Monthly Archives: August 2010

Drowning In Rage

This is a short story sent to us by D. Asghar

Writer’s Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, all names and places except Lahore and Anarkali are imaginary. Any resemblance to a person, living or dead is merely a coincidence. The story revolves around the recent floods in Pakistan, but does not depict the actual facts surrounding that event.

“Idrees, Naajia, Sughra….Idrees, Naajia Sughra.” I yelled and then woke up again. Karam Din came to me and said the same thing; he had repeatedly told me every time I had this nightmare. He murmured, “Brother your family is with GOD Almighty, they are looking for you, as much as you are for them.” He had me drink something and I felt lifeless.

 “Baba….get me the bangles from Anarkali this time, when you are there.” My princess of a daughter, Naajia requested. “Baba get me a cricket bat.” Her younger brother, my 5 year old son, Idrees lodged his request as well. “Of course I will get you your bangles Naajia and Puttar Idrees I will get you a cricket bat.” I grabbed both of them and hugged them tightly. Sughra came out of the tiny cube of a kitchen and stared at me and said, “Are you leaving Ji. Please be careful as it has started to rain.” All I could say was, “Yes I know.” She handed me my lunch in a Tiffin box and I grabbed it. She handed me my umbrella and I left.

 The bus took me from my village, Kot Kangha to Lahore. The rain started to get heavy. My one hour journey from Kot Kangha to Lahore turned out to be two and a half hours. Everyone in the bus was happy, that GOD had finally sent the much needed rain. The fields along the way were getting greener. My heart was racing with happiness, it is happening. The angels of heaven are showing their ultimate mercy on us. The bus had workers like me headed to Lahore. One of them started to sing a Punjabi song about rain and some others joined in.

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The Manhattan Mosque

By Yasser Latif Hamdani (Courtesy Daily Times)

The mosque in Manhattan has stirred a hornet’s nest. The issue now threatens to test the very ideals of western secular democracy that we admire and cherish and seek to emulate in the rest of the world. It is important, therefore, to weigh in logically and as reasonable people — though reason is hard to come by these days — on the unnecessary provocation in Manhattan created by Imam Feisal Abdel Raouf and his wife Daisy Khan that they refer to as ‘Cordoba House’ or ‘Park 51’, a $ 100 million Islamic centre in New York City. Continue reading

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A letter to the youth of Pakistan

Usama Khilji, a young activist from Islamabad addresses his contemporaries in Pakistan
Dear Young Pakistani!
I understand how these times are testing of your patriotism, but let me tell you how these times are actually a golden opportunity for you to prove your worth, your love for the country, and desire for a better future.

You must have been hearing a lot about how Pakistani society has degenerated into moral chaos, how we as a nation are worthless ‘cockroaches’, and how we as a nation are deserving of calamities such as the catastrophic flood. These are all baseless generalizations that you as the youth should take up as challenges, and rather than accepting such fatalism, prove them wrong instead.

For those of you who were disheartened by the beating to death of two brothers in Sialkot by a mob, don’t be disheartened. Use this event to realize the importance of justice, the importance of rule of law. Many of you went out on the roads of different cities of Pakistan demanding justice to the deceased brothers. Excellent. Be involved. Stand up and question any wrong that you see happening around you. Refuse to consent to injustice; otherwise you are one of the spectators of the mob-justice scene in Sialkot. Continue reading

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PAKISTAN’S OWN KATRINA: Be a Difference-Maker

Adnan Shamsi has sent this post for PTH. This is an excellent summary of the grave crisis facing Pakistan. Shamsi has also listed the organisations that can be supported by donations. At this time, millions of displaced Pakistanis need help and goodwill from across the world. We are happy that PTH’s little contribution to floods coverage is attracting more and more contributors and doers like Mr Shamsi. Raza Rumi

I just finished reading the book “ZEITOUN” by Dave Eggers, with a vivid accounting of life experienced before, during and after the flooding of a major American city in 2005. As the 5th year anniversary of the decimation of New Orleans arrives, brought on by Hurricane Katrina, Pakistan is experiencing its own version of natural calamity. Flooding resulting from monsoon rains has now engulfed one-third of the entire country. To put this into perspective, the flooded areas of Pakistan, still under water today, is an area equivalent to the entire combined land mass of Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. If you can’t quite picture that, picture this: the entire country of Greece completely flooded. In U.S. geographic terms? It’s as if the entire state of Florida were now underwater. If you can’t possibly imagine that, consider that to be equivalent to the flooding of the ENTIRE state of Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland and the capital Washington DC COMBINED.

It started raining on July 22nd and only eight days later Anne Patterson, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, had issued a disaster declaration. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon upon visiting the country soon after stated, “the world has never seen such a disaster… it’s much beyond anybody’s imagination.” Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s has just called it “The World’s Biggest Emergency” while The Economist writes that “social, economic and political misery will endure for a long time yet…(and) the threat of epidemic disease lurks.” I recall watching the forceful and mighty Indus river from its banks during a trip to the Northern areas of Pakistan in the 1990s, the same river which has run over its banks and spread outwards by scores of miles. I recall riding in a rickety Suzuki minivan along the mountain high ancient Silk Road, today’s KKH (also known as the Karakoram Highway, the world’s highest paved road), which connects Pakistan to China, the same road parts of which are now closed due to damaged infrastructure from the same monsoon rains.

The latest numbers indicate the following:
•    Nearly 20 million people have been displaced (more than the population of the state of New York) including 79 out of 122 districts of Pakistan, and at least half of these people require immediate and sustained humanitarian assistance
•    60,000 square miles are under water
•    1600 deaths
•    14 million people are in need of emergency medical care
•    2.5 million are homeless
•    800,000 people remain cut off from all assistance due to harshness of the terrain and current flood conditions
•    1.2 million homes have been damaged or destroyed
•    1.2 million large animals and 6 million poultry have perished
•    2.6 million acres of cultivated land has been underwater
•    Economically, the agricultural base of the economy has been decimated, with 1 million metric tons of wheat damaged (farmers have lost of 37% of the rice crop, 17% of the cotton crop and 15% of the sugarcane crop) Continue reading

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Match fixing: shameful and unacceptable

The News of the World exposes cricket match-fixing scandal

Raza Rumi

The match-fixing allegations are not new for Pakistani cricketers. In the past, such allegations have been proved within the country. The recent scandal with circumstantial evidence broke out by a British tabloid is simply mind-boggling and shameful. We hope that a fair inquiry will remove the mist from the narrative presented by the media. But a thorough inquiry must take place and all the recommendations should be implemented.

Even if there is a grain of truth in the allegations against 7 members of the the team including Mohammad Amir whose bowling was ironically praised in the ongoing test match, it is a matter of serious concern and brings shame to all Pakistanis.

That such an incident happens at the world stage when Pakistan is struggling to recover from a major natural disaster and seeking international assistance has ramifications for the country and its people.

What is wrong with us? Is it that bad? The absence of rule of law and flouting of ethical standards in every sphere seems to be our fate?

Perhaps, another conspiracy – as I just heard a few people on the television. No. We must admit that we are sliding down and we need to face our grim realities and do something about it.

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Another Martial Law?

This a piece authored by Mr Omar Ali. We are grateful to Mr Ali Arqam editor LUBP for sending it to us.

by Omar Ali

Pakistan is in the grip of one of its periodic eruptions of speculation about impending martial law, or at least, it looks like that on TV. For weeks, the largest news channel in the country has been shamelessly promoting the army’s role in flood relief as if the army is an opposition party, bravely stepping in to do work that the “corrupt politicians” who rule the country do not want to do (or cannot do). The fact that the army is an instrument of the state and that its efforts are part and parcel of the sitting government’s response to the emergency has not registered with the anchors at GEO news. But it has not stopped there; various failed politicians who are unable to survive on their own, but always find a happy home under martial law, are crawling out of the woodwork to lament the terrible situation and endlessly repeat the phrase “after all, things cannot go on like this, something must be done”. But what is this “something”? Do they want the sitting government to resign? do they want the opposition to bring in a vote of no-confidence? do they perhaps want the president to dissolve the assemblies? No, none of these legal or quasi-legal alternatives will do in this hour of national emergency. What has set their tongues wagging is the possibility that “patriotic generals” may be forced to step in and save the country. And as if on cue, the MQM’s Altaf Hussain has stepped forward with the suggestion that a “patriotic general” may indeed be better than “feudal politicians”. Naturally all this has raised the hopes of some sections of the Punjabi middle class, who are eternally unhappy with the “illiterate masses” and “corrupt politicians” and apparently go to bed dreaming of Bonaparte riding in on his white horse to “create more provinces and increase national unity and sense of purpose”. Continue reading

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A report from Swat Kohistan

Zubair Torwali, stranded in Swat reports on how misleading stories of relief operations are being filed by powerful quarters

Since the floods hit Swat and Kohistan, the residents are complaining that the situation has become grim. The media is apathetic and state institutions are conspicuous by their absence. The locals are angry about the fact that their self-help initiatives such as makeshift bridges with wooden planks are being touted by the state institutions as the ‘relief’ given to the area.

More than 200,000 people of the valley beyond Madyan up to Utror via Bahrain and Kalam have run out of food. On clear days, helicopters appear and the mainstream media reports that food and medicine are being distributed. One wonders who is generating such news as the media persons thus far have no access to the area. Continue reading

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