Desi in DC

November 27, 2007

The People of Swat

Filed under: Islam,Muslims,NWFP,Pakistan,Peace building,Politics,Swat,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 7:45 pm

DAWN News reports that the Pakistani Military has reported Big Gains in the Swat Valley. The report also stated that the Military has taken control of  the FM radio Station being run by Maulvi Fazlullah.

I hope the news is true. I know for some people it seems that the government is targeting its own people, and I know for the people of Swat its not easy having to leave their houses not knowing whether they will have survived the heavy military firing etc. But its equally important to remember the wider picture. It is these poor people of swat who have had to deal with M F. It is these people who have had to shut down their girls schools, barbars and local musicians have found themselves out of business after receiving threats. Tourism, the mainstay of the region has almost disapeared due to the prevailing conditions.

I am a peacebuilder, I am not supposed to condone violence, but in this instance the army has my support. Watching some group control and impose its values for quite a few months now has been enough for me to want and support the military action.

I just hope that the government clears up the mess once and for all so that the “taliban” don’t oppress the area again and the people of swat don’t need to suffer endlessly. I hope the people of Swat are soon able to return to their lives without fear of bomb threats.

Over and Out


November 18, 2007

Madrasa Reforms- Part2

When Madrasa Reforms part 1 article got published, one of the response that we received asked do you know how expensive it is for the government to board hundreds of students and provide two square meals a day..and how do we address that?

following is the response I wrote back.
I wrote the article since the government has been speaking about madrasa reforms for the last few years and nothing seems to have been done. My concern is primarily due to the long term effects of this education. The madrasa system in Pakistan has become extensive in the last 2 decades and we have started to see the effects in Pakistan in the last few years. In Indonesia the government was providing partial support to the pesantrans, the remainder was coming from private sources similar to those providing support to madrasas in Pakistan. It is up to the government to make the change. If there is no choice of religious education without some secular education, then funds will accommodate as well.

Why is it that the Punjab government can implement free primary education, but we are unable to do so for the rest of the country? Other provinces need to receive similar support, but at the same time the provinces need to show a similar commitment to education.

My only response to the government official is that drops of water make an ocean. If we can identify areas where “extremism” is more rampant (for the moment, these areas include but are not limited to bordering Afghanistan, FATA areas and the province of NWFP), we should start with making changes in the system here and then with more sources try and move to the other provinces as well. We acknowledge that the problem cannot be solved in one day. It took 15 years and more to create the problem and will require a similar amount of time to resolve it, but we need to start somewhere to possibly reach a solution someday. If we keep looking at the situation in a complex manner which is what it is, we will never come up with a solution. In order to reach a solution, we need to simplify it and take it one step at a time.

You have NGO’s like the Zindagi trust who are attempting to make a difference, one school at a time, and frankly that is the approach that we also need to take. Please read the book “Three Cups of Tea”, building peace one school at a time to see what I mean.

of interim government, democracy and Pakistan.

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 4:32 am

I’m back after a week. Things continue in Pakistan with no one as yet able to predict where the country is headed. The reports coming out of the western magazines are enough for me to want to tear them into tiny shred and flush them down. They all seem to be under the impression that BB here is the “good guy”.
I have a question and thought that has constantly been running through my head for the last two days since the PK interim government was announced.. Why is it that our caretaker government also seems much more appealing and attractive then any democratically elected government. it seems that we as a nation seem unable to elect good representatives. There are so many talented people in the country, but sadly no name seems to come up during elections. We have been fairly lucky with out caretaker governments. I just wish they could be there for a longer period rather then just a few months.

Over and out…

November 9, 2007

Of BB, Masses, Silent majority and the Emergency

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 8:04 pm

You won my vote Mr President when you put BB under house arrest. For why should she be allowed to make speeches when everyone else is under house arrest. Enough people have sacrificed their lives for her first rally for her to be given an opportunity to do another .

The one thing that still confuses me is what are the people protesting against? It is extremely important to identify this. Many people that I have spoken to.. for them musharaff is not the problem.. for them its the emergency, the crushing of the supreme court, the stripping of civil rights and the media blackout.

For others especially politicians its seems to be musharaff.. they want an opportunity to come back into power and raid the country even more.

for many others, the silent majority, people think even if anyone else comes they will raid the country too.

Mr president we don’t have anything against you. We in fact agree that you have done good for the country, we also agree that the country has no other alternative candidate.. but mr president if you know this, don’t take the country and its people for a ride..

We have to many expectations and too many young people. Don’t teach them a lesson that you don’t want them to apply in the next generation.

Over and out.

November 8, 2007

of Lawyers, Kalam and emergency

Back online after staying away for a few days. Protests in Pakistan still continue. According to the latest news the lawyers are planning on switching their protests from out in the streets to the working of the courts. The lahore jails have become so overcrowded that the homes where political leaders were being kept under house arrest have been declared as subjails. Furthermore the factory at landikotal was also shut down to create more room.. refer to urdu press for more details

I guess the Jail bharo movement seems to be succesfull. The students of FAST and LUMS seem to have joined the protest and youtube is filled with videos coming out of PK.

Our TV channels were not to be left behind. Most channels especially GEO, ARY and DAWN have posted links on their websites where people can see live streaming.

BUt the one news, which has brought hope has nothing to do with the emergency. It is a news from KALAM that dawn reported. It seems that the tribal elders had called a jirga and then informed the “local taliban” that they were not interested in having the militants control their area and just basically asked them to get out.

good for you! the people of Kalam. I thank you from the depths of my soul heart…Now if we can get the “taliban” out of the other areas then the poor people of swat will be able to lead their own lives without fear of bomblasts and threats and the government will no longer have an excuse to continue with this “emergency”. So the question is.. is it still being called that or have accepted that it is a martial law.

so is a martial law in any other name still a martial law??

I am still wanting to be an optimist and may even wait and see if uncle musharaff plans on living up to his promises of holding elections in February. I guess the situation will hopefully be a lot clearer in the coming weeks.

over and out

a confused citizen of Pakistan.

November 5, 2007

…So Why was Pakistan created?

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 8:30 pm

A friend, who teaches at a local high school, hinted that he was going through a phase of disillusionment. He then mentioned that a large number of his students have been so brainwashed by the cable that they do not understand the reasons why India and Pakistan are two separate countries and many feel they would be equally happy under a single rule.

I believe it is extremely important for us to address our educational system and to understand why this is happening. The current syllabus for Pakistan studies leaves much to be desired. It follows the state line of our leaders can do no evil and Indian leaders can do no good. It is also a subject that is taught us a necessity not as one that will provide knowledge to our youth.

It is time for us to move forward. In this age of cable tv and the internet it is extremely important that we teach our youth the truth and help them understand that no matter where our nation stands today, there were genuine reasons for why this country was created. At the same time it is equally important that we help them understand just how limited were the resources from which this country was built. And even if the picture is not all rosy today, at least it is a step forward from where we started.

So getting back to the initial question.. why was Pakistan created.  If one looks at the state of Muslims in India – by that I mean the average person and not salman khan, Shahrukh Khan,  Amir khan and all the numerous  other khans who have made a name for themselves in bollywood, one finds that as a percentage the levels of poverty are higher and the levels of education are lower amongst the Muslims of India then amongst the Hindu majority. Frankly and Sadly the same may be said for minorities in Pakistan.

Secondly, there is a denial amongst our leaders and historians that the unity of Pakistan was a rosy picture. the Quaid himself recognized that we as a nation would face problems in the future especially due to the different ethnicity. He also, very rightly, knew that the British were afraid of him and that the possibility of Pakistan was a reality as long as he was alive, and he knew his health was not such that it would support him for a very long time.  He therefore stated that we should try and get the country first and then deal with the differences. Little did he know at that time that he would have only a year with his nation and that his left hand man liaquat ali khan would also be shot down, leaving the new nation to deal with problems of ethnicity and representation.  Khalid bn sayeed in his book  Pakistan the formative phase has very clearly outlined this.

It is clearly in the interest of our nation that we not ignore this problem. It is important that we understand that when our youth asks questions like the above they are not trying to raise a controversy. the questions are asked because we as a nation have stopped answering them. We forget that the youth no longer knows people who were there when the country was created. Most of our parents were either babies when the country was formed or otherwise first generation Pakistanis.

In cambodia a research was conducted which showed that many of the youth were in denial about the Khymer rouge genocide that took place in cambodia during the 70 and 80s’. The reason because many simply could not believe something of this sort could have happened to their parents. Issues such as these need to be addressed by their peers and professors so that the youth understand the truth behind it.

I am still an idealist compared to many in my generation. why is that? it is because I was lucky to get a dedicated lot of teachers. My pakistan history teacher in O’ levels made sure that we learnt the unbiased version of our history as children. She used Wolport’s History of India and Jinnah of Pakistan amongst many other books to create an unbiased objective curriculum. This was followed by  another dedicated lot of professors and lecturers at Karachi University.  The end result, I went through my stages of disillusionment, but this was disillusionment caused by knowing what our forefathers wanted and where we were headed. At the same time it strengthened the need to want to do our share to help achieve the original dream. This disillusionment was not the one faced by many others from my generation and those younger to me. Who have not had the opportunity to learn history, for whom Pakistan studies just landed up being a course without which they could not graduate, those who felt that they had been lied to and for whom the “progress” of India seems to be a direct answer to why pakistan and india should have been one.

It is important that we teach our youth the reasons behind the creation and do so in a truthful and objective manner, rather than one which is extremely biased.

PS: this is still a work in progress.

God takes care of Pakistan

2 days have gone, we’re all back at work.

so what has happened in the last 2 days. According to Reuters mush has said that elections will be held on time, or at least within the same period.  lets wait and see what happens.

It has been interesting to see the role of the Internet.

8 yrs ago the internet was just starting to gain popularity. During the blackout then although were able to gain news, it was in no way comparable to what we are able to do today.

so thank you all of you who have contrived to make the media available to all of us online.  I was able to hear mush’s speech online. not much of a speech but was at least able to hear what he had to say.

Its frustrating to hear the news, but to quote one of my KU professors.. God takes care of Pakistan. The country has been through so much, and so often that only God is responsible for its survival.  come what may we will survive b/c God takes care of Pakistan;). Interesting belief don’t u think. Its what makes all of us keep going.

On a side note.. saw a documentary on the actual blood diamonds.. ( not the movie) it put things in perspective. We still have a lot going for us. its just time for all of us to put our act together and start doing our bit.

Over and out.

A frustrated yet still optimist pakistani

PS: dawn website has a link connecting to their tv channel.. its working on and off. but good source of news.

November 3, 2007

8 years and Back to square one.

Filed under: Desi,Elections,Karachi,Muslims,Pakistan,Pakistani,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 8:23 pm

8 Years later and we’re back to square one. 8 years ago in October 1999 Gen Pervaiz Musharaff and his army came into power through a coup. 8 years ago we were amongst the happiest people and thanking God that he had done so.

8 years later musharaff has once again declared an emergency and we can’t stop cursing him enough.

What has happened to bring about this change?

Musharaff stated in his speech to the nation that the nation is heading in a downward spiral, frankly none of us deny it. watching the news coming out of Pakistan has been extremely worrying.

security is almost non existent, with suicide bombers attacking almost weekly in some part of the country or the other..

prices have sky rocketed. When i left for school three years ago, milk was Rs 29 a kilo ( tetra pack) it is now sitting at Rs 44. tandoori naan is being sold in black for up to Rs 6 or 7.

the macro economic factors may be positive but the micro economic factors seemed to be heading downwards especially with inflation rising.

The rule of extremists groups seems to be rising in the north of Pakistan. Girls schools are being threatened, music shops seem to be bombed and painters, musicians and barbers are trying to relocate or start a living with a new occupation. The government doesn’t seem to have paid too much attention to the plight of the people.

Musharaff said what he is doing is in the interest of the country. He said in his speech that the supreme court is going out of control and that the media should have the freedom but also should take responsibility and that they should show positive things rather then portray negativity.

Is showing positivity when people are dying, and when the poor man can barely afford to eat 1 square meal a day rather then two,, is that not being like an ostrich with its head in the ground?

Is asking the police to locate the “missing people” and return them home, or asking the local government to take action against the excessive load shedding and traffic jams causing immense hardships for the people interfering?? Although I don’t agree with everything that the SC has done, for the first time it seemed there was finally some place that could represent the plight of the people, and maybe deal with issues that everyone was thinking about, and if nothing at least have a place to voice them.

8 years ago, we had a prime minister who was close to acting as a dictator, we had two prime ministers who had between them managed to rape the country in all manner.

8 years later, our saviour signed an agreement with one of these leaders in the interest of maintaining his post. 8 years later and as mentioned insecurity has skyrocketed, as had inflation.

I agree positive things have happened, but those too seem to be collapsing.. with the rains in karachi, the development work landed up creating hurdles in people’s live rather then benefiting them.. In the interest of democracy you are pushing one of the most corrupt leaders back to the people..

at the end of it all,, people are just tired.. they were promised so much,, and every single leader has disapointed them. including our current leadership.

We had hopes, we knew that things would be difficult, but to come back to square one after 8 years is simply heartbreaking.

to look at the situation in Pakistan and to acknowledge that things were bad during the 1990’s but the situation in 2007 is a lot worse and much more dangerous makes one think where are we headed.

I hope and wish that we have hit rock bottom and things can only get better, but maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part.

My God take care of Pakistan.

Musharaff Declares Emergency in Pakistan

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 2:10 pm

The news coming out of  pk is that the cable channels have been switched off. the news coming out of cnn news is that Mush has suspended the constitution. The SC said he has no right todo that. Curently troops have surrounded the supreme court as wll as the house of all the judges..

The news media had been suggesting for the past couple of days that talks and rumours about an emergency were becoming stronger.

What does this mean for the country? apart from delayed elections.. what else does this mean?? One thing for sure is that our president has lost all his credibility.

over and out for now.

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