Excerpt A: Untitled

I’ve been aloof recently, have too much going on so I find I little time to write. Even If I do write I’m too lazy to publish any of it, hence the dismal state of the blog. This changes today(I hope). Writing is a long strenuous process, and can quite often be demotivating. Being the hollow Symbian beings society has made us into, we are always looking for external validation for our work. For this very purpose I shall be posting short pieces of writing I have been working, short excerpts which I believe should be readable for an audience with a short attention span that usually surfs the web.

The following is from the prologue of a rather long short story I’m working on, your criticism is always welcome:
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“All men are dogs” she murmured the overly clichéd phrase, her mouth hidden by her elbow which forced itself onto the freshly greased railing of the bus window. She wanted to hide her face, she seemed ashamed about something; this much anyone could see. What no one else would’ve noticed was the stark contradiction of her declaration to what she had said only a month ago. And that is what got me worried. “Boys are fun” she had so shamelessly announced once (though shame, by your standards, was still quite an alien concept to her), but she seemed sad today, sadder than she usually was. She tried to coax a smile as she felt the cool wind blowing through her messy hair, but it too was as dull as the shade of lipstick she had put on. “Summers” I said, trying to call out to her with the nickname her friends once fashioned for her, Summer from Samar since she was as bright and happy as summer sun once. Once. But she would not respond, she continued staring into the chaotic traffic that lay ahead of the bus, she smiled noticing how brutally they would cut-off each other’s path sometimes barely escaping an accident. She smiled, forcing her lips wider but the moisture in her eyes was suggesting a different emotion altogether.

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Noori’s back, Long Live the King!

Noori Badshah

Noori’s back! After 10 years of crappy commercial songs and a few good coke studio productions, after 10 years of dormancy Noori is back. Noori for me is synonymous with nostalgia; it reminds of the long drives on GT Road travelling between cities, it reminds of riding my bicycle late at night paying chor-police in the neighbourhood. It reminds me of the heavy torrential rains of Punjab that used to wet the Earth for weeks at end (Oh God, let it rain in Karachi), It reminds me of the all-nighters I pulled off during my Matric exams where every inch of my existence would pull me towards the bed like gravity but ‘Sari Raat Jaga re’ and ‘Neend aye na’ were more than enough of a motivation to keep me glued to the chair. Ah yes memories, good and bad, attached to every lyric of (almost) every Noori song, pretty much sums up my childhood (and teenage).

When I first heard of Aik tha badshah, I was thrilled, exhilarated, the English Dictionary does not have enough synonyms to show how excited I was… But all I could do was wait, since clearly I wasn’t important enough to be invited to the Launch in Karachi *sighs*. I watched the teaser again and again until the video was officially released; it was quite different from what I expected. I remember Noori (don’t remember which brother) stating in an interview that they had been experimenting with new sounds, inspired by the recent success of the Local Indie bands, they had decided to break away from the traditional Noori sound which made the famous for a while. Aik tha badshah is quite different from the stuff they used to make, it has a queer haunting feel to it, with the lyrics and music a bit ‘darker’ you could say from their old music. But the questions to be asked here are, is the new Noori as good as the old Noori? What does the strange rather medieval video mean?

All bands evolve, their music changes with time, sometimes for the better and sometimes it doesn’t work out too well for them. Take Linkin Park for example, they used to produce amazing music supercharged with Chester Bennigntons wide vocal range and Mike Shinodas simple yet meaningful rhymes, Linking Park used to dominate the contemporary rock, alternate rock scene. But ever since they tried to change, their music has lost the touch, the originality  that made them great, and yes their new songs are good too but even the most die-hard fans wouldn’t mind them reverting back to their old ways. Will Noori go down the same path Linkin Park there or will their fate be different? Well Ali Noor answered that question for us. During a Q and A session with the media he said that this song was released ahead of the album “Begum Gul Bakaoli Sarfarosh” (which is set to be released in September) since it is different from the rest of the tracks of the album

Now for the strange slightly psychedelic video, in the video we see Hamza Noor sitting on the throne while the 4 elements Earth, Wind, Water and Fire dance around him in circles, he is shown as this draconian medieval figure moving the pieces on the chess board when Ali Noor emerges from the water and dethrones his brother. And then abdicates the throne himself to live as a common man. What Noori would have you believe is that the video is about corruption and how power breeds evil and what not. However, I see a deeper subliminal message behind the whole song as a whole, even the name ‘Aik tha Badshah’ is there for a reason. I believe this is Noori declaring war on all the would-be rock bands of Pakistan, It’s Noori telling the world that once upon a time there was king of Pakistani rock, who ruled over the hearts of minds of the Pakistani youth, now that King is back, replacing the false idols that forced their pawns to worship them, this is Noori flipping over the chessboard and setting the pawns free to choose who they follow, a clean board with a new beginning. This is Noori coming back to life after a deep slumber of 10 years. And my my what a comeback they’ve made!

You can watch the music video here

*Originally published on the Express Tribune Blog about a month ago

A divine Tragedy(rewrite)

An unusually murky Sunday morning in Lahore, Zahir sat on a rusty robust metallic chair in a quiet secluded corner of a local Dhaba. Gently he was sipping his Doodh Patti as Iqbal Bano’s Dasht-e-Tanhai was playing in rhythm with the ambience of this mediocre roadside establishment. In the distance Zahir could see a dense fog emerging, steadily masking the landscape of the metropolis that lay in constant motion in front of his eyes. Inch by inch the fog drew nearer, the cold wind blew hard forcing his eyes shut.

His eyes open, a football is lodged in the net of the goal, Zahir’s peers rush towards it to retrieve the ball. He was sitting alone on a wooden bench at the edge of the football field gazing through the net into the immense field littered with his fellow toddlers playing one sport or the other. Today like any other day he wasn’t in the mood to intermingle with his classmates, there were times when Zahir wanted to flow with the tide but no matter how he tried he was spat out and so he eventually gave up. Hence as a child Zahir was extremely introverted and because of this shy nature of his he had constructed a wall of sorts that would deflect any who would try to make contact with him, the tide could not break through it no matter how it tackled The Wall. Those who tried to breech this wall would torment the poor child not knowing that this further increased the height of The Wall as another brick was added with each attempt. Eventually, these bullies too would grow tired of the affair and move on. Through the corner of his eye the child could a see a vague image forming, as the image got closer he saw that a human was pacing towards him. Zahir begins shifting his weight nervously as this vivid image now comes closer and closer until this daughter of Eve comes and sits beside him. For a moment there is silence and then she breaks the ice “Hii! The name’s Nirvana, and you are?”

Sahab kuch aur laia aun? (Shall I bring something else?) Zahir was forcefully steered back to reality, annoyed by the interruption he motioned at the waiter apathetically to leave him be. He now stared blankly again into the fog that now surrounded him completely and brings the cup near his face to savor the warmth radiating from it. He sat there reminiscing on his old days, Zahir remembered that he was always interrupted by one individual or the other; he was never left alone to himself he thought. ‘Hey you! What do you have there?’ said one kid, Zahir ignores him and continues writing. “You’re ignoring us you chubby little brat?” says the other but Zahir pays no heed to their comments and continues scribbling down his thoughts. In an abrupt move one of the two boys grabs the paper on which Zahir was writing on and quickly goes through it, “Ah! Poems, the lad reckons himself a poet”, “Poems everybody!” the boy announces in a sarcastic tone as the class breaks into a forced laughter, the kind induced by fear of being next victim, not a whole hearted laugh. Zahir is about break into a sob when Nirvana, with messy hair rolled up sleeves and a swagger in her gait breaks in between the two. “Really guys? Can’t you just leave him be? You’re in the 8th grade now for God’s sake grow up”, she said in a clear and forceful voice and the crowd dissipated.

Unorthodox was a word that perfectly described Nirvana. She was not your average female, never was. She owned a pair of fully grown Rottweilers(a breed which is infamous for chewing the heads off their owners like a football) with which she regularly parried with, not even the servants of the house would dare approach them only Nirvana could. In addition she had 9 cats, each of them she had named a different flavor of ice-cream. So you could say that she was a cat person and a dog person. She had many unusual habits; she often brought street urchins to the house to feed them and play with them, not that she didn’t have other friends but she grew to like their company, she would teach them the alphabet in her play by posing as the teacher and making them all sit and listen to her. Once she came rushing home from outside during the days leading to Bakra Eid and announced to her father “Abba! I hugged a guy”, bewildered her father gave her a strange look which was reciprocated by the whole family that sat there, “It felt so warm and soft” she continued. Her Mother responds “Beta, is everything alright?”, “Yes, I’ve never felt so alive before!” Nirvana said. “You hugged whom?” said her father, now clearly outraged, “The guy tied outside by the pole”, “Oh you mean the gaae(cow)” said her brother. She was 17 at that time

It was precisely because of this nature of her that Nirvana was trying a very different approach to get through to Zahir. While others would beat against the icy wall that he had erected by battering it with a constant barrage of insults and obscenities, Nirvana was the only one who was attempting to climb this behemoth by constantly rushing in to bail Zahir out of hot water and keeping the bullies at bay, the bullies who had constantly lay siege to the wall. These people were making the wall higher and isolating Zahir even further and thus making it even harder for Nirvana to reach the top. A truck honked its horn and Zahir’s mind crashed back into his body. He felt the heat of the cup against his palms; he knew he was back in the real world. There was no definite moment in his life when Zahir could say that he was cured his ailment but what he knew for sure was that now he was no more the shy kid who couldn’t stand up for himself. He couldn’t help but think that Nirvana had played a big role in this transition from shyness to freedom. In his school-college days, they had grown closer; after repeated attempts Nirvana had finally made it to the top of The Wall. Only to find to her surprise that a great green garden lay on the other side, its centre was filled by a great lake with birds of all types spreading their wings as if life it’s self spread out from them. The most exotic of birds singing their songs atop exotic trees were littered in an irregular manner throughout this utopia which stretched as far as the human eye could see. And all around there was in abundance; life of all sorts. After that it was smooth gild downwards for Nirvana to reach this utopia, this Shangrilla. And so the two grew closer, they were like Ying and Yang, complete opposites yet in complete harmony. Opposites attract they say and that is why their bond grew deeper and stronger until it was titanium, unbreakable. They were always there for each other in times of great woe or despair, they would always have each other’s shoulders to cry on (though Zahir needed this more than Nirvana), they knew that if the world shut them out and turned its back on them they would always have each other to fall back on. But as Nirvana delved deeper into this forbidden garden beyond The Wall, she burrowed deeper inside Zahir’s heart, leading them both to crave for the answer of the inevitable question that would arise; was the bond between them more than just that of friends?

The vintage cassette player broke, and Zahir’s flow of thought is interrupted as shrill sounds now replace Iqbal Bano’s melodious voice. It had been years many since they last met. Trivial matters now consumed most of their time and so they couldn’t meet up. Zahir brings the cup of Doodh Patti once again to feel the little warmth it could offer. He takes a sip, then another and soon he is lost in his thoughts again, impartial to his surroundings. The ultimate question still occupies his mind; was it more than just friendship? So he sat there searching deep within for the answer that just hung there, static and unvarying. It had been there for a long time now, since his last days at college to be exact.

It was a fine Saturday evening, Zahir’s last day at college, his batch’s farewell. Still somewhat discontent with how society treated him, he was now comparatively less of an outcast when compared to his earlier years at school. There was complete chaos in the event hall and amidst that chaos stood Zahir, leaning against the wall enjoying his Pina Colada, chatting with his friends. Physically he was engaged with his mates but his mind was occupied elsewhere, he was wondering when Nirvana would show up. The hall’s doors open, a woman in a black saari appears, It was Nirvana. What emerged from the doors was not the rebellious unorthodox Nirvana but a daughter Aphrodite, for a second even Zahir couldn’t recognize her. “Excuse me ma’am, I feel I’ve seen you somewhere before”, he japed while walking towards her. “Sorry, but I have never seen you before”, said she faking serious face. “You’re right, I must’ve confused you with my friend, you are too b-b-beautiful to be here” he stammered while saying the last part, realizing this was the first time he was complementing a woman. “Oh you sly dog, shut up” she said while blushing. “Well you do look… different” said Zahir and a long silence ensued as they stared deeply into each other’s eyes. Eyes are windows to the soul they say and in each other’s eyes they found the answer, the answer to the question that had been bothering them for a long time now.

A lorry sped by splashing water over a rickshaw driver by the side of the road who began to curse in loud voice, forcing Zahir to break out of his trance. He noticed that the cup in his hand was now empty and as cold as the surroundings. He noticed that the cassette player was still broke; no one had bothered to fix it or simply turn it off.  He noticed that the fog was now thick and all around, he could barely see outside the Dhaba. He set the cup aside now getting impatient whether Nirvana would show up or not. It had been more than 4 years since they last saw each other but that dry streak was to end today. Zahir would’ve chosen a classier place but Nirvana being the rebel she was insisted that they meet here; it was this very nature of the girl which made Zahir fall for her. Yes, he was no longer afraid to admit the fact that he was now blindly, hopelessly in love with Nirvana and today he was going to confess and finally empty his cup. He was finally going to let it all out and find out whether she reciprocated the same feelings or not, Zahir had stalled the inevitable for too long now.  

                     “I took a heavenly ride through our silence,                      

                                I knew the moment had arrived,                      

                        for killing the past and coming back to life”

Now as Zahir sat idly on his chair playing with his fingers, he notices an iridescent glow in the fog, before he could contemplate what it was the glow grew more intense. A shockwave passes through him, followed by a surge of uncomfortable warmth which throws him off the chair and onto coarse cemented floor, knocking him out in an instant

……….

Dasht-e-tanhaaimein, aijaan-e-jahaan, larzaan hai… (In the desert of my solitude,my love,quiver)

Zahir slowly gained conscious, his vision still blurry as he moved his eyes about to scan the drab interior of the Dhabba. His mind was still numb from the fall, he tried to gather the strength to stand but could not do battle with gravity, he felt weak. What the hell just happened? He thought, as he dragged himself out. The fog outside was now giving off a reddish hue and there and then it him, the Dhabba got bombed! He found out, as his eyes pierced through the haunting mist and see the debris all around him red with flesh and bone. Somehow the shockwave had fixed the cassette player and Iqbal Bano’s voice was now echoing ever so loudly in the sound of silence. Zahir now again attempted to stand and this time he succeeded, still feeling weak he tried to find something for support but he couldn’t so he fell again. This only further strengthened his resolve; he picked himself up again and limped forward, trying to navigate through the mess of bodies scattered around him but his foot caught onto something and he fell again. What Zahir saw now was a scene he never could’ve fathomed: In his feet lay a dead lifeless body, in his feet laid his dearly beloved Nirvana, he felt as if he had been punched in the chest by a two tonne fist, as if a thousand jagged knives simultaneously pierced through his heart, as if a lorry had just ran over him and trampled his soul. He drags himself towards her still in denial, tears start pouring down his eyes as he tries to bring the lifeless corpse back to life but his attempts were in vain. She was gone, his Nirvana was gone, Ying had lost his Yang. The Wall was now beginning to take form again and large boulders were replacing the areas chipped off by Nirvana. Zahir looked up at the crimson sky and let out an intense scream at the top of his aching voice. As he sat there wallowing in desperation he felt a pull on his leg; it was his consciousness recovering from the blast of the shock, yearning to drag him back to an endless abyss of isolation and depression. The very same Nirvana helped him climb out of.

Tahir-ul-Qadri the Mad

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Theatricality and deception they say are powerful tools to be used against the uninitiated, when these two are fused together they can amalgamate to form a weapon so lethal that it can easily put the masses on a path which can lead to nothing but anarchy and mayhem. Tahir-ul-Qadri the Pseudo Patriotic Canadian Pakistani is a man who has perfected these traits. Through his empty rhetoric, baseless fiery speeches and hollow promises Qadri has risen to the status of a ‘Demigod sent from the Heavens to save the nation’ amongst his simple minded illiterate following.

Who is Qadri and why does he want a revolution? The answer to the latter question has an easy explanation. PAT’s supporters are die hard believers of Tahir’s philosophy and teachings but here’s the catch, they are very few in number a very optimistic estimate would about 1000-2000 supporters in each constituency (primarily in Punjab) made up of 100s of thousands and a vast mojority of said supporters are employees of Minhaj-ul-Quran who only want to keep their jobs. Qadri is well aware of this situation he knows that in an election, no matter how free and fair they may be his party will indefinitely lose by a landslide, this is the reason why he opposes elections and wants to ‘change the system’. As for who he is:

‘I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.’ Oath sworn by anyone who attains a Canadian Citizenship, simply put TuQ is a Canadian tourist on vacation coming the exotic East for some adventure.

Every now and then this so called Deliverer of Justice likes to drop in on Pakistan to get away from the boring weather in Canada. We all remember the ‘Container band Inqilab’ fiasco last year, now suddenly out of the blue he’s back again with the intent to bring about a so called Awami Inqilab.Revolution, inqilab, rebellion, uprising all these words have a certain alluring ring to them; but be aware that embracing them comes at a cost, a heavy toll paid in blood. Libya and Syria are some countries who yearned for revolution, look where their aspirations got them? More than a 100,000 have died in Syria, Libya is again on the brink of another civil war, a giant tinder box waiting to explode. Do we want that in Pakistan too?

With the likes of Qadri spewing all sorts of hatred this doesn’t seem like a very implausible future. Recently he has been inciting people to rise up and revolt against the oppressors. He has ordered his Mureeds(Supporters) to drag the Police(like it’s their fault) out if their homes and beat them, he has ordered his ‘supporters’ to take the law into their own hands. Unfortunately his rhetoric is effective, 300+ Policemen have been injured and 2 have been murdered by thugs armed with weapons such as canes with nails at their ends and knives. Although he compares Nawaz and Shahbaz to Hitler and Mussolini, Qadri is the one who resembles most to The Fuhrer. Hitler like Qadri was an excellent orator. He, just like Tahir-ul-Qadri knew how to twist words in a way that it would inspire a spirit of devotion amongst the masses which thought Hitler would lead them to eternal glory, we all know what happened next. How does this Canadian justify all this madness?

According to him all this is because of the Lahore Incident or as he likes to call it the ‘Lahore Massacre’. Police brutality is condemnable at all levels, but why did the Police attack TuQs workers? This is a question very few ever asked yet is of prime importance. Here are the facts, in the most unbiased way possible; Qadris supporters put illegal roadblocks on the roads around his house in Lahore, the local residents complain to the police that the barricades are causing them inconvenience and hence should be removed, the Punjab Police acting on the complaint comes to remove said obstructions, Qadris supporters being the mindless creatures they are refuse and resort to violence which leads to clash between the two factions which results in the deaths of PAT’s workers. Now there’s no doubt that there were more subtle ways to handle the situation, one without bloodshed and deploying ‘assets’ like Gullu Butt but one should keep in mind that it was Qadri’s men how disobeyed first.

I’m no fan of the incompetent Nawaz Government but the road to revolution laid down by Pakistan Awami Tehreek is not the on the which should be followed, this peculiar road to revolution is grim, bloody and completely obscene especially when Operation Zarb-e-Azam is in full swing and the infamous ‘blowback’ from the terrorists is imminent. Qadri’s methods will lead to bloodshed and nothing more, how can he not see what is clear as day? Maybe he does? Maybe he knows that if things do go awry all he has to do is buy a ticket home?

 

12 years a student

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One of the many perks of being an Army Brat is that you have the pleasure (or agony as some have come to call it) of being dragged all over Pakistan, and when you have a mother obsessed with giving her children only the best you end up changing 11 schools in 12 years. 11 schools in 12 years may seem unfathomable to some but yes folks that’s the figure and in my 12 years of intense labor I have learned a great deal about our Education System. As good ol’ Uncle Ben used to say “With great power comes great responsibility”.

As a toddler I remember moving around a lot and being the lazy bum I was (still am), I remember my mother making tours of the school to collect my missing work. The paramount reason behind this was, Paramount Publishers along with dozens of other foreign and local publishing houses pushing their books onto children. I’m not a fan of those dull lifeless books by Punajb Textbook Board or National Book Foundation, I remember my 9th grade books being black and white and that I would often have the colours drained out of me when trying to concentrate on them. Neither am I fan of those extremely overpriced hefty textbooks by foreign publishers, although I do remember the first time I saw the O level’s book for Chemistry I felt like shoving mine in microwave oven and setting the timer for 10 minutes.

A new Central Textbook Board is needed altogether, which can print good books at a low price and books with big pictures for the children ofcourse (as Shahzad Roy pointed out). No one will want to trade in his colourful books for the dull grey ones with blurred diagrams the government would have us read, therefore there is a need to produce cheap quality textbooks which are at par with foreign/local expensive books so that all schools will automatically opt for the new books. This venture may seem tedious and expensive for a country that spends so little on education but I’m sure it’s cheaper than distributing free laptops. Foreign textbooks should be burned to ashes I say! too drastic? An easier approach would be to tax Foreign/local publication houses heavily in such a way that printing textbooks becomes unfeasible for them as our government is ever so fond of making money (talking about school/college textbooks only here).

Ofcourse the West would refer to us extremists and launch all sorts of propaganda against us and an all-out verbal assault will be launched against us but rest assured that Christiane Amanpour, Fareed Zakaria and Richard Quest will grow tired of this affair and something more juicy will pop up soon enough for them to poke their fingers at. I have nothing against Western or local publication houses but in order to achieve what sociologists refer to as ‘National Integration’ these seemingly radical steps are necessary. Being a student of Science I believe there are two kinds of forces which determine a nation’s stability; Centripetal forces (the ones which bind us together) and Centrifugal forces (the ones which pull us apart). Today there are so many powers trying to tear us apart and there is a shortage of Centripetal forces, under such conditions it seems a necessary step to promote one syllabus for all schools and colleges so that they may act as a force of cohesion rather than create rifts amongst different classes of students who study different syllabi under different Boards.

Federal Board, Sindh board, Punjab Board and Cambridge board are only but a few of the 40 or so educational boards imparting education in Pakistan at secondary and higher secondary level and all of them(Including Cambridge and Federal) have lost their credibility. How you may ask?

We all know how Cambridge board took a retake of the Islamic Studies paper last year on the base that they had a leak somewhere, Some students were clueless as to what this ‘security breach’ was, some claim that there was an actual leak somewhere in Islamabad, however some say that the paper was almost exactly identical to a guess paper made by a famous teacher in Karachi, whatever the reason may be but putting students through the ordeal of taking a paper again is shameless.

In Federal board students suffered an even worse faith, last year some crazy old bald guy on a big fat chair decided that the Chemistry-I paper for HSSC-I was too easy and hence to maintain the so called high standards of the board strict checking was needed to be imposed, as a direct corollary of this a vast majority of the students failed in Chemistry-I (22,000 according to a rough estimate by a Board official) and those who passed barely made it, I personally know a student who got 90+ marks in Physics and Mathematics but failed in Chemistry. My complains may register to some as the rants of your average student but rest assured they are based on empirical facts gathered from reliable sources.

 My point being, none of these institutions can be trusted anymore therefore there is need to centralize the education system (All hail the federation!), A new Central Education board is needed to be established from scratch which touches all the corners of the country, yes this means no foreign boards too. Ofcourse some parochial bigots along with some pseudo desi liberals will raise their voices in protest but there shouts shall soon fade away and the sound that shall resonate throughout the land will be that of a strong and plausible Education System.

I have served my time, my 12 years are up and as I bid farewell I do admit I will miss school/college with all its uncertainties and shortcomings (must be Stockholm’s Syndrome). As I leave I feel like Red finally shaking the shackles and leaving the damned walls of Shawshank Prison, but we must not lose hope because of this dismal state we finds ourselves in for as Andy Dufresne said “Remember red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”.

The curious case of Pakistan

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1971, Bhutto came into power under the banner of socialism and secularism. Until his deposition in ’77 he worked to bring about a secular change in Pakistan. In 77 Zia-ul-haque came in imposing his version of Islam with an iron fist, his methods although debatable and controversial were somewhat successful in bringing about an Islamic change if not a revolution in Pakistan. Then almost 10 years later came Musharraf, guns blazing with the battle cry of ‘Enlightened Modernization’. It doesn’t take a social scientist to realize that sudden changes such as these have left the Pakistani nation confused, polarized and radicalized.

According to social scientists, it takes a particular a nation a span of 30-40 years to fully mold itself into a particular pattern if given an unchanged environment. Examples of nations who have completely transformed themselves are all around us. Mustafa Kamal gave birth to Secular Turkey and hence Kamalism in 1923, almost a century later we see that her people have totally transformed from ultra conservative to the liberal Turks we see today.  Khomeini on the other hand brought about the Islamic Revolution in ’79 and laid foundations to the Islamist Iran we see today. My point here is that these nations were allowed to grow in an environment, they were given time. Pakistan on the other hand was not afforded this luxury by its confused leaders, who even after more than 67 years have failed to give Pakistan a direction.

We live in a nation stuck somewhere between Secularism and Islamisation, an extremely polarized nation. A society which tops the world in the search for pornography and is day by day becoming infamous for rape and child abuse. What has caused this great disparity amongst my brethren I wonder? In order to understand “the curious case of Pakistan” we must analyze the problem from its grass root level.

According to my very personal opinion, our so called defunct Education System is the fundamental and root cause of this problem. We in Pakistan today have separate schools for separate classes of our society, even separate educational boards. Private schools operate in foreign countries too but not to the extent to which they work in our country. Now let’s imagine a scenario, a student going to a downtrodden school in an underdeveloped part of Karachi passes by one of those fancy schools in DHA and sees his age fellows intermingling freely with the opposite gender while he, on the other hand is scolded for even looking at a female. What type of impact will it leave on his mind?Then there are such breeding centers of disparity and polarization where one half of the students studies in co-education and is given priority over the rest who study in a segregated environment, If they so much as look at the their female colleagues they are flogged for it and consequently the former half develops a malignant superiority complex while the latter suffers from an inferiority complex of the worst kind. In such institutes, I have personally seen well-polished students deteriorate into what we so wrongly stereotype as ‘the frustrated youth’. Such a student will resort to what we refer to as ‘tharki-pan’ and ‘malia-pan’ and will have no option other than using the Quaid’s Mausoleum as a love shack.  A teacher of mine put this behavior of the deprived youth in a very candid yet effective manner; he said that whenever there’s a shortage of supply the demand will increase much similarto the hike in prices of food commodities during the month of Ramadan, this I believeis the simplest yet the most apt description of the matter.So remember girls, the next time you see a skinny ghutka eating creep ogling you, blame the government.

Being an Army Brat I have had the honor(or agony, as some have come to call it) of changing 11 schools in 12 years of my education and the only possible solution I see is revamping of our entire Education System. There should be only one educational board and the same set of rules for all under it.

Now let us bring our attention to the second matter which has been rotting the very essence of our society. I remember reading in history books that in ancient civilizations men of God were considered to be of the highest class in society, superior to all their subjects in intellect and charisma. Now a day it seems that every other bigot who can’t pass the 5th grade takes up the task of preaching Islam. Due to his limited scope of thinking he sticks to the fundamentals and refrains from exploring the meaning within. Such and individual will preach a religion of hate and violence instead of a religion love and peace, a very flexible religion. Islam is indeed a very flexible religion, for example; during Hazrat Omar (RA) reign a drought devastated the Muslim Empire, the Ummah was dying of hunger and thievery was rampant. Under such desperate times it seemed illogical to cut off the hand of every other thief, so the punishment was annulled until order was restored. Wasn’t it the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) himself who said that my Sahabi(companions) are like stars, follow them for guidance. My point being, Islam is a religion which preaches tolerance and peace and our Maulvis have turned it into a religion of hate and through it they have transformed Pakistan into the radicalized society we see today. These are the very same Mullahs who preach religion during the day and indulge in drinking during the night, who once shunned the use of loudspeakers but now openly embrace the idea, the very same people who give air to sectarian hate and extremism. Not all Maulvis are corrupt though, I personally know a man who is a lawyer during the day and teaches Quran during the evening, I know men who hold a Master’s degree indifferent sciences and yet have firm faith in God.

Therefore I believe there is a need to introduce a proper system of education (Similar to what we see in Iran today) with a regular system of examination. Anyone who wishes to be referred to as a Maulvi must go through this system and clear all the exams, only then can the title of Maulvi be respected the way it deserves to be respected. Some institution do offer proper courses to train Islamic Scholars but they are very few in number and cannot meet with the growing demands of a nation with a population of more than 18 crore. Can we honestly believe that Karachi University producing an average of 22 scholars per year is enough?

The seeds of discontent have been sown deep intoour society and our attitude towards the problem is the major culprit, we as nation find bliss in ignorance, so do our leaders who maintain their neutrality on such sensitive matters, Dante Alighieri wrote in The Divine Comedy “The darkest place in hell is reserved for those who maintain their neutrality during times of moral crisis”. The issues mentioned above are the basic problems from which all further chaos we witness around us is derived. Only if we tackle these hurdles head on can we make our way to recovery and one day maybe even cure the curious case of Pakistan.

A divine tragedy

1
An unusually murky Sunday morning in Karachi, A mystical fog had engulfed the entire city the likes of which was rarely seen by Karachites. Ahmed sat on rusty robust metal chair at the local dhabba quietly sipping his tea and enjoying the unusual weather, Iqbal Bano’s Dashtai Tanhae running in the background on a vintage radio set. Slowly he brought the cup to his face and took a sip, feeling its warmth radiating from the cup on his skin, savoring every moment. He had to learn to enjoy the good times in life for there weren’t many, A cold breeze swept by him, instinctively closing his eyes and his mind slowly drifted away into a dream.

A sunny Monday, Ahmed sat alone in solitude on a bench at the corner of his school’s football ground. As a toddler he was very shy and because of this nature of his; he had constructed an invisible barrier between himself and the rest of the world which no one would dare try to cross and it was just the way Ahmed liked it. Some did try to trespass into his personal space; these bullies would torment poor Ahmed and would enjoy it. He saw his classmates play but he was too shy to join them which further isolated him. Will I ever be normal? He thought as the others raced by him. Suddenly he saw someone emerging from the distance, Ahmed starts moving nervously as the figure came nearer and nearer to the force field which separated him from the rest of the world and then suddenly breached the threshold and sat beside him. The sound of silence now took ahold of the atmosphere and Ahmed moved farther away but then she spoke ‘Hii! The name’s Nirvana’.

Sahab kuch aur laiaaun? Ahmed snapped back to reality, annoyed by the interruption he motioned at the waiter apathetically to leave him be. He now stared blankly again into the mesmerizing fog and silently observed the majestic effect fog lights of all the traffic created while sipping his tea. It had been 4 years since he had last met Nirvana. Life happened! He thought was the reason, all the hustle and bustle had made him loose contact with his very first friend and perhaps the most closest. It was her who had rescued Ahmed from the depths of Isolation and transformed and an introverted shy little kid into the man he was today. Ahmed sat there reminiscing about the good times he had spent with her; she was the complete opposite of Ahmed. Together they were like Ying and Yang in complete harmony, the dynamic duo. It was Nirvana’s personality and unique unorthodox ways which inspired him to change himself, it was her who taught Ahmed to fend for himself and not to fret in times of great woe, and it was her who made Ahmed break free from the bars of isolation. For 10 years they’re friendship grew into an unbreakable bond which was slowly weathering away since the past 4 years he was in university. As he was staring into the captivating fog he again lost focus and his mind left his body to venture into the past again.

A Tuesday afternoon, Ahmed’s last day at college, his batch’s farewell. Still somewhat of a reserved teenager now nearing his 18th birthday he was to some extent content with his social life. He was now comparatively less of an outcast as compared to his early years at school.As he was sipping his drink from while leaning against the wall Ahmed saw Nirvana emerge from the Hall’s door, he was left awe-struck. What emerged from the doors was not the rebellious unorthodox Nirvana he always saw but a daughter of Aphrodite. Ahmed was now feeling something deep inside him, something which he had never before felt with such vigor. He approached her in his usual manner and began conversing with her but something deep down felt different. Was the bond between the two more than just friendship?

A truck honked its horn and Ahmed’s mind crashed back into his body bringing him back to that cold Sunday morning. Now getting impatient he started worrying whether Nirvana would show up or not. He noticed that Dasht-e-tanhai was still playing, the radio’s broke he mused as he sipped his tea. 4 years were more than enough for Ahmed to come to grips with the fact that he was in love, in love with none other than his Nirvana. They were to meet today, he was going to confess at a Dhabba, Ahmed would’ve picked a classier place but Nirvana insisted on meeting here. It was this very nature of the girl which made Ahmed fall for her.

Now as Ahmed sipped the last of his tea he noticed an unusual glow in the fog. Before he could understand what it was, the glow became moreintense and a shockwave passed through him followed byuncomfortable warmth which threw Ahmed from the chair and on the coarse cemented floor. He was knocked out in an instant

……….
Dasht-e-tanhaaimein, aijaan-e-jahaan, larzaanhain….

Ahmed slowly gained conscious, his vision still blurry as he moved his eyes about to scan the drab interior of the Dhabba. His mind was still numb from the fall, he tried to gather the strength to stand but could not do battle with gravity, he felt weak. What the hell just happened? He thought, as he dragged himself out. The fog outside was now giving off a reddish hue and then it hit him, the Dhabba got bombed! He found out, as his eyes pierced through the haunting mist and see the debris all around him red with flesh and bone.Somehow the radio set had survived the blast and Iqbal Bano’s voice was echoing ever so loudly now in the sound of silence. Ahmed limped forward trying to navigate through the bodies scattered around him when he stumbled on something and fell. What Ahmed saw now was a scene he never could’ve fathomed: In his feet lay a dead lifeless body, in his feet laid his dear beloved Nirvana, he felt as if he had been punched in the chest by a two tonne fist. He dragged himself towards her still in denial, tears start pouring down his eyes as he tried to bring the lifeless corpse back to life but his attempts were in vain. His Nirvana was gone, Ying had lost his Yang. Ahmed looked up at the crimson sky and let out an intense scream at the top of his aching voice as he fell again into a deep abyss of isolation and depression, the very same which Nirvana had helped him climb out of.