Saturday, 13 June 2009

Pakistan Youth Alliance - Swat Refugee Initiatives

It was on February 16, 2009, much before operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’ had begun, when few young individuals came on the streets of Islamabad and Lahore to raise money for the women of Swat who had been deprived of the right of education. When others were only protesting against the growing effect of ‘Talebanisation’ in Swat, these individuals were in fact on the roads to do something about the next generation of Swat who were likely to grow up without the light of education if the situation persisted. In no time, they were able to collect Rs 250,000 for the burnt schools in Swat from the streets of Islamabad.

When the war drums started beating and tanks began rolling in Buner, these young individuals were sitting in a TV show vowing to put aside their differences on whether they support the operation or not, and to launch an effective relief campaign for the internally displaced persons. Their faces wore determination and compassion, and they appealed to the youth to step forward, and to live the change instead of demanding one. These individuals were from Pakistan Youth Alliance, a youth based and youth administered non-political organisation.

Having a history that starts from Musharraf’s Emergency rule, PYA had stood up when and before no one even cared. A group of youth were more politically and socially aware then their peers, which realized the dream of having an unbiased platform for the youth of Pakistan, different from the “student unions” which were used by political parties to realize their shady motives. Casually dressed in jeans young boys and girls, ostentatiously representing the ‘urban elite’ which is often labeled as apathetic, were out there in scorching heat of noon in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, when they ought to be sitting in their air-conditioned homes. It was a heart warming sight as they had not only set up camps at various market places but they also reached personally to people and asked them to contribute generously. It all started from Bahria Town, Islamabad where Rs 100,000 were collected in few hours on May 16, and they targeted Mardan Khas government school on the very next day to distribute the relief items. The first relief effort was successfully completed in 36 hrs, and the spark they ignited had to spread amongst masses and turn into a big fire.

With every passing day their ranks started to swell as more and more young people joined the cause and donations started rising. They held fundraising campaigns during the whole week in different cities, and on the weekends instead of sitting on comfy sofas at some eating place they reached those far lying schools of Mardan and Swabi which were holding fresh refugees. PYA had representation of local young individuals who knew the region well, and this made the task of need assessment easier. In this manner they touched hundreds of families. On their second trip they distributed relief items of worth more than half a million rupees in schools of Mardan Khas and Daula Zai. This practice continued for the weeks to come as they also reached families in the areas of Shakrial in Islamabad and Topi, Swabi.

Their work still continues as they believe that these relief efforts must not be worn out by time. The work of PYA has been acknowledged by various segments of media and people belonging to different walks of life. By posting pictures, documentations and receipts on various social networking websites like facebook, they were open to all to ensure transparency and accountability, which appealed greatly to the donors. The pictures of young kids of Swat smiling celestially and wearing tags and shirts of PYA have often replaced apathy with the feeling of empathy in the hearts of many. They proclaim to “Live the change” instead of just proposing it and how well have they lived up to their words.

What is enthralling about these people is that they are not an outgrowth of some political party or a NGO. PYA comprises of bright young individuals belonging to various universities, or who have different jobs, and they know no divides on the lines of sectarianism or provincialism. Rather than limiting themselves in daily drudgery, they take some time out of their daily routine to ponder how they themselves can be the change they believe in.

As Wordsworth had written about the French Revolution, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive... But to be young was very Heaven.” The current wave of youth activism is a silent revolution, not a rebellious one indeed. And it is very heaven to be young these days.

The ways of world have changed
Tune is new, Instruments have changed
Free your mind from mental slavery
Make the young masters of the old
- Husham Ahmed


More on PYA coming soon...

Pakistan Youth Alliance

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Citizens Trust Blog, takes immense pride in presenting to you... Pakistan Youth Alliance.
What follows is a compilation of material from various sources. We urge you to read, review and watch everything... If this doesn't wake you up... Nothing will!

An Interview with the Founding Force of Pakistan Youth Alliance.
By Khadija Ranjha on January 23, 2009

Source: The Viewspaper

Mr. Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi is a 22 year old man, who lives in Islamabad, Pakistan. Very recently, he, along with his friends, started a youth movement, that by the looks of it is all set to change the course of our country. With planned and organized rallies being held throughout the country, the Pakistan Youth Alliance is serving its purpose well by providing a platform for the youth of today.

The PYA, although only initiated a few months back, has already shown its potential, and will hopefully lead Pakistan forward! I got a chance to talk to Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi about the PYA, the difficulties he had to face, and his achievements and the future of Pakistan, and his commitment to his cause is a force to reckon with.

VP- Tell me about your movement, the Pakistan Youth Alliance. What is it about?

PYA- PYA is silent revolution; it is by no means a rebellious initiative. We don’t like to point, we aim to change! We don’t mean to burn, we aim to spark! PYA is a youth motivated, youth run, and youth centered non-political/ indigenous movement which aims to wake the youth of Pakistan from the sleep of apathy. We have had it with the flaws, we have had it with injustice and we have had it being quiet. The anger in us all boils our inside so much that we wish to scream, but if we come out on streets in an unorganized manner, no one would listen.

We are educated, we are enlightened and we wish to change the mindsets! We start from self-accountability and self realization (Khudi - Iqbal) and then wish to spread the vibes in our schools, universities and neighborhoods. We want to realize the dream of Iqbal and make it Quaid’s Pakistan. We want to change the attitude “this is Pakistan, everything works!”. We want to make the kids realize that they would have to lead this country, in whatever capacity they would be, so they must be mentally prepared to put their country’s interest before personal gains and lusts. We wish to nourish their souls, so that 160 million souls coincide to form such a strong bond, that it won’t be broken and no one would dare challenge our sovereignty and eye our land!

We started as three people, we are getting hundreds of e-mails and calls every day of youth wanting to join us. From Bajaur (non-Talibanized youth) to Toronto, Pakistan, the youth yearns to be noticed and we will provide a stable platform for them, so that they are heard! And they have the courage to challenge what is wrong, even if it is a small matter in their vicinities. From individual to a collective level – that is how we aim to live the change we want to see in this country

VP- What motivated or inspired you to start this?

PYA- I was like everyone else. I was sitting at Hotspot with some friends, who were here from Harvard and some who were just angry at what drama had unfolded in the country, I am talking about the time of emergency, when the only emergency seemed to be in President’s House. The moment emergency was announced, we started roaming around in the capital to see where the emergency was at, but we couldn’t find it anywhere.

When some people thought that keeping us in the dark and blocking media and outside world contact might help us absorb what they were doing, we had this sudden revelation that we have to stand up. If we won’t, who will? This anger in us, when channelized properly, gave us the strength and courage to stand up and make ourselves heard, and by the grace of God, we are at least trying.

VP- What difficulties have you had to/still face with regard to the development of the PYA?

PYA- Difficulties! The more precious the thing is, the harder it is to get. Nature teaches us that. The more the struggle, the greater the rift and the in the end, the greater the prize! We are facing pressures from everyone, families to intelligence to big shot political parties, this has never happened in the history of this country. We are being stopped in every step. They try to malign what is so needed, you can’t ignore it! You have to fight and remain true, like a soldier in war, we won’t give up, even if it takes everything away from us.

VP- What would you call your success milestones over the years?

PYA- I got a call from Bajaur agency, a young passionate Pakistani who loved Pakistan to the core, his village was bombed, 42 members of his family died and he still had the purity to love his country! He called and wanted to join us, I met him and he melted my heart.

I did an event that got postponed to another date due to weather conditions, a woman in green Vitz with a Pakistan flag souring high from her window came with her little kids, I stood there and it melted my heart.

I get e-mails and calls daily from America to Japan, passionate Pakistani youth wanting to join us. That is my milestone, and that is what gives me hope and instills in me, greater faith! We are good people, Pakistanis, we just need to learn from our past and wake up. Like Iqbal says, “God hasn’t changed the state of that nation, that which in itself does not want to change!” We need to understand Iqbal; his words are enough to guide us and show us light.

VP- What reaction did you get from your family and peers when you told them your plans regarding the PYA?

PYA- Initially, my family didn’t support me. They had issues with me being a “kid” and “trying to be a hero” but with time they realized that a person has to do what he has to do. They realized that if they, the educated lot would stop me from trying to wake people up, imagine what would happen to the rest 70 % of the uneducated?

I request every parent/guardian/teacher reading this, that it is your responsibility more than mine to try and change the mind sets of the strayed youth of this country. We are 60% of the total population. We are the future of this country, you did a terrible job and brought us here, at least realize it now and prepare little soldiers in your houses. If you would discourage them, we would cease to be. The whole world is after us!

VP- To what extent is the media influential in enhancing the mental development of the youth?

PYA- Media can play the role of the catalyst to reform our society, it needs to be more responsible and create the right “hype “. All this negativity won’t help! How many programs have you seen on these 30 odd TV channels with good looking women being the newscasters and reporting that Shahrukh Khan’s new movie has been released? They need to set their priorities straight and play the role of a catalyst rather than making fuss all the time!

VP-Can the PYA ever serve as a foundation for a political career in the future for you?

PYA- I am already being contacted by big shot political personalities asking to join them. But the seeds that I have sown will take time to grow, let it grow and if this dream transforms into reality, you will see us running this country.

VP- What does the youth of today mean to you?

PYA- Youth of today is a dark house. Youth of today is the light at the end of the tunnel. Youth of today would define who we would be in 2020. Youth of today can lead us. They are the ONLY HOPE!

Very few people at such a young age actually take the initiative to work towards such causes, and I, like many other people my age, was thoroughly impressed with what the PYA has planned in the near future. Such movements have potential, and will hopefully, go a long way!


Everyone who wants to be a part of this unprecedented movement can
E-mail at
Phone: +92.333.4532030
Facebook Group “Pakistan Youth Alliance”
Web Portal:

Mobilink Camp becomes operational - First Families Move In!

In just one week since Mobilink announced its formal commitment to establish a relief camp for 1,000 displaced families and has committed $ 1 million to it, it is an honour to share that the first families have begun to move into the camp, with approx. 200 families expected to be inhabited by end of week.

Mobilink camp, situated at Kund Park near Nowshera, is located on the confluence of the Indus and Kabul rivers where NWFP meets Punjab province. This park is a tourist destination with greenery and lush vegetation providing plenty of shade. Children’s recreational areas are also available on site such as swings.

With the dedicated efforts of our various teams including Procurement, Security and Marketing, in consultation with the implementing partners, the camp establishment has been divided into phases to ensure that the IDPs are accommodated at the earliest. In the first phase, approx. 200 tents have already been pitched. Latrines and sanitation areas as well as water tanks have also been installed on-site to ensure adequate access to basic amenities. Upon registration, each family is provided with the following items:

· Tent
· Bedding
· Water buckets & Jerry cans
· Chatai (floor mat)
· Kitchen utensils including cooking pots, cutlery and crockery
· Food rations
· Personal Hygiene kits including towel, washing and laundry soaps, tooth paste and toothbrush, combs
· Water cooler
· Mosquito nets

Incoming families will be provided with cooked food for the first couple of days as they settle in. Planning to set up a Basic Health Unit as well as primary and secondary schools is underway.

Procurement of items has been personally conducted and supervised by a team of Mobilink employees to ensure that quality standards are maintained.


The blog admin urges you to make hearty donations. Donations can be made at Mobilink offices at Special Donations Camps set on site.

Life's Too Short- So Why Wait?

A short story competition for brilliant young Pakistani minds.

I love the jury: Kamila Shamsee, Daniyal Mueenuddin and Mohammad Hanif (a case of exploding mangoes)!

There are cash prizes for the winners and amazing opportunities to get your story published.

All details on

Deadline is the 30th of June, so Hurry and express yourself with a lovely story.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Writers Block: Lets Get Local - Bushra Hassan

I can not speak any local language. I do now know any. Of the over dozen languages spoken in my country, I know none. I do know English though, which is why I’m here. Writing, communicating to a wider audience. I have reached out, through articles and academic papers to the international community, but it’s a shame I am unable to converse with the IDPs, who have moved to my city, and tell them I care. I do not have the words. I can not understand when they share their plight. I will not be able to reach out to my own people, and for that I am ashamed.

My parents spoke Punjabi at home, sometimes, mostly to speak to the servants in the house, but I was never interested. No one spoke these languages in school. It was considered uncouth. I do know enough Punjabi to sing along to wedding songs, and Kh. Khursheed Anwar’s timeless music. I understand Punjabi, somewhat, but what about other languages. What about the rest of my people?

I work in the development sector, because I want to help. Period. No two ways about it. But how can I go about propagating wanting to reach out to the people when I am handicapped. Rozan Islamabad needs volunteers to provide counseling to the IDPs. I want to be a part of this process, part of this journey. I want to feel like I’m a small part of something bigger, better, greater than myself. Yet, I can not.

What about our Sindhi siblings, and the Baloch, who feel alienated and isolated? If only I, with my Islamabad upbringing, fashionable English and western attire, could go and sit inside a Balochi home, and speak in their language, listen to their stories. Maybe then they would feel less isolated.My daughter is two. She talks more than her father and I combined, and yet, we have taught her nothing but urdu and some feeble English. Her cousins, I feel, are superior, since they speak Seraiki at home. My daughter will remain underprivileged because she is privileged. I urge you all, as I urge myself, not to deprive your child or yourself from the essence of who we are. Urdu, we are proud of, but other languages connect us to each other. Just as we encourage our children to connect to the outside, let’s connect to one another. Maybe that will make us a better nation, more united, more together.


Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and English is the official language. Apart from Urdu and English, there are four major provincial languages spoken in Pakistan and these are Punjabi (44%), Pashto (15%), Sindhi (14%) and Baluchi (4%). The number of living languages listed for Pakistan is 72, some with millions and some with only around thousand or so speakers.

Soap Box: Cause & Effect - Zahid Husain

The innocent people of this Motherland, inherited from the will of intentions of Mohammad Ali Jinnah Quaid e Azam, have been both intentionally and carelessly led down the proverbial garden path, by the 2nd and 3rd generations of Baboos who run this Motherland, seriously believing that they have be ordained into the ruling elite, conveniently forgetting who pays their wages and all their benefits , fringe and stolen! They are in fact, in the simplest of terms,

civil servants in the employ of the state, to manage it. Just like the Armed Forces are likewise employed to defend it! No the establishment or the Bureaucracy!

How and why you ask, aghast at such a suggestion! Simply put in one word, EDUCATION.

Having grown up going to a range of schools from some that had class rooms without roofs and doors to 'tatties' (toilets) in Gujranwala (late 1949-51)! to the posh upper class ones like Trinity School, Karachi, run by the great old lady Miss Dickens, (early 1950 s), Saint Josephs Convent (Sister Cecelia), Saint Francis Grammar School, Quetta ( Father Cadeireo, later Cardinal), Saint Marys PAF School, Peshawar (Father Grant) where I got the basic grounding in my EDUCATION and went to College at Edwardes College, Peshawar, (Phil Edmonds, aka Baba) my greatest Teacher and Mentor in EDUCATION and life!

While this was unfolding, I noted how my family ensured that the children of the cook of many years, were also getting an EDUCATION, not just at school but at home with exposure to a better life style!

While this was unfolding, I noted how my family ensured that the children of the cook of many years, were also getting an EDUCATION, not just at school but at home with exposure to a better life style! The result was that they all studied to BA level before one son became an executive in an Insurance firm in the 1960 s, one daughter married a Businessman living in East Pakistan, one daughter joined the Nursing Services in the PAF Medical Corps and married an airforce officer! the youngest was still studying when I lost track of them; the father was a young tea picker in the Kangra Valley who got a job as a masaalchee before I was born. He retired as the Head Chef of the PAF Officers Mess, at Mauripur in the 1970 s!

Now coming back to the realities of today, EDUCATION has failed us or we have failed it, and in turn failed the entire Motherland; have you noticed, how I avoid the use of the word Nation, and choose the word Motherland? reason, we are NOT a Nation yet after 60+ years! sadly.

Upon analysis, I concluded that over the last 60 years, our EDUCATION system has steadily deteriorated, despite everything the money pumped into the sector by entrepreneurs, wishing to make a buck did not provide EDUCATION. How, well for starters we did not research or

develop our syllabus to keep pace with modern times, we did not spread it to the lower levels of the population and if we tried it was too little too late!

More importantly, the delivery system for EDUCATION has been 'nakas' as we say in the vernacular. We have nuclear scientists, aviators, miners, medical men, you name them we have them, and we have Baboos but we do not have top level,high grade teachers! not enough of them at all for 16 million population!

There are not enough Top Quality colleges and Universities for the profession of EDUCATION.
Why? its obvious!!! the wages they get don't draw or attract the finest brains in the land! so there isn't a demand for EDUCATION institutions; and that's where we have failed our Motherland and the hapless EDUCATION fraternity.

We are still continuing to give little priority to EDUCATION in the budget and unless more generous allocation is made we will slide further down the tube to oblivion among the lessor developed states in the world, sad but true!

I returned to the Motherland in the mid 80s and very quickly realised the problem, first I went

around requesting people to make me the minister of EDUCATION, and they laughed when I told them why! then I went around wanting then (Baboos) to make teachers the highest paid cadre in the land, they laughed again!! I ask who's laughing now! not me! I ground my teeth with frustration and my dentist got rich! but still I wasn't able to make the difference.

So, here is, what we all must do, put one child/person through school so they can develop in to contributing members of society, at any level, along side that push for more allocation in Federal and Provincial budgets in EDUCATION and only elect those to the Parliament who have a sworn commitment to further the cause of EDUCATION!

Maybe, one day, someone who is a daily wage laborer will sit down at his home and browse the net and say, Amen!


About Zahid Husain: Formerly, Head of Business Development with various Multi-National Companies, a senior and experienced, conceptually literate management professional, his career has spanned over 39 years encompassing both executive marketing and head office management roles. A result driven “Serial Start-up Professional”, He has developed, guided and implemented successful strategies for the various Multi-Nationals belonging to both Manufacturing and Services Sectors, in which, he was a highly contributing member of the management team. For the Past 10 years he has managed his own HR Services & Solutions firm.

In Harsh Times, Pakistanis Seek Comfort On Facebook - Pia Sawhney

Source: The Huffington Post

When Arshad Kaleem left Baton Rouge for Pakistan two weeks ago to attend ceremonies following his mother's funeral, his wife Saima posted her fears online by updating her Facebook status. Bombings erupted in Lahore just hours after Kaleem boarded his flight.

Saima Zaman-Kaleem is glad Arshad is almost in Islamabad and very worried about things in Pakistan
she wrote in the status line of her profile on the widely popular social networking website.

Nearly instantaneously, her update elicited support and sympathy from friends and family members. "InshaAllah he goes safely and comes back safely," wrote one poster. "Yeah, it's crazy there," her brother replied. "I told mom to be careful too!" Another friend tried to console her. "Oh boy," she wrote, following the phrase with a string of prayers and good wishes in Urdu.

While the nation's news media has been prohibited from reporting extensively on military exercises, on Facebook and over instant text and e-mail messaging, concerns crop up swiftly among Pakistani users when attacks ensue. Lately, among those Pakistanis who live either at home or abroad, discussions on whether the government's offensive to root out Taliban militants might have been implemented any sooner are becoming commonplace.

Estimates reflect three million people have now been displaced from Buner and Swat districts - a figure akin to the late nineteen-forties when the region saw tremendous upheaval during Partition, that moment in which modern India and Pakistan were first formed. The vast migration of people to the two, newly-cast, separate territories forced millions from their lands and ancestral homes at the time, leaving families vulnerable to mob attacks, rioting and civil unrest.

The day Kaleem's plane landed in Islamabad he had planned to attend ceremonies in his mother's hometown of Malakand, a village near Swat, several miles north.

But once he arrived, explosions seventy-five miles south in the eastern city of Lahore prompted him to change course. Minutes from the blasts, Shahana Munawar, a mother of two, began alerting friends and family as she watched the news. She uploaded television footage of the incidents to her Facebook profile. Munawar had been called to pick her children up from school and, at the time the incidents occurred, felt her doors and windows vibrate.

It was alarming. [I] didn't know what it was till messages poured in. Got a call from my 6-year old's school to collect him in the middle of final exams. The school decided summer vacation was in immediate effect.
In response to the news footage Munawar posted, one friend considered other harrowing moments in the country's previously unstable past.

This reminds me of all the madness that happened in Karachi and in the southern part of the country in the 80s
he commented under her video.

I remember some place called Bhori Bazaar and seeing pictures in Time magazine.
Pakistanis have experienced significant violence in recent weeks, but similar incidents in the late seventies plagued the country, after the proxy war the US launched in Afghanistan to thwart Soviet interests, made life perilous for locals. Weapons that flooded the country's frontier provinces brought mayhem to city residents. Similar explosions were planned in prominent and heavily-trafficked civilian areas. Karachi, otherwise isolated by its geography in the south, turned out being most vulnerable to resulting sectarian clashes.

Mehreen Jabbar, a Pakistani filmmaker, based in the city was emotional the day of the Lahore bombings.

My bleeding, beloved country
she wrote in an update. The response to her post was brisk and spirited. "It hurts," wrote one Facebook friend. Another suggested people donate to help those displaced from Swat Valley. Others urged for a local theatre production promoting patriotism and free expression.

In an interview, Saima Zaman-Kaleem was rueful. "This operation is something that should have happened years ago. Why would they take this long to do it? Why broker a compromise in Swat at all?" Zaman-Kaleem's family members, in the meanwhile, canceled plans to have the funeral in Malakand after curfews were instituted, and relatives instead opted to stay in Peshawar where much of the family is based. However, Zaman-Kaleem says they are now considering a move to areas away from the outskirts where much of the family lives and where military operations are underway. Instead, they're searching for a place closer to the city center.

Munawar stressed that her friends on Facebook are concerned about safety but haven't yet opted to move. According to her, they support the military's offensive.

Most people I know have one stance and that is, "Long live the troops, drop dead Taleban." They are not taking any measures to leave or migrate. If they travel, it's only for summer break.
She added the city is back to normal and that people who choose not to leave home daily do so not because they fear attacks, but because of citywide power cuts and the unforgiving summer heat.



Pia Sawhney, Director/producer, Chai Break Films. Pia is an award-winning independent producer and director, and has collaborated on films for PBS/Frontline, PBS/American Experience, HBO and MTV Networks. She holds a graduate degree in broadcast journalism, and lives in New York.

HuffPost profile:
"Roots In The Garden" short film (9') & website:
"Out of Status" short film (11'):
"Out of Status" feature film site (info only):

Thursday, 11 June 2009

I SPY: Having a Blast, Pakistan Style - Sadaf Zarrar

Recently, some friends who are due to arrive in Pakistan for an upcoming wedding inquired if it was safe to visit. Whereas I don't blame them at all for generating this query courtesy the world media mostly and the on ground situation partially, I did smile after reassuring them it would be fine. Perhaps you'll wonder why I smiled, and that was at the beautiful irony of the situation itself... People worrying about their security; yet here we are gearing to celebrate the Shadi in the true Pakistani style and colours.

This is my Pakistan. For most of you, who live here and a few of you who might be contemplating a visit or just googling Pakistan for the sheer sake of curiosity, I present to you my beloved homeland and its people... Finally, the Taliban has met its match.

I will not get into the politics of how we ended where we are now, perhaps because I firmly believe that this isn't the end to begin with. But I will tell you where we are... We are passing through a very difficult time, there is no denying that. Where we end up from here will greatly be defined as who we are... and let me tell you...

We cry when our people cry and together we laugh heartier than any nation in this world. We are the best of friends and unfortunately for the Taliban, we are also the worst of enemies.
We are a nation as colourful as the Yellow Mustard that grows in our fields, or the Red that a bride adorns, or as Green as our flag that flies, as Blue as each one of the rivers that gushes through our land. We are musical... Tablas, Dhols, Sarangis, Sitars, Bansories... you name it. We are festive, we celebrate our Eids with the same fervor that we celebrate our independence day and even Basant, We are nation that is alive... we cry when our people cry and together we laugh heartier than any nation in this world. We are the best of friends and unfortunately for the Taliban, we are also the worst of enemies. We are nation of brave women, who send their sons to war with their head high, We are a nation of brave men who will gladly give their lives three times over before letting anyone take us over!

All this is probably sounding extremely emotional to you... and it is. But that is who we are. So yes, when I say the Taliban has met its match, I say this because we cannot and will not let them win. Such is the resilience of my country and its people. We have so far survived what not many nations could... and we have come out stronger. Our people are more inspired and involved today than they have ever been.

We have so far survived what not many nations could... and we have come out stronger. Our people are more inspired and involved today than they have ever been.

For every time the cowardly jackasses blow themselves up, our people are more resolved to get rid of them. What the world sees of us today is grey, but take it from me... As soon as the sun rises you will see all the colours of this beautiful nation.
As Jarrar would say: 'Pakistan Hamesha Zindabad'

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Taliban feel Pakistani wrath after mosque blast

Source: Yahoo News

Library Image: Local Jirga Tribemen, You don't mess with them!!
By ASIF SHAHZAD, Associated Press Writer Asif Shahzad, Associated Press Writer – Sun Jun 7, 10:56 am ET

ISLAMABAD – Hundreds of Pakistani tribesmen furious over a deadly suicide bombing at a mosque laid siege to several Taliban strongholds in their troubled northwestern region, killing at least 11 militants, officials said Sunday.

The weekend clashes appeared to be the latest evidence of growing anti-Taliban sentiment in U.S.-allied Pakistan, a shift that comes as suicide attacks have surged and the military wages an offensive in the nearby Swat Valley.

attack on the mosque left 33 worshippers dead and wounded dozens more during Friday prayers, angering residents of the Haya Gai area of Upper Dir district who have had tensions and minor clashes with local militants for months.
Some 400 villagers banded together to attack five villages in the nearby Dhok Darra area that were known militant strongholds, said Atif-ur-Rehman, the district coordination officer.

The citizens' militia has occupied three of the villages since Saturday and was trying to push the Taliban out of the other two Sunday. Some 20 houses suspected of harboring Taliban were destroyed, he said.
At least 11 militants had died as of Sunday afternoon, district police Chief Ejaz Ahmad said. He said around 200 militants were putting up a tough fight but were surrounded by the villagers.
The government has encouraged local citizens to set up militias, known as lashkars, to oust Taliban fighters, especially in the regions that border Afghanistan where al-Qaida and the Taliban have hide-outs. But villagers' willingness to do so has often hinged on confidence that authorities will back them up if necessary.
With the army reporting advances against the Taliban in Swat — an operation that also reaches into Lower Dir district and has broad public support — that confidence appears to be growing.
Already, military officials say that as they've proceeded with the operation in Swat, local residents who have remained in the region have grown increasingly cooperative, providing tips on militants' hide-outs and more. "It is something very positive that tribesmen are standing against the militants. It will discourage the miscreants," Rehman said.

Ahmad, the police chief, added, "We will send security forces, maybe artillery too, if the villagers ask for a reinforcement."

Najmuddin Malik, a lawmaker from Upper Dir, said the militants fighting with villagers were from all over Pakistan, including Swat, but that most were foreigners. He said there was no need for army intervention yet.
"People there have arms, small and big, and they are fighting on their own," Malik said. The month-old Swat offensive, the latest round in a valley that has experienced fighting for two years, is seen as a test of Pakistan's resolve to take on al-Qaida and Taliban fighters on its soil.

The U.S. hopes the offensive will eliminate a potential sanctuary for militants implicated in attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan.

More than 1,300 militants and 105 soldiers have died so far in the offensive, the military says.
The offensive has generally broad public support, thanks in part to Pakistani anger over a video showing militants flogging a young woman and a speech by a pro-Taliban cleric that condemned the notions of democracy and elections.
Taliban infiltration into a district just 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the capital also rattled Pakistanis who had long considered the militancy a distant problem easily blamed on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have threatened to stage suicide attacks in major Pakistani cities in revenge for the Swat operation.

One attack that seemed to fit with the threat came late Saturday in Islamabad, when a man wearing an explosives-laden jacket attacked a police compound but was shot before he could enter the main building. Two officers died and six were wounded in the explosion, police said.
Also Sunday, police in the southern city of Karachi said they arrested a would-be bomber allegedly linked to Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. Explosives and bomb-laden jackets were found during the morning raid, senior police official Javed Bukhari said, "He was planning to carry out large attacks in Karachi with other accomplices, but we have averted the attempt," Bukhari said.
Associated Press writers Habib Khan in Khar and Ashraf Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Monday, 8 June 2009

For a Change, Ask what 'YOU' can do for the Country - Pinkish Green


The time has come. The time to rise, the time to make a positive difference, the time to give a damn (about things other than Shahrukh Khan and your neighbours love life) and the time to get your hands down and dirty. Your country needs you! And while it may seem that she has not given you anything, you are what you are because of her.

Time to separate the boys from men, Time to separate women of substance from women on substance. You can choose to fail; you can choose to do nothing (Going to the pakistan India Cricket match wearing the Pakistan Green doesn't necessarily count). But, where you have always asked what your country has done for you, I ask you... what have you ever done for this country? The question is answered by a question always ‘…but what can we do?’

I am extremely sorry to say, I find the ‘helpless’ tone in this question almost pathetic. Do we still have to ask what we can do? Look around you, the more pertinent question to ask here is, where do I start? As a result of a fairly fruitful random discussion on the topic, I have to thank a good friend, for having come up with what I will choose to call. The ‘A little more, for a Whole lot more’ List:

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with our society is lack of respect. We don’t respect anyone but our own selves, who perhaps we respect a little more than needed. I urge everyone to instill a sense of respect in themselves and people around them. Insist and Emphasize on dignity of Labor, Someone’s financial status does not and should not dictate the respect you give. Start calling people ‘AAP’ for a change. You’re pretty educated; act and sound like you are too!

Pay the Household Help More:
We are lucky to live in a country where labor comes cheap. As a result we have maids and drivers and gardeners and cleaners and chefs and God only knows who else. By paying someone more, you’re increasing their quality of life. A few thousand might not pinch you as much, but they will make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Run a welfare state in your house, it pays back in more ways than you can imagine.

If you dedicate man hours to actually go to an underprivileged school great, but if you feel that it’s not worth messing your Gucci loafers, teach at home. Teach underprivileged children Mathematics, Teach Parveen or Nasreen or whoever works for you a thing or two about the benefits of family planning, give out basic lessons on hygiene or civic sense or patriotism… I’m sure you’ll find plenty around you desperately needing these lessons, teach someone how to use a computer or Perhaps English. No excuses!

If you’re smart enough to read this, you’re probably smart enough to write this. Trying googling Pakistan or Pakistan Police or Pakistan Army or anything Pakistan. Make it your mission to change the way the World (wide web) sees Pakistan. Start uploading positive images, start writing positive thoughts, start commenting on negative news items about Pakistan. The world needs to know that we’re not a lost cause and you of all the things sure as hell aren’t.

If you can think of anything else to add to this list feel free to add to comments.

'In a world of Blues, here I am to give the Pink perspective on everything Green.' Think Pink? Share your thoughts:

Where is our Yellow Ribbon - Ayeda Naqvi

Our soldiers are men who willingly lay down their lives, men who often return maimed or paralysed to their families. In other countries, such men would enjoy heroic statures. And yet, here in Pakistan, when they turn on their television sets at night, they see their nation scoffing at them.

Many years ago, as a student in New York, I was invited to my roommate’s house for the weekend. Her parents lived a couple of hours away from the city in a quiet little town where she had grown up. As for myself, I must admit, I was looking forward to leaving the concrete jungle of Manhattan behind for a few days.

As we drove over the Willis Avenue Bridge towards the Taconic Parkway, leaving the grey high-rises behind, I saw more than just the landscape change. And I realised that Manhattan was an island in more ways than one.

Besides being physically set apart from the land around it, it stood alone in its liberalism. The left-wing writers whom I loved, my professors who freely criticised their government, even the people rallying in front of the United Nations in protest of Bush Sr’s invasion of Iraq, had no place in small town America. This was a place where everyone was a “patriot”.

As we drove through the cluster of little streets that led to her house, I noticed that all the houses in her neighbourhood had either an American flag or a giant yellow ribbon pasted on the front door. The flag, I understood — the country was at war. But the yellow ribbon? “It’s our way of saying we support our troops,” said my roommate.

“But you said you didn’t feel that the invasion of Iraq was justified,” I said.

“I don’t,” she replied. “But I still support our troops — our soldiers who are willing to die for us.”

“But you said you didn’t feel that the invasion of Iraq was justified,” I said. “I don’t,” she replied. “But I still support our troops — our soldiers who are willing to die for us.”
That weekend, I admit, I got into many a debate about the yellow ribbons. Not only were they on the houses, they were pinned onto people’s clothes! They irked me. If you didn’t agree with your government, how could you support your troops? They were, after all, carrying the government’s agenda. I returned to the city on Sunday night quite irritated, convinced that everyone in suburbia was brainwashed.

It has been more than 17 years since that day. Much has happened in the world since then. But today, as Pakistan stands on the verge of anarchy, at war with an enemy that has seeped into the very fabric of our society, I long for an expression of unity. And I find myself thinking more and more of that yellow ribbon.

What is so wrong with being a patriot? And why are we afraid to rally behind our armed forces, to send out positive, supportive signs as these men lay down their lives for us?
What is so wrong with being a patriot? And why are we afraid to rally behind our armed forces, to send out positive, supportive signs as these men lay down their lives for us?
Since 9/11, the Pakistani army has suffered more than any other army in the world in terms of casualties. And yet we get nothing but negative reports about its performance in the media. One can be angry with Zardari, think that Musharraf sold out and believe that the ISI is a “sinister” organisation with its own agenda without losing compassion for our soldiers, the young men who are being killed every day.

These are men who willingly lay down their lives, men who often return maimed or paralysed to their families. In other countries, such men would enjoy heroic statures. And yet, here in Pakistan, when they turn on their television sets at night, they see their nation scoffing at them.

So fond of flinging mud on all in sight, our media moguls seem to have lost sight of the larger picture. And so used to being cynical, we have stopped empathising with those willing to die for us.

Seventeen years ago, I met a group of people in a small suburb of New York who were neither sophisticated nor educated. And yet they were able to recognise the shades of grey, the fact that it is possible to support your troops without blindly supporting your government.

Here in Pakistan today, we are too busy either being Taliban apologists or posing as intellectuals who feel it is our duty to run down everything in sight, without thinking of the national interest.

Here in Pakistan today, we are too busy either being Taliban apologists or posing as intellectuals who feel it is our duty to run down everything in sight, without thinking of the national interest.

As we stand on the eve of a massive crackdown on the Taliban, we need to realise that in the weeks and months ahead, there will be blood — dead soldiers and dead civilians. And yet there has never been a greater time to stand behind our troops, to show solidarity as a nation if we want to defeat the single greatest threat to our way of life.

Our intellectuals will have to learn that it is possible to be analytical without being negative, to be patriotic without being brainless. And our media moguls and talk show hosts will have to learn to stop catering to the lowest common denominator by sympathising with a group of murderers.

When Jinnah created Pakistan, he envisioned us as a nation that adhered to the principles of “Unity”, “Faith” and “Discipline”. For me there can be no greater show of unity than for a nation to support its troops. Maybe a yellow ribbon is not the answer. But I, for one, am putting a Pakistani flag outside my house today to show my solidarity with my nation — the one created by Jinnah, not the Taliban.


Ayeda Naqvi is a journalist who lives and works in Lahore. She can be contacted at

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