Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whats is going on around us?


In today’s unprecedented times when the world’s attention is focused on Copenhagen’s Climate Change Conference and its outcome, we in Pakistan, whether in safe havens of our drawing-rooms or online social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, are discussing bomb blasts which took place on Monday in Peshawar, Quetta and Lahore; provincial capitals of NWFP, Balochistan and Punjab respectively.  Many more such blasts have already occurred during the last few months and many more are yet to come. Being exposed to the danger to the maximum we are left alone to deal with the biggest catastrophe of our times: Terrorism as the world calls it. Undoubtedly, Pakistani people are terrorized and paranoid by the an increase in the number of blasts taking place around them to such an extent that they have started fearing that the next blast will kill anyone of their dear family members or friends. Confirming with friends and relatives whether they are safe after every bomb blast is becoming a norm. And, why people should not be worried particularly when the Military’s Headquarter of the country, police stations, check posts, mosques, a university, the UN WFP office and various market places have been targeted for the past two and a half years killing more than 2,600 people.

Paranoid by the current security situation, a number of people are seriously considering the option of migrating abroad in order to provide their kids with a safe environment. “We have a particular life style in Pakistan. However, the present scenario in Pakistan has made our mobility very limited and the place has been transformed into a living hell. We are unable to provide our children a safe and healthy environment for their personal growth. Therefore, the best available option in given circumstances is of moving abroad “, said Faiqa who works as a school administrator in Islamabad.
Nevertheless, there are people who are of the opinion that the situation needs to be fixed because not everyone has the necessary resources in order to migrate to another country. Nevertheless, who is ready to deal with this monster of widespread terrorism? After every blast, we hear nothing from our President, Prime Minister and other elected leaders other than ‘condemnation’. The leadership of the country is busy in deciding the fate of other more “pressing” issues such as the National Reconciliation Ordinance because their fate is dependent on NRO. The woes and sufferings of the electorate have been ignored because politicians do not need people’s vote and there is still time left till next elections.

The prevailing security situation in the country has not only resulted in killing scores of people but even it has worsening impact on livelihood of people. ‘Laying off’ of staff is a common complaint in the private sector these days because the investor is not willing to invest in Pakistan. The country’s economy is sinking with ever passing day and we have seen an incredible devaluation of Pakistani currency that was not witnessed before.  This dismal sate of affairs has led many foreign policy experts calling Pakistan “as the most dangerous country in the world”. This week the Foreign policy Magazine in a recent survey has also enlisted Pakistan as an option to choose as answer to the question “What is the most dangerous country in the world? The global hegemonic America has decided to deal with this “most dangerous country” by authorizing an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan despite the fact that such strikes have also caused hundreds of civilian casualties. We cry, we die but there is nobody to pay a heed to our sufferings, We, The Living of this “most dangerous country” do not know what is going to happen to us and our friends and families in coming days .  But, do we matter ? The International Human Rights Day is approaching and I wonder if we are entitled to all those rights as enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights and  do our rights really matter ?

originally written for http://islamabad.metblogs.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Deadly Blast in My Office ( UN-WFP)

Blast Inside World Food Programme Office in Islamabad - Courtesy AP
I am shaken and traumatized after the yesterday’s blast which took place inside my office building ( UN-WFP) only a few paces away from my glass-cabin . The blast was so sudden and strong that it took me sometime to register what actually had happened there with all of us. It was so strong that I was thrown from my chair to a few feet away on the floor. Everything was shattered into pieces only in a matter of seconds. When I tried getting up from the floor, I had broken wooden pieces in my hair, my head and body were aching badly as something had hit me severely. I was not in my senses and my whole body was shaking badly, the sound of the deadly blast was resonating in my ears and I was so shocked that I could not move a step. There were injured colleagues lying on the floor. My room was on fire and pieces of paper, broken pieces of doors, broken pieces of my glass cabin, windows and tables were lying here and there. I was looking at my injured colleagues in a state of shock and horror. “Vacate the building immediately”, I heard one of my colleagues saying. But I could not move till the time one of my colleague dragged me outside the building. But that was not the end of it.

The real horror started when my colleagues started taking the dead and injured bodies outside the building. Yes, bodies drenched in blood of people I worked and used to spent a major part of my day on regular basis… It was such a heartbreaking scene…...We had tears in ours eyes. We were horrified and traumatized …

None of us in the office had ever imagined that this Bloody Monday will change our lives for ever and we will be left with haunted memories of the incident. I have not recovered from the shock yet, the whole scene is playing back again and again in my brain, even the sedative pills failed to calm down my nerves. None of my other colleagues are out of trauma yet. Those innocent souls who died in the blast would never be there in our office again and our office would never be the same place again..... I pray for all the departed souls ( Gul, Farzana, Wahab, Abid Rehman and Udan ) and I am going to miss them forever …..My mother says that it is a miracle that I have only minor injuries and I survived despite the fact that the bomb blasted only a few paces away from where I sit But I am thinking why this miracle did not happen in case of Gul, Farzana, Wahab, Abid Rehman and Udan. Why these innocent people lost their lives?? What will become of their families now?? What was their fault or What was our fault that all of us became victims of a bomb blast and are left with haunted memories ??

originally written for http://islamabad.metblogs.com

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Boys Knock Out Arch-Rival India and Our Nation Celebrates

Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy Match against India and we watched it live

Yesterday night, Pakistan beat India by 54 runs in the ICC Champions Trophy. I did not watch the match myself but witnessed a running commentary on Pakistaniat and I got the news of Pakistan’s victory from my friends’ status messages on facebook. Funny but creative, the status messages on facebook were reflective of the immense pleasure my fellow countrymen and women had derived after India’s defeat by Pakistan.

A friend of mine felt like dancing over Pakistan’s victory and his status message was “bhangar-ing over Pak victories in ICC Trophy..... dil bolay Hiddpaaa!!!! :):)”. A couple of friends expressed their joy through songs “we will..we will rock u..!! (We beat india) keep on rocking the free world.... “Hum hein Pakistani hum tau jeetein gay haan jeetein gay!!! :)))))))))))”. Few of my friends felt blessed to watch this match live and their status messages were “Pak Vs India ICC Champions Trophy. Pakistan won yayyyyyyy... and we saw it right there :) and now my throat is badly scratched because of all the "na'ara bazi" of PAKISTAN ZINDABAD and JEEWAY JEEWAY PAKISTAN”, “”Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy Match against India and we watched it live!! Awesome!!! :)”. Somebody happened to give credit of Pakistan’s victory to the newly appointed Psychiatrist for Pakistan team in this way “ First ever defeat to India by Pakistan in any ICC event. Thanks to Psychiatrist :-) Congrads !”. A very close friend of mine who considers himself a cricketer but everyone knows he faces the ball with his legs rather than a bat admired Pakistan team’s yesterday performance and called it a brilliant game, his golden words were  “ PAKISTAN SMASHES "TEAM INDIA". A guy born after Sachin had started his international career got his wicket!!! Way to go Aamir!!! You made us proud!!! Brilliant game!!!!”. Another gentlemen tried to keep a check on his and other’s emotions by calling everyone to appreciate players of both the teams in these words “I love India/ Pakistan matches ...no matter who wins ..One team has to lose..People keep ur emotions in check and salute the players from both the teams..Great game of cricket” . A friend of mine had sent birthday wishes to another friend (whose birthday is on 27th October) and called Pakistan’s victory a great birthday present for her… and this list is never ending.

Great were all such status messages of people on facebook but they also made me think if people are happy because Pakistan has won against India or whether they are happy because Pakistan’s chances to enter semi-finals are bright now. I have not seen such an enthusiasm of people in the first match Pakistan played in this ICC Champions Trophy. I have got my answer “My fellow country men and women are happy and jubilant because Pakistan has defeated arch-rival India. Yes, our traditional arch-rival and the cricket game between these two countries is not a mere a match between two teams but a fight in a battle ground between two arch-rivals. Yes, it’s a love-hate affair between two teams, two countries and two nations”. Since 1947, more than 60 years have passed but we the people have not forgotten anything, we have not moved forward and we still consider India as our only ‘enemy’ even if it a cricket game we are talking about. I wonder when we are going to get rid of this deep rooted hatred against India….

originally written for http://islamabad.metblogs.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Public display of PPP’s flags in Islamabad – Is it a democratic action by an elected government?

Public display of PPP’s flags in Islamabad - Is it a democratic action by an elected government?
Hoisted on the birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, yes, PPP's flags are still ton display in the heart of Islamabad . Some 18 days have already but nobody knows how long these flags  will remian hoisted in the capital city.  These flags are giving Islamabad a look of PPP's own capital rather than Pakistan's capital . I wonder if this public display of PPP's flags is the decision of some bureaucratic 'chamcha' who is trying to please our accidental-president Mr Zardari for some monetary gains or is it the decision of the federal government itself ? Well, whatever it is, this is a non-democratic action and could lead to political confrontation. Democracies do not behave in such a manner but such an attitude could be observed in countries where authoritarian rule is in place . Last year, we  have gone through a transition from an authoritarian system of governance to a democrtic system of governance.  Our elected government should at least show some democratic norms if they consider themselves 'democratic' or they should stop claiming to be a 'democratic' government.

originally written for http://islamabad.metblogs.com

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Scavenger Children at Work in Islamabad

Scavanger Children at Work in Islamabad

This is summer vacation time in Islamabad for school going children but not for  Afghan scavenger children who in their ragged clothes, unwashed faces travel long distances everyday to pick recyclable waste in their waste collection bags from waste dumping points located in markets, residential areas as well as hospitals. Their parents are unskilled, illiterate and live in abject poverty. Parent's poverty forces these kids into scavenging. While other children of their age are going to school, these scavenger children become earning hand of their poor families living in abject poverty. Nevertheless, they are not only exposed to various health hazards but also become victims of sexual abuse. We should appreciate the hard toil of these scavenger children because they, unlike hundreds of beggar children found begging in various markets and roads of Islamabad, are not begging but are earning their living through hard means.

Despite the fact that the Government of Pakistan is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, the steps taken by the government to protect children rights are still invisible. I wonder if this is the sorry state of affairs in Islamabad as far as the implementation of Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 is concerned then what would be the situation of child scavengers in other parts of the country. My question to all of you is what our government should do to protect child scavengers from all sorts of exploitation and hazards? Should the government ban scavenging altogether keeping in view the associated health hazards for scavengers and promote a culture and awareness of recycling at the household level as is done in developed countries or should the government formulate a comprehensive policy for the rehabilitation of scavenger children while providing them free education and offering their poor parents some monitory assistance or should the government continue doing business-as-usual?

originally written for http://islamabad.metblogs.com

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Working Women and Accommodation Problem

If you are a single working woman and you have taken up the bold decision of working in another city like Islamabad – please beware, you are going to encounter innumerable problems. However, one problem which you are going to face for sure is that of finding a reasonable accommodation. Yes, finding an accommodation in Islamabad is not going to be an easy task because the options available are limited for us ' working women’.

The first option before you is of staying with relatives if you have got the nerves to bear their objections and criticism with patience. This option is not a very practical one because your relatives can assume the role of your “guardians” since you are living with them and can simply ignore your own ‘privacy’ . The second option is of finding an independent flat or a portion if your pocket allows you to do so. However, my experience suggests that finding a flat or a portion for a single working woman is not an easy task. The house / flat owners will refuse to open their house for 'inspection' for you because they had some ‘bad’ experiences with earlier women tenants and they had observed some ‘objectionable movements’. In addition, the house/flat owners would also try to judge you by your overall appearance. They will straightforwardly refuse to take you as their tenant if you look ‘modern’ in any way.

The third option is of living in a hostel. Unfortunately, there are only three working women hostels opened by the government in Islamabad. Two of these government run working women hostels are only open for government employees. The third one, Nusrat Hostel is open to women working in private sector nevertheless it is not easy to get a room in Nusrat Hostel and you should have some “ tagri sifarish” if you want to get a place there.  The women workforce employed in the private sector is left with no option other than that of living in one of those un-registered private hostels which are opened up like wild mushrooms in every nook and corner of the capital city without any sort of check by the government.

The trend which has been observed as far as these private hostels are concerned is that the houses in which these hostels are opened up are not owned by the hostel owners but rather are rented ones and therefore the hostel owner will not pay any attention to the maintenance and cleanliness no matter how much you complain about it . You will be shown your way out of the hostel if you complain ' a little' ' about the cleanliness to the hostel owners. As I said earlier that the hostel owners themselves are somebody else tenants therefore you should not expect a longer stay in any such hostel. Any hot argument between hostel owner and the real owner would result in hostel owner moving to some other locality and you hunting for another place you for yourself.

The rent of these private hostels could range from 6000-10,000 Rs on sharing basis and most of the time you will be sharing one small room with three or four other women. There is no guarantee that the room would be properly ventilated and the furniture (the only furniture available in most of these private hostels is bed and a closet) in not broken. If you want to get a single room in such a hostel then the rent could range from 16,000-32,000 Rs. You would not be allowed to cook in the hostel but would have to eat the hostel mess which normally comprises “daals and daals and vegetables full of spices” a sure guarantee that you eat less and therefore you are not going to put on extra weight as long as you are going to stay there.

In addition, to make your stay more exciting and entertaining for you and others,  from cook to the hostel owner, every one in the hostel would spread baseless gossips and rumours about you among other hostel tenants in order to keep their level of general knowledge updated about you. These gossips could be “Iss ney khufia shadi ker rakhi hey or apnay ghar waloon sey chup ker hostel mein reh rahi hey (she has married without her parent’s consent and that’s why she is living in this hostel), yeh dhanda kerti hey (she is a prostitute) so on and so forth.

It is ironic that working women, who are making every effort to be productive to their country, go through so many problems in Islamabad where unaccountable amount of money is being spent on providing security to VVIPs.   The unavailability of reasonable accommodation can effect mental well being of working women and their performance in their work place.  I wonder, why our government does not take concrete steps as far as provision of reasonable accommodation for working women is concerned? Yes, Why????

originally written for http://islamabad.metblogs.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

You will never leave me alone again

O love of mine

I adore your words

When you say ‘you will never leave me alone’

And I am holding to your words

Like a little child who has gripped her mother’s hand

With a fear of getting lost in this selfish, cruel, unkind, loveless and monstrous world

the world that has gone astray

Because her mother is the source of love and care against the vulgar disparity of life


I don’t want to be left alone, unloved and unwanted

I gain strength from your love

As it runs like electricity in my veins and becomes very essence of myself

And feels like I have got wings to fly

Now I can touch the distant worlds that are mysterious and beautiful

Yes, as if I can seek joy in lonely places

Yes, I am flying without any fear of falling on earth

Because I know if I fell on the ground

O love of mine

You will not let me fall

You will rescue me and hold me in your arms

Yes, you will hold me in your arms

And you will never leave me alone again!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Every day I like you a little bit more 
says the man 
who has recently fallen in love yes, with me 
my heart becomes ecstatic ( my brain says how foolish is my heart... ) 
when his words enter through my ears into my veins 
and getting mixed with my blood 
rush through every cell of my body like some electric shock and jolt my brain 
who in a frenzy reminds me of another man of my past 
who loved me once 
but left me with a broken heart ( and my heart did infact bleed then... ) 
and it took me years or may be ages ( yeah, it is such a distant memory and I consider myself too old now ) 
to recollect my self 
and built as I am now 
a strong woman 
who won't allow anyone to treat her as a pain body 
and let inflict more pain upon her 
yeah, but my brain thinks this is the half truth 
I am not as strong yet as I pretend to be... 
Does my brain work faster than those electric shocks which run through my body when I listen to or read his words ( yeah, the one who says every day he likes me a little bit more ) 
I am not sure though.. 
but these days I ignore the red alerts issued by my brain ( my brain thinks I am ready to be fooled again ) 
and prefer the peace and quiet of his warm embrace ( yeah, nothing more and nothing less )
cos after a long time
I am a feeling being again
yeah, after a long time....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Out of Orbit

Yesterday night

sitting outside the nudist’s hut

I sighted

many shooting stars falling from their orbits

in some distance space

and I wondered

if these shooting stars had ever imagined

that somewhere somebody is watching them

as they leave their orbits - the orbits which once were their lives for some distant land

like these shooting stars

I have left my old orbit

the orbit which had become alien to me

and was not mine anymore ( its a very late recognition though )

and I am looking around for a new path,

new possibilities

because life does not ends with such a disintegration

rather it marks

a new beginning