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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Malala


Andhon ko unka chehra dikha diya hai Malala ney,
Jehad dar-asl kya hai, sikha diya hai Malala ney.

Jahalat sey hai jang, jata diya hai Malala ney,
Taleem  hai farz-e-momin, bata diya hai Malala ney

Soye huwe seenon ko jaga diya hai Malala ney,
 Khoye huwe iman se, mila diya hai Malala ney.

Payam-e-Amn duniya ko, suna diya hai Malala ney,
Her shakhs  ko Malala, bana diya hai Malala ney.

 

The blind have been shown their real face by Malala,
What is true struggle, has been taught to us by Malala.

The real fight is against ignorance, has been asserted by Malala.
Education is an obligatory duty of believers, is reminded, by Malala.

Apathetic hearts have been shaken awake  by Malala.
The lost message of faith  has been rediscovered by Malala.

The message of Peace to the world  has been conveyed by Malala,
Each one of us feels Malala, has been made possible by Malala.

 

 

Humbled these verses have been included in the anthology: Malala: The poems on Malala Yusufzai, released on the first anniversary of her tragic targetting on October 9, 2013.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18405178-malala

I dream of a Polio free Pakistan


In January 2012, India was declared to have not reported a single case of Polio for over a year. Knowing its vast area, huge population, diverse terrain and socio economic disparity, to have achieved this was a mammoth achievement. My joy of the news was terminated, before it began, when I realised how far Pakistan was from this goal, especially after 173 cases being diagnosed in the past year , and a few almost recently. My heart shuddered to question, “How long would this take Pakistan to reach that goal of being Polio free?”

However June 2012 and early July brought forth a new wave of hope, when the UNICEF’s Regional Director, Karin Hulshoff, wrote in a newspaper of her excitement and optimism with which the work of Polio eradication was progressing in Pakistan. According to a report by a scientific group, there were only 22 cases in the past six months as compared to 58 the same time last year. Owing to the introduction of a new bivalent vaccine, there have been better results, with Pakistan approaching the hopeful day of eradication faster. She stressed that now more emphasis should be given to the coverage of missed cases, or those never vaccinated earlier. “Even one child missed is a lost opportunity to eradicate polio from Pakistan forever”. Hence to not miss any case, the program was geared up everywhere and in the FATA too.

The same time was the case of Dr Afridi for spying came to light. It is sad, media also misreported, and many among the common masses still believe that Dr Afridi was associated with Polio campaign, though the truth remains that he was collecting samples for the hepatitis C virus.

The coincidental increase in the activities of Polio campaign to speed up the Polio eradication, and Dr Afridi’s spying mission led many to misunderstand that there was some conspiracy against the tribal region, through Polio vaccination. There could be no two opinions about abusing the trust of the people on health workers for one’s vested interests. It is extremely deplorable. But should one or more such Dr Afridis succeed in putting the health of 240,000 innocent children at risk?

How about the tribal elders instead, recruit their own trusted workers to give the two drops of Polio to their innocent kids and secure not just the future of kids, but also their own reputation as being concerned and caring for the humanity?

However, the ban by the tribal elders for the July16-18 Polio drive was to ask for a total stop of drones. Drones are a tragedy, and are inhuman, especially the loss of innocent lives of children are deplorable, but to use one’s own children as a first line of defence, and deprive them of their right to be safe from a crippling disease, is as unfortunate. I wish the tribal elders who are genuinely concerned about the lives of their common people killed by drones, understood, if their community stays burdened with ill health, they shall be unable to defend themselves either from extremism or any outside aggression, but also get more isolated in the international community.

Can there be no stronger, yet humanitarian ways to protest for stopping of drones, which does not tarnish the image of the tribal men and women?

Shahid Afridi’s inclusion into the Polio campaign is a welcome, and rekindles the hope to see the dream of a Polio free Pakistan come true, sooner than I had feared. Shahid Afridi has stood up for a great service to his own tribal children. He is a true hero and a true humanist; who has roots from the tribal area. In a tweet he remarked:

Afridi vs Polio ‏@AfridivsPolio
#Pakistan is my country and to #SpeakUpAgainstPolioBan is my duty.

At the same time it is hurting to see people of tribal areas being ridiculed ( though rightly so)  internationally for their decision

“Oh yes, I see it, polio vaccines for kids and drone attacks, there is a close relation. CRAZY! #speakupagainstpolioban.”

Or see the decision as illogical:

“Its like cutting your own hand as your protest against a theft, or lashing yourself against the fornication by a foe.”

Another tweep saw how the decision is ultimately going in favour of the aggressors who are being protested against:

They are killing children through drone attacks and these people are trying to make their children crippled for life. It is fulfilment of aggressor’s interests both ways.

Children from the tribal areas are as dear to us as anywhere else in Pakistan. We dream of seeing them Polio free too, and be healthy in every way. We are equally hurt at the drones attacks on the innocent.

I repeat, there can be innumerable stronger ways of protest to make international community notice the aggression and causalities caused by drones, instead of making innocent humanity, whether by killing the health personnel or innocent human beings, or depriving the children of Polio vaccine, a symbol of their protest. This simply leads to tragic loss of credibility and lack of sympathy from the international community. The image of the fellow Pakistanis living in tribal areas, including their elders being tarnished by such decisions hurts, because we know they are as human as any one of us, in Pakistan.

At the same time politicians across the board, remain criminally silent to the issue. Even the kids are not spared now, from being used as  bait for political agendas.

However, I insist I still dream for a Polio free Pakistan from Karachi to FATA.

Please do not play politics with the health of innocent kids !


Published in @ETribune : http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/12865/dont-play-god-with-the-lives-of-innocent-children/

As the rest of the world is sprinting forward, we in Pakistan seem to be walking backwards. One used to get this sense sometimes, but now with passage of time, it comes more often. With the fact that most of the difficult places like India having grappled with a serious health issue like Polio, and are at the turn of calling themselves polio free, we in Pakistan are not just not close to that, but even retreating fast to make sure we get further away from this dream.

The news of North Waziristan deciding to impose Polio drops ban in their area as a protest against the drones, or the boycotting of Polio campaign in Drazinda village while protesting against the load shedding, brings in not just shivers to the health conscious on this globe, but also gives yet another reason for Pakistan to be a focus in the international circles for a ridiculous reason.

They have a right to register their protests against drone’s attacks, or of Dr Afridi’s betrayal or even against load shedding. But how is this justified by turning ones guns against the innocent kids who are in no way directly or indirectly responsible for any of these unfair actions.

How is banning of Polio drops to the kids going to make a difference to the drones? Is it not akin to hitting your own foot with an axe, crippling yourself even more, making your own children, who are the youth of tomorrow, be burdened with more illhealth and handicap? How will this help them stop drone attacks, or generate more electricity or prevent more Dr Afridis being recruited?

How are risking one’s own children to a crippled life, a way of avenging the atrocities of the aggressors?

As said by a twitter friend: “Taliban want to kick US outta Afghanistan/Pakistan but they never know kicking with polio affected legs is quite impossible ‪#PolioBan‬”

No atrocity is large enough to avenge the innocent kids, be they are from any ethnic community or faith or nationality. And to our horror, the Taleban are putting to risk their very own kids.

A tweep justifying the Polio ban remarks: “But people from your profession (referring to Dr Afridi) for betraying the Polio campaign”.

Does one or a few insincere health professionals justify you to make your own children risk being crippled with Polio. Who are you hurting by this? The health professionals or your own kids?

They argue the drones kill more children than from Polio? Yes this is true, and killing of children by drones is criminal like risking the health of innocent children by Polio ban is criminal too. They harm and kill your children, but you in return risk crippling your own children. Is there any commonsense in this logic?
Those who continue and justify drones by all means, will they stop by your threat of Polio ban? Who will it hurt the drones or your own kids?

Or is it because this is the easiest way out, to kick out the unarmed sincere medical personnel, and lash out at unaware innocent children, both of whom will not be able to defend back, this extremely  unfair decision, with equal force.

As a medical professional, I can only scream loud and cry that they have no right to aggressively jeopardise the health of the innocent, at the cost of another aggression.

Which sect of Islam, or which moral value of humanity or which aspect of the hospitality of the large hearted tribals justify for avenging a wrong action with usurping the rights of the meek and the powerless , innocent kids?

Avenging an injustice, by risking the health and crippling your own children for life?
What kind of courage and valour is this?

I am aghast to see that there are educated on Twitter who are justifying‪ the polio vaccination ban, what to talk of those who give it a silent support. ‪

Polio vaccination ‬ campaign should not be used as a shield against drones. It wont help, but be counterproductive. Will it harm the aggressors or the innocent Pakistani kids?

Polio isn’t petty politics for which politicians, civil society, liberals or conservatives, or general public should not speak up. For the health of Pakistani kids, and for the sake of humanity, please speak up.

I beg you all, please speak up against the Polio Vaccination ban.

This appeal was in response to this news :

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-17/asia/world_asia_pakistan-taliban-polio-vaccine_1_polio-vaccines-polio-campaign-drone-strikes

 

Nirala Sawera


Dedicated to the events :  

Pledge for Peace Launch in UTM, Mississauga, ON.  https://www.facebook.com/events/398846800175596/

Aug 14-15, 2012 Pakistanis, Indians, celebrate Independence Day for Peace
https://www.facebook.com/events/185174041611282/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/amankiasha1/#!/events/243690589069619/

Nafrat ki gathri ko mein ney
Phenk diya hai gireh laga ker
Hasrat se ab khol rahi hoon
Yaadon bharey iss thailey ko
Pyaar ki taaza hawa lagaane
Aman ki roshan dhoop dikhane.

Tum bhi aao, kholo apni
Saari gaanthein, saare bull
Tum bhi apne jholey mein se
Bujhe huwe woh deep nikalo
Un yaadon ke, un baaton ke
Un qisson ke, jo itne zyada
Dohratey the jab Nana Dada
Chehre unke damka jaate the
Ankhein unki chamka detey the.

Usee dhamak ki roshni mein tar
Usee chamak ki lau ko lekar
Mein bhi apna deep jalaaoon
Tum bhi apna diya jalaao
Roshan phir se rahon ko ker dein

Taaron se  khwabon ko bher dein.

Apna apna diya jalaa ker
Saare apne dard bhulaker

Mil ker jab sub saath chalenge
Haath me lekar haath chalenge
Dhal jayegi ghurbat ki sham
Ho paayegi khush haali aam.

Lekin saw nahin, hazaar nahin,
Saath her ek ko chalna hogaa.
Sirf mera ya tumhara nahin,
Diya her ek ka jalna hogaa.
Karoron diye jo saath jalenge,
Dil mein nai umang bharenge.
Pher door jab andhera hogaa,

To kya nirala yeh SAWERA hoga.

Ilmana Fasih
June 6, 2012

The story of Siachen


With the tragic news of 150 Pakistani soldiers  buried alive in an avalanche in the Pakistan base camp at Siachen, it brings back to  memory the bitter truths about this conflict.

The glacier:

  • Siachen means ‘the place of wild roses’.
  • Siachen glacier is the great Himalayan watershed that demarcates central Asia from the Indian sub-continent, and that separates Pakistan from China in this region.
  • It is the world’s second longest non-polar glacier, and thus is sometimes referred to as the third pole.
  • It is 70 km long and flows from an altitude of 5750 meters to 3620 meters above sea level.

The conflict:

  • Siachen is known as the world’s highest battlefield between  #India & #Pakistan.  Troops are deployed at elevations of up to 6,700 metres (22,000 feet) at minus 60 degrees C.
  • Siachen conflict began in 1984 when both India and Pakistan, began sending mountaineers, in an attempt to lay their claims over the area. Several skirmishes took place till 2003 when a cease fire was declared.
  • The roots of the conflict over Siachen lie in the non-demarcations on the map northward to the China boundary beyond NJ9842, which is the line’s “dead end” in the India-Pakistan line of control agreement.
  • The 1949 Karachi agreement and the 1972 Simla agreement presumed that it was not feasible for human habitation to survive north of NJ9842.
  • UN officials presumed there would be no dispute between India and Pakistan over such a cold and barren icy wasteland.
  • The contentious area is only 900 square miles (2,300 km2)
  • Indians control the length and  heights of the glacier including the three passes,  while the Pakistanis control the glacial valley. As a result, Pakistanis cannot climb up, and Indians cannot come down.
  • Together, the two nations have about 150 manned outposts along the glacier, with some 3,000 troops each.
  • Over 2,000 Pakistani & 4,000 Indian soldiers have died at Siachen conflict. More soldiers have died or handicapped from frost bites, cold and avalanche i.e. harsh weather than combat.
  • Official annual figures for maintaining these outposts are put at $300 and $200 million for India and Pakistan respectively.

The strategic importance:

No matter what India and Pakistan may claim about its strategic importance, Dr. Stephen Cohen, a well-known and respected Washington-based South Asia analyst, considers,

“Siachen conflict is a fight between two bald men over a comb.”

In his view, “Siachen… is not militarily important… They (Indian and Pakistani armies) are there for purely psychological reasons, testing each other’s ‘will’.”

The talks for demilitarisation of Siachen did take place between India and Pakistan in May 2011, but fialed to reach any agreement.

The truth remains that this stretch of icy wasteland  holds no political or economic importance to the billion and a half residing on both sides of the border.

Instead of being a battle ground, Siachen should be demilitarized, and to evade the unresolved dispute of AGPL ( actual ground position line) the area could be seen as a ‘common ground’  precious enough  to study and conserve  the glacier which is under threat due to the climate change. And the billions of rupees used to maintain its cost should be directed at improvement of the plight of the impoverished peoples on both sides. 

When hate or peace become a business


In my last trip to India, I was strolling for window shopping, in one of my favourite spots in New Delhi, when I heard some loud speaker announcements nearby.

I saw a Yogi on a big screen, speaking with utmost tranquility. Some of the words I could recall are:
“Want is always hanging on to the I. When the I itself is dissolving, want also dissolves, disappears.”
And
“How far to heaven? Just open your eyes and look. You are in heaven.”

There were a few other things he spoke. At the first instance all I could think was, ‘Had Kabir been alive, he would have said the same thing.’


As I attempted to take a picture from my mobile phone, a boy intercepted. Wondering if photography was not allowed, I told him “Okay I won’t.”

But he said, “No Didi, there are so many people in the way, I’ll have you take it from a better angle.”

I was quite surprised at his generosity.

While returning, I collected some leaflets from the Art of Living ( Sri Sri’Ravi Shanker’s Organisation) stall, one of which said:

To love someone whom you like is insignificant.
To love someone because they love you is of no consequence.
To love someone whom you do not like means you have learned a lesson in life.
To love someone who blames you for no reason shows that you have learned the Art of Living.

Back home, talking to an old college friend who still lives in Delhi, I mentioned the incident.

She said, “Yes it’s nice, but this is business. Pay fees and attend the classes. What you saw was their marketing section.”

When I heard of his trip to Pakistan and the news about his offer to teach peace to Taleban, I was intrigued, wondering:

‘How would it be taken as an offer by the ilk of Zaid Hamid, Gen Hamid Gul, or the Taleban themselves? Would they again rant of the Hindu agenda or the greater Zionist agenda.’

Instead of the Hindu agenda rant, I saw a couple of positive FB statuses and some tweets on the issue. A tweet worth the mention is:

“Sri Sri has already had a Positive Effect on Taliban! Mullah Omar is now calling himself Mullah Mullah Omar.”
Thankfully, instead of an offence,  it was taken in lighter vain 🙂

Incidentally I happened to chat with the same friend on Facebook , and told her of his trip to Pakistan, and the Taliban offer story.

She said: “Oh come on, he is there to promote his AOL centres, one of which I know is located in the capital city. And again this is the marketing department at work.”

I again muttered to myself, ‘Well nothing wrong with it. One could consider this a social enterprise. We do have an epidemic of hatred in the world and he has provided a therapy for it, but at a price, which will work if it is cost effective.’

He did tour the AOL offices and camps in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. But to my utter dismay, before I could start to keep track of his Pakistan trip, and his talks with Taleban, I heard that he was back in India.

Wonder is he wasn’t allowed to approach Taleban, or was it not on the agenda?
I have no clue.

Anyways he did repeat his offer after coming back “There is a lot of violence in Pakistan and people are fed up, they want to live peacefully. If I could be of any help in bringing an end to the vicious cycle of violence, I am ready to talk to the Taliban,”

And that “We are all sufferers of stress, tension, violence and hatred – and small ways of easing out are all that you need,”

There is no doubt that the techniques which he uses for de-stressing are scientifically based.

The primary exercise, which they call Sudarshan Kriya is basically a deep breathing exercise which any psychologist you visit asks you to begin with, on de-stressing. There is a proper technique for it.

I can’t help being amused by the mere visual imagination of Mullah Mullah Omar sitting in a Padma Asana (lotus pose), with hands stretched over the knees, and breathing-in through nose and breathing-out through mouth. 🙂

How I wish that my friend is still proven wrong and some miracle asana (yoga position) comes up which exhales all hatred out of the heads of these radicals.

If that so happens, then I would also secretly whisper in Sri Sri’s ears to develop some Yoga position (asana) in which our politicians extend their arms  in service of  the masses, who vote them in, instead of flexing them, with hands reaching their own pockets.

And so will I also pray to Sri Sri to apply some tilak ( teeka) on the foreheads of our uniformed (on both the sides), so that they start seeing each other as friends and not enemies, and start piling books and medicines for the masses on both sides, instead of arsenals.

I would also beg Sri Sri with folded hands to ‘please please’ make some vibhuti ( spiritual ash) for our diplomats ( on both sides) which when touches their tongues gets them addicted to the taste of peace and makes them feel nauseated just at the sight of visa, passports, police verification etc etc.

Be it a profitable business or social enterprise, there’s no offence, if it is all intended to bring real peace, beyond just a marketing tool.

After all,  all the  chaos and divisions on ground, are also a result of the seeds of intolerance sown by those who consider hatred as their business.

O’ the wandering mind ~Kabir


Kabir has hardly spared any animate and inanimate examples to ridicule the bigots who have great illusions about their self image and through their beliefs repeatedly,  make a fool of themselves.
In the same spirit, I came across yet another simple yet interest verses.

Poem 1: 

Apanpo aap hi bisaro.
Says Kabir, they  fall prey to their  own illusions and forget the essence of our existence.

Jaise sonha kaanch mandir me, bharamat bhunki paro.
Just as dog who enters the house of mirrors, goes crazy barking at the images, considering them different. This is a very curious satire on those bigots who bark at other bigots, thinking they are different, but in essence are reflections of each other.

Jyo kehari bapu nirakhi koop jal, pratima dekhi paro.
A lion looks deep into the well, and mistakes his own reflection as another lion, and jumps into it. This also satires on the ‘lions’ of different faiths, who are such egoists, that they destroy themselves, in challenging other ‘lions’ in the business. The current sectarian bigots could be appropriate here.

Aisehi madgaj phaTik sila par, dasanani aani aro.
An elephant, so proud of its strength, bangs his head against the rock, and hits it with his teeth. Here rocks could be interpreted as hard, rock like beliefs which they bang their heads against.

MarakaT muThi swad na bisare, ghar-ghar naTat phiro.
A greedy monkey for whom the food in the pot is not enough, and goes from home to home asking for more. This is perhaps reference to looking outwards, though we could easily content with what is with us.

Kah Kabir lalani ke suwana, tohi kaune pakaro.
Says Kabir, their logic is as impossible to catch as the parrot of a village girl. Here he gives a satire of those who keep repeating mindlessly like a parrot, with no logic what so ever.

And then in contrast to the satire, many verses of Kabir bring home the message through simple, day to day examples, of how should we be viewing our beliefs, and the essence of our existence.

Poem 2: 

Man tu maanat kyu na mana re.
O’ the wandering mind, why don’t you understand?

Kaun kahan ko, kaun sunan ko, dooja kaun jana re.
Who is worth to speak or to listen, when there is ONE truth.
Here he refers to perhaps the various claimants of ONE, and give it different names and forms.
( The next verse makes it clearer)

Darapan me pratibimb jo bhase, aape chahu disi soi.
He is all round in every atom, the way there is a reflection in every mirror.
( This could be compared to the idea of sheesh mahal—made of tiny mirrors all around one image is seen in each and every tiny mirror)

Dubidha mite, ek jab howe, tau lakh paawe koi.
If you get ONE truth, you will get contentment worth a million, and the confusion of mind will go away.

Jaise jal se hem banat hai, hem ghoom jal hoi.
The way ice is first made of water, then returns back to the same water.

Taise yah tat wahu tat so, phir yah aru wah soi.
In the same way, we are all come from that truth, and unto the same truth we have to return to.

Jo samajhe so khari kahat hai, na samajhe to khoTi.
Those who get this, call this a stark truth. Those ignorant who don’t get this, consider it falsehood.

Kah Kabir khara pakh tyaage, waaki mati hai moTi.
Says Kabir, one who gives up the essence of truth, his brain is thick ( stubborn).

It is remarkable how Kabir talks of evils of bigotry, unity of mankind and the true spirit of secular spirits, rising above the superfluous divisions in the dark ages.

Or perhaps, we are living in darker ages.

Indeed, it is a long road, before Kabir’s examples and teachings become irrelevant to the current times.

The Kabir bhajan below, again, gives some more examples through which he challenges the bigots. Note the translation subtitles. This is my favourite tranquillising Kabir song. 