Friday, December 30, 2011

SUI GAS SUPPLY FALLING ON DEAF EARS

MAHTAB BASHIR

ISLAMABAD

mahtabbashir@gmail.com

SNGPL authorities unmoved by daily protests by residents of twin cities

At a time when the country’s ruling elite and the media are preoccupied with the Memogate saga, national politics, NATO’s attack on Pakistani forces and war against terrorism, the common man, dejected and disgruntled, is finding it hard to cope with the challenges of every day life.

The masses’ problems such as inflation, low natural gas supplies and inflated utility bills, only to name a few, may seem petty issues to those who are at the helms of the affairs, yet their daily ordeals are getting the best of their life.

While the stakeholders in the government are making all possible efforts to salvage a decaying political system just to buy the time until its tenure’s official end, the masses are struggling to fight price-hike and energy shortage that are taking a toll on the country’s already fragile economy.

As elsewhere, the shortage and low gas supply is badly affecting the life of the residents of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, particular in the evening and morning hours, when, in a freezing cold weather, they run out of the very commodity they need to keep their homes warms and cook their meal. The low Sui gas pressure is hitting hard the domestic as well as CNG consumers. Some angry residents while talking to Pakistan Today on Friday demanded Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Federal Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain should immediacy take notice of the situation.

The residents of the twin cities come to roads daily in order to record their protest against the shortage and outages of the gas supply but the authorities concerned are paying no heed to their plight. On Friday as well, over 200 residents of Sector G-7 blocked several roads in their neighborhood as they staged a demonstration against the government’s apathy.

As the weather is turning cold every day, residents of areas such as Sector G-7, G-9, I-10, Khayaban-e-Sir Syed, Chuhar Chowk, Meharabad, Muslim Town, Lalkurti, Tench Bhatta, Sabzazar and Lalazar are continuously facing a low gas pressure and they have been complaining that the gas pressure drastically decreases between the midnight till dawn. They say that during the rest of the day the gas supply remains suspended.

Similarly long queues of vehicles can been at the CNG stations in various localities of Rawalpindi and motorists there are unable to get the CNG for their vehicles even during days, which are officially exempted from the outages.

Though the resumption of gas supply to the CNG stations has enabled the citizen’s mobility, it has compelled many people to leave for their workplaces without any breakfast when there is no gas to cook. It has been learnt that after the Supreme Court’s directive to restore gas supply to the CNG stations, the domestic consumers of the twin cities are facing worse gas outages since the onset of the present winter season.

The residents are forced to use firewood for cooking, heating water and other purposes. “I have to collect a bundle of dried firewood daily to meet the energy demand of my household. What else can I do, when my gas stove, geyser, heater and other appliances become useless,” said Muhammad Irshad, a resident of Bhara Kao. He said the locals face trouble daily, especially early in the morning when the gas pressure becomes too low to cook food. A large number of restaurants and bakery owners in the twin cities have also complained about how their business is facing huge losses.

The authorities concerned, on the other hand, are claiming that the resumption of supply to CNG stations under a court’s order have caused the gas shortage for the domestic consumers. Sharing their grievances with the Pakistan Today, several restaurant owners said they had been facing a plethora of problems due to gas shortage. “We have reduced the dishes from our menu since it is no longer possible for us to cook a variety of food items in such conditions,” said Muhammad Aslam, a restaurant owner. He said their income was low he was finding it hard to run his business.

Sajid, a cook working at a local restaurant, told this scribe that he was already living from hand to mouth, but presently he was thinking about trying some other line of work. He said it was getting difficult for him to support his family.

Lalarukh Farooq, a resident of Lalazar locality in Rawalpindi, said that it was a matter of concern for every citizen that the government was unmoved by all the problems the Pakistanis had been facing.

“Numerous applications about low gas pressure have been sent to the Sui Northern Gas Limited offices in Islamabad and Rawalpindi but to no avail,” she complained.

Osama Pervaiz, a resident of Sector I-10, said the problem of low gas pressure would start early in the morning and continued till nightm leaving people to worry about their meal and heating system. The motorists said the CNG outlets in the area could not provide gas to consumers citing the same problem.

People of other areas especially from G-9 and I-9 of Islamabad, Muslim Town and Cantt Area of Rawalpindi also complained about the unavailability of gas

This scribe also came to know that the same problem was troubling residents in other areas including Dhari Hassanabad, Dhoke Khabba, Qasimabad, Khurram Colony, Chungi Number 22, Tench Bhatta, Peoples’ Colony and Dhoke Saydian. In order to avoid gas outages and to low pressure, some Sui Gas consumers have illegally installed special compressors on their lines to boost the gas pressure. Such installations are, however, causing trouble for other law-abiding citizens.

When contacted, a Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) official said the gas supply to some areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad had been shut down owing to some damaged main pipeline. He said the SNGPL officials were working day and night to repair the damaged lines and restore uninterrupted gas supply to all areas.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

FREEZING WINTER, A SIP OF CAPPUCCINO & BALD TREES!

MAHTAB BASHIR
ISLAMABAD

The First Gush Of Chilly Winds!
The Familiar Anticipation Of Long Walks!
Cold Nose, Numb Feet, Warm Breaths!
The Fog!
The Vermillion Tree Leaves!
Oranges, Coffee, Friends!
“The Best Is Yet To Come”
That’s The Message Winters Bear.
So Make Lasting Memories..!
Happy Winter!

I have left work for half-an hour to grab something to eat. One step outside the office building and a gush of wind almost blew me away. I put my hands on my freezing ears. This is just the beginning of the not long winter that is to follow but I am falling in love with the season.

The trees still have some yellow leaves left on them. When I look at the horizon, I see colours that I can't always describe in words. I think I see beige, golden, brown, yellow and perhaps, a light shade of green too. On some days, I feel like buying a long-distance bus ticket and leaving home for a day-long road trip to hilly station (far from the madding crowd). The reason? I can devour the beauty of the season in the streets, houses, trees and fields while on the move.

I usually leave home about ten-fifteen minutes before time so that I can stand at the bus stop and look at the balding trees, the grey-blue skies and the distant yellow fields, where children frolicked even a month ago. I always take a window seat on the bus so that I can look outside and see how everything is changing. Frosty cars, people clad in layers, lawns covered in dead leaves, everything murmurs the beginning of a cold, cold season.

It has not rained at the time of writing this piece. But that does not mean it is not cold enough. Every morning before leaving home, I check temperature online so that the sunshine does not deceive me. The sun deceived me on a regular basis. I would look outside the window and be awed by the bright sun. I would only know that the sun tricked me when the cold outside would send shivers to my bones. I am rarely fooled these days because I have learned that checking weather report (Met Office) before stepping outside is the smartest thing to do in winter.

I know I will start complaining about the rain, the wind and the cold once the New Year comes. I will get bored and tired of the leafless trees, snow-covered hills and gloomy skies. But it is nature in the beginning of winter which seems so surreally beautiful that I can't help but scribble a few lines.

My Feet Are Freezing
Walking On My Own
Cant Stop Sneezing
Sitting All Alone.

Monday, December 5, 2011

REMEMBERING THE GREAT SACRIFICE OF IMAM HUSSAIN (RA)

MAHTAB BASHIR

The 10th of Moharram-ul-Haraam is a day of mourning for Muslims- indeed for all who believe in the righteousness of a cause, all over the world. The sacrifices through which Imam Hussain (RA) and his followers saw their lives come to an end on the battlefields of Karbala hundreds of years ago were fundamentally proof once again that martyrdom in defence of faith is a supreme act of nobility.
The grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him) has, through his valour and through his refusal to submit before the brute forces led by Yazid, imparted the important lesson that it is the moral responsibility of anyone confronted with gross and manifest injustice to engage in a battle that has as its goal the triumph of good. In Karbala, it was patently an epic struggle between good and evil.

Imam Hussein (RA) and his followers, rather than give in to the sinister forces typified by Yazid and his gang of usurpers, happily went down the path of supreme sacrifice.

As I remember this day as a symbol of "sacrifice and mourning" I recall the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain Ibn Ali (RA), a grandson of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), in the battle of Karbala on the 10th of Muharram 1330 years ago, I pay tribute to Imam Hussain (RA) using poetry of Iftikhar Arif- one on the finest poet of Urdu literature in Pakistan.

Kabhi Kabhi Dil Ye Sochta Hay
Na Janay Hum beyaqeen Logon’ Ko
Naam Haidar Sy Rabt Kion Hay
Hakeem Janay Wo Kaisi Hikmat Sy Aashna Tha
Shujeeh Janay Ky Badr-o-Khyber Ki Fatahmandi Ka Raaz Kia Tha
Ilm Janay Wo Ilm Ky Konsy Safeeno Ka Nakhuda Tha
Mujhay To Bus Sirf Ye Khabar Hy
Wo Meray Maola Ki Khushbuon May Racha Basa Tha
Wo Unky Damaan-e-Atifat May Pala Barha Tha
Aor Usky Din Raat Meray Aaqa Ky Chasm-o-Abro-o-Jumbash-e-Lab Ky Muntazir Thay
Wo Raat Ko Dushmano Ky Narghay May So Raha Tha To Uski Khatir
Jadaal May Sir Sy Paon Sy Surkh Ho Raha Tha To Uski Khatir
So Usko Mehboob Janta Hoon
So Usko Mehboob Manta Hoon
Saadatein Usky Naam Sy Hein
Mohabbatein Usky Naam Sy Hein
Mohabbaton’ Ky Sabhi Gharano Ki Nisbatein Uskay Naam Sy Hein.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS!

A PAGE OF MY DIARY

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir

Islamabad
mahtabbashir@gmail.com

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


I am always saddened when death invades a family circle, and quite naturally so. I am devastated because of my loneliness, my fears, and my uncertainties. However, as I remember my beloved ones’ – nature snatched away in hurry, let me turn my fear into faith, my sorrow into joy, and my loneliness into Divine Companionship, that reach out to God- my ‘Divine Comforter’.


I have special reverence for Moharram but my personal losses during this holy month has made this month more special, sacred, emotional and so precious as I lost my elder brother Moazzam Bashir (45), who breathed his last on 4th of Moharram, (14 January) 2008, my close associate (streetmate friend)Tahir Mehmood (30) expired on 10th Moharram, (17 December) 2010, while I handed over my father-in-law Muhammad Farooq Siddiqui(63) to the Almighty on 1st Moharram-ul-Haraam, (27 November) 2011, who sung his swansong on November 26, few days after performing Hajj- a religious obligation of great prospect for Muslims.

Sardion ky udaas mosam mein
Khud ko dekhoon' to yad aay koi
Kaash aik bar yoon bhi ho jay
Mein pukaroon to laot aay koi

With an advent of Moharram every year brings tears to my eyes and pain in my heart whether this is due to my emotional attachment with those sacred souls who presented their sacrifices at the Karbala or my heartfelt love to my family members who I lost during Moharram. This holy month saddens me every year and makes me emotional on trivial matters. Thus every beat by a mourner during Moharram processions or any Noha it relates my heart to my personal loss which always attaches me my feelings, and my emotions with Imam Hussain (AS) and his followers and I feel myself sacrificing my loved ones’ who departed as sacrificing those in the midst of Karbala.


This month also brings blessings to all Muslims and they are also equally blessed with those sacred souls who presented sacrifices at Karbala and it makes me feel that my loved ones are also kept at the same elevated space in paradise.


Death is the ultimate- but a sudden premature death of a beloved is devastated that shattered the world for survivors- who instantly remain busy to ask three unanswerable ‘Whys’ to Almighty- ‘why’, ‘why this happens to us’, and ‘why bad things happen to good people’?


A sudden, accidental, unexpected or traumatic death shatters the world as we know it. It is often a loss that does not make sense. We realize that life is not always fair and that sometimes bad things happen to good people. The sudden death leaves us feeling shaken, unsure and vulnerable, no matter who we are.


I heard someone saying ‘Allah the Almighty doesn’t make an individual suffer to an extent that he doesn’t survive’. Another one while trying to pacify aggrieved rubbing his shoulder comments, ‘time is a healer, my dear’ and ‘sooner or later everyone has to meet his maker’.


For them, time may be a great healer but to me - every passing moment gets me spiritually and emotionally more closer to my beloved ones. And trust me, the nostalgia; the happy chirping moments spend with the dear departed can never been subjugated by time- because my memories are timeless that can be hit back my mind and heart anytime, anywhere.


The search for meaning of the loss can challenge a survivors religious and spiritual beliefs to a greater deal. Sudden losses in particular can precipitate an existential crisis as the survivor searches for meaning. They start questioning their internal belief system and values. Goals, plans and purchases which were important the week prior to the event, abruptly seem trivial in comparison. Survivors are forced to look at and re-evaluate life priorities after this lurching time.


The principles of Chaos and Complexity have become a very real part of who I am and how I form my world view. It therefore becomes crucial for me to understand and interpret the death of my dear one’s and survivors’ grief in terms of the understandings of chaos and complexity.


When a family member dies, there is not only the sense of loss of an individual and the relationships with that person, but there is a fundamental change in the sense of identity and meaning for remnants.


The discontinuity caused by the death is reflected through all fractal levels. The effects are felt in the family, the community and, depending on the individual or even planetary level. Even at levels lower than the individual, the death of a family member can affect bodily processes and the functioning of bodily organs, right down to the cellular level of all involved.


The grief and confusion which is evident after a death creates an increased level of fuzziness. The usual sense of control we have over our lives is stripped away to reveal our inner insecurities. If we have the courage to embrace the fuzziness we can reveal greater depths to our being.


Spiritual perspectives can form a framework of meaning around the experiences of death. It can also enable the emergence of a new level of understanding of the true nature of our being. Death often leads us to re-examine some of our basic beliefs. This is particularly so if the there is something about the death that challenges our existing beliefs.


Unfortunately spiritual perspectives can also be used to further deny the reality of death. I believe that seeing death as merely moving into another room or going to a better place can become ways of trivialising the loss and disrupting the healing process.


We form an image or a map of who we think we are within ourselves so we can compare it to what we are experiencing from the outside world. This is used to ensure that our actions are consistent with the identity that has been already formed. We must similarly form images of the other people in our lives through which we judge their behaviour. We therefore have a map of each person in our lives WITHIN our own identity. When a person we know dies, a part of us literally dies as well. The image inside us no longer matches the outer world and we must realign our inner world.


Death enables evolution. A creature that lived forever has little adaptability. If there was no death, we would not have been able to evolve beyond the level of bacteria. The process of death with a built in ability to self organise from generation to generation to become what we are and evolve towards possibilities beyond our wildest dreams. Thank God for death.

I know well this is where no one can help you but one can feel sorry- that's what only they can do & that's what perhaps, only we all need.

May the Holy Spirit comfort us and give us strength, may God illuminate your eternal souls, and may you all “dwell in the superlative spot in the heavens.”

I love you all – RIP!