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Archive for July, 2010

There have been very few times when I have not found the right words to express my grief, sorrow, anger or passion for something and today is one of those days as I write for my man, Prem Chand – A Pakistani Hindu, a true patriot, a social worker who spent his life trying to uplift the condition of his fellow countrymen, he gave sweat and tears to this land of pure. An elected member of PILDAT’s Youth Parliament, whose fellow YP’s say the following about him:

He greeted muslims with a warm Assalamo alaikum…he sent msgs of congratulations on shab barat and other holy days…..He used “Allah” hafiz to bid farewell…and he swore by this name…I hv been with him….He was more of a sufi who believed in all religions and the good things in them.

And it doesnt even matter if he was that intolerant about religious beliefs, even if he were a staunch Hindu he didnot deserve what we gave him. He was on board EQ-202 Airbus 321, Airblue’s flight to Islamabad which crashed in Margalla Hills leaving 152 dead and the nation mourned (officially for 01 day). He was not travelling on personal visit, he was meant to be present at Youth Parliaments session the next day.

And like said above, he gave his sweat and tears to this land of pure – and what did he get? Some religious bigot wrote “Kaafir” (English: Infidel) on his coffin. (Link) We are no short of these religious bigots whose favorite pass time is to judge and discriminate on Pakistanis on basis of their faith – but this sad incident, which killed 152 human beings was an opportunity for these religious fanatics to show their true face. The poor guy, who was born in a Hindu family and spent his life trying to work for the people of his country was given the title of “Kaafir” by someone amongst us. This particular segment of our society pounces on every opportunity to exhibit their religious fanaticism from the very beginning, when Quaid e Azam (the founder of Pakistan) was labelled as “Kaafir-e-Azam”.

Bear in mind, Pakistan was made because people of Indo-Pak subcontinent felt they were discriminated upon on the basis of their faith – The same we are doing with our minorities.

I would cross-post some of his words here:

I believe in democratic process, because true democracy can solve all problems of state. – Prem Chand.

Prem Chand’s last status update on Facebook was: “Comments Can Make a Person & Comments Can Break a Person.”So Be Careful and Ethical While Giving Comments for Someone.” – He rightly said so. A single word comment on his coffin has shattered many across Pakistan.

I protest against these religious fanatics and I salute Prem Chand – And all the Prem Chands in the making and I confess to the religious minorities of Pakistan – that just because of our silence, just because of our muted response to injustices done to you – we stand here after 64 years. I dig my head in shame, and I vow to fight for you, for us, for the Pakistan we were supposed to have.

Please join this page on facebook as we try to take it from, to pick it from here and voice out for minorities of Pakistan.

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

Below is the letter written by Zulqarnain, Prem’s friend:

Its very painful for me to write to defend such gem of a person. But in a society like ours where people are discriminated on the basis of their faith, Its essential to show these religious bigots their real face.

Prem chand was born to a poor family and was its lone feeder. He belonged to Sanghar, Sindh. He was 25 and was married and also had children. He, however, looked younger than his age and we also used to crack jokes on him for this which he thoroughly enjoyed. He certainly was not a “man” and had those boyish looks. He was doing masters from Sindh university, something pertaining to Social work. He not only called himself a social worker but his text messages also bore this signature. The signature was later changed to “YP Minister” when he was made minister for Youth affairs, culture and sports in previous session of YP. This honour was well deserved as he had prepared and presented a comprehensive research report on state of social welfare in Pakistan. He was hardworking, dedicated and sincere. His educational back ground was such that he could not make flowery speeches.
He was not good at speaking English and his Urdu also had that pinch of Sindhi accent but this never deterred him to stand up and speak whenever he wanted. He was a patriot and loved pakistan, worried about it as much as we “muslims” do, brought resolutions, prepared them, asked for help,  tried to pinpoint and resolve all the problems that Pakistan faces, spoke against India on water issue and had no qualms on the prospect of going to war with her. I say all this to show that he was “normal”. He was not alien or “Indian”.

I have met many people from religious minorities. All of them have that peculiar air about them. they lack confidence, they have fears of the unknown, They are very cautious. Prem Chand also seemed to be the victim of discrimination. Though that did not make him a loner, but it sure taught him to love more. He over tried. tried to be more good to you than u wud expect, tried to make good friends of everyone. Most of the time he lived in the room right next to me during the sessions so he often came over to my room. Thats when I observed this. He would send u text messages just to stay in touch. he wont mind if u didnt reply. I guess, he could not afford to be egotistic.

He was very tolerant in his religious views. We never discussed religion much. Though once I remember a fellow colleague of us talked to him in good faith. He probably wanted to convert him to Islam. Though he never said so. There I came to know that Prem knew much about Islam. He liked Zakir Nayak and comparative studies of different religions. He was interested in Sufism as well. And he wont mind if u asked him questions about hinduism. When interacting with us he would use “muslim” greetings not to prove anything but simply to avoid putting others in a difficult situation.

I still remember the time when we used to hang out. He used to borrow cigarettes from friends and puff away scores of them just for the fun of it. He was not a smoker though. I also remember that prem did not have a FB account. He also did not know how to make one so Hassan Javed (the late youth prime minister) made one for him on his laptop. When the account was made he jokingly asked Hassan to allow him to add Hassan’s female friends as he did not have girlfriends of his own……Thats all I can remember right now hope it helps.

Following is a comment by another colleague of Prem:

I am Muneeb Afzal, a Member of Youth parliament of Pakistan and a Colleague and Friend of Late Prem Chand. An extremely hard-working person he was a symbol of tolerance. My last communication with him was on night before the Air Crash, he gave his greetings to me on ocassion of 15th of Shabaan.
At PIMS fortunately another friend of ours was there when Prem’s Cousin Nanik Das came to search for his body, he quickly hid the tag ‘kafir’ by putting marker lines on it, so that Prem’s family which is already suffering from great grief does not have to bear more hurt. Although later at a memorial session where media was present I criticized the inhumanity and intolerance of those who did this shameful act. I felt this was my duty to my Late friend Prem Chand that i make it clear to the world that we condemn this act of intolerance and Narrow Minded-ness. But a lot of my other colleagues have since objected to my speaking out, believing that my saying this and this news spreading in media would add to hurt of Prem’s family, and in a way they are right too. I would like you all to also keep this in mind as well…
Rest In Peace dear Prem Chand

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A tragic day in the history Pakistan transformed into a sad night as I write this blogpost. An Airblue A321 crashed into the beautiful Margalla Hills early this morning leaving the nation in shock and despair. All 152 on board died with 06 fellow youth activists from Pildat Youth Parliament – and after talking to many people from Karachi to Mardan, I am compelled to write about something positive that I felt amidst all the depression, gloom and tears.

Margalla Towers crashed not too far from my home, Swat IDP crisis (which remains to be the biggest human internal displacement in all of human history), hundreds of suicide bomb attacks across Pakistan leaving thousands dead and today’s tragedy had one thing in common – Pakistaniat. We tried to contribute in our humble capacities; I saw young men and men leaving work, studies and families to reach out to affected compatriots. I saw mothers crying and hugging children not of their wombs like they were their own, I saw fathers saving lives of children they did not have any blood relation to, I saw boys shedding tears and lending a helping hand to sisters, I saw sisters bringing water to brothers not related to them.

Irrespective of ethnicity, language, regionalism and religion– Pakistanis mourned today. Irrespective of whys, whats, whens and hows – I saw Pakistaniat during earthquake, swat and Baluchistan flood relief efforts.

I was admitted in hospital today and I had a lot of time with me, I called many people from different segments of our society. Though the streets of Islamabad smelt of woe but I once again felt Pakistaniat from Karachi to Khyber and beyond.

This bond of humanity, this feeling of sharing grief (and joy, e.g T20 WC celebrations), this notion of wanting to help, these tears for fellow countrymen and this heart that beats together irrespective of social, religious, regional and political differences is called Pakistaniat and we have to find the common beat more often, when it comes to matters concerning us all.

All we lost, in tears and rain,
As the morning of nearness departs,
Only the memory will remain,
In those skies and Margala Hills – Asim

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

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Read this amazing piece of utterance waking up today, sharing for the greater good 🙂

In the market, in the cloister — only God I saw.
In the valley and on the mountain – only God I saw.
Him I have seen beside me oft in tribulation;
In favour and in fortune — only God I saw.
Neither soul nor body, accident nor substance,
Qualities nor causes — only God I saw.
I opened mine eyes and by the light of His face around me
In all the eye discovered — only God I saw.
Like a candle I was melting in His fire:
Amidst the flames outflashing — only God I saw.
Myself with mine own eyes I saw most clearly,
But when I looked away into nothingness, I vanished,
And lo, I was the All-living — only God I saw.

Persian Ode by the dervish-poet, Baba Kuhi of Shiraz, who died in 1050 A.D.

A line that begs for attention here is Professor Nicholson’s introductory comment:

“… though to most of us the living experience is denied…”

Sa’di, the great poet of Persia, wrote:

“Every leaf of the tree becomes a page of the Book when once the heart is opened and it has learnt to read.”

Our sensory organs for taste and touch and sight and hearing and seeing are only good enough to help keep this body in working order. They are not fine enough to show us reality. Yet we go on blindly believing that they show us everything.

Wheresoever ye turn,
there is the face of Allah.

                          al Qur’an 2:115

This is a crucial step in understanding… our senses deceive us. The truth of this world is beyond what the senses tell us. Beyond the mere sense organs of the body, there is something far greater… the heart.

“My earth and My heaven contain Me not,
but the heart of My faithful servant containeth Me.”

Ahh, GOD I SAW!

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Apnay aangan mae nafrat ki,
Yeh jalti aag bujha dena.

Ham pyar ki, shammaiN Layae haiN
Tum bhi aik deep jala dena.

Jo khet jala voh apna tha
Jo khoon baha voh bhi apna tha

Jo kuch bhi huva achcha na huva
Ab waqt hy oosko bhula dena
Ham hath hawa ke bhaijaingay
Khushbu Lahore ki mitti ki

Tum bhi Ravi ki lahron per
Dilli ke phool baha dena

Apnay ghar ki diwaron ko
Uncha karna sab ka haq hy

Lekin jo diwarain dil mae haiN
Voh sari aaj gira dena

Voh pyar bhala kab rukta hy
Diwaron se talvaron sae

Ham dur sae hath hila daingay
Tum dur sae hi muska dena !!

Khush-hal raho dilshad raho
Tum phoolo phalo aabad raho

Ham tum ko duaayaiN daitay hain
Tum bhi ham ko yeh duaa dena

Yeh pyar khuda bhagwan bhi hy
Yeh pyar hi Masjid Mandir hy

Jo sabaq sikhayae nafrat ka
Voh Masjid Mandir dha dena !!

Lahore 21.03.2001

There was a happy occasion of meeting of two sides of nationals at Lahore on 21.03.2001. Indian delegation was represented by The Servant of the people Society also known as Lok Sevak Mandal. The founder of this Lok Sevak Mandal was Lala Lajpatrai in 1921

One of the Pakistani Doctor Khalid Javed had written a poem in love and affection for the people of both the country. He then requested Mr Satyapalji the group leader to convey his message to the people of India, the true feelings of Pakistanis for Indians. On his return to India Mr Satyapalji had published this poem in several Indian Newspapers. This poem was appeared in Gujarat Samachasr London on 24.01.2004 submitted by Shree Chandubhai Matani Leicester

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Hands waved overhead. Voices shouted lyrics and whooped with delight. Children were hoisted onto parents’ shoulders. In the tightly packed crowd a few dancers made room to jump. T-shirts were tossed to fans from the stage.

Yet in the songs that Abida Parveen was singing, saints were praised. They were Islamic saints, the poets and philosophers revered by Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.

It was the first New York Sufi Music Festival, a free three-hour concert on Tuesday in Union Square, and it had music from the four provinces of Pakistan, including traditional faqirs who perform outside temples, Sufi rock and a kind of rapping from Baluchistan.

The concert was presented by a new organization called Pakistani Peace Builders, which was formed after the attempted bombing in Times Square by a Pakistani-American. The group seeks to counteract negative images of Pakistan by presenting a longtime Pakistani Islamic tradition that preaches love, peace and tolerance.

Sufism itself has been a target of Islamic fundamentalists; on July 1 suicide bombers attacked Pakistan’s most important Sufi shrine. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, spoke between sets on Tuesday. “What we’re here to do today,” he said, is “to be at peace with all of America.”

The music’s message was one of joyful devotion and improvisatory freedom. Ms. Parveen, one of Pakistan’s most celebrated musicians, was singing in a Sufi style called kafi. Like the qawwali music popularized worldwide by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, kafi sets classical poems — about the love and intoxication of the divine, about seeking the spirit within — to visceral, handclapping rhythms and vocal lines that swoop and twist with passionate volatility.

Ms. Parveen carried songs from serene, hovering introductions to virtuosic euphoria. Long, sustained notes suddenly broke into phrases that zigzagged up and down an octave or more; repeated refrains took on an insistent rasp and became springboards for elaborate leaps and arabesques; quick syllables turned into percussive exchanges with the band. Each song was a continual revelation, making the old poems fully alive.

While the crowd was there for Ms. Parveen’s first New York City performance in a decade, the rest of the program was strong. The Soung Fakirs, from Sachal Sarmast Shrine in Sindh, danced in bright orange robes to devotional songs with vigorous, incantatory choruses. Akhtar Chanal Zehri, though he was introduced as a rapper, was backed by traditional instruments and seemed more of a folk singer, heartily intoning his rhythmic lyrics on a repeating note or two and, eventually, twirling like a Sufi dervish.

Rafaqat Ali Khan, the heir to his family’s school of classical singing (khayal), was backed only by percussion, pushing his long-breathed phrasing into ever more flamboyant swirls and quavers. The tabla player Tari Khan, who also accompanied Rafaqat Ali Khan, played a kinetic solo set that carried a 4/4 rhythm through variants from the Middle East, Europe, New York City and (joined by two more drummers) Africa. There was also instrumental music from the bansuri (wooden flute) player Ghaus Box Brohi.

On the modernizing side, Zeb and Haniya, two Pakistani women who started their duo as college students at Mount Holyoke and Smith, performed gentler songs in the Dari tradition, a Pakistani style with Central Asian roots, with Haniya adding syncopated electric guitar behind Zeb’s smoky voice. Under wooden flute and classical-style vocals the Mekaal Hasan Band plugged in with reggae, folk-rock and a tricky jazz-rock riff. But the lyrics quoted devotional poetry that was 900 years old, distant from the turmoil of the present.

Crossposted from New York times

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Oh yes its here. After a bearded Faisal Shahzad, on video — wanting to take over the world another video of the would-be Times Square bomber has been released. He is hugging Hakimullah Mehsud and taking the honour to carry forward the notion of killing innocent human beings in the name of God.

WASHINGTON: Shortly after he was arrested, Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, told investigators he had met with the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud.

At the time, at least some U.S. analysts expressed skepticism. Surely, Mehsud would not have risked meeting face-to-face with an unproved American recruit, analysts said, Shahzad was just boasting.

A global security and terrorism consultancy, has released a previously unpublished video excerpt of a meeting between Shahzad and Mehsud. In the video, the two are shown shaking hands and hugging.

Last month, Shahzad pleaded guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5. He faces life in prison. Source

Read the previous rambling on the case: The curious case of Faisal Shahzad: Times Square Bomber 

Also, I wrote in the news amidst all the conspiracy theories:

One started praying for no ‘Pakistan link’ the moment the news of smoke discharging from an SUV parked at Times Square broke in the media. But it turned out later that it was done by a US national of Pakistani-origin. We were lucky that Faisal Shahzad could not assemble the bomb properly. One fails to understand how a westernised youth found the right connections and logistics to travel to the war-struck strongholds of the Taliban and other splinter terrorist organisations. Sadly, our omnipresent intelligence agencies couldn’t trace these links. How could Faisal Shahzad, during his brief visit to Pakistan, find out the proper links and get all the training without any difficulty?

How many Faisal Shahzads are still in the making? How many Pakistanis will further defame their religion and country in pursuit of their murderous goals?

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

Islamabad

Source: The News

It is a matter of ideology, not just how rich or poor you are that men like Shahzad gets invovled into terrorism. We have to counter the ideology of killing people 🙂

 

Faisal Shahzad and his mentor, HakimUllah Mehsud

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I have written on him before, but I want to write more. [click here to read: Daewoo Gang-rape and Pervez Masih]  — To the unsung hero of Pakistan!

Heroes come in different types, heroics vary with the impact they disseminate. In our society, for some Ali Zafar is a hero, for others Atif Aslam and maybe, Ali Azmat with his neo-con story. Some might consider war-heroes of ’65 to be the real heroes of Pakistan and some call Mullah Omar or Osama Bin Laden — heroic personalities par excellence. A particular segment of the society thinks every man in uniform is a hero, and apologizes with the not-so-heroic deeds they do.

To better comprehend what “stuff” heroes are made of it maybe necessary to describe what a hero is not. We see how Television glorifies athletes and celebrities as being heroes, but are they? To me, nada! Possibly role models in their respective fields but not real-time heroes. The title heroic is not given by occupation, rather by achievement — and to me there isn’t a bigger achievement than saving human lives. The icing on the cake, or the crown of heroes should go to the man for whom it wasn’t a call of duty and he acted on his own.

Such a hero was born in Islamabad to a Christian family. [Here, also the point to be kept in mind is the discriminating laws against religious minorities in the country].  He was a janitor by profession and he swept floors for a living. Imagine how sweeping floors would have made him heroic in true sense of the word but like said above, a hero is not dependent on his occupation to be called a hero. This 40 year old saved the lives of hundreds of girls at IIU (Islamic International University) when a suicide bomber tried entering the girls’ cafeteria having over 400 female students.

“There would have been dozens of deaths had the suicide bomber not been blocked by Pervez Masih,” said Saifur Rehman, a senior security official of the IIU.

“The attacker clad in a black burka was heading towards the cafeteria for female students at a time when they were having their lunch. I felt something wrong as no girl student, even one who observes veil, wears a head-to-toe burka on the women campus. I intercepted the bomber, who shot me, and I fell down but Pervez, who witnessed the scene, understood the designs of suicide bomber and held him at the entrance of the dining hall where the blast took place.”Mohammad Shaukat [a survivor of the attack who was shot by the bomber]

 “Pervez Masih is now a legend to us,” says 20-year-old Sumaya Ahsan [Student of Int’l Islamic Uni, Islamabad]

Why was Pervez Masih not given the premier award for bravery – Nishan E Haider? Or is it only reserved when you are on sarkari payroll for showing heroism?

Forget recognition in form of a medal like Nishan E Haider or Tamgha E Jurrat/Basalat, the government promised his family 10 lakh Rupees for having lost the only bread-earner in the house . This happened nearly one year ago and not till this date [20th July, 2010] as I have reconfirmed and re-checked, the announced grant has been paid to his family.

Some members of civil society of Islamabad tried to live up to their duty of honoring the real heroes of their country and collected an amount to be distributed to his family but the media doesn’t play videos in his remembrance, nor is there any pressure on the government to at least release the amount they promised. Recognition of what he actually did in saving lives of scores of women is so less that society doesn’t even remember his name.

‘A nation that forgets its heroes is a nation destined to be forgotten’. – Calvin Coolidge.

– Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

Masih's daughter with the picture of her father

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