Principles and teamwork

imageSomewhere in Turkey, ninety families will be mourning their near ones today. At the same time their nation will be celebrating their heroes, who rose out of nowhere to do what was right.

Last night was one of those magical times in life, when correctness and equity occurs. Also as always, when great events occur, sacrifices are made and some people become heroes, as in the case of the ninety heroes.

I was just going to sleep, when a chance check brought me to these events last night. The next five hours were some of the most intense I have witnessed. This was reality television on a very large scale. A world wide view. It is also interesting to note that the Pakistani channels were at least a couple of hours ahead on reporting events compared to CNN and BBC. So at 6 am the foreign channels were reporting that a coup is still in progress, while Pakistan reported before 5 am, that the coup had failed. Since its not a question of resources, I then surmise it is more a case of politics and policy for CNN and BBC.

What enthused me most was that the events showed the two very qualities, which I have always been passionate about and which in my mind always lead to success. Belief in principles and resultant teamwork. Erdogan and the Turkish people stood by what is right and that belief made them last night. A President in trouble, back against the wall, was probably looking at death and ignominy, when he stuck his neck out, extraordinarily went via his smartphone on the national media circuit and rallied the country to come on the street (how many Pakistani leaders would have the guts to do this? Bar one…your own conscience would tell you that). Erdogan did that with guts, passion and belief. His people, stood by his call of principle. They believed him, because they valued him and trusted him. Then the teamwork happened. The leaders instruction was followed and contact made between individuals and unified action was taken in so many places. The most remarkable was the storming of a tank, while guns and machine guns were being fired. These were ordinary, unarmed humans who prevailed. The heart just races, when one sees that event.

You know, we in Pakistan were like that at one time. The first rally against the armed police of Ayub Khan happened in Karachi, October 15th, 1968. It went past my school in Depot Lines on the way to Saddar, which was the rally area at the time. I witnessed that as a young kid. Next day, the first student was killed at Gordon College Rawalpindi, commencing a five month successful resistance to bring down a dictator. Again principles and teamwork. Similarly, Karachi resisted in 1977 for four months, so that flawed election results could be rewound. Somewhere, we lost that passion for right as a nation, though individual candles still burn. I was in Lahore when sweets were distributed when Nawaz Sharif was deposed on October 12th, 1999. Partially, this is the lack of trust in and commitments of our leaders and partially it is because we have no principles left as a nation. We are only individuals thinking around ourselves.

So it was exhilarating to see a burning star for once. A star one could marvel in. Long may the Turkish people stand by principles and work like a team.

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Cuba, the Final Frontier

imageTo use Star Trek language, imagine Captain Kirk of the Enterprise relating his mission in 21st century Cuba. “This is the story of Cuba, the final frontier, where modern man has never been. Our mission is to enter it, hunt for archaic humans, modernise them and change the culture to modernity. Our goal is to make profits out of that modernity, by bringing consumerism.”

That is the sort of briefing which must have been given in the White House a few weeks ago, as Obama flew across to meet Raul Castro. The first US President to visit since almost ever.

The BBC was recently running a series of pictures from Cuba. It is fascinating. Garish coloured cars from the 1950s, probably shipped across from US, in the days when this was a US backyard. Old men sitting smiling, chewing on their cigar. Old women dancing and younger school children studying in schools, which could well be from early 20th century. This is a place which has no money, an infrastructure which is minimal and whatever is available, is abysmal. There is no consumerism, no malls, no retail giants. The television is archaic and the internet almost non-existent. So, it carries all the pain which poverty brings. But, they seem happy and their lives belong to them. The rat race has not descended on this last bastion of antiquity.

There is a blue print of just such a place. Pre 1975, Hunza, a region in Northern Pakistan, was remote from the world. Some millenia ago, roaming bands of Greek army (invading India) or maybe Albanians or Eurasians, wandered past the Hindu Kush range and entered the Hunza valley in the Karakorum Mountains. They settled there and were remotely administered from the world. When civilisation finally caught up with them in 1975, they found people over a hundred years of age working out in the fields. They were blessedly happy, totally ignorant, healthy (there were no recorded cases of cancer for instance) and lacked stress. They lived long and did not prosper in terms of commerce. Our assessment? Of course they needed to be helped and brought into modern life! It was our mission to do that. Today, they are not as happy, live shorter, catch all the modern diseases and while they have some of modern life’s trappings, are still not prosperous. They have lost a lot and gained little.

My fear is that this is what is going to happen to Cuba also. A place of poverty and happiness, is going to be converted into a modern commerce centre, where no one will be happy and once the worlds great MNCs have taken their share of profits out of it, will be in debt and not prosperous either. Sadly, the final frontier will be conquered, and much that is human will be gone forever. It has been so for successive civilisations, including the Red Indians, Mayans and tribes in Africa. Look what happened to them. Allah forfend!

As a footnote. Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones visited Cuba to do a free concert in Havana. Chanel and Lagerfeld have held fashion shows, with Paris haute couture on display, along with the stick thin modern models. That is what I mean. They are bringing happiness to the Cubans and will go away with their souls. Cuba, the final frontier! Wish they would let them be as they are.

The evil behind Panama Papers

imageIf you feel low and sick, it is quite all right. You have every right to feel as sick as is possible for a human being. Behind, in the background one can hear the clinking of dollars and the shuffle of thousands of wads of money. If you close your eyes, there is even a slight smell of fresh dollars in the air.

Alas, all this fresh smell of dollars, is really evil being syphoned into off shore bank accounts. Filed away in quiet corners, hidden deep in computer records where the probing eyes cannot reach. At least that is what they thought, till one day by some miraculous leak, it has appeared on the internet. That this is millions of people hiding away their evil in closed files, is the most astonishing thing. This is not some poor person surviving at the bread line. Or middle class people hiding away their pathetic little savings, to bring out on a rainy day. These are people who own mansions, factories, shares, their wives flash 14 ct diamonds and wear flashy clothes at parties. They drive around in Mercedes AMG or come to world wide events in black coloured chauffeur driven Rolls Royce. They buy escorts at twenty thousand dollars a night and wear watches which are worth millions.

They have these things so that they are admired, but behind this facade they hide away filth, like you and I cannot imagine. How can we? We are ordinary people. We have worked hard, earned some bread, shared plenty with family and friends and we do not belong to a Global Elite. We are insignificant and are the 99 plus percent of this world. In this world of so called democracy, we are the ruled. We line up for hours for the privilege to vote for this Global Elite and then we are exploited till the next election. I wish there was some magical settling of earth, which gobbles them all up, so we could start anew.

As for our own bits of local elite. Our PM comes on air and complains about all the wrong done to him. Astonishing. He does not tell us how, so many of him and them, got into these Panama Papers. He just blames others. And the bad part is, you know he will get away with it again. He has been doing that for 35 years. So why not again?

I have just this to say to him and others like him. You are old and soon you will go where there is no coming back. Beware of the hurt of that child whose hand you have bitten. Beware of that mother who cannot feed her children properly in your domain. Beware of the father who has toiled all day to put a couple of pieces of bread on his table. Also beware of the ill who cannot pay for his cure and the old who is getting minuscule pension and struggles to survive. And beware of the collective hurt of your nation. They will never excuse you for these clinky dollars and fresh smelling wads of cash, and you shall pay a price stretching an eternity of pain. You will regret this yet. Our time will come beyond the grave.

*the picture is from inquistr.com

No one is Illegal! We are all staying

imageThe present refugee crisis which is prevailing in Europe, has brought sharp focus on the problems which will face the world in the next few decades. The refugee bomb has just started to tick.  I am afraid there is nothing positive which one can say here, but it is better to be forewarned and face reality.

We are presently a 7.3 billion world population and have grown at a rate of knots in the last century. Luckily, mathematical logic, more than mans sense of responsibility, will bring relief. We will end up at 9 plus billion sometime in the next few decades and stop growing further (The various Hans Rosling lectures are an entertaining way to understand this). Natural or man made calamity may reduce this final figure, but that is difficult to project today. Nevertheless, by 2050, this will be a world bursting with people and they will need to sustain themselves over a longer life span (thanks to medical science).

At the same time, this worlds conventional resources are going to decline. This is an absolute given. Humans are consuming at well over the rate of three worlds (computer projections) and our sustainable resources are declining. Between 1960 and 2008, we consumed 400 million years of resources. So it does not take Einstein to realise that one day the cupboard will be bare. These particular resources are water, energy, agricultural land, minerals, trees and space to live.

The above scenario is without the deleterious effect of climate change. When the sea rises to restrict shores and border regions, the rain becomes scarcer, the glacier melts cause floods, the desert expands in places and inordinate heat makes places inhabitable, then the above available resources will become scarcer still. We are already facing many of these events on a minor scale.

So now what happens when resources are constrained? History tells us, that Man is selfish. When survival is questionable, he will think of himself and his ‘kind’. His ‘kind’ might mean, his particular nation, or his ethnicity, or his colour of skin, or maybe even his religious type (though generally religious base is too broad and difficult to execute across ethnicities). When Man starts thinking selfishly, he tries to garner the resources for his kind. When the resources are scarce, then it is inevitable that force will occur, from either the aggressor or the defender. This generally means war of some kind or the other, to subjugate the one resisting.

The world therefore is fast becoming a place of turmoil. War, famine, climate catastrophe and man made disasters will drive huge chunks of population from their base. Today we have 19.5 million refugees worldwide. Conservative figures suggest this could be anywhere in the range of half a billion to a billion refugees in the next few decades.

Where will these people go? Recent events shed some light on the reaction of governments. Honestly speaking, one does not even want to imagine this scenario. The leaders of this world need to wake up and start planning how this will be countered. Because if it is not countered, then the above projection will result in the biggest human tragedy in history.

The way the present has panned out, there is only one light at the end of this tunnel. Government and societies need to activate science. Innovation and technology, like solar energy and ways to delay climate change, has to be top priority for all the nations who can afford it. Perhaps, even a multinational research effort might be required to focus resources efficiently. We need to pour billions, and more billions, into finding alternative technology, otherwise the writing is on the wall.

The caption says it all. Kein mensch ist illegal! Wir bleiben alle. No one is illegal. We are all staying. This may become the most important sentences, someday in the future. We need to work to stop this. We just have to…

*the picture is from dreamstime.com. A free picture site.

Baby Aylan – a call of our conscience

imageI remember when Bosnia was happening in the mid 90s, the images on television were excruciating. Not just because of what one saw, but also because of ones own helplessness. Life was being murdered and here we were armchair humanity, feeling pain, but impotent. We could send money, but that did not stop the killing.

The present day image of baby Aylan lying face down lifeless on the beach is just so heart-wrenching. It reminds one of the Bosnian crisis. Innocent death and we sit in comfortable houses, feeling pain and doing nothing. Worse still, even if we want to do something, it just extends to money. I personally feel soiled in evil.

Just to put this in context, some refugee research numbers.

There were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014. 14.4 million under the mandate of UNHCR and the other 5.1 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

In 2014, the country hosting the largest number of refugees was Turkey, with 1.59 million refugees.

By the end of 2014, Syria had become the world’s top source country of refugees, overtaking Afghanistan, which had held this position for more than three decades. These were hosted almost entirely by Pakistan and at one time were close to 4 million.

If we take the worlds population as 7.3 billion, then the 19.5 million total refugees are 0.27 per cent of the population.

What a travesty, where so many countries have per capita GDP over $ 50000 per annum (some as high as $97000). Even Greece, with all its issues and debts, still clocks $21,000.

We are really an appalling species! We abandon our own. We cannot open our hearts to 0.27 per cent of our own and help them. That we happen to be born in the right place and right country is our luck. We could well have been one of these refugees. Forced to abandon life and trek across borders. Borders which I may add have been artificially created by us. The land belongs to Allah and we are life tenants on it, we do not own it.

Worse still, instead of taking urgent action in the face of this crisis, the politicians are arguing about who is responsible. In this the beacon of light is the German Chancellor Merkel. She is leading efforts to approve a plan that would give refuge to people fleeing war and hunger. France seems to have agreed, but the other European countries are blocking this plan. One prays that humanity prevails and some plan is approved soon. Otherwise, the blood of Aylan and others like him shall lie at the doorsteps of all of us.

There is activation happening from Avaaz on the support of this plan. These politicians only get swayed by public opinion. So please get onto the Avaaz.org forum and pile the pressure of numbers onto these politicians, to force them to agree to this plan.

Democracy..I do wonder about niggles

DemocracyIn the days post the elections in Pakistan, I wondered (like many) about the whole electoral process. This naturally raised question on the system of democracy itself and the pain one goes through to see it perform even at the present sub-optimal level.  Its not to say that we should get rid of democracy and experiment again; sixty plus years of that is enough. No! At the moment there is nothing which can viably replace a mass selection system – democracy. But, I honestly wish there was something better for mankind, which would take us to a higher level of humanity. Atleast, away from all this killing and infliction of pain on innocents.

So to my gripe. Allow me that indulgence. Below are some of the thoughts which make me wonder. 

 

My first niggle. We can vote for evil people – Hitler!- and it is my right to vote for this type in a democracy..where is the play of conscience? For those not aware, Hitler actually came to rule via the ballot box. There was much evidence that the man was evil or mad, but the Germany of 1933 wanted a strongman and got one. Much to the detriment of themselves and the world. They learnt 65 million deaths later.

 

People who are standing for elections, generally desire to be elected. This has huge psychological implications. Now they have a vested interest and are on the slippery slope of corruption. There is substantial research which backs this theory; desire for power itself is a form of corruption. So at least we should be allowed to view a psychosomatic profile of the candidates.

 

A criminal has the same authority as an upstanding member of society. Where is the justice in that?  So a criminal (convicted) can vote and displace people, as much as you an upstanding person can. It is possible that such a person will vote for one of their own ilk. Our natural sense of right agonizes at such an eventuality.

 

The inefficiency of the system…if I make tall promises and people vote for me, it will take years before I will be called to account. Years of corruption and inefficiency…damage may be huge, voters learning from previous mistakes can take generations. Education, common sense and wisdom become an imperative among voters. Hence education in democracies is so important, which alas we do not have.

 

Elections are an advertising game. As consumer companies use advertising to sell goods we do not need, so the candidate persuades you to vote for him/her, maybe on platforms which do not affect you at all. The science exists. Its all been refined and a good marketeer will get inside your brain and convince you, without you even realizing it.

 

Big money is a necessary game in democracies. Advertising requires lots of money, as does electoral visibility. This includes ground activation to be in touch with your electorate. A huge amount has to be spent on research to understand the electorate itself. And then the logistic costs of moving people on the day of the election is massive. Top it all, to manage all the above, a large organization is required, which requires funds. A good democratic choice cannot be put on the ballot paper, without large funding. Obama spent over $1bn to run his campaign in 2012. So then is this open to all and sundry?!

 

Then the awful nexus with capitalism. Democracy tends to be at its workable best, if it is a capitalistic society. This allows the rich to get richer and its not necessary that the poor prosper – however the middle class tends to improve marginally. In the US the divide has sharply increased and the top 1% wealthy have increased dramatically since 1980, while the poor and homeless numbers have skyrocketed.

 

Lastly close to us, the rigging..but a lot happens in many places. Whether it is by force, threats, systemic or fragmented, it happens. Last elections in Kenya resulted in genocide. In 2000, the US Presidential elections were hijacked. Against the actual voting numbers, which went to Al Gore…the other candidate Bush won. Talk to Karachites, Lahorites, or Abrar in PTI. The evil taste left after these events, makes one wonder. My own sense is that something which is achieved by subterfuge, will not be of benefit to anyone.

 ” Our little systems have their day;

They have their day and cease to be:

They are but broken lights of thee,

And thou, O Lord, art more than they.”

Tennyson 

My fervent wish is that we are able to refine this choice and selection process to the level, where we can say with pleasure, that democracy is really democracy. Inshallah. We need some form of harmony in this country.

* The democracy picture is taken from Wylio.com, a free picture site, and is owned by Dominic Alves.

A Quantum Leap of change in Pakistan

imagePost elections many younger people have felt dissatisfaction at the process applied during elections and (I fear) we face disenfranchising these people, who are part of the future of Pakistan. So, I have tried below to show them the philosophy of change and how what has happened in the last few days is a positive step.

A society is a web, connected, intermingled and when you move a small wheel, it will move a larger wheel and so move a still larger one and thus the societal machine will work like any other machine. Small movement, cause and effect translates into large changes over time. A small change now, leads to large change 30 years from now. An example; the creation of madrassas in the late 70’s is today a massive part of Pakistan’s social fabric.
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Thus  I watched with interest the changes which could allude to larger change, during these elections. Simple little changes.
  • young people participating
  • technology being used
  • innovative campaigning involving ground activation
  • people standing up for their legal rights
  • a self aware people
Some perturbing ones.
  • people voting more for local rights, federal consequences being less visible
  • a divide beginning to happen …so called educated v less educated
Where this change will lead to, I am not sure. As with any change and an unsure future, one is apprehensive. But change can occur in only three forms:-
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Miracle/disaster
This would be the most unplanned and therefore most change inducing. Miracles seem to have disappeared nowadays, but when they do happen they have far reaching effects. Thousands of years ago Hazrat Musa crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh was destroyed, but we live the effects of that moment till today. I don’t think we should be awaiting a miracle, as we have been these decades in Pakistan. As far as disaster is concerned, a disaster has occurred several times in our history, like 2010 floods etc. Disasters can be a set back for years, or worse a culmination, thus causing great change. There is an impending feeling of doom in this country and a fear that disaster is approaching.  Disregard it!
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Revolution
Typically revolutions aim for utopia, they wipe out status quo and the new structures are set at utopian levels. Over time learning ensues and the revolution is institutionalized and disappears. Society starts reversing the effects of the revolution and it comes back to a more mid lane process..I don’t think we are ripe for revolution, as our belief platforms are too diverse.
China is a great example of the progressive effects of a revolution. Mao killed freely in the 40s-50s-60s. Later after his departure, in late 70s China opened up and the disciplines and hardships of Mao, led to a surge in the last 30 years.
Iran is a bad example of a revolution. A reversal of revolutionary zeal has led to a totalitarian state and the benefits of revolution have not transpired. Instead a bureaucracy has now replaced the zeal and it controls Iran. Similar events happened in the Soviet Union.
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Evolutionary Change
This has worked best over millenia of human development. Seemingly slow progress, but half a century on, a later generation looks back and says wonderingly, “look how that and that event has caused an evolution which has changed our lives.”
Evolutionary change can trend towards good, but as nations decline it can trend towards bad also. So in Yarmuk, Muslims won a hard fought battle and for the next 500 years dominated, as the way north and west was opened up. But Nero fiddled while Rome burned and while the Roman empire lasted almost 400 further years, but the decline was inexorable after that.
This evolutionary change is what I am talking about above. To all those who are upset at the elections, because there was a great deal of unfairness. “Wheels on wheels have been set in motion. Patience, this will deliver dividends and progression will happen. You watch. Be patient. Inshallah the wheels are in motion, your Pakistan will change.”

THE PRINCE, THE JOKER & THE THIEF

The Prince, The Joker & The Thief

The Joker reminisced to the Thief.

“Back in the eighties when my master, the King, swung his masterful whip over this place, I had a great time. Everyone came to me. They recognized that I could approach the throne. Things went well. I was able to set up connections and have you seen the factories and businesses that exist today. It was hard work and my net worth today is well over a billion dollars. Then it all changed”.

There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief;
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth;
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth…

“Today businessmen they drink at my table, partake of my paye’ and yet none of them know what any of it is worth. Things are not the same.

I have taken such hits”, complained the Joker to the Thief.

They say that I have hardly paid any taxes. How can I pay taxes, when I do not make enough to sustain myself? There is no King to work with, and to be truthful, I am not good at playing the King. Things go awry. Witness my attempt 15 years ago. They kicked me out and even distributed sweets in my hometown on my departure. Taken years for me to turn it around”.

No reason to get excited, the thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

The Thief, he smiled a broad smile, adjusted his spectacle  and spoke kindly to the Joker.

“Now, now! Nothing to be sad about. No reason to get excited. Let’s not talk falsely now. We have done well over 25 years, you and I. You in your own way, I in mine. We have been brought up to grab opportunities and that is our way. And we can live together. My art has been thievery and I do it well. Infact, if I say so myself I am quite a master at it.”

He continued…

“My move was to steal the heart of a Princess. That was a really profitable venture. Ended up yielding billions. Lots of factories, business and palaces. Yes not to forget the palaces and chateau! Things went well and then the Princess started objecting. She had grandiose notions about herself and how she would change things. But then luck played its part once more. I notice it does in my case. The Princess was killed and they were looking for someone to take the role of the Princess, Lady luck smiled and here I am.

Now you and I know this game of opportunities. We can work this together, advised the Thief. We just need to cooperate and be patient. We have enough money and if we take turns, we could be in the driving seat for at least another decade. By then we will have collected our dues and can go off in old age to live somewhere else and retire. You to your paye, me to my indulgences.”

“But what to do about the Prince and barefoot servants?” cried the Joker. “The Prince is dangerous and the barefoot servants are not behaving like their usual self. The Prince has been doing things all his life. He has made us known worldwide. Leading us, he won that great competition, then has set up a hospital and universities and then he was trusted with the floods rehabilitation, while no one trusted us. Even I have to agree that he is honest and sincere. Suppose he gets hold of real power?”

“There are many here among us, who think life is but a joke”, laughed the Thief. “Otherwise who would trust us? But see the barefoot servants are odd. They have some well read people who oppose the Prince. They have a foreign liberal point of view. All their lives they have been educated in a different school and have forgotten what they really are. The rest are uneducated. So we use the liberal ones to break the rest and what ever resistance is left, we use our money to buy it out. Will work like magic. Ten years later when nothing is left, they will wake up too late. We will be gone by then”.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

Unbeknownst to all the characters in the place, outside in the distance, two riders were approaching and the wind began to howl. The riders were at war with status quo, battle dancing on their faces. One was Extreme Religion and the other was Anarchy. They were coming nearer and none of the incumbents were even aware of this approaching calamity.

Inspired by Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” written in 1966. Any resemblance to present day situation or characters is absolutely coincidental. There is no such thing as barefoot servants- no one can be that foolish in real life.

I regret it…but we did not know

I regret it…but we did not know

Sadia had been going around in a haze for a few days. Her children were depressed too, so not much help there either. It was natural! Her umbrella for 45 years, her dear father was gone. Nothing could reconcile one to knowing she will never hear him speak again.

Then she remembered. His last day, he had said read the message I have left you in the drawer beside my bed. It jolted her into action. How could she be so remiss to forget?

The envelope had a feel as if she was talking to him. It was addressed to her.

‘Beta, much as I could tell you this now, I feel you would like it with you as my last message. It is my absolute regret that, I leave you and your family to face uncertain times. That it is directly mine and my generations fault, I am totally convinced. Our only excuse is that we did not understand the consequences of our lack of action. So the purpose of this note is to recognize how such small errors can be amplified, to what we have become today and so give you a blueprint of things to watch out for.

The two actions which we all watched and did not see the significance of, were both in 1953 stemming out of the Ahmadiya riots. We were troubled that rioting and killing was happening in Lahore and so when General Azam was brought to suppress the riots via Martial Law, we breathed a sigh of relief. On the back of that, came Khawaja Nazimuddin’s dismissal for failure to control the riot. Justice Munir then applied the “doctrine of necessity” and called for elections, rather than declare the action illegal. Such little events and many among us applauded them too- applauded in relief that peace and status quo was maintained.

Those two actions changed our world and to this day we pay for the events. In later years, General Ayub and Iskandar Mirza used the Azam Martial Law as a precedent and the Legal justification was amplified by the “doctrine of necessity”. Beta, when it happened in 1958, very few of us saw deep enough, though some were troubled by the actions. But what it did was it created the psyche of the quick fix; time and again we went down this route. The end was more important than the means.

When you take the first wrong step, little do you realize the eventual mutations which prevail half a century later? We were an upstanding country, with good systems, fairness, good quality manpower and generally a meritocracy. We had come from being bankrupt in Sept 1947 to being considered the most important Muslim country. All that changed!

First step we killed our meritocracy, then threw fairness out, with bad consequences in future years. Ayub’s Pakistan was prosperous, but favorites rode on a high horse. It resulted in the disasters of 1971, as unfairness thrived. We not only lost a war, but we lost our country, our vision and our passion. People lost faith in Pakistan and from that day the slide was incessant, through Bhutto’s army actions in Baluchistan and the quota system, Zia’s Martial Law, the ISI interference in 1990, the awful musical chair of the 90s, the Martial Law of Musharraf and finally our reliance on blood money post 9/11. Sure we rose up at times, infact three times in 1968, 1977 and 2007. But the result of an adhoc uprising was even more horrendous, each time the system becoming worse than before. We simply did not follow evolution, we went for quick fixes.

Beta, my message to you and others around you is simple…righteousness has no equal. The long right way is the best way, even if it means suffering in the middle. I do not judge on the type of government, but I do know that wrong will abet evil and evil will never triumph. We have gone from short cuts, compromises and good intentions, to being on the wrong side of goodness. Till we make amends in this character flaw, we will throw up the same stuff and society will descend further into the quagmire, with terminal consequences. You cannot find gold in a dump of sewerage.

So do not compromise on what is right, stand up and be counted.  I failed and my generation failed. History’s lesson is that this generation must rise and take back its right to do good once again. The rest of success will follow, Inshallah. May Allah bless you and the family and may Allah guide our people.’

Love

Abba

Sadia with tears in her eyes sent the note to the newspapers for printing. Her fight had begun.

India vs Pakistan, Line of Control tensions

India and Pakistan, please stop before it is too late …

January 23, 2013

It is a confrontation triggered by Indian violations and Pakistan’s reactions. So both sides are playing some role. PHOTO: AFP

With the pressure being built up in India about the Line of Control situation, it has brought to the fore the question of how we Pakistanis respond to it.

Do we aggressively answer back in the press and other media?

Is it better to continue to quietly urge a resolution through discussions?

Or is it an option to just ignore the furor and let everything settle?

The stakes are extremely high, simply because this is a nuclear region and any error can lead to huge unintended consequences. Just to paint a scenario in the future of such a cataclysmic error…

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Imagine a few months from now a Pakistani and an Indian are sitting together in the Bay area, around Silicon Valley in US. They are in their early 40s, have seven figure salaries, lovely children and great houses. They are avidly involved in their social lives and have great friends. From the outside you would be envious of their lives, but, the truth is that they are distraught and bereft of hope.

How could they do it, they keep asking each other?

How could they destroy our homelands?

But unfortunately, that is what has happened.

In a nuclear conflagration triggered by frenzy about LoC violations, everything from Balochistan to Assam (including Bangladesh) is now suffering from nuclear fallout. The region will be dangerous for decades due to radiation. No access, relatives and friends dead or missing, starvation prevalent and the world economy is itself , in recession – after all almost one in five people lived in this region.

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Hard to imagine?

Well ask someone in October 1962, around the time of the Cuban crisis or those who remember the last face-off in 2001 between Pakistan and India. I vividly remember a drive along the border for almost a 100km to Narowal, when everything had been evacuated. A desolate drive never to be repeated in a lifetime, I hope.

But the lesson is, it can happen and brinkmanship is hardly the required behaviour.

So, to the present line of control situation!

Pervez Musharraf spoke on the issue recently.

“Beheading a soldier is inexcusable. However, knowing the Pakistan Army, I can say for sure it is not in our culture to do something like that. It’s a court martial offence,” said Musharraf. “The politicians and media in India are being hysterical about it,” he added.

I am not an expert to comment on his assertions, but the report by The Hindu on the LoC – which has investigated the actual story – rationalises the events. According to that investigation, it is a confrontation triggered by Indian violations and Pakistan’s reactions. Thus, both sides have played a role leading to this fight.

It is time to sit down and talk it over. We don’t want two countries with nuclear arms to go to war. Both sides can preserve their self-respect and yet have a rational discussion.

Simla in our collective history is a great example of even handed negotiations. However, I guess I live in an ideal world.

What we have going on today, is a barrage from the media in India. Maybe commerce is playing a role and ratings are the reason for this furor – whatever it is, this then drives and motivates politicians. You get hunger strikes and the extreme point of view takes over. One politician gets up in the Parliament and demands 10 heads to be sent back in compensation.

Is this  for real?

Are you really asking for murder to be sanctioned now?

And then the Pakistan media will want 10 heads back!

We could play tit for tat for the rest of the year.  So much for Aman ki Asha!

Oh, for some responsible people who will show maturity!

So why is better sense not prevailing? Maybe it is filters of a thousand years of history and the partition; regardless, sense should prevail because both parties don’t have options left.

Till now, Pakistanis have been cooler in their reactions. The media here has also not taken as much notice, perhaps because Tahirul Qadri, the Supreme Court and rental power case have taken prime importance. This quiet handling should continue and more discussions should occur sooner than later.

The LoC mechanism to sort skirmishes has already been activated. If that does not work, then the Foreign Secretaries or even Foreign Ministers should meet.

More headlines, alarmist columns or beating the drum is not the answer.

Exhibiting maturity and dignity is.

Read more by Sarfaraz here or follow him on Twitter @sarehman

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