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.

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Doosra for life

It was in late 90s that I watched in an Indian television channel – the legend Pakistan leg spinner Abdul Qadir, widely famed for his fast flippers and googlies, speaking for an emerging off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq whose team mates pet-named him ‘Saqi’. Saqi was a spinning sensation in his times. Qadir looked on cloud nine while illustrating how Saqi invented this new form of delivery, doosra, that is bowled by the same action but went on the other way as it pitches. After him, the craft spread like a wild fire and all finger spinners in world Cricket polished their skills to be apt in delivering this doosra.

Handful of bowlers did well with this technique but most of them were either picked by their ball-grips or lost the nip of their bowling in excessively trying to attempt the doosra. The word doosra was caught by a jovial Cricketer and commentator Mr. Tony Greig when during a match, Pakistan Wicket-Keeper Moin Khan grunted Saqlain near the wicket mic: “Saqi doosra nikal…” The Urdu word took no time to be interpreted of its real use in Cricket dictionary. Those who follow Cricket are fully clued-up that Saeed Ajmal, another Pakistani spinner has to be given the credit of having most lethal doosra in his bowling weapons. Saeed Ajmal is rarely picked with his pristine doosra with the action, unaltered. This particular delivery makes him quite a successful man of his trade.

Tonight, I think hard for why are we naming our Annual Youth Conference with this catch slogan.

When you can create, something exceptional from a simple life oozes out. In the quest of translating innovation in your life, you just need to attempt a new dimension. Now is that easy?

In Cricket, doosra is a marvel from a finger spinner. A ball bowled by usual action on a normal trajectory bewilders the batsmen more often than not. Doosra, to me, is an unconventional approach of life for bigger results. When it goes the other way, wonders start happening. All needed is making grip of your life knowing what exactly you want out of it.

We all live lives. At times happy or sad, we are found with most similar reactions: a person losing hope after crushing defeats – people expecting an outdone person to surrender to certain ‘realities’ on which a loser has to set his sights. Hardly any person living in subjugated condition is encouraged to watch big dreams in our material-assessed society. You are expected to run a family business once your fond dream is ripped apart for your profession and we feel relieved to seek acceptance from societies once being hit hard in life. After having lost with hopes of mastering in our talent, we find graves to bury them and mourn for life. As we become humiliation stock by close aides due to our born deformities, highly uncontrollable factor if you are born handicapped or physically challenged, we turn aback and live a life of frightful frustrations. When you are rejected by a set of society for your inability to achieve the results you claimed for or your qualities are not even being unearthed by yourself, you need to attempt doosra. That’s where doosra comes into play for those who know there are ways out after being demoralized or disgruntled by back to back set-backs.

What a spinner does is very relative to what could be done in such monotonous off the wall junctures of life – He grips the ball firm, the grip has a slight push in a manner that the ball gets the other than normal turn. A life gripped hard in such uncanny times, trying again with a plan that only you and your God knows and getting the pitch as people may expect you be doing in low times but achieving altogether different results startling everyone but you. Those who try that out of ordinary, would be the ones most curious for success and as a rule of life, success is lapped up by those who crave to acquire it by dint of their tireless struggle and sleepless plans. There is no way a doosra can’t save us in the moments of disarray. The keynote is how many of us have that knack of flying against the wind.

Doosra happens to those who believe in creating safe adventures, where it does go the other way.

”Don’t go with the flow, be the flow.” -Shams Tabraizdoosra

Sitmadeedgaan e Shab

Qta1

Khuda Shahid, dil e maara, fughaan shahid ze nalaa raa
K astam man Musalmaa’n hum, che darum dard e insaa’n raa

Dosh benam ein kusht o khoo’n k az aizad che purseedum?
Che purseedun? Man che daanum? Che moolat khoon e arzaa’n raa?

Chu’n kardum man namaz e shab, qaraar e dil nami ayad
K giryaan e sitam deeda sar bar avard goshaa’n raa

Nafar kas bood, pas ao khuahad ze khoon e nahaq rangee’n kard
Shehr e pur ashoob e man chu’n gardad sael e khonaa’n raa

Nadarum deed e beena raa o ba gardu’n nigah kardum
Ze chashm e nam, hamee’n goyam tu daani kaar e zulmaa’n raa

Agar boodi khuda e man, na boodi tu khuda e ao
Mardum ha siyaah dil raa bejuz daarum ze kheshaa’n raa

Ba khasta dil sabar daarum dar daur e jabr o fitna raa
Na tursam man ze jehl e badd, maqaam e hashr agar daraa

Translation:
Be my witness God, of my heart, of my cries of pain
That I too am a Muslim, but what do I have to do with human suffering!

Last night I saw such massacre that what should I ask from my Allah now?
What should I ask? What do I know? What is the price of cheap blood?

As I finished my night prayers, I felt no internal satisfaction
That the screams and cries of panic-ridden emerge to my ears

They were people who wanted to paint with wasted-blood
My frightful city, see how it flooded with blood!

I do not have the divine vision and thus I look at the sky
With tearful eyes I only say that God! You know the act of brutality

If you are my God, You are not the God of those barbarians
That from black-hearted people I clearly separate myself and my like-minded ones

With a worn out heart, I observe patience yet again I am not at all afraid
of the ignorance of ignorants if there is a day of Resurrection to follow…

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Reviving the age of mutual co-existence…

This piece was written by Talha on April 14, 2012 as 9 people were killed and several injured in firing incidents in Quetta .  The message, however, remains as important as ever and cannot be emphasized more. 

Today, at about 10:15 am, my peon Waheed brought me a cup of tea with the news that more than half a dozen people lost their lives in today’s fresh grisly attacks. We were asked to call off all the government schools in our locale. A guy from the victim community was quickly escorted to his home by one of our colleagues. I walked to a nearby school with the call-off instruction letter and saw kids dressed in their shabby government uniforms running out happily as we celebrated a short day of school in our childhood. There was nothing different between them and me. I also loved such events to enjoy an unusual day off and play like there is no tomorrow.

Two students, hardly of ten years of age were talking to each other as I moved outwards. They were chatting stealthily and undecidedly, I over-heard them.

“Kal teen bandun ko maara (Three people were killed yesterday).”

The other, fair-skinned and shorter says; “Zoy itna khoon tha humne khud dekha aur hamara baap bolta hay ab yeh badla lega (Buddy, it was blood-spattered which I saw myself and my father says that now they will take revenge).”

I recalled that whole of our class during the primary school period was immensely bonded as it was a mutual agreement never to disclose any mischief of any of our class fellows. Many times, out of one’s mistake, the whole class gladly stomached the famous pipe-coated stick of our school. Color of skin or facial cuts were never our priority in the time we learnt to make friends. How true I was during those days!

What revenge, I tried to ascertain. The revenge of being born and raised in a different sect or cultural settings or the revenge in ‘You kill me-I kill you’ passion of us? In one of my secondary school lessons, we were taught the parameters of ‘Imaan’ and the weakest was to perceive an ill deed as ill deed. I think many of us are better visionary that we easily justify any killing out of our chauvinistic poisoned understandings or in a dismissive manner, “Woh tau wesay hain…! (They are like that…!)”

For almost 12 years, we would sing this stanza from Iqbal in loud chorus:

Ho mera kaam ghareebu’n ki himayat karna

Dard mandu’n se zaeefu’n se mohabbat karna

The solemn pledge in which we committed to side with the poor, adore the panic-stricken and folks of dotage almost every morning proved out mere chants without essence as years added to my life.

In the present times, our kids are being nurtured in a surrounding violence that is horrendous to their mental growth. Their proud ethnocentric elders teach them by words or actions, the differences at homes. They tell them about their exaggerated in-born holiness and bravado. This superiority complex has devastated our cultural harmony and religious sanctity alike. I remember once I made fun of one of my Hindu schoolmates in my early teens. A young teacher, May he remain blessed, brought me before my class and made me stand beside my Hindu fellow. He asked the class to point out similarities and differences between us, as I couldn’t tell my teacher the reason I made fun of his peculiar self. In the comparison of having same number of ears, nose and head, I felt badly humiliated. That was it. By this simple simulation, I learnt how to co-exist with respect even if people are not liked by one in guise of race, rage, sage or vice versa. In the time I grew up, I saw many of our elders not learnt the same lesson, or their guardians might have encouraged them when they did so in their juvenile age.

In the age of our technological holler and moral degradation, there is a dire need of a childhood revivalism. At least, we can start loving the common good than hating the odd bad.

Ishq e Nau…. New Love

Dishab k man muntazir e payaam e yaar bodam
Yaar e man khafta bood o man azaar bodam

Man bodam mard e kari o man dashtam zoor e jandari
Ba khanum chun nigah kardum, man bedum, bekaar bodum

Ba naam e tau ein barkat bud k zaari e man barkhud
Chu ayad ze kaar bodum, zood gaar bodum

Tu gufti man chira tu ra dar raah e zeest na bardaram?
Chun tu dani k man astam dar safaram khuaar bodam

Nigaah e surv, rukh e mahtaab k neest hosh ze dil baqi
Na darum inkas danai, pas man bimaar bodum

Man anam k man danum misl e asraar bodum
Na bodum hich majnun na bodum, faqat dildaar e yaar bodum

Translation

Last night I waited so badly to hear from my beloved
And the beloved slept only to put me in grief

I had manly dexterity and I possessed great strength
As the eye contact was made with ‘Khanum’ I turned strength-less, good for nothing

While taking your name, such purity rushed in me
That my agony which stroke me to harm me but vanished in a jiffy

You ask me that why I don’t take you along in my journey?
How would you understand that I am myself frustrated in my journey!

Such evergreen you appear, a moonlit face that I can’t keep help but being insane
I don’t possess such wisdom, so I am a sick man now

Whatever I am, I know it well, it is similar to secrets
No, I was never a ‘Majnun’ but the beloved of my beloved….

Let’s hear it for a new ‘MACHO’ society….

In each era, there remained people in every religion who are either conformists or non-conformists regarding their respective religions. The latter do not find themselves convinced, deliberately derailed or have their parameters to gauge a religion. In Pakistan’s present day society; there is a new group which is exponentially on the rise. I personally don’t find the word ‘Atheist’ suitable for them since they are a faction who is nurtured with extreme complexes and the vent in their book is only in maligning religions and particularly, Islam.

I was in an Aftaar dinner given by an organization in Islamabad a few days ago. One CEO of a Karachi-based organization initiated a talk about how he hates going in Muslim Mosques.

“I could go anywhere but a Mosque.”

“And why so Sir?” I was curious.

“Since there is politics every time I go to prayer.”

“What politics?”

“I mean in Khutba there is always political imagery going on five times a day.”

“We don’t have Khutba five times a day Sir.” The other guys on the table supported this basic clarification.

“And there aren’t all of the places where you find such Khutbas” I continued, “but in state-owned Mosques or the ones under military arrangements.”

The man who looked quite sane skimmed as if he was offended and while other guys were interested in the conversation, he readjusted his fallacy.

“It happens in all Mosques of Pakistan.”

I couldn’t remain polite; “And who tells you to be a Pakistani Muslim?”

My thoughts scuffles two years back when on a social portal, a journalist who once a very fast friend of mine, was leading a write-up in favor of very onset of profane cartoons. I remember there was his entire fan-following blindly substantiating his anti-Islamic ideology, or you call it ultra-moderate approach in some people’s dictionary without any impediment of being a Muslim and going for ‘shirk’. My defending arguments were at loss when I decided to put my strong opposition to all the ‘gentlemen’. Resultantly, I had to do big homework in giving crushing reply to the fabricated ‘satanic verses’ by, their stars, Salman Rushdie and Tasleema Nasreen in particular. I haven’t forgotten yet that they kicked me out of the portal when I put up a prepared resistance, and with a mixed feeling of humiliation and jubilation, I counted myself the odd one out from the so-called Muslim plagues who let these events happen and seek agreement of such pseudo-machos.

This is a new fashion. Being a cool pseudo-macho and creating noise against Islam and its ideology without any contextual supporting arguments. Hardly have they ever consulted any right source to check their concocted versions. This goes on to show how a big chunk of generation is being tamed on the flute of the fronts who believe they are ‘The Creatures’ and since they think they are the most genuine humane and asset to the society, they brazenly ridicule Islam out of their personal pre-conceived prejudices. A common perception these machos carry is they are not answerable to any divine directions since they are no harm to society. You ask them about religious obligations and they climb on you with their ostentatious claims of humanity and devotion, just in quest to win you the arguments against all other Muslims who, in their firm view, do not stand up to human rights violations against other religions and cultures. And as you tell them about strict human rights instructions Islam enjoins upon Muslims without any spare and Muslim community being the biggest victim of human rights violations itself, they get frustrated and quote Ayahs that were revealed in the context of Jihad after first Muslim Hijra’h in utter state of war. In each places after Jihad instructions, the directions are very clear about the times of peace and those who ask pardon of their war designs. Machos only handpick what they want to just to show how well-versed they are about Islam before dismissing it ridiculously.

In a recent debate over forced Muslim conversions in Sindh, I asked one such macho who was frequently copy-pasting Ayah’s by googling ‘Jihad’. I told him that I was no authority and whatever I would say, he would come up with his pre-generated answers so why doesn’t he clear his concepts and go to the book’s complete translation for dealing his pathos and then if it doesn’t answer him, I had sworn that I would stand by him and he answers: “I don’t believe in any fairy tale book.” Remember, this was the same book over which he enlarged his arguments of how ruthless Muslims are, being a Muslim himself.

There is no tincture of doubt that the polarization into religious and macho extremist blocs is prerogative of our new social settings. Both anti-thesis believe the other is cancer in sum social structure. While the religious ones are adamant and most of them being string puppets are never ready to listen and appease, they are not on the right nature of their religion and can revert back which has happened on many occasions. The macho extremist flank is with cosmetic conviction about their right to malign Islam with stupid examples and quotes which they search for their stock. The macho extremist bloc is transmitting into every Muslim internet user and there are people, I am being honest, who will have the rhetoric of Muslim misgivings. A rudimentary folly they do is to quote the examples of Delhi Sultanate and Mughal rule and portray instances like Ghaznavi’s invasions as Islamic wreckage whereas even any literate non-Muslim knows that it is not Islamic history but ‘Muslim History’. Islamic History had nothing to do with how Allauddin Khilji besieged Mewar for abducting Princess Rupmati, Why additional Jizya was imposed by Feroz Shah Tughlaq or on what grounds Akbar formed Deen-e-Ilahi. After Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H)’s demise, caliphate and the later war against Yazid summed up the Islamic history. Later were Muslim rulers and if anyone of them complied with the clearly prescribed Islamic economic, judicial or socio-cultural injunctions is said to be a true Muslim ruler and the others, just Muslim and not ‘Islamic’ rulers.

I can recall that in school, I used to take short notes in my rugged rough copy of what seemed outstanding to me. One question regarding killing non-Muslims which was told by a teacher did not convince me. I asked my father to fetch me an Urdu-translation of Quran to see whether that Ayah existed or not. It did exist but in an entirely different context about how in war-field, the enemy’s pride has to be humbled. After so many years, with an empty mind, I started reading the Tashreeh of Quran and by now, many of my concepts are cleared. I can safely have opinions about whatever I have read and understood. I could loathe those who kill over sectarian prejudices and I could tell my mother that I don’t belong to any sect but Muslim and so forth. Like we refer to a dictionary or reference books in a quandary, why not referring to a book that is book of the books? Those who don’t, have no any right to belittle Islam like the machos do.

I oddly found out peculiar physical and mental abuses in the lives of such machos to aid them establish their macho-ism. Either they are too sensitive or too crass. After losing their temperament out of common setbacks in life, they become confused beings and further confuse people by taking refuge in mock-making of Islam and other religions. A harmonious religious co-existence has serious threats from such self-proclaimed masterminds. And once having known that a friend of mine has become a macho, a one-word definition that readers may clearly understand now in this discussed context, I asked him one fine evening;

“From when have you turned that much anti-religious?”

“Right from the day that ‘bitch’ (His girlfriend) duped me.” He retorted.

My Salute to a Great Young Leader…

Today when we stopped at Global Center, I saw a boy with a piece of white cloth rushing towards the car and had obediently followed the instructions of my friend Muzammil to clean the car. My heart sunk as I saw the boy who would barely be twelve years old. Few days back, I inspected a government primary school to award financial aid by the Education Department for genius students. He was one of them and refused the nominal fund with honor. “Sir, I have a lot of money to bear my educational expenses”, he replied. I surprisingly recalled his name while I had the snacks but when I asked the nearby minor cleaners about him, as I fully recognized him, they said he ran away after seeing you.

FAROOQ, you are the greatest young leader I have ever seen in my life. You ashamed me of all my complaints that I asked Allah in my testing times. From now on, you are my bright motivation to clamber in life.

And this happened an hour earlier, the very next day I wrote the preceding paragraphs:

I was restless in my office to find out the guy with such self-prestige. An hour ago, I went to his primary school and called him from his class. I took him outside his school’s office and told him that I saw him yesterday. Before I could complete my sentence he said, “Yes, I saw you too at Global sir.”

“But why did you run after seeing me?”, I posed the question that was disturbing me from yesterday. His answer tied my tongue. “I do ‘Ghareebi’ (I am poor) sir and I ran because I was ‘sharminda’ (embarrassed).” I told him after a long pause that I was so glad to see him work to keep the both ends meet of his family and carry his studies at such young age after I came to know that he is the only helping hand of his father who is a cobbler.

I encouraged him to directly ask me whatever problem he faces regarding his studies in his native Balochi language but I was speaking in a startled state as I didn’t know whether I was motivating him or myself. I felt that numbness in me when I would get on the verge to sob.

In centrally Air-Conditioned glamorous atmospheres, we boast about being the potential leaders. At least now I am sure that leaders are those who are onto the thorny path of commitment and dedication right from the word go. I had no courage to offer any financial help from my pocket to this dignified champ. After all, he is the unsung hero and the real ‘Young Leader’.