Friday, 26 June 2009

Writer's Block: Of Motherhood and Motherland - Bushra Hassan

Earlier this month, the British High Commission refused my two year old a Visit visa. I was appalled. Can you imagine? The audacity of a people to consider themselves too superior for a two year old child. I was so upset, so furious, so sad that I decided not to spend my hard earned money on a UK holiday anyway. Then I read the letter, of why they refused her the visa. It was my own fault. I hadn’t provided a birth certificate, to prove that she is in fact my child.

This, has me in shock. I never thought, not once, that anyone could question that my daughter is mine. I carried her for nine months, gave birth to her, fed her and continue to nurture and love her, and yet some where, some one, needs proof? They were right, the High Commission, to raise this objection. Who knows how many children are kidnapped or trafficked this way? So, in principle, I agree. But emotionally, I am still jolted. I take for granted, this relationship between my daughter and I. It is so obvious, so real that I never really thought of proving it.

As I pondered over this, I thought of my mother, my mother’s mother and eventually this country that is our Motherland. How ashamed we are, of our green passports (especially when standing in queue for British and US visas)?

How many of us are moving to Canada, Australia, Malaysia, UK etc, simply because we do not own up to the country that is ours. The mother we belong to. Where we were born, who feeds us, carries us and nurtures us. This is our Mother and this is our Motherland. How many of us continue to love her like she deserves? How many of us, want to undo the Birth Certificate that calls us Pakistani citizens, the children of Pakistan, in search of a better life elsewhere?

I don’t question the need to leave Pakistan. Surely, all children must eventually distance themselves from their parents and live their own lives. I did this, soon, so will my own daughter. I also know that moving away, geographically, does not necessarily distance you from your country. In reality, we do not, can not, should not leave our mothers. If we try, it will disconnect us from who we are.

The mother and child relationship is understood best, when you are a mother. My brief disappointment by the BHC only strengthened my love for my own motherland. As a mother, I feel her grief, her sadness. In my case, a third party questioned my relationship to my child. In the case of Pakistan, many of her own children choose to/wish to disown her. Can we survive without the one who gave birth to us?

"We leave her when we refuse to take responsibility for her, when we abandon her, physically and emotionally. When we cross the signal at red light, when we don’t clean our neighbourhood areas, when we clash in streets and create chaos, when we waste resources and fruits when many of her children live in poverty."

Disowning does not occur by simply moving away, but by not working for her. I have family and friends abroad who are more patriotic than many of us who stay here. We leave her when we refuse to take responsibility for her, when we abandon her, physically and emotionally. When we cross the signal at red light, when we don’t clean our neighbourhood areas, when we clash in streets and create chaos, when we waste resources and fruits when many of her children live in poverty.

We abandon her, when we forget to love the rest of her children. As a mother, nothing hurts me more than when my daughter hurts herself or when she falls sick. Pakistan sees us hurting ourselves and each other everyday. In offices, in markets, in schools, even inside our homes, we fight, we quarrel, we lie and cheat. We are not the children a mother can be proud of.

How much do we really love our mother? In our hatred, contempt for our leaders, be they politicians or military personnel, we have confused the people who run the country from the people who make up our country. How capable are we of looking after our parents, and loving them and taking responsibility for them and ourselves? How hard do we work to make them proud? How much do we think before we choose to abandon them?

" Pakistan sees us hurting ourselves and each other everyday. In offices, in markets, in schools, even inside our homes, we fight, we quarrel, we lie and cheat. We are not the children a mother can be proud of."

I must thank the BHC officials for two things: a. For looking out for the interest of my child. They protect her and many other children like her through their rules. B. For reigniting my love for my motherland, my country. For reawakening my patriotic heart.

I remain assured that through the BHC, if not through the War in the North, many Pakistani hearts will find their way back home.


Images courtesy: bbc.co.uk, defence.pk, wwfpak.org, cleantech.com and flikr

A Summer of Movie Watching


Movie Lovers Across Pakistan, Brace yourself for Transformers 2, The Revent of the Fallen. Releasing all over Pakistan from Friday, 3rd July 2009.

Other Upcoming Titles include:
Kambakht Ishq, Kameeny, Jashn, Land of the Lost, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, 3 Idiots, Love AajKal, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

All releasing between Now and August!!
For more information: www.cinepax.com

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Lighter Side of Life: Be Confident and Don't Worry!

Food for Thought


I Spy: Geo to Aisey - Sadaf Zarrar

Years ago, while still in college... I took journalism as one of my primary elective subjects and was exposed to the concept of Yellow Journalism for the first time. A naive, and for the lack of a better adjective, unexposed college student that I was, I only associated the Tabloids to this concept, thinking that Yellow Journalism perhaps was the mirror publishing pictures of Lady Diana on a beach with Dodi Fayed or even worst Papparazzi's hunting down celebrities for intimate shots that they could then sell for millions.

As you can tell I was ignorant. But now that I look back, I fully understand the meaning of 'Ignorance is a Bliss'. Years later, after consciously deciding to stop watching any local news channels (Barring a couple of shows here and there) a few months ago, I ache for the blissful ignorance that I once considered a curse.

I look with envy at the foreign media. The same foreign media I blamed for partial reporting, the media that the Pakistanis have long attributed to Jew financing and brewed conspiracy theories about. Yes, I envy it. I wish we had a media that was so partial to the greater National interest of Pakistan.

I look at CNN and BBC and Sky and sadly even at Fox. In all these years of watching these news channels, I have personally never seen the dead body of a fallen American Soldier, I have never seen them ridiculing their own President or the over National interest of their country, I have never seen crying, bleeding people and I have never seen the Skin strewn off the face of a Suicide Bomber... So for everything I have blamed these channels for, the one thing that I can never blame them for is being Anti America or working against the National interest of their own country. I have seen each and everyone of the above on our channels.

Some may argue that it is because we are a country partially at War, but then so are they. It is what we choose to project, and how we choose to position outselves.


I had a chance encounter with an extremely intelligent head of a leading local news channel some months ago. I am personally extremely impressed with him and his vision, I wish I could say the same about his channel. He gave a long speech about raising the morale of the nation and when asked if he partially took the responsibility for lowering the morale of the nation to begin with he said 'when you clean a room after many years, the dust goes up and the whole house gets dirty before it gets cleaned'. I'm assuming that is as much as he could have said in admitting that yes he was indeed partially responsible... I do however have to say one thing, while cleaning a very dirty room, please keep the door closed till the dust settles that way your whole house does not have to get dirty.

I often wonder what I would do if I had the power that the GEOs or the ARYs or EXPRESSs of this country have. Perhaps I am inexperienced and gullible in assuming that I could have changed this country!
I often wonder what I would do if I had the power that the GEOs or the ARYs or EXPRESSs of this country have. Perhaps I am inexperienced and gullible in assuming that I could have changed this country! Most probably, I am not. I would attribute a significant percentage of the programming to building civic sense and concern amongst people, Tarbiyat of this nation (not Taleem), yet another chunk to General Knowledge and a world wide view... And yes, the News.

I am perhaps living in Utopia and away from the realities that actually take a driving seat in shaping a news channel. But then I am a little bit idealistic, and shamelessly so. Our country needs as much optimisim and idealism as possible!

I would tell people that they have something to look forward to, something to live for not just day to day but generation to generation. I would make people believe in them as I believe in them. In a country where the level of education is as low as ours, there is additional responsibility on the Media to ensure that they impart knowledge.

I would tell people that they have something to look forward to, something to live for not just day to day but generation to generation. I would make people believe in them as I believe in them.

In a country where the level of education is as low as ours, there is additional responsibility on the Media to ensure that they impart knowledge... Standing in Lines, Helping your Neighbours, Keeping your Cities Clean... Unfortunately, for this to happen a Channel has to believe in Nation Building almost as much as Building ratings.

I also know a few people in the media who were willing to do such a campaign.... provided they found a lucrative corporate sponsor!
I must acknowledge, the channels have spread massive awareness during the times of the Earthquake, the IDP situation and also the Chief Justice movement

I have vented enough and where there is bad, there is also good... which I must acknowledge. The channels have spread massive awareness during the times of the Earthquake, the IDP situation and also the Chief Justice movement (at the end of which they all claim to take the credit for), the were the flagbearers in raising concern over Swat through the flogging incident... But yes good has been done. It reiterates my faith in the power of media. I once recall Pervez Musharraf stating something to the effect that he had given media enough liberties so it could keep a check on the government and leaders for the people. I will not get into the politics or background of this statement, but without a doubt I can say that Media is perhaps the strongest force in this country right now, more free and more strong than anywhere in the world.

Being a marketing professional, I will also commend the brand equity the News channels have developed in such a short time. The movement spearheaded by GEO, has seen the formation of some of the strongest brands in the country, each standing for its unique individual positioning.

A few days back, as Pakistan was steadily moving towards the worldcup victory, a friend of mine forwarded me a message saying 'Geo to Aisey'. I agree. That annoying little Mr Jeem was actually fairly, idiotically entertaining that night, because it was celebrating with me... urging me to pray... urging us to unite as a nation. That is the Mr. Jeem I like... The one that every now and then does talk sense!

All my foreign friends as well as relatives who watch the local beams think we're a day away from doom
I, as an individual viewer, urge the Channels to watch their content, to promote what is in the best interest of Pakistan. To please project the country in a fair light (all my foreign friends as well as relatives who watch the local beams think we're a day away from doom). One can counter argue that given the high ratings of these channels, that is what the people want to see. I firmly disagree, No one wants to see dead policemen at Manawa, No one wants to see Dead Bodies at a Suicide Bomb Site... If we do, we have been desensitized as a nation, and the media has a responsibility to make us feel and think and love and care.

I have to give full credit to the Pakistani media for becoming the force that it has, It must have and must continues to toil to be where it is... many battles, imprisonments, sacrifices... But as Uncle Ben (sorry spidey) would say: With great Power, comes great Responsibility.

I must clarify here that I firmly believe in freedom of media and allowance of expression. Ironically, I agree with a line quoted by a young media head to me almost as much as I disagree with the course the media has taken in general... He quoted 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend till death your right to say it'. So yes, despite my self imposed Media Blackout, I believe in... GEO Jawan, GEO Pakistan, each and everytime it flashes on my TV screen!

I hope these channels do too.
Pakistan Hamesha Zindabad!

This is Pakistan.



The very talented Noori performs with Saeein Zahoor the legend. Aik Alif by the Sufi Poet Bulleh Shah

Video with English Subtitles available at: http://www.babelsongs.com/2009/06/aik-alif-by-saieen-zahoor-and-noori.html

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A Glimpse into Jinnah's Pakistan: Quaid e Azam's Presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I cordially thank you, with the utmost sincerity, for the honour you have conferred upon me - the greatest honour that is possible to confer - by electing me as your first President. I also thank those leaders who have spoken in appreciation of my services and their personal references to me. I sincerely hope that with your support and your co-operation we shall make this Constituent Assembly an example to the world. The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing the future constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. We have to do the best we can in adopting a provisional constitution for the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. You know really that not only we ourselves are wondering but, I think, the whole world is wondering at this unprecedented cyclonic revolution which has brought about the clan of creating and establishing two independent sovereign Dominions in this sub-continent. As it is, it has been unprecedented; there is no parallel in the history of the world. This mighty sub-continent with all kinds of inhabitants has been brought under a plan which is titanic, unknown, unparalleled. And what is very important with regards to it is that we have achieved it peacefully and by means of an evolution of the greatest possible character.

The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this: remember that you are now a sovereign legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions. The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.
Dealing with our first function in this Assembly, I cannot make any well-considered pronouncement at this moment, but I shall say a few things as they occur to me. The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this: remember that you are now a sovereign legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions. The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.

Bribery and corruption. That really is a poison.

The second thing that occurs to me is this: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering - I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think our condition is much worse - is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so.

A citizen who does black-marketing commits, I think, a greater crime than the biggest and most grievous of crimes.

Black-marketing is another curse. Well, I know that blackmarketeers are frequently caught and punished. Judicial sentences are passed or sometimes fines only are imposed. Now you have to tackle this monster, which today is a colossal crime against society, in our distressed conditions, when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life. A citizen who does black-marketing commits, I think, a greater crime than the biggest and most grievous of crimes. These blackmarketeers are really knowing, intelligent and ordinarily responsible people, and when they indulge in black-marketing, I think they ought to be very severely punished, because the entire system of control and regulation of foodstuffs and essential commodities, and cause wholesale starvation and want and even death.

I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any any influence directly of indirectly brought to bear upon me. Whenever I will find that such a practice is in vogue or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.

The next thing that strikes me is this: Here again it is a legacy which has been passed on to us. Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil, the evil of nepotism and jobbery. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any any influence directly of indirectly brought to bear upon me. Whenever I will find that such a practice is in vogue or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.
I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of everyone of us to loyally abide by it and honourably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all. But you must remember, as I have said, that this mighty revolution that has taken place is unprecedented. One can quite understand the feeling that exists between the two communities wherever one community is in majority and the other is in minority. But the question is, whether it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than what has been done, A division had to take place. On both sides, in Hindustan and Pakistan, there are sections of people who may not agree with it, who may not like it, but in my judgement there was no other solution and I am sure future history will record is verdict in favour of it. And what is more, it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that was the only solution of India's constitutional problem. Any idea of a united India could never have worked and in my judgement it would have led us to terrific disaster. Maybe that view is correct; maybe it is not; that remains to be seen. All the same, in this division it was impossible to avoid the question of minorities being in one Dominion or the other. Now that was unavoidable. There is no other solution. Now what shall we do? Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be on end to the progress you will make.

You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.

I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England, conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.

Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

Well, gentlemen, I do not wish to take up any more of your time and thank you again for the honour you have done to me. I shall always be guided by the principles of justice and fairplay without any, as is put in the political language, prejudice or ill-will, in other words, partiality or favouritism. My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world.

I have received a message from the United States of America addressed to me. It reads:
I have the honour to communicate to you, in Your Excellency's capacity as President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the following message which I have just received from the Secretary of State of the United States:

On the occasion of of the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly for Pakistan, I extend to you and to the members of the Assembly, the best wishes of the Government and the people of the United States for the successful conclusion of the great work you are about to undertake.

Pages from Quaid e Azam's Diary

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Source: Dawn, Independence Day Supplement, August 14, 1999.

Ed Note: We all talk about Jinnah's Pakistan, Here is a brief glimpse into his vision for this country. By far one of the most inspiring yet simple speeches I have ever read. I urge you to take out time and read this. SZ

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Timeline: 25th December; A Date to Remember - Aabi Asif

Note: This article is dedicated to my grandfather, Iqbal Ahmed Siddiqui, who was a journalist. He not only worked alongside the Quaid, but he shared his experiences of the partition. I consider myself to be lucky to have recieved first hand information from someone who actually had seen Pakistan made. He gave me the best gift anyone could have given me, a treasurey of knowledge; the beautiful collection of his books that I refer to from time to time. The speeches I have included in this article are from one of the books he gave me. May his soul rest in peace. Ameen.

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As soon as the first of December arrives there is an air of celebration in the air all over the world. People adorn their houses with lights, streamers, wreaths. They invite each other over, exchange gifts and cards, sing carols and praise their lord as it is the month when Jesus Christ was born.

We in Pakistan also celebrate however in a unique style. All over Pakistan official buildings, roads and in some cases houses also are decorated with lights and the whole nation is also celebrating; our festivities are two fold as we show solidarity with the Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ. Secondly, it is also the day our beloved founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born.

Jinnah was born on 25th December 1876, in Karachi at the Wazir Mansion to a merchant family of Khoja sect. He was educated in Karachi and Bombay. He left for England in 1892 to study Law at Lincoln’s Inn and was called to the bar in 1897. After returning to Bombay he joined the Bombay High court.

Jinnah at first stayed away from the sub-continent politics; however, he then started to propagate a united India free from the rule of the British and for the benefit of Hindus and Muslims.

“My message to the Mussalmans is to join hands with your Hindu brethren”. {Jinnah and Gandhi; their role in India’s Quest in freedom: Pg 37}

However, after seeing the connivance of the Hindus Quaid-e-Azam decided to part ways and fight for a separate homeland for the Muslims. He wanted that the Muslims should be able to breathe in an environment where they are able to practice the teachings of Islam freely. Where they were not afraid to pray, to offer sacrifice and in short to lead their lives in free land.

He worked hard day and night along with his devoted team of freedom fighters to establish a country without the British or the Hindus. After that there was no looking back and it was with sheer hard work and dedication that Quaid-e-Azam managed to create a homeland for the Muslims which the Hindus and the British thought not possible.

He won Pakistan for his people with his own unflinching spirit and people’s trust in his sincere and dauntless leadership. Quaid-e-Azam in his message to the nation on 15th of August 1947 said:

“My thoughts are with those valiant fighters in our cause who readily sacrificed all they had including their lives to make Pakistan possible”.

It indeed was because of the tireless efforts of these great leaders that we are what we are today and are living a life of freedom where our children can live without any fear.
We still posses the same spirit and enthusiasm that the Muslims had when Pakistan was being created. The youth of today can very easily give up their life for the sake of protecting what is ours, Our Nation, Pakistan.

December 25th rejuvenates the spirit each year as we show our appreciation to the Quaid by seeing documentaries, plays based on his life.

“Pakistan had come to exist forever and it will by the grace of God exist forever”
Quaid-e-Azam’s words, “Pakistan had come to exist forever and it will by the grace of God exist forever” makes me more energized as I am filled with hope and aspiration that there is still light at the end of the tunnel and we are on the right track.

Pakistan Zindabad!!!

Jerry's Take: Phoenix from the Ashes - Jarrar Shah

Pakistan the T20 Champs 2009

Pakistan cricket is back with a bang!! and so it seems are our collective spirits. Overnight the mood of the country has changed from despair to euphoria and why not. For us cricket is not merely our favorite spectator sport. Its more than that. In India they say its a religion. For us its that and also something more. It defines our identity, shapes and strengthens it. The Brazilians love their soccer like the Indians love their cricket but for Pakistan its cricket that makes us forget our differences and makes us feel one, makes us feel proud Pakistanis. I don't know how this happened but over the years its our cricket team that has managed to transcend our ethnic,sectarian and provincial differences. Either we all despise them when they lose or we all lose ourselves in Ecstasy when they win. from the fisherman of gawadar to the tourist guide of gilgit, from the chai walla of Karachi to the gun maker of Khyber, we stop doing our own thing and start feeling as one, thinking as one, reacting as one, mourning as one or celebrating as one.

We will have our differences. There will be inter provincial disharmony. There will be ethnic tensions in Karachi and elsewhere. Sectarian violence cant be wished away nor the menace of extremism. In spite of all these things our journey as a nation will continue onwards .

Islamabad Celebrates
Celebrations on Sunday night, our response to the earthquake, the lawyers movement, our stiffening resolve against extremism all symbolize our pakistaniyat. With time after weeding out the divisive elements within us, those who gain from pitting us against each other we will attain the promise of this nation. The promise that all of us in our heart of hearts believe in. The promise that led to so many of our forefathers, ordinary citizens sacrificing their lives during partition. The promise that led so many of our compatriots to leave everything they knew for a distant ideal called Pakistan.
Lahore Celebrates
Our bad governance, corruption, lawlessness, load shedding, worsening economy weigh us down. Makes us despair, even leads some to harbor thoughts of abandoning Pakistan. However its moments like Sunday night that make us forget all our problems. It makes us feel truly proud to be Pakistani, a feeling that emanates deep down from inside every Pakistani. No divisive politician or militant, foreign agencies or armies can ever overcome this feeling. its just not possible. Our national heroes, our amazing cricket team just proved that.

Pakistan hamesha zindabad!!
Karachi Celebrates

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Photos Credit: AP

Monday, 22 June 2009

Tu Hai Kahaan?

Time to Rise Pakistan

Stand Up for the Champions

Pakistan Zindabad!!!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Cricket beats Terrorism!

May the best team win the Match,But Cricket has already won this one!!

I Spy: Blame it on Lahore, An invitation to visit the City - Sadaf Zarrar

Each week since this blog started, I eagerly await to post my column. Each week my mind is bustling with ideas on what I want to talk about... That unfortunately, didn't turn out to be the case this week. I have to very selfishly, blame it all on Lahore.

My love affair with this city started back in 1996 when I came to take an entrance exam at National College of Arts which fortunately or unfortunately I didn't pass. I had decided long before the result that I wasn't going back to Kharian/ Islamabad both of whom I called home. And hence went ahead an enrolled myself at Kinnaird College.

I fondly remember Lahore as my grandparents town while I was growing up and associated all things fun to it. The most fun of all being the Hico Truck! Back in the day, the ice cream wasn't available on retail and just the thought that Nano would have called Hico people to have a load of ice cream delivered to satisfy the bottomless pits of stomachs that her grand kids had, pretty much made our holiday... But then that wasn't all...

How can I tell you about Lahore in a way that it would do justice to this town? I can not even figure out where to start. So I will start by telling you about the famous Punjabi saying 'Jinney L'ore Nai Wakhiya Jamiya Nai', roughly, it means 'You're not truly born if you haven't seen Lahore'.

Located on the banks of once the Mighty River Ravi, Lahore is often called the Garden of Mughals because of its rich Mughal heritage. It is also often called the cultural heart of Pakistan, as it is the center of Pakistani arts, films and intelligentsia and also as the City of Colleges... I am sure there are many other names this city goes by also. To me it simply is... Home.

This particular time, was like any other. Having lived in Lahore long enough before moving to Islamabad a couple of years ago. I take it for granted mostly, No visits to the touristy destinations for me, nor any shopping sprees unless absolutely required, I don't indulge in cultural activities unless I am bored to death but you know, not only should you visit Lahore, you should dive into the beauty and cultural diversity of this city heads first!


If you're fond of eating, and trying out various cuisines... You're in the right City. Lahoris are known for their love of food and eating. While Lahore has a great many traditional and modern restaurants, in recent years Western fast food chains have appeared all over the city. Recently the food streets in the historic locales of Lahore (Gawalmandi, Anarkali, and Badshahi) have attracted tourists. Food streets have undergone restorations and are cordoned off in the evenings for pedestrian traffic only; numerous caf├ęs serve local delicacies under the lights and balconies of restored havelis (traditional residential dwellings). Some of the trendiest restaurants in Lahore are concentrated on the M M Alam Road in Gulberg. Here, dozens of high-class culinary outlets, ranging from Western franchises to traditional, ethnic, or theme restaurants, attract all classes of Lahore's citizens. New restaurants are constantly opening, and the business is extremely competitive. Many boisterous restaurants of Lahore are open late into the night.


The origins of Lahore are shrouded in the mists of antiquity but Lahore is undoubtedly ancient. Legend has it that it was founded about 4,000 years ago by Loh, son of Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana.Historically, it has been proved that Lahore is at least 2,000 years old. Hieun-tasng, the famous Chinese pilgrim has given a vivid description of Lahore which he visited in the early parts of the 7th century AD. Lying on the main trade and invasion routes to South Asia, Lahore has been ruled and plundered by a number of dynasties and hordes. Muslim rule began here when Qutub-ud-din Aibak was crowned in Lahore in 1206 and thus became the first Muslim Sultan of the subcontinent. It waxed and waned in importance during the Sultanate. However, it touched the zenith of its glory during the Mughal rule from 1524 to 1752. The Mughals, who were famous as builders, gave Lahore some of its finest architectural monuments. For those interested in History and Culture, Lahore offers the best of the Mughal era as well as British Colonial Heritage.


If you intend on shopping till you drop, once again, Lahore is it. Lahore offers the best of Desi delights in terms of fabrics, accessories, leather goods... incidently all at a price so low they are bound to turn a shopaholic out of anyone!


I have to confess, Lahore is no Party Capital of the world... But that by no means denotes that Lahories do not know how to party. Living it up Lahori style is an experience worth going through, where loud is louder and happy is happier.

I recommend you get your hosts to find you an invitation to a wedding. Considering that a normal Pakistani wedding has a few hundred guests, I am sure you won't find any trouble being welcomed with open arms. Given the famous Lahori hospitality, I doubt you'll have trouble landing an invite anywhere... But a wedding is a not just a wedding, it is a cultural experience in itself with atleast 3 functions and no end to the upper limit.

Honestly, there is so much to tell about Lahore that for this particular article, the best I can do from here on is give you pictorial glimpses of Lahore. I can however promise you, that if you visit Lahore not only will you forget to write your Friday Ed Note, you will definitly not want to come back... After all Lahore Lahore Aye (Lahore is Lahore).


Postcards from Pakistan - Faraz Niaz


SoapBox: The 3 P-Bombs of Pakistan - Zahid Husain
















In the late 80’s I was attending a seminar being held at the Avari Hotel in Lahore, where a lady from an NGO was talking about the money being spent on our nuclear program, and contrasted it against the 3 bombs we already possessed!

This comment really drew everyone’s attention, and we were all ears to learn about these three mysterious weapons we actually had in our arsenal, and till now, had no inkling of!!! A break for tea was announced, and the room was suddenly abuzz with spontaneous discussion to find out if anyone knew of the 3 bombs the lady was alluding to! We couldn’t get the tea down fast enough for the speaker to resume her talk and relieve us all of our intellectual tension and misery!

Slowly she began to draw our attention to the largest section of our Population, the poor, undernourished, uneducated, unemployed and marginalized folks all over Pakistan; those were the days of an authoritarian ruler who had just religion on his mind, so much so that the impact, even today, we are suffering the effects all over our Motherland, and steadily we continue to multiply!

Thanks to that same bigot who began the journey down the road of religious confusion, we note with horror how we have multiplied our numbers when every resource is stretched to the limit as a result! Family planning was made to take a back seat in an agenda that furthered the cause of his time!
In recent years I was party to a nikah ceremony being held at a mosque in a seminary. The sermon before the ceremony lasted by contrast, for 45 minutes! While the nikah, took 10 minutes! The sermon included the subject of procreation, the message was very loud and clear! Go forth and multiply, we need the numbers if we are to win the global conflict!
In recent years I was party to a nikah ceremony being held at a mosque in a seminary, (I refuse to use the M word because it conjures up all sorts of images! And believe me the attitudes and demeanor displayed there was distasteful). The sermon before the ceremony lasted by contrast, for 45 minutes! While the nikah, took 10 minutes!

The sermon included the subject of procreation, the message was very loud and clear! Go forth and multiply, we need the numbers if we are to win the global conflict! OMG! I thought, we are headed for oblivion! Today you see the effects of such preaching on our streets, under bridges, in kutchi abadis, in rural and urban seminaries, everywhere they can possibly seek respite from all the ills that plague their wretched existences.

Having successfully projected a picture of this segment of society, she then, began telling us of how we all were actually choking the Motherland to death, simply by not having set up an effective way to dispose of our waste and garbage! How we all worked to make sure that our homes were clean and spotless, without casting a thought to what happens when the cleaner walks away with the day’s waste and garbage. How it all ends up at the street corner or is just dumped over the wall, or outside the front door for a phantom collector to clear!
Planned waste management was still in its infancy and the afghan kids had yet to take up this lucrative livelihood, of making money from rummaging thru our waste and garbage.

Till recent years, they never addressed the final fate of the heaps that have now become landfills despite which we continue to suffocate and choke the atmosphere, with the smoke of the heaps of burning garbage, the naalees, the nalluhs and the canals of our Motherland!! Only recently private enterprise has got involved in setting up projects to address the challenge, while making a pretty penny for their pocket, challo, I condone that, as they are beginning to scratch the surface of the pollution challenge. She then drew our attention to the smoke belching out of vehicles on our roads, 20 years down the road; we have yet to resolve this challenge of Pollution!
Look around you, everywhere there are the deprived, lesser people of this Motherland, but we all continue to elect those who continue to loot and plunder, heartlessly, our beloved Motherland, including most of them in today’s Management Team.
Finally the lady drew our attention to the crisis of the economically challenged.
In a previous article I had mentioned the US Aid program that directly converted us into a Nation of beggars! Ever since, we have adopted our nick name of Kashkoleistan! And despite all the money that has found it way into the coffers and pockets of the Motherland there is no change in the living standards of the majority of the population! Look around you, everywhere there are the deprived, lesser people of this Motherland, but we all continue to elect those who continue to loot and plunder, heartlessly, our beloved Motherland, including most of them in today’s Management Team.

The poor are still relegated to their permanent existence without any hope of seeing any ray of hope in their lifetimes! Poverty will reign supreme!

To be fair though, the numerous, genuine institutions and NGOs who are bravely attempting to support and provide for them while provincial and federal governments continue their mere lip service of their good intentions and responsibilities.

There you have them! What you ask? The 3 P-Bombs of Pakistan of course! With lit fuses, slowly burning away until they finally explode!

POPULATION, POLLUTION AND POVERTY!