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Pakistan a Hard Country

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This is one of the most refreshing books I have read on Pakistan affairs. Well one can say it is one of the best written books in that department. That certainly does not mean everything is accurate or agreeable at times. The writer who however was not biased or wrote with “western prejudice” especially being a British. This book really well, sums up Pakistan till 2010. Nothing much has changed since except that maybe time of early 2000s may be returning, regarding our relations with India and USA. The terrorism situation since then has improved in some ways, in others, it probably has not. But morale definitely has improved and so has trust in army.

The most highlighted problems are ecological ones in the first few chapters. Especially water problems in Pakistan. The constantly decreasing water table, the floods and lack of dams and reservoirs in face of it. He also shows his surprise at water wastefulness of Pakistanis, considering water shortage is drastically increasing. When an English tells you, you are wasting water considering he comes from country were it rains nearly one third of the year, we need to listen because he might have a point.

He also runs comparison between, traditional law and Shariah. Something I was pleasantly surprised by. As he states:

“The population of Pakistan by contrast has a choice between the law of the state, law of the religion (The Shariah), and local folk, tribal or community law.

People move between these three codes depending on circumstances and advantage, often pursuing their goals through several of the simultaneously as well as through violence or more often threat of it. The authorities which are supposed to implement the state law in conjunction with Shariah, very often end up following community law or even turning blind eye to violence. Often this is because they have been corrupted or intimidated but often, too, it is because the police concerned share the cultural attitudes of the populations from which they are recruited. So the sorry nature Pakistan as a ‘negotiated state’, in which authority is a matter of negotiation, compromise, pressure and violence, not formal rules, is exemplified by the area of law and justice. 

What a sorry state of affairs that is, unfortunately he could not have put it in better words.

He also kind of denies the western views that Pakistan might suffer from Islamic revolution or some people who are afraid that Pakistan might me liberalized.  In words of a young Lahore man Ali Hasan, he sponges off all these assumptions

“If I were to jump on a box and preach revolution with the best programme in the world, you know what would happen? First, people from all the other provinces would say that we can’t follow him, he’s a Punjabi. Then most of the Punjabis would say, we can’t follow him, he’s from such and such biradari. Even in my own village, half of the people would say something like, I can’t follow him, his grandfather beat my uncle in a fight over land. If you preach Islamic revolution most people won’t follow you they practice different kinds of Islam and worship different saints. So you see we can’t unite behind a revolution because we can’t unite behind anything.

. It covers more or less all the plights of this nation on provincial level. This book is solely about Pakistan and its coordination, within a province and between provinces. Also the provincial parties and their damaging roles. I mean they hardly ever play any other kind.

The thing that most shocked me in this book was his take on MQM. It was most surprising. He nearly seems to be in awe of MQM. Which is little weird. Maybe they were not that bloody pre 2010, I don’t know. However I think his tilt towards MQM might be because, they are, unlike PPP and PMLN not feudal or big family run party. It is more of a middle class party to him. What he termed as modern urban politics. I still can’t understand how that is better in wake of what they do but he did play down their open killings in Karachi “a lot”. Again maybe at that time period they were not so active. Also he does not believe in any speculations and against MQM, real evidence is hard to come by or did before Rangers.

There is this reference which sort of describes a lot about our society,

Imran Aslam of Geo described what he called ‘the Sharifs’ Pakistan as

“Conservative with small ‘c’. It is a form of religion that gives stability and comfort but is not fanatical, and is peace with itself – unlike our psychologically and culturally tortured liberals, and equally tortured Islamists.”

It might make more sense in the context he was speaking, but still kind of does, doesn’t it?

This book is worth a read. Highly recommended, very well written done and one gets the feeling he gets Pakistani mentality, well he really tried to at least.

Moments of Beauty

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Not every day has to be great day, not everything has to be awesome. Not every plan needs to work out. Most days are just moderate or drag. We fall behind. disappoint, screw up and night comes and we look back and say what a waste and beat ourselves up about it. The thing to remember is its not too late for anything unless you are dead. That is another debate. So lets just focus on things that we have, we have kindness.

Kindness is when you come home and find cold beverage in fridge. When you find food in the oven. Kindness is when you put a water bottle in someone’s room. Kindness is when curtain’s are pulled close in so someone’s sleep does not gets disturbed. Kindness is to give aspirin to some one who might be in pain, and offer them water, without them having to ask repeatedly. Kindness is to remember another’s need along with yours. Kindness is not to remind another of their shortcomings. Kindness is to make someone laugh. Kindness is to listen. Kindness is to offer when not asked, kindness is to care without being reminded. Kindness is granted to each and everyone, just remember the kindness extended to you and be grateful for each little act. That is kindness to onto oneself. Makes breathing easier, existence little brighter. Count the acts of kindness.

i am pretty sure everyone has experienced at least one such act of kindness. Those are moment of beauty the moments that make you feel good make things good. What more can one ask from a moderate day?

 

Islamabad Literature Festival 2016 (1)

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This year was 4th ILF, but my first. Circumstances only allowed me to attend three and half sessions. But it was a really good experience. IT was my first time to actually attend a gathering of this sort where writers and intellectual from nearly all the fields are present.

(Faiz Ahmed Faiz Open Air Stadium: 3:30-4:30)

The session on Regional Connectivity and stability. Something as one of the audience directly pointed out to the one of speakers (Nasim Zehra: anchor person, columnist) as a topic never really discussed with vigor and facts it needs to be addressed with on the media.

5 speakers were present, Hina Rabbani Khar (26th Foreign minister), Anatol Lieven (Britsih Journalist, policy analyst), Nasim Zehra, Omar Zakhilwal (Finance Minister of Pakistan)  and Jean François. Mr Zakhiwal like a true politician droned on for long time trying to state that international investors should focus on regional projects. 

Nasim Zehra stated that asymmetry of power between military and government is the reason of setbacks on our economic growth she perceived that if we put behind chasing stability and focus on economic growth. Antol Leiven disagreed with this assessment saying if security and stability was not achieved, economic growth was not possible. Also the energy business due to sudden fall of fuel prices on international market has now become a very insecure investment for the investors. So if the security was not an assurance at a certain level such investments would not come easily. Hina Rabbani Khar said that during PPP rule their policy to start trade with India even with tension over Kashmir issue was an excellent decision and in which we got ever our regional issues for economic ones. In Pakistan or more like in south Asian region our basic problem is that economic issues are treated purely as political moves. Nobody moves forward or thinks further then 5 years of their tenure. Economic stagnation in the region is because territorial issues have over shadowed necessary progressive decision. Mr Jean Francois retold the history of France and Germany alliance on economic projects in 1951. Few years after the destruction of World war. The people already had fought two wars with each other, not mention the invasion of Paris by German, but French leadership understood that for regional peace and in hope there would now not be another war they initiated economical growth projects. They put people opinion aside and moved on, because they had a vision for the future. Same thing may not apply to our region but it could be partially adopted.  

Even though we have very tense relationship with our neighbors. When events like Yadev ( RAW Agent) and Pathan Kot ( Terrorist attack ) happen things seem to spiral further down. But events should not over shadow the strategies of nations.

Summarizing: Regional Connectivity especially for the economic projects and massive development along with minor ones to support and keep the system functioning are necessary. This needs to be pushed by media. CPEC is a very major project and of huge importance but it can not happen if regional security and stability is not completely achieved.  Political leaders should be strong and motivated enough to influence public opinions to get over prejudices and move on with things on economic front. The chances of political unity even for the interest of the country is in words of Pakistani Awam who have come to a sorry conclusion of  “absolutely not”.

It was a vast topic but when it comes down to it was a lot of talk and lack of action which is how many projects in Pakistan just become names instead of things which have physical presence.  A tradegy voiced by Hina Rabbini Khar on TAP gas pipeline a project on which “talks and discussion” started about 25 years back.

The session ended with people questioning would this generation see the economic growth of Pakistan or will it go down in wishful thinking. Will Pakistan be secure from international and internal sabotage long enough for CPEC to be fully functional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Coffee House of Lahore: A memoir 1942-1957

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I found this book in library last year, did not read it then but now I have.  I would recommend it to everyone. Here are few stories I have picked to share, I hope they motivate you enough to read this book.

K.K Aziz says about Coffee house. “I learnt how to behave with my age group, how to respect my seniors, how to make friends and keep relationship in good repair. The frequent discussion which I participated taught me the virtues of tolerance. They also taught me how to debate a point without losing temper, to sharpen my arguments rather raise my voice, to understand to understand other person’s point of view and give him right to express it and gain clarity in speech and lucidity in thinking.….There could not have be no better training in human dealings because human beings with whom I was interfacing were among themselves so different of outlooks…. I learnt to become flexible in what I said and what I listened to. Also I had to be patient with suffering fools, because in every society and group there are bores and people with stunted minds. I don’t know to which degree I learnt these virtues and I can’t be a judge of it. But I tried hard and I think I became fit for human company”

In its physical location the house was ideally placed. Within five minutes’ walk from it lay the University, the Mayo School of Arts (NCA later), the Punjab Public Library, the Lahore Museum, YMCA Hall, Law Collage, Oriental Collage and the Government Collage. Islamia Collage, Dyal Singh Collage and MAO Collage were within a 10-minute cycle ride. The House had been put right at the heart of the intellect of Lahore. The language of Coffee house was Punjabi and English purely, Punglish. Though written language was Urdu. It mostly was made up of Leftists but does not mean other were not present. What the Coffee house did have was tolerance.

This was the time period where population of Lahore was around 300,000 not more than 10 million.   

Now this book revolves around 100s of people, who all had one thing in common they loved to read and talk about what they read and drank coffee. The writer K.K. Aziz name which was given to him by Jamiluddin Hasan, who said “You know your first names are too long to encourage intimacy. It takes sustained breath to pronounce “Khursheed Kamal”. So right now, under the authority granted to me by our friendship, I hereby bestow upon you in a perpetuity the much smaller and melodious name of K.K to which I am sure you will get used you soon.”  

K.K entered Coffee house in age of 15 or 16 in 1942. But this book is more about a time period. A different time period a quieter time period. This book is littered with scenes and people most of us have not heard about. Some names are famous others not so much. There few scenes in this book that strike me as they are form another world “My friends and I had bought our tickets and were in a large crowd waiting on foyer for the matinee show to come to an end. When the show ended the audience began to come down the stairs to go home. At the corner of stairs appeared Champa in her white Sari. The chattering crowd in the foyer fell silent. There was a hush until she reached the end of the staircase, turned right and walked out of our sight. The elite was paying tribute to beauty. There was not a single wink, ogle, leer, even an audible breath. Those were civilized days.

Abdus salam a smart man not of science but also was interested in other contemporary subjects. K.K recalls his one meeting “We recalled our government Collage days; Salam Talked about what he had to endure at the hands of Sirajuddin and the officials of the education department. I asked him if all this was due to him being an Ahmadi. He doubted it and pointed out Qazi Aslam too was an Ahmadi and later become Principal of Collage.” A well-known scientist after the death of Abdus Salam commented whom K.K told him his sad tale of disappointed when nobody would sanction a scholarship in name of Salam. “You say the Ahmadis have not done anything to salute Salam. Yes, they haven’t. But aren’t they Pakistani’s too?”  So we are people who are jealous of other people who are better and brighter than us, this jealousy goes deeper, than any religious or cultural bonds what a tragedy.

I found this book in library last year, did not read it then but now I have.  I would recommend it to everyone. Here are few stories I have picked to share, I hope they motivate you enough to read this book.

K.K Aziz says about Coffee house. “I learnt how to behave with my age group, how to respect my seniors, how to make friends and keep relationship in good repair. The frequent discussion which I participated taught me the virtues of tolerance. They also taught me how to debate a point without losing temper, to sharpen my arguments rather raise my voice, to understand to understand other person’s point of view and give him right to express it and gain clarity in speech and lucidity in thinking.….There could not have be no better training in human dealings because human beings with whom I was interfacing were among themselves so different of outlooks…. I learnt to become flexible in what I said and what I listened to. Also I had to be patient with suffering fools, because in every society and group there are bores and people with stunted minds. I don’t know to which degree I learnt these virtues and I can’t be a judge of it. But I tried hard and I think I became fit for human company”

In its physical location the house was ideally placed. Within five minutes’ walk from it lay the University, the Mayo School of Arts (NCA later), the Punjab Public Library, the Lahore Museum, YMCA Hall, Law Collage, Oriental Collage and the Government Collage. Islamia Collage, Dyal Singh Collage and MAO Collage were within a 10-minute cycle ride. The House had been put right at the heart of the intellect of Lahore.

This was the time period where population of Lahore was around 300,000 not more than 10 million.   

Now this book revolves around 100s of people, who all had one thing in common they loved to read and talk about what they read and drank coffee. The writer K.K. Aziz name which was given to him by Jamiluddin Hasan, who said “You know your first names are too long to encourage intimacy. It takes sustained breath to pronounce “Khursheed Kamal”. So right now, under the authority granted to me by our friendship, I hereby bestow upon you in a perpetuity the much smaller and melodious name of K.K to which I am sure you will get used you soon.”  

K.K entered Coffee house in age of 15 or 16 in 1942. But this book is more about a time period. A different time period a quieter time period. This book is littered with scenes and people most of us have not heard about. Some names are famous others not so much. There few scenes in this book that strike me as they are form another world “My friends and I had bought our tickets and were in a large crowd waiting on foyer for the matinee show to come to an end. When the show ended the audience began to come down the stairs to go home. At the corner of stairs appeared Champa in her white Sari. The chattering crowd in the foyer fell silent. There was a hush until she reached the end of the staircase, turned right and walked out of our sight. The elite was paying tribute to beauty. There was not a single wink, ogle, leer, even an audible breath. Those were civilized days.

Abdus salam a smart man not of science but also was interested in other contemporary subjects. K.K recalls his one meeting “We recalled our government Collage days; Salam Talked about what he had to endure at the hands of Sirajuddin and the officials of the education department. I asked him if all this was due to him being an Ahmadi. He doubted it and pointed out Qazi Aslam too was an Ahmadi and later become Principal of Collage.” A well-known scientist after the death of Abdus Salam commented whom K.K told him his sad tale of disappointed when nobody would sanction a scholarship in name of Salam. “You say the Ahmadis have not done anything to salute Salam. Yes, they haven’t. But aren’t they Pakistani’s too?”  So we are people who are jealous of other people who are better and brighter than us, this jealousy goes deeper, than any religious or cultural bonds what a tragedy.

This book is filled with old Lahore and lives of writers, poets, artists, photographers, lawyers. People who with exception of few were poor but rich in culture. I would completely recommend this book. It is a very personal account of lives, might be one-sided in many cases. But this book is highly underrated and unknown. I mean a book about book lover 100s of them who got together on daily basis to have meaningful conversations. Is not that every book readers dream?

This book is filled with old Lahore and lives of writers, poets, artists, photographers, lawyers. People who with exception of few were poor but rich in culture. I would completely recommend this book. It is a very personal account of lives, might be one-sided in many cases. But this book is highly underrated and unknown. I mean a book about book lover 100s of them who got together on daily basis to have meaningful conversations. Is not that every book readers dream?

10 best films of 2015

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Film & Nuance

Phew. That was tough. It has been coming for a long time so I’m extremely excited to share my list with you, feel free to offer your comments 🙂 There’s always something special, a sort of child-like excitement that comes along with reviewing the whole year in film, and giving special praise to the ones that stood out and the ones that left its presence on me. 2015 was extraordinary. Films ranged from art-house to Indie to Blockbusters to personal projects, spanning all kinds of genres from oddly introspective animation to psychological thrillers to coming-of-age stories. There were spies, and teenagers, and a guy being mauled by a bear, another guy latched on a 2-hour mad drive, transgenders, homosexuals, child soldiers and people who fought to expose the church; This is probably the best year in film. Ever. I honestly believed any of the 10 films here could easily replace…

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Lets talk about our I’s and isms.

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I am so bloody angry. I feel like am I am going to suffocate under all the hate that we have for each other in this country. I don’t know where the idea of Pakistan went so damn wrong. We might as well just nuke each other off. Its not we are doing anything with our “atomic” abilities any way .

First there are our “I’s” Pathan, Pashtun ( mind the difference) Punjabi, Sindi, Balochi, once upon time there were Bengali but now they have their own country.

I have seen more tolerance in street dogs when a another wanders in their territory than I have seen in most Pakistani’s for one another. Every single one of us is convinced that they have got it right. “12 kitabain parhta hai aur Aalim ban jata hai saray paraha likha jahil”.

The division in Pakistan is far more complex than most complex chemical formula. We just don’t have a sectarian problem in this country if we only had the sectarian problem life will be half less complicated than it is at the moment. We have a theism and atheism problem. We have liberal and conservative problem. We have a problem with the rich and we have problem with poor. We have a problem with elite culture and we have problem with middle class culture. We have problem with army and there are the ones who happen to worship it. We are democracy lovers and what we love more is making it fail. We have an obsession with freedom what we can not seem to get is freedom does not mean a license to act like wayward imbeciles. Then we have a problem how people dress, women who wear burqa or do niqab are “fundos” and who wear jeans and tees are “baegairat”. The “modern educated class” call the people with beards “taliban” or “harbourers of taliban” either as joke or seriously .You freaking assholes that is insulting! You do know that your Prophet(S.A.W) had a beard? Even Hazrat Issa (A.s) or Jesus Christ had one!

The other class call them moulvis or hajjis either as joke or so seriously that they think these people might be personification of angels (that is a exaggeration but lower income class trust in people with beard is quiet misled) and leads to things which are too shameful and screwed up to even imagine.

Then comes the “-isms” bane of our lives. There is Wahhabism, Sunnism, Shi’ism’, Barelvism, Ahle-hadith, Isma’ilism, these are the ones I know. Not to mention few whose correct spellings I am unaware of or am forgetting them. Honestly there is just not enough land to give everyone their own separate state.

But then came the educated class who love to talk about things they don’t really face. Some how we love our stereotypes. Extremist exist everywhere, in every single kind of sect, ethnicity and culture or what ever separation you happen to believe in. lets not even mention the role of electronic media whose sole job is to provide the news that really does not exist or to blow things out of proportion to a scale that out smarts most of the showbiz tabloids.

In our country the new popular culture and favorite status update seems to be of bashing religious people. On other hand we have the ones who happen to think “facebook” and “twitter” are the platforms to preach religion.

Seriously people wake up thanks to you all we have “Sunni-Islam” and “Shia-Islam”.

Here is a hint for everyone whatever you say won’t change the thoughts people who are prone to think you are a infidel. “itna naaike ka bacha hota na tum saab, tu facebook pa status upload karna wala halaat nae hota”.

So in good nice words get over your self and stop wagging your tongues on each and every incident and stop giving them shape they don’t really have. “khala ka ghar tum logo ka?” Freedom of speech ki maa behan aik kar ka rakh dye hai tum logo na.

There are things you say among friends. That is voicing of unformed ideas. That is thinking brainstorming. Printing your brainstorming for the world to see is really ridiculous. And more over they come off not liberal or cool but as naïve and prejudiced. You are not young enough to come off naïve and not old enough to be forgiven for your prejudices. Imagine every writer starts publishing his or hers first idea of novel? that would suck wont it. Even if it was Tolkein or Rowling or Grisham or who ever. You are neither of those people so imagine how much you suck.

Next time you feel like bashing anyone by that I mean anyone (excluding ISIS only people who no one have enough words to describe) just think that some one is dumping a bucket full of rotten eggs on you. The smell is disgusting just like your words who hurt people who feel insulted by them when they are being blamed for things they never did and never even thought. You with your “honest saying” and “so called truth” are brewing same hate and intolerance which is done by ISIS rockets and AK47s.

This post is for all the wanna be revolutionaries and liberals and free thinkers and smart people and conservatives who think social websites are perfect place for verbal vomits. Congrats facebook and twitter activists and the flag bearers of truth you have out done yourselves once again.

FOR HIGH-EPIC FANTASY READERS!!!!

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so i loved this book. I simply was really excited.  I mean you know the happity dippity feeling you get when you end a book. I got that feeling after finishing this book. And  i had that feeling for last 200 pages of it.
Now this is simply  a long book.1000 pages easy. Based on the pages one can divide the book in three parts. Though this book is already divided in 4 books but if you are someone like me who does not even notice these partitions until someone points them out. Then it is 3 part book.
Part 1 has details and character foundation and settings. It is built up part. If you have read LOTR  and liked it then the first 300 pages is choclate fudge cake for you.
Next 400 pages you start the hike things starts to swill. Things are put in motion and you start to understand. There is a lot of confusion and indecision.. Imagine order of Phoenix and multiply Harry’s confusion and anger witth every single character in the book..also Its the point where you are actually starting to remember the million names and cultures and start to get used to and actually remember the names.. There are aLot of things in this book for the first 700 pages which do not make sense but they all will eventually.
The last part of the book like most books is a complete rush.. I read 200 or so pages in two attempts that is how good it got.
The book is named WAY OF KINGS why would you not want to read it anyway!!!
The reason I have not discussed the story of the book because it along with being epic high fantasy is a mystery too.. So yeah one has to read it. Without being told what it is about, or the fun can be spoiled like milk on hot day.
Has all the correct elements honor, fall, end of the world, what it means to be better then that in true sense, heroes and villians both excellent in their domain..they grey Jedi and all for greater good philosophy..
As Tolkein says there is no story without fall.
we human always write of fall cause that is all we cause is what we see our selves to be as.this is story of fall with the fallen and phoneix.

“When we are young,” Jasnah said, “we want simple answers. There is no greater indication of youth, perhaps, than the desire for everything to be as it should. As it has ever been.”