The Blunder-ful few days

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In trying to hit two birds with one stone, at times the stone misses both the birds and lands on your own head.

Pakistan is currently governed by a group of people who deem it wise to try and intimidate a ‘wannabe’ revolutionist, by attacking his residence and Party’s local office and institute with more than a thousand policemen. A group who wants the public to believe that the attack was not actually an attack, but an “anti-encroachment” operation aimed at removing the “illegal” barricades deployed in front of the leader’s house. Well that is a very reasonable justification.

After all, barricades in front of that particular Model Town residence were the last barricades left in the city to be removed. No?

Repeated notices had been sent that were faced with non-compliance. No?

And it’s not like the leader of the political party associated with that residence or institution was on his way to the country, in a couple of days, pursuing his declaration of bringing a revolution. Was he?

The followers who resisted the ‘anti encroachment’ operation were tear gassed and sprayed with water cannons, and then negotiations that were held between leadership of the party and police failed and rocket launchers were fired at the police after which the police had no option but to attack the heavily armed violent aggressors. Not true?

Well then it wasn’t an innocent mistake by the o so naive Punjab government? Shocking!

Let us assume it was a planned maneuver to scare the revolutionist and prevent him from disturbing the ‘smooth and blissful’ functioning of the government. Notwithstanding the absolute stupidity of this plan, let us review its implementation.

You direct the police to fire at their own citizens and you do not direct them to keep the media away?

You let goons in civil clothes thrash and vandalize public property and you let it happen in front of rolling cameras?

You send a thousand policemen to a place and then claim they went there to remove encroachments, when in the same area; Model Town, private residences of leaders of the ruling party are surrounded by a multitude of barricades and illegal encroachments?

You have the audacity to deny any knowledge of the said operation while sitting on portfolios of Chief Executive and Law Minister of the Province?

Some planning I say, impressive!

The alleged – ‘malicious and ill-planned’ – operation resulted in the deaths of more than ten citizens of Pakistan, including two women. It resulted in giving life to an otherwise dim anti-government move. It resulted in discrediting and defaming an institution; Punjab Police, that – despite its vices – has also sacrificed a lot for the people of this province. It also resulted in making the arrival of Tahir Ul Qadri (TUQ) in Pakistan a huge deal. Without the Model Town operation, TUQ would have arrived to begin a movement or a revolution, as he likes to call it. But thanks to the government’s smart planning, he arrived during one.

The handling of TUQ’s arrival was as impressive as the earlier operation. Twelve hours before his flight landed, the province started seeing unprecedented preventive measures. Main roads connecting the capital and its twin city were being blocked, the capital itself was barricaded and shut down, the airport was practically cut off from the city causing nuisance to hundreds of travelers. And what were they preventing? NO! not Godzilla. They were trying to prevent TUQ’s followers from reaching the airport where TUQ WOULD NOT be allowed to land. Smart, isn’t it?

The reason for all these measures, that must have cost millions, was claimed to be TUQ’s own security. Grave threats to his life were what forced the ever so considerate government to take these steps. One may wonder why then, in the presence of such serious threats to his person, were security barricades being forcibly removed from his residence a couple of days ago? But then one would be under-estimating the importance of its citizens’ security for the government.

While the plane circled the Islamabad Airport and probably tried to reason its way into landing, it was diverted to Lahore. The plane wasn’t PIA’s – the personal servant airline of the rulers – by the way, but Emirates Airlines. Now that’s two birds with one stone. One might deem it difficult and improbable to create chaos within the state and cause ridicule for it internationally, but again, one would be wrong because one underestimates the smart planning of the smart planners.

The Emirates aircraft was diverted to Lahore, against International Aviation Rules. The plane was stated, by two Federal Ministers on internationally aired Television channels, to have been hijacked. TUQ was allowed to freeze the aircraft operations for more than four hours. Why was the plane diverted? the fact that Federal Minister for Information had categorically denied diversion the previous night, can’t be the only reason. TUQ could have been flown via helicopter from Islamabad as well.

What is the outcome of the blunder-full few days? TUQ is now seen – nationally and internationally – as a force to reckon with. Earlier if his capacity to topple an elected government was doubted, it has now become very real. If I know there is a cat outside the door to my house and my housemates are oblivious of what’s outside, they just know there is something outside. What would they assume if, to keep that ‘something’ out, I reinforce the doors with 8 inches thick steel and call heavily armed men to guard it?

If the government is toppled, if democracy is yet again derailed, history would find someone from within the ‘house’ to be responsible. God bless Pakistan, although we do not seem to want Him to.

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Our National Sport: The Blame Game

Originally blogged at The Word Theatre ( http://thewordtheatre.com/2014/06/19/our-national-sport-the-blame-game/ ) on the 19th of June, 2014.

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The police is corrupt, they are the root of all problems. No wait, it is the politicians. Their moral turpitude has brought Pakistan to its knees. Or is it the bureaucrats? Maybe the Judiciary then?

The fact of the matter is that there is not one individual, institution, sect or party to blame. Pakistan’s current state of affairs is down to no one but us Pakistanis. We are all responsible. We haven’t imported the corrupt people in our police, bureaucracy, judiciary and politics. They are from among us, as Pakistani as any one of us.

The problem lies not in our national trait that is corruption but in our human trait of shifting blame instead. Have me bash any individual or group anywhere, any time of the day, and I will gladly do it over a cup of coffee and a few smokes. Try and suggest ways to rid myself of any personal vices or even have a discussion on self improvement and you would be making me uncomfortable.

The psychology behind our national sport; THE BLAME GAME, is that it rids us of guilt. The riddance may be temporary and superficial, nevertheless it is the road most taken. When I blame another for the miseries of my fellow men, I am in turn justifying my own shortcomings as inconsequential. It gives me this satisfaction that I have no role in the despicable state of my country.

Most of us would gladly bribe an official to shave a few minutes off our waiting period in a line for our driver’s license or passport. With those 100 or 200 rupees don’t we also give up our right to criticize corruption and the corrupt? How many drivers do you see who willingly abide by the laws of traffic? Not just the laws laid down, but also the laws of common sense and convenience. Traffic is a very accurate depiction of a nation’s temperament and behavior and our traffic depicts an impatient, inconsiderate and selfish nation. Yet when it comes to ascertaining the cause of our country’s pathetic state of affairs, none of us would hold ourselves responsible for any part in it.

If everyone chooses to worry about his or own self, shun all vices and become a good citizen and human being, there won’t be any problems left. Our beards, prayers, Umrahs and Hajj are not much use if they haven’t even taught us that we are responsible for our actions alone and our effort is what we will be held accountable for. I will not talk my way out of hell by proving that my neighbor was even worse. Similarly I can’t make Pakistan a better place for my children and their children’s children by finding the best place to put blame.

We see our politicians, our elected representatives answering questions raised at their corruption and poor performance with statements like: “previous regime was even worse”. That is the most idiotic reply to allegations on one’s person or political party. But it provides a temporary, superficial riddance and that is all we are after, aren’t we?

Lately I have heard these loud cries for change from many people who haven’t changed anything about themselves. How ridiculous is it to cry for change as if it is your most desired trait and then not change? If I want a corruption free Pakistan I ought to quit being a part of it at any level and in any form. If I want to see honest people representing us in the Assemblies I ought to first be honest myself. I can’t sit and wait for ‘change’ to be thrust upon me from outside, I need to emanate it from within.

For us to begin our journey to progress and prosperity – and NO! we haven’t begun it yet – we need to become a nation, think selflessly, eradicate corruption and the corrupt, educate our children and our selves and, most important of all, we need do concentrate on ourselves and find and apply ways to make ourselves better persons and citizens. It can’t guarantee national prosperity, but it will definitely go a long way in our individual personal growth. Pakistan’s progress might just be a bonus.

The Inspiration that was Sarmad Tariq

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On the morning of 30th April, while I lay asleep in my bed, my mother woke me up with the words “Sarmi is gone”…

My eyes well up remembering that moment just like they welled up in it. Sarmad Tariq was one of my dearest cousins and closest friends. He was my inspiration, like he was to so many others. In fact it was he who encouraged me to start blogging. I have been wanting to write about him, I just haven’t been able to. Sarmi Bhai was the first person I would tag in my blogs and then wait for his opinion on it.

Death is a strange phenomenon. No one has an accurate idea of what happens to those who die, where they go or what they feel. Our selfish nature makes us feel sad for their demise, we cry for our loss and worry for what we would do without those who leave us. I too, do not exactly know what death is, but thanks to Sarmad Tariq many of us who knew him, have come closer to knowing the meaning of life;

• Life is not the number of days that you spend in this world, it is instead the moments that you live and cherish. He was 38 years old when he died, but unlike many lifeless lives spent, he lived every day of his life, especially after his unfortunate accident.

• Life does have a purpose and you don’t need to ask around or spend years searching for it. All you need to do is live. It’s not important to find your purpose but only to fulfill it. Sarmi Bhai’s purpose was to inspire all those around him to live as life ought to be lived and, as a consequence, fulfill their purposes.

• Never compare your life to the life of another. You can never know another man’s life until you have lived it yourself, and that is not possible. Wheelchair bound, suffering from God knows how many medical conditions, Sarmi Bhai was often found counting his blessings. He never thought of himself as disabled, but ‘specially able’ instead and God knows he proved it too.

• Life spent waiting is life wasted. Do not wait for opportunities to come knocking at your door, or for things to get better by themselves. If you aren’t doing anything in life, you are as good as dead.

• Your life is your responsibility, own it. Don’t look for scapegoats to blame for your troubles or even to give credit for your blessings. If there is a problem in your life, it doesn’t matter where it came from, it’s your problem and you alone need to deal with it.