me laughingly ‘Yar Matabi, Tu nay kis banday ky saath bitha dia tha mujhy’. I asked what happened Uncle? ‘yar toba toba- Itni gapain marta tha bus kia baton yar. Yar ye dunia kis taraf ja rahi hay. Aik banday ko pata bhi hay kay may lambi lambi gapain chor raha hoo, or log samjh bhi jatay hain- phir bhi wo baaz nahi ata’. I smiled and asked again Hua kia Uncle? He said yar mujhay kehta hay, meray sath 5 larkiyan phansi hui hain, or sab ki sab kehti hain, may nay shadi karni hay to sirf teray sath. Warna sari umar nahi karni’. … and then the air around us filled with the mixed voice of our laughter.

Soon after, I pushed the furniture inside my Drawing Room, Uncle was standing outside my gate. Ammi Abbu and my sister appreciated our choice yet again. I came outside home and Uncle said Chal Yar Mahataby- kuch fruit lena hay. I started my bike and there we were in a fruit market. It was around 9:00pm and was freezing. On our 5-8 minute drive Uncle asked me, Han Matabi, Pasand aya Furniture, Ghar Walo ko, I said Han Uncle. They said it is elegant and updated’. Than again Uncle started smiling sharing pick up driver’s tale. On reaching fruit market, Uncle got 6 dozen fruiter and Kinnu. At that moment my wallet was virtually empty after the furniture purchase. I had just 150 Rs, out of which Uncle voiced me to give him Rs. 50. I said meray liay aik darjan fruiter lay lain Uncle- Wo zyda meethay hotay hain. He was holding 4 black shopping bags and jumped back behind me. I smiling said Yar Uncle Black Shopping Bag to Ban Ho Gay Hain. And he said chal yar yahan sab kuch chalta hay. I stopped my bike in front of Uncle’s home. He got down and handed over one black shopping bag to me ‘Ye teray Liay Hain’. I asked O yar Uncle Mainay Mazak Kia tha. Inka Maza Dhoop may beth kay khanay may hay, or wo bhi Chat Masala laga kay. Or apko pata hay, ajkal to dhoop may bethnay ka time hi nahi milta yar, I said. ‘Woay Pakar Ye, Zyda Chur Chur Na kar- Kal Chutti Hay, Kha Lena’, Uncle said in his lovely Kashmiri Urdu accent. He handed over the bag forcefully and I came to my home and put oranges on a dining table where few of apples and guavas were already resting.

We both were good shoppers- of anything, as we and majority of our family members thought. And we were doing it since over a decade. This furniture followed by fruits shopping proved out to be our last purchase. The next day was Friday- a day of our separation. I took the breakfast and straight went to Uncle’s home where as I mentioned earlier we had a walk, played cricket and than came the final moments. Later moments of Friday went off in mourning and praying for Uncle’s salvation. Saturday past in Rawalakot where we handed over Uncle to Almighty. On the same day –Saturday night I reached back to Islamabad. I straight went to my drawing room to see the furniture that was selected by Uncle and on which he was sitting few hours ago, while purchasing. The moment I reached my dining room- tears role down my cheeks as I saw all the dozen oranges Uncle purchased for me are lying intact on the table- and none of them was missing.

He cherished every second when I was along him. We had joy, we had fun, as we had literally never left any restaurant, shopping mall, recreational spots, and down town of twin cities unfolded.

Three years ago, again in a month of Holy Ramadan and blessed day of Friday, Uncle got cardiac arrest. I was working in Lok Virsa those days and my schedule was too hectic from 9-5. I remember the day, when I was on official task of purchasing bulk of CDs/ DVDs from Saddar, Rawalpindi for my project Pakistan Monument. Captain (Kamran) our mutual friend called me on a phone and shared this news about Uncle’s heart attack. I was surprised but knew well it won’t work for me had I go to my boss to leave the office immediately. Captain told me he is going to Rawalakot and I must go with him. It was hard to me to say YES or NO instantly. With the prayers on my lips, I called on Uncle’s cell number to enquire about his health. Some relative of Uncle picked the call and told me he is getting better, and you keep praying. This quick call brought back relief inside me and I went back to my office instead of going Kashmir.

We were fond of dining and Bar-B-Queue was our favourite dish. Soon after Uncle got recovered, our menu changed drastically. I have never tasted Chicken in my life while Uncle was suggested to get away from spicy fried food. Time went by and things settled down, though our menu was split but our heart and mind never.

Our houses give a picturesque view and offer an impression of a Fort like ambience, with 10 houses each side of all four corners with shady trees infront of them, and a ground with children’s swings, slides and seesaw in the middle. Tahir used to say ‘Yar Matabi Pooray I-10 may iss tarah ki location tujhay kaheen nahi milay gi, and I always backed his words saying there’s no iota of doubt Uncle.

Whenever I stood right in the middle of ground, there were either beggars or someone standing outside my gate or Uncle’s. He repeatedly said to me ‘Matabi- in 40 Gharon May Aik Tera Ghar Hay or Aik Mera Ghar Hay, jiskay samnay ye to koi na koi khara hota hay ya phir koi na koi Shopping Bag utha kay Andar Ja Raha Hota Hay, Baki Kasam Say Pata nahi ye Log becharay Kaisay rehtay hain. Garian sab kay paas hain magar ajtak koi khanay ki cheez lajatay nahi dekhi, I smiled again but I knew he is talking sense. Bus Uncle yahi bat hay yar. Siyanay kehtay hain Khay huay ko koi nahi dekhta par pehnay huay ko sab dekhtay hain’, I replied. ‘Par Matabi in may aisy ghar bhi hain jo bohat paisy walay hain par khana theek nahi khatay,” Uncle explained. I laughed again saying bus Uncle aisa hi daor hay aaj kal. ‘Yar tum or hum agar in logo ki tarah kanjoos ban jain to aaj hamaray ghar bhi 4-4 garian khari hon’, I said I agree Uncle. ‘’Par Na tum logo ki aisi adat hay na hum logo ki. Sab kuch khaany peenay or pehn-ny may hi laga detay hain’, uncle kept on saying.


I said chal yar Uncle markaz chaltay hain, kuch chezain leni hain. After taking a big pause Uncle asked me ‘Aaj kia Khaya hay Matabi’. I said yar chicken paka hay, or apko pata hay, may wo khata nahi- isi liay markaz ja rahay hain’, I said. Uncle never forgot to ask me this question at night before our regular walk got started. And I told him the menu. ‘Yar Matabi to waisy bara sacha or acha insan hay’, he said. O ho Uncle Khairiat hay, aaj bari tarfain kar rahay hain, I asked Tahir smilingly. And he in his typical style said, ‘Woay Matabi yar tu aik wahid banda hay, jiskay ghar Daal pakay to Daal hi btata hay’ warna idhar aisy log bhi hain jo saal may 2 dafa mutton khatay hain par jab bhi unsy pocho kia kha kay aya hay, wo foran kehtay hain mutton. And I laughed out to my belly full. ……. TO BE CONTINUED

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BITTER TRUTH

Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza is a loose cannon and, if rubbed the wrong way, will fire away. At the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Dr Mirza was hit by a barrage of complaints by the city’s industrialists and traders for failing to give them adequate protection. Obviously stung by the criticism, he said that “people cast votes for extortionists; they should now talk to their elected representatives for law and order”.

Dr Mirza pinned the blame for the deteriorating law and order situation mostly on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). “Dr Imran Farooq was murdered in London, but buses of Pakhtuns were torched in Karachi. Did Asfandyar Wali kill Dr Imran Farooq?” asked Dr Mirza. He went on to allege that when “they [the MQM] want to kill any Pakhtun, Sindhi, Punjabi or Baloch in Karachi, they go about executing their plan methodically”.

What Dr Mirza said is politically inappropriate given that the MQM is a coalition partner of the PPP government both at the Centre and in Sindh, but nevertheless is a well known truth. The timing may be wrong, his method of delivery may be unsuitable, but these charges against the MQM are neither new nor something that many can deny. The MQM is notorious for spreading violence in Karachi. In recent months, the security situation in the city has deteriorated and the heat is definitely on Dr Mirza since he is the province’s home minister. However, Dr Mirza did injustice to the businessmen by saying that they were complicit in this regard because they pay extortion money to such parties. If truth be told, since the government has so far failed to protect the business community from the bhatta (extortion money) mafia, they are forced to pay ‘protection money’. The victims and the terrorisers should not be lumped in the same basket. The businessmen pay the money for their survival. It is the responsibility of the Sindh government to bring the culprits to book so that the people can breathe a sigh of relief. Dr Mirza was also wrong on another count when he tried to provoke the situation by stating that “the situation in Karachi will worsen and a large number of Urdu-speaking people will lose their lives if these ethnic groups [Baloch, Pakhtun, Sindhis and Punjabis] come forward and make an alliance”.

This was not just irresponsible of the provincial home minister but could also lead to a political fallout. The PPP’s coalition partner, the JUI-F, pulled out of the coalition yesterday. The PPP is already facing a tough time getting the RGST bill through parliament and with this sort of provocation from Dr Mirza, the MQM may well threaten to pull out as well. On a number of occasions, the MQM has threatened to leave the coalition government but they always retreat from the brink, which suggests more pressure tactics than intent.

The MQM has decided that a delegation would meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani after Muharram and protest at Dr Mirza’s provocative speech.Karachi’s situation is already fraught with tension. The city has many armed groups present on its soil. The MQM is the largest political party in Karachi. How the MQM wins the elections and continues to terrorise the citizens, especially the Pakhtuns, is no secret either. Given the party’s penchant for violence, the PPP will have to tread more carefully in the future.

SPEED THRILLS - BUT KILLS

Love of sports and thrills is not bad in itself but some sports like drag races could prove hazardous if all humanly possible precautionary measures are not taken to prevent injury and loss of life. With no developed institutional mechanism for holding such races in Pakistan, youths belonging to the rich and influential class, in their hunger for thrills and excitement, often indulge in this roadside fun illegally.

In one such incident in Islamabad on December 5, five spectators lost their lives when a racing car went out of control and rammed into spectators. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court (SC) had to take suo motu notice to get those responsible for this illegal activity apprehended. Initially, the city administration and police denied giving permission for this race, which was held in Phase VIII of Bahria Town. The presence of sponsors and a large number of spectators suggests that it was properly publicised well in advance. How could such an activity take place without prior permission from the local administration?

At the SC hearing on Monday (December 13), it transpired that the city chief police officer (CCPO) of Rawalpindi gave a green signal to the organisers of this race and even issued a security plan, despite the fact that the district coordination officer (DCO) of Rawalpindi had denied permission to the organisers. The nominees in the FIR include the son of a real estate tycoon, who is reported to have fled the country with the help of his father after the incident.

In a society where wealth and influence hold more importance than the lives of innocent citizens, it is not surprising that police declared this incident an ‘accident’ and tried to close the case. Another reason for this haste was that an impartial inquiry would have established the local administration and police department’s culpability. Had the SC not intervened, the case would have been forgotten by now.

Now that the SC has taken notice, it is incumbent upon the police department to hold an unbiased investigation and bring those responsible to book. This would serve the ends of justice, give some relief to the victims’ families, and help in preventing such misadventures in future.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GOODBYE TAYA GEE!

A page of my diary

'He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man'.

By Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad


It is an old maxim "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground." This is what I’ve realised on a midnight of (December 13-14) while pressing my clothes to kick off my brand new day & a call from my sister from Lahore broke the news of sad demise of my Taya Gee via telephone.

We in particular my father was stunned as Taya gee was healthy smart man with a die-hard habit of walking. He was lean looking man with age touching 80 years. He was sharp, witty and sometime blunt character with pearls of wisdom comes out of his mouth quite frequently.

With the iron in my hand I was planning to manage my next whole day starting with an anticipated thoughts of going to a Photographer shop to have new photograph as requested by my office. I had also intended to get my hands on my notes as it was the last night for preparing for my first exam of M. Sc Mass Communication on the next day.

The brief little telephonic message distorted my day’s schedule in a shorter run and my life’s in a great deal.

A chronic bachelor as Noor Hussain aka Taya Gee was - used to be a chatterbox with a lot of history in his head. With sharing the anecdotes of Islamic and political history, and from his own experiences he made the moments to remember all the time.

Soon after I took my senses at home in F-6/4, Islamabad, where I was born- I watched Taya Gee hovering around in our home. His favourite places were either to spend time in Inner compound or the outer garden, the places where we used to play a lot. He hates cricket not because it wasted the precious time of school or college going boys but it spoiled the flora, foliage and vegetation he planted at both spots. I remember, sometime he got furious and I witnessed the day when Taya Gee’s patience was checked- he brought out a long dagger in his hand & we all young cricket fanatics ran away.

Besides, he loves to shop and that too from Landa bazaar of Islamabad. Being a little fellow, I remember the distance from F-6/4 to G-6 CDA bazaar was too much but Taya Gee with his brisk walk covered the distance as many times as any of us said him to bring it from nearby market- and instead of going to nearest market he opted for Jumma Bazar (as it was named on those days).

While visiting Lunda, his favourite stuff to buy were - tea shirts in summer and woolies and winter sheets in fall seasons.

When we left F-6/4 and switched to I-10/2, it was bitterest experience for me to leaving posh area where I was born and hailed since mid 70’s when my parents came to federal capital. On the other hand, Taya Gee took it a blessing in disguise, as Sabzi Mandi now was his picking spot.


Taya Gee was a keen watcher of WWF Wrestling and took keen interest in political activities in the country. He was a staunch Mulsim Leagui NOON and as soon as he saw the picture of President Zardari he started using the same language like the text messages about President Zardari we frequently received.

Recalling old days with him, when Taya gee was operated at a local hospital in Lahore for his eye sight, I chanced to be with him as an attendant for two nights. While sliding and shifting on the bed right after the operation he slept the right side- the same eye he got operated. I was impatiently having an eye on his shifting and slides whole night. When he got up to use washroom I got the opportunity to admonish him to use the opposite slide while sleeping. He never did. Ultimately, I told him, “Taya Gee- doctor sab hunay ay san tay menu kehndy san agar ay osy taraf sootay jeri taraf di akh da operation hoya ay- tay fair Patti khulan day bad wi aina nu nazar nahi ana”. He got terrified and never dare to slept wrong way afterwards.

Since yesteryears, he opted to reside in Lahore as far him Lahore is full of life while Islamabad is a city of Paharai people- as he use this word ‘Aithay tay saray Parahiay he rehndy nay’.

In my college days, I distinctly remember I requested Taya Gee to bring him show some historical places, and the day both of us spend at Badshahi Mosque, Minar-e-Pakistan, and Shahi Qila. And that too by foot from home to those places. When at night I touched my bed, I was exhausted with blisters down my feet but Taya Gee being the elder man didn’t show any sign of fatigue. I was a good day Taya Gee- thanks for making my day!

Recalling my last meeting with Taya Gee at Lahore residence, he as usual gifted me a number of tea shirts for inner garments. Though I hardly use them but I never refused to carry them with me. “Haji (my father) nu mera salam dain- tay ohnu kaheen meri tabiyat theek nahi rehndi hun- may kujh din da mehmaan aan’ the message I used to collect from Taya Gee since many years while I visited him. I took this message as lightly as I’m doing it for years! But this time Taya Gee not faltered to his words and committed said that … time is over!

He is buried on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 in Lahore.

With the theme ‘If you refuse the elder's advice you will walk the whole day’- Taya Gee made us alone in a labyrinth of this long journey!

Rest in Peace Taya Gee!

Friday, December 10, 2010

WHEN LOVE & HATE COLLIDE

Thoughts&AfterThoughts …
A month after ....... !

You could have a change of heart if you would only change your mind/ Instead of slamming down the phone girl for the hundredth time/ I got your number on my wall but I ain't gonna make that call/ When divided we stand baby united we fall- Got the time got a chance gonna make it, got my hands/ On your heart gonna take it all I know, I can't fight this flame/ You could have a change of heart if you would only change your mind'Cause I'm crazy 'bout you baby time after time- Without you, one night alone/ Is like a year without you baby do you have a heart of stone?/ Without you/ Can't stop the hurt inside when love and hate collide - Def Leppard

By MAHTAB BASHIR
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
ISLAMABAD

I will wrangle for my love, fight for it, die for it, write for it, anything but live for it. A young beau met out of the blue with his inveterate lass. Wow! Some girls have all the luck. Where have you been? I have been searching you high and low since ages. I will not let you off. I regard you a paragon of a true blue soulmate. You are my heart’s frill. You tune up my out of tune life’s rhythm as I see your divine face. The harder I try, the further you get away from me. I am mad about you. This is not a slip of tongue. Where did I go wrong?

He recounted his wrenching plight and said, I was dragooned in le miseries and lost in the labyrinths of love and hate.

Loving you brought countless grief in my flowery life. Strangers first hurling threats at me. Last month they took me blindfold at the dead end. They hoodwinked me into marriage for someone they thought a better option than you. As I reached at the unknown destination, they beat me from head to toe- not physically but mentally. Appallingly scared, terrified, forlorn, bloodbath beau said to himself if this is a best possible worlds, what then are the rest?

Do you believe, said beau, that mankind have always cutting one another’s throats, that they were always liars, knaves, treacherous and ungrateful; always thieves, mean highwaymen, lazy, envious, and gluttons, always misers, ambitious yet blood-thirsty, always backbiters, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and yet fools. Do you not believe, said lass, ‘that hawks have always preyed upon pigeons, when they could light up them? Certainly, said beau, ‘If the hawks have always had the same nature, what reason can you give- why mankind should have changed theirs? There is a great deal of difference, because of a free will …, said lass. I believe the day of my death is preordained, so why fret about - when that time will come?

RGST HURDLES

Despite its best efforts and the urgency of the matter, the government has still not been able to resolve the conflict of opinion over the proposed Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST). There are differences among the Centre and provinces over the collection of some taxes on services while several political parties have expressed reservations on this tax for its potential to burden the public. In this regard, the statement of the PML-N leader, Mian Nawaz Sharif, while addressing a public gathering in Samundri, needs to be looked at carefully. He said that the government can raise up to Rs 1,000 billion if it stops leakages in the Federal Board of Revenue, saves the cost of sustaining loss-making state-owned entities and cuts down luxury expenses, in which case there will be no need to impose a new tax. His contention that to achieve this target, the government will have to check corruption is worth taking note of.

One may have issues with Nawaz Sharif offering these suggestions, whose party itself has a reputation for legalising corruption and benefiting the personal businesses of its leaders by using political clout. Nevertheless, this should not prevent us from listening to his message. If indeed Rs 500-600 billion could be raised by checking corruption in the Federal Board of Revenue by making all people pay their due taxes, why should the government balk at this suggestion? Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Railways, among others, are two of the biggest entities that have been depending on doles from the federal government for the last many years to fill the gap between their revenues and expenditures. The government hands out something to the tune of Rs 300 billion to such loss-making institutions to keep them afloat instead of improving their management, which has gone down the drain due to politicisation of the appointments procedure and decision-making. In the same vein, a lot of money could be saved if the government reduced the size of the cabinet and implemented austerity measures at all levels. Plundering of public funds in the name of the perks and privileges of high officials is one of the biggest causes of the bleeding from the treasury. If indeed after taking all these measures, the government still feels the need to impose RGST, it will at least have the high moral ground and an example for the public to emulate.

While conceding that the next tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan is crucial for meeting the immediate financial needs of the country and the imposition of RGST, part of the IMF conditions for granting this loan package, is essential for receiving this money, this issue has become highly controversial and must be reviewed objectively. The finance ministry’s hope that the IMF executive board will approve the release of the sixth instalment of the loan by end of January 2011, because by that time the RGST will be imposed, could prove to be wishful thinking. The differences among political parties, the Centre and the provinces have grown to the extent that it would take the PPP a lot of wheeling and dealing to gather the required number of votes in the National Assembly. The rushing through of the RGST bill in the lower house of parliament will tarnish the government’s image and if inflation increases, as the bill’s opponents are predicting, after its imposition, it will have further negative political fallout. Therefore, it would be advisable for the PPP to take a wiser course and put its own house in order before it could expect the public to support it on a controversial measure.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When WIKI Leaks FOR WEST .......

WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, surrendered himself to UK police on Tuesday, after which he was arrested formally for alleged sex crimes. Mr Assange was denied bail and will remain in custody until a fresh hearing on December 14. According to the London Metropolitan Police, Assange “is accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation, and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010”. Mr Assange’s lawyer called these charges a “political stunt” and many believe that he is being persecuted because of the sensitive documents his website has been releasing in recent months. More recently, WikiLeaks published US diplomatic cables that have rattled a lot of countries besides the US government. The timing of the charges against Assange and Interpol’s Red Notice for two cases of consensual sex that allegedly turned into abuse are highly suspicious. What is interesting is that the rape and molestation charges were dismissed by Sweden back in August but the case was reopened again in September after an appeal. Julian Assange denied the allegations and said it was a “smear campaign” against him and WikiLeaks. Rape and molestation are definitely serious crimes and one cannot condone them but those supporting WikiLeaks founder are of the same view as Mr Assange — that the sole superpower as well as other countries are not too happy with the work of his whistleblower website and may well be influencing the course of events in the case against him.

It is pertinent to mention here that as long as WikiLeaks was only exposing authoritarian regimes in Asia and elsewhere, the west did not have any issues with it. As soon as WikiLeaks started exposing the US and other western governments, the equation changed. Now its work is being called unethical. On the contrary, we believe that WikiLeaks has revolutionised the medium of information. Mr Assange is only the messenger while the real message behind these leaked documents is being ignored. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said that Assange, an Australian, was not responsible for the “unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network; the Americans are”. Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that any journalist in Assange’s position would have done the same thing if he/she got hold of confidential information. Thus it is highly disconcerting to see that not only has the WikiLeaks website been shut down across the globe, its finances are also being blocked. The pressure is obviously from the US, the ‘champion’ of freedom of speech. Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed the freedoms of the internet. She said, “Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable...[the US] stand[s] for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.”

When Facebook was banned in Pakistan following the creation of the ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed [PBUH] Day!’ page on the social networking website, we were called a backward, retrogressive state that was clamping down on freedom of expression. We did not support the ban on Facebook back then and similarly, we condemn the attack against WikiLeaks now. It seems that the ‘backwardness’ of underdeveloped countries like Pakistan has now spread to the developed world. Governments in the west claim that the WikiLeaks expose has endangered the lives of foreign troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but these sound more and more like self-serving arguments of governments that like to cloak themselves in a veil of secrecy. The internet has democratised access to information beyond the imagination and it must be preserved. In this time and age, internet censorship itself is a crime against humanity.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SACH TO YE HAY, KASOOR APNA HAY ...

By Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
... you said forever we'd cherish all our dreams together
Seems like forever, forever since I felt the pleasure !!!

The breakup of an important love relationship is the most traumatic of human experiences and we have all suffered through at least once- I am sure. In many ways we can more easily cope with the death of a loved one. Although we don't understand death, at least we understand its finality.

Likewise, with the breakup of a love relationship, days and weeks of lingering and haunting "ifs" often follow. The pain can penetrate every fiber of our being. In the days following the breakup we think of little else than the one we loved and trusted, the one we had so much invested in time, values, to name few.

Everywhere we go we are reminded of them - a face in a crowd, the flash of a familiar dressing, a distant voice, a song, a road most traveled, a place frequently visited. We struggle daily to force them from our thoughts only to find we are spending all of our time doing so!

Main Jahaan Rahoon
Main Kahin Bhi Hoon
Teri Yaad Saath Hay ...


Javed Akhtar:
Jaany kiski talaash unki aankhon mein thi
Aarzoo kay musaafir bhatkatay rahay
Jitanay bhi woh chalay
Utanay hi bichh gaay raah may faasalay
Kawaab mazil thay, aor manzilein khawaab theen
Raaston sy nikaltay rahay raastay
Jany kis wastay- Aarzoo ky musaafir bhataktay rahay


Main jahaan rahoon
Main kaheen bhi hoon
Teri yaad saath hai
Kisi sy kahoon
Ky nahi kahoon
Yeh jo dil ki baat hai


Kehny ko saath apnay ik duniya chalti hay
Per chhupkay iss dil may tanhaayi palti hay
Bas yaad saath hay
Teri yaad saath hai ...

Main jahaan rahoon
Main kahin bhi hoon
Teri yaad saath hay ...


Javed Akhtar:
Koyi puraani yaad mera rasta rokay mujhsay kehti hay
Itani jalti dhoop mein yuun kabtak ghumo gay
Aao, chalkar beetay dino ki chhaon mein baithain
Us lamhay ki baat karain
Jismay koyi phool khila tha
Us lamhay ki baat karain kay
Jismay kisi aawaaz ki chaandi khanak uthi thi
Us lamhay ki baat karain kay
Jismay kisi nazron kay moti barsay thay
Koi puraani yaad mera rasta rokay mujhsay kehti hay
Itani jalti dhoop may yun kab tak ghumo gay


Kaheen to dil may yaadon ki
Ik suli gad jaati hai
Kaheen har ik tasveer bahot hi dhondhali par jaati hay
Koi nayee duniya kay na-ay rango may khush rehta hay
Koi sab kuch paakay bhi yeh mann hi mann kehta hay

Kehnay ko saath apanay ik duniya chalti hay
Per chhupkay is dil may tanhaaee palti hai

Bas yaad saath hay
Teri yaad saath hay ...


Javed Akhtar:
Sach to ye hay kasoor apna hay
Chaand ko choonay ki tamanna ki
Aasamaan ko zameen par maanga
Phool chahaa ky paththaron py khilay
Kaanton may ki talaash khoshboo ki
Aarzoo ki ky aag thandak day
Barf may dhundtay rahay garmi
Khawaab jo dekha chaaha sach ho ja-ay
Isaki humko sazaa to milni thi
Sach to ye hay kasoor apana hay


Kaheen to beetay kal ki jarain
Dil may hi utar jaati hain
Kaheen jo dhaagay tutain to malaayen bhikar jaati hain
Koi dil may jagah nayi, baaton kay liay rakhta hay
Koi apni palko par yaadon kay diaay rakhta hay
Kehnay ko saath apnay ik duniya chalti hay
Per chhupkay is dil may tanhaai palti hay

Bas yaad saath hay
Teri yaad saath hay …….
'Love happens only once- The rest is just Life'.

LOSING GLORY?

In politics, perception is critical. It is the people’s perceptions of how a particular party has served its term that brings them out in droves to elect who they think can fairly lead them towards progress and the attainment of dignity and their rights. On its 44th founding anniversary, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is suffering from a bad case of negative perception. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday addressed a party workers’ convention where he categorically ruled out any “misadventure” to destabilise the government and that “change can only come through the people”. In the run-up to the 2013 elections, the PPP needs to ensure that no complacency sets in when it comes to satisfying the aspirations of the people. For that a certain amount of introspection and reflection is needed by the party.

At present, the PPP leads a government that is alleged to be rife with corruption, nepotism and cronyism. Nawaz Sharif on the same day displayed his usual rhetoric at a party workers’ convention where he accused the centre of “bad governance”, amongst other things. Although this is not unusual for the opposition, the fact remains that in the minds of the people this rhetoric is beginning to acquire a ring of truth. The masses are being overburdened by skyrocketing inflation, political intrigues where allegations of corruption and partisan politics are reported every day and where the problems of the country, including the war against terror, are leaving people out in the cold, sometimes as cadavers. Maybe it is the very weight of these problems that has left the PPP seemingly somewhat indifferent in managing the affairs of the state for the people’s welfare. Even its repetition of measures taken in this regard sound increasingly hollow. Pakistan today is the proverbial bed of thorns, beset with so many problems that there are hardly any contenders eager to come forward and urgently tackle its woes. Criticism by itself or for its own sake is no solution, something one wishes the opposition would come to terms with. The PPP needs to get its act together on a war footing.

Gilani also stated that it “respects” criticism from the opposition, media and coalition members. Why then, does it not respect criticism from within? The recent suspension of senior PPP stalwart Naheed Khan’s party membership has raised many eyebrows. Even though she is a dissenting voice within the party, her thoughts too must be respected and tolerated. The fact that inner-party dissent has been dealt with similarly in the PPP’s past further compounds the fact that, after Benazir’s murder, the party is risking fragmentation due to its intolerance of internal criticism. This must change.

The PPP was founded to give the masses a voice through the adoption of a socialist agenda. The PPP came to alter the power structure, to give the people a sense of self-worth and a platform to challenge the status quo. That manifesto remains, to a large extent, unfulfilled. Deserting its leftist principles and ideology to embrace the liberal free-market paradigm, the PPP has wandered far from its original goals. The past 43 years have delivered a rather chequered and tragic history for the PPP, the loss of Zulfikar Ali and Benazir Bhutto being the two lowest points. Despite the many twists and turns the party has faced and the accusations that are being hurled against its key members, it is still not too late for the present incumbents to improve their performance. It is time that public perceptions are altered. Too many perceive a drift in policy matters, both in the party’s own ranks and in the links that keep the leaders attuned with their people. The PPP has always gained victory when there has been a good turnout at the polls. It should remember that a disillusioned constituency and public may refrain from casting their vote come election time.