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Latest Breaking Pakistan News, Business, Life, Style, Cricket, Videos, Comments

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    Muhammad Jibran Khan Jogezai first came to our house in Karachi somewhere in 2006, courtesy of his classmate and my brother, Muhammad Saad. He had a heart of gold, a handsome countenance, a million dollar smile, and laughter encompassed him. He was an instant hit across three generations of our family (the only one to achieve that) and we loved him. Today, he is no more. He was martyred in Qilla Saifullah, mainland Balochistan, over property disputes involving ancestral property. It was a gun attack, they say. Three bullets, furthered by a dilapidated road and hospital infrastructure, ensured that he was no more. Jibran was one of the only people I knew who lived his life a quarter mile at a time. So replete with life, he was one of those people you would always feel alive with. Generous to the hilt, he was also an excellent race driver (tunnel vision he would say), resplendent sketch artist, my Pashto teacher, my guitar student, and above all, a true patriot. He loved Pakistan with his heart and soul, and the corruption that prevailed saddened him. We would talk at length about the funds that would disappear from the provincial coffers and the plight of an ordinary serf in Balochistan. Missing equity and justice were the key themes of his society, and with no irony, his death as well. I am etremely sad to lose him. But when I look back, I am equally proud that he did not walk away from a fight. It was the year 2010 when our paths started to meander. Jibran and Saad graduated from Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) and I moved to Lahore to commence my undergraduate degree. While Saad chased his bread trails in the corporate sector, Jibran eventually moved to England in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Bristol University. He could have taken the easy way out and stayed in England after graduation, but he returned to his homeland and ventured into farming and educating the youth. The young boy who had watched his ancestral inheritance being pilfered away was now an enlightened man who believed in what was his. He decided to take these disputes to court and in tandem with his most stubborn Pakhtun genetics, said that he would die before he would walk away. One could mistake this as maddening materialism but this was not the case. It was not even about money or honour. That was not the Jibran we knew. Jibran was simple, and behind his falsely intimidating profile was this strange synthesis of bravery and innocence. In a modern world that is so intent with robbing and pillaging, he fought for his rights, for what was rightfully his. That was all that mattered to him.

    “Today they came for our lands, what will stop them for coming for our house tomorrow? Will we just look at their faces?” he said to his mother, Dr Nargis Jogezai.
    His visits to Karachi in the last seven years were sparse and distantly scattered. We always missed him by an inch, but Saad would inquire,
    “How is Jibran? When will he get married?”
    My brother and I would then laugh because Dr Tariq Jogezai, his father, was always on his case about the same matter. It seemed like it would only be a matter of time. Today, instead of merry making over a prospective marriage, Dr Tariq is hospitalised with multiple gunshot wounds to his leg and his eldest is no more. It happened on the morning of May 7th, when Dr Tariq and Jibran visited their lands to find a very familiar vehicle approaching from the distance. It was Jibran’s cousin and would-be murderer, Ajmal Khan Jogezai. Sensing danger, Dr Tariq asked the farm help to take his son to the side. It was his mistaken belief that he could talk things out. Ajmal shot Dr Tariq twice in the leg, perfect bait for his actual game. Unarmed, Jibran asked the farm help to flee for his life while he rushed to protect his father, only to be met with a volley of Kalashnikov bullets that would take his life. His bloodied self eventually fell in a heap over his father, his one objective to protect his own, his very source. Jibran loved his father more than anything that traversed this earth. We are a very long way from playing a guitar on the streets; I have tried hard but I do not remember our last meet. It is because it was not planned to be our last meet. Life exhibited its true vicissitudes and now I am one true friend and a hearty brother short. I do not write to demand justice but rather to mark that injustice was undertaken. Is this my pessimism or my practicality? The last young slain I wrote for was Shahzeb Khan. It was a hallmark case that made a mockery of our legal system. Warp and woof of the case, the killer, the affected and the memory of the deceased have vanished in the dusty logs of the Sindh High Court (SHC). Where the concepts of Qisas and Diyat (form of punishments in Islamic Penal Law) meet brute coercion, oblivion is an easy escape and an optimised outcome. It led me to believe that even simple justice is an increasingly utopian ideal in the land of the pure. In a modern society, Suo Moto notices are more of a function of the digital marketing efforts of the civil society than the individual merits of the case. No disrespect intended, Shahzeb had diehard friends whose protests met political opportunism and civil society fear of feudal power. But who will stand up for Jibran? Jibran lived a very quiet life at the foothills of Zhob Mountains and his murder has no consequences for the educated civil along the coastlines of Karachi. What about Saifullah? He was but an outlier in his own tribe by virtue of his education, that which elevated him to free thought, and liberal ideals made him an outcast amongst his very own. Surely, not our concern for this is another family feud in the warped spatial black hole called Balochistan. People die all the time, right? They say that the chieftains demanded his body; a hush funeral and a quick ceremony would do the tribe less dishonour. The murderer is at large, allegedly protected while the family attempts to seek justice. One presser at the Karachi Press Club and a meagre Facebook following at Justice for Muhammad Jibran Jogezai has been achieved with appeals to the judiciary and the civil government. It is clear where this is headed. #ExitControlList, #MightisRight. [fbpost link="https://www.facebook.com/198173707368752/videos/199627823890007/"][/fbpost] Our future keeps dying and the residual intellect leave the country. It is easier to stay quiet and subdued, as perhaps Jibran should have done or perhaps easier to stay potent and guilty, as Jibran should have sought to become. You try to knock the courts of law too hard, and you become a dusty case yourself. I invite you to my Karachi home 10 years back when Jibran sat scratching his head over limit and continuity theorems of Calculus one. He had come very far from what an ordinary youth of Saifullah was ever supposed to achieve. As he burned the candles at night, he had no foreboding of how they would eventually be extinguished. Notwithstanding, between that night and his last, Jibran won our hearts by virtue of humour, character and integrity. He will go down as perhaps the bravest I have met, regardless of the current costs, limits and discontinuity of justice.

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    A few days ago, a publication listed the ‘Top 10 Schools of Pakistan’ on its website. The write-up in question, which was an anonymous contribution to the publication, went viral. I saw the article being excessively shared on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. The following is the list of top schools according to the publication’s ranking:

    1. Karachi Grammar School (KGS), Karachi
    2. Lahore Grammar School (LGS) 55 Main, Lahore
    3. Pakistan Air Force College, Sargodha
    4. Aitchison College, Lahore
    5. Cadet College, Hasanabdal
    6. Sadiq Public School, Bahawalpur
    7. Beaconhouse School System Gulberg, Lahore
    8. Lawrence College, Ghora Gali
    9. Chand Bagh School, Muridke
    10. Cadet College, Kohat
    Today, I finally decided to share it on my own social media account to see the response people had regarding this article because I was immensely perturbed by it and wanted to gauge my own perspective through the opinions of my friends and family. Although my own alma mater was suggested as being on the second slot of this particular list, the question still rose as to why people were people taking this article so seriously. Hailing from a family of educationists and being a part of the education industry, I can safely say that the article comprises of nothing short of misguided information, with labels via rankings and absolutely no citations have been given of the research conducted to have that article published. I personally deem this to be irresponsible reporting because derailing alumni, proud ex-alumni and parents is simply not acceptable. So what went wrong with this article that had grammatical errors in the very first line and had no credible source to justify the criteria that marked the study to have it published? Well, just about everything! After immense research, I wrote this article to correct the imprudent material that has spread across social media. The standard of an educational institution is gauged by its students’ academic and extracurricular activities, the administration and faculty. However, if a school has tremendous accomplishments but does not boast grand redbrick buildings, courts, auditoriums, swimming pools, and more, then that by no means should be the resource to measure its benchmark as a top school. After all, you want your child to be studying in a suitably decent environment that equips him or her as an able student and human being with his or her academic achievements as well as extracurricular feats. The article ranked Cadet College, Kohat at 10th top school of Pakistan. As great a military institution it is, it doesn’t qualify to be on this particular list.  In 2016, only two of its cadets were chosen for the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) scholarship whereas Ahad Anwar from the University of Lahore got the same scholarship and went onto giving a speech on TEDxSalinas. Now that is an achievement, but there is no mention of his schooling or the university through which he went to earn this accolade on the list. We get to see Chand Bagh School, Muridke on the ninth spot in the list. The article clearly says the following about the school:
    “In teen culture, it is considered as the Don School of Pakistan because of the quarrelsome behaviour of its students…”
    Why is it on the list when you are publicly defaming the school? You be the judge, my nerves collapsed reading those words alone. Further down, you get to read about the historic Lawrence College, Ghora Gali, which has been compared to the likes of Aitchison College and Cadet College Hasanabdal. Again, the author of the article has slandered this college by using the following words:
    “Lawrence stands at eighth place only due to environment complains by students and parents.”
    It is rather shocking that a publication would slur and defame schools and colleges openly albeit giving them a ranking. Next we have Beaconhouse (Gulberg Campus); the author must have been weary to name the other campuses as the institute is run under the banner of ‘Beaconhouse School System (BSS)’ and not merely one particular branch of the institute. Indeed, the Gulberg campus has proven great results and produced some high achievers in 2016 and 2017. Yet, not just the Gulberg campus but many other campuses of BSS, such as BSS Cantt Campus had Saad Saeed and Haider Ali as the top achievers in Pakistan in their Cambridge International Exams (CIE) this year. Thereby, many other campuses of BSS have produced brilliant results. Perhaps the author did not know that unlike Lahore Grammar School (LGS), which is run by five different directors, BSS and The City School are both operated by two sisters respectively who are competitors of their own businesses. Yes, business. Education has become a business in Pakistan. [fbpost link=“https://www.facebook.com/BeaconhouseCantt/posts/1438556829519707”][/fbpost] The list of schools from number seven onwards is, in my humble opinion, absolutely ridiculous. Although prestigious schools have been mentioned, their criterion of merit of being on the list and on a certain number for ranking hasn’t been given. For my part, thank you to whoever wrote that time waster for an article, for mentioning Aitchison CollegeCadet College Hasanabdal and Karachi Grammar School (KGS). These institutes have indeed proven time and again for their exceptional academic and extracurricular activities and also had their alumni placed in some of the world’s best universities with scholarships. Nevertheless, the list named my alma mater,  LGS (55-Main) which has had a number of high achievers and students placed in Ivy League Schools as well as received Oxbridge awards. However, it did conveniently forget to name LGS Johar Town, which has had a sterling record of high achievers and its students enrolled in not only the best colleges in the US and the UK but world over with scholarships, LGS 1-A-1, LGS Paragon City Campus, a school that I personally worked with in 2015-2016 whereby, it not only produced high achievers, but was one of the schools that had one amongst four Pakistani students chosen for Oxford University. LGS Defence Campus, LGS Landmark Arif Jan, and many other Lahore Grammar Schools that have not only the highest world achievers but have also had their students enrol into world renowned universities and done exceptionally well in their extracurricular activities. Thus, their exclusion from the list is simply not acceptable. I might cut the author some slack for perhaps not having knowledge of the fact that the Lahore Grammar Schools are run by different directors, and the curriculum of the schools vary from each directors’ school. I don’t want to come off as biased for giving evidence for the schools that I have mentioned with evidence, but you can Google to find out the other schools’ achievements as there are many and the list is endless. My question is, why did the author forget Convent of Jesus and MaryTNS BeaconhouseSt Patrick’s High SchoolMama Parsi Girls SchoolLearning Alliance SchoolThe City SchoolArmy Burn HallLahore College of Arts and Sciences (LACAS)The Lyceum SchoolKarachi American SchoolBay View High SchoolLahore American SchoolThe International School of ChoueifatRoots International SchoolFroebel’s International SchoolSalamat International Campus for Advanced Studies (SICAS) and many more? All the aforementioned schools might or might not have a historic heritage but they surely have a list of achievements both academically and co-curricular wise. Students of these schools have not only represented their schools on regional level competitions but also represented Pakistan internationally. I cannot allot rankings to these schools, but their accomplishments go beyond their infrastructures. Perhaps the publisher and the publication of the article should have named the article the ‘Top 10 historic schools of Pakistan’. By the time I was done reading the article, a pink coloured URL appeared to click on the ‘10 Most Beautiful Women of Pakistan’. A notable alumni of Aitchison said,
    “Aitchison’s Art Fear was pretty good. Clearly they’ve been working less at hockey.”
    He is someone who has won many awards academically, was the regional swimmer in the Punjab team whilst in Aitchison, and received a full scholarship from Yale right after his A’levels. Thus I rest my case, nerves and the cheap publicity or lack of content for the running of that article on this note alone. Note: This post is in no way endorsing or advertising any school, college or institute. The post is solely a rebuttal to the misguided information that is circulating on the internet. The author has provided citations and references with links of achievements of the schools in the post.

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    I sit in the room at the end of the hallway. The door is closed. My head is bent. I am waiting to be called. I was six-years-old. I stood on the balcony with my mother, father and cousin as we tried to spot the chaand that would symbolise the start of Ramazan. I was excited. I was thrilled; there was nothing I wanted more than to fast for the entire month. I started singing,

    Ramazan ke rozay aye, hum roza rakhna chahain! (The month of fasting is here, and we wish to fast!)
    My cousin shared the same enthusiasm; he got up and began singing along with me. But soon we were reminded that we were too young, too thin and too weak to fast. My parents finished the song,
    Aglay saal, aglay saal, aglay saal!” (Next year, next year, next year!)
    We smiled with that hopeful glow of innocence that all children seem to exude and sang along with them.
    Aglay saal” came soon enough, and along with that came a long awaited friend.
    _______________________________________________________________ The room is small. Several prayer mats lay folded on the sofa next to me. I keep a one-arm distance between them and myself. I get up and walk to the door. I peek outside to see if the jamaat (congregation) is over. But it isn’t. I catch her eye as she bends into sajdah (prostration). I close the door. Earlier, I was drinking a glass of water when she walked into the kitchen. She asked me,
    “Aren’t you fasting?”
    I boldly shook my head, unafraid and continued to sip on my glass of water. The look she gave me, however, told me that I should be. Her eyes narrowed, and her wrinkled nose turned upwards. She tightened the scarf on her head, scoffed and walked out of the room. I saw her whisper her disappointment to my grandmother, my mother and my khala.
    Why isn’t she pretending to fast?” she questioned my grandmother.
    I chuckled – I couldn’t help but laugh because I am not embarrassed by my body; I am not embarrassed by my womanhood. And I shouldn’t have to be. I didn’t hear what my grandmother had to say. I looked at this woman I barely knew, amidst an iftar at my grandmother’s house as she glared at me. I sighed. This was Karachi – iftaris with distant relatives and far-off family friends, aunties making unwarranted comments on the lives of every young woman they could find. I went up to her and asked,
    “Why?”
    She looked at me, taken aback. No one ever asks why. We don’t ask why when we’re told that the women’s section is in the basement of the grocery store, we don’t ask why we’re told to speak softly. We never do. Maybe that was part of the problem. And as the word left my mouth, it formed into something I never intended it to be – defiance. I was curious. I always had been. But I never meant to be rude. I could tell by her face that no one had ever questioned her before and I wondered if our society was an accumulation of matriarchy as opposed to the patriarchy we seem to blame everything on. She looked at me and sighed,
    “Some things aren’t meant to be questioned.”
    There always seemed to be a barrier between me and the rest of the world. She wryly smiled at me.
    “Beta, girls are precious. So it is your duty to protect yourself.” “Protect myself from what exactly?”
    I pushed, knowing already that she would not answer. She turned around and ever-so-kindly led me to a room down the hallway so that she could join the jamaat.
    “Girls aren't supposed to let the world know when their friend is visiting,” she cooed as she ruffled my hair.
    She smiled at me, but it wasn’t really a smile and I realised that she herself could not say the word period. What was she so afraid of? Maybe it wasn’t the over-looming patriarchy that enforced these norms upon us, but the women that believed it was their duty for us, as women, to be nothing more than emotional entities. The physical being, the body was never discussed here and that irritated me to another end. Her eyes moved from mine and made their way slowly down my body. She looked at my kurta, which I had thought was decent enough for an iftari. Her eyes then moved on to my tights, which were black and fitted. She did not approve. I didn’t understand. Even my choices were not my own. I was supposed to hide my body, pretend that it didn’t exist. I hated it. I hated feeling guilty for taking up space, but not anymore. I was sick of everyone around me owning me; my body, my choices, my thoughts. I was shunned to the room because, God forbid, one of the male members of my family was to know that I was on my period. What would they think! The horror. So here I am – alone, and ashamed; left to rethink my decision of openly drinking water in a month where it’s only acceptable to do so after 7:25 pm. Yet, I don’t want to be alone and I don’t want to be ashamed. It’s almost as if everything I say, or do, or wear is scrutinised by all those around me and slowly I’m growing more into a shell than as a person. I live in a city where womanhood is discussed solely behind closed doors – with hushed voices, hidden away from the men in a tight box; one we have been told to fit into. I live in a city where women on their cycle wake up for sehri and pretend to fast because the word menstruation cannot be spoken beyond an octave of a whisper. Yet, when I’m told to sit in a room and hide myself, I do so because generations of women before me did the very same thing, and it’s all I’ve ever known. The notion that we have adverts about new lines of pads, that show all these happy girls frolicking around the screen is apparently groundbreaking in our society. Groundbreaking…We are talking about something that is no innately natural to women, why should discussing or educating people on that be deemed as revolutionary? I know we live in a conservative society, lest I ever forget, but that does not mean that our periods should be slipped under the cracks so that the people around us don’t feel uncomfortable. I sit in the room thinking back to when I was six-years-old. How innocently I sang the song, yearning to fast. How my cousin and I used to be equals. Yet equality is not a word that always exists when it comes to women. I hear a knock on the door. My mother walks in and sits next to me. She takes out a KitKat from her bag and hands it to me. I smile up at her as she leans back against the sofa and sings,
    Ramazan ke rozay aye…”


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    In 2011, while attending the opening ceremony of a Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Karachi, I came to an odd yet poignant moment. Before the ceremony officially began, it was announced that the national anthem was to be played and hence everyone should arise from our seats to show respect. Everyone did so accordingly. However, when the anthem was played, it was nothing like the powerful melody we have all been brought up listening to. Firstly, it was a guitar version of the anthem, without the robust drums which made the tune so colourful and lively. Secondly, it did not have lyrics. Both these things made the tune bland and unworthy of respect. I felt uncomfortable singing to this tune because it had no reminiscence of the past or the nationalism we have come to associate with it. And I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. When the first guest speaker was called on stage (a retired judge) after the tune ended, she mentioned her dissatisfaction to the management team of the conference and asked them to play the original national anthem, with the drums and the lyrics. And the hall applauded in unison upon this request. The reason I mention this instance is because some aspects of our history (such as the national anthem) are eternal and carry on from generation to generation. Changing or altering them not only proves unpopular amongst the masses but also becomes counterproductive. This is because these alterations would mean that different generations have different versions of the anthem in mind, leading to discord and disunity. In a recent news report, it was revealed that the Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Maryam Aurangzeb, has asked the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) to do the exact same thing – alter the national anthem and introduce a new tune for the August 14th parade. What Aurangzeb fails to understand is that this step will backfire; Pakistanis have an emotional connection to the anthem and they will not accept any alterations to it whatsoever. Secondly, part of her job is to maintain the heritage in Pakistan (or what is left of it, anyway). How is changing the national anthem going to help her do that? This step is unnecessary and futile. Pakistan’s national anthem is already considered one of the best melodies around the world and Pakistanis from all over the globe are used to only one anthem tune (the original one, composed by Ahmed Ghulamali Chagla). Any other version will simply be refuted. Most countries still play the same national anthem which was written for them decades (sometimes centuries) ago. If any changes are made, they are solely based on the lyrics, to denote any change in geographical or political structures of the country. Pakistan has undergone no such changes in recent times. There are many issues which Ms Aurangzeb can cater to, such as the depleting national monuments and heritages which are in constant support from the government to maintain their originality, or the Pandora’s Box which is the broadcast media’s on-going battle against censorship and safety of journalists. Perhaps she should start focusing on these issues, instead of creating newer ones for herself. Please let the national anthem be as it is. There is already enough confusion in this country when it comes to national pride and unity.



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    “Bhabi ke liye hee hans do!” (Smile for the sake of our sister-in-law)
    The Empress Market shopkeepers teased the stoic sabzi wala (vegetable vendor), encouraging him to smile for my camera. This was my first visit to Pakistan and all I wanted was to capture that one perfect shot. The sabzi wala raised his head and grinned. I snapped the image.  Street photography, for most of these Karachiite shopkeepers wasn’t a novelty. However, I visited numerous places on my trip where street photography was seen with awe, and curiosity. Even in Karachi, I drew attention walking around the city with a Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) camera and lens. I noticed people staring at me while I took my time composing an image, or when I worked with a subject on a pose. I have grown comfortable with this kind of attention. I’ve been to many countries with my camera, and Pakistan was the 30th. During my travels, I have learned that being a foreign photographer means creating images as an outsider looking in. The plan for my trip was to visit KarachiLahore, and Thatta. Prior to visiting, I had asked locals of each city what I needed to know about conspicuous, public photography in Pakistan. Many responses were recommendations on where to shoot, but a common theme emerged around safety. Although the security situation had improved over previous years, the risk posed by the chor (thief) was hard to predict. I decided that the best option was to take one SLR camera with a single lens along with a pocket camera and use sound judgment. Luckily, I had a fantastic experience in every location. With a few exceptions, the individuals I met were open to being photographed themselves or allowing me to capture their neighbourhood, store, or home. In some of the markets, especially outside of the widely visited ones in Karachi and Lahore, this sentiment was accompanied by a degree of puzzlement. More than one shopkeeper asked me,
    “Why would you want to photograph here?”
    There was some confusion as to why I would be more interested in scenes of daily life as opposed to tourist areas and famous landmarks. To be clear, I covered both, but the former produced many of my favourite images. I also learned about the work of groups like Super Savari Express, which facilitated one of my trips to the Empress Market where I got the image of the sabzi wala. Super Savari is a guide company which seeks to reclaim public spaces for tourism for both foreigners like me and Pakistanis. If they succeed, street photography will become a more normal practice in more neighbourhoods in Pakistan. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed taking them. In the future, I will return to Pakistan again in search of the beauty the country has to offer. I spotted this Pakistani Ranger with an intense stare at the Wagah border. After some cajoling, he agreed to a portrait. A Pakistani Ranger poses for a portrait near the Wagah border. I am 1.88 meters tall and he still towered over me. A porter at the Empress Market in Karachi. I loved the style of his shawl and henna-dyed hair. A mystic outside of the Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta who turned out to be very willing to participate in an extended photo shoot until I got the image I wanted. A shopkeeper near the Shahi Hammam in Lahore. At first he wanted to put out his cigarette for the photo, but I assured him it was just the proper look. A flower vendor at an entrance of the main market in downtown Thatta. While driving by this masala shop in a Karachi market, I found this man perfectly posed. I stopped the car and encouraged the man to stay still. After a few snaps, the neighboring butcher seemed to get a bit jealous of all the attention. A wall at the beautiful Gudwara Dehra Sahib Sri Guru Arjan Dev in Lahore. I was given a tour of the Gudwara by a Muslim caretaker who provided a complete history of the temple and its namesake Guru. A vegetable stand in one of Karachi’s many markets. The view through a chapal (slipper) shop in downtown Karachi. Two workers stop to chat near a market in Lahore. Hindu women look from a second story window in Lahore. The top view of Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. Inside the bus on the Super Savari Express tour in Karachi. One of the tour buses in the Super Savari Express fleet in Karachi. The sabzi wala I met at the Empress market whose colleagues teased him, in good nature, throughout our photo shoot. Stairs of Cuckoo’s Den restaurant in Lahore’s Food Street. The meal I had after climbing the stairs was delicious! Inside the Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. All photos: Ketan Gajria

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    We’ve heard stories about their utilisation plenty of times. You can see exactly where the fingerprints grazed the pages. You can deduce how long it was held by the depth of the finger stains. This is none other than a depiction of an old book. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places too much importance on new books, rather than old ones. Why is it that new things are considered more valuable than old things? There might be a time in the future when books will be published for a specific audience and the physicality of reading material will become extinct. However, there are a handful of individuals who still believe that books have the power to produce knowledgeable individuals. Luckily, there are still people in Karachi who believe that old books have a particular essence of originality which fresh or digital books might fail to deliver. Old rotten books have their own value and worth, which is beautifully expressed by some old book stakeholders. Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Urdu Pakistan since 1903

     Mohammad Maroof recalled the following instance with a kind smile on his face,
    Baba e Urdu (Moulvi Abdul Haq) brought all these books (refer to the picture above) from India himself. These weren’t only books, these were our heritage packed in boxes.”
    Maroof, who has been serving as the manager of Anjuman-e-Taraqqi for 35 years, further briefed us about the founding date of the public library in India, which dates back to 1903. The library in Karachi was set up in 1948 and holds more than 300 books on a multitude of subjects written in Urdu. Students and book lovers from all over the country visit the library to enjoy ancient literature and historical books. Call it a museum or a world of classical books, the shelves of the library have plenty of volumes and hand-writings from all eras. More than 60,000 books, magazines, letters and researches were kept in the library upon the instructions of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah after Partition.

    Apart from Urdu, there are books written in HindiArabic, Persian and English. The library has preserved all the religious books in their original form as well. A century-old copy of the Holy Quran, Geeta and Bible are kept amongst old religious books. All ancient books are preserved through a fumigation process during which books are kept in a fumigation chamber for 24 hours and preserved for six months.

    “Rukoon tou manzilain hi manzilain, chaloon tou raasta koi nahe hai.                                                                      Khuli hain khirkiyan har ghar ki lekin, gali mai jhankta koi nahe hai.” (Destinations are all around as I stop, but there’s no way when I walk Every house has a window open but, no one looks from inside).
    Urdu Bazaar’s ABC (American Books Centre) Syed Muhammad Khalil is a 93-year-old book lover and has served as the former chairman of the All Pakistan Publishers Book Seller Association for five years and continues as the central committee member. His love for books only intensified with time as he told us,
    “I breathe books, my dear.”
    This friend of Liaquat Ali Khan recalls the Partition time, when the ties of traveling with Ahmed Faraz had charm but no expense. He went on to say,
    “On the scale of literate to illiterate, the most literary people, in my perspective, still reside in Azizabad, LalukhetNazimabad, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and New Karachi.  Defence and Clifton are the most illiterate areas, when it comes to knowledge of books.”

    Khalil takes his passion for books wherever he goes, be it a short trip to Delhi with family or an international trip to the world’s biggest book fair in Iran. Since 1944, three generations have played a part in keeping the legacy of ABC alive in Urdu Bazaar. Spotless visions of Regal Chowk Ishaaq baba, a bookstall vendor on the streets of Regal Chowk, has been selling books for 35 years now. When asked why he opts for selling books for a living when he can earn good money from a different trade, he responded saying that he loves books and prefers his quality time with them to anything else.

    Ishaaq baba said,
    “Our generation is sabotaging themselves by distancing themselves from books and spending more and more time on their phones. It’s my request to parents to motivate your children to read as many books as they can if they want to rule the world.”

    Krishan Chandar is his favourite author and he has a keen interest in developmental literature. Perhaps the best way to spend more time with books is by making a profession out of it.

    Thora hasslo bache (smile a little, child),” Ishaaq baba said to his grandson while posing for the picture above.

    He brings his grandson with him every Sunday because he wants him to love books as much as he loves them himself.

    Cluster of Books and Woods at Tariq Road

    Amaanullah Khan, a passionate reader, set up a small-scale hut-shaped book stall at Tariq Road approximately eight or nine years ago. This 65-year-old has had various different experiences during the course of his life. From being in the telephone business to working as an oiler on a ship, Khan’s passion for books led him to establish his own little venture. Burdened by loans, the fervent man’s books helped him establish a business.

    Dejectedly, Khan said,
    “No one wants to read books. The young lot only reads fictional books rather than books on realism.”
    Displaying a wide array of books, Khan picks out his favorite authors; Allama IqbalJane AustenAshfaq Ahmed and Charles Dickens. All Photos: Faiza Virani and Saniya Nathani

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    The Karachi I grew up in was a city where garbage was picked up regularly. Swarms of jamadarnis (women sweepers) descended each morning to sweep the dusty streets in our neighbourhood in PECHS, picking up any plastic bags that the wind had blown overnight.  Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) trucks came in to collect the garbage from the corner garbage bins regularly. The law and order situation was such that my grandmother (who I admit was a bit of a maverick) felt no fear in taking a rickshaw by herself. She was fearless and she’d hold out her hand at the end of the journey with change so that the rickshaw driver could pluck the correct fare from her himself. Roads constructed in the 1960s serve Karachi even till today. These roads include Shahrah-e-Faisal, the roads to Clifton and Defence, Rashid Minhas Road, the two main roads that serve as the arteries in Nazimabad, and the arteries connecting to the SITE area. The upkeep of these roads was also reasonable back in the day. Then, the deterioration set in. A lot of this had to do with the fact that the city seemed to grow faster than the production of services it required for its upkeep. However, a significant part of the problem was also the governance and accountability system’s deterioration, as the resources that were allocated ended up being pilfered by corrupt politicians. Complaints from citizens are met with the same disclaimer even today,

    “What can we do? We are not given adequate resources to meet the demands.”
    The same complaints are heard from our health and education sectors. However, a recent study by a Pakistani public policy expert at the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington has shown that the total amount of resources allocated for education at central and provincial levels in Pakistan is more than 85% of the total outlay on defence. Thus, obviously money is not the main problem in the delivery of services and this holds true for many developing countries where I have worked. I had stated in one of my previous blogs that one of the problems with Sindh is that it is the only province in Pakistan where a distinction has been made between urban and rural areas. An unintended consequence of this is that no matter how the urban votes are cast, the management of urban Sindh will always lie with the representatives of the rural areas, since the rural seats in the provincial assembly are more than those for the urban areas. Those who have the responsibility of addressing local issues for the urban areas have no interest in doing so, since their vote bank comes from the rural areas. The real solution lies in modifying the local governance system. By doing this, the political representatives of the people will be made responsible for all areas that affect the lives of the people living there. Necessary resources can be allocated to them once the issues are addressed. This continues to hold true today. When the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took power again after the Pervez Musharraf era, it resisted holding local bodies’ elections. Subsequently, it made changes to the Local Government Ordinance that placed the control of local bodies in the hands of bureaucrats rather than politicians. PPP then took an order for the local bodies’ elections to be held from the Supreme Court. Finally, when a mayor was appointed after these elections, he found that the remit of the local government had been severely limited and that little or no resources were available to him to do his work. Coming back to the garbage problem, we were told that the provincial government has taken over this responsibility. On a TV show, Faryal Talpur stated that this issue will now be addressed by the PPP provincial government and a contract is being awarded to a Chinese firm for this. This was over six months ago. Now the citizens of Karachi really do not care who does it as long as a system of regular garbage collection and disposal is established. However, this has not happened as yet. When Sharmila Farooqi of PPP was asked about the garbage issue in a TV talk show, she said that these things take time. She said that the contractor has to mobilise, he has to submit his plan and then the government has to approve it and so on and so forth. In the meantime, the garbage heap continues to grow and the stink becomes unbearable. If one were to drive on the Baloch Colony Road in Karachi, one would notice the huge red-coloured garbage disposal units with Chinese branding that have been recently placed on the side of the road. As much as the effort is to be applauded, the purpose has been futile since heaps of garbage is seen surrounding the disposal units, covering a chunk of the main road, as garbage collection services are nowhere to be seen. This can be gauged by the fact that the mountain of garbage keeps getting bigger and bigger as each day passes. This impasse brings out the structural problem I had mentioned at the outset and the solution is still the same. It is necessary that the remit of the local governments in urban Sindh are strengthened to include all areas related to service delivery and the law and order situation that affects the lives of citizens. The enhanced scope of local government responsibilities in Sindh is necessary to accommodate the aberration of the rural-urban divide that exists in the province. Moreover, resources allocated within the provincial budget for these areas should be divided in proportion to the populations of rural and urban Sindh in order for distribution to be even handed. Furthermore, it should be made sure that measures are incorporated into the system of disbursement of funds. These need to be done so that amounts allocated for the third tier would automatically be released by the provincial government without any hold from the provincial level. The management of districts should fall under the political parties who win the local elections for that district. This will further address the issue of district specific interests, be they political or ethnic. As stated in my earlier article, these solutions are party neutral. If we restructure the local governments in Sindh along these lines, we can expect progress irrespective of who controls these areas. In the past, devolution of resources to the lower levels was resisted by both the provincial government and ‘the establishment’ in view of the fact that Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) controlled the vote bank in urban Sindh. Now that the party has been dismembered into three competing factions, it is no longer a given that a faction of the party would control Karachi. Other parties such as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) are likely to get a piece of the pie in view of the increasing ethnic diversity of Karachi. Perhaps it is time to allow the voters of urban Sindh and Karachi to decide their own futures. The problems of Karachi, which is the economic hub of the country, translate into serious problems for the national economy and for national security. Merely criticising the PPP government, as has been done by several articles, for the problems of Karachi will lead us nowhere. We must also address the structural problems pointed out above.

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    There are two things Pakistani’s are unabashedly and unapologetically obsessed with – discounts and shaadi (marriage). By combining these two, I have to admit that Careem’s new rishta aunty service is quite genius. Or is it? No, I did not want to be woken up on a Wednesday morning (Wednesday being the most annoying day of the week) to Careem telling me my rishta has arrived”. I honestly thought maybe I accidentally ordered a cab and the driver’s name is Rishta, Rishta Khan or something? My brain did not have the energy to solve this mystery, especially not on a Wednesday. When I got to work, I found out that it’s actually a new campaign launched by Careem where you can book a certain type of car which will have a ‘professional’ rishta aunty accompany you and help you fulfil your dreams so that you never have to book a cab all alone again. https://twitter.com/mehru365/status/887550745943396352 The poster is very appealing with a gori (foreigner) old lady with red hair and what seems to be a photoshopped dupatta on her head. Her hair seems photoshopped too. Maybe they made it red so people could relate it to the ladies who dye their hair with mehndi (henna)? Either way, I’m not buying it. I don’t trust this aunty. If they’d have used the bik gayi hai gormint (this government has been sold) aunty, that would’ve been a better fit. So, I’m not sure if Careem’s marketing team launched this because they are actually concerned about the rising number of kunwaras (singles) in Pakistan or whether they did this just to attract people into booking rides for the fun of it. What people forget to realise is that marriage is, or at least was, a sacred institution. This campaign is making a joke out of it. It’s not just matchmaking, it is playing with people’s lives and futures. Let’s say that people do try it, how would it play out? You book a ride and a rishta aunty accompanies you, simple as that. Has anyone ever met a rishta aunty? I’m not judging their profession, but most of them are known to be blunt and prying ladies. They, being complete strangers, will ask you strange questions about your height, weight, class, cast, religion, religious sect, the sect within that sect, your monthly income, what each of your family member does and other very personal information. All this would be in front of another complete stranger, that is the Careem captain who we generally try to give as little information as possible to so they don’t start stalking you or become one of those late night missed callers and ‘friendshippers’. I’m not sure the people who came up with this idea actually thought it through. Or maybe they did think it through, as they decided to monetise on the one thing Pakistanis are very concerned about – marriage (their own marriage and other people’s marriages). The company wanted to play on the desperation some people have to get hitched, especially girls who have a constant ticking time bomb on their heads as they age. This, I feel, does not go with Careem’s image. https://twitter.com/CheeeeeseFries/status/887514189232840704 I, for one, have always been an avid supporter of Careem as a service and always appreciate their fun marketing tactics. Like the one right before Eid, when you could book a ride with a barber. That was creative and catered to people’s urgency right before Eid. If Careem were looking for innovative ways to help and rope in its young clients, they could have perhaps opted for a career or education counsellor. Hence, this rishta one has been my least favourite. I’m not against going to a rishta aunty you’ve heard about from someone and availing her services to find a match for myself or for a loved one. But doing so in a taxi seems inappropriate and unnecessary. It plays with people’s sensitivities in a culture like ours and shows marriage in a comical light when, considering the rising divorce rates, getting married or finding a partner should be anything but amusing. Someone I know actually tried this rishta aunty service yesterday and what they had to say was not far from what I had guessed. Just as I had suspected, the rishta aunty turned out to be too poking, intrusive and claimed to not give any guarantee if the match she found is already married or would want to marry again in the future. She basically said she can’t be held responsible for anything except finding the ‘perfect’ match for you and would charge approximately Rs50,000 only. Furthermore, if it couldn’t get any creepier, the rishta aunty was very insistent upon taking pictures of the girls in the car. Judging from this, it is safe to say that this ‘community engagement initiate’ was not well-thought out and perhaps Careem should put an end to it before anything creepier happens. As a loyal Careem customer, I would advise the company to focus more on further improving the quality of their services. As a Pakistani, I sincerely request that we please move on from weddings and marriages and onto to something more interesting. The highlight of yesterday was when Careem’s competitor, Joy Cab, posted a hilarious marketing gimmick that said,

    “While Kareem uncle is busy finding rishta, we are busy providing best rates and no peak factor.”
    [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Joy Cab, posted a hilarious marketing gimmick. Photo: Joy Cab official Facebook page[/caption] Talk about raining on Careem’s parade (pun intended). Hearing about more experiences of people who tried the rishta aunty cab has left me more bewildered.

    Whatever it is that Careem was trying to or has achieved by this, I fail to understand. All I can say is yeh bik gayi hai gormint. Why? Just because…



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    I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the present Sindh governmentlike its predecessors, is also selling whatever open land is left in Karachi to interested developers. I’m referring to the most recent scandal, the selling of 30 acres of land meant for the Horticultural Society to the builders’ mafia at a price which is about 1% of its actual value. I wonder if they have ever thought of the fact that one day, all the open spaces in Karachi will be gobbled up and replaced with shopping malls and commercial plazas, and they will have nothing left to sell. So if a man is struck on the head today in an accident, goes into a coma and wakes up about 30 years later (in 2050), what will he see when he drives around the city? The first thing he will note is that all the parks have disappeared, the National Stadium has been replaced with 10 very tall residential buildings, and the Safari Park and the zoo no longer exist. But he is shocked when he sees that the Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum has vanished and has been replaced by 30 high rise shopping malls.

    “What’s this?” he asks his grandson, “Where is Jinnah’s tomb? It used to be here.” “No, it was always in Thatta,” says the young man. “It was right here!” The old man insists.
    The grandson whips out his smart phone and Googles ‘Jinnah’s tomb’ and shows him the result. The old man sees that it’s the same structure that used to be in Karachi, but Google clearly states that it is in Thatta. His eyes are full of tears and he is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Over the next few days, he starts looking for those he used to know before his accident, his juniors and assistants who had been working in the Sindh secretariat before his accident. He bumps into one of them who retired 20 years back and is there to collect his monthly pension. The man is surprised to see him. Over a cup of tea, he agrees to reveal everything he knows but begs the old man not to say anything about it to anyone, as it is a crime to even talk about it.
    “It happened about 25 years ago, when the rulers began running out of money as there was no land available to sell to builders in order to construct more buildings. So they decided to demolish the mausoleum and use the land to make many high rise residential and commercial buildings on it. They got the mazaar (mausoleum) declared a dangerous building and got it demolished. It took only three days for the structure to crumble and another three days for the rubble to be shifted to Thatta. I remember they used a thousand trucks to do it.” “But what about the media and the social society activists?” the old man asks. “Surely they would have objected?” “Oh, they were told another mausoleum would be built in its place, so they were pacified. They knew that it had taken 25 years to build the original structure, so they came to terms with the idea that it would take many years for the new structure to come up. In the meantime, the rulers got an identical monument constructed in Thatta. Then, they went on to state that this was the original Quaid’s mazaar in school textbooks. It reminded me of the time when they printed that the Quaid’s birthplace was in Jhirruck, near Thatta in some other textbook.” “But what about those who lived in other cities?” the old man asks. “What about the government in Islamabad? Surely they would have known what was going on.” “Everyone has a price. Of those 30 buildings, one was given to the rulers in Islamabad, another to those in Karachi, hundreds of shops and apartments were gifted to government employeesmedia persons and all those who asked awkward questions. Soon it was made a crime for anyone to talk about the scandal and a whole new generation has grown up believing that the great leader’s last resting place is in Thatta.”
    So how should I end? Seeing how shameless and unscrupulous Karachi’s rulers are, I am sure the aforementioned narrative is entirely possible that the Quaid’s mausoleum will be pulled down one day and all the land will be sold to the builders’ mafia in order to construct more buildings.

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  • 07/22/17--23:00: You should expect nothing
  • There are days of glee and sorrow, There are days of wonder and freight, There are days of worry, insecurity — Thoughts that you’ve been victimised. There are protruding, menacing, cutting eyes, Staring. They watch your every move. It’s not some higher power or satan or big brother, It’s just all the people who expect something from you. And the days will pass you by. You will find new shores and highways. You will look beyond the roofs of Karachi, and the markets of Lahore. You will breathe in the stink of cities, leaving the Big Apple behind. You will see the world — not really, But it will be enough. They will wonder where you’ve gone, maybe they really do care now. Your decisions will run in their minds, like the donuts you made with your car in your youth — The wheeze, eeks and hums, the loud engine and tire noise — And they will still be saddened because they have lost themselves again. And because they have found, they can expect nothing of you. In the end, You might just be so lucky, to find your town at the ends of those shores and highways. You might just be so lucky, to find a city to call your own. You might just be so lucky, to accept the world with all its mess. You might just be so lucky, but you might not be. Because you should expect nothing of the world— When you want it to expect nothing of you.



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    In June 1987, an obscure Pakistani pop band, the Vital Signs were contacted by the then 36-year-old TV producer, Shoaib Mansoor. Mansoor had already made a name for himself for conceiving and producing a social satire ‘skit show’ for the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV), Fifty Fifty. He had launched it in 1978 and it was an immediate hit with the viewers, running for eight seasons till Mansoor shut it down in 1984. Mansoor was teaching at the PTV Academy when one of his students, Rana Kanwal, drew his attention towards a pop band that had been playing at ‘college functions’ (mainly in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area). They had gathered a pretty strong ‘underground following’. Most of the band’s fans were female college and high school students. The band was formed by synth-player and occasional guitarist, Rohail Hyatt, and his friend, bassist Shahzad Hassan. They were soon joined by guitarist Nusrat Hussain. All three had played in the now forgotten bands, The Progressions and Crude X in the early 80s. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="223"] Rohail Hyatt. Photo: Rizwanul Haq[/caption] They were all in their teens when they came across another adolescent who they saw singing George Michael’s ‘Careless Whispers’ in a concert at a girls’ college in Islamabad. His name was Junaid Jamshed (JJ) who was also a student at an engineering college. By 1986, the four had become a band. Curiously, even though they regularly performed at colleges, they still did not have a name. However, in 1999, when I was working at an English daily in Karachi, a reader mailed me a photocopy of a January 1987 newsletter published by the students of Lahore’s University of Engineering (UET). In it was a review of a concert at the university by a band called ‘JJ’s Lot.’ In his note to me, the sender wrote that this was the name given to the band by the editors of the newsletter. The review mentioned JJ, Rohail and Shahzad. It also mentions a drummer but he is not named. Nusrat is not mentioned at all. The review went on to say that JJ was also part of another band called Nuts & Bolts. The report explains the band singing various ‘western pop and rock hits’ and covers of songs from Indian films, and those by the then leading Pakistani pop/disco duo, Nazia and Zoheb. In the end, the review laments that the ‘concert ended in commotion’. It doesn’t explain how or why. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="443"] Junaid Jamshed. Photo: TrackRecord[/caption] The PTV Academy student, Kanwal, approached the band for a project which saw the band recording their first original composition, ‘Chehra. It was a class assignment given to Kanwal by Mansoor. ‘Chehra was actually a pop rendition of a poem penned by the famous Urdu poetess, Parveen Shakir. Mansoor wasn’t impressed, but the song would still manage to end up on the Vital Signs’ debut album. One of the earliest versions of the Vital Signs’ first original composition, ‘Chehra’. https://soundcloud.com/abdullah-khan-213/chehra-vital-signs In June 1987, Mansoor began thinking about producing a ‘youthful national song’ for Pakistan’s 40th birth anniversary (August 14, 1987). He revisited the amateur video that Kanwal had made for ‘Cherah’ and eventually contacted the Vital Signs. Mansoor already had the lyrics of the song that he wanted the band to record. The words were by Nisar Nasik but had been rearranged a bit and added to by Mansoor. Rohail snickered when he saw the lyrics. The band just couldn’t fathom exactly what the title, ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ actually meant. Its immediate English translation is, ‘heart heart Pakistan’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxi8eFQsDMg Here also lies the possible origin story of the band’s name: Vital Signs. Over the years, three accounts have emerged about how the name came about, and all three have, in one way or the other, been corroborated by the band members.

    The first version sees the band, while recording ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’, being asked by Mansoor to come up with a name for the group. It then sees Rohail and Shahzad thinking about the name while listening to the song, ‘Vital Signs’, by the Canadian prog-rock band, Rush. Then someone suggests “why not the Vital Signs?” and they all agree.

    The second version sees the name being purposed by Shahzad’s sister who was a doctor. The third version sees the band members still trying to comprehend the meaning of ‘heart heart Pakistan’ until jokingly suggesting “let’s call ourselves the Vital Signs”!

    The prospect of being helmed by a famous TV producer, who also wanted to shoot a video of the song, convinced the band to record it. Nusrat, who till then was considered to be the most accomplished musician in the group, was handed the responsibility of composing the song.

    He came up with a composition but Mansoor hated it. Nusrat went back and came up with another tune, and the rest of the band loved it. JJ did his bit by humming a melody around Nusrat’s creation and the composition finally got the green light from Mansoor.

    The echoing start of the song (Da da da dil, dil dil …) was an afterthought, supplemented by Rohail who added reverb to JJ’s opening vocals.

    With the song done, Mansoor then filmed the band lip-synching it on lush hills, around trees and while driving around in an open-top Suzuki jeep. They appear in the video in denim and can also be seen riding their motorbikes, their most prized possessions at the time.

    With August 14th approaching, Mansoor quickly sent the video to the members of PTV’s censor board. They returned it as quickly, saying that the video cannot be allowed to air on PTV. In their note to Mansoor, they complained that “pop and patriotism do not mix”, and that the “boys were behaving like hooligans on bikes”.

    One must remember that this was 1987. Pakistan had been quivering under a reactionary dictatorship since July 1977. Mansoor was livid. He tried to convince the board, rather remind them, that this was how young people were behaving (outside of PTV) and that if they (the board members) wanted young Pakistanis to connect with patriotism, they will have to talk to the youth in their language.

    After some back and forth between Mansoor and the board, the video was finally allowed to air. And it became an instant hit.

    The dictatorship folded in 1988 and democracy returned. The Vital Signs’ success had already brought forth numerous pop acts who had been performing ‘underground’ across the mid and late 80s. The Vital Signs would continue to remain being the land’s leading pop act, recording four top-selling albums.

    On its way to the top, the band would refine and polish their musical prowess, hire and lose at least five guitarists, and often bicker among themselves before finally calling it a day in 1998.

    All the while, ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ kept growing, even among the next two generations of young Pakistanis, until it officially became Pakistan’s unofficial national anthem.

    The makers Shoaib Mansoor: Mansoor remained associated with the band throughout its existence, as mentor and lyricist. He also continued his career as a TV producer and then went on to direct two Urdu films. Junaid Jamshed: JJ was the most active and popular member of the band. After the band folded in 1998, he recorded two solo albums before joining an Islamic evangelic outfit and quitting music in 2002. He became a highly successful businessman and preacher. Tragically, he died in a plane crash in 2016. Rohail Hyatt: Rohail was considered to be the leader of the band, despite the fact that he was the most private and introverted member. He still laments that the leadership of the band had been ‘thrust upon him’. He would also excel as a producer and helm all Vital Signs’ albums. After the demise of the band, he formed his own production house, Pyramid. He tasted his second major burst of fame as the producer and mastermind behind the immensely successful, Coke Studio.  Shahzad Hassan: Hassan’s main contribution in the Vital Signs was his bass-playing, but he got into production after the Vital Signs broke up. Nusrat Hussain: Nusrat quit the Vital Signs right after recording ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ and became a commercial pilot. The albums: VS: 1 (1988) Vocals and melodies: Junaid Jamshed Synthesisers/drum machine/compositions/production: Rohail Hyatt Guitars: Salman Ahmad Bass: Shahzad Hassan Lyrics: Shoaib Mansoor Guitars and Music on Dil Dil Pakistan’: Nusrat Hussain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHp0DzoQkFU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6mGHdd92t8 VS: 2 (1991) Vocals and melodies: Junaid Jamashed Synthesisers/drum-programming/compositions/production: Rohail Hyatt Guitars: Rizwanul Haq Bass: Shahzad Hassan Lyrics: Shoaib Mansoor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI8V7eEaEZ4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvI4v-wp8nw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw1LiFwAby8 Aetibar (1993) Vocals and melodies: Junaid Jamshed Synthesisers/drum-programming/compositions/production: Rohail Hyatt Guitars/piano on the title track: Rizwanul Haq Lyrics: Shoaib Mansoor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivnczk5R0fA&list=RDIvnczk5R0fA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szbFXyuP7PU Greatest Hits (1994) Hum Tum (1995) Vocals and melodies: Junaid Jamshed Synthesisers/drum-programming/compositions/production: Rohail Hyatt Bass: Shahzad Hassan Guitars: Asad Ahmad Guitars on ‘Hum Jeetain Gey’; ‘Guzrey Zamaney Wali’; and acoustic remakes of ‘Aetibar’ and ‘Terey Leeay’:Aamir Zaki https://soundcloud.com/farhan-badar-2/main-chup-raha-vital-signs-jj https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWPrE_STCYw Remixes (1999) 

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    Q: Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest racist of them all? A: The human race Recently, I came across a video which showed a young Palestinian-American Muslim mother talking about the struggle of handling her young daughters. This was in reference to race and religion in the current political climate raging in the US. Her talk made me ponder about the truth of raising my kids in the US. And for a moment, it made me second guess my decision of moving to the American shores some 20 years ago.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOQR8Xm0mNI Welcome to the American world of Donald Trump. A world where race is an issue, where being a Muslim, an African-American, or belonging to the Jewish faith gives one pause, unlike before. Where being parents to school going Muslim kids puts one in a position of preparedness to answer questions, unlike before. And I would like to emphasise on the term unlike before, because it really is unlike before. Following the wreck we call the Trump train, I had to answer social and cultural questions put forward by my kids:

    “Why can’t I go for a sleepover?” “Why can’t I wear short shorts?” “Why is my curfew earlier than everyone else’s?” “Why do you have to pick and drop me everywhere?”
    Those were hard questions, but ones I had been preparing to answer since I became a parent. But these recent issues of race are entirely alien – especially in a country that prides itself on being ‘the land of the free and the home of the brace’ – and I find myself unprepared and on unfamiliar turf. It takes me back to Karachi during the 80s and 90s. The rise of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) had Karachi’s diverse population feeling uncomfortable because they were being made to answer the following question,
    “Will you be leaving Karachi and moving to your province of origin?”
    Karachi was all I knew. Karachi was where my school was, Karachi was where my friends were, Karachi was where my maternal grandparents moved to in 1947, Karachi was where my father moved to in the 60s to do his MBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi was where I was born – Karachi was home. Was my experience any different than that of the young mother and daughters she mentioned? Were my mother’s feelings any different from the way I feel today, when it was gently suggested to her that maybe my parents should consider leaving Karachi. And many of our family friends actually did leave. Therefore, however much I may try to pretend that the reality of race is something I’ve faced for the first time, it’s not entirely true. As for religion, yes. But then it’s because I belong to the majority Muslim sect in Pakistan. Everyone living in Pakistan does not hail from the same sect as I do. Thirty years ago, when I was in school, an incident took place and I can vividly recall it even today. A biology teacher was very insensitive and mean to a 15-year-old Ahmadi girl. Hence, the truth remains that Ahmadis, Hindus, Christian, Sikhs and other minority religions face discrimination in Pakistan too. How tolerant and fair is the Muslim majority in Pakistan towards its minorities? Not really, is it? Therefore, why expect fairness from our adopted countries when our country of birth is the same? The real truth is that we easily succumb to racial and religious profiling in our country of origin too. The only difference may be that we were the majority there, while in the US we find ourselves on the other side of the fence. And it’s not too much fun to be on the other side, now is it? So how different is our children’s experience in the US when compared to the young Ahmadi girl in my school? Actually, if truth be told, it may be better. No teacher can tell them to their face or in front of a class that since they are non-Christian they need to leave the classroom. No, that does not happen in the US, that too at an expensive private school such as the one I attended in Karachi. I set out with the intention to discuss dealing with the questions my children encounter about belonging to a different race and religion and how I answer those questions. And while that is true, I most certainly have to be truthful in saying that I come from a similar place, where minorities were and still are mistreated. Bengalis and Makranis for the colour of their skin and other minorities for their accents or religion. Tragically, the truth remains that the human race is racist in nature; it thrives on creating differences and conflicts and it enjoys the plight of the minorities and plays the victim card while doing the same. And while I want to tackle the racist truth of the US, I want to acknowledge that I come from a place that is not much different. There the minorities are different, but discrimination a little worse. Take that truth my fellow humans, and swallow it too.

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    There was definitely some fiery magic in the air before Elton Chigumbura, accompanied by his troops, marched on to the newly painted and redecorated Gaddafi Stadium. You could sense that something remarkably huge was about to happen, but the sceptic within you, having grown eight-years-old now, denied you a good night’s sleep. Three words, cricket comes home, evoked emotions that could not be described, only felt. After years of yearning, Pakistan’s grand welcome of the Zimbabwean team was not the biggest breakthrough, but it was historic and a breakthrough nonetheless. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Pakistan beat Zimbabwe in the second series of T-20. Photo: AFP[/caption] In March 2017, Lahore hosted the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. On a night when Darren Sammy added another feather to his cap, so did the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in its struggle to invite cricketing nations to Pakistan. While both these events succeeded in sending out the right message, their one-off nature and no follow-up strategy allowed them to turn cold within a few weeks’ time. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy celebrates with teammates his team's victory over Quetta Gladiators. Photo: AFP[/caption] On August 19th, the newly appointed PCB Chairman, Najam Sethi, reaffirmed his aim to restore international cricket in Pakistan. Sethi confirmed that Sri Lanka, World XI and the West Indies would tour Pakistan in September and November respectively. Sri Lanka’s eagerness to visit Pakistan was expressed by Thilanga Sumathipala, the Sri Lankan Cricket Board president. For Sri Lanka, to not only visit but also extend strong vocal support to Pakistan comes as a huge plus, given that they were directly affected by the 2009 attack on its players. Sri Lanka’s expected tour of Pakistan would hopefully result in the removal of the mental block that exists among other Full Member nations. Sri Lanka showing confidence in Pakistan’s security situation, even after their team was attacked in broad day light, is something a brother would do for another brother. Talks surrounding the World XI series have been brought to fruition as the PCB, in cooperation with Andy Flower, David Richardson and Giles Clarke, finally announced a 14-man squad consisting of both current and a few former heavyweights. South Africa has the largest contribution to this contingent with five top quality internationals travelling to Lahore, including the South African captain himself, Faf Du Plessis, who will also be captaining the World XI side. Along with South Africa, the World XI, which has a packed batting line-up, boasts of players from Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Australia and Bangladesh. Despite Morne Morkel being the lone specialist pacer, expect the World XI to give Pakistan and the fans an exhilarating contest. With a host of all-rounders, including Ben Cutting and Thisara Perera, and specialist spinners such as Imran Tahir and Samuel Badree who have proved their mettle time and again on different occasions, Faf Du Plessis has a number of options to experiment with. Furthermore, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to send its own contracted match referees and umpires – something they did not agree to during Zimbabwe’s tour to Pakistan. In addition to the glamour and entertainment that the three-match series will provide to the average citizen, it will serve as a litmus test for the one-off T20 against Sri Lanka and West Indies series scheduled for November. A smooth sail will pave the way for other countries to show greater confidence and bigger names agreeing to visit Pakistan for either international or PSL assignments. While Sethi has successfully managed to win over even the harshest of his critics within a week of his tenure, he has been criticised heavily for his love affair with Lahore. Fans and experts have time and again questioned why Lahore gets to be at the forefront of every assignment and Karachi seems to be deprived of anything new that is in the works. It is important to realise, prior to turning this into a game of city wars, that Lahore is home to the PCB headquarters that immensely facilitates the carrying out of administrative tasks required to have an event of this magnitude. Furthermore, the approved highly secure hotel in Lahore is six kilometres from the stadium whereas this distance is 11 kilometres in Karachi, which increases the threat of an attack similar to the one on the Sri Lankan team in 2009. In addition to the distance factor, access roads for Gaddafi Stadium can and are easily blocked without disrupting traffic, whereas National Stadium is adjacent to a major thoroughfare that cannot be blocked for multiple days unlike Gaddafi’s security plan. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] In this photo, Rangers keep watch outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Photo: AFP[/caption] Finally, for those wondering, it is not in local hands to gain approval for which city will host the matches. Reg Dickason, director of Security Management at England and Wales Cricket Board has been hired to provide security clearances and approvals which makes him the final authority, not the PCB nor the government. What the PCB can and should do is to plan and work towards organising a few play-offs for next year’s PSL at the National Stadium in Karachi. These matches would serve as the litmus test for Karachi and provide everyone concerned with a clearer snapshot of Karachi’s security situation and readiness to host international games in the future.   For the PCB, Sethi in particular, to make all these deals both feasible and likely is a major coup. For once, it seems as if teams travelling to Pakistan will no longer be a one-off event and this will open the doors for other cricketing nations (perhaps even England or South Africa) to visit Pakistan in the future. For the fans, it is the realisation of a dream. Cricket comes home, this time to stay, we hope. [poll id="771"]



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    Born and raised in Karachi, I take great pride in my city of lights. You’ll always find me in the middle of a heated argument (mostly with Lahoris) about why Karachi is the best city in Pakistan. What’s not to like about this place? Karachi has the best food, the best malls, the best people and we also have a beach. Take that Lahore! But it took me four years of living in Lahore to realise that Karachi, as ideal as it was in terms of food and other attractions, wasn’t the safest place to live. Karachiites know the rules of living in Karachi. Do not use your mobile phones in public places, attempt to hide any jewellery you’re wearing whenever you step out of the house, keep your doors locked at all times, always be aware of your surroundings when driving (look out for motorbikes), do not poke your nose into anyone’s business and so on and so forth. Having followed these rules for the longest time, they stopped feeling like rules since we internalised them. Thus, when I was going to Lahore for university, I automatically carried all these rules with me there as well. I followed the same routine when I would step out of my room, not because it wasn’t safe in Lahore but because it was natural instinct. Soon, my friends grew tired of me refusing to use my mobile phone in public, which made me realise that Lahore isn’t Karachi and I’m allowed to break some of the rules here. To be honest, it was quite strange for the first few days because I was still paranoid about getting mugged in broad daylight, but luckily, no such thing happened in the four years that I lived there. However, when I came back to Karachi, I had to start following the same rules again and that is when I realised we had a major problem. The numerous Rangers’ operations that took place in recent times have led to the arrests of numerous individuals possessing illegal firearms. According to the 2014 Rangers’ report submitted to the Senate Standing Committee of Internal Affairs:

    • 2,251 criminals were arrested due to the raids and operations conducted in Karachi
    • 373 raids were carried out on Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) offices in which 560 MQM-P workers were arrested and a large cache of weapons were confiscated
    • Eighteen raids were carried out on the offices of Awami National Party (ANP) where 40 people were arrested and 21 weapons were recovered
    • 539 people were arrested from the banned Amn committee and 591 weapons were recovered from 396 raids
    • Raids on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), 403 to be specific, led to the arrest of 760 alleged terrorists and the confiscation of large amounts of weapons and explosives
    • 159 raids on other banned outfits resulted in the arrests of 352 suspects and the recovery of 463 weapons
    These are staggering numbers. After the Rangers’ operation in Karachi, residents started believing that the crime rate has drastically decreased and the security situation has improved. But in reality, it hasn’t. We often see news channels reporting on arrests made and weapons seized, but are these facts and figures really authentic? If they were, crime in Karachi would not be as rampant as it is. I feel the only difference is that the muggers have now begun to adopt smarter techniques. My uncle was recently mugged near Baloch Colony, twice in two weeks. Since he took the same route to work every day, the muggers observed his timings and mugged him when they thought was a suitable time. They knew his car would slow down near a certain speed breaker and that is when they pointed a gun at him and robbed him off of his belongings. Reporting to the police did nothing for him except cause him further inconvenience. According to him, the only other alternative was to get a firearm himself. But my uncle is just one of the countless victims. Last year, a bakery owner was gunned down when he tried to resist a robbery in Sharifabad. A senior official at the National Bank of Pakistan was also shot dead while resisting a robbery in Gulistan-e-Jauhar; the thieves tried to snatch his car and when he did not comply, they fired at him and fled with the stolen vehicle. A bakery situated on a busy street in Karachi was robbed in what looked like a planned heist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIZB2Yw7-Y4 Another horrific incident took place at an ATM. A man was withdrawing money when thieves barged in and threatened the victim with a gun and stole all his belongings. The CCTV footage showed the entire incident, including the victim’s helpless state. https://www.facebook.com/muhammadkhanhajjservices/videos/1245327662198054/ I came across yet another terrifying video of mobile shop in Karachi being robbed. The footage of the video showed a thief stealing numerous mobile phones at gun point and how the helpless shopkeeper put the mobile phones in shopping bags for the convenience of the mugger. https://www.facebook.com/dailypakistan.en/videos/1394822273931014/ It doesn’t stop here, as the list keeps getting longer day by day. An office in Federal B Area was stormed by three men who mugged the people at gun point and also stole all the office belongings. https://www.facebook.com/thekarachiwalay/videos/vb.1171101509585434/1471699772858938/?type=2&theater It’s not just shops and offices, we aren’t even safe in our homes. We cannot even take one step out of our homes safely. Case in point: The CCTV footage below shows two men on a motorbike mugging one of two women right outside their house. They stole her bag with all her belongings in it, and fled the scene when they saw a man coming to help the women. https://www.facebook.com/ALiKhanAKOfficial/videos/1074719392659452/ All these incidents occurred at different locations, which highlights the fact that we are not safe anywhere. Whether be it a residential area, an ATM, office or a shop, we have to be vigilant. What’s worse is that we cannot fight back due to the fact that they are in possession of a weapon and not afraid of pulling the trigger anymore. They have no guilt, no remorse, no fear. And even though their faces are easily recognisable in videos and CCTV footages, they roam around town freely. After hearing about these incidents, my paranoia increased, more so because I was back from my much safer bubble, Lahore. So when I recently stepped out of my home with my friends, I was on a vigilant lookout for anyone who seemed shady. I would continuously look at every passing motorbike. My friend noticed my nervousness and asked me why I was on edge, and when I told him my reasons, he laughed and said,
    “Nothing will happen to you as long as you are in this car.”
    Curious to know if I had automatically landed in a magical car that was invisible to potential muggers, I asked him why? He told me that he had a gun in his car’s dashboard and he would use it if need be. This new revelation terrified me even more than the thought of getting mugged. My friend was carrying a possibly unlicensed and loaded gun in his car and he had just informed me he would use it if need be. Did it look like I wanted to be part of a gun battle at any point in my life? Instead of watching out for the motorbikes, I now found myself staring at the dashboard and the thought of the loaded gun kept haunting me till I got home. Possession of firearms is permissible throughout Pakistan and in various regions, specially the north western region, it is considered as a part of the culture. Used for the purpose of hunting or celebratory gunfire, firearms are handed down through generations as a mark of power and prestige. In Karachi, 12 people were injured due to celebratory gunfire over Pakistan’s victory against India in the Champions Trophy final. We were undoubtedly ecstatic about this monumental win, but people need to realise that celebration does not require aerial firing. It is dangerous for them, as well as others around them. Unfortunately, these horrifying stories do not end here. A six-year-old boy was killed due to aerial firing on New Year’s Eve in January. Last month, nine people were wounded due to celebratory gunfire in Karachi on Independence Day. We are taking lives, one celebration at a time. Over the years, the number of civilian gun possession has increased. According to Gunpolicy.org, the estimated number of privately owned firearms in Pakistan was a whopping 18 million as of 2014. And these are just licensed and registered firearms. The unlicensed, illicit possession of guns cannot even be accounted for. Thus, it comes as no surprise that homicide rates have also increased a great deal over the years. Pakistanis have always been quick to point fingers at the US whenever an incident of school, club or road shooting would occur and love criticising America’s inability towards gun control. What we as Pakistanis need to realise is that the same problem exists in our country as well, perhaps on a grander scale. We are in the same mess as the United States when it comes to gun control. Hence, there is a desperate and critical need for strict gun control laws in a country such as Pakistan, where its largest city is plagued with crimes involving guns and weapons are being sold as if selling toys. Easy access to firearms is the one of the main reasons why there are countless mugging cases in Karachi. The situation has deteriorated so much that the denizens of Karachi have opted to fight fire with fire, bullet with bullet. This in no way solves the problem at hand, what it does instead is increase the chance of landing in the middle of a gun battle and losing your life. There needs to be a strict regulation in regard to possession of guns. An individual needs to have the psychological ability and required training to handle a licensed and registered firearm. This would be the correct way to make sure that firearms are given to responsible individuals, not people who are likely to use them to commit crimes. Security agencies and the government need to start tracking down civilians who illegally possess firearms and confiscate them. A sound legislation needs to be passed in order to impose stricter gun control laws in order to deter the usage of guns. Only licensed arms dealers should be allowed to sell firearms and should be held accountable so that they allot arms to people in a responsible manner. Furthermore, the most fundamental problem is that guns end up in the hands of dangerous individuals and that is what we need to put a stop to. The last thing Karachi needs is people carrying more guns. If the situation is not controlled, we’re not far from the day when mass shooting incidents become a common occurrence, just like in the US.

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    When I started my first job, a cousin told me,

    “All the noble reasons a woman might have for earning her own living don’t matter. Once you start spending time outside the boundary of your house, you are an outside woman.”

    I never understood exactly what he meant by “an outside woman”, and by the time I’d grasped what he said, the moment had passed. I believed what he meant was that I was not as respectable as a housewife or someone who does housework and nothing else. An outside woman – a woman thought of like a house cat that becomes a stray.

    Eleven years later, I find myself as one of the thousands of women who are derided for wanting something more than the life of a housewife or mother. So in order to pursue the kind of lives we want, we must literally become outsiders.

    One such “outside woman” is my friend Yasmeen who had expatriated to Dubai. Not having seen her for a year, I expected more outward signs of opulence in her apartment. But as I explored her kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, I noticed that most of the cabinets were empty. The inventory of utensils and groceries made it obvious that the occupant wasn’t much into cooking and did not entertain many guests.

    I was served tea in her living room. Again, only a handful of the belongings there were hers – the TV, some souvenirs and a picture of her niece. All the furniture belonged to the landlord. In the far corner of the room was a prayer mat and the Holy Quran, placed in the direction of the Qibla. Yasmeen was telling me about how she got her driver’s license and how she enjoyed her new Volkswagen. Back home, she was a Kia girl.

    I realised it would soon be my turn to speak. She asked me about life back home in Karachi.

    “Unfortunately, almost nothing has changed,” I said. “Hina,” she said without missing a beat, “Why do you think I’m living here?”

    I should note that Yasmeen is one of the smartest women I know. Four years ago, she had a thriving career in Karachi, yet she decided to move to Dubai. At the time, I thought it was just a career decision. But sitting in her apartment I realised it was more than that. In that one-bedroom apartment, her no-nonsense, minimalist personality was reflected in everything I’d seen. It wasn’t just her career; she was the architect of this new life.

    On September 6th, I joined Yasmeen and hundreds of other young single Pakistani women who are moving overseas in pursuit of a better life. It has taken me a year to arrange for a one-way ticket to the United States, but I've thought of finding a new home for years.

    Yasmeen is one of my three friends who moved overseas a few years ago. And as I landed in New York, three more are applying for visas for the Middle East and North America. In Pakistan, people tend to take a simplistic view of the life of young working women. Most of the people I tell of my move say something such as,

    “Why are you leaving? You are educated, you have a career and you even hang out with men! What else do you need?”

    I explain to them that I want to build a life of my own, which has proven next to impossible here. This only invites more questions and a tone of voice, which I can only describe as a combination of utter disbelief and disdain.

    It is true that in comparison to millions of Pakistani women, I am quite privileged. Despite that, I don’t feel comfortable or even safe in my country, surrounded by my very own people. The reason is simple. Pakistani women are largely perceived as one of only two types:

    1.Good women

    As long as you follow the rules laid out by your family, community, society and others, you are “good”. It doesn’t matter if you are uneducated, poor, unhealthy and miserable; it’s more important to conform than build your own life.

    2.Bad women

    If you are educated or opinionated, or if you financially or socially support your family, you fall into this category. The moment you stop following the rules or challenge them, you need to be put down metaphorically and sometimes literally.

    As Pakistan becomes more urbanised and more women get access to education and contribute to their families’ finances, there is a new subset that is becoming increasingly visible in the female urban population. These women come from middle and working-class families. They are often the first women in their families to get a university degree and have a career. There is one remarkable characteristic that defines them – the grit to build a life of their own, despite the scorn and isolation they face. They are focused and independent. They are not out necessarily to change the world, just their own lives.

    It is unfortunate that in many cases, the financial contribution and educational prowess of these young women are celebrated, yet their social and political views are seen as unwanted and incongruous. When women start to assert themselves and claim their space intellectually and physically, it becomes a problem.

    Women are moving abroad because the deeply embedded misogyny in our society is holding them back. It is not just about getting away from the parents who are constantly pushing them to get married. It is also not about finding an escape from the ubiquitous male gaze. (Okay maybe, it is partly about those things).

    It is more about building a world for them where they feel accepted and free to design their own day-to-day lives. It is not about luxury; it is about choice. It is about building something new, reinventing themselves in the image they have envisioned.

    On more than one occasion, I have been told by my sanctimonious aunts,

    “There is barkat (abundance or auspiciousness) in a man’s earning, which women aren’t blessed with. No matter how much you earn, you will never be as prosperous as a man.”

    As a journalist, since the beginning of my career, my supervisors and senior colleagues told me to avoid beats such as crime and courts. As a woman, it looks bad on you if you frequent police stations, talk to criminals and rub shoulder with rough crowds at the court. Firstly, they say you are not safe, and secondly, it raises questions about your character.

    Returning late from work is also a questionable routine. It is never seen as a sign of diligence. It only means one thing – you are hanging out with (male) colleagues and having a time of your life at the expense of the society’s values and your family’s reputation and honour.

    What you do outside your home does not only affect your reputation in society, it also affects your sisters’ prospects of getting married, your mother’s ability to attend religious gatherings (because you become a hot topic for gossip), and the men in your family have to answer questions such as,

    “We spotted your daughter in a busy market. Don’t you think you have given her too much freedom?” “She is still a kid. You should not let her spend so much time outside the house.” “I know your family is a respectable one, but other people don’t know that. It reflects badly on you when your daughter is seen in a car with unrelated men.”

    It is as much about the sense of worth as the sense of belonging.

    “Maybe this is best for you because you don’t belong here,” my sister said, the day I applied for the visa. “America! You definitely belong there,” said an old friend.

    When a point comes in your life when even your loved ones start to feel that you don’t belong to the very place you lived your whole life and called home, and you don’t fit in with the very people you grew up with, what else are you supposed to do?

    These women are some of the most brilliant minds our country has to offer and they are leaving in droves. Our society is not providing them the space to grow and live their lives, squandering its own future just to keep women in their place.



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    Bam-Bou, derived from the word bamboo, which is considered lucky in China, is situated in the heart of Sindhi Muslim, Karachi, and is a welcome addition to the ever-growing eatery options. entrance After a month of its opening, my friends and I decided to go try it out during our lunch break. Even though it was a slow Thursday afternoon, Bam-Bou was packed, which goes to show it’s already receiving a pretty positive response from food lovers. Since we had a reservation, we didn’t have to wait and were seated upon arrival. Bam-Bou has a very contemporary vibe to it as compared to other Chinese restaurants; it was well-lit and had an earthy feel to it, owing to the numerous plants and large windows. interior Although, while devouring all the delectable dishes, we noticed that the music playing in the background did not compliment the aura of the restaurant. Pop music isn’t the right choice for a place that is striving to achieve an oriental vibe. One of the owners, Imran Gandhi, feels the upbeat interior and minimalist presentation is what differentiates Bam-Bou from other Chinese restaurants. The courteous and friendly staff handed us our menus and we were ready to order. Everyone was extremely accommodating and made us feel welcomed. After a unanimous decision, we decided to order the hot and sour Bam-Bou special soup, the wasabi prawns, the chicken drumsticks, Kung pao chicken, chicken sizzler, crispy fish in red sauce and chicken chowmein. Upon the waiter’s insistence, we decided to order the chicken roasted rice, rather than the same old chicken or vegetable fried rice. Starting your meal with a soup at a Chinese restaurant is a tradition, even if the summer heat is making you melt. The soup arrived in no less than 10 minutes, and by the looks of it, it seemed quite appealing. Bam-Bou Hot & Sour Soup 1 We couldn’t wait to dig in. Upon taking our first sips, there was a rush of flavour inside our mouths. It had a very desi flavour, coupled with a generous amount of tofu, mushrooms and other veggies. The tofu could be a little crispier though, as it would have complimented the thick texture of the soup, well, maybe give it a crouton-like feel. Apart from that, the soup was delicious; the right amount of spice and tanginess, and really satisfying for the taste buds. The soup itself was very filling, so be careful not to order too much of it, or you’ll end up having just that and not be able to enjoy the main courses. For the appetisers, we ordered drumsticks, crispy fish in red gravy and wasabi prawns. Chicken DrumSticks 2 The drumsticks were served with chilli sauce, and honestly speaking, we were not impressed with the presentation. It looked like something you’d be served at a fast food place or a mall food court. Taste wise, the drumsticks were pretty average, especially compared to the rest of the yummy appetisers on the table. The crispy coating lacked the required crunch, the chicken could have been more succulent and it was quite bland. The chilli sauce didn’t really complement it that well. We’d suggest pairing it up with something a little more tangier, such as the red gravy from the crispy fish dish perhaps. Wasabi Prawns 1 The star amongst the appetisers were the wasabi prawns. The prawns were cooked to perfection, served on a bed of iceberg lettuce and drizzled with wasabi sauce. Everyone was actually delighted by the fact that it had just the right amount of wasabi which was not overpowering and instead made an excellent combination with the prawns. The worst thing about the dish was probably its quantity, because trust me, you cannot have enough of these wasabi prawns. Crispy Fish 3 The crispy fish was, in one word, hot. It looked appealing bathed in red chilli flakes. The first bite was delightful, but the aftertaste killed everyone on the table. We were struggling to eat anything for a few minutes after we had devoured the fish since our mouths were on fire. It was slightly tangy and extremely spicy. One thing we’d like to suggest is to perhaps  make the fish crispier because crispy fish that isn’t crispy is just, well, fish. Sizzling Chicken 2 As for the main courses, we started with the chicken sizzler, which was one of the most popular dishes according to one of the owners, but wasn’t so popular amongst us. Even though it was presented well, it lacked the right amount of salt and spice and the excessive usage of capsicum wasn’t required and didn’t add to the taste. The subtlety of the flavours didn’t go with the name, to be honest, as we were expecting something more spicy. sizzlaa Kung-Pao Chicken 2 The Kung pao chicken’s presentation was similar to that of the chicken sizzler’s. It had the same colourful and excessive use of capsicums. This dish failed miserably though, not just because of the way it was served, but also taste wise. We felt that a platter serving instead of a bowl would have highlighted the dish more. There was too much gravy for Kung pao chicken and the taste was extremely bland. It lacked spices, salt and tasted like flour. It was one of the few dishes we did not manage to enjoy. jungpao We had ordered two types of rice to go with our main courses, roasted chicken rice and egg fried rice. The roasted chicken rice was recommended to us and since it was something new on a Chinese menu, we decided to try it. Roasted Chicken Rice The ​rice tasted just like any ordinary fried rice, but with the addition of​ roasted chicken ​bits to replace the normal chicken bits in fried rice. There was nothing new or unique about it to set it apart from the usual chicken fried rice. It tasted the same – delicious, but the same. Chicken chow mein 1 The chicken chow mein was quite delicious, but it was nothing out of this world. When it came to the presentation, we were not impressed at all. There was way too much food on one dish, which looked sloppy and unappetising. After devouring the main dishes and being unable to breathe, we turned to our drinks. We order the sangria cooler, the peach smoothie, the sparkling fresh lime cooler and the flood vanilla. Sangria Cooler 2s The sangria cooler was the right call to make, especially in Karachi’s scorching heat. It was served in mason jars and had a refreshing appearance. We absolutely loved the delicious blend of flavours; lime, mint and brown sugar. It is definitely a must-try for people who love trying new drinks. sang Sparkling Fresh Lime Cooler 2s The sparkling fresh lime cooler was perfectly refreshing for a summer afternoon. We definitely recommend it. It came in a cute mason jar as well. Peach Smoothie3s As for the peach smoothie, it was delicious. It had the right amount of sweetness and consistency and wasn’t too thick, thus it complemented the meal quite well. Flood Vanilla 0 The flood vanilla was literally a flood in the mouth. When the drink arrived, it had a dramatic cloud of foam atop the glass, which piqued our interests. After having a photoshoot with it and finally giving it a try, our expectations were dashed. It was too thick and too filling. float It did transport us back to our childhood though, when we used to experiment with ice cream and 7up and called it the ice cream float. Even though the other drinks were a major hit, this one was a big let-down, because who would want to spend Rs250 on something you can make at home for half the price? Toffee Cream Cake Finally, for dessert, we ordered both the dishes on their menu, the toffee cream cake and fried ice cream. The name for the toffee cream cake is misleading since we expected it to be an actual slice of cake, however, what we received was frozen cream perched atop of what tasted and looked like a biscuit base. The ‘cake’ was drowned in a generous amount of chocolate syrup, toffee syrup and caramel crunch. It wasn’t overly sweet though, which made it a perfect dish to end the meal with. Fried Ice cream The fried ice cream was completely average. Presentation wise, it was a single, fried scoop of ice cream on a plate with some random squiggles of maple syrup… seriously? It looked like a sea urchin on a plate, which is not a very appetising sight. It lacked the proper presentation needed for a dessert at a casual dining place. I’d suggest topping it off with chocolate syrup to give it a bit of colour and fusion of taste. Homemade vanilla flavoured ice cream, wrapped in a coating of what seemed like uncooked vermicelli was subtly sweet in taste. The ice cream tasted alright, but the coating seemed like a distant cousin of seviyan. Imran, when asked about the vibe and how Bam-Bou is different from other Chinese restaurants, commented on the minimalistic style of the dishes and how that is working for them. We disagree. Perhaps, that is one area they can work on. For those who feel that the Sindhi Muslim is too far, fear not, because the owners plan on expanding and opening their branches in Clifton and Defence as well. So if you’re wandering around Sindhi Muslim, looking for a place to go, check out Bam-Bou. You may not love it, but you certainly won’t hate it. Based on our overall experience, we’d rate Bam-Bou 3 out of 5. All photos: Blogs desk



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    Recently, I came across a news article about senior police officers breaking down the door of a house in Rawalpindi to arrest a murder suspect. The house they raided belonged to the cousin of the man suspected of having committed said murder. In addition, when these upright gentlemen did not find the man they were looking for, they decided to take with them cash and jewellery, worth at least a million rupees, which belonged to the owner of the house. Naturally, the poor victim immediately went to the nearest police station to file an FIR (without which the police cannot investigate a crime) against these officers. However, as usual, the police refused to register his case against their own, and the man went from pillar to post for two months before they finally agreed to file an FIR. Now let us take a closer look at what exactly happened. The robbery mentioned above took place in Rawalpindi, which is in Punjab. What is ironic is that the Punjab chief minister has reportedly transformed the Punjab police force into a highly professional organisation. Therefore, it is even more surprising that police officers within the ranks of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and Station House Officer (SHO) calmly looted the house, as if they knew they would not be caught or held accountable. Of course, it is rare for police officers to be punished or penalised for their misdeeds. Even when they beat up women, their superiors do not take any action against them. Recently, I came across another video entailing a woman being beaten up by male police officers in Gujranwala. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTUZuQ06Ji8 Apparently, the cops believed no eyebrows would be raised and they would not be punished for manhandling a woman like that. In fact, they behaved in a manner that the police would normally behave in, as if they were above the law. However, the sad part is that they are not wrong – they are above the law and we see that every day.

    If they were held accountable, senior police officers would have taken them to task, but no, why would they? They depend upon the lowly constables to do their dirty work and share their illegally earned loot. 

    I remember a time when police officers were honest and efficient in doing their jobs. Even the low-ranked constables and havaldars (sergeants) were highly respected and many young boys dreamed of becoming police officers after graduation. In fact, I knew a civil engineer who resigned from his job, joined the police, and retired as an Inspector General (IG). Apparently, he gave up on a highly lucrative job in the private sector, just to enjoy the perks and privileges available to police officers.

    Gradually with time, the police have become very corrupt. In Karachi, most police officers are appointed not because they are qualified for the jobs, but because they have either paid a lot of money to get employed, or they happen to be relatives of influential feudal lords or people higher up.

    Numerous police officers are also activists of the ruling political party and use their resources and power to gather support.

    After getting a job, they resort to bribery since they cannot maintain their lavish lifestyles with the salaries that they get. They also have to keep paying the right people to remain posted in Karachi otherwise, they are sent to other smaller districts. In a few years, they get so rich that they are able to buy plots and bungalows in posh housing societies, like the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Karachi. And because they have the right people on their side, they know that they cannot be sacked and so they continue their nefarious activities until they retire.

    There was once an SHO in Karachi who owned a car show room on the ground floor of a residential building. One day, there was a dispute between his clerk and a couple of residents on the upper floors of the same building. The clerk was injured in a fistfight, and the incensed police officer immediately got cases registered against seven residents of that building. Mentioning the names of the seven people accused in the FIR was to ensure that there would be no bail for them, as the charge against them was ‘rioting and hooliganism’. It took them a week to placate the powerful SHO. Furthermore, the SHO got his clerk to state in court that there had been six people who had attacked him, instead of the previous seven. Such are the powers of an ordinary SHO in Karachi (who had probably paid a fortune to get posted to the metropolitan city). If you are a resident of Karachi, you know that whenever someone is robbed in the city (even if the amount is in millions), they will never go to the police. A few years ago, dacoits barged into a relative’s bungalow, stayed in the house for two hours (having tea and biscuits and joking) and finally took off with about Rs15 million in cash, prize bonds and jewellery. Judging by their confidence and attitude, my relative was sure that the robbers were either serving or were former police officers. Even though I tried hard to persuade him to report the matter to the police, he refused.
    “Going to the cops will only mean more harassment for me and my children,” he said.

    I knew a factory owner who was recently kidnapped. The kidnappers relieved him of whatever cash he had on him, and then he managed to escape after a few hours. He reported the matter to the police and it only added to his troubles. For the next few days, the cops would call him at odd hours, mostly after midnight, to ask him questions about his ordeal. Finally, he managed to find someone who knew a very senior police officer and he ordered the SHO to end the harassment.

    That is the reason why ordinary and decent folks are scared to call the cops whenever a crime takes place. Twenty-five years ago, I was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a salt manufacturing company on the coast of Karachi. Heroin addicts would routinely steal wires and cables from there, which would end up in factories that made electrical items.

    My fellow directors and I never reported these thefts to the cops because we knew that they would never be able to catch the thieves in the dead of night. Furthermore, the place was mostly deserted at night and the locals were even convinced that it was haunted by evil spirits. However, one day, the heroin addicts went too far. They broke open the door of the electric meter room of our company and took away electric meters, transformers and equipment worth around half a million rupees (in today’s money). K-Electric (KE), formerly known as Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC), said we had to get a case registered with the police or we would be charged with theft.

    My fellow directors begged me not to go to the cops, saying,

    “The cops will torture and even kill you if you go to them!”

    Nevertheless, since I had no choice, I did go into the police station and ‘persuaded’ the officer to register the complaint. When I came out of the station and returned to the salt works, my business partners were astounded to see that I was safe and sound. And mind you, they were not your common Pakistanis, they were millionaires back in the day (when a litre of petrol cost less than a rupee). Therefore, if such people were so scared of the cops, you can well imagine how a poor labourer or peasant would feel at the mere sight of a police constable.

    So, will we ever have honest police officers in Pakistan? Swift justice is the answer. Until and unless justice is done and seen to be done, we shall always have corrupt police officers. Those who committed the recent robbery in Rawalpindi, for instance, should have been terminated and given lashes in public as the police even had proof in the form of CCTV footage.

    This kind of punishment will ensure that all police officers turn into law-abiding citizens themselves. But I doubt that the government will have enough courage to even try to reform the police departments in the country. This is because they need a corrupt police force to enrich themselves. As long as our politicians continue to use the police for their own nefarious deeds, it will be a long time before all our cops turn into law-abiding and god-fearing citizens of the country.



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    The Karachi I grew up in was a city where garbage was picked up regularly. Swarms of jamadarnis (women sweepers) descended each morning to sweep the dusty streets in our neighbourhood in PECHS, picking up any plastic bags that the wind had blown overnight.  Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) trucks came in to collect the garbage from the corner garbage bins regularly. The law and order situation was such that my grandmother (who I admit was a bit of a maverick) felt no fear in taking a rickshaw by herself. She was fearless and she’d hold out her hand at the end of the journey with change so that the rickshaw driver could pluck the correct fare from her himself. Roads constructed in the 1960s serve Karachi even till today. These roads include Shahrah-e-Faisal, the roads to Clifton and Defence, Rashid Minhas Road, the two main roads that serve as the arteries in Nazimabad, and the arteries connecting to the SITE area. The upkeep of these roads was also reasonable back in the day. Then, the deterioration set in. A lot of this had to do with the fact that the city seemed to grow faster than the production of services it required for its upkeep. However, a significant part of the problem was also the governance and accountability system’s deterioration, as the resources that were allocated ended up being pilfered by corrupt politicians. Complaints from citizens are met with the same disclaimer even today,

    “What can we do? We are not given adequate resources to meet the demands.”
    The same complaints are heard from our health and education sectors. However, a recent study by a Pakistani public policy expert at the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington has shown that the total amount of resources allocated for education at central and provincial levels in Pakistan is more than 85% of the total outlay on defence. Thus, obviously money is not the main problem in the delivery of services and this holds true for many developing countries where I have worked. I had stated in one of my previous blogs that one of the problems with Sindh is that it is the only province in Pakistan where a distinction has been made between urban and rural areas. An unintended consequence of this is that no matter how the urban votes are cast, the management of urban Sindh will always lie with the representatives of the rural areas, since the rural seats in the provincial assembly are more than those for the urban areas. Those who have the responsibility of addressing local issues for the urban areas have no interest in doing so, since their vote bank comes from the rural areas. The real solution lies in modifying the local governance system. By doing this, the political representatives of the people will be made responsible for all areas that affect the lives of the people living there. Necessary resources can be allocated to them once the issues are addressed. This continues to hold true today. When the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) took power again after the Pervez Musharraf era, it resisted holding local bodies’ elections. Subsequently, it made changes to the Local Government Ordinance that placed the control of local bodies in the hands of bureaucrats rather than politicians. PPP then took an order for the local bodies’ elections to be held from the Supreme Court. Finally, when a mayor was appointed after these elections, he found that the remit of the local government had been severely limited and that little or no resources were available to him to do his work. Coming back to the garbage problem, we were told that the provincial government has taken over this responsibility. On a TV show, Faryal Talpur stated that this issue will now be addressed by the PPP provincial government and a contract is being awarded to a Chinese firm for this. This was over six months ago. Now the citizens of Karachi really do not care who does it as long as a system of regular garbage collection and disposal is established. However, this has not happened as yet. When Sharmila Farooqi of PPP was asked about the garbage issue in a TV talk show, she said that these things take time. She said that the contractor has to mobilise, he has to submit his plan and then the government has to approve it and so on and so forth. In the meantime, the garbage heap continues to grow and the stink becomes unbearable. If one were to drive on the Baloch Colony Road in Karachi, one would notice the huge red-coloured garbage disposal units with Chinese branding that have been recently placed on the side of the road. As much as the effort is to be applauded, the purpose has been futile since heaps of garbage is seen surrounding the disposal units, covering a chunk of the main road, as garbage collection services are nowhere to be seen. This can be gauged by the fact that the mountain of garbage keeps getting bigger and bigger as each day passes. This impasse brings out the structural problem I had mentioned at the outset and the solution is still the same. It is necessary that the remit of the local governments in urban Sindh are strengthened to include all areas related to service delivery and the law and order situation that affects the lives of citizens. The enhanced scope of local government responsibilities in Sindh is necessary to accommodate the aberration of the rural-urban divide that exists in the province. Moreover, resources allocated within the provincial budget for these areas should be divided in proportion to the populations of rural and urban Sindh in order for distribution to be even handed. Furthermore, it should be made sure that measures are incorporated into the system of disbursement of funds. These need to be done so that amounts allocated for the third tier would automatically be released by the provincial government without any hold from the provincial level. The management of districts should fall under the political parties who win the local elections for that district. This will further address the issue of district specific interests, be they political or ethnic. As stated in my earlier article, these solutions are party neutral. If we restructure the local governments in Sindh along these lines, we can expect progress irrespective of who controls these areas. In the past, devolution of resources to the lower levels was resisted by both the provincial government and ‘the establishment’ in view of the fact that Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) controlled the vote bank in urban Sindh. Now that the party has been dismembered into three competing factions, it is no longer a given that a faction of the party would control Karachi. Other parties such as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) are likely to get a piece of the pie in view of the increasing ethnic diversity of Karachi. Perhaps it is time to allow the voters of urban Sindh and Karachi to decide their own futures. The problems of Karachi, which is the economic hub of the country, translate into serious problems for the national economy and for national security. Merely criticising the PPP government, as has been done by several articles, for the problems of Karachi will lead us nowhere. We must also address the structural problems pointed out above.

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    Hazoora, a 24-year-old native of Kohistan (an arid piece of land located near Thatta), complains that her hair is falling due to transporting heavy cans of water on her head since she was eight-years-old. She travels approximately one to eight kilometres every day to fetch her share of water, and her body aches from carrying six to seven buckets of water daily for domestic needs. Even her pregnancy did not put an end to her ordeal since water is not a commodity one can live without. This is not just Hazoora’s plight, but the plight of thousands of women living in this dry and barren land where fetching water for domestic needs is seen as the responsibility of women only. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="338"] Photo: Khurram Zia[/caption] Even most of the young girls are made to fetch water for their households, leaving them with no time to study or play since this is a daily obligation. As a result of this life-long responsibility, women develop bone deformity and other complications. This is not difficult to believe in light of the fact that they regularly lift 10 to 15 litres of water from the depth of approximately 40 feet. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Khurram Zia[/caption] Local men are unfortunately not of any assistance, despite this being a tough job, as they consider it “unmanly” to perform such chores. The village elders, when asked about this odd custom, seem to be unaware regarding the origination of this cruel custom. But they are proudly carrying it forward nonetheless, without any thought of how this may affect the well-being of their women. Fetching water is a complicated task, but a greater complication is that water cannot be fetched where it is not available. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Khurram Zia[/caption] Living in Karachi, it is easy to picture gallons of water being wasted on long baths/showers and washing vehicles or dishes without realising that just a small distance away from the city, every single drop of water is considered a necessity in order to survive. Kohistan, in particular, is incredibly stressed for water. Its people are almost entirely dependent on rain for water-based needs. Providing water to the people of Pakistan is the responsibility of the government, but unfortunately, ours has failed miserably in that area. Mohammad Yousuf, a local man, revealed that politicians who won seats from this constituency only visit the area during election time or to offer condolences for the death of a community elder, but they never bother to take interest in the troubles of their voters. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Khurram Zia[/caption] It is this indifference and incapability of local representatives towards their people which creates a vacuum that is subsequently filled by NGOs. Where the institutions fail, it is the private sector that steps up and organises public campaigns to help drought-affected areas in Sindh. One such initiative is the ‘Water for Women project’, a collaborative project between Indus Earth Trust, an NGO, and the Coca-Cola foundation. This will ultimately benefit 34-40 villages, as not only will wells be improved, allowing for easier water extraction, but the extracted water will be collected in covered tanks and later distributed through channels for household use, and through troughs for livestock. Tayaba, an NGO operating in Tharparkar, came up with the idea for an H20 wheel, with the aim to provide one barrel per household and then provide them with access to clean water. The H2o wheel helps the women transport water easily, as they just have to drag the barrel back and forth instead of carrying it on their heads or back. Such projects will eventually bring about a marked improvement to the lives of the struggling locals, particularly the women who bear the brunt of water scarcity. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Tayaba.org Facebook[/caption] Kohistan remains one of the many marginalised communities in Pakistan where poverty is rampant and governance is absent. The suffering of the people as they struggle to find water is so gut-wrenching that a brief visit of this area will haunt you for days. The presence of NGOs only serves to highlight that it is not impossible to invest in such drought-affected areas and help its people; it is simply negligence on the part of our leaders and government. Hopefully, one day, the Sindh government will wake up and take action for a change, and hopefully that day won’t be too far for the people of Kohistan.



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    Recently, I came across a post on Facebook which stated the following:

    “Roads blocked, no mobile networks and markets are closed. Please stop bothering your fellow countrymen and limit yourselves to the imambargah or else shift these processions outside the city, somewhere on highway.”
    A typical, insensitive and privileged Pakistani comment. But this statement was not the only one. It is not unusual for the Shia community to hear such insensitive comments from Karachiities, whose lives are completely uprooted during 9th and 10th Muharram. Such insensitivity may not be uncommon, but it is hurtful, given the day and the solemnity of the incident being marked in Muharram. The first problem to be addressed is the roads being blocked­ – is that something surprising for us? Are we not living in the same Pakistan where roads are blocked on a regular basis for someone important or higher up? Having a procession on the 9th and 10th Muharram is tradition; in fact, before the sectarian divide deepened in Pakistan, there used to be a time when Sunni Muslims would join the Shia community during the jaloos (processions). Another concern brought up was the closure of mobile networks and markets, which should not come as a surprise given the state of security in this country. The constant attacks on the Shia community and the general lack of safety in Karachi is what compels authorities to establish this protocol and switch off mobile networks. These end up being as much of an inconvenience to those people who are part of the processions as it is to those people who sit at home complaining they have nothing to do. Ultimately, however, it does not feel like much when the closure of networks may lead to saving hundreds of lives by thwarting possible terrorist attacks. If mobile networks are shut on any other religious day, one that is not observed by just any particular sect, will you feel the same level of hindrances and agitation in your life? In the past, juloos used to cross the MA Jinnah road, yet the markets were never forced to shut down. Nonetheless, with the security situation in the city deteriorating and the number of attacks on Shias increasing, it is important to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of all Pakistani citizens. Changing times and increasing danger is responsible for inconveniencing the larger public; it seems rather unfair to ask a certain religious sect to stop a practice they have been observing for centuries when they themselves are victims of sectarian violence. In the past, even the Sunni community used to be a part of these processions for the love of Imam Hussain (RA) and used to voluntarily close their shops in respect of 9th and 10th of Muharram. And since when did love and respect for Prophet’s (pbuh) grandson only apply to Shias? Furthermore, even today, the foremost family in the business of making alams (banners) in Pakistan is a Sunni family. “Please stop bothering your fellow countrymen”– it is hard to argue with such flawed logic. The idea that people would be bothered by a peaceful procession that has taken place historically to commemorate Imam Hussain (RA) is honestly mind-boggling. One does not have to be a Shia to feel sorrow for a man who was brutally martyred along with 71 of his men, including his two sons, nephew, and brother, during the tragedy of Karbala.
    “Limit yourselves to the imambargahs, or else shift these processions outside the city, somewhere along the highway?”
    It is an unfortunate and sad day when on a day of mourning, you are not only attacked for grieving but also told to curb your grieving. If you agree with the sentiment that Ashura causes an inconvenience for the rest of the nation and that Shias must change their ways or stop altogether– let me share with you the identity of the aforementioned privileged Pakistani. It is none other than Malik Ishaq, the leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). How pitiful it is when our people choose to side with the leader of a banned terrorist organisation, rather than their own Muslim brethren. Are you in solidarity with this banned outfit? Do you even know the meaning of a juloos? It is a peaceful procession meant to take place on roads and not inside. We already know what happened to Shia Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir where Shias were attacked by the Indian police during a procession. And we are already witnessing increased targeted sectarian killings in Pakistan Regardless of whether you are Shia or Sunni, one can agree that what happened at Karbala is an incident of great courage and suffering on the part of Imam Hussain (RA) and his people. Growing up in a family that is half Shia and half Sunni, I have always experienced tolerance from both sides for the faith of the respective other, and hence know that it is possible to be civil and understanding of Ashura processions. Finally, I would like to end this with something I once read,
    “There is no Shia or Sunni when it comes to the tragedy of Karbala. You are either with Imam Hussain (RA) or with Yazid.”
    The tragedy of Karbala reflects on Yazid’s brutality and oppression and Imam Hussain’s (RA) courage. We should remember,
    “Karbala ek darsgah hai” (Karbala is a lesson)
    Not just for Shias, but for all of mankind.

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