How Ahmadis are braving the educational apartheid

It was a relatively cool evening in Rabwah. I was there on an invitation to attend an enthralling seminar on “The shroud of Turin”, held in a state of the art Auditorium of Nusrat Jehan College for girls.


My host was the exuberant Faateh Bajwa, deputy director of Ahmadiya community’s central education Department, referred to as Nazarat Taleem.

After the seminar I was shown around, and I must confess I was dumbstruck by the sprawling campus, fully furbished canteens, quality of facilities and the dedication of somewhat fledgling but highly motivated staff at the college.

   
Nusrat Jehan means “universal victory”. Probably, it is the name of the college that has been talismanic in helping it achieve success against all odds.
As Ahmadiya community’s flagship institute, Nusrat Jehan college in Rabwah, not only caters to girls but a separate boys campus goes by the same name as well.

For a boys college to borrow its name from a woman is unprecedented in a country where male chauvinism and patriarchy have been a norm. 

 

  

Associated with  education sector myself, I took keen interest in visiting various institutes operating under the auspices of Nazarat Taleem

Out of their 13 non-profit schools in the town, boasting a strength of over 9,000 students, the one that moved me was the Institute for special education, a school for kids with special needs.

The facility was small,  but the teaching staff had big hearts and broad smiles on their faces. 

Currently 95 Students with Celebral palsey, Epilsepsy, Physcial handicap, Intellectual and hearing impairment and  Down’s syndrome are given quality treatment regardless of caste, creed or religious. 

  

As I entered, I noticed that most of the students were going outside for their routine sporting activities. The dedicated principal, Amtul jameel sahiba, was optimistic that one day her kids would partake in Special Olympics even though no official from Pakistan’s Special Olympics committee had bothered to visit the institute, despite her regular insistence.

  

  
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chilling indifference towards Ahmadis, as indicated by the  tumultuous history.

The biggest jolt Ahmadiyya community faced in terms of education was the policy of nationalization of private institutions enforced under Zulfiqar ali bhutto’s regime in 1970’s.

Post Bhutto’s era, all educational institutions that were nationalized were acquired back by the real owners barring the Ahmadiyya community. Till date, the community is striving unsuccessfully to reclaim the three educational institutes that were nationalized. The famous of the lot was Taleem ul Islam (TI) college, Rabwah.


The close affinity of most Ahmadis with TI college, Rabwah can be gauged by the fact that either them or their acquinatances have been associated with the once coveted insititute  in one way or the other.

A few residents also highlighted the enviable debating culture at TI colllege that even gave Government college Lahore a run for its money during its heydays.

That robust culture died a long time back, when the institution was nationalized by the state.

 Fearing persecution under the draconian regime of Zia, who succeeded Bhutto, the community members kept their lips mum.

Putting it plainly, an educational apartheid was carried out, where the state chose populism over principles by usurping educational institutes run by the peaceful minority to assuage the Mullahs.

With their backs against the wall, top leadership of the community sat down to devise a cogent program to safeguard the future of Ahmadi students in adverse circumstances. In 1991, the intial  fruit of their serious deliberation was reaped in the form of Nusrat Jehan academy, a school that caters to both boys and girls on separate campuses. 

Ever since the scheme’s inception there has been multiplicity of facilities, institutions and ideas despite limited resources. 

The pivotal aspect of this model is that it breathes the essence of volunteerism and community work. It embraces with open arms dedicated educationists from all over Pakistan who are willing to chip in with their valuable contributions.

Most Ahmadis working in Nazarat taleem are volunteers. Some have even left lucrative jobs at blue chip companies like ICI and Telenor to work in the remote town of Punjab. Mirza Fazal Ahmad, the director of the department and a Charter Accountant by academic qualification, is no exception. He is investing all his energies and resources in building the system into a sustainable one.

It was inspirational to see that low wages and limited resources have not let their shoulders droop; in fact the positive vibes have been permeative and contagious.

Nazarat Taleem’s  financial aid office operates on no-discrimination policy as well. On the list of those drawing stipends is a non-Ahmadi Baloch boy, who belongs to Ahl-e-Hadis sect. Once he contacted the relevent office for help, the department obliged by funding his undergraduate degree on humanitarian grounds.

It  is even more remarkable that all funds are self generated within the community and not a single penny is provided by the government.

Such a sustainable educational model evolved by the community, is quite a rarity in a country which is grappling with educational woes with over 25 million children out of school according to a latest survey by Alif Ailan.

Perhaps Agha khan community is the only other minority in the country that has lead by example on this account. But unlike the Agha Khanis, Ahmadis had to deal with acrimonious circumstances on a consistent basis. 


The 2010 terrorist attacks on two Ahmadi Mosques ampilified the already prevelant  anti Ahmadi sentiments on campuses, a few notches. 

Then In year 2011, a new stipulation required all Ahmadi students appearing for Punjab board exam to identify them as “non Muslims”. It was an unwanton clause that added insult to injury.

At that crucial juncture, Nazarat Taleem took a leap of faith and switched their student body to the Agha khan Board instead.

With Time, the decision proved to be a blessing in disguise. As the cutting edge Agha khan board curriculum had more to offer compared to Punjab board syllabus. 

Under proper guidance and mentorship, numerous Ahmadi students around the country secure Top positions in board and university exams on a continous basis and Nazarat Taleem magnanimously recognize all high achievers.

  
With Success as its hallmark, Nazarat taleem has been instrumental in facilitating bright Ahmadi students into prestigious institutes like LUMS and IBA on full scholarship under the merit based national outreach program evey year.

But the stories of glaring injustices in our educational landscape seem to be present in every Ahmadi household. 

Faateh shared that his own sister, along with other Ahmadi students, was rusticated from the Punjab medical college Faisalabad in 2012 merely on the account of being an Ahmadi . It all happened in broad day light and sadly no action was taken.


Nazarat Taleem’s placement centre came to their rescue and helped them secure berths in various universities across the globe and around Pakistan, where on campus atmosphere was not hostile.  

 As I reached the fag end of my two days sojourn, I was given another gracious invitation of an international medical conference to be held later this year.

Despite my non medical background, I gleefully  accepted it when the benevolent purpose of the conference was ennunciated upon me.

Two years ago when doctor Mahdi Ali, a US based Ahmadi cardiologist and an important member of Tahir Heart Hospital, was cold bloodedly murdered in Rabwah, Nazarat Taleem bounced back and filled his void by initiating an international medical conference, where doctors especially cardiologists from all over the world participated with great oomph.

    
With the second installment of the international medical conference around the corner and Doctor Abdus Salam research forum operating in full pelt, the future looks bright but the consequences of educational apartheid carried out by the state in the past and at present is what perturbs the beleagured minority.

Confronting Wrong numbers?

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It was New Year eve a friend had come over from Islamabad, after high tea we decided to hit the cinema just to kill time before he left for home.

Three hours later i had this perturbing question hovering over my mind:
“Are we brave enough to tackle wrong numbers? ”

Taking a cue out of the awe aspiring didactic bollywood Blockbuster PK that puts superstition harboring God-men to the sword; i am pin pointing to the mullahs spewing hate on tv in Pakistan. The vitriol injected by Amir Liaqat Hussain and his toady clerics in a private tv show virtually snowballed into the murder of an Ahmadi in Gujranwala the very next day, but i reckon that’s business as usual for it was conveniently put under the mat.

I need to clear the air before crossing the thin red line that neither am i an Islam bashing ultra liberal nor a pseudo secular in search of limelight or a raw agent with nefarious agenda up my sleeves.

Recently Civil society showed maturity and chutzpah by protesting against maulana Abdul Aziz outside the red mosque in the wake of the grisly Peshawar attack, though some thought it was an ephemeral catharsis on part of a few bold people who took to the streets in the Capital. I believe the short lived demonstration created a few ripples in status quo where fighting against the religious cult is an exercise in futility as unfortunately social media (which has a limited scope) seems to be the only battle turf to tackle the religious fascists.

Take the case of the christian couple that was cold-bloodedly thrown in the kiln in bright daylight on false allegation of blasphemy by a bunch of demented maniacs but despite all the clamour on social media the ailing justice system has yet again disappointed by resorting to delaying tactics before giving a verdict over a case that is as clear as a may’s morning.

I hope that peshawar attack becomes the water shed moment. Though paradoxically 43 years ago the same day (16th december) should been the critical juncture for us to come of age as a nation when the country was dismembered, rather we went back a few steps attributing to the pyrotechnics and shenanigans of Mr. Bhutto and Zia, which are now of part of history books to take heed. Eventually in 1997 Nawaz Sharif government hit the last nail in coffin by recognising the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Though Musharaff and general Kiyani coped their share of flak for not curbing the dirty game of good cop and bad cop played with talibans under their noses in post 911 Pakistan, yet I would laud Perveiz Musharaff for taking pivotal decision regarding operation silence on the red mosque which quizzically backfired.

I reckon it backfired because we ‘the awaam’ badly miscalculated the ambitions of the operation that was meant to quell the fundamentalists, who had taken refuge inside, without desecrating the sanctity of Mosque or islamic values.

I vividly remember during the days of operation silence i was staying in hostel of Pakistan’s premier business school pursuing my MBA degree, with the so called liberal student body. Witnessing live telecast of operation in the hostel’s lounge it was manifested by the reaction of some of my mates that religious jingoism had got the better of national interests as many questioned the morality of the operation on a mosque, without delving into the crux of the matter.

Rationally scrutinised, It is evident that the fundos inside abducted ladies on account of debauchery and misdeeds, i wonder what yardstick or divine authority they had to punish someone on basis of morality? maybe Zia Ul Haq’s ghost had permitted them, i can’t fathom. Just to set the record straight they even used burqa clad women as shields and failed to relent even on the intervention of imam of Kaba, who flew all the way from mecca.

Peshawar incident is an eye opener. Its high time that those who still believe that Malala is a CIA backed educational drone or a jewish conspiracy and the attack on her was a set up should put their malices to rest now.

#Neverforget hash tag would only embelish our twitter profiles if we do not translate it into a meaningful movement on grass root level and become bold enough to call spade a spade and understand the true teachings of islam ourselves rather than permitting the mullahs to set the religious doctrine and carve a narrative for our coming generation to follow.

Before it is too late let’s awaken the PK inside us( that is so alien to the prevailing narrative in the country) and start questioning the authority of hate-mongering religious bigots having wrong numbers.

Saudi Arabia: No country for Pakistani brides

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Here is Express tribune’s link: 

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/23544/saudi-arabia-no-country-for-pakistani-brides/

The untoward behaviour from the Saudi government of reportedly laying off 30,000 illegal Pakistani workers hit yet another ebb when Saudi men were recently banned from bringing brides from four nationalities including Pakistan that is amongst the relegated list. Other countries languishing in this ill-famed category are Bangladesh, Burma and Chad.

A cursory glance at the names of aforementioned countries makes me wonder how insignificant Pakistan has become in the greater scheme of things. It reduces Information Minister Pervez Rasheed’s recent claim, during a conference held to discuss Gaza, about Pakistan being the world’s sixth largest force to reckon with to a mere farce.

Revisiting the historical context of the phenomenon of (sham) brotherhood between the two Islamic states unravels the indifference dished out by Saudis towards Pakistanis in general.

During the petro-dollar era of the 70s, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banked on the Saudis to pave the way to a new Islamic block. His shenanigans of playing the religion card to catapult himself as the new leader of the Muslim Ummah at the second OIC conference in Lahore was hailed by many myopic observers as a game changing move by the hitherto secular leader.

In the course of four decades, Pakistan has witnessed chickens coming home to roost; starting from the Saudis backed jihad in Afghanistan that engendered militancy in the country to the current discriminatory policies on part of their government against Pakistanis.

The jaw-dropping aid of $1.5 billion must not be misconstrued as a mere generosity of the oil rich state. In fact, it is a bait to pitch Pakistan in the epicentre of the conflict zone considering the footprints of Saudi Arabia in retailing the war in Syria recently.

The new edict that bars Saudi citizen to betroth a Pakistani lassie seems like a belated Eid greeting from the Saudi monarchy to Mian Nawaz Sharif, who visited the kingdom during the last 10 days of Ramazan but did not mutter a word on bilateral relationships or confidence building measure between the two Muslim countries.

I can vouch for it with full aplomb that had the law been passed by any non-Muslim country from the Western world, the uproar against the respective nation would have been significant in terms of maligning its laws, religion and cultural norms. The possibility of severing all ties with that particular country wouldn’t have been written off either; whereas big daddy went unscathed.

Obsessed with unconditional love for the Saudis, Pakistanis fail to realise that the regressive regime in Saudi Arabia has pigeon-holed women on a number of accounts. The prohibition of women drivers in Saudi is a strong case of discrimination against women by making them dependant on the male species.

Similarly, there was an uproar in the Saudi media after a female TV anchor became the first woman ever to read the news without a veil, which was against the Islamic norms of the country. In stark contrast, the new rule imposed against women of four nationalities is a glaring denial of Islamic teachings as Islam doesn’t restrict marriages within particular regions, tribes or states.

In the light of changing political kaleidoscope, Pakistanis shouldn’t pin high hopes with the Saudi royal family – they are busy grinding their own axe and safeguarding their personal interests ever since assuming power in 1932, when they changed the name of Hejaz and associate dominions to eponymous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER, IF YOU ARE SINCERE WITH PALESTINIANS!

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Post Israeli blitzkrieg in Gaza, I feel heart rending pain and anguish seeing the Palestinian public helpless in front of barbaric aggression.

This time round though I have resorted to introspection in order to find solutions as opposed to the religious scholars and leaders across Muslim world who have aimlessly gone all guns blazing against Jews and jumped on the band wagon to annihilate the oppressor through public rhetoric rather than getting their houses in order first.

Praying and supplicating to God to alleviate Palestinian brethren miseries, my soul searching endeavour has exposed the failure of Muslim Ummah in finding logical remedies to the recurrent crisis.

Introspection phase 1:   How helpful is the boycotting gimmick?

For starters, I am weary of conspiracy theory mongers who have given a farcical dimension to the crisis by luring indiscreet public to boycott products carrying the barcode 7 29. I reckon it is probably an attempt on their part to cleanse Muslims from sins during the holy month of Ramadan.

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Throwing spanner in the work, how about boycotting Google and Facebook (both Jewish owned)?

I guess I would get an overwhelming “NAY” as an answer,since both Google & Facebook are part and parcel of our routine lives.

Boycott seems a valid option where perhaps the protesting entity is a cohesive unit and not a disparate crowd as in the case of Muslims today.

When the blacks boycotted public bus service in 1955 for 381 days in Montgomery after Rosa parks incident, not only did it hurt the revenue stream of the transportation company but the civil rights movement also gathered impetus from there on in. I attribute that success to the sincere focus of black people to end segregation in the US.

On previous occasions, Muslims remonstrating against Facebook or boycotting Danish products has lead to a zero sum game — attributing to the misplaced priorities of the Muslim fraternity in resolving issues.

Introspection phase 2:   Are all Muslim countries tolerant?

A cursory look at recent past and current state of affairs in Muslim countries shows that they have blood on their hands.

It is commonplace in Pakistan for the radical mindsets to brazenly condemn Shiites and Ahmadis to death, while keeping mum when a Hindu girl is forced to convert.

Similarly, Malaysian court has barred Christians from using the word “Allah”, making it look as if Muslims in the country have patented that word. Even Somalia has passed a bizarre law, where converting to another faith from Islam is a crime punishable by death.

The Bangladeshi government  for that matter has banned the Rohingya refugees from their fundamental right of getting married whereas paradoxically they shout hoarse in condemning the ongoing Rohingya genocide in Burma, next door.

From the perennial persecution of Bahai and  Copt Christian minorities in Iran and Egypt respectively to the terror activities of radical Islamic groups like Alqaeda or Boko Haram, there is ample food for thought for all Muslim pacifists.

Moving on to the holier than thou Saudis, who are busy retailing yet another genocide with their accomplice by funding the war in Syria and unleashing the notorious ISIS in the Levant, after successfully orchestrating the Iran Iraq war, decades ago.

Allow me to say that an Israeli may argue that he has as much right to push for a separate state being the top dog, as Saudi family had in changing the name of country Hijaz to their tribe’s name, ascribing to their rise to power in 1930’s.

Hats off to Saudi royal family’s hypocrisy!

With the baggage of human rights violations, injustice and intolerance in tow, the million dollar question is whether Islamic countries be able to fight the cause of suppressed Palestinian brethren for sustainable peace in the region?

The plain answer is no.

Introspection phase 3:   Will retaliation resolve problems?

Being the underdogs, Muslims nations must realize that retaliation will not simmer down the aggression. As hate only be-gets hate.

I reckon, the current aggravating crisis in Gaza would only fuel racial profiling by creating more fissures between Muslims and Jewish people, without us realizing that that it is not the people but the oppressive Israeli regime that is the sole culprit.

As recently in Tel Aviv, Jewish people carried out  protest rallies against their own government’s trigger happy attitude towards Gaza.

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Further alienation could have serious ramifications that could lead people into being hoaxed by the phony jihad campaign launched by the ISIS. Falling bait to which would take the world on the brink of catastrophe.

Introspection phase 4:   Has Muslim Ummah utilized international diplomatic forums?

The following image from a recent gathering in Jeddah held to discuss Gaza crisis, paints a picture of indifference and misplaced priorities of Muslim fraternity at the current point in time.

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To better analyse past performances, in hindsight we find only one figure in the Muslim Ummah in the form of  Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who stood tall for the Palestinian cause. Many international observers maintain that his speech at the UN security council on the Palestine issue on 7th October,1947 was the most vociferous case in favour of Palestine till date. The Statesman, Delhi editorially paid homage to his unrelenting service to the cause:

“For the first time the voice of Pakistan was heard in the counsels of the United Nations on a burning topic of world-wide significance when leader of this country’s delegation, Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan, addressed the United Nations Palestine Committee at Lake Success on Tuesday. It was a telling speech which tore into shreds the specious pleas put forward by the advocates of the partition of Palestine. Chaudhry Zafarullah did not merely indulge in rhetoric when he described the partition plan as `physically and geographically a monstrosity’, he proceeded to prove this by unassailable arguments. Answering the contention that the migration of more Jews into Palestine should be permitted because the Jewish displaced persons desired to go to that country, Pakistan’s spokesman asked whether the Americans would consent to relax or abrogate their own immigration laws if displaced persons of various other nationalities desired to enter the United States and settle there? Would America, he further asked, agree to take in the five million displaced persons of the Punjab if they desired to leave the scene of their suffering and cross over to the United States. We have little doubt that the Arabs will rejoice to find the voice of Pakistan so powerfully raised in the United Nations in defence of their cause. The addition of the independent sovereign state of Pakistan to the comity of free Muslim peoples of the World is already beginning to have its effect on international affairs,” 

Furthermore King Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia also appreciated Sir Zafarullah Khan’s effort for the Palestinian cause in his letter to the satalwart.

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Despite being the lone ranger, Sir Zafarullah Khan’s struggle for the Palestinian was cut short when his home country Pakistan disowned him for his religious affiliation as an Ahmadi – which sums up the vested interests and myopic vision prevalent amidst the Muslim world.

THE WAY FORWARD:    

                     1.   BETTER ADVOCACY

The only way forward for the Muslim Ummah is to leverage international diplomatic and peace forums through better advocacy.

I reckon the OIC forum should be utilized by all Muslim nations to come on the same wavelength and bridge gaps between each other. It can be achieved by framing a charter of tolerance, peace and justice in all Muslim countries across the broad spectrum.

At the United Nations, Muslim fraternity should try to find a powerful voice to raise their grievances to the international world. The paradigm of bold and influential personality like Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who fought tooth and nail for their rights should be emulated. 

Shouting expletives and heaping anathema upon the barbaric Israeli regime would not resolve issues as it has never done before, only dialogue and discourse would help develop a constructive narrative for long term and sustainable peace in Palestine.

                   2.  COEXISTENCE

There is a dire need of an invigorated PR campaign that could help Muslims rebuild their image in order to lobby effectively with countries holding sway in deciding the fate of Palestinians on international peace forums.

The Holy Koran has set the basis of the best public relations campaign for all nations across the broad spectrum and that is called “coexistence”, an ingredient missing in most Muslims nations at the current point in time. The Koran says:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion”    (Sura Baqra Verse 256)

Even a closer look at the life of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), makes us realise how he championed the art of coexistence when he allowed a Christian tribe from Najran, that had come to meet him, to offer their prayer in the Nabwi mosque.

We must realise that today Muslims stand divided, which has led the oppressor to kill innocent children in Palestine with utter impunity. Following Islamic values and scruples, Muslim ummah can help find peaceful solutions to the Palestinian issue.

The current crisis is a wake up call for all Muslims nations that they immediately end trust deficit by fostering attributes like tolerance, harmony and coexistence to pave a way for a brighter future for the Palestinian generations to come or else it will be too late.

The untold truth behind 1965 war!

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“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”
Sun zu (the art of war)

Has anyone wondered why General Ayub Khan failed to recapitulate the 1965 war, in his biography “Friends Not Master” — The simple reason behind this mysterious exemption was to conceal a hash up committed by him during the historic combat.

Contrary to the popular belief , Ayub Khan,as the mastermind, knew deep down that it was a victory lost.

Had the strategy been executed as planned and internal politics, personal ego and jockeying for power given way to a wee bit of patriotism during a critical juncture, things would have been much different.

Truth of the matter is that Pakistan had India on the mat through a very cogent “Operation Grand Slam” devised in May 1965, which was annexed to “Operation Gibraltar”, whereby the plan was to snap Jammu kashmir though internal revolt.

The commander of the operation, Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik had forged ahead to dislodge the indian Forces in the Ankhur region after he had pulverised them in the Chumb sector.

Just the second day into the operation, victory seemed evident in Jammu kashmir; when the audacious General was surreptitiously relieved of his duty by Ayub khan in favour of Major General yahya Khan, a close aide of him (as well as the commander in chief of the 1971 debacle) .

General Akhter Hussain Malik’s request of serving under the command of Yahya Khan just for the sake of a successful completion of the mission was also not entertained.

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With a delay of almost two days caused by the change in command and CoAS General Musa’s insistence of halting the operation — Indian Forces found their footings, got reinforcement and eventually went on the aggressive to target the sensitive areas of the state of Punjab. From there on in, it was all defensive for the Pak Forces — Who eventually thwarted the Indian attack but the time Lapse was vital to seal the Kashmir deal. Thereby a golden opportunity went begging because of personal glory.

Many experts still maintain that Ayub Khan could not stand the success of a random General, as it would have catapulted Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik to public fame apart from landing him the post of first in command in Army had victory been substantiated in Ankhur region.

Agha Shorish Kashmiri for one mourned the lost chance in an Urdu couplet (whose translation is) :
“The Land of Delhi is calling, Oh friends, Extend a helping hand to Akhtar Malik, oh friends.”

Moreover some analysts also believe that Ayub Khan had the tendency of losing his composure when faced with a crisis situation. Alfat gauhar and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had mentioned this anamoly publicly.

Anyway, the game plan of Ayub Khan was materialised when himself and Yahya Khan hogged the limelight for the successful defence in 1965 war. In 1966 Yahya Khan was promoted to army’s commander in chief. Whereas Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik was pigeonholed to CENTO and posted to Turkey, where he breathed his last.

We must not forget that Ayub Khan ended up signing a treaty with India after the 1965 war called the Tashkent Declaration which was deemed as a pusillanimous act by many in the country. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, considered Ayub’s right hand man, tendered his resignation, in protest and assembled a party of his own.

The events that unfolded after the Tashkent Declaration, didnot have good bearing on the country’s political outlook. Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman in East Pakistan garnered support, when he got vocal in the backdrop of Ayub khan’s fading popularity. The turn of events eventually led to the ousting of the dictator.

Till this day Major General Akhtar Hussain’s question : “Why changing horses in midstream?” Awaits its answer, which perhaps only General Ayub Khan could give.

Honouring Zafarullah !

20130902-020754.jpg Try asking the apolitical youth of pakistan about Iftakhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and even they will connect with the man, through the lawyer’s movement. where as not many could relate to Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah khan, the former President of the International court of justice, who rendered a great service to Pakistan in particular and the Muslim world in general.

Zafarullah khan’s name is buried in the lowest abyss of pakistan’s historical archives just like many unsung heroes of the past. It is a pity that subcontinent’s smartest legal mind is hardly acknowledged for his efforts, leave alone being remembered on his death anniversary, which happens to be on the 1st of September.

To a large extent, this bizarre indifference has got to do with his religious affiliation as an Ahmadi. Zafarullah, the Jurist with a Midas touch, had an illustrious career worth sharing. Considered destiny’s child he was born in a small town of Daska. His mother dreamt of him becoming the chief justice one day. Zafarullah commemorated the unrelenting faith of his mother posthumously in his book titled ‘ Meri Walda’ (my mother).

Recounting his prodigious academic achievements would be difficult. Rather it would suffice that he studied at Government College Lahore under the tutelage of Allama Iqbal, only to be called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn after completing his Law degree with distinction from the King’s college London.

Lincoln’s inn was not zafarullah’s only affiliation with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as it is clearly evident from history that he was a close aide of Quaid e Azam and had his approval on most instances. He first rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jinnah and Gandhi during the round table conferences on Indian reforms in London.

On the behest of Quaid-e-Azam, he represented the Muslim League before Radcliffe Boundary Commission. His immaculate role during that tricky phase of partition was highly commendable. Many notables had gone on record to pay tribute to the great man’s devotion towards the cause of a separate homeland for the muslims.

In pre partition era, his services as a true Muslim leagean can’t be ignored as well. He was the legal brain behind drafting the Lahore resolution of 1940, apart from representing the muslims of India as the member of viceroy’s council.

Post independence, he was cherry-picked by none other than Qauid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as Pakistan’s first foreign affairs Minister. He fought for the rights of the suppressed nations especially the muslim countries during his tenure. As the head of the delegation, he represented Pakistan in United Nations’ General Assembly and advocated the stand of the Muslim world on the Palestinian issue.

His 1947 speech at the UN Security Council for the palestinian cause sets yardstick for being the most eloquent case put forth in favour of Palestinians thus far. In recognition of his efforts he was awarded the highest civilian honour by Syria, Egypt and Jordan alike. (Transcript of Zafaraullah Khan’s speech in UN SecurityCouncil 

At the UN Security Council, he strongly proposed the liberation of the occupied Kashmir, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, North Ireland, Eritrea and Indonesia. Even as president of the UN General Assembly, he left no stone unturned to propound a strong case of Kashmir. In the process, he met a number of dignitaries including President Kennedy to bring Kashmir issue to the fore.

Not many Muslim world diplomats could emulate his indomitable spirit for rallying the cause of the Third World nations. His rise from a judge to the president (chief justice) of the International court of Justice in the Hague, later in his career, was phenomenal. He is the only Pakistani to achieve this feat.

Another feather in his cap was his knighthood as ‘Sir’ by the British empire, which is a rarity for a subcontinental great. Interestingly, he had also Performed Umrah and Hajj in his lifetime and had written numerous books on Islam and Pakistan as a historian.

A politician and jurist of highest pedigree, he was Quaid’s most trusted luteinant and an ambassador of Muslim world on various international forums. I believe his success was not digested by many in Pakistan. For that matter his achievements, that are so vital for Pakistan, were ignored rather than being adorned as part of our educational syllabus to showcase an honest and luminous past of our nation.

Keeping faith aside, for a change if we could just honour his services towards Pakistan, then as a nation, we would have certainly moved a step ahead in the right direction.

Note: one of Pakistan’s popular social blog team failed to appreciate this piece may be because they are not brave enough yet to confront the honest past of Pakistan.

Year’s round up: the good, the bad and the ugly!

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Note: this article of mine got published in “The News international blog” on the 66th independence Day of Pakistan with slight modification. Here is the link:http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2013/08/years-round-up-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

The cliched fanfaronade of our forefathers’ altruism for emancipating us from the shackles of slavery will mark yet another independence day.

But are we following the footsteps of our founding fathers? is a million dollar question.

As a yardstick for future trends, let us gauge our progress during the last one year starting from 14th August 2012.

The ugly scorecard:

I don’t want to send pessimistic vibes but the status quo reflects a sob story of turmoil and upheaval that i find pertinent to recount:

Badami Bagh was this year’s pit stop in an unending journey of ‘Christian-misia’. That included Shanti nagar and Gojra as the plundered stations of yesteryears.

There was no respite for the poor Hazaras as well, whose ghettoizzation touched a claustrophobic level. This year proved that the only remedy for their woes is a facial surgery. As they are the most vulnerable to violence because of their distinct facial contours, which is a pity to say the least. Bad luck pursued them even when they tried to run away. From the capsizing of ship to the denial of sanctuary by foreign world, this year was an ominous one for the estranged minority.

As it transpired, there was a lot more to Shia genocide’s personification as a twitter hashtag. Abbas town incident in karachi and the Parachinar massacres were only the tip of the iceberg in a flurry of violence against the Shiite community.

The ‘run of the mill’ persecution faced by Ahmadis, hit a new tangent this year. The rally of lawyers in Lahore protesting against Shezan drinks was quintessence of prejudice oozing from the torchbearers of justice. Furthermore the publication of an innocuous tabloid (Lahore magazine) run by the community, was also halted by state officials.

The aforementioned was not the first effort to curb freedom of speech during the last one year. Infact the ban on youtube by state machinery was the original sin that crippled the country’s intellectual freedom. I wonder why google has not yet banned Pakistan over this idiosyncrasy.

Osama Bin Laden! don’t fret. He didn’t make the cut this year. Infact it was an offshoot of OBL’s organisation, The Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, that earned ignominy by causing havoc and claiming responsibility for scores of nefarious acts carried out across Pakistan.

Malala Yousaf Zai was shot in Swat in a cowardly attempt to suppress education and opress the female voice. It left an indelible smear on the nation’s image. Though many cranky followers of “The Arrivals” series would still argue that Melanie Josephine was the real name of this CIA backed education drone.

The grisly massacre of foreign mountaineers in Diameer valley, Gilgit, didn’t render any service to Pakistan’s image as a tourists friendly city as well.Thanks to the Chinese for yet again forgiving the callous attitude of Pakistan’s government towards protecting lives of tourists.

The once dynamic city, Karachi, reeked of blood as usual. The gang war of Lyari hogged the limelight for engendering an exodus of settlers from the ravaged zone.

Balochistan Liberation Army, the outlawed bandits, hit the last nail in the coffin when they attacked Quaid e Azam’s residency in Ziarat. A symbol of national heritage was razed to ashes in a jiffy and the law enforcement agencies were caught napping.

The good part:

11th of May was a momentous day this year when Pakistanis chose ballet over bullet. Active involvement of the youth in the democratic process and smooth transition of power to democratically elected government were breaths of fresh air.

Young Amir Atlas and Muhamad Asif are worth mentioning for winning laurels for the country in squash and snooker respectively. Rest of the sports and sportsmen painted a sorry figure.

The wicked (bad) side:

The failure on part of election commission in carrying out a free and fair election in a country, founded by an epitome of justice, was a bitter pill to swallow.

I agree with Karl Rove’s philosophy that “politics is tv with the sound off”, yet understanding MQM’s politics was easy this year. They did a great job in showcasing their unmatchable summersault skills — switching stances from time to time.

Moreover the indifference of Pakistan’s mainstream media, to cover a robust revolution that catapulted from the Shahbag square of Bangladesh, was appalling. I believe the youth of pakistan were bereft of learning from the coming of age saga of a fledgeling south asian democracy.

The road ahead:

I don’t buy the rhetoric of a bright future, though i have high hopes attached with the youth of this country. We need to understand that the founding fathers did not free this nation from the compulsive chanting of ‘Vande Mataram’, so that the ‘pseudo-Islamic’ fundos could coerce their radicalised dogma upon us.

Young patriots can certainly bring a longlasting change, if they show their mettle for being the true custodians of 1947 revolution.

For starters, some one needs to make a Pakistani version of “Lagay Raho Munnabhai”, to imbue the badly needed Quaid’s philosophy of unity, faith and discipline amongst the populace.

Lessons to be learned from a brave Bengladesh!!

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I believe keeping a close track of progress in Bengladesh is pivotal for any Pakistani — primarily to guage the modus operandi of the country’s recent exploits and partially for her previous association with our homeland.

The recent judgement of a Bangladeshi high court that led to the expulsion of Jamaat e Islami from partaking in the country’s next election to be held in the coming year is a brazen step to say the least.

What gained momentum from Shahbag square protests in Dhaka culminated into the ousting of country’s largest oppositon party — deemed fascist for its role in dismemberment and for the subsequent violence that took its toll on the country’s overall outlook.

A fledgling, 42 years old democracy has come off age pretty quick to understand the importance of secularism despite having a majority of Muslim population ensconced in the country.

I reckon a secular system is the way to go, especially when you know that all you are going to get is sham or pseudo Islamization of the country at the hands of a few bigoted fundamentalists as the other alternative. A utopian islamic model is hard to achieve anyways with an ever increasing schism between sects, dissenting over each others ideology.

Just to clear any doubt over all those people who regard the word ‘secular’ as a taboo and the proponent of a secular system as a heretic, i would encourage them to skim though the speech made on 11th august 1947 to the minorities of Pakistan ( both East and West Pakistan included) by Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. A pertinent excerpt out of the speech is worth mentioning here:

” ……………..You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state. ”

I clearly suggests that father of this nation drew a broad line between functionality of the state and the everyday religious ethos of its citizens.

At least no one should argue over the importance of being independent from the shackles of slavery, then in the context of Independence of Pakistan one must also not forget that it was the founders and leaders of these Islamist parties which resisted the idea of a new country — they went on record to demean pakistan and its existence:

“Pakistan Ek Bazaari Aurat He, Hum Ne Ise Majburan Qubul Kya He”
(Report Tehqiqati Adalat P#275)

Which means…..Pakistan is akin to a courtesan, whose freedom we have hardly compromised.

Now if they claim to be the actual custodians of pakistan and that their writ be imposed on the nation then it would be something of a fools errand on their part.

As a South Asian i feel proud that the tiger nation of Bangladesh came to being, as it gave those who were marginalised before 1971 a conduit to voice their opinion. Apart from providing a safe haven to innocent people whose human rights got mulct in a flurry of violent oppression. (look at Hamood Ur Rehman commision report for reference).

Despite having problems of its own, Bangladesh has always sprung up. She provided equal opportunity to people like Dr Younas of Grameen Bank to follow his dreams of empowering the dispossessed. She not only respected and lauded Dr. Younas as a hero for his exploits but also adorned a monument of another nobel laureate Dr. Abdus Salam who was born and buried in Pakistan and who never let go his Pakistani nationality despite being ostracised for being an Ahmadi. It shows for the country’s stature.

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Many observers had questioned the expedience of the revolution spiralled by the audacious Bangladeshi youth, that had amassed in numbers in the Shahbag square. But the Bangladeshi nation has proved that their young generation was street smart and cognizant enough to notice the country’s changing dynamics — yearning to move on in order to graduate to the next level.

Kudos to the Bangladeshi youth, who stood up, counted for and eventually had the last laugh. I think it behooves upon young pakistanis like me and the rest of us to take a leaf out of the chapter of their exploits and develop a sense of belonging towards the country by initiating a dialogue in our settings.

Poignant as it may sound but the truth is that the national narrative of our country is hijacked by those usurpers who have vested interests of their own. The youth of pakistan must play a healthy role in redefining the social, cultural and political landscape by following Quaid’s dream of an egalitarian pakistan.

There is no denying the fact that Bangladesh has once again given some food for thought to the big brother to learn from follies of the past.

Sombre apology to father of the nation!

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Beloved Quaid e Azam…….i am sorry from the bottom of my heart!

Severe pangs of remorse, shame and embarrassment had got me clueless over the past few days as to how i should express my feelings over the demise of Ziarat residency — Quaid’s last resting place. At last my innate temptation of penning down my angst got the better of my numb state of mind– so i could give vent to my emotions openly.

Balochistan liberation Army not only physically plundered the national monument but also rubbed it in by besmirching Pakistan’s national flag atop the residency — hoisting BLA flag instead. Media highlighted a plethora of condemnation and censure by government officials– right, left and centre. Yet it is mind boggling for me to understand the lack of resolve on the part of government to crack down the masterminds of this nefarious act and the indifference of civil society to protest against the tragic event at a large scale. Imagine the Statue of Liberty being attacked in this manner — i can vouch that civil society and US government would have gone on to vehemently protest and track the culprits respectively.

15th june 2013 marked a nightmarish day when not only the Ziarat residency was burnt to Ashes but terrorists created havoc in Balochistan medical complex and targeted female university student’s bus in Quetta. The most perplexing part thus far about Quetta is that despite it being highly cordoned off by security agencies yet it had to face a number of tragic events.This stat certainly puts a big question mark over the effective and honest role of security agencies in the region.

Another quandary that took my gasp away was the lack of security personnel appointed to safeguard as important a place as Quaid’s residency in Ziarat.The site had all the vital significance to mourn its loss. Look at the back of a 100 rupee bill, you will see the picture of Ziarat residency standing tall with grandeur. It was located amidst Ziarat’s scenic Juniper Gardens — considered one of UNESCO’s heritage site.Claims of reconstruction on part of interior minister wont assuage the pain. Having visited the site as a small kid, for me this building was akin to Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal would lose all its charm once rebuilt, if it is unfortunately razed.

Every sombre event hits our nation as a wake up call to get our act right– this one though has jolted us having hit us on every sensitive chord in our systems. The need of the hour is to reunite as a nation to quell the demon of terrorism in order to forge ahead towards the road of prosperity — a pathway shown by one of the greatest leaders of all times named Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: it’s official!

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The hullabaloo of 2013 elections has almost phased out, with new government about to be formed in space of a few days. Writing is on the wall that Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf will form government in khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The fanfaronade of creating a ‘naya pakistan’ has ultimately petered out in carving a ‘naya Pakhtunkhwa’ for the time being. It has atleast given something to cheer for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf’s rather disgruntled supporters, especially those partaking in sit-ins across the country.

The current scenario bodes well for Imran Khan. With majority seats in KPK assembly, it would give him a chance to realise his dream of building a utopian government — be it at a provincial level. I have heard him citing examples of good governance in Bihar state in India as a paradigm to be emulated in Pakistan. For that Pervez Khatak the-to-be-chief minister has to do the Nitish Kumar in KPK.

Commensurate efforts are needed to bring reform in the province but the key to prosperity in KPK unfortunately lies with the Talibans — they could throw spanner in the works by disturbing the peace of KPK. With restoration of law and order heading PTI agenda, Pervez Khatak has already asked Talibans to show some clemency in order to rebuild a new khyber Pakhtunkhwa from scratch.

By the looks of things, PTI has to tread over a very fine line for KPK to get over its miseries. The goals seem pretty well aligned though. From economic prosperity, empowerment of municipal and district level government system, education& health reform to law and order restoration — PTI agenda seems to cover all the bases. Nonetheless execution of these goals would be pivotal.

The five years tenure of leading a provincial government is going to be a litmus test for Imran Khan and co. if he succeeds in fulfilling the promises he has made to the people in KPK, he would end up being a reliable leader in the long run. Otherwise the people of KPK would do what they are so good at, that is to vote for change in the next elections. From the rightist, leftist to the liberals — people in KPK province have tried them all.

In 1993 they voted for Pakistan Peoples Party.
In 1997 it was the turn of Pakistan muslim league (N) to form government.
In 2002 they opted for Muthahida Majlis e Amal as their saviours.
In 2008 they chose a new option in form of Awami National Party.
In 2013 it is Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf, in whom they have reposed their faith.

With the kind of people at its disposal, PTI is more than capable in laying foundations of a new khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. As far as rest of the pakistan is concerned, the nation is content on repairing the old pakistan until Tsunami sweeps the whole nation off its feet when next election takes place in the country.