Have a fabulous 2012

FOR PHOTOS: PLEASE ASK FIRST, I WOULD APPRECIATE THE COURTESY OF BEING ASKED!

FOR PHOTOS: PLEASE ASK FIRST, I WOULD APPRECIATE THE COURTESY OF BEING ASKED!
Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pictures of the Day: Earless Rabbit in Japan




Earlier this year Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Disaster shaked not just Japan but the whole world.
There are all sort of concerns for people in and outside Japan of the impact of radiation exposure.
On You Tube, a Japanese Vlogger uploaded a video of his earless rabbit born after this disater in Fukushima area. This video has reached 3 millions hits so far and has made headlines - for the concerns.
For details read here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pictures of the Day: Seoul

Anti Riot Police at the Sejong Center, Seoul, South Korea (at noon)


Protestors (Anti Korea-US FTA) at the Sejong Art Center, Seoul, South Korea
(same place as above but in the afternoon )
Photo Credits @ Hankyureh                               

Inaugration Address of 35th Mayor of Seoul

I have done a post on  Park, Won-soon earlier, he gave an inaugural speech (see here), in which he said that the people of Seoul are the mayor of Seoul. Unless, the higher-ups are unable to think of and for public, there is very little hope for change for masses at large. I have confidence that Seoul will remain dynamic but will keep its original structures, its age old character intact - which it was losing in the name of a modern looks.

Seoul is one of the very modern and hightech of cities, I can confidently say that among the major capital of the world, Seoul is among the leaders as it provides all kind of facilities, freebies, support system, 24 hours services of all sort, safety to each and every individual and the list goes on - which is hard to find anywhere in one city.

Mayor Park said in his speech that:
"I will support your lives as I communicate and sympathize with you on site.My ears will be open to hear your wishes and opinions, and your opinions will be reflected in every step and every area of my administration. The citizens of Seoul are the captains, navigators, and helmsmen of this "Seoul Ship" on which I too am a passenger.I ask you to join this new wave of history the "Seoul Ship" will sail upon.The Mayor of Seoul is a citizen, and the citizens are the Mayor of Seoul."
I hope that we see an even more prosperous and citizens friendly Seoul - balancing both traditional and modern.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why Ignorning Afghanistan?


Funeral: Victims of NATO strike
Why are we ignoring Afghanistan's role in the tragic accident of bombing of a Pakistani checkpost by NATO?
 If we hear the interview given by an ISAF spokesman, Brig. General Carsten Jacobson here, (from 0.40~ 0.55) we will see that he confirmed:  "...the ground forces which include Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition Forces were operating near the border and when the situation on the ground developed, these ground forces called on Close Air Support and which came in and highly likely caused the Pakistani casualty..."
He further said that the number of Afghan National Security Forces was more than  the coalition forces...and on their call for close air support, they were provided with it.
NATO is responsible but we must NOT forget that the ground Afghan Security Forces have called for the close air strike. Pakistan MUST protest with the Afghanistan's government and not just the NATO and the US.
Pakistani media is only lashing out on NATO which is NOT fair, the role of ground Afghan troops that were stronger in terms of number are the major initiators of this whole saga. In Capital Talk, earlier this month - an Afghan journalist who works for the Newsweek said in the program that a survey showed that 95% Afghans hate Pakistan (no wonder!).
Pakistani media's coverage on NATO strike is belittling the role of Afghan Forces, why? It does prove one thing that we can NOT connect dots.

Another article by Canadian Broadcasting Assoc. says that "Afghan Troops called for NATO strike in Pakistan."

A TIME Magazine artile here.

Photo credits @ Herald Tribune (Pk)

Pakistan: A Responsible Nation?



It was early morning hours when I heard of a NATO strike and the death toll was 5 soldiers but as I write this and the day proceeded  28 soldiers have been confirmed dead and scores injured. This is called: history repeating itself - every now and then. These brave soldiers, serving in Pakistan Army, are the unknown and unsung heroes of the post 9-11 era. These soldiers on frontlines are facing the brunt of hatred (in the name of collateral damage or misunderstanding) not just of the foreign forces (here I mean: American/NATO forces and our 'first love' and 'obsession' Afghanistan) for 'not doing enough' and for being responsible for all the evils that plague the world but also from the ordinary Pakistanies and Taliban to whom these soldiers are an accomplice to America's WAR ON  OF TERROR.

Today, I was expecting an appeal 'from so-called political elites' to hold an organized and civilized protest at all levels in Pakistan, not the same old 'lame' Talk Shows on TV - which mostly confuse and mislead Pakistanies. Today, I was expecting a 'nationwide candlelight vigil' or a 'peaceful rally to condemn NATO bombings' in an all-out manner to mourn our dead family members (fathers, sons, brothers and husbands). Today, I was expecting that out of the ordinary, every single Pakistani man, woman and child will come out of their comfort zones to show solidarity with the bereaved families and also to make an effort to send a message to the perpetrators that we are NOT a country of the living dead but NO, I was expecting too much and YES, I was dead wrong!

Sadly enough - nothing of sort happened here in Pakistan and nobody seems to care (at all) either - young boys are playing cricket outside, men sitting in front of TVs, women busy cooking and life is on the go as usual. Why is that? Why, we as a nation, can NOT feel the loss, suffering and pain of our fellow Pakistanies? Do we have any self-respect?? Are we NOT equally responsible for what ails us?? Are we really a nation in the first place??? Are we eligible to call ourselves human beings, still??

I feel that we are more of a crowd than a nation. We have make mockery of our founding fathers, of Islam and Islamic values in Pakistan. I don't know if we are a failed state or not but we are definitely a 'Failed Nation'. Islam that emphasizes on "Haqoq ul Ebad" (what we commonly know as Human Rights) is almost a rare commodity in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We don't RESPECT LIFE - period.

I know that the response from Pakistani  government will be a lame one - may be President Zardari will write an article in the Washington Post (or may be NOT because Pakistani life is not even worth it) and the Prime Minister will call for the cutting of NATO supplies (which he already did, probably for a week or so but it will be restored soon). They will create a drama (and this government is surely not the first to do so). A drama for the masses and for our media. A drama to divert attention from hundreds of serious issues that equally need attention. A drama where a common person's sufferings (here and here) are always hijacked by the corrupt politicians and the Pakistani elite for their personal gains and not for the issue itself or the victims per se.

As a nation, we have failed again to register our protest in a civilized manner and this is apathetic and shameless. No wonder, this sort of a tragedy will happen again - because we are not a nation but in fact a conglomerate of feudals and industrialists - who can not and will never feel the pain of a common person.

Today, I blame NATO, AMERICA, AFGHANISTAN and PAKISTAN for all the mess that we are in. All the countries mentioned above  are the partners in the creation of angry, radical and violent non-state actors not just in this region but globally.


ADDENDUM

Koreans Protest the Death of School Girls by American servicemen in a road accident.

More pictures of Korean Candlelight Vigil (the whole country was crying)

"It all went very well"said a NATO General in 1999 after bombing ethnic Albanians in 1999 here.




Friday, November 25, 2011

Status of Telling the Truth in Pakistan...


The other day while watching Bill Maher's show I came across a clip where a man while giving expertise on Pakistan said: "oh, Pakistanies have become pathological liers now." If we look at our media and particularly news and political shows, it seems as if they are  trying hard to prove that so-called expert at Maher's Show right. I rarely see any credible and trustworthy participants, analysts and experts.

Anyhow, it has been 3-4 days that there is a conspiracy theory that Imran Khan - a symbol of change for Pakistan - met with the American Ambassador and the ISI chief. This question was asked by Imran and he categorically said that the three of them haven't met. All the reporters from all the channels are desperately trying to find a missing link to make this look like a true story. About three days back, US ambassador to Pakistan participated in a program "Capital Talk" and said that the three of them have NOT met...but people with media are still speculating about it. Imran Khan at one occassion said he would NOT mind sharing any such development IF it happens. Nobody in Pakistan is ready to believe them. WHY?

My best bet is, we hear lies so often that if somebody is telling the truth - it comes as a surprise and is taken as a lie, almost always. This has become our national character and it is not an overnight change but took years and years to reach this point. We have a dearth of people who stand by truth and who speak truth, however, the few we have are responsible for what is left of Pakistan.

I saw an anchor of a program on Dunya TV, who at the beginning of a debate where Imran Khan was to answer the questions raised by young people in a live show said: "...today I will ask only one question" but he kept asking questions, making comments and gave very little time to the audience - for whom the event was organized. It seems as if these program are about: "I, me and myself" and I wonder why those thousands of people who participated in that program could not point this out.

It all reminds me of a Chinese quote that in times of deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act and probably this is what Imran is doing and many of us must follow. I believe that all goodness springs from telling the truth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Free Class and a Christmas Market in Seoul


At the Sorae Global Village Center, a class will be organized to make traditional Hanji (Korean Traditional Paper) Cards for Christmas and New Year.

The center is also holding a Christmas Market (Marche de Noel / 크리스미스 장터) organized by French expats. French cheese, wines etc will be sold  there.
 Date: December 10, 2011 between (10:00 to 4:00 p.m).
Christmas market's location is Ginko Park, Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu. Seoul

How to get to Ginko Park:


Take Line 3,7,9 and get off at the Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 6. OR
Line 2, Seocho Station, Exit 7. OR
Line 4,7, Isu Station, Exit 1
From all the above exits take a maeul bus No.13 (in the direction of ISU).
Get off at Seorae Maeul Entrance Bus Stop, right in front of STARBUCKS Cafe and follow the signs leading to the park.

Monday, November 21, 2011

National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Pakistan

NUML (NIML) was established in 1970 as a language institute and under a presidential order in the year 2000, it was given a status of a university of a public sector in Islamabad (Pakistan) which benefited many students since its inception. I could never understand why it was called National University ( or formerly: Institute) of Modern Languages because most of the languages taught there and some of their very prestigious language departments such as: Chinese, English, German, Japanese, French and Persian etc. do NOT fall in modern languages category hence the name is misleading and now that all different disciplines are taught there so the name is very confusing.

Over the years, NUML has been embroiled in scandals, corruption charges, embezzlements, napotism and last but not the least a tug of war between the military administration and a civilian academia, staff and studentbody. It can be considered a good example of an institution that is destroyed by a very flawed system of governance in Pakistan per se. It's victims were the students of NUML - who have suffered the most.

NUML made headlines in February, 2010 - when a teacher was beaten by a registrar named Obaidullah Ranjha, a retired army officer. This had to happen because  Pakistan is a country where lawlessness prevails. If we look at the history of NUML we will see that this institution was established to provide foreign language courses for the those in foreign service or in the armed forces and used to be under Quaid e Azam University - a leading university of Pakistan. Then for a short period of time, this institute fall under Allama Iqbal Open University. During Zia ul Haq's dictatorship, NIML came under the direct control of Pakistan Army and all the major posts were filled by them and finally during Musharraf's dictatorship in the year 2000, it was upgraded to a university and had a fair share of involvement of Pakistan army.

It is understandable that during the military governments, many institutions were headed by army officers however,  nothing changed during the short spells of civilian governments either.  All these civilian governments were overshadowed by the military cloud and might and hence they invested all their energy to rob the country and completely ignoring the educational sector..

Back to NUML, it does NOT make sense that the military personnel join the civil institutions after their retirement (they have a quota allocated for them in every ministry in Pakistan) - they are entitled to the best of both the worlds, isn't it. While at NUML they acted like a mafia and were involved in foulplay. Nobody was ever apprehended becuase it amounts to a sin. Moreover, the men from the armed forces knew  that they were above the rule of law. This explains what ails Pakistan to the core for years and years.

In a country of 200 million people - I wonder why we could NOT find anyone from academia to fill in these jobs and why after retiring from one public office these same people got the jobs again? As we all know that in Pakistan, unemployment is extremely high (always) and hence, the rule of hiring retired army personnel is unjust and unfair. We should follow the example of Germany where men and women who retires and are experts in their field become volunteers for the government to help them train the new officals,  help in consultancy for the institutions, a few hours every week but they do NOT takeover the jobs of new talent. Recently at NUML, a shamful incident was uncovered where people are holding jobs without qualification or where their degrees have been challanged. Unless their are heavy punishments things will NEVER change because punishment is a sort of deterrance.

On NUML's website - I was amazed to see that the English Language Department's faculty is comprised of more than 150 teachers . Yes. Over one hundred and fifty teachers! I have never come across a university with this huge a faculty in just one department in one university at one campus - even at the world's famous Ivy Leagues that have billions of dollars of budget per university. Neither have people questioned such rules and practices nor will they ever raise their voice for transparency and fairplay which is more of myth than a reality. Under successive dictatorships and severe censorships we have been brainwashed or trained to stay quiet. Raising a voice is synonymus to making enemies! I am very keen to know  how many students are enrolled in English Language Department at NUML and how many hours are allocated for teaching besides the office hours per week per teacher (professors or lecturers etc.) particularly in the English Department of NUML?

Last but not the least, the website of the said university is NOT regularly updated. Admissions or related information is NOT helpful enough for netizens. When one calls the admin office of NUML, they are  adviced to personally visit NUML - which is outdated in these times and age. Information on the faculty's academic background needs to be updated. All the teaching staffs should be required to upload their CV as is happening all over the world. The university needs transparency because it is the key to success of any institution - I suppose.

A very detailed post by Professor Sohail Masood on the matters of this university can be read here  and another post in a newspaper here which is an eye opener.

Pakistan has a great  potential, students are very dedicated and hardworking but the only thing that is lacking is the good governance with repect to these institutions. Merit system must be the only rule and system to enter university either as a teacher, staff or a student. Pakistan has produced people such as Dr. Abdus Salam a Nobel Laureate which shows that we have a huge potential but we lack honest people and visionaries. I still remember that when we went to schools and universities in 1980's and 1990's here in Pakistan - the standard of education was still very high and quite transparent but over the last 15 years or so, things have really fallen apart and the system has totally collapsed. To save Pakistan we need to save its educational institutions, revamp the educational policy and increase the budget for education.







Saturday, November 19, 2011

Office Space Available in Yeouido



Yeouido Global Business Support Center at Yeouido IFC is opening soon by Dec. 16, 2011.


Yeouido Center offers FREE office space (free incubation office) to foreign start ups.

Location of the center : 3rd Floor. Yeouido International Finance Center Office, Tower 1

For more information about Yeouido Center, contact :
Ms. Youhwa Jang
Phone: 02-2075-4112,
Email: sgcsmbiz@gmail.com.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan: Pakistan's Role in Distorting Historical Facts

After the death of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, which was followed by the assasination of the first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan -political turmoil ceased to stop. This country has seen the rise and fall of many politicians and generals in only six decades. Among them, one prominant name is that of Air Marshal Asghar Khan, a man of principles, who later came into politics and whose party can be considered as the launching pad of almost all the politcians of Pakistan, but who was never voted in by the people of Pakistan.

Today, when we see that almost everything is done in a very wrong and questionable manner at every level - we as citizens are responsible for this mess too. We are responsible because we chose NOT TO SELECT HONEST people and among those honest people, there is one name that tops the list  - Asghar Khan.
Here is an interview that I found on You Tube (which he gave to Khyber TV and is available in 3 parts.)...I think we must listen to what Air Marshal Asghar Khan has to say.
Part 1: An interview with Air Marshal (retd.) Asghar Khan

video

In the above video (at 3:20 min), Asghar Khan said while answering to a question that dishonest people have been voted in but this does not mean that an honest person has no place in Pakistani culture however, the following  for 'honest people' is not enough to bring them to power. He further said that almost always corrupt and dishonest leadership has ruled this country and he thinks that it will continue to happen in future too. People here have ceased to learn from history.

When  asked why people left his party (Tehreek e Istaqlal)  he replied that because we stood by truth, it is not an easy path furthermore, his party was a short cut to fame for these politicians.. Asghar Khan was labelled as an agent of Bengalies...when Bangladesh was still East Pakistan - just because he stood by the fact that the East Wing of Pakistan must be given its due respect and rights. For this view point, he was stoned in Multan city (South of Punjab) and was called a traitor. He said that the policies made in West Pakistan act as a catalyst for the creation of Bangladesh.

When asked whom he would like to name for the breakup of Pakistan he replied: " not a few men but all the people in West Pakistan because they looked down upon Bengalies, discriminated them and never even considered them as equal. When Awami League won the elections they should be allowed to make the government and run the country - they were not going to run away with Pakistan but we - the people of West Pakistan- we were not willing to accept the reality. Furthermore, the government of the time was also responsible for the breakup of Pakistan. He said that simply put: the then political party -PPP of Bhutto along with Yahya Khan - are responsible for this episode."

When asked if there were any other politicians who thought that what happened in East Pakistan was wrong and if he would name them?
Asghar Khan replied that Wali Khan and Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan are among the few but they were not ready to openly talk about it or face the wrath of the people or being stoned by them which he himself had to go through! He added that there are very few politicans who dare to speak truth rather than making false promises to please the people - a difficult task! He said that in the history of Pakistan, we have not seen such people, who can risk their vote bank by telling truth.

When asked about his opinion and thoughts on the status of 'Most Favoured Nation(MFN)' given to India he said that he does not understand what the government means by that? However he thinks that Pakistan's policy towards India has always been wrong. Pakistan has "no danger" from India whatsoever. He added that we fought four wars with India- all of which were started by Pakistan and not by India. (This reply surprised the interviewer because in Pakistan History and Pakistan Studies text books, we are taught that Pakistan was attacked by India. I remember that in schools we learnt these facts from third grade onward - that India atacked Pakistan and so they are our biggest ememy).


video



Part 2: Air Marshal (retd.) Asghar Khan

In the video above - Wars that were fought between Pakistan and India are discussed. In reply to a question Asghar Khan said that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan suggested to prime minister to send the tribals into Kashmir in 1947, followed by the armed forces, the Raja had at the time did not acceed to Pakistan and he wanted to meet the prime minister to discuss the matter but his request was declined and therefore 3 weeks after the independence of Pakistan on 14th. August 1947, the Raja joined forces with India and from then on ...the dispute is lingering between the two countries. According to Asghar Khan, it was the Pakistani leadership that must be held responsible and rightly so! Khan said that when Pakistan was to test its first atomic bomb and he was asked about his opinion he recalls that he reiterated that Pakistan does NOT need this bomb and India is not at all a threat to Pakistan but neither the media (both electronic or print) nor the political elite were at all interested to hear or talk about any such thing. He also said that it is NOT in the interest of Pakistan to have such a huge army when there is no potential danger and we must lower our defense spendings. He said that it is in the interest of India to have a stable Pakistan moreover, the US is successful in using us whenever they want. He strongly suggested that money must be allocated to education and welfare projects and it can bring "any change" in Pakistan.


video

Part 3: An Interview with Air Marshal (retd.) Asghar Khan

Here Asghar Khan has pointed out some very delicate yet important issues such as the incapacity of Pakistan by not merging the tribal areas (FATA) in Sarhad or KP province. He added that it has been over 60 years and no government has ever tried to bring them into the mainstream. In FATA there are no universities or colleges and no development projects have ever been conducted and he simply can NOT understand the reson for that. According to Asghar Khan FATA must be divided into manageable districts within NWFP (KP). He strongly protested against the drone strikes of  the US forces because a large number of civilians have died in drone attacks and it is against human rights and international law. He said that Pakistan must protect its citizens which it has failed to do.

Finally, Air Marshal Asghar wrapped the conversation by emphasing that we must admit facts, uphold truth and be honest even if it might hurt us in a short term but surely, such an attitute will bring long term benefits and will set high moral grounds for the rest to follow.

He said that as a Pakistani we must know that:

One: India never attacked Pakistan but Pakistan attacked India ( he said that he is ready to debate on this sunject at any forum).
Two: Stronger and stable Pakistan is what India would like to see as its neighbor and therefore, we in Pakistan must stop misleading people on that and decrease defense spending sharply.
Three: Do NOT distort historical facts.

In his interview, he repeatedly emphasized that in Pakistan neither the media nor the governments have given the corrects historical facts to masses at large and their role in distorting historical facts is huge. No wonder, this had to take its toll  and for Pakistan of today - we must take responsiility of what ails it and how it reached the crossroads.

Another very good interview of A.Khan is here.
An interview where he said: "abhi yeh qoom bari maar khai gee"  (he is very honest and no wonder, we are a nation where we do NOT respect honesty and more so  - real people who can speak truth - these are the patriotic people. We have been brainwashed to believe that if we will say truth or critique Pakistan or Pakistanies - we are traitors and enemies of Pakistan ).







Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Infinite Seoul - Missing Seoul!


Victor Kim in front of King Sejong @ Gwanghwamun (Seoul)

I am missing Seoul not that I was outgoing or hitting parties etc. but the sense of freedom, safety and an atmosphere to enjoy bits and pieces of Seoul make me Seoulsick! I found "myself" or let us say "my soul" in Seoul, South Korea. I have to admit that I am indebted to Korea enormously.

Some of my lifes' best experiences took place here. I finished my graduate studies here. I taught at a university here. I got my best compliments here and the list is endless. I have to admit that every moment in the last ten years has been worthwhile. The upside of living in Seoul was that I came across different forms of arts that enriched me. Music and dance plays an important role in Korea at all levels and are creating waves. I was introduced to BBoys and the hip-hop culture on the streets of Seoul about 9 years ago. Since then, it never ceased to amaze me. If I have to name one country that is the best when it comes to hip-hop dancing  -  my reply will be: Korea. Korean Bboys are fantastic and some of the most memorable and excellent performances I have come across in my life - are from Korea.

In the US, Jay Park (Park, Jae-baum/박재범) and Victor Kim are two famous names - who have earned the respect as Bboys and are darn good at it . They have made their way in Korean pop culture and have been doing good in music as well. When they dance, it seems like they don't have any bones in their body.

Jay Park and Victor Kim visited Seoul, on the invitation by Korean government last year around this time, to participate in Fever Seoul - in which there was the Bbpy dance battle amongst the performers- actually Korea versus the Rest of the World.  I have to say that the local Bboys scene in Korea is truly competative and as everybody knows , for Korean performers, there is a cutthroat competition to get to the top. They proved to be the world's best - some are even better than two dancers I mentioned above.

Here is a video where Jay Park alongside other crew memebers is performing in Seoul at the famous tourist spots such as Cheongyechon, Gyeongbokgung, Myongdong, Seoul Tower and Han River etc. :


video


Victor Kims's practicing the moves can be seen here:
video


Some local BBoys from Korea can be seen here(partcipating in Monster Jam 2011)...they are a treat to wach!
video


All the performances are very entertaining and my tip is that if you visit Seoul don't miss a BBOYS performance.

Bboys battle in Gwanghwamun, Seoul for Fever Seoul, held in 2010 in which world's top Bboys battled aganist the Korean Bboys, a move by Korean government to give recognition to their very own BBoys and at the same time using soft power of branding Korea very successfully.

Some of the top finalist of Fever Seoul were
Bboy Yoriyas (Morocco)
Bboy Bruce Lee (Korea)
BboyAtomic Goofball (USA)
Bboy Redo (Netherland)
Bboy Drama (Italy)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Park Won-soon (Seoul's Mayor : A Wind of Change)


Seoul's Mayor - Mr. Park cleaning the sreets of Seoul at 6:00 a.m

Park, Won-soon , a human rights lawyer and an independent candidate ( a political outsider) won the elections for Seoul Mayor when the former mayor of Seoul resigned from his second term in office after losing 'School Lunch Referendum'.
The major battle for mayoral office was fought on whether more budget be allocated for citizens' welfare or not which in turn lead Park to victory - who believes that investing in welfare is investing in future ( and I fully agree with that).
The catchphrase for Mr.Park was "change" - this word 'change'  is riding high to bring in new faces and ideas the worldover and Seoul became a party to it. Seoul's mayoralship is one of the fiercely contested political battles where South Korea's one fifth of the population lives. Seoul populations is over 10 million  (larger than Tokyo) - which makes it a mega city that is also responsible for 50 percent of the country's GDP (Beijing's share in China is only 3% and New York's share in the US is only 8%) hence, as one one author put it that Mr. Park is chosen to head a 'city-country' within South Korea minus the military and foreign policy.

Mr. Park, 55, is a former student activist expelled from his university in the 1970s for demonstrating against former President Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated in 1979. Mr. Park later became a human rights lawyer who led two of South Korea’s most influential civic groups that exposed corruption in the country’s powerful conglomerates and accused members of the conservative elite — including President Park — of collaborating with the Japanese during their colonial rule in Korea.  (NYT).
The winds of change have been blowing almost everywhere in the world. People with no previous political backgrounds or even affiliations have been voted in to the important public offices. Mr. Park, Seoul's mayor, declined to join any political parties, though in his elections he was supported by the opposition, clearly indicates that dynastic politics or traditional politics is changing fast...for a better tomorrow.

Park, Won-soon is a household name in civil society groups in South Korea. He is the founder of the famous organization: People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), does the name Beautiful Stores of the Beautiful Foundation rings any bells??? Well he is the man behind it and then the very famous 'Hope Institute' a think tank owes to Mr. Parl. These names are a proof of how committed he is towrds the betterment of public in general as well as for creating a just and equitable society for all. All he believes in is the delivery of the services to the less previlaged. He has pledged a 30percent increase in the budget to be allocated for public welfare projects which is a huge money.

Mayor Park turned out to be an underdog, he won against a very powerful and politically backed opponant, Ms. Na - who has supporters like former president  General Park, Chung-hee's daughter's behind her, however, she still lost. This win shows that the voters have rejected to the 'staus -quo style politics' for a new change. People voted in an independent candidate - who does NOT have "any political party" but people believe and trust that he will do the best for the people!

Right after taking office,  when addressing his management team, he asked his subordinates not to rise when he walks into the room. The new mayor showed up at 6 a.m. in a fluorescent green uniform to clean the Seoul streets. Park is genuinely concerned about all the citizens - what else can people dream of - a genuine and honest leader.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beyghairat Brigade



The band, Beyghairat Brigade is featured in the New York Times - which is huge in itself. The article entitled: 'A You Tube Hit Challanges Extremism in Pakistan' can be read here. Their song title is catchy, particularly if you are from South Asia: Aalu Anday (referring to Potatoes and Egg Curry).

This is NOT the first song ever of this kind, Shahzad Roy, Najam Shiraz, Strings and a couple of other singers have some interesting songs to their credit with tough messages in their lyrics - but almost always in a satirical way.

Beghairat (Shameless) Brigade has highlighted all the defining moments in the past few years in Pakistan for its race to the bottom. The lyrics of the song talks about us that we as nation chose our heroes from amongst killers (Qadri), terrorists (Kasab) and mullahs in burqa (Lal Masjid Imam) but not people like Professor Abdus Salam, a Nobel Laureate in Physics. Talking of Professor Abdus Salam,  I would like to refresh memory that he was denied to start a university and a research center in Pakistan for the mere fact that he was from a minority sect. Professor Salam who was disowned by Pakistan. On his gravestone: "Bismiallah" was removed (how bizarre and sick). Though in reality, Professor Salam  is the real hero in contemporary Pakistan who had to leave his homeland to persue his work with a very heavy heart and he is the founding member of the world renowned research center in Italy: CERN.  We must admit that there have come moments when we have proved that we are one of the most pathetic nations on the world map - who categorically discriminate, categorize and kill its own kind for political and worldly gains only.

Beyghairat Brigade in an interview with DAWN News said with Beyghairati that: "...we do NOT believe in 50% of the lyrics of the song per se....it is a just a song and must NOT be taken too seriously". What???? Are you serious??
Boys: my advice is, stand by what you say or sing in his case!!! Raising voice against wrongdoing isn't that bad!

Our tragedy is the complacency with whatever wrong is happeing in Pakistan and choosing silence over raising voice aganist the wrongdoing at every step.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Interview with South Korea's Ambassador to Pakistan

I found an interesting interview on You Tube of South Korea's Ambassador to Pakistan here.

The interviewer hasn't done his homework on what areas needed to be covered during the interview. Questions asked were very lame. At times, the program presenter seems mentally challanged - as the questions do  NOT have anything to do with the main topic at all and so in this case Pak- Korea relations.

Presenter was stuck with water managements issues which hardly have anything to do with ambassasors. I wonder what the logic was to ask about Indus Water Treaty and water management issues with India from Korea's ambassador. The interviewer is obnoxious -literally!

Topics such as investment in Pakistan, exchange programs in education and export of Pakistani labor to South Korea  could make an interesting topics that needed to be covered but were completely ignored and overviewed.

A huge number of TV programs are conducted by losers - that are a source of stress for a viewer.

I wonder why "real" experts in the areas are NOT consulted to make television programs more interactive and informative.

Exhibition of English Books on Korea (at Banpo Dong, Seoul)



Those days are gone when it was really hard to find books on Korea in English. A lot has been done in the past few years in this area. Another such effort is underway, a Book Exhibition catering to the needs of the expats  will take place on November 24th from 10:00 - 17:00 hours at Banpo Dong, Seoul.

A large variety of books on Korean culture, history, handicrafts, literature, 2012 calendars, cards, and books for children in English language will be available.

For more information on this event contact the 'Soerae Global Village' team at the phone number below:

Tel: 02-2155-8915/16

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Iqbal Day (Nov. 9th)


Street named after Iqbal in Heidelberg, Germany

Iqbal Day falls on November 9th. It is the birth anniversary of Mohammad Iqbal  (1877-1938), a poet and a philosopher of the Indian subcontinent.

I wonder why this website http://www.allamaiqbal.com/ has two birth dates of Iqbal on 2 different pages.

If we click here we will see that his personal information is as follows:

"Dr. Mohammad Iqbal was born in the same family about two hundred and fifty years after its conversion to Islam. Iqbal's father, Shaikh Noor Mohammad was a petty trader; more than business he was keen on moving in the company of theologians and leading a simple life of piety. He had two sons. The elder one, Shaikh Ata Mohammad was 14 years senior to the second son, Shaikh Mohammad Iqbal who was born in 1873, and was destined to be a great poet of Urdu and Persian. "

This same website here says that he was born in 1877. This is the year we learned as children in our Pakistan Studies books when Iqbal was first inroduced to us in the syllabus. Why can we NOT confirm his birthdate and how irresponsibly can we post anything in the websites? Allama Iqbal's family still live in Lahore and all these dates can be easily validated.

Iqbal is a poet of all times and for all the people irrespective of region or religion. I do NOT agree that he is "only" the poet of the East - as he is referred to generally.

One of his famous poems - the most cited and loved poems in his work is:

saare jahan se achha Hindustan hamara
hum bulbule hai iski ye gulsitan hamara

But nothing can take the place of :

Lab pah aatee hai doa ban kay tammanna meri
zindagi shamma ki soorat ho khudaya meri

...which used to be a compulsary part of our assembly when we first started school. Though we had no clue of what it really meant at a tender age of 4 and were explained over and over again at school and at home, it took a while to absorb and understand it fully however, we knew it by heart.

Today, when I look back, it makes me sad that we haven't had good teachers who could inspire us or instill in us the understanding of great literary and revolutionary works such as that of Iqbal. I do NOT remember that when we were in our early teens, anyone among us said, she wanted to specialize in Iqbaliat or do further research on work of such great importance and insight. I mean to say that though we have produced great people and works - our teachers have failed to instill love, affection, intrigue of any sort to insire students or to guide and motivate them to work in the field of studies other than medicine, engineering and sorts. I wish I could turn back the clock!

I also remember that Iqbals's poems SHIKWA (Complaint to God) and JAWAB E SHIKWA (Answer to the Complaint)  were the part of our 10th Grade Urdu literature book and almost always made it to final exams. I wonder that in this age and time, would the religious zealots have spared him for these revolutionary poems and the subject matter? Had he not been dragged into blasphemy of some kind? Had he NOT made more enemies than friends - on his critique of the muslims? One of my favourtie verse is (poem no. 26 in Bal Jibreel):

Na tu zamee(n) kay liyee hai na asman kay liyee
Jahan hai teray liyee tu nahi jahan kay liyee

Iqbal's work is a beacon of light for all but especially it offers a lot to Pakistanies of today who have no clue of anything whether it is religion, whether it is governance of the state or  whether it is about the relationship amongst people.

Anyhow, on this auspicious day an exhibition relating to Iqbal’s works will be held at Aiwan Iqbal, Lahore and also a books exhibition on Iqbal at Iqbal Academy, Lahore - I'm sure that many people will visit these venues and enlighten from his work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

이드 무바락/ Eid Mubarak to Everyone!

It is Eid Al Adha today around the world . So Eid Mubarak!
In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh Eid will be celebrated tomorrow (Monday, November 7th. 2011) and hence, it will be a very busy day . Wish everyone a very auspicious day!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pakistan Police: Thank You!


I missed Pakistan every single day while living overseas however, when I got here and had to deal with a few things - there were more frustrations than NOT!

I remember how vigorously I debated at the graduate schools against the general perception of non Pakistanis with respect to Pakistan. In the past few years, stereotyping Pakistan and Pakistanis is growing at a fast pace. But as I write this, I have to admit, I have been personally stereotyping my own folks; particularly certain people, certain professions and certain looks (and I am ashamed of it and I am sorry!).

We Pakistanis are very critical of Pakistan, more than anybody else, actually i think that we don't need enemies but we are our own enemy- isn't it. This is such a curse for Pakistan.

Anyhow, today, I stereotyped our very own police - Islamabad police. I called them to help me and while doing so, I knew that I will never get any help whatsoever and the turn of events showed that I was WRONG. Yup!

I woke up early in the morning and left home to take a walk which is a routine. A few houses from mine is a family who are a staunch Jamate Islami supporters and they are the organizers of many of the religious events in the neighborhood related to Eid e Qurban or Eid al Adha.or Eid - e- Miladub Nabi etc. They were quite active in front of my house and I didn't gave much thought to why they were there in the first place?

By the time I returned home, I saw a crowd of men getting off from Toyota Hilux trucks and as I was entering the gate (in a matter of minutes) I saw them crowding right in front of our house which is a designated green belt. They started cleaning up the area and the first thing that came to my mind was if this place is a qurbani venue. I asked them: "Are you going to do Qurbani here? If so, why? Moreover, why don't you do it in front of your houses? "One of the men replied: "well, we will do it only for one day  (jerk)" so I replied, "..of course there is no such rule in Islam to do Qurbani 365 days a year!" and then I came inside the house. I knew that it was useless to argue with them.  I was very stressed because the chosen area was very close to the houses (about 50 meters). Anyhow, these men did not stop and started hammering down the big nails/hooks to erect the tents.  Sacrificial animals were supposed to be kept there and later to slaughter them at the same spot (and why we slaughter in Islam: read the Sacrifice of  Abraham and Hajj).

I was so helpless and I knew that I'm NOT gonna get any support at all I picked up the phone. It dawned on me that all the phone inquiry numbers have been changed a couple of times since I left Pakistan. I put the receiver down and goggled the information at Pak- Telecom website. Once upon a time, the then telecom company in Pakistan (T&T) used to have the inquiry number: one-seven (17) for "any" telephone inquiry which they have changed now to 1217.  Anyhow, I called them and got the number of Golra Sharif Police Station of the Islamabad Police.

The time was already between 7:00 a.m to 8:00 a.m. My call was received by the duty officer of Islamabad Police at Golra. I started of by saying to him, "I called you but I know you will NOT help me (stereotyping) but still, I thought I should give it a try. " The policeman on duty, said: "I don't agree with you madam, we are here to serve the people 24 hours a day" and I said, "..then if this is the case would you please help? I want to file a complaint against a crowd of men from Jamat e Islami and the nearby mosque - is it O.K?  Do you want me to come to the police station and file a report or what?? I further said to him that I also know that when the police will see the people from mosque or religious parties or madrassas - they will quietly leave! On hearing this he said: "...No, we are with those who abide by law but we are not with those who abrogate it and that is "our only criteria".

I kept stereotyping our police but the officer kept his unprecedented cool and asked me if there is a  male member in my family  to whom he can talk to. (Here in Pakistan almost all issues are taken up at "man-to- man-talk" which I will not debate at this point. I have to make it clear that in Pakistan  we are not forbidden or restricted by law, at all to make a complain, to file a report etc. but it is always better that in situations where law enforcing agencies are involved or where police is involved then we are accompanied by a male member of the family. I told the officer that I don't want my entire family to involved in this issue. Can I NOT pursue  this on my own??? He told me that surely I can :-)

Long story short he said, "I'm going to send the Eagle Squad who will help you sort things out!"

One hour passed and nobody came, I called the Emergency Number for Police (in Pakistan) which is: one-five (15)... I asked them what is going on regarding my complain that I have filed earlier this morning? I have been waiting for over an hour and here the situation is changing every second! 15 police center told me that they will convey my message to the related Police Station and then finally my phone rang. It was ASI Javed and he said: "..we are here on your complain and we saw some people grazing the sheep and we made them go away", hmmmm?? sheep, grazing?? I said, " what's your location and by the way my complain was NOT about grazing of sheep?" Place he told me was not my area though not very far.

I gave them my address and told them how to get to my place. Eagle Squad also came in a Toyota Hilux with 5 policemen and then ranged my door bell. I opened the gate with a pounding heart and along with them was the organizer of the "qurbani". I requested them that  the tents should NOT be erected and NO slaughter should take place next to the house...it is a health hazard. I went on to say that in struggling to make God happy by just sacrificing an animal and completely ignoring the rest of the principles of Islam such as "Haqooq-ul- Ebad (rights and responsibilities of people towards other people)"does not seem like a balanced approach in this case. I insisted to reconsidering another location. I told them that we, the residents of this house, suffer for days and weeks to come. They are done with the Eid but for us - well, we can not even read Quran, or pray or sleep and even breathe. It is such a mess! For a whole month,  the smells do NOT go away - gosh!

Islamabad does NOT have any proper system of garbage collection and disposal. People throw trash here and there - where it feels comfortable. It is NOT an easy task to maintain cleanliness in the city. Anyhow, the police officials asked me to go inside and wait. They talked to the organizers and then an official knocked at my door and told me that the organizing committee will move the slaughtering venue to another place - which is still not very far but not really under the nose!

Since morning 15 trucks have arrived with sacrificial animals. The way these animals are handled is to be reviewed under the Islamic injunctions. It is very sick to witness all this and the way we are treating the sacrificial animals - God forbid. Islam clearly stipulates rules and regulations on every single detail for handling and treating these animals.

Anyhow, I want to say THANK YOU to Islamabad Police, Golra Police, One-Five (15) Emergency police and the Eagle Squad of Islamabad Police.

 I am very proud of you - the way you handled the entire situation and many thanks for busting the myth about police, YOU guys were very helpful and downright professional. I'm so happy  ;-)



Friday, November 4, 2011

Mohammad Amir: Is His Life in Danger??

One trial has come to an end today in England but another awaits when these players will return to Pakistan at some point.
I am NOT a great enthusiast of cricket but I still know a little bit about this game and the players as well as the teams. In South Asia, cricket is not a game but a religion and has a fanatic fan following of over 1.5 billion people here alone. Pakistan is one of the important teams and matches between India and Pakistan is called the clash of the titans.Cricketing world comes to a stand-still when India and Pakistan play the game. Hence it is a very, very serious thing - which has evolved into more than a game and has trajectories in almost all the spheres that touches our life. This game plays an important role in geo-politics of the Indian sub-continant. It transcends economics, entertainment, advertising, scadals, mafias and what not?

Long story short, for the first time I spent some time watching the coverage on TV for 'Spot-Fixing Trial'. The whole world was watching this trial. From one talk show or news program to the other - many of the people are upset with Mohammad Amir (roughly 80%)  - for confessing and telling the truth that he took money. There are all sorts of conspiracies popping up against him at this point. Amir got 6 months jail and will spend that time in a juvenile prison and many people here see this as a 'special concession' given to him. I am not trying to make a point that a crime committed by an 18 year old was any less intense than that by the other two players but somehow, I am extremely worried about Amir when he will return to Pakistan. Media reports and coverage are painting him as "super criminal" compared to the other two. People are blaming him at a mass scale for 'his cofession on taking money'.. and that is dangerous.

Many famous players are saying that he should NOT have done this. Experts are saying that if we would have conducted a trial in Pakistan we would have been able to save face by banning them or by fining them or both but not what happened in England. Hence, there is an unending battle of "ifs and buts" here in the media. People are equally lost, thanks to the media - who are sending very negative images that are completely contradictory -  if we want to get out of the mess that we are in then we  need the rule of law, transparency and honesty. How can we justify this notion being aired by our media: tell a lie??

Whenever Amir will return to Pakistan, I have fears about his safety, I mean about his life, it reminds me of the Sialkot brothers, it reminds me of Salman Taseer, it reminds me of thousands and thousands of nameless and faceless victims who have been killed due to revenge, hatred, fir telling truth and for mere difference in ideologies. In all such incidents - we are unable to catch the  killers, who are roaming free amongst us. We have a history of "unable to catch the culprits" since forever!  If they did catch a killer, we were unable to give a fair trial and judges had to leave the country for their fair decisions. I wonder why????

Cricket is just a game.  We must realize that this is NOT the first time in the history of sports or this particular sport that something of this sort has happened. Almost all countries are involved in one thing or the other, without exception.

I would like to see that the media leave the families of these players alone. I would like to see that Pakistani media, itself, apply fair play, respect and restrain by setting an example on ethical grounds. I would like to see the PCB management, its chief, its managers, coaches and other officers from Pakistan government to be hold responsible. I do NOT want that only these three players be used as 'Qurbani ka Bakra' ( escape goats) and the rest of the people get away with everything. Salman Butt mentioned in the court that he has 15 crores worth of assets on which he pay tax (..this is such a joke, even if he does so). 15 crores is a huge amount of money - anywhere in the world. (1 crore is equal to 10 million rupees which is 1.2 million USD. Does "every player" made this much money?? How come and what are the sources of this money??? Is this their salary???  How these transactions take place and the role of the PCB??

Transparency is the need of the hour and tolerance is the way to handle the situations and we will be just fine!! This wound will heal but the scar will remain!!!

Why media has failed to pointed out that the government officials are equally responsible for what has happened. To my surprise, I just found out that Majeed was their agent. Why do these players need an agents in the first place? This is insane.

This video was an eye opener when people ran towards Amir today, surrounded him and started commenting on him. If this was Pakistan - it could turn into a mob attack and a very violent one!! ( 0:50 onwards is my concern)!


video






Thursday, November 3, 2011

Geo News Channel: Newscaster or Torture

Today, all Pakistani media is covering the trial and sentence of the 3 Pakistani cricketers - a sad day however, I want to question the way news is delivered on channelshere.


All channels BUT particularly GEO News Channel - it is a TORTURE to listen and to watch. I always thank God that we have a choice to turn the TV off or switch to another less pathetic channel - so to speak.

Geo has “the most bizarre way" to deliver news anywhere in the world thus far...(some of the newscaster remind me of hawkers in a sabzee mandee).

One of their newscaster, Sana Mirza, interrupted Imran Khan while he was in the middle of the conversation on how he felt about the decision of the court and the punishments handed down...and this woman which I searched on google through her first name interrupted Imran Khan in her shrill and almost yelling/shouting style to first tell her about the "role of education" regarding Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir ( she also elaborated that Salman is the "most highly educated" player who has completed his A Levels (....what????? A-Levels is highly educated???? Good Lord! By the way, honesty and dishonesty doesn't have much to do with a degree or with going to school or not.).

Imran Khan was very upset, he told her to stop interrupting while he is talking and is tryig to answer a question being asked aready, he also warned this woman that if she will do such a thing again then, he will hang up...BRAVO Imran! Thanks for your tips to these jerks to behave  - you rock!!! This woman did not stop there and asked another question and Imran hanged up!

Would Geo TV like to educate and train these psychos – who are imposed on people through the idiot box???

So far, Imran Khan made the most effective and responsible remark on television about this spot-fixing trial.

In the mean time, I really fear for the life of Mohammad Amir, he is projected as a villain in the trial. Everybody is blaming him on telling the truth and openly criticizing on media why he confessed and why he said that he took money and he cheated on Pakistan and the teammates.( I wonder when will we learn to to live Islam raher than debate it!)

Mohammad Amir, God bless you for at least telling the truth. You have saved Pakistani cricket and Pakistan from shameful situations to happen in the future. You do NOT have to feel sorry for telling the truth. However, you will feel the brunt of 'telling truth' in Pakistan…which can be very serious – as public is not used to it!!!
I think this is high time for the people and particularly media in Pakistan to stop damaging and corrupting fellow Pakistanies.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Ugly Pakistanies in Sports!



Pakistan is going through a 3-D phase: Difficult, Dangerous and Deadly. Such times are "not " new for any country but we have gone a few steps ahead of everyone - sadly enough!

Pakistan made heading the world over in sports -  not for performing well or not so well - which is a part of a game - but for "spot-fixing controversy". Members of Pakistan's cricket team took bribes so that Pakistan lose the match. Such are the people representing Pakistan and Pakistanies. Well, our history is full of traitors but we have a short-term memory.

I still remember that this issue was raised in South Korea by fellow Korean students, who hardly know anything about cricket. We Pakistanies have been disgraced in the international arena by these rotten eggs........

Among the three players is Muhammad Amir who pleaded guilty besides two others:  Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt who pleaded not guilty. There is a long list of players that are under suspicion.

This spot-fixing controversy - is more of a tale of moral and ethical corruption - that has become a norm in Pakistan. Here in the country, people are talking about a conspiracy to defame Pakistan. Accepting responibility of our acts is "not as bad" as we think it is.  We should stop treating criminals as victims. Such acts will bring more bad than good to this country. We must stop bragging about how innocent we are - on all counts of "allegations" - there is truth that follows these allegations, but we are on a denial - instead of figuring out what is wrong with us?

There are some core values that characterize the Spirit of Sport which include:

• Ethics, fair play and honesty
• Excellence in performance
• Character and education
• Teamwork
• Dedication and commitment
• Respect for rules and laws
• Respect for self and other participants
• Courage
• Community and solidarity

I am pretty sure that none of the players have ever heard of any such thing mentioned above. 

I would go a step further that the assets and accounts of these players  must be freezed and seized with immediate effect. (Paisay ki mar kafi buri cheez hai and these guys made paisa their God).They must be punished severely in Pakistan so that nobody dares to rob Pakistan of the little respect that is left of it!  They must be disgraced as they have disgraced Pakistan and 200 million Pakistanies internationally, having said that, I still believe that their families must not be made target. Vigilatism must be avoided at all costs and even in punishing these guys we must not  go over board and lose our temper and get lost in any sort of violence. ACT responsibly!

Some other shadey characters in Pakistani cricket include this player, Sohail Tanveer - who recently divorced his wife and left a month old daughter. His former wife said in an interview that he told her that he is a celebrity and a star and can do whatever! Though this is an internal family affair  BUT it sheds light on what gets into the head of these people and what have turned them into morons? An idea of being a so-called star/celebrity with no ethical and moral sense left in them has brought damage to the game and in turn to the country in the long run. I do NOT want a player who is so morally corrupt to be seen and considered as a hero of our young generation. In Pakistan streets are full of boys playing cricket in extremely difficult conditions - when will we give these boys a chance in a hope of a better player, an ethical player, that is!

WHAT PUZZLES ME?

Recently Pakistani Cricket team returned after winning something and a state dinner was thrown for them, a few days ago - I wonder why????
I wonder: if they are not out there to win or just to perform well?
I wonder if they did something out of the extraordinary??
I wonder why we at a government level act as jerks?
I wonder when will Pakistan Cricket Board will bring the house in order and focus on what they've got to do on priority basis!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Diwali at a Hindu Temple in Peshawar (Pakistan)


Goraknath temple in the Gor Khuttree area of Peshawar

When we talk of changes here in Pakistan, one of the most important of events was the 'Celebration of Diwali' at a Hindu Temple in Peshawer after 50 years or so. This news was not widely covered by media.  Well, we should realize the fact that as a nation we have failed to highlight the good things happening in Pakistan - our media can not digest the idea that "a good news can also make headlines".

In a short report, a small yet very important and ancient temple was the center piece, it came to life when it saw the devotees rolling back in, it was beautifully decorated and as the devotees were entering the temple - I could equally feel the joy - it was very touching and emtional for me ( because I am a religious minorty - while living overseas). This centuries old Goraknath temple in the Gor Khuttree area of Peshawar  [which is the area considered as the deepest dig in the world by Andrew Selkirk in his article published in World Archeology, Issue: 19 (2007)] was taken over by police in 1960. The country's archaeological authorities ordered caretakers to vacate in 2003 for renovation to take place but then it was never reurned to the community. Among the many devotees who were interviewed there was a woman who was over 80 years old. She expressed her views on celebrating Dewali and was obviously extremely delighted. After a long court battle, we have been allowed to celebrate Diwali said this old woman. She also mentioned those days when visiting a temple was nothing unusual. Personally, I felt extremely sad  and ashamed - because as a muslim minority my right to enter a mosque and to pray - have NEVER been violated. I can NOT think of such a time however, in Pakistan, we are doing  really strange things  lately. I also know the fear in which the minorities are living in Pakistan - the conditions are appauling but as a minority myself - in a non- Islamic country - I am much safer than in Pakistan - for who I am and for what I believe in.

We also pray to our Gods every time we hear Azan, said another devotee. I can fully associate with her when these moments fall on us - living in cities where there was no mosque - not even one.  I just wish that people be left alone here in this country - left alone to understand the world around them, the people around them, the cultures and religions around them; I just wish that we are left alone to figure out the meaing of life on our own; and we are left alone to understand God - in whatever way - we think is right!