Friday, 3 July 2009

Writer's Block - The Ways of Our Youth By Bushra Hassan

Earlier this week, I heard that a music channel is searching for a VJ in Islamabad. The auditions were being held near my office, so needless to say, I jumped at this opportunity. Why? Do I want to be a VJ? Yes, why not. Is it my passion, my goal, my dream? Not at all. But it’s an experience and life is made up of experiences, new, different and unique. With the moral support of my best bud, and half a day off from work from a very supportive boss, I soon found myself in a queue, filling out forms and pasting stickers on myself. The experience was interesting, fun, enjoyable and yet disappointing.

Okay, this is not about my audition, or the fact that I used the platform to laugh at myself and the world, and the entire exercise. Okay, it is not about me, myself, and I. Despite being my favourite subject in the world, I shall not tell you about ME.

This is about the 100 something youngsters, who were all wearing their best. From neon green t-shirts, to plaid scarves, to skin tight jeans, the boys were a plenty. It was a sheer disappointment, that there were few girls. I counted five or six, all dressed in skin tight jeans and tops, full of make up looking pretty. It hit me then, being a VJ is considered to be more about clothes and make up, than substance.

The camera was rolling, the youngsters were asked by the channel to “pretend to be nervous”, in order to get a few laughs from the viewers, at the expense of the kiddies. The kiddies and myself complied obediently. I noticed the gestures, the body movements, the language – what it takes to be a VJ – and grimaced. Is this what we have become? Is this what is “IN” and what is “COOL”? Is this what it takes to be a VJ? Or, is this what the various music channels have told us that VJs need to be? Maybe. Coolness is your ticket to being a celebrity, to being on TV. Nothing else matters, or that was the view in the queue.

The same “cool” teenagers also went outside the location for a quick smoke and proudly tossed their cigarette in the green belt, causing a huge fire. Fire truck had to be called, the older men rushed with water to fight the fire …. All in the name of coolness, I admit.

The girls I was sitting with (yes, the girls sat in the shade, while the boys smoked in the heat) kept staring at the boys disappointed with the “quality of boys”. How they are not what Islamabad is, that they are not from “good families”, and how embarrassed they were to be with them, sharing the stage with them, and how confident they were that these “paindoo boys” stood no chance.

At what point did we decide that a good family meant a family of wealth and connections, rather than morality, compassion and integrity? At what point the strength of a youth became it’s following of fashion and copying babbling celebrities rather than its potential to do good, to be worthy, to be the future of its country? And at what point did we decide that we as a nation are divided into two groups: the cool; and the uncool? How the cool judge the others to be inadequate, simply because the parents could not afford better (please read: English speaking) school for them? Is the future of our country in the hands of the children of the powerful, who look down upon the children of the powerless, simply as a birthright?

Where is our youth heading and where is the leadership? Who are our next VJs going to be? What is their biggest strength? Yes, as I discovered, knowledge of the Pakistan music industry is important, but what of honesty, humility, courage, why aren’t these the trademarks of our people?

In the end, I returned with hope and disappointment. The kids all thought they had a chance; most of them are bound to be extremely disappointed. They will feel more dejected when the children of the rich get richer, as they humbly watch on. There goes another job, another future.

All is not doomed. I may not be the youth, but I am still young. My friend who held my hand through the entire exercise, is perhaps the coolest person I shall ever know, her fashion sense is beyond superior, her intellect extraordinary, her family background shinier than the sun, and there she was giving thumbs up signs to the less cool, and sitting in the sun, eight days before her wedding, supporting her uncouth friend for a few good laughs. This same friend, along with other truly cool friends went to meet injured IDPs and troops with flowers and fruits and words of triumph. Irrespective of status, class and any air of superiority, they met the troops, who from truly humble backgrounds, fight so our youth may enjoy their freedom. Then, there is the Pakistan Youth Alliance, that is giving direction to the confused minds of our young ones. There is still hope, people! There is a future.

It’s not over yet because our children and the children of friends like mine, will indeed bring a change. There will always be people who truly define what Pakistan is all about. The country where an England returned Barrister, with impeccable style and English speaking abilities changed the plight of the poor and the future of this country. He put the poor and powerless before himself, he thought them worthy of his life.
All is not over yet. We’re the children of Quaid and some of us may forget it, in the ecstasy of our youth, we will all return to find our one unified identity.
Images courtesy:

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Our Unity - Our Survival

Everyday, a new story, new horrific images, new declarations by the government, new "strategies" to fight the "Taliban"!

Our survival rests in only one strategy, that is, our unity. If that weakens, the nation will not be able to withstand insurgency or extremism, or for that matter any other force willing to destroy what this country stands for.

I thought i'd share two video with you, which I watched on YouTube. A very unique and interesting way to portray the situation in NWFP using animation, without using any gory images or powerful words. But the end message still remains powerful.

You'll find the short video clips at


Blog Admin Highly Recommends this link contributed by a 'TCT Reader'. We request the contributor to send us their name, so due credit can be given along with the article. Thank you.

Not a Drop to Drink!

ISLAMABAD (Online)- Pakistan is fast moving from being a water stressed country to a water scarce country which could put heavy brakes on economic growth and government should accelerate its efforts for setting up new water reservoirs and dams on emergent basis to cope with the looming water crisis.
This was stated by Mian Shaukat Masud, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) in a statement.

He said according to official reports the per capita availability of water in Pakistan has gradually dwindled from 5,260-cubic metres in 1951 to about 1000-cubic metres in recent years and if this trend continued, it could go as low as 550-cubic metres by 2025, which shows the gravity of the situation.
He said the water shortage issue has not been given the level of attention it needed and cautioned that if appropriate steps are not taken country could face a water & food crisis even worse than the current power crisis.

He said in addition to the urgent construction of new water reservoirs and small dams, government should launch serious water conservation initiatives to improve the efficiency of water use, particularly in agriculture sector,which claims more than 90 percent of the available fresh water resources.
Mian Shaukat said Pakistan can save enough water by adopting latest technology and making a partial shift from lower-value, water-intensive crops to high-value and more water-efficient crops.
He said Pakistan is mostly using flood irrigation in agriculture while it should explore the use of drip or spray irrigation, which makes better and efficient use of water resources.

The report above as well as the photos are in fact obtained from the web, just to help you visualize the looming crisis that we as Pakistanis are about to face in our Motherland!

Scenes like those above have haunted me throughout my life's journey in my Motherland, while growing up while living in various cities and while driving around the length and breadth of Pakistan.
In Sindh, in Baluchistan, in the Frontier and in Punjab, the scenes are virtually the same; I have stop here to narrate a story from a friend who had served in uniform, while posted in the tribal areas of Baluchistan, he actually came across groups of settlements around what one would term a water-hole, straightaway the vision of a shaded pool surrounded by tall shady trees comes to mind, but in fact what was there was a pond of green slime, where every human and animal went for whatever their needs were; drinking, washing, and anything else that may spring to exaggeration!
This friend an officer leading his group of men were camped close by and he directed his jawans to move one of their water tanker trailers, that they tow behind a jeep, to within the settlement's perimeter. He then proceeded to encourage the curious children to take a drink of clear fresh water, but they shied away!! Wanting to know what it was!! when told it was water, their eyes popped open wide in disbelief; he had to drink some to help them grasp the reality, but while doing so the reality he was trying to come to terms with himself was the sight of these adults and children living and growing up around this stagnant stinking slimy green pond that served as their source of the elixir of life!

Later that very same day he was visited by angry disgruntled tribal members who demanded to know what on earth he thought he was trying to do; he tried to pacify them and began to explain his very innocent intentions to help the people to source good clean fresh clean water. While the tribals finally understood his honourable intentions, they demanded that the bowser be immediately withdrawn from their neighborhood, as they had no intentions whatsoever of getting them all used to this water which would only be there while the soldiers were around! "What will happen when you are gone?" they asked, where will we find or get more of it, there is no way we can bring it from wherever you have managed to get it

That was in the early 1070s! the situations have not got any better, in fact memories of water wastege, haunt me now as I observe how we hose down our driveways to remove the sand from the places where our cars are parked, cleaning women thoughtlessly pipe in hand water flowing sweep away car are washed everyday as if they are about to be taken into a mosque! on my road we have 4 such homes where a minimum of 3 cars per household get this pakofying treatment every day!! Can you believe it!??

Not to mention how we wash our faces and brush our teeth, with the water flowing away down the drain, what about the winter time when we open the tap to get hot water we let it flow till it is hot, imagine how much we waste; ever notice how the kitchen help have the tap running all the while when the dishes are being washed? Well, the truth is I too am guilty of all of the above, but, not anymore, changes have been made to conserve the water in our home, so that we save, it for our tomorrows.
Please give this precious resource some serious thought, don’t waste water in your glass while drinking save it for later don’t throw it away, I beseech you, please.

One summer when I was living in the UK, there was a terrible drought, washing cars was banned! I could not stand the sight of my dirty car so on the weekend I collected the soapy water which came out of the washing machine, and took it to wash my car, while another bucket collected the rinse cycle water, bye the time I was finishing I noticed a Bobby (cop) walking up to me and began to question me for having broken the ban! I explained what and how I had done it, he ended up telling me it was a great idea and that he would do likewise! Getting full use of the water that way!
Apparently a neighbour had watched me and alerted the police!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Jerry's Take: Bringing about a Change - Jarrar Shah

Pakistan has been in the grips of a severe heat wave. This always happens this time of the year. All of us are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first monsoon rains. This year has been more difficult than usual because of the excessive load shedding (power outages). Here are some interesting facts about the electricity situation in the country. The total capacity of electricity in this country is 19,754MW (economic survey of Pakistan 2008-2009). the current production of electricity in this country is roughly 11,000MW. The demand in this country given the atrocious weather conditions is at its yearly peak which is 15,000 MW. Do the math folks. Should this equation result in load shedding? We are utilising 55% of our total installed capacity of power generation. so whats going on here? in a nutshell, poor governance. The government is not paying the utility companies who cant pay the producers who in turn cant pay the oil and gas companies. Our energy sector is trapped in circular debt. Here's the kicker. In the next two years roughly 10,000MW are going to be coming online in our energy grid. that's good news right? Well ill leave that judgement up to you. the overwhelming majority of power producing units coming up are going to be thermal based i.e running on gas or oil. We already aren't being able to pay our existing thermal units so how are we going to pay these new companies. Well one thing the government could do and is doing is increase the bills it sends us. Once that's done how our industries will compete globally is something beyond me. The effect on domestic inflation wont be nice either. Also what would happen if international oil prices start rocketing towards the $150/barrel mark? Another thing that could happen is that due to the shutting down of various industrial units our consumption could come down so we wont have to run all those expensive thermal units. What would happen to all those jobless youth is something we will worry about when we cross that bridge or i guess in our case not worry at all. Why?

Lately there's been some noise about the water issue. This issue is only going to get worse with time. Our capacity to store water on the Indus is limited and our population growth is not. We have politicised the issue of dams to the detriment of us all. The much awaited monsoon season is all set to hit us. The bulk of that rainfall will be wasted. Why? Because we don't have any dam downstream of Tarbela dam to catch and store that rain water. A lot of the snow that melts each year cant be stored because we only have Tarbela dam on the Indus and no dam upstream of it. We talk incessantly of being an agrarian economy yet over the past so many decades we have made the topic of dams politically taboo in this country. Why?

Apart from the obvious benefits of storing water when its in excess during the summers and monsoon, building dams will also generate thousands of jobs for unskilled workers during construction and later on during construction of new canals etc. The most obvious benefit that will be derived though is on the energy front. We will be providing our consumers and our industry alike with the cheapest source of renewable energy thus leading to massive industrialisation and job creation in this country. We have the capacity to generate 55,000MW of cheap electricity from the river Indus but unfortunately we are not the least bit interested in pursuing this option. Why?

Politics as usual can not go on in this country anymore. Our challenges are too huge and our people have been taken for granted for far too long for this to continue. We must individually and collectively start doing our part in bringing about a change.

One such group of individuals have made a collective called Pakistan Rising that intends to play a part no matter how small in bringing about this change. This group of individuals came together a couple of months back after reports of the Taliban extremists entering Buner. They helped organize a letter campaign and protest rally against extremism in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. They are also facilitating 400 IDP families at three locations in NWFP and 60 IDP families in Lahore. They have raised and distributed goods worth Rs3.5million in one month for these IDP families. In addition they have held two further protests and vigils one of which was done simultaneously in Lahore and Islamabad with the Lahore event being held at the site of the suicide bombing of the rescue 15 building 3 days after the bombing. Pakistan Rising has also created an awareness campaign in Lahore regarding the menace of extremism and about the need for unity amongst Pakistanis. They need your help though. They need volunteers, members and financial contribution. These are all people who care passionately about this country and have decided to do their part. The plan of Pakistan Rising is simple. They want to create awareness amongst the people of Pakistan so that people can mobilise effectively to pressurize the government of the day. They want to promote unity amongst the provinces and peoples of this land. They want all of you to join them in this endeavor. If others are doing the same thing already then collaboration and coordination would be something that could be done.
For greater details on how to contribute please check out their facebook page or go to
the website is still being polished and updated but it should be up and running within a weeks time. Im also a full fledged member of this collective, so if someone needs information from me id be only too happy to oblige.

Pakistan Hamesha Zindabad.

Supreme Ishq.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Pandora's Box: Jinaay Lahore nahee wakhaiaya - Aabi Asif

Hey people!

I will start my travelogue from the land of Punjab. Punjab is a derivative and is made up of two words “Punj” and “aab”; Punj meaning five and aab meaning water; thus it is the land of five rivers.

There is this famous saying : jinnay nay Lahore naee wakhaiay oh jamia nahee;
Translated: He who hasn’t seen Lahore hasn’t lived his life!
Lahore is considered to be the land of people who know how to live and enjoy life!!!

Lahore is the second largest city of and provincial capital of Punjab. Legend has that it was founded by two sons of Lord Rama about 4000 years ago. Historically it has been proved that Lahore is about 2000 years old. Hieun-tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim, has given a vivid description of Lahore city which he visited in the early parts of the seventh century A.D.

Legend has that it was founded by two sons of Lord Rama about 4000 years ago. Historically it has been proved that Lahore is about 2000 years old. Hieun-tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim, has given a vivid description of Lahore city which he visited in the early parts of the seventh century A.D.
For 200 years, beginning from about 1525 A.D., Lahore was a thriving cultural center of the great Mughal Empire. Mughal Emperors beautified Lahore with palaces, gardens and mosques. During the British regime many monuments sprang up in Lahore which blended beautifully with the Mughal, Gothic and Victorian styles of architecture.

Historical Monuments:
Lahore is filled with beautiful architecture that constitute our history. Some of them worth visiting are:

The first and foremost is: Minar-e-Pakistan. Minar-e-Pakistan is the monument that was built in Manto Park where in 1940, the resolution was passed. It is in memory of the event of the 23rd March where the ideology of Pakistan was presented.
Right behind Minar-e-Pakistan is the Royal Fort of Lahore. Although most parts of the Royal Fort were constructed around 1566 A.D. by the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the great, there is evidence that a mud fort was in existence here in 1021 A.D. as well, when Mahmood of Ghazna invaded this area. Akbar demolished the old mud fort and constructed most of the modern Fort, as we see it today, on the old foundations. Construction of the fort dates back to the early Hindu period.

Badshahi Mosque is another one of the Mughal creations The emperor or the Badshahi Mosque is across the courtyard from Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort. The Mosque which is made up entirely of sand-stone was built by Emperor Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughals, in a record time of the two and-a-half years. Its construction was completed by 1674 A.D
Outside the Badshahi mosque, near its steps, lies the tomb of Allama Iqbal, the poet-philosopher of the East. The mausoleum is a mixture of Afghan and Moorish style of architecture and is constructed entirely of red sandstone which was quarried and brought from Rajasthan.
So if you are ever there in Lahore make it a point to visit these places; its worth going to to get in touch with the history again :)

More about Lahore next week; this is Aabi signing off for now.
Have fun!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Postcards from Pakistan: Lake Saul-ul-Muluk - Faraz Niaz

Support IDP, Support Pakistan Army band made available for Sale

Wrist Bands with 2 Inscriptions :

One Nation One Cause - Support IDPs
One Nation One Cause - Support Pakistan Army

are now available for sale.

Each wrist band costs Rs. 150 and the proceeds will go to IDPs.
Please contact the admin of Facebook Group 'In Memory of Brave Martyrs'

The Wagah Border Ceremony

The Wagah border often called the 'Berlin wall of Asia', is a ceremonial border on India–Pakistan Border, where each evening, there is a retreat ceremony called 'lowering of the flags'. At that time there is very energetic and thrilling parade done by Pakistan Rangers soldiers and Border Security Force (B.S.F), India . It offers grand entertainment for the crowds with grand stands being built on both sides and remains one of the key attractions for tourists visiting Lahore.

I Spy (Special Report): Rawalpindi visits the Injured Troops - Sadaf Zarrar

On the scortching afternoon of the 27th of June 2009, an oddest gathering of people convened infront of the CMH Rawalpindi. There were Young and Old, Rich and Poor, Employed and Unemployed, Men and Women, Students and Professionals, Shalwar Kameez clad and Western outfit adorned, English and Urdu Speaking... They were all patriots, and were there to homage to the injured troops.

Going from one surgical ward to another, the group met over 60 injured soldiers and officiers, spent time with them, heard their stories and thanked them for their bravery and their sacrifices.

The troops most of whom were badly injured had smiles on their faces and were most welcoming to the group. While most of them would take months even years to recover, and some might never... the morale was high. All of them unanimously expressed their wish to get back into combat and defend the nation.
'It is our job to fight for this country and give our lives... the only thing we need from you is your prayers and support'.
When thanking the soldiers a group member asked the Officer if there was anything we could do for them to which the officer replied, 'It is our job to fight for this country and give our lives... the only thing we need from you is your prayers and support'.
'Pray that I get well soon, I need to get back to the frontline, I've got a few scores to settle.'
Another young Captain confidently proclaimed 'Pray that I get well soon, I need to get back to the frontline, I've got a few scores to settle.'

Tariq ki Dua - Allama Iqbal

Yeh ghazi yeh tere pur-israr bande
Jinhen ttu ne bakhsha hai zoq-e-Khudai

Dao-nim in ki thokar se sehra-o-darya
Simat kar pahar in ki haibat se rai

Dao-aalam se karti hai be-ganah dil
Ajab cheez hai lazzat-e-aashnai

Shahadat hai matlub-o-maqsude Momin
Nah mal-e-ghanimat nah kishwar kushai

Khiyaban mein hai muntazir lalah kab se
Quba chahiye iis ko khune Arab se

Kiya ttu ne sehra-nashinon ko yakta
Khabar mein, nazar mein, azan-e-seher mein

Talab jis ki sadyon se thi zindagi ko
Woh soz os ne paya inhi ke jigar mein

Kushade dar-e-dil samajhte hein iis ko
Halakat nahin maot in ki nazar mein

Dile mard-e-Momin mein phir zindah kar de
Woh bijli keh thi nara-e-latazar mein

Azaaim ko sinon mein bedaar kar de
Nigah-e-Musalman ko talwar kar de!


"0 Lord! These bondsmen have set out in Your path for Jehad. They are the seekers of Your good pleasure. They are mysterious as well as the keepers of mystery. Their true state and position is known only to You. You have taught them high-mindedness and, now, they will not settle for less than world-leadership and Divine Rule. These proud men listen or yield to no one. Save them. Deserts and rivers carry out their biddings and mountains turn into heaps of dust out of fear and respect for them. You had made them indifferent to the riches of the worlds by instilling Your love into their hearts. But for the love of Jehad and the joy of martyrdom, the kingdom of the earth holds no attraction for them. This is the magic of love. It is the ruling passion that has brought them to this remote land. It is the last wish and the greatest desire of a Muslim.

"The world is hovering on the verge of ruin. Only the Arabs, by laying down their lives, can save it from falling into the abyss of destruction. Everyone is thirsting for Arab blood and this sacred blood alone can remove the malady. Forests and gardens, tulips and roses are pining for it to color their cheeks. We have come to this strange country to irrigate it with our life-blood so that the withered crop of humanity may flourish again and springtime may return after the agonising spell of autumn."

"0 Lord! You have conferred Your unique favors on these desert dwellers and herders of camels. You vouchsafed them a new knowledge, a new faith and a new way of life. You gave them the wealth of Adhan which is the standing call of "Tauheed", arousing men from the slumber of ignorance. By means of it, the Arabs put an end to the death-like stupor that had descended upon the world and gave it the glad tidings of a new dayspring. Life had lost its warmth and movement and centuries had passed over it in that state.

It regained its momentum, started again on its journey and attained the destination of faith and love. The crusaders do not regard death to be the end of life but the threshold of a new existence.

"0 Allah! Grant them for dignity of faith and enmity for The own sake (as was revealed in the prayer of Noah: 'My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers in the land.') so that this army may become a relentless sword and a fearful thunderbolt for heathenism and corruption and produce fear for it in the heart of the enemy."

Here is a pictorial update of the event:

The visit was organized by Mehvish Alavi and Aleena Alavi, along with a group of Volunteers running the groups 'In Memory of Brave Martyrs' and 'Rising Youth of Pakistan' on Facebook.


Operation Rah-e-Rast (formerly known as Ras-e-Haq) is now in its last leg in SWAT areas where majority areas have been cleared of taliban influence. The people of Buner have started returning to their homes.

Operation Rah-e-Nijat taking place in South Waziristan is now beginging to gain pace and the army is marching ahead to clear the Pakistan Tribal Areas of the Taliban insurgents.

ALDO opens its Doors to Shoe Lovers in Lahore

The first ALDO store has opened up in Lahore. For all of those who love ALDO shoes, handbags, and accessories; because you know you look ridiculously good in anything you buy from ALDO.

ALDO specializes in the creation of high-quality fashion footwear, leather goods and accessories. This sought-after brand pays close attention to detail and to fine craftsmanship. ALDO is dedicated to bringing you both quality and cutting-edge trends at affordable prices, season after season. What's more, ALDO's dedicated team of buyers and stylists constantly travel the globe to keep you on the pulse of fashion. Whether the latest footwear trends are breaking in London, Milan, Paris, New York or Tokyo, ALDO will have them on your feet first!

The Aldo Lahore store is located in: XX Block, DHA.