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 22, 2009

CNN, Farid Zakarya and Karzai

There seems to be no point in watching CNN on a Sunday afternoon because all I see is Farid Zakariya on his favourite topic. Labeling Pakistan as a failed state, a rouge state and any other similar word he can get his hands on. First it was via newsweek and now its through CNN . I first thought I was paranoid but after seeing the same trends week after week I know I am not.

On this particular occasion, he had invited Mr Karzai, Afghanistan’s President to provide his comments. His introduction stated that this is the man who controls Afghanistan, why is it then that all unbiased scoops coming out of Afghanistan state that the US is doing miserably in the Afghan war and to be honest all Karzai controls is Kabul and the areas surrounding it.

According to Mr Karzai, the Taliban problem in Afghanistan is because of Pakistan. umm hello.. The Taliban problem in Pakistan is because of Afghanistan, as are the drug, guns, extremism and refugee problems!!

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.

January 7, 2008

A Nation of Contradictions

I have not posted anything new in the past few days. I logged on to write and then gave up not knowing what to write. The state of violence, and the economic losses rendered me speechless. I have only been able to read, digest, and read again  the scale of the tragedy and violence that engulfed Pakistan, particularly Sindh after the assasination of Benazir Bhutto.

As I hear the stories,  I have come to believe we are a nation of contradictions. The average humane Pakistani who is at a loss at why something is happening and the conniving politicians who leave no opportunity to loot, raid and present problems for the people they aim to serve.

It were these who encouraged their workers to go on a large scale free for all spree of looting, arson and violence.  Never in our history of rioting have we had atms looted, nor factories or trains burned down. This was a first.  They came back again on Monday stating three days were too little to mourn our “great leader”. But then by politicians I don’t just mean one kind. The second lot responsible for the safetly and security of its people delayed issuing orders to protect the citizens of Karachi and Sindh. I have only heard stories that my family, friends and their acquaintances suffered through. I don’t even know 1% of all that happened to the poor masses of Pakistan.

On the other hand are the contradictions. The civilians, the masses, the villagers. These are the people who fed travellers in trains stranded in the middle of nowhere for upto 48 hours and more, with limited food and water on board.  It is these poor villagers who prevented the tragedies from becoming even worse.

We also have individuals who gave shelter to other people while Karachi was hijacked by rioters. Then again there were others who didn’t.  It is these people who warned women to leave their cars and seek shelter as rioters headed towards them.  We had a television host that repeatedly appealed to people to stay in their senses and not attack the lives and properties of their brothers and sisters.  It is these people who make me hopeful that we pakistanis will prevail once again. That there will come a time when we are no longer hijacked by the actions of our politicians and their workers and where the decency of the people will prevail and come to light again.

over and out..

October 2, 2007

What Right does the Pakistani Government have to Grant Amnesty to Benazir Bhutto?

A leading English Language newspaper reported that the Pakistani Government agreed to grant Amnesty to Benazir Bhutto. According to the report the government has agreed to quash corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto. What right does the Pakistani government have to grant amnesty to Benazir Bhutto?  BB’s crimes affected the country and its people; her crime was against her people, people who were ignorant and dense enough to elect her twice to power, not having learnt from their first mistake; people in a country where at least 60 % are illiterate. [I have given the country the benefit of a doubt by accepting a literacy rate of 40% while acknowledging that quite a few of these ‘literates’ barely finished 4th grade.

What right does the Pakistani government have to grant Amnesty to Benazir Bhutto? What kind of message are they sending across? Raid your country dry, and then live a comfortable life abroad, make contacts with the West, wait till a General comes along, if you wait long enough, your friends in the west, along with the general may be sweet enough to forgive you the crimes that never affected them in the first place? Is that the message that we want to send out to our future politicians?

For Benazir Bhutto, it is not just the crime of her corruption, but also the corruption that her husband participated in, but more importantly the heinous crimes that were committed on the city of Karachi during the reign of Benazir Bhutto.

I have just finished reading Kamila Shamsie’s book Kartography. (a novel about Karachi and its elites though the 80s and 90’s.) As I finished reading the book I was struck strongly by a sense of horror that how could we forget what Karachi was like?

As a child and a teenager growing in the 80’s and 90’s the one thing that I clearly remember is a time of peace and a time of violence. Newspapers have written constantly about the possibilities of Benazir Bhutto returning and how she was the “US Supported” candidate. While reading the book, I was transported back to Karachi in the 1990’s and a statement made by the then prime minister (BB) , that country was progressing and Karachi was only a city of 10 million people. This statement came at time when on an average 20 people were dying daily on the streets of Karachi. It was during BB’s reign that during the first 9 months of 1995 more then 1300 people were killed on the streets of Karachi, most of them young men belonging to the Mohajir community. Between the periods of June 1995 and Oct 995 more then 600 people were killed, with the rate of execution style killings rising. Bhutto was criticized by her own brother for the way she handled the situation. 

The terror that we grew up with, how can we have forgotten that so quickly? Are we really going to go back to those days? Karachi is not perfect, it has often been hijacked by those with power for their own means,  But those who grew up in the city can think of no other place as home and often wonder when will the city receive justice?

What right does the government have to grant amnesty to a person who has committed a crime against people who do not want to forgive her?

If she is innocent, let her fight her cases like everyone else. Although  no case has been proven against her in Pakistan, Bhutto has already been charged for Money laundering by Switzerland. In addition, countries such as France, Switzerland, Poland and UAE have already forwarded information regarding Bhutto and Zardari’s corrupt practices.  How can the West, that promotes ideas of freedom, democracy and transparency, keep pushing someone who is so corrupt, a fact not only stated by Pakistanis but also by European countries.

Over and Out

A very frustrated Pakistani!

PS: Can a case be filed against this decision??Our lawyers and politicians seem to be filing one for everything else, why not for a worthy cause?

 

References: Asia week summaries. http://www.pathfinder.com/Asiaweek/95/1229/newsmap/pakistan.html

Wikipedia

September 14, 2007

The Voice of a UniKarian

Sitting in DC I read the news on GEO News about a grenade attack and firing in a mini bus in front of Karachi University. According to the first news 6 people have been killed. (They later increase the number to 7)

 

A sudden sadness and anger overwhelms me and I am immediately taken back 4 years- The commute, the bus stop, talking to friends, waiting for the G7.  The G7 is something that all us students have taken many times over. For many of us it was our daily commute.

 

How can someone be so heartless to partake in such an incident? If it was because of rivalry between students group, has the value of life become so meaningless?

 

I spent 4 years in Karachi University. I think those were the last few years of peace at KU. We had student clashes. We accepted it as a part of our life and also of our political training, there were injuries but never deaths. But that’s also because weapons could not be brought in, ( or would not be brought in) but now the rules seem to have changed, the battleground has moved from within the campus to just outside, putting every student’s life at risk.

 

The blame game has started, each side putting the blame on the other, but what is even more sad is I would not put it pass either of the parties to have done this. They value the life of their opponents as worthless.

 

It is sad that this is to be our future generation. For those students who manage to keep out of such activities it is even more saddening to know that 10 years down the lane it may very well be these people who hold our country’s future in their hands and not the many position holders and Gold medalists that come out from these universities.

 

When I started at the department of IR at the University, I remember in my earliest conversations with students coming from political backgrounds, I was repeatedly told that Karachi University was the best training ground for politics and that was the reason why parents preferred to send their children to KU for at least a couple of years. I also strongly believe their parents sent them for training, not to have them killed.

 

If you have no value for life between the ages of 20 and 30, how much value are you going to have for it at the age of 40 or 50?? Can someone please answer that question?

 

For that matter, if you have no value for human life what are you doing studying in a medical college? Or has studying on cadavers made you so heartless??

 

Over and Out

 A very sad and frustrated UniKarian

August 31, 2007

Khuda Keh Liye

Its 1;40 am in DC. I have to be at work at 8, that means waking up by 6. Normally I would have been asleep 4 hours ago, but today I had something special to do. I had finally got hold of a link that would allow me to watch Khuda Keh liye. Yes I know I am supporting piracy, but I assure you I will go watch it on the big screen if it is released in the US and hence pay my dues.

The movie was beautiful, I was ready to cry at moments b/c I missed home, and b/c I am seeing what home is turning into. One of my closest and bestest- if that is a word, stopped talking to me when he was hit by convertititus. Or maybe it was his wife who had it, but I know he was a willing follower. Shoman beautifully has shown the contrast in this world. we’re all full of good and bad, the west no different then the east. I also appreciated the way he shows the humanity in the young kid, and how it keeps showing up everytime he is asked to do something, and how everytime he is brainwashed in the name of religion. Its like people forget their logic in recognizing the difference between right and wrong.

Why can we not have more religious leaders that actually pass a fatwa on something good and progressive and get some publicity about it rather then on everything that is bad and regressive. The most famous example being the latest Fatwa being passed in the NWFP that education for women is Haram. It’s so Haram that we have a haddith that says if men and women need to go to China to study, they should. I wonder how Maulvi Sahab is going to explain that.

My favourite line from the movie was ” daari to Abu jahal ki bhi thi” the idea being, how important it is to focus on spirituallity rather then the physical appearance of things. Why is it that our maulvis concentrate so much on prostitutes but not the reasons why these women have had to turn to such means to feed their family.

I am a much at peace muslim today after having watched the movie. I have realized the importance of knowing my religion, to defend it from its own followers, and too trust the value system that we grew up with, rather then one that is being imposed on us from these “religious leaders”.

I really must go to sleep now, but just wanted to jot these thoughts down.

over and out

July 13, 2007

Lal Masjid and some frustrations of a desi!

After the government stormed the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, there were statements coming out from some extremist religious camps that this was just one and many others like the lal masjid would crop all over PK. I and ever other Pakistani must have cringed at this statement.

What happened to there is no compulsion in religion? who has assigned them the right to enforce morality? Like all God fearing/ God Loving Muslims I strongly believe my actions will be judged by Him or as die hard feminists may say Her.  If that wasn’t enough OBL’s group now wants Jihad against Musharaff and asking all Pakistani’s to rise up. Please sir keep out of the country’s business.  So just because the government stormed the mosque and fought the “hostage takers” you want us to fight him, what about all the suicide bombers that go inside mosques and kill people?? what happened to your being a Muslim then?

Its frustrating to see all of this happening. Come to think of it, maybe we should just blame Zia for all of this, after all he’s the one who helped/ supported the US in the Afghan war, and then welcomed the millions of refugees that live all over Pakistan today.

But I will not let my optimism be reduced by all these frustrations. I have said and will continue to say there is hope for the country and for our future, we just need to get our act together. After all the western states were not built in 60 yrs, it took them hundreds of years to reach where they are today.

over and out.

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