Monthly Archives: May 2014

Write! Good, bad or trash; that is secondary

As if lost in the wilderness, sitting solitary, counting stars, thinking of things never thought before, overwhelmed with stark dark, in a room no better than a refuge, obsessed with the astounding silence of night, with a pen and paper in hand, headphones rolled over the ears, music in the background, oblivious of what is being listened to, writing in the dark, no idea what, but writing. And, still as if doing nothing!

The pal’s already set to sleep, lights switched off, no wish to turn them on either. For, it feels blithe to be in the dark, everybody loves it; everyone’s in the dark. Some know it, others know not.

I want to write and writing in the dark, without even a second thought. Writing extempore has its own charms. Yes. I want to write, I really do. Should darkness keep me from doing? Never going to let it do. Nothing is going to hold. So, here I am, writing. Writing what? Nothing actually. Funny as it sounds it is. But still writing. Maybe it’s because, want slumber to stay afar. And keeping engaged serves the purpose.

Lo! Just noticed this computer screen. Keyboard lying at an arm’s length. And I want to write, and write in distress of the dark. Type, should I? But I won’t type either. Writing over typing, always. Notwithstanding most of the work lately, I often do with keyboard, still prefer Pen and Paper over Keys and Screen. Especially when want my mind to vomit, to speak my mind, I mean. So, writing in stark dark.

Darkness baffles me, however. It still has its own mysterious mystic magnificence. I have no idea where I am heading but the important thing is I am. Writing, I still am.

Hey wait! Is it a waste of time, when one doesn’t even know what they are doing or where they are heading? Nay, not so.

An utterly unsung and unheard voice echoes which says, everything one does is indeed worth something if nothing. The activity needs to be there, that is all what matters. It nevertheless may sound purposeless for reasons very apparent, but anything involving some activity has latent perquisites, much significant. Action is important, it’s lively. Stagnation is lifeless, tedious as death.

Tonight’s object is to write. Good, bad or trash, that is all secondary.

It is setting off for sweet sojourn that is more important rather than day-dreaming; of flowery paths. Or dreading barriers and bottlenecks, and never even kicking off for the journey.

So here I am, flowing with the wind, at its utter mercy. Where ever it takes, all set to be driven away. Like a leaf that sets itself free; keeps rolling and rustling with the wind; and damn cares about its destiny. Destiny, after all it’s bound to be. Therefore my pal! Ending up somewhere is way better than being nowhere, don’t you feel?

Key to Writing

Key to Writing

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Women’s Political Role

Women are one of the most disadvantaged groups of society who are a victim to discrimination and all sorts of violence at every single stage of their lives.

The Constitution of Pakistan however guarantees non-discrimination irrespective of sex, color, caste, or creed, ensures complete gender equality and ensures all rights for women. Islam also puts a special emphasis on gender equality and justice.

In addition to that Government of Pakistan is signatory to the international Conventions and Treaties like CEDAW, ICCPR, and Beijing Platform for Action, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which mandate women’s empowerment; and which the government continues to implement and reports progress in the periodic reports.

Notwithstanding over 50 percent of the world’s population, it is quite alarming that women remain underrepresented as voters, political leaders and elected officials in every region of the globe.

The world bears witness that the woman’s contributions towards reforming and building societies are well-documented. It is highly important to realize that women’s meaningful participation is essential to building and sustaining democracy. It is evident that countries with the highest levels of gender empowerment have been able to provide their citizens with the highest standards of living. Increased women’s political participation has quite positive effects on democracy which include greater responsiveness to citizen needs, increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and more sustainable peace.

It has always been very difficult for women to sustain a significant place in a patriarchal society like Pakistan. Rather, they are losing ground in public spaces and confining themselves to fit to certain patriarchal norms and boundaries set down for them. It is high time that women reclaimed spaces previously receded. It is equally important for political parties to realize that women are a political constituency and their interests must be safeguarded and fought for, not only in parliament but also in the party ranks.

Quotas for women reserved seats are crucial in ensuring women’s political space in the legislative bodies. It is ultimately the key to women’s economic, legal and social empowerment impacting the sustainability in the national development. With 17.5% women’s quota for reserved seats in the National Assembly, the overall current percentage of the women in the National Assembly rose to 20% that includes women who came to the Assembly through general elections. The house has witnessed remarkable contribution by women legislators in past.

In order to make it more effective, it was unanimously agreed upon in the National Round Table Conference organized by WPC that the political parties need to review their rules and respective structures to include women in the mainstream decision making processes and to also allow minimum of 10% quota for women in respective parties for the general elections on winnable seats.

The fact cannot be denied that Pakistani women still have a difficult time obtaining positions of leadership within Pakistani political parties. As of currently, not even a single women is a Federal Minister while only two Minister of State.

A prominent women’s rights activist believes that social stigma discourages women from taking prominent positions which might involve public appearances and contact with strangers. Patriarchy and religious conservatism vehemently argue that women are not fit to be leaders, and that they belong only in the home, looking after children, and supporting their spouses.

The inclusion of women in political parties is a wise move on all counts. But having women in senior positions of leadership is essential for countless reasons. These women serve as role models for other Pakistani girls and women; they show them that their voice and vote matters, that they too have ownership of the country and their participation is vital to the successful functioning of the nation.

Women political leaders are best placed to formulate policy that affects both Pakistani women and men in a positive way; they’ve been seen to give priority to social issues, education, health, and population welfare that have been overlooked for decades.

Mindset needs to be changed. Awareness programs are indispensable in this regard. As one of the major Newspapers reported that, 78 per cent of Pakistanis think that women should attend to their domestic responsibilities prior to doing any sort of political work at all.

Permitting a lack of political representation and insisting that only men can represent the concerns of half the population in the public realm is hence denying a reality that already exists and condemning half the population to political invisibility.

All political parties should follow suit. They must strive to increase representation of women and groom them to leadership positions so that all the women of Pakistan see faces they can vote for in the upcoming elections.


Friendship not Forever Lasts

Sometimes it’s so hard to grasp. Know what? The fact how abruptly relationship changes as time changes. The ones you develop during childhood, at high school, college and university. All those friends. Ever taken time and thought about them why. Think about it. Rethink. For a moment, a day or a month may be.

It so happens with every single moment and each passing day, and every passing ‘them’. In case of every friend, acquaintance and the passerby. You might well attribute changes to changing circumstances, abnormality or as a matter of fact let’s assume, sometimes (often) vanity. May be we are just taken for granted or may be the ever popular adage “out of sight, out of mind applies.”

Khushwant Singh implies the same too when he says: “Friendship not forever lasts. They know not life who know not this.”

It’s a bitter fact that people change and associate it with living in the moment. However, I tell you with authority, it’s irrespective of one’s rise or fall. At times, no reason exists whatsoever as to why things change, surprisingly no reason at all.

A quick reminiscence of the times spent with friends when people get so close to your heart, you feel ecstatic. The high school poem seems to live in practicality i.e. “Friendship, all through life’s allotted span, nurtures, strengthens, widens, lengthens… Man’s relationship with man.”

You at least, if not others, have a high opinion of yourself when in the company of your dearest ones. Is that because you had been living in the moment too?

You share ideal and timeless feeling with them. Hours passed by as if in a mere wink of an eye. You keep randomly talking (or listening) without a single sane thought; laughing, screaming, and gossiping inadvertently. Of now, the very company seems to be the best thing you wish you’ve had like, forever.

The most entertaining provision for pass-time; careworn hearts, melancholy mornings followed by worry-free evenings. Those friends were the most priceless possessions you believe you could cherish for a lifetime.

Of then, you were so much drunk in those moments that you never realized it would all eventually end up like it never was. You never knew the moments would one day become memories.

Memories awesome and splendid that serve dual purpose – soothing and searing at same time. Completely contrasting yet appealing impact, simultaneously. It baffles me how on earth could something be as soothing as dew-clad peculiar rose petal, a moonlit starry night and searing as a summer sun at same time?

All those stupidities and absurd smiles that then never mattered much matter the most in an unusual way today. When you recall them in times of turmoil, in a state of mayhem inside or during a deserted, lonely day.

It is important in a way, for the very recollection of past wets your eyes, softens your heart and keeps you human.

Realistically speaking, everything had to change like it has now. People no longer stay the same. You move on. They move on. Places change, people change. Friends change. But friendships don’t. They last a little longer than eternity.

Life goes on. After all, it has to. But why is it that everything must change? Rightly. reminds me of my teacher saying, “Time brings a lot of changes!”

Lo and behold! We have the culprit. The Time. It is very normal to change with changes in time.

However, some ‘abnormal’ people surprisingly never change who love and adore you unconditionally and hold you in high esteem for good. Even after “time” and “out of sight” factor applies, notwithstanding all odds.

Then again, it’s the normal people who do change. But well, who cares about the normal ones when abnormal lot is unique in its own way and is the one worth keeping till the end. The fact remains,  “Friendship is (still) a silken tie of love and esteem that binds two people, rather two souls usually unrelated by blood.”


Fidelity! Thy Name is Woman

Nobody in their lives, at one moment or the other, might have escaped love lighting their heart and soul. A single fiery touch of love causes the ship of life to sink or stay afloat. In love, beloved is all is seen, no other sense seems to support. Worldly routine no longer matters. However, it’s neither mere looks nor skin-deep beauty that’s mesmerizing to the loving beholder. Love knows no rationale, sets no condition or criterion. Notwithstanding her dark complexion, Laila was no inferior than the beautiful rose-petals or a sizzling starry-night to Majnu. Love knows no bounds and assails without warning. Eyes, drowsy or awake, reflect of the light of love. Even a single thought of love is extraordinarily overpowering; it’s transforming.

If love is so domineering, some questions however are very daunting. What leads to break ups or who is to be blamed for broken hearts, shattered dreams and lonely frustrating nights?  Man blames woman for that, so much so that William Shakespeare, one of the greatest English poets is no exception to it. Out of distaste and distrust he proclaims:

“Frailty! thy name is woman.”

In contrast, the 17th century magically mystic poet of Sindh Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai advocates against Shakespearean notion. In his work “Shah-Jo-Risalo”, he has written scores of poems in praise of woman’s fidelity and devotion.

Shah Bhittai talks about Sohni who just for the fragrance of Mahiwal, plunges into the deadly waters with words:

“What if I sacrifice my life under the feet of my Love.”

It portrays how intensely she, until the end, holds onto loyalty. She exemplifies that waters no longer frighten and woods no longer threaten when one is in love. Roaring waves, however uncanny, cannot even dare shatter the sheer determination which love confers.

Talk about devotion and another exemplary character Sasui comes to conversation. Sasui, to celebrate her allegiance, to prove her eternal love which she cherishes with Punhu, treads the treacherous deserts and wounds her tender feet. Her heart abounds in the longing for love. Love so much entrances her that she forgets all. She conquers, all by herself, the deserted paths and patches. Loyalty of both these icons of love, Sasui and Sohni, which Shah Bhittai depicts, is quite lofty.

Laila implores for a meet-up but Chanesar would not see her. She keeps waiting, and wailing, crying for Chanesar until Death comes knocking at her mortal door and takes her breath away.

Sur Moomal of Shah Jo Risalo also boasts about women’s cronyism. Rano would sneak through “Kaak” (a small village in Sindh) and see Moomal. Once he fails to see her for so long and leaves her longing for a mere glimpse of his. Moomal, in order to appease her craving for her beloved and to solace her soul, disguises her sister Soomal to appear like Rano while she herself rests by her sister’s side. Fortunately, Rano visits her but unfortunately mistakes Soomal presuming as if she were a man. Infuriated at the scene, he forsakes her forever and sets for Umarkot never to see her again. Saddening distrust so weakens her, tears her heart asunder that shedding tears of separation she decides to die and jumps into inferno.

One of the best amongst rest is the epic tale of poor, patriotic Marui who ends up being abducted by Umar, the lord of the area. Umar attempts to entice her to be his queen, live in a comfy palace, put silk attires on, and own all alluring jewels, but to no avail. She prefers her plain native “Shaawl” over gems-adorned velvet attires because she believes her “Shaawl” had a sweet scent of her soil.

The exemplary daughter of Thar says no to every luxury simply to keep her sanctity secure and her faithfulness to her kinfolk intact. Obsessed with her motto of devotion and patriotism she protests. Eats and drinks naught, prefers death to infidelity, until she turns into a cadaver. She entreats:

“O’ Umar! If I die, take my body to my native abode Malir and bury me there.”

Consequently, impressed by her unflinching loyal stance and eternal love for her land, Umar in her awe liberates her.

Woman stands by her man through thick and thin. She’s paid back in solitude and sarcasm, betrayal and blame. She leaves everything once she enters into wedlock. The return is her in-laws’ angry looks, harsh remarks, her husband’s illicit affairs with other woman and what not?

Shah Bhittai talks about women liberally even in not so enlightened times. He talks about women living and dying in and for love. That surely puts modern man to a thought trial. If man in seventeenth century could be as liberal as him, why can’t a man of twenty first century be?

Notwithstanding an alarming increase in love marriages, we cannot deny altogether the exponential number of failed marriages, altercations among spouses, separation and ultimately divorce. A slightest thought and it comes to realization that people no longer neglect each others’ faults, or understand and trust each other. In comes a sane voice which says, “Love and trust are inseparable – you cannot have one without the other.” A bond, however stronger it may be, intolerance and distrust simply ruins it.

A loving heart should be forgiving. A heart with such attributes never rusts away and souls entering into blissful garden of love will never enter blazing fire of separation.


Women Power – a fundamental power

Women power is a fundamental power to make our world a better place to live. Women, with their unique traits of maternal instinct, selflessness and unflinching determination can be true change agents, models of resilience and advocates of peace. Empowerment of women means empowerment of whole society.

The focus should be to improve the lot of women by sensitizing them. Initiatives need to be taken to increase awareness on importance of women’s empowerment in the society in order to change the stereotypical outlook of women in a patriarchal society like that of Pakistan.

Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and Universal Declaration of Human Rights also advocate equal rights and opportunities for women. The Universal Declaration of Democracy, adopted by the Inter Parliamentary Union’s Council sets the guidelines for all governments by concluding that:

“The achievement of democracy pre-supposes a genuine partnership between men and women in the conduct of the affairs of society.”

Pakistan was created as an expression of the free will of the people and our Founder of the Nation, the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah envisioned Pakistan as an equal-opportunity where the strength and contribution of women would be duly acknowledged. The founder was one of the staunch advocates of women empowerment. He once said:

“No nation could rise to the height of glory, unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners.”

The chance for welfare of the humanity is next to impossible unless the condition of women is improved. An advocate of women empowerment states:

“The state is considered as a bird along with two wings; man and woman to fly in the air. But through the centuries, societies in the world over have been trying to fly on only one wing, denying women their rightful place.”

However, things have been improving and need to be further improved on grassroots level. That is the reason why, we can see more than 17% representation of women in the Parliament of Pakistan. The democracy in Pakistan has taken concrete measures to empower women. Over the 67 years of Pakistan history, it has been witnessed that the induction of women takes place at the highest decision-making offices which include first woman Prime Minister and the first Speaker of the National Assembly. The Constitution of the Pakistan grants women not only equal rights but also attempts to make up for the past by promising to make special provisions for the protection of their long-neglected interests.

South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular has made great strides over the last two decades in narrowing gender gaps in education, health, employment and political participation. The female population was last reported at more or less 50%. Today, there are more girls in schools, fewer women dying in childbirth, more women are in wage employment outside agriculture and more women are serving in national Parliament of Pakistan.

Each one of us must stand committed to ensure equal rights of women; the right to be independent; to be educated; to have choices in life, the opportunity to select a productive career; to inherit property; to participate in business; and to flourish in the market place.

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus has been at the forefront in highlighting the issues confronting women at the heart of the national development agenda and taking measures to empower women by active legislation and oversight.

In its historic National Convention of Women Parliamentarians in 2010, WPC reaffirmed its commitment and resolved to empower women to promote the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue to bridge the gap between ideologies and political philosophies of the 21st Century. Efforts are also being taken to work on strengthening women in political and legislative processes and in policy making of political parties.

A thought from Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto sums it up beautifully:

“We should not shrink from responsibility; we should welcome it — welcome it on behalf of women all over the world, in cities, in rural villages. For all who suffered before, and for all who come after us, we are privileged to be in this special position — in this special time — with this extraordinary opportunity — to change the future.”


La Haasil

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Kabhi kabhi kuch cheezen aur kuch log chaand jese hote hen, buht khubsurat, pyaare par buht door, aur kuch log Makdi ki tarha hote hen — tanha akele, gumsum, khoye khoye, andheron me basera banaye. Kahani me twist tab ata hai jab Makdi irada kar leti hai Chand ko Choonay ka, use apna banane ka, use hasil karne ka. Phir Natija? Natijaa ye hota hei ke chaand apni chamak dhamak ke sath ubharta hai sitaaron ki suhbat me, apne urooj pe puhnchta hai aur phir gum hojata hai badalon ki saazish me. Par nahi magar phir nazar aane ke lye, aur Makdi? Makdi use door se takti rehti hai apna sukh chain ganwaaye, sab ko thukraye, rishte naate tor, is tamanna ke sath ke kabhi chand ko hasil kar le — par ye to mumkin he nahi ke laa hasil ko hasil kar le..!!


Doomed? Morn of hope

I am that dim, setting sun
that is doomed to disappear.

And you?
You are that red rose
radiating its grandeur.

It’s not my disappearance
that concerns me.
I worry about you, My Rose!

For, you and me cannot be apart for long.
The glow you possess is
gifted with the glee I give.

It hurts, it really does.
That my absence might wither away
your peculiar petals.

And, I am afraid,
afraid that you might no longer live
once I die.

But wait!
Let me tell you one thing.

No doubt, doomed that I am to disappear
at the eve,
Dawn however is destined to bring me back.

Let me assure.
Assure you unless I get back.

Your sun will confer you
as sufficient light as
to keep you living.

The separation we endure
is temporary.
The morn of hope shall reunite us.