An Open Letter to Gurmehar Kaur from Pakistan

Dear Gurmehar Kaur

I am not sure whether you would even read this letter. But for a few days I have been having a feeling that I should let you know that I am just one adding up to the hundreds of thousands of people who have already stood by you.

 

Yes, war killed your father and the father of some Pakistani child during Kargil episode, but the Pakistani girl might not have gathered enough pluck to say this in the face of a legion of trolls and hate mongers who would have made her and her family’s life unbearable as they have made yours. The war mantra has always been used by our politicians to win some votes and overshadow their bad governance by emotionally charging the masses with the feeling of odium against the rival country. The people never vote to start war with another country but they vote to enjoy basic necessities of life such as education, health, security and freedom of speech. Now it is no longer hidden fact that the moment people start raising their voice against what is wrong with the country, a bullet is shot at the border and people become wrapped in the ultra nationalist frenzy. A faction in our society has taken it upon itself, without anyone’s permission, to define patriotism and they want everyone to have political opinions of a specific tinge.

 

Let me assure you that it is not an attack on you, but an attack on every idea of democracy, high morals, ideals and freedom of speech that India has long boasted about. These are no different times Gurmehar Kaur. Things have always been such difficult for people like you. And the good thing is that there have always been people like you who don’t hold themselves back from saying what is right. Let me admit that things aren’t any different in Pakistan for people like you. Had any girl said what you said she would have faced same amount of bullying and trolling by the self proclaimed patriots who believe it is their prerogative to judge others and issue certificates of treason to whoever don’t agree with their narrative of nationalism.

 

We also have the likes of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad here whose only objective is to terrorize students on the campus and maintain an atmosphere of fear, hatred and bigotry. Members of a student wing of the largest religious political party do not allow unmarried couples to hang around together at a public university in Lahore. But despite all wrongs being committed by these student terror wings no one has ever dared to stand against them, let alone a girl. I have deepest appreciation for your will and determination in the face of so much political and social pressure and your desire for peace despite having lost your father in war. I wish you success in your pursuit of love, peace and happiness.

 

Stay strong. Stay happy


Best regards

Azhar

Universal Culture

I came to see this picture in Japan which reminded me of the same culture or tradition or superstition or belief or whatever-you-call-it here in my country. And in neighboring countries, and in countries far & beyond. This just confirms one thing that howsoever we appear different in terms of race, color, caste, creed, language and appearance, but our core emotions such as love, hope, fear, happiness remain the same. In different parts of the world people may have different ways to feel and show such emotions, still some ways remain universal.

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This is a photo I took in Sapporo, Japan of Ema, the prayers and wishes penned and hung in the grounds of Shinto shrines. From heartfelt hopes about exam results, or being noticed by that oblivious boy in your class, to wishes for a prosperous or healthy future, you can think of them as prayers and hopes  made manifest and left in public.

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This photo I took at the Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Bhittai was a sufi saint, poet and a musician who lived around 18th Century. People visit the shrine, make a wish and tie the knots (of threads, a piece of cloth etc) to a tree inside the shrine. And when their wishes come true, they come to visit the Shrine again to pay homage to the Saint.

My favourite couplet of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai

Thou art the friend, the Healer thou;
for sufferings thou the remedy;
Thou divest; curtest disease, dost guide,
master thou art eternally–
Yet, I am wonderstruck to see
that you physicians still provide

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

 

No vote for Jamaat-e-Islami

As a part of Jamaat-e-Islami’s outreach program, a pamphlet (a 4p manifesto of the party) was dropped at our doorsteps. The title of the pamphlet read:

Jamaat-e-Islami’s Revolutionary Manifesto

Our Destination: A Medina like Islamic Welfare State

And then it went on to list major policies JI looks forward to employ, such as breaking the chains of American influence on Pakistan’s affairs, eradication of feudalism and interest based capitalism, resolving inflation, unemployment and loadshedding issues and the establishment of Euro-like Islamic Zone et cetera et cetera. By ‘a Medina like Islamic Welfare State’ they mean present monarchist Medina state perhaps where Wahhabi version of Islam is prevalent.

However, on the face of it was the picture of Emir of Jamaat-e-Isami Mr. Syed Munawar Hassan. He came into the glare of publicity last year when in an interview, in an answer to a question about Hudood Ordinance and Rape, he alleged (according to his misinterpreted version of Islam) that if a woman is raped and she couldn’t provide four male witnesses to the mishap she is liable to be punished in accordance with the Sharia law. Therefore, it is better for her to keep her lips stitched, and quite understandably continue to live a miserable life. Such an irrational and unsound elucidation took the wind out of sails of all the sane minds. Many a number of pieces were written to lambast such a flawed understanding of Islamic laws by a head of a religio-political party which promises to provide justice to the society at large.

You can read those here, here and here.

This is not the story of yester year. In fact this is one of the established ideologies and beliefs of these so-called scholars, their orthodox religio-political parties and their followers. Jamaat-e-Islami was founded in Lahore on August 26, 1941 by political philosopher Abul Ala Maududi. JI is opposed to Capitalism, Socialism and Secularism, however it supports Wahhabism, Saudi Monarchy and Barbarism.

There are over a 100 religio-political parties in Pakistan, and each one claiming to be the true representative of Islamic teachings. At the heart of each party is one slogan: Sharia-based government in Pakistan. If the sole purpose of all these parties is the same, then I wonder why can’t they all merge together and become one party with one pious leader. They never can. Because the definition of Sharia varies from one jamaat (party) to other for all. They agree on praying five times a day, but don’t agree on how to pray. They agree on performing wudhu (washing hands, arms, face and feet) before offering prayer, but they don’t agree on how to perform wudhu. Last but not the least, each Emir (head) of the jamaat (party) claims to be most pious of all, he would definitely not want to serve under another one. This is no more the hidden truth that their intentions are more power-hungry political than religious. They are more interested in maintaining their personality/party influence and authority than serving either Islam or muslims.

I’m going to vote for JI…Not!

A specious comparison

Disclaimer: No offence intended. I like Imran Khan as one of the greatest cricketers and respect him for his philanthropic work such as Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital. But PTI is a different story; its young fans are quite another.

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These days a status is viral on Facebook by the very young PTI fans where co-incidental similarities based upon lies are made between Imran Khan and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The status is

1. Got his Education from England
2. Was included in University’s Hall of Fame
3. Suffered severely in starting of his career
4. Married a non muslim lady , marriage failed, wife went to london
5. Children custody to mother as per judge’s decision
6. Failure in start of his political career
7. Won only 1 seat after a decade of struggle
8. His party won hearts of people after Jalsa at Lahore
9. All parties stood against his party

You think it’s Imran Khan’s story?

NO, it’s Quaid-e-Azam’s story.

History is repeating itself. . . think again ! VOTE WISELY!

My reaction to this was WHAT THE FUCK IN THIS OTHERWISE BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE!!!

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Now The Truth:

1. Jinnah received primary and higher education in Karachi and for some period of time in Bombay. Jinnah never attended Oxford or Cambridge or any other University in England, he only completed his legal education there at Lincoln’s Inn.

2. Since Jinnah didn’t attend any university, what the Hall of Fame then?

3. Not really. At 19, Jinnah became the Youngest Indian to have been called at Bar in England.

4. Jinnah didn’t marry a non-muslim, Rutti converted to Islam three days before marriage and became Maryam. Though the relationship didn’t last long, however there was no divorce. After separation Maryam fell ill and was taken to England and then to Paris for treatment. Her health improved and she returned to Bombay. Jinnah visited her in Paris.

5. Since there was no divorce, there was no question of Dina’s custody to be decided by the court.

6. This is really a harsh claim. Jinnah joined Indian National Congress in 1906 and All India Muslim League in 1913. In the beginning Jinnah followed Sir Pheroze Shah Mehta and observed the course of events in British India. Jinnah was instrumental in the passing of the Child Marriages Restraint Act, the legitimization of the Muslim waqf (religious endowments) and was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, which helped establish the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun.

7. In 1910, just after 4 years of joining the Congress, Jinnah was elected to the Imperial Legislative Council, and he was not the leader of the party.

8. To suggest that Jinnah only succeeded in winning the hearts of the masses only after the Lahore jalsa in 1940 is devastating. In 1916 he became the President of AIML and was called the Ambassador of the Hindu-Muslim Unity after Lucknow Pact. Lahore Resolution was the consummation of the decades-long struggle for freedom from the British rule.

9. Which parties? Besides AIML, there was just one other party, The Congress.

What really nettles me is how so blindly people just praise each others’ status’ and share without even confirming the facts and figures. When I shared above facts on such status of few of my friends [PTI fans off course], instead of accepting the truth, they just deleted my comment and declined to discuss a word more. I was left numb for the moment and wondered how could the ‘agents of change’ who so proudly claim to be patriots and revolutionaries get offended by nothing but the truth, how could they believe everything they hear,  read and see is true?

Another friend said that since Zardari and Nawaz and other politicians have been time-tested, therefore IK is the only option left therefore he should be given a chance. I wondered that just to test a person, we are ready to hand over our country to him, despite the fact that his party is backed by the establishment and its proxies [religious parties] who have long done collateral damage to the country. Now it’s become an established fact that calling oneself a PTI/IK fan is a trend that every youngster should follow without even delving into the abcs’ of political history of Pakistan. This is just a sorry state where the youth believe more in conspiracy theories than realities.

Sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali_Jinnah

http://hafsakhawaja.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/hauling-jinnah-and-his-life-from-distortion-a-factual-rebuttal-to-ptis-story/

2012 – A Year of reading

I have always had a come-on towards books and I have always wanted to read as many as I can, but till today I haven’t been real-successful in taking time out of my otiosity, sit and read. This is going to be for the first time that I have made some resolutions for the New Year, and topmost resolution is reading at least 12 books, a book a month. Initially I had decided to set target of reading 10 books, then I thought to increase the list to 12, this might enable me to finish 10 at least J. Since I am more into non-fiction, so my list includes 2 autobiographies, 2 biographies, 4 histories and 3 fictions only, plus 1 general.

  1. No god but God by Reza Aslan: I would start with subject of my interest, Islamic History. Being a believing Muslim, I must know about my religion’s history, present and future.
  2. The Life of Muhammad (A translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah) by A. Guillaume: I have grown up listening to stories of the Prophet from elders, and only little I read about him in school. So this is going to be a detailed look into the prophet’s life.
  3. Pakistan at the Crosscurrent of History by Lawrence Ziring: History of Pakistan.
  4. Jinnah of Pakistan by Stanley Wolpert: A biography of the founder of Pakistan.
  5. In Other Rooms Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin: A collection of 8 interconnected short stories.
  6. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything By Stephen J. Dubner & Steven D. Levitt: Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? How much do parents really matter? These are few of the questions the books claims to answer.
  7. Daughter of the East: An Autobiography by Benazir Bhutto. Beautiful, charismatic, and the first and only woman to lead a post-colonial Muslim state. Bhutto’s autobiography chronicles a life of strength, dedication, and courage in the face of adversity. This is the life story of one of the most prominent female politicians of the 20th century.
  8. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez : This is going to be first novel from modern literature I shall be reading, the only novels I have read have been classics.
  9. The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong: Today which seem to be governed by reason and technology, fundamentalism has emerged as an overwhelming force in every major world religion, and is considered a grave threat to modernity. ‘Why’ is the question addressed in this book.
  10. South Asia-A Historical Narrative by Mohammed Yunus & Aradhana Parmar: History of Subcontinent.
  11. Animal Farm by George Orwell: I have heard a lot about this great work by George Orwell, hope to enjoy it as much.
  12. Issues in Pakistan’s Economy by S. Akbar Zaidi: This book is about Pakistan’s economic history and political economy.

P.s. I am not going to read the books in the same order they are numbered here.