Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shh... Don't tell the Taliban

While contradicting statements keep coming, it's not that difficult to make out the actual story behind Osama's death.

Let's analyze the story at hand. The following are a few key points we're told:

1. Osama lived nearby the Pakistan Military Academy for years where every nook and cranny is cleared.

2. ISI, rated among the top intelligence agencies in the world didn't have any clue of his presence in such an area.

3. Four combat helicopters entered the Pakistan airspace up till the PMA (about 300 km assuming they came from the Afghan border) and Pakistan didn't have any idea.

4. There was a 40 minutes' operation near the PMA and still, Pakistan didn't have any idea until after they left.

5. All this happened while PAF didn't have any idea, though with all their state-of-the-art technological equipment, their response time to an airspace violation is 5 minutes.

6. The government, army and ISI, all made public statements/ apologies about their ignorance.

The response in Pakistan:
  1. Confusion and insult for the majority.
  2. Protests, funerals and tears by some religious parties.
  3. Terrible threats by the Taliban to attack Pakistan in every way.

Now, I'd like to bring to your attention a tweet of a journalist in the Guardian.
"Pak diplomat just told me: we have to play to our people's sensitivities. of course we were involved but we can't admit it"

Add that to the possibility that we were told about our involvement and imagine what the response would have been. I rest my case.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Accursed Child

In this modern era where cell phones and Botox change our lifestyles, our thinking is still not much different from the dark ages.

If you browse through any Urdu newspaper to the classified section, you might come across an ad that says "بیٹا" (son) in a big font. If you read, it says "Insha-Allah beta ho ga" (God-willing, it'll be a son). Not just in the newspaper, these people have started sending spam text messages like "Boy or girl, choice is yours". Staring us in the face, this is a gruesome reality that tells us our thinking has not evolved at all.

The stigma attached to the birth of a female child is undeniable in our society. No matter which class you belong to, every family (with both father and mother) wants their next child to be a son. Men go as far as marrying multiple wives just because they believe a particular woman is "meant" only to bear girls. So much so, that I once heard a woman respond to the news of a female birth as "Oho! Kuch nahi hota" (Oho! It's okay). For all those protesting against the honor killings of women in the rural areas, I ask the question, why do you ignore those lamenting the birth of girls in the first place in the urban areas?

One of the major reasons for this stigma, which again no one talks about, is the tradition of dowry. This tradition is in direct contrast to the teachings of Islam which in fact make it obligatory for the groom to pay the bride upon marriage in the form of Mahr. The moment a girl is born, the first thought in her father's mind is about her dowry, not her name. I have seen well-educated and noble families sending lists of articles they wanted as dowry with a bride. A family, on average, spends more than one million rupees ($11,700) to marry their daughter off. This is in sharp contrast to the generally accepted limit of Mahr, which is one month's salary of the husband. And even that is spared "willfully" by the bride. Furthermore, Mahr is often mistaken as an amount that is to be given upon dissolution of marriage. Ergo, the following consequences.

In the major cities, among the 1210 infants found dead in 2010 by Edhi Foundation, 9 out of 10 were female.

Even though the ratio of male: female is 1 male/ female upon birth, it rises to 1.06 males/ female for the ages 0-14 years.

Along with this, we hear stories of both blatant murders and increasing burning "accidents" right after marriage.

All said and done, the future is still a big question mark. Such thinking and associated traditions are engraved deeply in our minds generation after generation. As long as the stigma attached to the female child is there, it'll show our immaturity as humans, let alone as a nation.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Are we human, or are we doctors?

A recent study has shown that doctors have stomachs, reproductive organs and families. This is an outrage and will not be tolerated by the government.

I am a medical student in a government hospital. I am witness to the doctor-government saga and would like to share the facts which lie behind the propagandas of both the doctors and the government.

Firstly, this is not a protest. This is a breaking point. The doctors have been protesting for many many years and the government paid little, if any, attention. The facts underlying this event are actually beyond the comprehension of anybody who has not been to the wards of the hospital but I will try my best to explain them.

The wards:
The patients outnumber the beds in such a way that there are upto 3 patients on one bed at times. The paramedics and nurses are understaffed. But there is an ample number of doctors which I'll explain why.

The dysfunctional system:
The first question in a medical student's life is where he'd work after MBBS. This is not a joke. An estimated 1500 doctors leave Pakistan every year to work abroad. This year, 5000 post-graduate trainees are estimated to leave. This is not a small number. These are the cream of the doctors attracted by different countries including the Gulf, US, UK and Australia. These doctors do not return. The few who do, are appointed professors, who then start private practice for the elite. They are mere parasites with no intentions of "helping humanity". The doctors who work hard for decades in government hospitals hardly get any professors' posts and hence, not that good private practice either.
The junior doctors suffer the most. There are about 30-40 house officers in every ward among which only 8 are paid and the rest are unpaid. These are doctors who have studied for five years without any social life and now getting Rs 18,000 as house officers, ie if they're lucky enough to get the paid job. After a year of house job, they start their fellowship for which they have to appear in the FCPS part I (Fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons). About 12,000 graduates appear in all disciplines in FCPS-I and 250 are declared successful. These 250 then apply to the hospitals for fellowships. At a given time, 10 or more post-graduate trainees are to be present in a ward. Among these only 8 are paid at Rs 16-22,000. After 4 years of training, they are supposed to leave the hospital and appear in FCPS part II which is the toughest exam in the medical field. The few who manage to pass it and have a strong backing from someone of power, are hired as Registrars in government hospitals at a pay of Rs 30,000. Here on, their pay increases on yearly increments and their seniority increases on political backing.
Now, a doctor of the age of 35 (if he aced every exam in first attempt), is earning Rs 30,000. With that money, he has to run a family. During the past 15 years, he has spent his days and nights in hospitals and served patients for 10 years. As a house officers he has worked non-stop shifts of 36 hours. Side-by-side, a matric-pass driver is earning 35,000 in a government office. The bank the doctor goes to to collect his pay has a security guard earning more than the doctor. If he goes to get a car on lease, the bank tells him his monthly salary needs to be at least 40,000. If you do not understand the injustice here, there is no point of carrying on.

The conflict:
Towards the later part of the strike, the government agreed to increase the salaries of the young doctors (house officers and trainees) to Rs 28,000 and Rs 44,000. This was injustice to the senior doctors who in this scenario would be earning about as much as house officers and lesser than the trainees. This was unacceptable to the doctors and hence they refused.
Currently, the Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors are running the hospitals. Out of respect, the Senior Registrars are visiting to help their seniors and the patients from time to time but not on a regular basis.

The future:
The doctors have handed over their resignations. There is no point in a compromise on their side because they have better options elsewhere (even as a driver or a police constable). They would now be looking for alternative jobs eg private hospitals which pay enough money for a doctor to make ends meet. Others would apply abroad where their talent is appreciated (in the US, a trainee earns about Rs 300,000). The government is running out of options to run the hospitals. They are hiring house officers as medical officers (equivalent of trainee without FCPS-I).

While people play the blame-game, the general public is suffering. It is easy to blame the doctors but for that you'd be denying them basic human rights. They have the right to work or resign. If the government is not able to give attractive packages to the doctors while they enjoy in mansions, the doctors cannot be blamed for looking for a way to make ends meet for their families. They have compromised for years, blackmailed emotionally not to do anything lest patients will suffer. But now they have reached a breaking point and given up.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Famous Last Words

"I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every Panda that wouldn't screw to save its species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I'd never see. I wanted to breathe smoke." [Fight Club]

This is not a match preview. This is not a statistics lecture. This is not Navjot Singh Sidhu predicting how many times Malinga will kiss the ball. These are the words of a desperate cricket fan who is about to lose his mind.
It's a few hours before semi-final starts. It's been called a lot of things; "The greatest match ever", "The mother of all finals", "The showdown" and what not. Though exciting, these words don't explain half of it. The aforementioned quote from Fight Club on the other hand, explains it pretty well.

It's been almost a week since the semi-final was decided and the anxiety is still the same. My hands still shake, I sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it. I'm on the verge of a mental breakdown. To sum it up, I wouldn't be able to concentrate on porn if I tried. Yes, it's that bad. And this blogpost is just to vent it out before it gets to me.

First things first. For fuck's sake, stop making this about Munni, Sheila or any of your Bollywood divas. This is cricket, not a fucking gambling game where you put women on the line. Apart from being utterly retarded, it's sexist. And if you need that to be pointed out, you're retarded anyway. As Sir Asif Shah clearly tells us, cricket is about these things and these things only:

"It's a bat of dee cup.
It's a ball of dee cup.
It's a pad of dee cup.
It's a gloves of dee cup.
It's a wicket of dee cup.
It's a pitch of dee cup.
It's a ground of dee cup.
It's a sound of dee cup."

Did he say girls/ women? 'nuff said.

On a serious note though, the team wasn't worth the quarters, let alone the semis. I say this for a number of reasons which all cricket lovers understand. The way Afridi has led this team to the semis is nothing short of extraordinary. To be honest, this team has impressed me more than I expected. As Kamran Abbassi wrote, anything the players achieve from here (when they qualified for the quarters) on in is a bonus. I believed that and I still do.

Until recently, I believed winning is all that matters. But what this team has gone through (and it still is as shown by Rehman Malik's brain explosion), winning seems too much to ask. It's not out of their capability but it becomes improbable after such a series of mindfucks. So, I will watch this match for a few reasons. Firstly, take a look at this video at 0:42, 1:34 and 1:47-

I want to watch this difference of celebration upon personal and national achievements.
I want to watch Afridi roar upon taking a breathtaking catch.
I want to watch Shoaib Akhtar demonstrate how weak Indian timber is.
I want to watch Shoaib Akhtar dive to save a boundary and show a finger to the camera.
I want to watch Umar Gul's thunderbolts fracture feet, bats and wickets.
I want to watch Saeed Ajmal's doosra that leaves the batsman stunned in the middle.
I want to watch our batsman show the Indians that it's the custom-made pitches that make their batsmen heroes.
Hence, the quote from Fight Club.

They do this, they win. And there's no question of me hating them.
Go tigers!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Dear Departed...

Sanwal Javed- Son, brother, angel. (15th May 1990 - 19th February 2011)

Verily, He has sent us. And to Him shall we return.

There are a few people too good for this world, Sanwal Javed was one of them.
He was born with cystic fibrosis, which is a congenital defect concerning all secretions of the body. It is an incurable disease with a low life expectancy. But with the support and love of his family, he was able to live for more than 20 years. He developed acute lymphoblastic leukemia recently which did response to chemotherapy but the resulting suppression of his immune system caused a lethal infection. He stayed in an ICU in Canada for a few days until he left us for his final abode.

It's hard to describe someone like him. Cystic fibrosis patients are very prone to infections so he seldom came to Pakistan. I met him only about 10-15 times but you needed to meet him only once to love him. He was the incarnation of "See no evil, do no evil". A soul as pure as his, could not be that of a human. He was an angel. The only reason I could think of why the Divine decreed so is that God loved him more than we did.

May you rest in Heaven eternally.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Revisiting "Ghazi Ilmdin Shaheed"

Until recently, I was confused about the action of "Ghazi Ilmdin Shaheed". But now, I'm not.

The following article is a result of my own research and the lack of answers to the three lines of argument I will present. I might be wrong but I have the right to have an opinion. Feel free to disagree and debate but don't take it as an insult.

1. Death penalty for blasphemy:
It has been stated/ proved on multiple accounts that the death penalty for blasphemy is not justified in the Quran. I confirmed this with my research and I'll narrate just two verses to prove my point:

"when ye hear the signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme: if ye did, ye would be like them. For Allah will collect the hypocrites and those who defy faith - all in Hell" (Quran 4:140)

"...but indeed they uttered blasphemy,...If they repent, it will be best for them; but if they turn back (to their evil ways), Allah will punish them..."(Quran 9:74)

We know from our readings of the Quran that punishments are told every time with a crime (which is not there on this occasion). Secondly, the verse also refers to hypocrites i.e. Muslims with weak faith. Hence, not only will Allah punish blasphemy Himself but even hypocrites will be dealt by Him.

As for Ahadith, we know that accounts of both death penalty and forgiveness exist. But we also know that a Hadith is never absolute i.e. it can be out of context. A particular account is narrated by an observer which is not always and never completely done in context. We are told what happened, but we are not (and perhaps cannot be) told exactly why it happened. In other words, Ahadith fall into hearsay evidence.

Now, we have three choices:
a) Allah, telling us to leave the issue to Him, in the Quran.
b) Hearsay evidence of forgiveness for blasphemy.
c) Hearsay evidence of death penalty for blasphemy.

Unfortunately, our right wing chose (and still chooses) the third one.

2. Imam Abu-Hanifa on blasphemy:
I personally do not believe in the teachings of a particular Imam, I believe in Muslim unity. But because the majority of Pakistanis follow Imam Abu-Hanifa, I'd like to share his view on blasphemy.
In simple words, he believes a non-Muslim cannot be given death penalty for blasphemy. The latter will always have such views, expressed or unexpressed. He can be punished under certain laws of the Islamic state but death penalty cannot be imposed.
This was followed by the British Empire when Raaj Pal was sentenced two years in prison under IPC 295-A for publishing the blasphemous book, originally written by an anonymous writer.
It's ironic how the British followed Imam Abu-Hanifa but the Muslims at that time did not.
Detailed answer here in Urdu.

3. Muslims under non-Muslim rule:
At that time, Muslims were under the rule of the British. Muslims were a minority in the United India. As minorities, it is the Islamic duty of Muslims to follow the law of the land (which in this case was pluralist and not anti-Islamic in anyway). The social contract with the government was meant to be followed as a religious obligation. When Raaj Pal was sentenced to prison, it was the Islamic and moral duty of the Muslims to accept the decision of the court. Thus, they went against Islam by taking the law in their own hands. It does not fall into Jihad either because firstly, Jihad is against a nation, not a person. Secondly, blasphemy does not fall in the prerequisites of Jihad.

It is often suggested that since Jinnah was a lawyer of Ilmdin, he approved of his action. This stance is ludicrous. Jinnah was a lawyer, bound by his duty to defend him. The argument can be comprehensively answered by the statement Jinnah made in the Assembly on September 11, 1929: “If my constituency is so backward as to disapprove of a measure like this then I say, the clearest duty on my part would be to say to my constituency, ‘you had better ask somebody else to represent you’.”

Here, I would like to clarify that the purpose of this article is not to insult Ilmdin. A crime consists of two parts- a malicious intent and an act. It's obvious that there wasn't any malicious intent, rather the love of the Prophet (PBUH). The malicious intent lies in those baseless teachings that instigate youngsters like Ilmdin and tell them that (God-forbid) the highest level of love for the Prophet (PBUH) is to kill someone in his name.
Unlike many people who will read this, I do not call anybody (in this case, Ilmdin) a Murtid (apostate) or a Kafir (infidel). Kindly refrain from calling me one too for having a particular opinion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Empty Promises

We, as Pakistanis, never consider politicians reliable. We never expect our leaders to deliver and by default, we don't care. But I just discovered how expecting change and not getting it hurts.

I study in Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore. When I first got admitted, it was an unknown entity. But in the last couple of years, our new Principal, Prof Dr Javed Akram gave it a new identity and made it much more than a medical college. Here is an analysis of everything that was done and everything that has been left as such or mishandled.

What he did:
1. New gates were installed with beautiful pillars around them.
2. A new market was made in a vacant space.
3. Brought a lot of media attention to the college through many workshops.
4. Did good name to the college by holding international conferences.
5. Brought new sponsors to the college (now even the directions' boards are sponsored by Warid).
6. Opened new departments in the hospital (Jinnah Hospital) and the college (e.g. a new post-mortem lab; previously Lahore had only one that was in KEMU).
7. Ensured diplomatic relationships with every group in the college.

These are a few of the very positive steps which won the hearts of everybody. But let's not get lost here.

What was not/ wrongly done:
1. I'm in my fourth year and I am yet to come across a single toilet in the Boys' Hostel whose flush works. Yes, it's that bad.
2. In his first address, he talked about how sad it was that the Boys' Gym had become a storehouse for old furniture and everybody had to play in the Girls' gym. It has been two years and guess what, not only is the Boys' Gym the same but the Girls' gym has now become a storehouse as well. A few days back, I gathered a few juniors to help me make some space in the Girls' gym.
3. Last year, he inaugurated new common rooms for the students. And yep, now they are storehouses too.
4. He made a new waste processing facility but the majority of the garbage is still set on fire in different areas of the college. I once woke in the hostel in suffocation because someone had set fire to garbage outside the window of the room I was sleeping in. Smoke can kill, you know.
5. He has made a Professor in charge of student affairs who is supposed to listen to and solve students' problems but so far, there has been only listening and promising but no solutions.

What it looks like:
If we analyze, the positive steps taken have been just to bring attention and investment in the college but no real solutions have been provided to the problems of the college. The principal come from a political family. His brothers include Parvaiz Malik and Malik Qayyum.
Though he was very popular in the early days, his popularity is now decreasing for being too diplomatic and being too concerned with the media and less with the college.

But that is what everybody else thinks, I just need a gym to play.

Here are a few pictures I took:

The fires:

The current status of the Boys' gym:

The Girls' gym before the voluntary cleanup:

And after:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On consumption and melancholia...

There was a time, not too long ago, when having a cold actually meant something. But like most other things modern, antibiotics had to descend upon us and steal the romanticism out of everything. These days, we’re merely expected to pop an Augmentin and drudge about as if everything is fine, no matter how stuffed our sinuses may be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as thankful to Alexander Fleming as the next person. Nor do I bemoan the practices of modern medicine and the swift recoveries afforded by them. But really, consider what we have lost. Gone are the days of feverish confinements, of people waiting on you hand and foot by day, and praying for a miracle by night. Never again will there be messengers despatched urgently in the rain to fetch doctors, or joyful exclamations at the announcement, “The fever has broken.” Worst of all, no long recuperative trips to the countryside, or to Europe.

Then there’s the whole issue of medical etymology. There’s just something so quaint about the term ‘invalid’, and ‘consumption’ sounds so much better than ‘tuberculosis’. ‘St Vitus’ Dance’ is so much more magical than ‘chorea’; ‘chorea’ has drab connotations, and personally, reminds me of something sick and green. Likewise, ‘melancholia’ has a fancy ring to it, like having it makes you special, in comparison to plain old ‘depression’.

Roll your eyes all you want, but all I decry is the death of romance. Really, must we be so mundane?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Pseudo-Pakistani

Salman Ahmed of Junoon said in Shoaib Mansoor's Gulls n Guys, "Agar aik Pakistani gora banna chahay aur na ban sakay, to woh aik ajeeb cartoon ban jata hai. Agar woh is main kamyab ho jaye, to aur bhi bara cartoon ban jata hai." (If a Pakistani fails trying to be white, he becomes a strange cartoon. If he succeeds, he becomes an even bigger cartoon) And it's only now that I understand what he meant.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my college has a vast variety of people and here I will talk about the foreigners. They come in all shapes and sizes and from many countries. Most are Made in USA while some come from Canada and fewer from other Asian countries. Only the ones from the west are ethnically Pakistani, though that is a curse for most of them.

Before I go on to rant aimlessly, let me clear a few things. Firstly, not all foreigners I know are the same. Some are very reasonable. Secondly, my college is to blame mostly. I had a friend in A Level in Beaconhouse from Canada and we're still like best friends. My current medical college is...well...let's just put it this way that I have more sworn enemies than marginal friends because I have an uncontrolled tendency to hit hypocrisy where it hurts most.

Let's describe the average Pakistani-American. He's cooler than a Pakistani, even if his shirt says "Born on the street". He plays basketball better than a Pakistani, even if his baby hands can't score from under the basket. He doesn't give a crap about anybody, even if he drools at the sight of an average LGS chick. He might not accept your friend request, but he'll add you himself to see what a girl posted on your wall. He's more honest than a Pakistani, even if he bribes every lab attendant. He's smarter than a Pakistani, even if he relies completely on cheating to pass. He has a better knowledge of Islam than a Pakistani, even if he attempts the Ethics paper instead of Islamiat. He hates cricket (because Pakistanis love it), even if he's the vice-captain of the college cricket team. His music choice is much better than a Pakistani, even if he cannot name two rock bands. He thinks Pakistanis are a disgusting nation, even if he openly expresses his Oedipus complex. He hates coming to Pakistan but hey, it has cheap education.
In short, he's a Pakistani, only not one. He's just like us, only completely different.

I first met their clan in my first few days in the college. I clicked with one to start with and he took me there. Coming from the A Level community and having watched a gazillion movies, I'm able to fake the American accent pretty well. And so I did. After a normal conversation, one asked me, "Which state are you from?" I said, "I'm from here, only from a different school than most people here". And suddenly, there was a dramatic background music. I grew smaller as they all grew taller, looking down on me with that despicable gaze. There was an actual uncomfortable silence like I just confessed an unforgivable crime. But I was only to be surprised the next few years.
After a few days, I was chattering with an Iranian and an American when the Iranian said my accent was very American. I don't think Hitler would be that offended of being called a Jew as the American was by that comment. He spent the next few minutes explaining to the Iranian how we were two completely different people as I stood there smiling in disdain.

Before I get lost going deeper, here are a few conversations of particular interest.
1) Pakistan had just won the 2009 T20 tournament, so this American updates his facebook status: "Fuck cricket"
American 2: Yea, these fuckin paki niggers, i can't even go out. they're in the streets etc.
Me: "Fuckin paki niggers", I like that.
American 2: Hell yea.
Me: I was being sarcastic in case anybody didn't get it. :)
-no more replies-

2) American: Why are Pakistanis so corrupt?
Pakistani: Did you pay that lab attendant for the practical?
American: Yea.
Pakistani: I didn't.
American: But that's different.
Pakistani: How?
-end of conversation-

3) American: Why do you hate America?
Me: I don't. Matter of fact, I love America. I love their music and movies. I just get pissed when you diss my country.
American: Oh yea? Well I get pissed when you diss my country.

You must be thinking, what is my problem? Well, my problem is that one should never forget his origins. Life in Pakistan might have become too difficult but that does not mean you should go into a denial of not being a Pakistani if you're born and/ or raised abroad. You might call yourself an American in Pakistan, but in the US, you'll always be a Pakistani-American.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Genetics of Corruption

I am a medical man, and the questions "Why?" and "What else?" are never too many for me. And that helps me to analyze everything by comparing it to something related to our biology.

Being a medical student, I study that almost all diseases can be pinned on genetics. Even infectious diseases (like TB) have a distribution according to genetic predisposition controlled by certain genes. One day, gene therapy might help us make health virtually infallible (not immortal, you cannot fight death).

But there's one disease that is prevalent in every walk of life and might not be curable. Corruption is everywhere. If the media finds loose ends in the corruption by our politicians, it doesn't mean they get the urge once they take office. It's naturally in almost every person in the world, some just fear the Law and yet fewer, fear God.

The first "patient" of corruption I came across was in fact a "friend". I put that in inverted commas because actually I'm a loner in my college, which is apparently a social experiment of bozos from every corner of the country (and outside too but more on that later). You see, there's a Sports Week in every medical college that lasts for about a month (no, they call it the Sports Week the whole month with no hesitation). While the athletes play, the nerds take offices of different societies and sports. This guy was part of the Volleyball Club and had gotten some money to buy ribbons to decorate the poles. He asked me to accompany him and so I did. To my surprise, he looked very excited about the task and kept smiling all the way.
At the shop, he bought the ribbons and two packets of chips. Moreover, he asked the shopkeeper to make a cash memo of an amount larger than the prices of the ribbons. I was shocked. I told him I won't let him do it, while he had his hand stretched out with my chips. In his defense, he said the Club President had told him to do whatever he wanted with the money as long as he brought a cash memo of the given amount. I was dumbfounded. I refused to take the chips and walked away as he stood displeased over my rude refusal to take the packet.
It has been about a year since that day and I'm still disgusted the same when I think about it. This goes on in every society, in every public institution, every year. Face it, we have no right to criticize our politicians.

Another hallmark of medical colleges is bribing lab attendants to help you in the practical examinations. It is such a normal thing that whenever one expressed his unwillingness, he's everybody's laughing stock. That's where "doctors" come from. Once a guy was begging even after paying up, the attendant said, "Sahab! Fikar na karo, kabhi Haraam nahi khaya!" (Sir! Don't worry, I never earn black money).

But again, I'm not blaming doctors or lab attendants- but our nature. I know that teachers in private medical colleges leak university papers to their students so they get distinctions and help them boost their business. Yes, teachers- the so-called builders of tomorrow! Every year, students from private medical colleges (who weren't able to get admissions to government medical colleges because of low marks/ grades) get top positions and get the undue admiration. In practicals, they dictate answers to them before they even enter the laboratory. So if a student in a public medical college bribes an attendant to help him get a few marks, his crime is grossly eclipsed by the teachers' who dictate answers to all questions prior to the examinations.

If there's something that lifted the spirits of the nation, it's cricket. We haven't had any at home in two years but we still love to explore new horizons of curses when we see Afridi get caught on TV. Just as our team appeared to have regained its lost glory in the form of Asif and Aamer (rated the best opening pair by Ian Chappell), corruption made a comeback as well. No doubt it was a set-up, but our players were also bent upon following the leaders of the nation. It's pathetic how they keep preaching their innocence while the news channels have run every video evidence, even the one in which the money is taken.
Earlier Wasim Akram had praised Aamer upon his success saying, "Aamer is more clever than me when I was 18 years". Too bad Aamer proved he was clever by not just bowling like him at that age, but also earning like he did.

Reluctantly, I'd like to say a couple of things about corruption in politics.
Firstly, I'd like to appreciate the fact that some politicians admit they are corrupt.

This tells us that the evil of corruption is beyond repair or reversal. This shows that we have no values as a nation. If there is corruption even in Hajj Schemes, trust me, there is no hope.
Secondly, I'd like to compare another shenanigan that goes on in our Provincial Assemblies with ourselves. While all students are aware of the proxy attendance, the same goes on in the assemblies. Today, Rana Sanaullah pointed out in the Punjab Assembly that the attendance register had marked 35 members as present while only 11 were actually there. I love Pakistan.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Lie

It has been almost a week since the governor’s killing, but the aftereffects keep coming. I, like many others, have travelled across shock, fear, indignation and disgust, but in the end, only sadness remains. There are, of course, many tragedies linked to the whole event, but perhaps the biggest tragedy is that of Quadri’s life. I look at the tranquillity on his face, and on the face of his brother, and all I feel beyond shortlived disbelief, is a gut-wrenching sadness at the cruel mockery of deception. So, this is what it is to be lied to.

There are many things that can be taken from a man, which leave him for the worse. But the greatest robbery is that of a man’s reason, his mind. For Quadri, in true madman fashion, believed in the sanctity of what he was doing; he believed in the truth of it. There was no conscience disturbing his thoughts, no cold feet once he was on the path that lead to glory. No shame descends now upon his supporters : they hail their hero for his righteous deed. Which leads us to the question of whether previous definitions of madness still stand. As far as I know, the ‘mad’ have always been in the minority. But when the opposite starts to be the case, I feel like I’m under siege, slowly suffocating. But mostly, I feel like there is an invisible phantom around somewhere, laughing his head off at the black comedy he has orchestrated.

I believe it is a wonderful thing to have a passion, and to fulfil it even more so. But for that passion to be a lie is a tragedy of epic proportions; it is a death died many times over. It is remorse multiplied by a hundred, and added to ruin.

Yet it is true that we all yearn for certainty, for purpose...Quadri had one. What a pity it was all in his head.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Hate Within

I want to die and I wish to take a lot of people with me. I have had suicidal thoughts all my life but not like this, no. It's always been something depressing me and telling me to call quits. But this time it's not about me, it's different. I feel it.

Over the past few days, I have been researching and reading just about anything where the murder of Salmaan Taseer was even mentioned. I was refuting both extremes on every forum. I couldn't resist debating wherever somebody didn't agree with my point of view. I saw utmost secularism and dances with the devil. I saw religion without logic and logic without religion. I saw revolt and I saw despair. I saw claims of victory over blasphemy and I saw blasphemies that made my flesh creep. But most of all, I saw hate.

I saw hate I had never seen before. Hate, that had no comparison to anything I had ever seen. Blinding self-righteousness, and hate. Venomous intolerance, and hate. The polarization is real, very real. The country really has been divided into the so-called liberals and conservatives. And while the ships wage war in their ocean of hate, I really don't know where I stand.

I always grew up to call myself a Muslim. I never even liked classifying myself in a sect. Muslim, has been my identity all along. I fulfill my religious duties all day and go to sleep with a wish to wake up to a better day for Islam and Pakistan. But the hate will never let that happen, I can see it. If I was to classify myself between the two, I'll never be able to. I simply cannot gather that much hate for anybody who calls himself a Muslim; that is the Islam I know. Both factions are too self-righteous to feel anything but hate for the other.

The murder of the governor is also a tragedy that roots to this mutual hate. The governor never cared for the enormous hate that had been gradually building up. The clerics kept issuing fatwas and the governor acknowledged them on the tip of his shoes. It was only a matter of time before a lone man was devoured by the hate.

Hate always leads to more hate. It's not like fourth grade algebra where two negatives make a positive. This is Pakistan, where hate increases exponentially. And while everyone with a pen and/ or an internet connection bombards the other with hate full guns blazing, the suffering is just for Islam and Pakistan. My Pakistan, your Pakistan. This is the same Pakistan whose creation we studied when we were little. Gradually, we grew up loving Pakistan and yet, hating each other.

While every sane person curses the murderer, the two greatest culprits have gone unnoticed. The media and the PPP.
Gone are the days when the only news was the 9 PM Khabarnama on PTV. You were told what you needed to know, not what they wanted you to know. Now with news channels popping up every other day, news reporting is nothing more than a horse race. The spicier the news, the more successful the channel. I moot this cliche because until I researched for myself, all I knew was "kala qanoon" (black law) and I must say, I always found these remarks offensive. Moreover, every other anchor and slef-proclaimed "Aalim" was feeding me this- kala qanoon, kala qanoon!
But now, after my own research, I realized the governor only wanted a review of the blasphemy law. This changes the entire scenario. This shows, that behind the highlighted insult, was a very rational and realistic stance. But that's not all, the final shock came to me when I was told of the Taliban's blasphemy law:

"The authorities may punish blasphemy if it is committed by a male of sound mind over age 18 or by a female of sound mind over age 16. Anyone accused of blasphemy has three days to recant. If an accused does not recant, death by hanging may follow."

I never thought I'd ever say this, but I felt the Taliban are more realistic than us. This law makes much more sense than anything a Pakistani cleric ever said. And, had the media ever told us about this, believe me you, things would had been a lot different.

Secondly, I found out that among the supporters of the governor's stance were Imran Khan, Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain and Rana Sanaullah. Oh, the irony. One person of every major party is supporting a positive change and the PPP is too reluctant to bring it to the Parliament. For those fortunate ones who don't watch the news, Rana Sanaullah is among those known as arch enemies of the PPP and was even blamed for the governor's murder first up. Had the PPP gathered an ounce of sense, it was in the perfect position to bring the issue to the Parliament. Fatwas wouldn't have mattered in front of unity; after all, even the hated government of Musharraf was able to pass the Women Protection Bill.

But alas! The hate in a Pakistani's heart would never let him do that. The selfishness runs too deep. The virtues of patience and tolerance are nowhere to be found. Hate is what we're sowing and hate is what we shall reap.

Nothing more needs to be said. Whoever you are, whatever you may call yourself, if you're reading this, reach out and save Pakistan. Save Pakistan from this crippling hate.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

About Murder and Blasphemy [Edited]

Murder is murder. Blasphemy is blasphemy. It's just a matter of how you connect these two sentences.

Murder is murder and blasphemy is blasphemy. And the country has put "but" in place of "and" and is changing the order of the two sentences. Although the political parties have a different debate altogether- pointing fingers. I ask the question, why am I supposed to take a side in this matter?
I believe the blasphemy law is right in its place and
I condemn the murder of the governor. Expressing his own opinion is not a crime. But calling a law, sacred to many, a black law is something he should have been more careful about.

About Freedom of Expression and Blasphemy:
I find many people complaining that the "ghairat brigade" troubles their freedom of expression. Let's define both of these terms. Does the term "ghairat brigade" refer to those who support the terrorists? Does it refer to those who demand the unconditional release of Dr Afia? Or does it consist of those who support the blasphemy law? Because I feel all these groups might overlap but are in no way the same. For instance, Dr Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi was a strong antagonist to terrorist forces and was martyred in his fearless struggle by a suicide attack in his Mosque. He issued fatwas against terrorists but I am sure he would have supported the blasphemy law, had he been alive. So generalizing people who disagree with you as the "ghairat brigade" is much more narrow-minded than the "ghairat brigade" itself.
As for freedom of expression, we need a definition too. In other words, we need to know where freedom of expression becomes a hate crime. Is a guy whistling at girls freedom of expression? Is a VJ prominently displaying her low neck on TV freedom of expression? Is a white person not allowing entry to a colored person to his shop freedom of expression? I believe the line is drawn wherever the feelings of a particular community are hurt.
Now the question of blasphemy. Most people fail to recognize the basis of this law. The law is made out of love; love of the best human being that God sent on earth. There is no being worthy of more love than him except God Himself. And God Himself praises the Prophet (PBUH). I did not make the law, nor did Zia-ul-Haq. It is adapted from the fact that the Prophet (PBUH) forgave every criminal on the day of the conquest of Makkah (including the murderer of his daughter), but those who ridiculed him and his message. Why? Because the Prophet (PBUH) and his message are from God, and making fun of them is making fun of God. Non-muslims might raise the question that the same should be the case with their religions and it really is! Muslims are not supposed make fun of non-muslims, thus the verse [Quran 109:6] "To you is your religion, and to me is my religion." You don't cross your limits and I don't cross mine. [It's pretty much man-made.]

About Murder:
All life is sacred. There is no denial to that. And any harm to life without any judicial grounds is a sin and deserves equal punishment. Same is the case with the murder of the governor- no one person has the right to declare someone a criminal under any law. This is the way educated and democratic nations deal with their issues. We have laws governing every aspect of our life and courts with judges to make decisions. Even in the Shariah, only the Khalifah or Qazi has the right to give a decision. And Khalifas don't operate underground. The murder is unlawful, with no religious or moral grounds. The governor did not even commit blasphemy the way I see it. He expressed his opinion, but was not careful in choosing his words. Calling the law protecting the honor of Prophethood a black law was like an open challenge to the already infuriated Pakistani community which had lost all it's faith in the government.
Comparing the murderer to Ghazi Ilm-din Shaheed is confusing too, as to whether people want to demean Ghazi or exalt the murderer.

The Next Step:
Pakistan is an Islamic republic. Most, if not all, Muslims love the Prophet (PBUH) and hold his respect above their lives. Most of them are uneducated. They know Islam but do not understand it. The blasphemy law was not there to start with, but now that it is implemented, going back will bring nothing but anarchy. I don't understand why would one want to have this law removed unless he/ she intends to disrespect the Prophet (PBUH) because the general rule of "Innocent unless proven guilty" is supposed to protect the innocent. It's like someone asking you to open the door; one would only ask if one intends to walk through it. The law should [be edited and then] continue to protect the honor of the Prophet (PBUH) BUT it must be made sure [by editing it] that it is not misused to harm the rights of the minorities since they have a high regard in Islam as well.