Saturday, June 23, 2012

To - The Youth

"I beg young people to travel. If you don't have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Istanbul, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kuala Lumpur, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown, eat interesting food, dig some interesting people, have an adventure, be careful. Come back and you're going to see your country differently, you're going to see your President differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You're going to get sense of what globalization looks like. It's not what Najam Sethi talks about, I'm sorry. You're going to see that global climate change is very real. And that for some people, their day consists of walking 12 miles for four buckets of water. And so there are lessons that you can't get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of that flight. A lot of people come back and go "Ohhhhh." And the light bulb goes on."

Henry Rollins (Run Out the Guns) (with some adaptation)

Google's Pakistan

re Pakistan's Image by Eric Schmidt

In my humble opinion, nothing new and probably this is all that Pakistan got and would get from Mr. Schmidt's visit. I hope that I am wrong and Google does come in soon with massive investment into Pakistan - for which he was probably invited!? But I don't see here any promise from Google in between the lines, rather the punch line is the last sentence which sounds prophetic!? Did Mr. Schmidt see/feel other things which he did not share in-depth here but brought him to this view... or perhaps Mr. Schmidt might better concentrate on his actual job instead of the Pakistani politics!

Pakistanis should have known this for long and should have had the courage to fix and redeem their national image and designed and launched a 'Country Positioning' campaign. But perhaps they wanted to hear it from Mr. Schmidt. Unless one's mind/psyche is liberated and one seizes control of oneself, one would continue to roam in a dark forest. Unless one is honest with oneself, one would continue to get short-changed nationally, regionally and internationally. Unless one speaks the truth and teaches one's kids to always speak the truth, right from the kinder-garten, one would not be able to create a just and free society that the people might be longing for. An empty sack can not stand upright, and empty vessels make the most sound, but then what do you expect?

The Blog throws in few lines of optimism and sees a peaceful revolution-in-the-making. But pinning too much hope on a large young population which is poorly educated, poorly trained, half-fed, poorly serviced or on a large middle-class which might appear 'large' owing to the state corruption but might actually be shrinking is like burying one's head in the sand.

Nonetheless, the Blog also seemed obsessed with the face with which Pakistan for one reason or another gets recognized in the West. In a tongue-in-cheek way, the Blog further takes a jab on issues like security and status of women which occupy key physical and thematic space within the body-text with just few opening and closing lines of optimism.

One won't build or change a Country Image or Position this way!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eliminating Corruption

If it's on the internet, it must be true and if it's on the Facebook then it definitely is!?
So here we are - people sharing this picture/message status in Pakistan but no one bothering to take a moment to ascertain or verify the claim.
(1.)  Singapore has only 87 members of the parliament. Where did these 142 corrupt ministers and officers come from?
(2.)  Despite extensive search, I have been unable to find a single mention of such 142 arrests in a single day.
(3.)  Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) which investigates and prosecutes corruption in the public and private sectors in Singapore is a government agency and not a self-appointed citizen group as of Kisan Baburao Hazare's Jan Lokpal Committee (as the message implies).
(4.)  CPIB was established by the British colonial government in 1952 (and not 1982 as the message implies) and housed in the Attorney-General's Office. When Singapore attained self-government in 1959, prime minister Lee Kuan Yew moved it to the Prime Minister's Office.
(5.)  It’s absolutely incorrect, absurd and misleading that people pay NO taxes in Singapore. People pay all kinds of taxes including income tax, property tax, GST, customs and excise duties, motor vehicle taxes, stamp duty, betting tax, foreign worker levy, airport passenger tax, etc. Of course, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore is not meant to sell betel-nuts!
(6.)  Another absurd claim is about cheaper prices. There is nothing cheap in Singapore and it is in the list of top 10 most expensive countries/cities. It has a high standard of living with about $60,000 GDP per capita; data on the official poverty line are not available.
(7.)  The claims about literacy and unemployment rates are closer to the actual but are still not perfectly accurate.
Wake Up, Pakistan! One wonders if such misinformation is being deliberately floated to create illusions and help someone's political future? Get your facts straight before riding the bandwagon!
Yes, it's agreed that an anti-corruption movement is needed and will definitely help but it won't make Pakistan Singapore, nor do we exactly want it so!!
'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities' - Voltaire

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Mad Ispaghol Party

The table was set out under a tree on the Constipation Avenue in front of the Red Harem, and the March Madness and the Hatcher were having Ispaghol at it: a Doomstar was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion and talking over its head. ‘How uncomfortable for the Doomstar,’ thought Alijah, ‘I suppose it’s sleep and doesn’t mind.’
The table was a large one, but the three were all packed at a corner of it: ‘No room! No room!’ they yelled out when they saw Alijah coming. ‘There’s plenty of room!’ said Alijah indignantly, and sat down in a very large arm-chair at the head of the table.
‘Have some lassi,’ the March Madness said to Alijah in an encouraging tone.
Alijah looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but Ispaghol. ‘I don't see any lassi,’ Alijah remarked.
‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Madness.
‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you, I could hold you in contempt,’ said Alijah angrily.
‘It wasn’t very civil of you either to sit down without being invited. You just trespassed our Harem,’ said the March Madness.
‘I didn’t know it was your table,’ said Alijah; ‘it’s laid for a great many more than three.’
‘Well, don’t be so nosy and snooty. Look at yourself first, your hair wants cutting,’ said the Hatcher. He had been looking at Alijah for some time with curiosity, and this was his first speech.
‘You should learn not to make personal remarks,’ Alijah said sternly; ‘it’s very rude--you could get punished.’
The Hatcher opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, ‘Why is a markhor like a drawing board?’
‘Come, we shall have some fun now!’ thought Alijah. ‘I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles--I believe I can guess that,’ Alijah muttered.
‘Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?’ said the March Madness.
‘Exactly so. You know well, I am the all-knowing, all-seeing!’ Alijah replied.
‘Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Madness went on.
‘I do,’ Alijah hastily replied; ‘at least, I mean what I say--it’s the same thing, you know!’
‘Not the same thing a bit, Alijah!’ said the Hatcher. ‘You might just as well say that “I decide what I think” is the same thing as “I think what I decide!”
‘You might just as well say,’ added the March Madness, ‘that “I want what I see” is the same thing as “I see what I want!”
‘You might just as well say,’ added the Doomstar, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, ‘that “I am what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I am!”
‘It is the same thing with you because you are the all-seeing and all-knowing. I breathe when I sleep is not the same thing as I sleep when I breathe,’ said the Hatcher, and here the conversation dropped. Silence! Pity the Farm, Alijah could not remember much about markhors and drawing boards.
The March Madness was the first to break the silence. ‘What day of the month is it?’ he asked Alijah.
Alijah seemed reflective, and then said ‘The first.’
‘Two days wrong!’ sighed the March Madness. ‘I told you butter wouldn’t suit the works!’ he added looking angrily at the Hatcher.
‘It was the best butter that the hawker could contribute to Alijah’s kitchen,’ the Hatcher meekly replied.
‘Yes, I know just the butter cost us 50,000 guineas but some crumbs must have got in as well,’ the March Madness grumbled: ‘you shouldn’t have put it in with the bread-knife.’
The Hatcher took the watch from Alijah and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of ispaghol, and looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better to say than, ‘It was the best butter, you know.’
Alijah had been watching intently. ‘What a funny watch!’ ‘It tells the day of the month, and doesn’t tell what o’clock it is!’
‘Why should it?’ muttered the Hatcher. ‘Do you want it to also tell you what year it is?’
‘Of course not,’ Alijah replied readily: ‘but that’s because it stays the same year for such a long time.’
‘Which is just the point we’re telling you,’ said the Hatcher.
Alijah felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatcher’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. ‘I know it but I don’t quite understand you,’ Alijah replied.
‘The Doomstar is asleep again,’ said the March Madness, and he poured a little hot ispaghol upon its nose.
The Doomstar shook its head impatiently, and said, without opening its eyes, ‘Of course, of course; just what I was going to remark myself.’
‘So have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatcher said, turning to Alijah again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alijah replied: ‘what’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea either,’ said the Hatcher.
‘Nor do I,’ said the March Madness.
Alijah sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’
‘Oh, if you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatcher, ‘you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. Don’t you have other things to do at your farm than to poke us all the time? It’s him.’
‘I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alijah.
‘Of course you don’t!’ the Hatcher said, tossing his head contemptuously. ‘I dare say you never even summoned Time!’
‘Perhaps not,’ Alijah cautiously replied: ‘but I know I have to beat time when I butter with the hawkers.’
‘Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatcher. ‘He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin sermons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a jiffy! Half-past one, time for butter!’
‘I only wish it was,’ the March Madness said to itself in a whisper.
‘That would be grand, certainly,’ said Alijah thoughtfully: ‘but then--I shouldn’t be hungry for it, you know.’
‘Not at first, perhaps,’ said the Hatcher: ‘but you could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.’
‘Is that the way you manage the Harem?’ Alijah asked.
The Hatcher shook his head mournfully. ‘Not I, he does!’ he replied. ‘We quarrelled last Christmas--just before he went mad, you know--’ (pointing with his Ispaghol spoon at the March Madness) ‘--it was at the cabaret given by the Daughter of Chaos, and I had to sing:
            “Twinkle, twinkle, little diktat!
            How I wonder what you’re at!”
You know the song, perhaps?’
‘I’ve heard something like it,’ said Alijah.
‘It goes on, you know,’ the Hatcher continued --
            “Up above the blackfly you fly,
            Like ispaghol in the sky.
                    Twinkle, twinkle--”’
Here the Doomstar shook itself, and began singing in its sleep: ‘Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, nickels and dimes tinkle--’ and went on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.
‘Well, I’d hardly finished the first verse,’ said the Hatcher, ‘when chaos erupted at the cabaret and people shouted, “He’s murdering the time! Off with his head!”’
‘How dreadfully savage!’ exclaimed Alijah.
‘And ever since that,’ the Hatcher went on in a mournful tone, ‘he won’t do a thing I ask! It’s always six o’clock now.’
‘Is that the reason so much ispaghol is put out here?’ Alijah asked.
‘Yes, that’s it,’ said the Hatcher with a sigh: ‘it’s always ispaghol-time for the mind!’

- by M A Wyne 2012-06-19. 1:45 PM ET
After ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ with apologies to Lewis Carroll, as a reflection of today’s political events in Pakistan.

Monday, June 18, 2012


باسمِ ربّی
ازشعوراست این کہ گوئ نزدودور
چیست معراج؟ انقلاب اندر شعور
(اقبال لاہوری)
اے یارِخوش دیار، تجهے کیا خبر کہ میں
کب سے اُداسیوں کے گهنے جنگلوں میں ہوں
 (احمد فراز)