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.

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Saffronisation of education, a misguided effort by world’s largest democracy

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India prides herself on being the world’s greatest democracy and a thriving secular powerhouse to boot. Though the recent decision by the state of Madhya Pradesh of making it a compulsion to teach Gita in Mudrasahs as part of educational curricula could prove detrimental to the facade of Indian secularism.

I believe the proponents of ‘Hindutva’ are up to an unwelcome initiative, which could trigger unrest and engender animosity amongst the muslim groups, ensconced in the state.

An ideal secular system by default not only follows the mechanism of separating itself from the religious ethos of its citizens but it graduates a level further by creating new spaces for all its inhabitants to practice their faiths with freedom — the by product of which is communal harmony.

The afore mentioned scruple, with due respect, has been violated by this absurd decision on part of the Madhya Pradesh’s policy makers. The logic behind inculcating the teachings of Gita in Muslim Mudrasahs in the state, to broaden the gamut of subjects taught as part of Suffronisation of education agenda is an irrational one to say the least.

No matter how much reservations and differences i have with the prevailing circumstances of Mudrasahs in Pakistan, i would never endorse such an absurd idea that would further alienate an already ‘vulnerable’ educational system from the mainstream academia.

The mordenisation of a Madrasah can be done by other means as well. Why bound a student in a random Madrasah to mandatorily study Bhagvat Gita as part of educational curricula? I believe it should be left on the will of any Muslim if he voluntarily wants to delve into the comparative study of religions or not.

A prime example of that could be Mukhtar Ahmed of a local Madrasah in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh who teaches comparative study of both Holy Quran and Bhagvat Gita just to draw parallels between the two faiths. This exercise is acceptable as his personal decision where a state owned body does not dictate his method of pedagogy.

A skeptical eye could sense a tinge of political gimmickry in this decision backed by the right winged Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) with the elections around the corner. With the recent Bodoland and Telangana separatist movements already shaking up the higher echelons of the Incumbent Indian government, there is no room for further sectarian rift.

The suffronisation of education by Hindutva radicalists draws uncanny parallels with the dogma of ‘talibanization’ that was incubated in Afghanistan and later permeated in Pakistani society by fundamentalists who try to coerce their own ideology on the masses.

Little had the paterfamiliases of Pakistan known during independence about a bunch of misled religious bigots who would convert the country into a ‘Pseudo Islamic state’ after it was emancipated from the mandatory humming of ‘Vande Mataram’ — a Hindutva ritual employed during assembly drills in pre partition schools.