Thursday, April 30, 2009

Say No to Taliban.

Today Pakistan is in such a confused state over supporting or destroying Taliban. It seems many conservative forces believe that Taliban are our Muslims brothers, would shield Pakistan from Indian intrusion into Pakistan through Afghan borders.

The monster may seem to fix external threats but it seems things on internal front are getting worse by the malaise of Taliban. We saw Red Mosque fiasco, then women flogging in tourist area Sawat then falling of Buner, just 60 km away from Islamabad.

At least people in urban towns are concerned; one can not force their will on people in the name of religion. In the case of Taliban, it is the medieval forces pushing societies to Stone Age.

Moderate force in Pakistan would not let the Stone Age monster to rein the cities with their version of Islam.

I just can not imagine people forcing me to wear beards, offer prayers or follow religion the way others want me, no fun, no music, no art, no literature simply plunging into dark ages or someone tells my female friends to wear BURKA veil, to not to work, don’t come out in public, cover everything.

I just can not think about such a life… way.

Makeover Please!

Brit Got Talent, prodigy, old Susan Boyle stunned everyone with her performance lately. Everyone thought she doesn’t carry her self well, the image doesn’t go with the performance, here she comes with complete makeover. Simply, stunning, same old lady......
There are skeptics who believe that one should go in nature’s way, should not fight ageing, and accept the look or the body we all have but on the other side people are fighting aging through makeover, people like Madonna, Simon of American Idol.

If I look at the definition of makeover I came across “makeover is a term applied to changing one's appearance, sometimes through cosmetics. Makeovers can range from something as simple as a new haircut, to the use of cosmetic surgery, to the extreme of the implantation of dental veneers, eye-color-changing contact lenses, and the use of appearance-altering gastric bypass surgeries, providing massive, permanent fat loss in obese persons, and the associated plastic surgeries, such as abdominoplasty, to eliminate the resulting loose-hanging skin folds (the "panniculus").

Apart from dangerous and risky surgeries, I am all for makeover. People should look and feel good and it’s the makeover that does the wonders. Brazilian wax may be banned in New Jersey, i am all for if it enhances the beauty of a female.

If you look at the picture of 9 women, it shows they are truly beautiful but makeover can do wonders in enhancing the hidden beauty.

I am all set for long awaited makeover, pretty soon ;) don't ask me the details :P

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chelsea is Ready for Barca; Viva Chelsea

This time again Chelsea's dream of lifting EPL title has almost gone sour. No problem, atleast Champions League clash with Barcelona is a hope for Chelsea supporters.

This morning they have flown to Spain for the first leg of their semi final clash. Chelsea guys know they will have their hands full trying to keep Lionel Messi and Co quiet at the Nou Camp tomorrow night.

Viva Chelsea .....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cute Balochi Pashk ‘Female Dress’ Goes to Bollywood!

Dress is one of the most important representations of the uniqueness of a nation. Cute Pashk is one of the connecting aspects of the people of Baluchistan, along with land, language and history. I remember, lately I was in Tokyo, Japan; I saw how Japanese girls were proud of their traditional dress KIMONO.

I still remember when I checked in Imperial Palace Hotel in Tokyo, right across the Emperor Palace around GINZA, first thing I noticed, girls wearing cultural KIMONO, at the reception, even university convocation was also being held at the hotel, every one was in traditional KIMONO. My host informed me that traditional dress means a lot to people, it connects everyone, binds the nation; it is the power of dress that plays a role of common unifying factor of nationhood.

Lately, Slumdog Millionaire movie premier attracted millions, even I during my recent US visit, almost in top 5 States, 90% of cinema halls were playing Slumdog Millionaire. When I saw famous Shabana Azmi in Balochi dress at the movie premiere , it was like a fresh air to me, soothing to eyes and satisfying moment to see cute Pashk ‘Balochi Dress’ going Bollywood. At this juncture of historic struggle of Baloch nation, this picture means a lot to all of us. I remember many of my close friends forwarded and shared the picture with sheer joy and pride.

Shabana was wearing the dress, is called Kalati Doch, and it is a Tarho/Tadho (Tarho means the Chageen/embroidery is made on canvas then fitted on the shirt) This Kalati Tarho, of Shabana Azmi, is an old and traditional in design. Its front pocket is called Goptaan or Pandol.

There are several types of doch (balochi embroidery done on pashk). There’s Kapnaal doch, Rind doch, Banor-e-Ans (Bride’s Tear), Gul -e- Kantuk, Badshah-e-Taj (King’s Crown), Taidok, Pazep, Neza, Chandan-e-Haar, Gul-e-Nimash, et al

The patterns on Balochi dress seems artistic and unique in nature, I wish the art survives and cute Pashk attracts many more all around.

All simply gives me joy and pride.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day; Time to Take Action

Earth Day is a time to celebrate gains we have made and create new visions to accelerate environmental progress. Earth Day is a time to unite around new actions. Earth Day and every day is a time to act to protect our planet

At an individual level we can make a difference through saving energy at home. While using waters, don't let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth. Take short showers instead of tub baths.

Practice the three R's: first reduce how much you use, then reuse what you can, and then recycle the rest. Then, dispose of what's left in the most environmentally friendly way.

Reduce: Buy permanent items instead of disposables. Buy and use only what you need. Buy products with less packaging. Buy products that use less toxic chemicals.

Reuse: Repair items as much as possible. Use durable coffee/tea mugs. Use cloth napkins or towels. Clean out juice bottles and use them for water. Use empty jars to hold leftover food. Reuse boxes. Purchase refillable pens and pencils.
Recycle paper (printer paper, newspapers, mail, etc.), plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum cans. Or support through buying recycled products.

Remember, either we are in Pakistan or anywhere else, we can make a difference through our small steps.Go on and be gentle to planet earth, today and everyday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hey Pakistani Friends Be Pro Progress!

There are various societies, marching on the path of progress, moving up with idea generation and making the world a better place. Be it US, China, India, Japan or major European economies, all are marching on the path of progress.

I lament, there are many people around Pakistan who are myopic, living in medieval age , suffering from pre conceived notions or perception that leads them to blame others in everything that goes wrong in country. They are out there to identify flaws all around Pakistan and find a scapegoat to blame, in many cases its India or US or Israel etc.

To me these are the people, who are suffering from conspiracy phobia. They are naive, just can not see what is happening around, who is responsible and how could it be fixed. What is their role, how much they are responsible, how much they can change instead of crying out loud and blaming various groups or countries. One may not deny conspiracies but we all need to see inward and find solutions and bounce back just like winning societies do .

I also lament our educated class ‘to me most of them are technicians, good at technical work’ are oblivious, it may not be their fault, there is hardly any emphasis on social or civic learning in our curricula at national level.

People at the helm of affairs have harmed the nation through distorted history. No where in the world, invaders are considered heroes but I lament in Pakistan we call Mehmood Ghaznavi a hero, he came 14 times from Afghanistan to loot gold and other ornaments from Indian temples. We call him a hero, believing that he preached Islam, destroyed those statues of Hindu God and Goddesses. I at times think why Mr. Ghaznavi, did not destroy statutes in Bamyan, even those were in his neighborhood.

Bhagat Singh is the son of the soil from Faisalabad, he stood against the discriminatory colonial policies of British Empire, we do not call him hero. Ranjeet Singh formed united Punjab, irrespective of religious difference, all Punjabis were coalesced with the system.

I at times think, there is something deeply wrong with us, be it educated or uneducated class, we are naïve and myopic enough to be pro-progressive.

If someone tries to be pro-progressive, we just blame him or her that he or she is brainwashed. I have yet to find people who question and follow things out of logic instead of emotions.

Long way to go… least i am glad, in my circles my friends question, ask, open to learning, do not accept what every Tom Dick and Harry believes. They are pro human, trying to make a difference through social contribution, am proud of them. Wish we could have more pro progressive.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kentucky Derby, The Run for the Roses

I came across Kentucky Derby through my friend Lecia, she is from VA. In first week of May, she is flying to be part of amazing Derby.

It’s a two week long festival; an amazing Horse Racing along with traditions. It is also known as Run for the Roses because a lush blanket of 554 red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year.

Kentucky is a beautiful place and has been a major center for horse breeding and racing since the late 18th century. Region has been famous for producing superior race horses.

While reading about Kentucky Derby I found that in addition to the race itself, a number of traditions play a large role in the Derby atmosphere. The Mint Julep, an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint and a sugar syrup is the traditional beverage of the race. The historic drink can be served in an ice-frosted silver julep cup but most Churchill Downs patrons sip theirs from a souvenir glass printed with all previous Derby winners. Also, burgoo, a thick stew of beef, chicken, pork and vegetables, is a popular Kentucky dish served at the Derby.

Expensive box seats attract the rich, the famous and well connected people.

Lecia also informed that women appear in fine outfits lavishly accessorized with large, elaborate hats.

Wangari Says ‘be Gentle to Planet Earth’

It has been few years we have been coming across green politics, green cars, and green products. After evolving from gender issues, at last, developed world is thinking green.

Green wind from a third world Kenya is a positive development, more interesting, its lead by a female, Wangari.

Lately I came across a BBC documentary on Wangari; she is an awe inspiring green activist won the noble prize for her contribution in the field of environment. After watching her, I felt, world needs more Wangari, leading through example. Striving for a better future for all, for the world at large.

Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya in 1977, which has planted more than 10 million trees to prevent soil erosion and provide firewood for cooking fires.

A 1989 United Nations report noted that only 9 trees were being replanted in Africa for every 100 that were cut down, causing serious problems with deforestation: soil runoff, water pollution, difficulty finding firewood, lack of animal nutrition, etc. The program has been carried out primarily by women in the villages of Kenya, who through protecting their environment and through the paid employment for planting the trees are able to better care for their children and their children's future. In 1998, Wangari Maathai gained worldwide attention when the Kenyan President backed development of a luxury housing project and building began by clearing hundreds of acres of Kenya forest. It is feared that future wars would be fought on water; environment is the issue we will all be engulfed in future. Carbon emission is one of the areas, Kyoto Protocol addresses. I was lately in US; I was surprised that Washington State, Seattle, signed Kyoto Protocol, in spite of US’s reluctance. Wangari’s message is so important that no on affords to ignore… is ‘plant a tree, focus on Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle’. Various cities in Japan and Seattle are the place where I saw people taking environment as serious issue, other areas also need to listen to Wangari for a better future for our coming generation.
I guess, it is alright to be gentle with planet earth.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why Awe Inspiring Susan Made me Cry!

I never had tears of joy but Susan’s performance made me cry because of her unexpected awe inspiring performance.
I cry because she reminds us to hope, to never lose track of our dreams, to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter what others say or think. She gives us hope.

American Idol is an amazing talent hunt show, showcasing inspirational talent from all across US to various regions. One may wonder, could Brits ever be part of talent show!

But Susan Boyle, a lady in late 40s inspired the crowd with her mesmerizing talent in " Britain's Got Talent Show". When Simon asked Susan, what she wanted to become, she replied, 'Professional Singer' and crowd started laughing…….’ thinking, how could a lady in late 40s having a goal of becoming professional singer……was funny to most of them;.

Susan sang I Dreamed a Dream, when she was on stage, everyone was against her, laughing and making fun.

The crowd murmured, a sea of skeptics, readying themselves for a likely-abysmal performance from a self-delusional joke of a woman. Instead, Susan Boyle lifted hearts, incited tears, and received an almost immediate standing ovation.

The YouTube of Boyle's performance has seen over 7 million hits since Saturday, an insane number. While we should not all get crazy and call Susan the best singer in the world, the fact that a 48-year-old unemployed church volunteer can strut on stage in front of a massive audience and deliver a surprise sonic boom to the earth is more than uplifting. I learned one thing, one has to have strong resolve and self belief that world is full of skeptics, everyone just try to let you down……but Susan’s performance is a fresh air in the world of skeptics.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My US IVLP Participation & My Blog Links on US Consulate Karachi Web

In Jan-Feb 09, I was selected to represent Pakistan in US-IVLP exchange program on US Trade Policy. It was a wonderful experience to be part of a learning group. It has not enlightened me to have deep professional understanding, to help my country and society but also enlightened me about US society.

Here are the links;

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Forget about Printed Books, Kindle 2 is the Future!

During my February 09, US visit I came across an interesting device at Barns & Nobel Bookstore, called Kindle . It is such a sleek and eyesoothing digital reading device, i think I would be using pretty soon.

If Kindly 2 were cheaper, it could have affected the sale of printed books, it is presently priced at $359. Hmmm spending that much for pleasure reading device it makes one rationale buyer to think. But sooner or later Kindle would be in every bag and every hand.

Kindly 2 is better than original It's sleeker, more pleasant to touch and easier to read (though the screen is the same size), and the battery lasts forever--more than two weeks if you keep the wireless connection off.

It also adds a supercool feature called Whispersync, which automatically notes where you left off reading. So if you use more than one Kindle or download the free Kindle reading software to your Apple iPhone, you can move from one device to the other without losing your place.

Days are not far when we start reading books on our iPhone? iPhone!!!! I am not kidding, with a 1o inch IPhone touch screen.

The Saudi-isation of Pakistan

I came across an interesting article by Pervez Hoodbhoy on Saudi-isation of Pakistan. Even being in Karachi i feel scare wave of fundamentalism gripping the liberal parts of Karachi. Every moderate, who wants progress is concerned, the way, the land of SUFIs is dragged from Indian sub-continent to all the way to desert land of Saudi Arabia.

Pervaiz writes "BackThe common belief in Pakistan is that Islamic radicalism is a problem only in FATA, and that madrassas are the only institutions serving as jihad factories. This is a serious misconception. Extremism is breeding at a ferocious rate in public and private schools within Pakistan’s towns and cities. Left unchallenged, this education will produce a generation incapable of co-existing with anyone except strictly their own kind. The mindset it creates may eventually lead to Pakistan’s demise as a nation state.

For 20 years or more, a few of us have been desperately sending out SOS messages, warning of terrible times to come. In fact, I am surprised at how rapidly these dire predictions have come true.
A full-scale war is being fought in FATA, Swat and other “wild” areas of Pakistan, resulting in thousands of deaths. It is only a matter of time before this fighting shifts to Peshawar and Islamabad (which has already been a witness to the Lal Masjid episode) and engulfs Lahore and Karachi as well. The suicide bomber and the masked abductor have crippled Pakistan’s urban life and shattered its national economy.

Soldiers, policemen, factory and hospital workers, mourners at funerals and ordinary people praying in mosques have all been reduced to globs of flesh and fragments of bones. But, perhaps paradoxically, in spite of the fact that the dead bodies and shattered lives are almost all Muslim ones, few Pakistanis speak out against these atrocities. Nor do they approve of the army operation against the cruel perpetrators of these acts because they believe that they are Islamic warriors fighting for Islam and against American occupation. Political leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan have no words of solace for those who have suffered at the hands of Islamic extremists. Their tears are reserved exclusively for the victims of Predator drones, even if they are those who committed grave crimes against their own people. Terrorism, by definition, is an act only the Americans can commit.

What explains Pakistan’s collective masochism? To understand this, one needs to study the drastic social and cultural transformations that have rendered this country so completely different from what it was in earlier times.

For three decades, deep tectonic forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian peninsula. This continental drift is not physical but cultural, driven by a belief that Pakistan must exchange its South Asian identity for an Arab-Muslim one. Grain by grain, the desert sands of Saudi Arabia are replacing the rich soil that had nurtured a magnificent Muslim culture in India for a thousand years. This culture produced Mughul architecture, the Taj Mahal, the poetry of Asadullah Khan Ghalib, and much more. Now a stern, unyielding version of Islam (Wahhabism) is replacing the kinder, gentler Islam of the Sufis and saints who had walked on this land for hundreds of years.

This change is by design. Twenty-five years ago, the Pakistani state used Islam as an instrument of state policy. Prayers in government departments were deemed compulsory, floggings were carried out publicly, punishments were meted out to those who did not fast in Ramadan, selection for academic posts in universities required that the candidate demonstrate a knowledge of Islamic teachings and jihad was declared essential for every Muslim. Today, government intervention is no longer needed because of a spontaneous groundswell of Islamic zeal. The notion of an Islamic state – still in an amorphous and diffused form – is more popular now than ever before as people look desperately for miracles to rescue a failing state.

Villages have changed drastically; this transformation has been driven, in part, by Pakistani workers returning from Arab countries. Many village mosques are now giant madrassas that propagate hard-line Salafi and Deobandi beliefs through oversized loudspeakers. They are bitterly opposed to Barelvis, Shias and other sects, who they do not regard as Muslims. The Punjabis, who were far more liberal towards women than the Pukhtuns, are now beginning to take a line resembling that of the Taliban. Hanafi law has begun to prevail over tradition and civil law, as is evident from the recent decisions of the Lahore High Court.

In Pakistan’s lower-middle and middle classes lurks a grim and humourless Saudi-inspired revivalist movement that frowns on any and every expression of joy and pleasure. Lacking any positive connection to culture and knowledge, it seeks to eliminate “corruption” by regulating cultural life and seizing control of the education system.

“Classical music is on its last legs in Pakistan; the sarangi and vichitraveena are completely dead,” laments Mohammad Shehzad, a music aficionado. Indeed, teaching music in public universities is violently opposed by students of the Islami Jamaat-e-Talaba at Punjab University. So the university has been forced to hold its music classes elsewhere. Religious fundamentalists consider music haram or un-Islamic. Kathak dancing, once popular with the Muslim elite of India, has few teachers left. Pakistan produces no feature films of any consequence. Nevertheless, the Pakistani elite, disconnected from the rest of the population, live their lives in comfort through their vicarious proximity to the West. Alcoholism is a chronic problem of the super rich of Lahore – a curious irony for this deeply religious country.

Islamisation of the state and the polity was supposed to have been in the interest of the ruling class – a classic strategy for preserving it from the wrath of the working class. But the amazing success of the state is turning out to be its own undoing. Today, it is under attack from religious militants, and rival Islamic groups battle each other with heavy weapons. Ironically, the same army – whose men were recruited under the banner of jihad, and which saw itself as the fighting arm of Islam – today stands accused of betrayal and is almost daily targeted by Islamist suicide bombers.

Pakistan’s self-inflicted suffering comes from an education system that, like Saudi Arabia’s system, provides an ideological foundation for violence and future jihadists. It demands that Islam be understood as a complete code of life, and creates in the mind of a school-going child a sense of siege and embattlement by stressing that Islam is under threat everywhere.
On the previous page, the reader can view the government-approved curriculum. This is the basic road map for transmitting values and knowledge to the young. By an act of parliament passed in 1976, all government and private schools (except for O-level schools) are required to follow this curriculum. It was prepared by the curriculum wing of the federal ministry of education, government of Pakistan. It sounds like a blueprint for a religious fascist state.

Alongside are scanned pictures from an illustrated primer for the Urdu alphabet. The masthead states that it has been prepared by Iqra Publishers, Rawalpindi, along “Islamic lines.” Although not an officially approved textbook, it is being used currently by some regular schools, as well as madrassas associated with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), an Islamic political party that had allied itself with General Musharraf. These picture scans have been taken from a child’s book, hence the scribbles.

The world of the Pakistani schoolchild remained largely unchanged, even after September 11, 2001, the event that led to Pakistan’s timely desertion of the Taliban and the slackening of the Kashmir jihad. Indeed, for all his hypocritical talk of “enlightened moderation,” General Musharraf’s educational curriculum was far from enlightening. It was a slightly toned down version of the curriculum that existed under Nawaz Sharif which, in turn, was identical to that under Benazir Bhutto who had inherited it from General Zia-ul-Haq. Fearful of taking on the powerful religious forces, every incumbent government has refused to take a position on the curriculum and thus quietly allowed young minds to be moulded by fanatics. What may happen a generation later has always been a secondary issue for a government challenged on so many fronts.

The promotion of militarism in Pakistan’s so-called “secular” public schools, colleges and universities had a profound effect upon young minds. Militant jihad became part of the culture on college and university campuses. Armed groups flourished, they invited students for jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan, set up offices throughout the country, collected funds at Friday prayers and declared a war which knew no borders. Pre-9/11, my university was ablaze with posters inviting students to participate in the Kashmir jihad. Post-2001, this ceased to be done openly.

Still, the primary vehicle for Saudi-ising Pakistan’s education has been the madrassa. In earlier times, these had turned out the occasional Islamic scholar, using a curriculum that essentially dates back to the 11th century, with only minor subsequent revisions. But their principal function had been to produce imams and muezzins for mosques, and those who eked out an existence as ‘maulvi sahibs’ teaching children to read the Quran.

The Afghan jihad changed everything. During the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, madrassas provided the US-Saudi-Pakistani alliance the cannon fodder they needed to fight a holy war. The Americans and Saudis, helped by a more-than-willing General Zia, funded new madrassas across the length and breadth of Pakistan. A detailed picture of the current situation is not available. But according to the national education census, which the ministry of education released in 2006, Punjab has 5,459 madrassas followed by the NWFP with 2,843; Sindh has 1,935; the Federally Administrated Northern Areas (FANA), 1,193; Balochistan, 769; Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 586; the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), 135; and the Islamabad capital territory, 77. The ministry estimates that 1.5 million students are acquiring religious education in the 13,000 madrassas.

These figures appear to be way off the mark. Commonly quoted figures range between 18,000 and 22,000 madrassas. The number of students could be correspondingly larger. The free boarding and lodging plus provision of books to the students, is a key part of their appeal. Additionally, parents across the country desire that their children be “disciplined” and given a thorough Islamic education. The madrassas serve this purpose, too, exceedingly well.

Madrassas have deeply impacted the urban environment. Until a few years ago, Islamabad was a quiet, orderly, modern city different from the rest of Pakistan. Also, it had largely been the abode of Pakistan’s elite and foreign diplomats. But the rapid transformation of its demography brought with it hundreds of mosques with multi-barrelled audio-cannons mounted on minarets, as well as scores of madrassas illegally constructed in what used to be public parks and green areas. Now, tens of thousands of their students, sporting little prayer caps, dutifully chant the Quran all day. In the evenings they swarm the city, making women minus the hijab increasingly nervous.
Total segregation of the sexes is a central goal of the Islamists, the consequences of which have been catastrophic. For example, on April 9, 2006, 21 women and eight children were crushed to death and scores injured in a stampede inside a three-storey madrassa in Karachi, where a large number of women were attending a weekly congregation. Male rescuers, who arrived in ambulances, were prevented from moving the injured women to hospitals.

One cannot dismiss this incident as being just one of a kind. In fact, soon after the October 2005 earthquake, as I walked through the destroyed city of Balakot, a student of the Frontier Medical College described to me how he and his male colleagues were stopped by religious elders from digging out injured girl students from under the rubble of their school building. This action was similar to that of Saudi Arabia’s ubiquitous religious ‘mutaween’ (police) who, in March 2002, had stopped school girls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing their abayas – a long robe worn in Saudi Arabia. In a rare departure from the norm, Saudi newspapers had blamed and criticised the mutaween for letting 15 girls burn to death.

The Saudi-isation of a once-vibrant Pakistani culture continues at a relentless pace. The drive to segregate is now also being found among educated women. Vigorous proselytisers carrying this message, such as Mrs Farhat Hashmi, have been catapulted to the heights of fame and fortune. Their success is evident. Two decades back, the fully veiled student was a rarity on Pakistani university and college campuses. The abaya was an unknown word in Urdu. Today, some shops across the country specialise in abayas. At colleges and universities across Pakistan, the female student is seeking the anonymity of the burqa. And in some parts of the country she seems to outnumber her sisters who still “dare” to show their faces.

I have observed the veil profoundly affect habits and attitudes. Many of my veiled female students have largely become silent note-takers, are increasingly timid and seem less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions. They lack the confidence of a young university student.
While social conservatism does not necessarily lead to violent extremism, it does shorten the distance. The socially conservative are more easily convinced that Muslims are being demonised by the rest of the world. The real problem, they say, is the plight of the Palestinians, the decadent and discriminatory West, the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus, the Kashmir issue, the Bush doctrine – the list runs on. They vehemently deny that those committing terrorist acts are Muslims, and if presented with incontrovertible evidence, say it is a mere reaction to oppression.
The immediate future does not appear hopeful: increasing numbers of mullahs are creating cults around themselves and seizing control of the minds of worshippers. In the tribal areas, a string of new Islamist leaders have suddenly emerged: Baitullah Mehsud, Maulana Fazlullah and Mangal Bagh. Poverty, deprivation, lack of justice and extreme differences of wealth provide the perfect environment for these demagogues to recruit people to their cause. Their gruesome acts of terror are still being perceived by large numbers of Pakistanis merely as a war against imperialist America. This could not be further from the truth.

In the long term, we will have to see how the larger political battle works out between those Pakistanis who want an Islamic theocratic state and those who want a modern Islamic republic. It may yet be possible to roll back those Islamist laws and institutions that have corroded Pakistani society for over 30 years and to defeat its hate-driven holy warriors. There is no chance of instant success; perhaps things may have to get worse before they get better. But, in the long term, I am convinced that the forces of irrationality will cancel themselves out because they act at random whereas reason pulls only in one direction. History leads us to believe that reason will triumph over unreason, and the evolution of the humans into a higher and better species will continue. Using ways that we cannot currently anticipate, they will somehow overcome their primal impulses of territoriality, tribalism, religiosity and nationalism. But, for now, this must be just a matter of faith.

The author teaches physics at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hmmm Paul Krugman; Get Scared; if He is Right!!!

Paul Krugman is one of the most respected noble prize winner in the field of Economics, teaching at Princeton, writing columns for NYTimes and appearing on talk shows.

I follow his writing in NY Times, especially his analysis on present day economic crisis, blaming free flow of Asian capital, messing the sophisticated US market and resulting in financial crisis.

He is a born European Style Social Democrat, he describes himself as born pessimist and a natural rebel, and he has a big voice.

He is a Keynesian to the core; believes in Obaman doctrine mainly on taxing the rich and massive health care reforms but on financial system his argument is anti government in case of nationalization of banks.

Newsweek writes “He has emerged as Obama’s toughest liberal critic. He is deeply skeptical of the bank bailout and pessimistic about the economy. Why the establishment worries he may be right”.

I wish he joins the government, fixes the things better than Geithner. I recommend all to watch interesting You Tube video, here are the lyrics;

Hey Paul Krugman,

Why aren’t you in the administration?

Is there some kind of politicking that I don’t understand?

I mean, Timothy Geithner is like some little weasel.

Wasn’t he in a position of power

when all this sh*t went down in the first place?

When I listen to you, things seem to make sense

When I listen to him, all I hear is blah, blah, blah.
Hey Paul Krugman,where the hell are ya, man?

‘Cause we need you on the front lines

not just writing for The New York Times.

I’d feel better if you were calling some shots

instead of writing your blog and probably thinking a lot.
I mean, don’t you have some influence?

Why aren’t you secretary of the Treasury?
For God’s sake, man, you won the Nobel Prize.

Timothy Geithner uses TurboTax.
When I listen to you, things seem to make sense.

When I listen to him, all I hear is blah, blah, blah.
Hey Paul Krugman, where the hell are ya, man?

Sing it with me!
When I listen to you, things seem to make sense.

When I listen to him, all I hear is blah, blah, blah.
Hey Paul Krugman, where the hell are ya, man?

Your country needs you now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Me & My Scuba Diving Passion!

To me swimming is one of the best leisure and recreational activity. I have been swimming for the last eight years, water sports are close to my heart. Lately, I had my first SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving session with my Japanese friend. It was amazing to get acquainted with the heavy oxygen cylinder along with floaters, jacket and breathing apparatus.

Whole new underwater exploration out there to be explored. Soon I would be jumping into 30 meter deep, to explore the corral reefs and marine life. There is so much one could aspire to grasp deep down in the nature.

Utah, I Miss You!!!

Utah is the US’s best kept secret. It is an amazing place, many Americans may not have explored. I am glad that I spent sometime in the beautiful State, enjoyed the powder mountain along with ski resorts and amazing wooden lodges.

It is the place, a heaven for skiers, hikers, mountain climber. The breathtaking beauty of Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyon lands, Capital Reef and Zion makes one miss the place. The national parks, recreation areas and national forests are best prize for the people who love to seek refuge in nature. I am one of them :-)

Utah offers diverse beauty, as diverse as American society but both portray same picture to me and its ‘Diverse; Yet United’.

Challenging mountain biking on Slick rock trail or famous Moab Jeep Safari could be a wonderful idea for adventure sports.

No wonder Utah attracts over five million annual visitors.

I miss Utah a lot, wish I go back and explore the place in summer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Amazing 4x4 Karachi Offroaders!!

The 4x4 Offroaders Club of Karachi are an eclectic collection of friends and their families who love the outdoors and, of course, four wheeling. I was amazed to see the love for adventure expedition in Pakistan in organized way.

I was surprised to see the breathtaking hidden beauty of various places of Pakistan especially Balochistan, the Rocky Mountains, water falls, green farmlands and all rivers provide an excellent place for adventure outdoors.

Last week I met an interesting person Taimur Mirza, one of the founding members of the club and he shared amazing photos and club philosophy along with love for simple and welcoming people of Balochistan.

I met Taimur over a lecture, we all gathered to hear a German Archeologists at Goethe Institute Karachi on Ancient Balochistan, an Archeological Perspective. Also met an American Medical Anthropologist, she is originally from beautiful mountains of Colorado but lived in San Francisco. She had been living in Pakistan over 12 years, came as Fulbright Scholar to study Afghan and Pakistan.

She shared the same thoughts about Pakistani society, what I felt about Americans. She found, people here are very friendly, real friends, she enjoys living here and she is of the opinion that perceptions are always wrong and scattered violence and crime happens everywhere. To her human connection keep the people moving in true spirit, anywhere and everywhere.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why Extremism? Why Terrorism? Why State Barbarism, Ethnic Barbarism, Religious Barbarism??

Everyday, somewhere someone is victim of extremism, terrorism and barbarism. We fail to understand and comprehend, as human being what actually causes such brutal step or reaction. It seems as a society we still are immature and long way to go to address extreme behavior.

Somebody killed in the name of religion other in the name of ethnicity or politics.

Have we ever asked, what are the psychological factors that are responsible for terrorism? What social conditions cause them to develop? And what can we, as individuals, do to influence them?

Globally the World-Trade Center disaster has provoked an intense U.S. led offensive against terrorism.

Baloch nationalist political demand and struggle for economic rights provoked extreme Pakistani State offensive.

Most people seem to think that this kind of war or behavior is something new. It's not. Many other tragic conflicts in recent times fit the same model;

Genocides that occurred in Kosovo and Bosnia
Attempted extermination of the Kulak peasant class in Russia
Actions of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia
Hutus vs. the Tutsies in the Congo
Turk’s genocidal massacre of the Armenians
Holocaust of European Jews at the hands of the Nazi's

While on the surface, these may seem like completely unrelated events, they all embody a similar core philosophy.

These conflicts are each characterized by having one group which sees itself as being tragically oppressed, and seeks freedom or prosperity through the annihilation of an 'evil' group of oppressors. Sound familiar? It should.

The comparison between the scenarios mentioned above and the situation that prompted the September 11th attacks or killing of Bugti or Balach in Balochistan is obvious.

America is the perceived oppressor at which Bin Laden directs all of his rage. Pakistan’s arm offensive towards Baloch made Baloch perceive Pakistan as oppressor state, in both cases result is extreme responses. Some people seem to think that we can obliterate terrorism simply by wiping Al Qaeda and its 'evil leader' off the face of the earth. Such a belief, however, is far from true. Even if one kills every single terrorist or miscreant who lives on this earth today, the future would still remain uncertain.

We do need military action, but we need to supplement it with psychological tactics.

We must know why these situations occur, and act accordingly.

As society today, we have a basic understanding of how such conflicts emerge, and solid ideas as to how their development can be interrupted. Central to the creation of extremism is a concept called totalism.

For our purposes, totalism can be thought of as an exaggerated form of something that exists within each one of us: the tendency to see ourselves as wholly good and 'the enemy' as wholly bad.

The only path to win-win situation is, to get rid of totalism …..answer lies within, it is the way we think about others.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

“Two Women = One Man" Women Flogging in the Name of Religion !!!

Lately I had discussion with few friends about women rights in Pakistan. I always have strong belief that both sexes, gender should have similar rights, in spite of historical justification provided by religion. Few gone to an extent saying that "in religion the evidence of one man is equal to the evidence of two women. Both can not be equal"

It made me think, lately I had an interesting interaction across US, and it firmed my belief that it is medieval religious-social interpretation that denies women all the rights, and it needs to be changed.

Islam itself provides or allows Ijtehad “to look for the meaning in contemporary social context”.

Yesterday, I was shocked to see women flogging by Taliban on the streets of Pakistan city of SAWAT. It was sick and disgusting to see such atrocities in the name of religion; it is also lament so see that other religiouss scholars across the country also support such practices.

I am still confused, is it religious philosophy that suggest maltreatment of women? or is it the flawed practice or interpretation of religion in Pakistan by clerics who are influenced by tribal mindset?
It is evident that religion encourages logical argument, provides rational of each practice from a historical context but as a society we use, misuse and abuse religion as per our convenience.

I just want to divert attention to two following examples, if someone thinks two women=one men;

I was at Boeing 777 manufacturing plant in Seattle, Washington. Ever single aero plane i.e, 777 is handed over to customer after the test flight by the Chief Pilot. The Chief Pilot at BOEING is a woman.

Later on National Geographic I saw a documentary on Vegas, Nevada. City is all about light, fun, entertainment and night life. Live electric wires need mantainence without disconnecting the electricity. The best resource to do this job is a women, heading a team of engineers.

Women, shaping history, making important decisions, running the countries. People like Taliban and their sponsors, try to put women in cage, use them as sexual toy and justify it through religion.

At times I think, 'Girls are lucky !!! who are not Muslim & not living on Taliban Land or on the Land of Pure'.