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. 

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.

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:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Street Kids

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

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pakistan Matters

Pakistani Law makers are clearly struggling to draft a new foreign policy. There have been no national assembly debates or even a mention of it so far. Some draft recommendations (which was reportedly produced months earlier) has recently surfaced onto tables of several political offices around Pakistan. Media pundits are calling it a matter of foreign policy, personally, for all its military dimensions, I prefer to term it "rules of engagement" with USA.

Question: What is wrong with our current foreign policy in place?
Answer: We have a situation with USA in Afghanistan and war spilling over into Pakistan, since Salala check post incidence.

(For the record) Salala checkpost refers to an incident at Pak-Afghan border, where an Army post was attacked by NATO helicopters flying into our territory. As a result 26 Pakistani soldiers died. Such NATO operations have been carried inside Pakistani territory since as early as 2004. Only this time it hurts our policy makers because Army men, not some alleged militant, women or children were killed.

Since US has not apologized over it, Pakistani army and political leadership has assumed it as an act of aggravated war. As a result, Pakistan has denied any US transfer of war machinery and supplies through its route onto Afghanistan.

Remember this is a war, only a madman in USA still wants to fight any further. After 10 years of utter disrespect of a country's people and freedom, coalition is now trying hard to be able talk to Taleban and ensure peaceful withdrawal. Which naturally means new rules of engagement with Pakistan.

It is election year in America, and some groups are war mongering over Iran. Also a US congressional interference regarding Balochistan was signaled, earlier. This is not read well, in either Tehran or Islamabad.

Latest from the uncle sam's wishlist is to bar the world from buying Iranian Oil. China and Russia perhaps not even South Korea will give this much ear. Why should Pakistan, the next door neighbor to Iran give a rats ass? Specially when today (1st april) oil prices set a record hike in Pakistan.

In the midst of demanding re-opening of Nato Supplies, US has swiftly tailored a new rhetoric for the same old coalition song. We are reminded again of the threats world security suffers from our land. A delusional paranoia mastered by Bush's goons to invade and destroy Afghanistan. People and leadership in Pakistan is not only weary but also fails to understand any plausible US rationale behind, either continue fighting in Afghanistan, or demanding supply routes.

According to some in capitol hill nato supply blockade by Pakistan is a milestone towards withdrawal of forces. Perhaps only a little ahead of its time.

Lets be on same page with Drone attacks from now.

Bombing houses and vehicles based on US intelligence, through remote control war planes kilometers up in the air, operating from continents apart in different time zones... resulting only in loss of lives without ever putting that soul on trial...

...This is genocide at Humanitarian and an act of war at National level.

Enough of bad intelligence and utter failure in Afghanistan, with complete disrespect to life & human values. After burning of Quran and Afghani version of Raymond Davis, where a drunk soldier killed 16 sleeping civilians, only route US should ask from Pakistan is of way out.

Pakistani lawmakers should wake up to reality. And for the charges of deception, death, destruction and atrocities committed against humanity, ex US president should face the music.

Rumors are Pakistani military leadership cannot be persuaded with dollars this time, at least not the foot soldier.

Since Pakistani lawmakers appear to lack both the courage and capacity to address the issue of our foreign policy, I thought its time to step up!

Also if you wish to...

...In 33 seconds: Understand lawlessness in Karachi and NATO supplies.

Goodnight and Good luck