A life-changing tweet…

tweetAnum Batool, a person who I have befriended through Twitter (@anumb3), has made a special place for a very simple reason.  She has always come across a kind and caring soul.  Being a doctor by profession, she is probably one who would make a patient feel better just by her demeanor.

On March 7, 2015, at 4:11 pm, she shared an event on twitter which left an impression, not only on me but quite a few others.  The maid had brought sweets on the festive occasion of Aliya, her daughter’s graduation.  From that date and time, the following turn of events is shared with utmost pride and happiness.

timeline

From the very beginning, the fact that a maid, mopping and sweeping floors and washing clothes, putting in such great effort in her daughter’s education, had caught a lot of attention.  Many asked me who the person was who had contacted me for employment.  I wanted the world to know about this kind soul. Name However, since the entire conversation took place in a private message, I thought it was better to seek permission before revealing his identity.  The response I got increased my respect for the gentleman manifolds and for the organization as well.

While I request you all to remember Aliya in your prayers for a prosperous future, please also remember this kind person who chooses not to be known and for Anum Batool for making sure that a heroic deed was publically shared.  Volumes can be written on Aliya’s mother.

geo-tv-logoI have no words for Geo and its management for empowering the employees in such a way that they become such wonderful contributors to the society.  Thank you.

Before ending this, just a small message for those who become critical of tweets, facebook posts, etc…. you never know, you just never know.  Hence, keep updating, even if that is all you can do.

#ThankYouGeo #PakistanZindabad

Al Ajal…

ya_mehdi_as_2-t2

 

sahib uz zaman

By Ta Ha, by Ya Sin, by the ascension of Ahmad
By Ghadr, by Kawsar, by Paradise, by Tree of Tooba
By the Holy Revelation that is Quran
By the Torah of Moses and Gospel of Jesus
Let me be a king in my begging
A beggar amongst the beggars of Zahra
What nights have passes that Zahra has prayed
For us all to be Shia in love with the Master
Serving this Family is the reason and purpose for our creation by Allah
Now that your direction and commander is clear, do not hesitate and be free like the sea
That the world is not worth the loss of the hereafter
May we not be far from the Son of Zahra
And the transient life, youth and the worldly pleasures, is not worth the regret of the next world
If you passionately seek to be his follower
If you earnestly attempt to be his follower
If you place your honor in front of his feet
Surely, surely you have earned the title of follower
How many Friday mornings did you not have rest and how much you were moved by Dua Nudbeh
Did you assist in removing the sorrow from his heart, or did you increase the burden upon him like others
If you introduce one person to his cause, you become one of the leaders of his army
Did you cry from night to the raising of the sun? How much do you miss to be by his side?
Heart broken is your greatest reason, if you are restless, know you are a true follower
And the outcome of this restlessness is Paradise
A Paradise were its pleasure is to gaze upon him
The wind of generosity and the rain of mercy has descended upon us
May you never close your heart to the sights so clear
Of those who sell Yousuf so easily and cheap in this dark era
O’ Allah by the brightness of Mehdi, by the black distressed hair of Mehdi
By the gracious heart which is an ocean of pain, by the eyes filled with tears of sorrow
By the lips warm with the saying of O’Ali, O’ Ali, by his remembrance of his beloved Hussain and Hassan
By his benevolent hand and compassionate look, by the hope in the eyes of the beggars of Mehdi
By the supplication of his prayer, by the saying of “Glorious is Allah” of Mehdi
By his electrifying look and his black birth mark, by the graceful perfume of Mehdi
By his beautiful ceremony of hajj and his great and lofty position
By the Hejazi Quranic recitation of Mehdi
By the morning of Iraq and his evening in Damascus and his love towards Khorasan
By the lovers who gave their life on his path, by the sweet intuition of the martyrs of Mehdi
Make me permanently enthusiastic for him, may I be sacrificed for his separation
Grant to this undeserving servant
Make me the companion, confidant, follower of his journeys towards Khorasan, Syria and Iraq
O’ Mehdi, O’ Mehdi, assist me!

 

 

An open letter to the authorities… Whose side are you on?

February 21, 2015

Dear PM, CMs, MNAs, MPAs, COAS, Commissioners

Anyone else who is supposed to be interested in the ‘affairs of the State’ and the (sad) ‘state of affairs

I won’t get into too much of historical aspect, which is all too clear, and shall assume complete ignorance on the gravity of the situation.  This is the only way to ensure that the writer of this letter and those addressed are at the same level of understanding with respect to the issue being discussed.

In the recent past, we have witnessed a group known as Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) spewing venom against the Shia community.  Aurangzeb Farooqui has been seen vowing to ensure that survival for members of Shia community is made impossible in Pakistan.

Public gatherings are held where anti-Shia slogans are chanted, even in Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan.

A group of concerned citizens raise their voice against such atrocities followed by attack on an Imambargah in Shikarpur.  Sharmila Farooqui of Pakistan Peoples’ Party attends to the protesters outside the Chief Minister House ASWJ bannedand the visit is followed by agreements of cleaning of wall chalking in Karachi by banned outfits including ASWJ.  She also appears on television and confirms that ASWJ is a declared banned outfit in Pakistan.  On the following day, however, ASJW is found gathering in large numbers threatening the civil society and the state with great zeal and fervor, as if knowing no one can possible take any action.

Later that evening, the concerned citizens, raising their voice for peace and against terrorism and hatemonger are arrested as they continue to chant “Shia Sunni Bhai Bhai, Pakistan Zindabad” while those who threaten the civilians and the state are allowed to rally.  The lovers of peace continue to scream and shout from behind the bars and fight for their constitutional right.

open letterASWJ has now planned another rally in Islamabad, which has brought to the kind and unconcerned knowledge of the authorities by the concerned citizens, although it is really perturbing  to note that citizens are required to bring activities of banned outfit to the knowledge of the law enforcement agencies.

As a Pakistani, I demand answers to these questions:

  1. After looking at the videos in this piece, why are those asking for peace behind bars and those preaching hatred allowed to rally freely?
  2. Why are citizens required to bring anything to your attention? Is this a reflection of your incompetence?
  3. With such self-incriminating speeches, what else is required to take action?

MOST IMPORTANTLY…

  1. Whose side are you on?

Introspection…

media_47454_enIntrospection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings.  In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context, it may refer to the examination of one’s soul.

Introspection, a faculty far too alien to most of us and much needed considering the overall fabric of our society.  The monumental challenges spread all over include but are not limited to overall values, health, education, religion, sectarianism, ethnicity, terrorism; the list is never ending and ever growing.  In this vociferous age with ‘agents of change’ growing in number, one may feel hopeful.  Pakistan is witnessing unprecedented number of protests, both in electronic form (on social media) and on the streets, quite often organized and mobilized on social media only. The number of petitions moved and participation in the same is rather impressive.  Protest calls by citizens for minorities (term used for reference although a more apt term would be ‘lesser Pakistanis’) and the subscription to the public display of rage and registration of concern is once again inspiring.

These petitions and protests have been perpetrated in response to societal issues with varying degree of impact.  Themask subjects have included but have not been limited to dilapidated state-run schools, failing public health system, promotion/protection of those employing children, inadequate water supply, apathy towards poor, culture of royal/VIP lifestyles at the cost of tax-payers, spreading of sectarian/religious hatred, etc.  And the number of voices, protests and intensity of the same is growing by the day.

With such developments, one would hope to witness some sort of abatement, arrest or some nuance of amelioration in any of the issues against which voices are raised.  As a citizen, the exact opposite is witnessed.  The incidents not only seem to be on the rise but the level of blatant shamelessness is of another level.  Ever wonder why?  The answer is fairly simple and much closer to home.

mask (1)While we are out fighting for justice, there is too much unjust at home which is conveniently overlooked.  How is it possible to be out there raising a voice against child labor and expect to make a difference while leaving own children with underage maids at home?  The food insecurity must be addressed.  Indeed a pressing issue which requires attention at all levels.  But let us not remind ourselves of the same while we spend thousands in restaurants.  Sectarianism and religious extremism are eating away the foundation of this country.  It is important to go out and raise our voices and register our protests.  But let us not spend time with our children and speak to them of peace and co-existence.  Prevalence of justice is considered the key to progression in any society.  By all means speak up on the streets and on social-media, take part92ee9a8126a15963006f42151f251898 in demonstrations, but when faced with an actual situation within the circle of family, friends, colleagues, stay away and make sure you don’t take a stand for what is right and just as it may get you in trouble and have an impact on your relationships, employment, livelihood, etc. We don’t bother to turn off the tap while shaving, but let’s take part in the demonstration for water conservation, shall we?  Simply put, we like to speak about the unlawful situation without missing a chance of running a red traffic light.

In so many ways, we all contribute to the issues and problems we raise our voice against, knowingly and unknowingly.  Who are we fooling? There are just too many of us on the “unjust” side.  There is no hope till this changes.

Time to introspect… We need to stop blaming others because they sin differently! Should we decide to take a stand for something, we need to own it and make sure we are not a party to it. That is the only way to ensure at least one less person contributing to the problem.

a33618af442b94f59eecd157ce24b3a0

Tribute to a kind soul, Sarfaraz M. Khan…

1896897_10153798515335705_1115363481_n530340_3662334803858_1377275877_nIt was during March of 2012 I came across a post regarding the “One Rupee Project” on Dr. Awab Alvi’s Facebook profile.  Who would have thought that post will turn into a priceless relationship with a man who I came to know as only @smkhan on Twitter and later on as Sarfaraz Bhai.

Our very first interaction away from cyberspace, that very first handshake, the embrace, the warmth and the feeling of belonging was palpable.  What attracted me to this man? Perhaps it was my own life’s shortcoming, missing that firm, warm embrace, handshake, sense of belonging, as a child with my father? I can’t really explain.  And then started a journey, not one of many interactions, meetings, outings, but one of confidence, trust, ability to reach out and discuss the wildest notions.

From March 2012, t552893_10150650477412546_105300623_no January 2015, Sarfaraz Bhai impressed me more with almost every passing day.  I found him to be exactly how I pictured a perfect father to be and not only that but a man of substance.  He spoke fondly of his family.  I am no one to 945660_10151899129745884_455338288_ncomment on his personal relationships but from what I observed in public sphere, it was almost one of the most impeccable composition of respect, love and friendship.  I often wondered how one could find the perfect distance to place oneself to be far enough to give space to the children, yet close enough to be the best of friends.  A dilemma faced by many parents.

73386_10152429584160585_197436241_nAt his age, he put me to shame many times.  Sarfaraz Bhai almost never missed any event or a get-together.  Not only that, he was actually at the forefront and planning for such meet-ups quite often.  The beauty of his being was, old and young, not a single person found the self out of place in his company for he was just that sort of a man.

Very seldom did he miss a chance to give back to the society and serve humanity.  “God-fearing” is a term which may have become clichéd over time.  Sarfaraz Bhai, however, was a walking definition of the term itself.  Reading the Quran was probably his favorite activity and I felt him taking10474731_10154816747150437_7512103612839353545_n
the essence of it to his heart and trying to implement it with every breath he took.  I, being a rebel in my thoughts, had long discussions over anything and everything and he, almost always reasoned and discussed much with me endlessly.  There were many instances where he would quote something in a tweet which would send me into a rage.  I would take it up with him off-line and he would just smile and his comment would be, “I was waiting to hear from you on that…” and our discussion would start.

1920032_10151881944752186_1293668908_nSarfaraz M. Khan, I know it is a fact that I am not the only one who feels what I have written here.  There is an old saying, “blood is thicker than water” and you proved it wronged.

Assalamoalaikum Sarfaraz Bhai, there is too much you said you will get back to me on, specially our discussion on “mother” and “motherhood” in light of religion.  Perhaps I shall have to seek certain answers on my own.

(Readers are requested to please offer Fateha/prayers for the departed soul and family/near ones)

December 16, 2014… #PeshawarAttack #ArmyPublicSchool #teach500

Pakistan_peshawar__3140702kDecember 16, 2014, a date which shall be remembered for all times to come, a date which etched the souls of many across the globe.  Army Public School, Peshawar was attacked by Taliban and within a matter of hours, news and visuals of soul stirring carnage from the school started pouring in from all over.

Close to 200 lives have been lost; mostly students.  Reactions from all across the nation have been strong, ranging from sorrow, anger, rage, sympathy and these reactions have been witnessed across the globe.  Eyes across continents welled-up, each parent saw own children in Peshawar, vigils, messages of solidarity and prayers no matter which direction one looked.  Screams of demanding justice, hanging the terrorists, action plan, counter-terrorism strategy, all being placed top priority and must be so.

B5DXNduCMAAJdX9Amid all this, an important facet must not be ignored.  The victims of this barbaric attack were mostly students.  Perhaps the only future livelihood for their families.  Who is to know how they were to be an integral part of the society and contribute within their families, neighborhoods, communities, cities, provinces and Pakistan at large.  Perhaps some may have been doctors, some engineers, some teachers, some artists.  Who is to know? This is the future of Pakistan which has been attacked and undoubtedly, the vacuum which has been created is unfathomable. Who can say if we may have lost the future Sir Sattar Edhi of Pakistan?  Each life has the power to influence in its own peculiar way and each life gone takes away that power to change the world in that peculiar way.

While those who are gone can only be prayed for, let us derive the courage and do our best to fill the vacuum whichPakistan_Peshawar__3140840k has been created.  The future, as badly as it may have been affected, is in our hands.  Close to 200 youngsters were on their way to acquire education to become responsible citizens and contribute to their families and this nation in their own peculiar way.  They are no more. Can they be replaced? No. No one can be replaced for each one is special and unique.  However, considering the number of children out of schools in Pakistan, can those (close to) 200 martyrs who are no longer in schools be replaced by 500 living children who are not attending school? Yes. This is most certainly possible.

10676262_767886536625303_6232273999744427747_nTaimur Rehman a man whose heart beats for Pakistan, has taken an initiative in collaboration with Taba Foundation with the primary focus of putting out of school children on the path of receiving education.  The schools Taba works with are located in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  The initiative is comprehensive starting from contacting the parents and counseling them to send their children to school to funding for text books, material, uniform, tuition, etc.  Overall cost for sending one child to school is Rs. 6,000/- per annum.

We, as a nation, should be proud of individuals like Taimur Rehman for being able to think in such directions and need to support such initiatives whole-heartedly.  Come help secure our future.

B5cbItRCUAEm_E1A small note before ending this: Salam Martyrs of Army Public School, Peshawar, you seem to have brought us together like many of us had only wished for. You have been able to bring about the interfaith harmony, the interracial harmony which much efforts put together could not bring about. I salute you my Martyrs. It is a responsibility of each and every one of us to do justice to every drop of blood shed to at least bring tolerance and promote peace and co-existence. Start from our families and friends and let this grow till the extremists find it difficult to breath and are suffocated to death or find co-existence and love the only way to survive.

Pakistan Zindabad!

B5FbwV5CEAALbSQ

For updates/information on the initiative, kindly contact Taimur Rehman and follow Teach500 on Twitter.

Of private schools in Panjgur…

It was rather a delayed call for me when I was admitted in a private school after having attained my basic education in nearby Government school. All I considered was the proximity that I could easily saunter through the warehouse of food department that passaged a half-wrecked wall which could easily be climbed without brushing any part of clothes. Taking bigger leaps, I would see the Panjgur rest house newly constructed on an elevated altitude. Turning right to the Bait-ul-Maal office, a four-wheeler jeep that was crashed long ago was stationed not to be removed for ages. A regular sight was non-school-going children laden on the abandoned vehicle mouthing engine and horns as they played. Passing Tehsil and by the Telephone Exchange, the new school was hardly few yards away from Shaheed Javed Chowk.10403438_10152573860580875_1095732604921558805_n

Earlier, it was a disappointing beginning in the sarkari school. The edifice of my ideal school was razed in my initial schooling days. Government schools are always about writing. Writing Takhti, the wooden slate; the lessons, arithmetic tables and what not. We had kind bunch of teachers. Most of them suffered in their subjects but good enough to pass on the burden to students. What I still miss about the place is the respect it inculcated for teachers, no matter how wrong they are: the elderly deserved a kiss on the hands on our way off school.

By early 90’s, Makran Division had no English medium schools. In Turbat, the biggest city of the division, English Schools were initially established only to last for a year or so. There was no fundamental planning on which private sector English medium schools may function in the region. It was to the credit of late Mr. Habibullah Bangalzai, Panjgur saw its very first English Medium School in 1993. I was its second batch. Initially, it was a modern version of already prevailing government schools in the locale but with time the standards were slightly raised and teachers from Punjab were assigned to teach subjects in English. With no time, local youth educated in Quetta and Karachi took the teaching assignments and our school showed good promise. Shifting buildings every two years, Pak Public Model School was first of comparable private schools that thronged in the next decade.

Evidently, private schools in Panjgur provided phenomenal match to the Urban schools in Quetta, the provincial capital, for quite a while. Unprecedentedly, co-ed was highly appreciated by most quarters of the society. The social instinct started to shift toward competition in educating trends. Even the religious notables sent their minors to private schools. Mr. Zahir Hussein, a US-return fostered his idea of setting up American English Language Centre which proved to be a success story. It not only gathered youth for healthy atmosphere in evenings but also shoved them toward another mode of competitive knack. Female students found the opportunity to polish their communication and comprehension of English without travelling to Quetta for similar purposes. Later, he launched his own English-to-English-and-Balochi medium school followed by another school after a brief period by one of our considerate principals Haji Lateef. Resultantly, few years down the line, the fruition of these efforts came to fore. Candidates from Panjgur were considered intellectually superior to the other districts in the division. They clinched the seats in provincial public service commission as walk in the park. While I travelled to Quetta, I found the elementary private education bar in Panjgur glaringly better than most of the noted schools in Quetta. A number of men contributed a great deal in the district what has been the transitional transformation in cultivating quality education in following years.

The recent attacks on educationists and closure of private schools in Balochistan are matter of grave stress. In Makran Division, all private schools face existential threats from right and left. Schools are torched and teachers are threatened to avoid attending classes with parents hesitant to send their children to schools. Even the much anticipated Dr. Malik regime is completely clueless to deal with the conundrum. Where the children in modern times are acquainted with specialized tools and pedagogical excellence, the schools in Makran Division lay deserted. No any clear policy line is yet designed other than allaying fears of parents by statements by incumbent administration and political wish-men. The war waged to dismantle uncompromising efforts of people who cemented the foundation of education in Makran is painfully to continue with its dreadful impacts in the future.

Having witnessed the pleasant lift in private elementary education being the earliest batches during the transition days, I fear the dilapidated jeep along the way to my school still remains a telltale monument of good old times.