Friday, December 22, 2006

Life in Pakistan, December 2006

I am in Pakistan after 5 months.... Almost the same time has elasped since mother's death... While I write, I can't help but notice how dusty the city has become, due to the construction of roads and massive deforestation.... I have already caught a cold. I Feel tired, fearful and frustrated.

Mother's legacy is still continued.. And her second husband is trying his best to deprive me and my sister of any share in her insurance and other funds.. First of all, the government of Pakistan "discovered" that in the land of the pure, personal Will and nominations do not hold valid, and everything is divided according to "Sharia"... Which means that husband gets 1/4 of the total, parents get 1/6... And the rest is distributed among the children in such a way that boys get double the share of girls... According to that distribution, I would get 6% (if I get anything).. But the latest is the discovery that insurance is distributed according to income, and hence anyone earning Rs. 2,000 (~35US$) is not eligible to receive anything. I fear that this stipulation has been highlighted by the husband of my mother who has been consulting lawyers since the day she died, to get the maximum benefit, by hook or crook. So wherever sharia is beneficial for him he will bring that forward and wherever it is not, he will come up with some other intricacies of the law. I don't understand how can he even claim to be the husband whereas he got a second wife 7 years ago and since then was not living with my dead mother... And she is the one who suffered financially and emotionally because of him.. he did not provide her with any money, and they did not have any physical relationship for the past many many years (because he could easily get younger bodies for that)... In that situation, we the sisters were there.... Of course, our presence was not enough for her happiness, but we did what we could do best, because we felt it was our responsibility... Now when she is dead, we are being treated as if we did not have anything to do with her.. Even the law of Islamic Republic of Pakistan is siding with this corrupt man.. Had it not been for Ashfaq, who works for police, I would have felt threatened for life in this country... Now, I know that God forbid, if anything happens to me... My friends know who my enemy is and they are powerful enough to take him to justice.. But alas, they cannot help me now, because to deal with corruption you need to be more corrupt!!!!

Another legacy that poor woman left was a big piece of land in the outskirts of Murree, a district close to Islamabd... The land is worth 3.5 million rupees. The papers were with the property dealer when mother died.. He has been saying that the land will be sold any day.... But we are still waiting for the last 5 months.. He faces threats for life as well from Mr. Bahauddin.. But let's hope that he can sell the land.... We intend to distribute the money according to "Sharia"... (To avoid any complications)...

The land of the pure seems to be land of the man, where not only the social but the legal structures side with men.. Women, who do not have support of any (strong) man can be exploited to the extreme.. And to prove my point I just want to note what the whole cases of Mukhtaran Mai and Dr. Shazia.. Who were raped but when they created a fuss they were branded as enemies of the state and the religion.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Saving mothers of Pakistan

Safemotherhood Pakistan Alliance, the brainchild and passion of Dr. Farid Midhet partnerd with the globbal white ribbon alliance, recently. The launching was celebrated yesterday in Pakistan Isntitute of Medical Sciences, Islamabad auditorium. I was lucky enough to join my colleagues on this auspicious occassion.

Here is am em from Dr. Farid about the event:

Dear Friends,

Today we launched the White Ribbon Alliance, Pakistan, to join the global struggle to save mothers' lives.

The simple ceremony was held in the MCH Training Center Auditorium of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Islamabad.

We started with recitation from holy Quran by Fayyaz. Fayyaz was also our moderator, and did a superb job at that. Dr. Nabeela and I then presented a brief scenario of maternal and neonatal health in Pakistan, and a history of our Alliance. Then four real life stories of maternal deaths were shared by close relatives of the deceased women. This was followed by recognizing all mothers present in the audience by presenting them with garlands. In the end, Imtiaz Apa recited her famous poem on Mother.

All participants pledged at least three actions they will do to promote safe motherhood in Pakistan.

The ceremony had no Chairperson, no Chief Guest, no Kenote Speaker. The stage chairs remained empty throughout the ceremony.

We will share with you all a detailed report shortly. I could not resist to share with you all the first report.

This ceremony was made possible by Dr Gahzala Mahmood's genoursly offering the premises, and by the efforts of Dr. Nabeela and her excellent team of professionals. My personal thanks to the organizers and participants.

Best wishes,

Farid Midhet
Phone: +92(0)51 265 0523 (Work) 447 0563 (Home)
Mobile 0300 856 3072
fmidhet@pk.asiafound.org; fmidhet@gmail.com
________________________

Thursday, October 26, 2006

article on bikini vs. the burqa (not mine)

The Debauchery of American Womanhood: Bikini vs. Burka
By Henry Makow Ph.D.
On my wall, I have a picture of a Muslim woman shrouded in a burka.
Beside it is a picture of an American beauty contestant, wearing nothing but a bikini.
One woman is totally hidden from the public; the other is totally exposed. These two extremes say a great deal about the clash of so-called "civilizations."
The role of woman is at the heart of any culture. Apart from stealing Arab oil, the impending war in the Middle East is about stripping Arabs of their religion and culture, exchanging the burka for a bikini.
I am not an expert on the condition of Muslim women and I love feminine beauty too much to advocate the burka here. But I am defending some of the values that the burka represents for me.
For me, the burka represents a woman's consecration to her husband and family. Only they see her.
It affirms the privacy, exclusivity and importance of the domestic sphere.
The Muslim woman's focus is her home, the "nest" where her children are born and reared. She is the "home" maker, the taproot that sustains the spiritual life of the family, nurturing and training her children, providing refuge and support to her husband.
In contrast, the bikinied American beauty queen struts practically naked in front of millions on TV. A feminist, she belongs to herself. In practice, paradoxically, she is public property. She belongs to no one and everyone. She shops her body to the highest bidder. She is auctioning herself all of the time.
In America, the cultural measure of a woman's value is her sex appeal. (As this asset depreciates quickly, she is neurotically obsessed with appearance and plagued by weight problems.)
As an adolescent, her role model is Britney Spears, a singer whose act approximates a strip tease. From Britney, she learns that she will be loved only if she gives sex. Thus, she learns to "hook up" rather than to demand patient courtship and true love. As a result, dozens of males know her before her husband does. She loses her innocence, which is a part of her charm. She becomes hardened and calculating. Unable to love, she is unfit to receive her husband's seed.
The feminine personality is founded on the emotional relationship between mother and baby. It is based on nurturing and self-sacrifice. Masculine nature is founded on the relationship between hunter and prey. It is based on aggression and reason.
Feminism teaches woman that feminine nature has resulted in "oppression" and that she should convert to male behavior instead. The result: a confused and aggressive woman with a large chip on her shoulder, unfit to become a wife or mother.
This, of course, is the goal of the social engineers at the NWO: undermine sexual identity and destroy the family, create social and personal dysfunction, and reduce population. In the "brave new world," women are not supposed to be "nest" makers, or progenitors of the race. They are meant to be neutered autonomous creatures that indulge in sex for physical pleasure, not for love or procreation.
At his press conference on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld said that Iranian women and youth were restive under the rule of the Mullahs. He implied that the US would soon liberate them. To Britney Spears? To low-rise "see-my-thong" pants? To the mutual masturbation that passes for sexuality in America?
Parenthood is the pinnacle of human development. It is the stage when we finally graduate from self-indulgence and become God's surrogates: creating and nurturing new life. The New World Order does not want us to reach this level of maturity. Pornography is the substitute for marriage. We are to remain stunted: single, sex-starved and self-obsessed.
We are not meant to have a permanent "private" life. We are to remain lonely and isolated, dependent on consumer products for our identity, in a state of perpetual courtship.
This is especially destructive for woman. Her sexual attraction is a function of her fertility. As fertility declines, so does her sex appeal. If a woman devotes her prime years to becoming "independent," she is not likely to find a permanent mate.
Her long-term personal fulfillment and happiness lies in making marriage and family her first priority.
Feminism is another cruel New World Order hoax that has debauched American women and despoiled Western civilization. It has ruined millions of lives and represents a lethal threat to Islam.
I am not advocating the burka but rather some of the values that it represents, specifically a woman's consecration to her future husband and family, and the modesty and dignity this entails.
The burka and the bikini represent two extremes. The answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Henry Makow is the author of A Long Way to go for a Date. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto. He welcomes your feedback and ideas at h...@savethemales.ca.
http://www.savethemales.ca/180902.html

some airlines from the mekong region

i this Air Asia is the best for travelling within mekong region plus indonesia and malaysia.. Then orient airways and bangkok airways (thai) both provide good deals for some routes... lao airlines and vietnam airlines could be considered but they are not well reputed..

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Free will and the love of God

why do we need religion? is it due to some spiritual yearning, that is embedded in our human nature (if we have a nature) or is it a socially construted tool to control the masses?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Democracy and the colonial mind

The current election campaign in the US, Hawaii and especially Hale Manoa make me wonder about the spirit and purpose and the process of achieving democracy. The biggest problem with this form of government is that it takes all votes equal, regardless of the capacity of making the right decision, assuming that everyone is equally capable and predisposed to choosing a leader and understanding what is leadership. I wonder, how in a diverse culture such as ours, where many students are 'used' to authoritarian regimes and/or dynanistic/farce democracies can make rational choice about a leader. It seems that most of us are still in the process of evolving into democratic beings.. Historically, we have had too long a history of living in totalitarian regimes. Now, we think of a leader, someone who can lead us, even if that means on the leash, rather than someone who we identify with, someone who we can relate to us, someone who is more akin to us, someone who can easily empathise with us. But, somehow, we think that we need someone who is 'different', 'better' who can control, someone more 'aggressive'. This is obviously a manifestation of a mind which evolved in a colonial culture, which has drilled in our mind that the leaders are inherently different than the followers. We get upset when a washerman gets elected as a Nazim in Pakistan, because he will now have more power over some technocrat. But, hey, he is chosen by the people, he is a better representative (as per the doctrine of democracy)... But, no people would rather go for the remains of some erstwhile ruler (ie Benazir, Sonia, Khalida, Hasina etc.), rathar than even trying some 'commioner'. That is not possible to change, even in theory, that let's stop and question the basis of a 'state' and who should govern us. Pakistan has been palying hide and seek with sham democracy since its creation, and in the 60 years of its life, 5 decades were passed in military rule, but people are somehow complacent. Barely managing to survive (one third of the country lives in chronic poverty), they have other worries, like what will they eat next day, than who is the head of state, when Musharraf will take of his uniform, what is deccetralization, trickle down effect of high GDP growth rate. They would be dead anyway, when the benefits of 8% growth rate makes even the first dent in their lives.

The point of this is to think the usefulness of democracy, a government of the people by the people for the people, without educating the 'people' the principles and purpose of this type of government.

Monday, September 18, 2006

new political problems of pakistan

well it was Balochistan some times ago, then killing of Bugti and making him a provincial hero.. and now it is the Hudood (Islamic) laws which needs to be changed for their obvious contradictions, big loopholes and deviation from Islam. For example, rape victims who cannot produce four (male) witnesses who saw the "act of penetration" to prove that they were raped, are by default tried for adultery/fornication. Or anyone (including family members) who are upset with someone can find fake witnesses and accuse them of adultery/fornication. As a result of which, majority of female jail inmates in Pakistan are awaiting trials for Zina cases!!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mother died

on the 21st of July, 2006 mother died.. it was rather sudden though she was sick for a while... but i was not expecting that she would leave this world.... What a terrible thing is death... there are many regrets.. but am getting so much support from so many people around the world that i can't really be unhappy...

Monday, July 10, 2006

The height of heat

The last few days were the worst period of the year. Islamabad experienced a heat index of 50 degrees celsuis....

Monday, June 26, 2006

What needs to be done for Pakistan

The country is infested with multiple problems. And at the root lies poverty and overpopulation. At the time of independence in 1947, the population of Pakistan was around 30 million, which has increased five folds in the last 5 decades and the demographic forces are dragging the number up to 300 million in 2050. At that time we would perhaps be the 3rd in terms of population, right after India and China. But, with the level of resources we have, at that time, we would most probably be at the bottom of the ladder in economic and social development.

What should be done in this scenario? We cannot curtail the population growth drastically. For that we would have to follow the rights based approach which means that the people should make their own choices about the number of children they want to have, the timing of having children and what methods to use for either spacing or stopping childbearing. And, then there is the question of what programs should take priority-- should we strive for universal education, water and sanitation, primary health, infra structure or population control? This is a billion dollar question.

My answer is that we need everything. But, if we really need to make a hierarchical list, then population planning (the word 'control' is considered politically incorrect these days ) and primary health care should top the list. Then comes economic reforms, universal primary education, governance, environment issues, water management etc.

It seems that most people can take care of themselves if the conditions are right, for example in the absence of government supply of water or natural gas, people pump water from underground and buy gas cylinders.  In the absence of (good quality) health and education services, the affluent classes go to the private sector for their needs as they can afford it, and why shouldn't they! But, the real problems are for the chronically poor of this country, those who cannot even have two meals a day, let alone send their kids to schools and buy medicines. They live in one room households, with no water, no access to fuel at home for cooking, no access to schooling (for various reasons), and no access to health care. In a resource poor country like ours, we should take into account the needs of those people.

The programs and policies should have a long term vision and thinking in should take a holistic approach as we are not living in island and in order to survive we need all the basic necessities which are linked with each other anyway. For example, who can deny the links between deforestation and overpopulation, water shortages and poor governance, democracy and freedom of media, media's role in behaviour change etc. In short, Pakistan needs leaders who are good managers, not politicians who are fighting over whether trouser and shirt is Islamic or not.

At present, we all have to be realistic and solve the problems of basic survival needs of the people, and that solution has to be long term, sustainable and acceptable by the people.

loney among friends!!!!

Though I have a number of friends in Isloo, but at times I feel really lonely.... Don't have a single friend who would be interested in the things that I am interested in, like hiking, movies, cultural activities etc. The only activitiy that I do with my friends is visiting their homes, eating food, drinking tea and chit chat about general life. I guess the only friends with whom I enjoy most are Mehmood and Hammad and both are not in Islamabad, at present..... It is perhaps easier to be your own friend.... have a car and do whatever you want to do!!!! Or perhaps find a 'activity' partner... But how do you do that in Pakistan... I mean, finding a partner is not hard, even keeping him is also not that difficult.... But mantaining a platonic relationship and still not affecting the relatioship is almost impossible. Most guys here do not understand the meaning of NO.... They think a woman's NO is actually a secret YES, because women are not supposed to take interest in SEX!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"Culture" in Isloo

Islamabad, considered a cultural dead city is finally growing up and you find various cultural activities to take part in. Some of the good places to look for are:

Islamabad Cultural Forum
Pakistan Academy of Letters
Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Democracy
Civil Junction
Art of Living Activities
Asian Studies Group

The best would be to read the "What's On" column in the daily News, especially on Saturday and Sunday. Other than that several activities are announced through bill boards and banners through out city, so pay attention to those.

Hudood Ordinance

It was refreshing to watch the debate on Hudood Ordinance on Geo Television Channel. At least someone for the first time had the guts to lay their fingers on this topic on which the whole nation seems to be super sensitive. While the debate showed that there are Islamic scholars and lawyers in Pakistan who may dare to discuss such a topic in a non emotional manner. However, it was pretty obvious that there is still a section of society which is paranoid about such a debate lest it legtimizes consensual sex in the countyr. They think such a debate is a foreign agenda to tear the fabric of our society!!

Islamabad sizzling

Recently the temperature is stuck around 40 degrees C (108 F)... Our house is like a oven (having no AC). And on top of that someties there is power outage. Don't know how people sleep at night in this weather. But I should not complain... There is running water and electricity, a luxury for the middle and poorer classes of the country... There is no regular 'loadshedding' here, at least in our area. In Karachi, they are saying that there is daily loadshedding of electricity for many hours. Water is a problem all over the country, including the bold and beautiful Islamabad... Only in our area Naval Colony we are no facing any serious water shortages as they have dug a new well. I wonder what will they do after a few years, when even this new well dries up. All over Islamabad, people are digging wells with motor pumps (as a result water pipe prices have suddenly sky rocketed).

People are concerned for their own water, their own electricity and own comfort. Their actions are motivated by personal interest and only for the present... No future oriented thinking. Living in the present is good but our actions that can have far reaching affects should share some responsibility for future. We owe at least something to the future generations.

In the public discourse, I haven't observed any paranoia, fear, anger or just a heated discussion on the water problem. People are happy to dig new wells or discuss the dam issues. It seems that perhaps we are waiting for an emergency to take any action. Or we are too scared to face the reality!!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Art of living

Yesterday I joined the art of living Islamabad, Pakistan chapter basic course. The course is basically about Pranayama (life force) and how we can enhance the pranayama within us. This is supposed to release stress, tension and depressions.

Here are some of the teachings.

Life is dependant on four things: air (breath), water, food, and environment we live in. And in order to live truly harmoniously we have to balance our lives by avoiding things that reduce the prana. For example, things that we consume regularly like tea, coffee, cigratte, all have prana reducing agents and should be avoided as much as possible. (I can't stop tea drinking). Similarly, meat (all kinds, including fish) should be avoided as meat takes about 78 hours to digest and depeletes lot of prana!

7 layers of the self: body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego, and self. The first 6 layers are different for all, but we are all the same at the level of self, which is the spirit or God. The breathing exercises would help us all achieve that level.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Earthquake blues

Even though it has been 8 months since the earthquake of October 2005, people I meet still talk about it... The picture they draw of the experience is horrific and horrendous. It seems that the experience has definitely punctuated the lives of the people strongly, making them think about life and its purpose, seriously. Thank God that I have not heard of any casualties of people that I directly know of with the exception of Shahnaz Kapadia, a middle aged widow, who lost her elder son and is struggling with the life of the younger one. The stories of the fall of margalla towers only is enough to realize the unpredictibility and uncertainity of life. Fate has been really cruel to some people, and there is no rational justification to understand that why those innocent people had to lose their lives or thier limbs, and in such harsh manner, fighting tons of rubble. I do not know of any direct stories of Bagh, Muzaffarabad and Balakot (the whole city was destroyed). But I did hear stories showing the best and the worst of humanity. While so much aid came from all over the world and the country and so many people went to help with the relief work, there were people looting the crushed houses, abducting children, merchants hiking prices of even such things as the shrouds for the deadbodies. I could not believe that the price of KAFAN would sky rocket as the demand surged all of a suddent. In that moment of national disaster, I would have thought that KAFAN prices should have come down!!! Anyway, it seems that in terms of relief and rehabilitation, no stone was left unturned.... My friends and other people who visited the affected areas said that there were enough food, clothes, blankets and medicines etc. One friend commented that she has never seen such nice blankets in her entire life. Thanks to the international community for their immediate support. And, thanks to America too!!! A special mention is needed as I heard stories of special efforts of the American army, doctors and nurses. Someone said that most of the relief and search efforts would not have been possible without American assitance and their sincere support. But alas, the people of Kashmir even then fired on american aircrafts!!

Well, coming back to margallah towers in Isloo, the whole tower, even thee portion that was unaffected looks haunted. Noone lives there now, a place which used to be one of the most expensive places to live is frequented by ghosts now...the broken tower breaks your heart everytime you look at it reminiding of all the people who were burried under tons and tons of rubble, never to come back or only to survive sans arms or legs or both. How fragile and strong are human beings!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

9/11 hangovers

visited the bookshop Mr. books (the oldest bookstore of Islamabad). The books that were highlighted in their shelves gave me a sense of deja vous-- they were mainly related to Islam, terrorism, Pakistani authors writing in English. Most of the books are also part of my amazon.com orders and wishlist. Why is it so? Is it that I am reading what every Pakistani is reading? I doubt.

This is perhaps a manifestation of some other malice... Something that is eating the so called moderates.. The price of being a Muslim in the post 9/11 period. It seems the modern Muslim who wants to distinguish himself/herself from the overly liberated or fundamental lot has to be apologetic for all the misdeeds committed by those groups. They are trying to bridge the west and the east by pretending that there is no clash of civilization and an understanding between these two worlds is possible... Notable figures in this regard, that I can think of right now, are people like Fareed Zakria and Isra Nomani!

Welcome to Pakistan

Well, i am back to Pakistan, hopefully for 5 or 6 weeks...
I see many changes in Islamabad, most notably a well managed traffic thanks to the introduction of the Motorway police that does not spare anyone... and enforces the law blindly. It seems that everyone is happy with this change.. Heard that this is one of the many initiatives of SSP isloo, Dr. Taimuri who is the best thing that has ever happened to Islamabad... however, there is another person who may contest this title, chairman CDA mr. kamran lashari! His work is clearly visible in the city.... the streets are well marked, the city is cleaner than before, there are more maps and sign boards all over and most of all more cultural and social activities happening in the city.. But there are several who consider him corrupt and incompetent.. the biggest blame which i have heard so far is baring Isloo of its green belt and mindless construction.. Don't know if that is enough to not give him any credit for all the good work he is doing....

other things notable... the biggest is heat and scarcity of water... Too many cars on the road... all the three are increasing day by day and i wonder what will happen in the next few years!! It seems we are moving towards a big ecological disaster!

Life is as boring as before... things have become more expensive.. ie petrol is now 60 rupees per liter! Gold is 15,000 rupees per tola! These things should not bother me.. but indirectly that impacts the prices of basic commodities and makes it difficult to mantain the guise of SOFED POSHI!!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Having fun at Jay Hubert's birthday

They are playing twisted at the party.. it is a great game to involve people quickly... the beauty of this game is that almost anyone can play this game and really enjoy as the rules are not difficult but winning requires physical flexibility and mental agility!!

Another highlight of the party was that Jay did a extampore parody on brokeback mountain them and sang a song with his Texan hat! Posted by Picasa

Gekko in big island

never thought i would see a gekko in real life.. it is so vibrantly green thaat at first i thought it is artificial... then when i saw two of them and that they seem to be using thier brains to move i realized i am looking at hawaii's official lizard (or something).. and that it is beautiful!1 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I would like to travel in the mekong countries during june-august, 2006.... visa, money and saftery is a big concern for me.. as for time.. i would have pelenty of time, as i am not taking any classes during that period... it is one of dreams to be a back pack traveller for 2 months continously...... i am so much looking forward to that..