Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Every bomb matters - Zarb e Azb

I am writing a blog after almost an year. Sadly my last post (Growing up in Wars) encompassed a war experience too. Seems like not much has changed since my childhood. Parts of the world where I have lived have been a battle ground for decades. Away from middle east, this one has struck my home in its heart. Residing 3 miles from Karachi Airport, I heard the sounds of gunshots throughout the night of terrorist attacks. In the wake of it, public sentiments and support behind operating a full scale offensive against the terrorists were highest in recent times. And so the armed forces of Pakistan have started an aerial and ground offensive against militants hideouts in North Waziristan. Before I begin to pen down my piece of head here, I would recommend you to read my last blog entry (Growing up in Wars) so that you may better gauge 'where I am coming from'. Briefly "Except in purely self-defence situations, war is the answer to nothing."

It is early hours of this battle named "Zarbe Azab" and I am sure, dust from the first round of bombs being dropped at terrorist camps would not have even settled by now, and I want a quick attention to the issue of collateral damage. War, battles or for that matter any armed conflict is bloody in its nature. This does not mean one should sit idle and allow a coward with the gun to assault and jeopardize your freedom and destroy your way of life. But when you reach out to neutralize that threat, the modern man has learnt a set of dignified principles to do so. Islam has taught us a comprehensive charter for dos and don't s of war. Also the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. If Taliban did not read or follow them, doesn't mean we do the same. Nobody has to become a terrorist in order to deal with the terrorist.

Whether directly killed due to aerial bombing or due to starvation, illnesses, or injury sustained while in flight from war zones; more than 20,000 civilians died in only first few months of aerial bombardment by the US in Afghanistan according to The Guardian. Since 2001 these numbers have only gone up. 13 years on media and aid groups have reported of hundreds of gruesome stories about such atrocities. Ranging from soldiers opening fires indiscriminately on women and children in their homes, to surgical strikes on wedding events, these cases have forced the Afghan leader to protest to Washington several times.
Blinded by their military superiority and vengeance for terror attacks on home ground, US and NATO have written volumes of undue oppression in the memories of those, they claimed in first place to win hearts and minds of. No such tall claims from our Armed forces or government, but hey! Wait a minute!

Terrorists attacked our civilians, our bazaars, our homes, our hospitals, mosques, roads and airports. In nobody's right mind; equally brutal response should be acceptable. I trust my forces because of their ground knowledge and (hopefully) good intelligence that they will not go on dropping 250 Kg bombs on any compound where apparently men of military age have gathered. In my neighbourhood such gathering usually happens inside a mosque after the calls for prayer. Unlike NATO I feel my forces are better capable of differentiating between a man sitting by the road side planting an IED from a man who is there to answer the call of nature.

If we apply the same insensitive approach as the West and NATO have tried for over a decade, of in-discriminatory aerial bombardment, it will only multiply the threat. Not to mention this civilian loss only helps the terrorists recruit fresh blood into their fighting force. Dropping bombs from thousands of feet in the sky on the "So called" hideouts and compounds (leaving a legit argument of good or bad intelligence aside) will not only abuse human rights, cause heavy collateral damage, but also I am afraid will engulf my next generation in this stream of violence, death and destruction. Pakistan has lost billions in the hands of terrorism, but loss of more than 30,000 lives is priceless. Justifiable elimination of the threat should not become a case of heavy civilian causalities. Isolated events are a by product of any war, but repeated ruthless incidences dramatically decrease public support. Already thousands of families are fleeing the war zone and the issue of civilian casualties and loss is both sensitive and historic in terms of its local and international repercussions.

It is enlightening to see a wide spectrum of political groups united in their resolve for operating against the militants. I sincerely want us not to screw it up at any level and that is why I could not help myself from not highlighting the biggest mistakes made by the West in dealing with the menace of terrorism. They failed to respect the human and cultural values, and safeguard the loss of non militant residents of a land.

Pakistani government and forces should bear in mind that despite the fact that we may have many advantages in running an armed operation against the terrorists, but unlike US and NATO coalition we can never avail "Pullout" or "Exit" options. We are in this to finish it! (God Willing) We must not be intoxicated with our aerial or ground military might and supremacy and act like a violent aggressor. Judicial and humane merits of running this security operation should differentiate us from the barbarism of the terrorists.

In other words...

Nobody has to become a terrorist in order to deal with the terrorist.
Every bomb matters. So does every Life!

Long Live Pakistan !

Shoaib Ahmed

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Growing up in Wars

       A ten year old boy had spent half of the day watching his father duct taping all the windows, vents and doors in the house. Imagine same kid, in the night being approached by his mom only to be guided in the use of chemical gas mask. He naturally anticipated many answers before the usual bed time stories that day.

This was first gulf war of 1991 and I was fresh in my 5th class at school. Dad tried to explain how Iraq had invaded Kuwait and now Saudi Arabia was the next stop for Saddam’s marching forces. We lived in the farther most corner of the Arabian Peninsula, but still Jeddah was well within the range of Iraqi missiles. I was told that Saddam has chemical bombs which can give a person seriously bad cough. Very next day “the cough bomb” was well elaborated by our science teacher at school. He metaphorically compared melting candle wax to human bodies upon exposure to the fumes of this bomb.

 I was not too young to not contemplate the dynamics facing us, in the wake of this war phenomenon. Suddenly we could see torches, candles, water filters, storage tanks and battery lights, popping up in every bazar and stores we went to in the following days.

The grim horrors of war were further explained by friends, family, relatives and were essentially the talk of the town. Suddenly cars with Kuwaiti number plates started showing up on streets, and there came the refugees. People from Dammam, Bahrain, Riyadh all made it to my city. We could feel the population swelling up the local districts. Sirens made their first test runs, and city exercised a complete blackout.
History remembers first gulf war of 1991 as the first military campaign in the human history with Live television coverage from the battle ground. CNN would be re-telecasted live from the national TV channel of Saudi Arabia every night between 9 to 12. I have many a tales from my first ever war to tell, but I want to take you back to the first day.

 Watching dad covering all windows and doors with duct tape was essentially like seeing the most natural instincts of survival at play. The son of Adam, the receiver of survival instincts from his ancestors, here was taking steps to protect his family. But again I want you to imagine how a mother would have approached her son and talked about some basic safety measures.

I remember mom saying, that If there was a bomb dropped closed to the house or upon us, she insisted we try to run away from the impact zone. Fire or rubble whatever that we are faced with, she said don’t lose nerves. Look for your brother first. Even if you don’t see your parents just don’t stay, go as far away from the bomb site as you can. We will meet again, InshAllah. These words echo in my head to this day. Most important than the words, I clearly can recall the concern and pain in their voices. The most agonizing experience of this entire war was the first look on her face and the volumes her expressions spoke.
Wars are life altering experiences. I lived through my first ever war in the most luxurious and wealthiest of all nations on the earth. Money can buy anything, and so the Saudis literally paid the world super power to protect itself. US troops averted all the aerial and ground dangers the Peninsula was faced with. There was not a single bomb dropped in Jeddah, nor any Saddam’s fighter pilots made it to Hijaz. Throughout the war, the constant fear of never being able to meet school friends again, was enough tragedy for a 10 year old.

Today as I read about bombs being dropped inside Pakistan, by foreign occupational forces based in Afghanistan, you must know how I feel. I think about a 10 year old boy in those villages who actually hear these pilotless drones humming in the skies throughout the day, sometimes continuously for weeks ahead of the strikes. Only difference is, he doesn’t have petro-dollars to recruit a soldier to protect himself. He doesn’t have a fraudulent and symbolic representation or voice inside United Nations. He doesn’t have a single journalist allowed to tell his tale, measure his loss or to even verify the body count. Worst, he probably has already lost a loved one or a limb in this daily reign of terror and bombing, from thousands of feet in the sky without any charges, trial or conviction.

But he has something, a choice. A choice to pick up arms and fight till the last of his aggressor dies. It is once again, Son of Adam displaying the most natural instinct he has inherited from the lineage of his fine ancestry; that is to ‘fight for survival’.


May Allah Bless All Muslims facing trials and tribulations. 
Ameen

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ramadan: The Price and Practice

 Trying to answer a simple Question; Why the Prices go up in Ramadan?
Here is what I heard recently….

A News Junky’s Answer:

Iranian government gives so many subsidies even the Indians have floated up to 45% rebate on food items for their Muslim population during Ramadan. Here In Pakistan Government is busy filling their own pockets. Recently approved Budget 2013 added more fuel to the fire.The Sum of Total subsidy given by Federal Govt distributes as 3 Rupees Per person. I cannot get Decent Candy for this money, Huh!

A Consumer’s Cry:
The Same Bananas I buy for 30 Rupees per Dozen during normal Days, are up for Rs80. Since its Ramadan the fruit cart guy won’t even talk to me for a bargain. I totally hate the fruit guy, his attitude goes Princely during Ramadan. I am bothered but I will still buy them. I can’t imagine breaking my fast without a bowl of mixed fruits. So no matter how jacked up the rates are, I will still buy them. Perhaps I should buy extra, in case I am late to market tomorrow and they are cleared up before me. I Still hate this fruit guy, but I Love Bananas.


Shopkeeper’s pledge:
Running a shop, store, warehouse or production line in Karachi one should know the amount I pay in extortion to not just one mafia but
many. For past few years they have a divine obligation to demand Fitra and Zakat too. Not to mention how entire economic activity in the city comes to a complete stand still upon general strikes, political or communal violence which are usually followed by another round of enforced city-wide mourning and shutter down strikes. Ramadan is my only time to buy new clothes and shoes for the kids. I am not constructing castles through extra profit I make this month; I am just surviving with only neck above water level.  Sahib, have you never been pulled from the traffic by police, only to hear them say… “Eidi please?”

Aunty Know it All Islam:
Beta Its because of Amir Liaqat. He was once very decent and informative, But now he is just a clown with
Yellow Kurta, giving away cars, motorcycles, fans, microwaves and mobile phones (I wonder if there is calling balance in it) what not. The program makes me feel like, I want to buy all those things. If it was not for Amir Liaqat on TV, I would not even know it’s time to break the fast. He will go to hell, and probably I will be with him. Wese he looks ghazab ka in Firozee Kurta.


And this is how my two day investigation into Ramadan price hike concluded.

No less than 15% raise on normal commodity is an understatement, will agree with me readers who actually buy their monthlies themselves. The reason? Storekeepers will point fingers at Wholesalers. Ask them, they will blame hoarders behind the price hike. This goes around in a circle and you will have no clue as to what caused this rise in prices.

Ask me, a normal household who runs 10Kg of sugar monthly will be subjected to buy 50% extra to meet consumptions. Apply the same formula on most commodities ranging from flour to Cooking oil, fruits and cereals until you start hating Mathematics. Turning dark from bright yellow, any other day besides Ramadan you will find fruit carts loaded with Bananas crying out loud dirt cheap rates. Come Ramadan and there is a mob raiding these carts for 200% higher prices, fearing an earlier clean-up .


Everybody throws the blame around like in some ball game. Shopping frenzy consumers are exploited by shopkeepers, whose neck is tight with bhatta (extortion) mafia and the Police of the city has its own goals to meet. From a personal level to power corridors, nothing sits right. In the midst of all this, higher prices appear to be a small issue.
The month of Ramadan which traditionally was observed with modest diet and a little sleep to strengthen one’s bond with Allah, has evolved for many as a festivity revolving around food and preparations for Eid. Artificial and superficial lifestyles endorsed by televisions and put in practice by our friends & family; a soul-less parade of zombies which one is forced to join or watch hypnotically. 
Only more expensive than the year before.
Revert!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

AlQaeda Azam

Born on December 25, 1876, Mohammad Ali Jinnah is a leader who united different forces, struggling to gain independence from Britain, into a movement for a separate state for Muslim majority of India. He advocated his case to British, by identifying Muslims as a different nation from Hindu (majority).

Eventually he succeeded, and Pakistan was created.

Whether the country that came into being on August 14, 1947 was intended either for the Muslims or Islam; is a matter that still divides many in this country.

In last 64 years political turmoils and military rules kept the nation ignorant about the real vision of a leader who led 400 million into creating a separate state. According to some he was a liberal secularist to the core of his bones. For some he was an Islamist who envisioned a democracy based on Islamic law.

Progressive moderates make their case from several parts of his public speeches. Most famously "religion or caste or creed has nothing to do with the business of the State" is often cited.

While the other group (who would not mind linking Qaid e azam to AlQaeda) often cites following of his speech

"I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principle of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1,300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy."

Some people must have thought, that the Creation of Pakistan is actually the division of land. Muslims and Hindus had existed with each other before 1947. Our difference in ideology and way of life were definitely exploited first by the occupiers and foreign rulers. The rich history of interfaith coexistence was distorted and a fear of ending up as a minority was further injected by lack of political leadership for Muslims. In these times, Muslim league and Jinnah led a nation out of chaos.

But they say, if you want to divide something, you can divide it into as many pieces as you wish. Bangladesh is an episode which reminds me, that it never stopped at creating Pakistan only. There are still different people living inside Pakistan. I fear for the day when further movements demand separate states based on different language, ethnicity, creed or caste . What if, this never stops.?

Have we become a group of people which looks for differences more than similarities?

Rather than debating and distorting the vision of Our Leader, its time now, that we save whatever that we are left with. And put our efforts into creating a welfare state which he undoubtedly dreamt of.

In a country created for the believers of a religion that teaches peace, conduct, justice and tolerance; hypocrisy and corruption had dazzled many ordinary men and women. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Prince Harry is Back



Prince Harry in Afghanistan - Ready Aim Fire from ReadyAimFire on Vimeo.
“Ready Aim Fire” is a Creative venture of Sarzameen Productions. This is second video blog of a fortnight series. This episode is about British Prince Harry who is currently deployed in Afghanistan for military service.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Defence Day - Pakistan

This is my first ever Video blog.


For checking future fortnightly Vblogs & updates:
http://readyaimfire.tv

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Street Kids


This song comes from the pen of my brother Mansoor ahmed.
From his good old Rock band days :)