Desi in DC

May 6, 2017

Affordable Care Act – One More Story

My Father-in-Law has Parkinson’s. It took him a while to get diagnosed. He was also a new immigrant to the US. His fault lay in the fact that by the time his 12 years  of waiting in line to receive his family sponsored immigration docs were up, he was already past 64. So when he moved to the US on his green card he was almost 65.

We tried to buy insurance for him and were constantly told to apply for medicare. What the insurance companies failed to understand was that for a new immigrant, medicare was not an option since they had not worked long enough in the US to accrue points. When we were successful in convincing these companies the quotes we received were simply unaffordable. North of 1K per month and that too with a significant deductible.

When Obamacare was passed, my FIL was finally able to afford insurance. After spending 5 years living uninsured, paying out of pocket for any medical expenses, my FIL finally had health insurance.

After spending the last few years stress free, we worry that FIL may lose his coverage once again. 

It is sad that the world’s “Super Power” is unable to get its act together as far as a just medical system is concerned. Access to good quality healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. Maybe the US can learn a few things from its neighbours in the North,

April 15, 2017

Mardan and the death of forgiveness and education

And we call ourselves Muslims? When did it become ok to lynch mob and kill a student or anyone for that matter? What happened to if you save a life you save all of humanity and if you kill a person it’s like you killed all of humanity?

What worries me and concerns me is that the mob killing of Mashal Khan happened in Abdul Wali Khan University. Three to four thousand university “students” were apparently involved as part of the mob. University students means they have received at least a high school education most likely even a bachelors before gaining admission to the university. In Urdu students are called Talib-e-ilm ie “seekers of knowledge”.  An education is meant to open your hearts and minds, it allows you to ask questions rather than just believing in rumours. This act highlights the problem of our education system were rote learning is rampant and rote learning is rewarded over actual understanding. Are we removing the capacity of our youth to think and ask questions so that they can no longer question authority and like robots believe anything that is said to them? Are we not required to use our brains to seek out answers?

We also seem to have lost the message of forgiveness. First of all there was no conclusive proof of what this young student had done, there were only rumours. In fact media sources report that Mashal was an active and vocal voice on the campus and someone had recently created a fake social media account in his name. Even if, for arguments sake, we assume he was guilty of blasphemy (for which there is no proof) what happened to forgiveness. We didn’t even give him a chance to defend himself.

The Quran says

“Keep to forgiveness and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant” (Surah 7, Verse199).

And again

“”If you take retribution, then do so in proportion to the wrong done to you. But if you can bear such conduct with patience, indeed that is best for the steadfast.” Surah 16, verse number 126[1]

Blasphemy is an act best left for God to judge. We as humans and Muslims must not judge these actions especially since the Quran does not prescribe a punishment for it in this world[2]. Instead, we must persevere patiently and with forgiveness as prescribed in the Quran, and exemplified by the Prophet.

For all those involved in the mob, I wonder how they plan on answering to God when the question arises who were they to judge whose live should or should not be taken

 

[1] This translation has been taken from Zafar Ansari’s English Translation of Mawdudi’s Translation of the Quran in order to have an easier understanding of this verse.

[2] Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, Freedom of Expression in Islam

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 25, 2009

Buner and the Talibans

According to the Dawn today, the Taliban decided to pull out of Buner. Please don’t take this as a sign of victory, or that the Taliban are now going to live according to the terms of the accord and just stay and rule in Swat.

I remember reading an article 8 to 10 years ago, again in the dawn. the person, a foreign journalist, had been following the “jihadis” as they were then called. She wrote about how there was a generation of young men who had seen nothing but war, who had been trained in nothing but war. They had fought the Russians initially, then they had fought amongst themselves, they later fought in Bosnia and occasionally entered Kashmir and fought there.  These men would now be in their 30s and 40s. they stay have a couple of decade of fight left inside them. They also have a new generation of men that they have trained. They fight in the name of religion, but know only that which has been taught to them, rather then gain their own understanding of religion.

The taliban is a similar breed, if not the same breed of men. Please don’t underestimate them. If they have retreated back to Swat, its only because under the current circumstances it made more sense to retreat. they will look for an opportunity and strike once again when the guard is down. Or maybe they will instill their writ and Swat and practice it till it becomes acceptable to people thinking it is the writ of the land and then they will expand.

We have to prevent this from happening. Were we not taught, that is you see an injustice happen, fight against it. If you cannot fight against it at least speak up against it. I think  most of us can at the minimum speak up against it.

April 6, 2009

The Fame That Was Not To Be

On Sunday, while walking down the streets of Arlington, just a couple of miles from Georgetown, my partner and I were stopped by Richard Reeves, one of the satellite anchors for ABC7 news. The hot topic of the day was the missile test by N Korea.

He wanted to find out what our reaction was to the test. He was hoping that we would say it was a terrifying experience. Being the ND taught pacifist, my responce was not going to be that simple.

Instead I just said I think all countries need to do away with nukes, the US and Russia started it, they need to take the first step. As long as even one country has it, how do we expect the others to give it up. infact the danger of other countries acquring it will always remain. Its only when we all do away with then only can we see some peace.  Otherwise what N Korea did was not unexpected so why is there such a big fuss.

He tried again to see if he could get me to give him a more mainline answer.. I knew  I had shot all chances of my claim to fame when I gave him a response similar to my first answer.. so did I make the 9 oclock news?? Obviously not:)

September 27, 2008

US Elections; the North West and Pakistan

Who would have thought that I would say this but after yesterday’s US presidential debate it seems maybe McCain may be better for Pakistan. I disagree with most of his policies except his foreign policy stance related to Pakistan, In Obama’s case his domestic policies make sense but his foreign policy views on Pakistan show his lack of experience..

When will US policy makers realize what a number of US Academics and South Asian experts have been trying to tell them, you cannot look at the north of Pakistan and think its a simple problem that the Pakistani’s don’t want to do anything about. On the contrary its an extremely difficult situation that may require the best minds who know the area to come up with a possible solution that “may” work.  if you look at Pakistan’s statistics you will note that there has been a massive spike in the number of suicide bombings all over the country. As was typical during the cold war, it seems the War on T has done the same, the war turf had moved from the country’s at war to that of ours. It is the Pakistanis who have been losing their lives. Let someone at least recognize that we too have lost thousands of innocent lives due to no fault of our own.

At the same time as Pakistanis we can’t sit and accept the increasing impact that the  right wingers seem to think they are having on our country. Shutting down girls schools, threatening media shops and barber stores, if we don’t do something about this now the situation will only get worse. A number of tribal elders who have tried to help their communities by standing up to these guys have already been killed. We cannot let their deaths be in vain.

We’ll realize too late that the demographics of our country have changed. It is important that for once instead of having a reactionary policy ( ie reacting after the effect) we need to have both an offensive as well as a precautionary policy. It may already be a little late for that and we may already be in the reactionary stage but we still need to make the effort.  We have been complacent for too long and have accepted this violence for too long, its time we stepped up and protected our cities so that our children can be free to go where they wish without us worrying about potential suicide bombings…

August 15, 2008

In Memory of Nicole Dial

As I was wading my way though the numerous junk and forwarded mails in my gmail account today, I came across an email from an SFCG listserve; the title of the email ‘in memory of Nicole Dial”. The name sounded familiar, i just couldn’t associate the word in memory of with the girl I had known while interning for Search for Common Ground. Nicole shared a room with my direct supervisors, she was young, always laughing, always cracking jokes. I didn’t know her too well, just the encounters I had whenever I came into her office looking for my supervisors. She was one of the lucky few who had been able to start a career in a field that the rest of us were struggling to get into.

I open my email, dreading what I may find there. Nicole was killed in Afghanistan on August 13th. She was killed by the Taliban who fired at a vehicle carrying Nicole and three other female aid workers. They said the workers were spies.

Nicole is not a spy. She was never a spy. Having worked with aid workers in different parts of Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and the US, I can easily say that most of them are in this field b/c they genuinely believe they want to help people. They are tired of the corporate world, and strongly believe that life will be much more fulfilling if they are able to help improve someone else’s life. They are if nothing else optimists and idealists that are hoping for a better world. These workers have been amongst the nicest people that I have met in the West. They are extremely well informed about what is happening in the world, and the mess created by the powers that be within their own countries. Many of them have entered this field in an attempt to right the wrongs committed by their own governments. They aim to help rather then control.

Killing innocent human beings can never be justified. Killing women can never be justified. Killing someone who has come to your house to help you out can also never be justified. Killing Nicole and the numerous other aid workers can never be justified.

The Taliban, in the name of my faith, are practicing a sort of Islam that resembles Islam less and looks more similar to the historical rural Afghan culture that has nothing to do with religion. They have killed aid workers because they were spies. The taliban have killed their own people for associating with the aid workers. They have taken a step further and attacked local health workers in both Pakistan and Afghanistan for daring to give polio drops to their children. They have crippled many young children by encouraging their parents to say no to vaccinations. All in the name of Islam. All with the help of threats and use of force and coercion.

What happened to the teachings of “you shall not convert by the power of your sword”? What happened to God is the most forgiving and the most merciful? That God would forgive us for our sins against him, but not for our sins against other beings unless we gained their forgiveness first.

I am sorry Nicole. As a Muslim, I too am responsible for speaking against the wrongs that I see being practiced. I too should have spoken up before….

July 27, 2008

Pakistan, Politics and the Bird flu

Filed under: Desi,Karachi,Muslims,Pakistan,Peace building,Politics,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 2:53 pm

Our politicians are at it again, this time at a small town level in NWFP.  Rich farmers with political affiliations have been pushing local administrators to transfer local officials who are actually doing their jobs. A local poultry official was recently transferred for daring to say that there was bird flu in the area. the poultry industry in the area said it was a conspiracy against them that the WHO and the local poultry officer had declared the area had issues.. Puhlleezzz…   so now we have political decisions that sound strangely reminiscent of the 80’s and the 90’s.  This practice needs to be checked ASAP otherwise even those who want to work won’t be able to get too much done.

I am quite impressed by Zardari and Co. It hasn’t even been 6 months and I’m already wishing someone would throw them out. That’s the shortest span i’ve ever had before. Usually it would last at least a year.

But as the every optimist, things will improve, they always have, its a matter of when. Positive things are happening at individual levels we just don’t see the wider impact of it, since they tend to get overshadowed by our ever news making politicians.

July 2, 2008

Power of the pen

Filed under: Desi,Education,Pakistan,Peace building,Politics,Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 12:54 pm

So I finally discovered the design option at wordpress. My sis who just started who own blog http://nidagivesvent.wordpress.com had to show it to me, so now we know who has the tech degree in the family. I guess the power of the pen does identify the reasons so many of us have started writing blogs..

The Pakistani political situation keeps reminding me why democracy is something we love to hate. Our esteemed politicians are more concerned about transferring poor poultry officers for doing their jobs in order to please land lords and farm owners then they seem to be in bring some semblance of peace in our border regions.

This is our country too, and it deserves a lot better then what we have out there..

February 29, 2008

The genocide of Pakistani Humanity….

Over the past few decades, acts of violence and terrorism and singlehandedly attempted to kill all levels of humanity within the Pakistani society. Every value that we are proud of, that makes us different from the west, that makes us appreciate our culture seems to be targeted by these senseless acts of violence. As if someone is bent on removing them from the very core of our existence.

What do I mean by it?? Lets identify what we value and then move forward from there.

As a kid, growing up in Karachi, if someone had a flat or car problems, I remember my father offering to help. I remember people helping us as well. As I became a teenager that became less and less. Why was that the case? My father said people would use it as a ploy to steal your car or harm your family. It was safer to help a family then to help a single individual, especially a single male.

As part of Pakistani humanity, I remember driving down stadium road and seeing this old Afghan woman walking through the back routes trying to reach the road. My brother and sister in law stopped the car and offered her a ride. Their good deed for the day. This month I read something in the news that really scared me. A couple was driving their on one of the busy roads of Karachi. Someone got in the back seat and said that he was a suicide bomber and to ram the car / building/ police car etc//   This act has killed another aspect of the Pakistani humanity. Anyone who in the past wanted to offer a ride on a hot day to an old man will no longer do so..

On a hot day, I remember poor kids and old beggars knocking on the door asking for food. I don’t remember anyone sending them empty handed. If there was no cooked food in the house, we would hand them some fruits, if nothing else them a glass of water and something to eat. Today we ask how old is the person. Make sure there is no dacoit waiting to  rob the people..

and the list continues…

Are we going to let them completely annhilate our values and our humanity. Our we going to let them completely take over who we are? are we going to let these so called protectors of religion hijack our values and beliefs?

I don’t think so.. I don’t intend to let these terrorists and perpetrators of violence destroy the goodness in our society. What about you? 

This is a work in progress..

February 14, 2008

The Opposition and Pakistan’s upcoming elections.

Today Zardari passed a statement saying that there would be protests if his party did not win the elections. Everyone is already stating that the elections are going to be tampered with.. Reading all these statements makes one ready to scream in frustration.. why??

A) these parties are extremely corrupt and there is a strong liklihood that they may or may not succeed.

B) some people hate the ruling party, other places like some in punjab have benifted greatly from the chaudries and may very well vote them back at least from their areas.

C) every party seems to be concerned about their own party, their own interests. They seem to ignore the fact that the country is going through some serious issues and for once it would be really nice if they could stop bickering and work for the national interest. But I don’t see that happening especially is the likes of zardai, bhuttos, sharifs and chaudries are to continue ruling us.

I agree with musharaff for once, please don’t take to the streets after the elections, you want to protest do so through some other channels..

I just hope we can find some decent leadership in this country. It is sad when I look at the choices I don’t find anyone that I really want to vote for. What use is my democratic right when it does not even provide me with a choice which is “lesser of the two evils”.

 Over and out..

a frustrated pakistani.

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