Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bigotry in my country

Well where doesn't bigotry exist?

I should not say that only in my des people are radical and ultra intolerant of others. It happens in the most enlightened and the so called civilized societies too. For example take the minaret issue in Switzerland and the Hijab ban in France. However, it seems that we are just caught in the viscous cycle of our recent past. The history that was created at the time when we were fighting the war against communism (Russia) in the name of Islam. The history that was created by half cooked religious ideologies and interpretation of Islam of the Ulama of that time who wanted to make the Hukumat e Waqt happy. The generations coming later are just doomed to live with those laws. Keeping the status quo creates conflicts with the rest of the world and in some cases creates huge potential for human rights violation, like in the recent case of Asia Bibi!! The more problematic part of the whole issue is that when you look deep into the controversial aspect of the Hudood ordinance by reading the Quran and Sunnah you tend to agree more with the side in favor or repeal or amendments. Obviously, one would easily refute my argument by saying that my only my liberal bias can reach such conclusion.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Working with people like myself......

Do you know that even though all Muslims seem the same, but there are huge differences amongst them when you start rummaging through their societies, culture and laws. Yes, there are as many kinds of Muslims as you can imagine, even though most times we are lumped together with Osama bin Ladin and his ilk. There are differences in how in each society, each sub group perceive and practice their religious ideology (or dogma). Each sub-group shares some basic principals with the other groups but may be dramatically different their understanding of the shariah and fiqh for everything in life like woman's rights, purdah, performance arts, food, etc.

I think the main problem of the Muslim world stems from the fact that though we acknowledge the different interpretations of our religion but we do not tolerate the differences. The Wahabis (aka Salafi, Ahl e Hadis, Demobandi, Salafi) would not tolerate the Barelvis or the Shias. Qadianis (a renegade sect) and are pronounced non-Muslims in several Muslim countries (add ref.) and Ismali Shias are looked at with suspicion because of their devotion to Aga Khan. Sufis another group who are greatly admired for humanity and non violence, are declared non Muslims by several sects. Well, there are smaller groups of liberal/secular/progressive consisting of people from these difference sects, who want to rise above the tussles we have within the deen. And then, we also have those who are so tired of all of this or just are not religious but call themselves Muslims and keep the religion as their cultural and political identity. These groups would perhaps be considered non Muslim by literalists among us. Each sect thinks that they are right and sometimes feels free to declare some other group as Kharij or out of the religion.

I feel frustrated to see that we do not have a Ummah which would act like a body, so that when part is hurt the other parts can also feel it. Each of us is fighting to win the battle for supremacy of our own ideology. May be the Western world is right in ridiculing us!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bangladesh and Pakistan

There is so much venom in Bangladeshis of all age, size and color, for Pakistanis that I have given up any hope of having any reconciliation between the two countries, at least in my life time. There are strained relationships between many other countries like China and Japan, Indonesia and East Timor, Korea and Japan etc. due to one reason or other, but the amount of open hatred oozed by Bangladeshis cannot be matched by any.

I have felt it, seen it and have been targeted by it in Bangladesh and also in the US and Australia. If you look at different Bangladeshi forums on the internet, you will notice how the young and old alike like to just talk about what Pakistani army did in 1971. To the extent that war crimes are morally wrong, no matter against whom, I find the extension of hatred of the Bongs towards Pakistanis irrational and counter productive for peace in South Asia.

Despite apologies from Pakistan government, on several occasions for the atrocities of Pakistan Army perpertrated on Bengalis (East Pakistanis) in the 1971 War, Bangladeshis have neither forgiven nor forgotten the past. May be the whole nation's collective psyche has nothing else to mull about in the absence of any bright future of the poverty trapped country. A joint hatred towards Pakistan at least gives them a thread of nationalism, commonality and something to be passionate about.

It may take one or two generations for Bangladeshis to come out of their arrested development caused by living in the past and they may realize that channeling their energies to solve real problems of the country like poverty is far more useful in the long run, than to hound the Jamat leaders in the country and mourn 1971. So, may be meanwhile Pakistan and Pakistanis should stop providing apologies for the wrongs of 1971 and let time heal the wounds of the two countries.

Friday, May 07, 2010

My share of conspiracy theory vis a vis Faisal Shahzad

When 9/11 happened, I kept thinking, who would do it and why. Why and how would/could Muslims carry out such a massive and concerted damage to the super power of the world. Who benefitted by killing five thousand or so American citizens and annihilating two sky scrapers. Not the Muslims, not certainly Iraqis, Pakistanis or any Afghanis--the ones who to date are paying for that. From the very day, I thought why would a Muslim or Muslim group do something like this which would end up exacerbating problems for Muslims and would further taint the already tainted image.

And, now this Faisal Shahzad case. First, thank God it was a failed attempt. I do not condone or provide apologies for any terrorist activities whatsoever. But, then once again, this person who apparently could have been avenging the US drone attacks in Waziristan has done nothing for his "cause" but instead has just almost broken the back of the over-burdened camel. Secretary Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying that in future such acts against US would not be tolerated. Paranoia haunts the Pakistanis who are settled in the USA or those who aspire to do so. FS has to be out of his mind to even believe for a moment that he is going to do any good for Muslims, Waziristan or Pakistan by trying to bomb NYC. It is not even making a statement that he is upset with US involvement in two major and one proxy war. So, my paranoid mind thinks, was he a CIA agent who acted this way to give a bad name to Pakistan. Because, his actions gave the world and particularly USA and India to point their fingers to Pakistan more strongly and say with a louder voice that all roads of terrorism lead to Pakistan.

That is the only explanation that makes any sense to me! What do you say.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some ideas for research

1. Counseling of soon to be or newly married couples on reproductive health, lessons to be implemented from Iran, Jordan and Bangladesh experience. It seems that RH-Aid, a Islamabad based NGO initiated by Dr. Tariq Rahim has already started working on this idea by forming a facebook group by the name Premarital Counseling. However the facebook page does not provide any information about the activities of this group.

2. To what extent has the family planning programme achieved its goal of promoting two-child norm? Why is the ideal family size stagnant at 4 despite 5 decades of strong family planning campaigns endorsing of the benefits of two children? The ideal of 4 children is across the board in Pakistan. Women, whether they are from Balochistan or Punjab, from rural areas or urban, have education or not literate, more or less all desire to have four children.

3. What have we gained from the policy recommendations of large scale national surveys conducted so far. The study proposes an audit of the the state of research advocacy in maternal health the last 20 years.

4. Breastfeeding practices. What do people do and why? It is customary to discard first milk of the mother.... Cultural practices like insistence in of giving ghutti (prelactal) as the first feed, because of the belief that it carries on the traits of the person who gives it to the child may pose the newborn to unnecessary infections. A child who was fed ghutti may be breastfed exclusively after wards, but exclusive breastfeeding does not remain exclusive for too long because women believe that the baby needs at least water along with breast milk.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who should be the advocate?

This is in direct response to Research and Advocacy Fund Pakistan's call for proposal for research and advocacy projects in Pakistan. The proposition begs the question to learn about what has happened so far to the advocacy recommendations. To what extent the research has been used in advocacy campaigns for policy or program and have materialized into the needed change.

Moreover, there is always a gap between the group conducting the research and the group who are capable and/or are interested in doing the advocacy part. It is rare to see a breed of researchers who are interested and also skilled in such utilizing the findings of their research for advocacy. I think the reasons behind such a gap are lack of realization on the researchers part that research itself is not an end in itself and just "informing" policy makers does not do the job. Secondly usually research grants do not include advocacy/research utilization component and hence researchers keep on jumping from one research project to another without ever thinking about using the results to their full extent. Thirdly, even if researchers are aware of the need of advocacy and also have the resources they may not be capable to do it on their own. In that case if an advocacy firm takes on an issue (such as abortion, emergency contraceptive pill) they may be strong in all aspects of building a campaign but may not know the technical aspects of the issue. Therefore, I think, in general, all research projects should include a component of utilization of findings and the project should not be considered complete till results are shared with with all the macro and micro stakeholders. Moreover, all project proposals should provide benchmarks and goals about advocacy once the results are finalized with clear indication of the responsibilities and time line.

And I think for real advocacy and campaigns which work, the researchers, program managers and communication/advocacy specialists have to join hands.

The gap between findings and policy of family planning in Pakistan

The latest statistics from Pakistan put Research has shown again and again that people in Pakistan are more comfortable with traditional family planning methods such as withdrawal, safe days and condom (PDHS 1990, 2006-07). These three methods account for almost half of the contraceptive usage in Pakistan (14.5 percent women use either of the three methods while CPR is 29.6 percent).

Non hormonal methods such as withdrawal is the one of the most favorite among most married men and women of the country (Casterline, Sathar and Haque 2001) just because it is free, readily available and has no side effects. The caveats are higher failure rate than hormonal or other barrier methods and dependency upon husband's cooperation to use. I personally consider withdrawal superior over condom and safe days method. For condom usage access (including geographic, financial, social and personal) still remains a barrier, cumbersome to use when sex is a quick act in a room shared with family members, requires storage and disposal after usage both of which may violate privacy for couples in country like ours where most people share sleeping areas with others.

Harmonal methods including pills, injectables and IUD which are considered the best also have the worst side affects. Fear of actual and perceived side effects lead to non use and discontinuation of contraception. Based on my personal conversations with colleagues who are involved in family planning research I learnt that withdrawal and condoms are the most favorite and the very same people who promote (in whatever way) hormonal methods would not consider those methods for themselves. A quick look at the latest PDHS data also shows that contrary to the expectation, the users of withdrawal and condoms are more educated, urban and more resourceful than users of injectable and pills. My point is that if people learn how to use traditional methods (Withdrawal, safe days, LAM) and modern methods at the same time, they would most probably go for the latter, unless they have completed their desired family size--for which they would prefer female sterilization.

Despite such findings, it is baffling to know that the emphasis of our government is always on promoting the so called modern (mostly hormonal) contraceptive methods, all in the name of effectiveness. I agree that effectiveness should be important, but in the scenario where accessibility and non-existence of side effects support natural methods and many would rather take chances of pregnancy rather than using a modern family planning method. I think in such cases the benefits of modern methods are seriously undermined where people are willing to go as far as induced abortion due to lack of use. (Please note that in Pakistan almost a million abortions are conducted every year)

Friday, April 09, 2010

Every Mother Counts

Reproductive health encompasses any factor which has direct bearing on human reproduction and reproductive ability. The spectrum of RH spans from menstruation, sexual health, fertility, child birth and maternal health, breastfeeding and care of the new born, family planning to menopause.

Given the personal and sensitive nature of this terrain, it is a much neglected topic in our country. Be it at a state level or home talking about of RH is mired in shame and cultural taboos. Unmarried youth are especially kept far from any kind of information with the idea that they will come to learn about these things when "time comes", implying after marriage and the child birth. There is no formal mechanism for the youth of Pakistan to learn about any aspect of RH till they are in dire need or have suffered consequences of lack of knowledge. On one hand we are against providing the so called sex-education, which may be a vehicle for imparting life saving information to youngsters of the country and on the other we have certain cultural practices which are harmful and detrimental for health. For example it is common practice in Pakistan to give Ghutti (usually honey, and sometimes spit of an elder) to a newborn, while medical research has proven that the best food for the baby is mother's milk which should be given right after birth.

Considering the nature of distance of Pakistani youth with health issues, the JHUCCP, PAIMAN Pakistan and White Ribbon Alliance Pakistan organized a painting competition on the topic of maternal deaths at the University of Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi on 9th April 2010. Thirty students (mostly females) from Fatima Jinnah University, Federal Government Women's College F-7/2, Islamabad, National College of Arts, Beacon House and City School took part in the competition. The paintings were all themed around maternal health and mortality and were created using oil paints on canvass. Average painting was about 3' x 2'.

It was a mega event entitled "Every Mother Counts". Deputy Speaker National Assembly Mr. Kundi, Dr. Nabila Ali the Chief of Party of PAIMAN, Director of National MNCH Program, Dr. Amanullah Khan of White Ribbon Alliance along with the Vice Chancellor of Fatima Jinnah University presided over the proceedings. Dr. Ali shared overall situation of maternal mortality in Pakistan and enlightened the audience about the direct and social causes which contribute to maternal deaths and morbidity. Dr. Khan presented the state of newborns in the country. Dr. Ali and Dr. Khan's presentation on maternal and child health went very well with the students and I am sure they went home with renewed interest in doing something to save the mothers and newborns of Pakistan. After the proceedings, two of the best paintings were given cash prizes, judged by renowned artist Mr. Jamal Shah.

While the paintings were amazing and captured the theme of the plight of maternal health issues (especially maternal mortality) very well, I was seriously disappointed by the "youth perspective" on health status of women of Pakistan, provided by two bright women of the organizing university. The girls had the perfect pitch and delivery in English with an eloquently written text on the topic but failed to deliver what the topic of their presentation promised us--the youth perspective. While listening to the students, I felt that they do not know where and how to access good quality research material related to RH in general and in particular maternal health. I laud their effort and courage in presenting their ideas in that august forum but at the same time I think their talent and time was wasted. If finding the state of health of Pakistani women was so hard, they could have gathered the views of fellow students of the very topic which would actually have provided the "youth perspective" on the topic!!

But anyway, in my view, one small thing that the research/NGO sector can do is fill the knowledge gap. I think a handboo and/or website on RH in Pakistan with latest statistics, a short description of the rates and ratios and sources of information and sources of data and information would go a long way in at least spreading information which will hopefully lead to better knowledge and improved attitudes and behavior for RH.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The road to Multan (29 March 2010)

Let me confess that when I started my journey towards Multan, I had certain pre-conceptions about South Punjab. I was all aware of the recent "Talibanization" of Pakistan, especially the fact that the Taliban brand has taken foothold in Punjab too!!! Hence, I took the road trip with a certain sense of trepidation and adventure and let the driver use the famous and infamous Multan-Mianwali Road instead of the motorway! Yes I did expect to see the roads filled with Go America Go slogans or extra ordinary surge towards Islamization, like wall chalking to enforce purdah, anti movies and music etc. My imagination was fertile with the activities of the Lal Masjid moral police of 2006 and before.

However, as the car moved along and left central Punjab the things I noticed most were large wall advertisements of hakims promising treatment for all kinds of male sexual problems, mobile phones, soothsayers and black magic practitioners who supposedly solve all problems include bringing your lover to your feet and sending you to america! Come Minawali, I notice a impressive university building, NAMAL which will start its first session in Fall this year and is affiliated with Bradford University UK. Had lunch from a roadside hotel. Note it was not a driver hote. My driver thought it was safer and more respectable to take me to a proper hotel. Upon entering the restaurant felt a bit intimidated with the hall full of males in traditional garb and features that are hardened with life. I sensed a momentary unease and made sure that my chador covered my body and head fully and asked to be seated... The manager said that he will find a room for me and pointed to a waiter for help. I said, no I am OK if u can give me a corner place to sit but they insisted and i was taken to a room on the 2nd floor of the hotel. I was told that they are having a party downstairs and i will not be comfortable there. Of course i did not expect any women to attend the party and hence felt better sitting in a room to have lunch... The food, chicken curry (even though they had a selection ranging from all kinds of Pakistani and Chinese dishes) served by a young flirtatious waiter was extremely delicious! The lunch was uneventful otherwise.

Multan was still 4-6 hours away. My excitement started fazing out when i saw several accidents on the way. Combined with the fact that it was hot and i had forgotten my ID card at home I started worrying a bit. To distract myself I took out my camera and started shooting anything that i found interesting and was possible to be snapped!

Throughout the event I did not notice anything peculiarly different than my previous trips to this region in 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2007 with the exception of dryer rivers and inundation of the region with mobile phone company ads. Politeness, piety, purdah, and poverty, seemed the same, perhaps the later perhaps had increased in the last few years. During the whole journey the only thing I could think of was the sufis, saints and the legendary lovers from Punjab and Sindh who seem to be the biggest source of inspiration and comfort for people who live there.

However, I knew that the notorious Pak-Afghan border region of DI Khan and Wana are not too far and could not stop thinking about the terrorism and its causes. I had also heard about the seeping of such ideologies from the borders to Waziristan and then to Punjab. However, at the same time I could not reconcile with the fact that the lovers love stories and sufi teachings could or would embrace any form of Talibanization. Where do I find an answer to such an anomaly, if there is such such thing. Is the desperation for survival so bad for some people that they would give up their traditions of generations of non violence and agree to blow themselves up to kills others? I could not see any form of such desolation. Of course my trip was too short to make any judgment about what was actually going on there. Should I also try to find my answer in conspiracy theories which purports that the streak of violence in Pakistan is mediated by India and Israel! Whatever the answer is, the fact remains that terrorism is a sad reality of Pakistan and terrorists come in all forms, shapes, colors and ethnic groups. Perhaps my I was also bewildered by the fact that we talk about sufism crushing the slafi brand of Islam but I do not see how that could be done when the followers of saints could be lured to the dogma of vengeance and intolerance.

I guess my journey made me realize that more than terrorism, Pakistan's biggest threat is looming crisis of food, water and power shortages for the fast growing population. The general public seem not to care or know about Blackwater, details of KL bill, the Mehsuds and the Bradars. They just want to survive and let others survive.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Perils, Politeness and Paranoia

I arrived in Pakistan on the 15th of March after a gap of almost two years. Since my arrival the biggest thought on my mind was terrorism. It took me more than a week to stop worrying about suicide and other kinds of blasts. During that period, whenever I passed through security, each step towards towards the metal detector, sight of the men behind sandbags with guns pointed at you, barriers at all main roads of city reminded me of the movie Hurt Locker. I felt like walking in mine field where anything could happen at any time. During that crucial first weeks, any parked vehicle, motorcycle made me think that may be this one could go off... Wandering men/boys on the street made me think of all possible nightmares... I know that all of that is due my paranoia which you develop after spending too many days in a developed and secure society. I did not see or get that sense of anxiety among the general public. If any tragedy happens in any of the border towns or smaller places in far flung areas, no one talks about them except the news channels. If there is a blast in a major city (small or big) there is hoo ha, fear and agitated discussions for few days and all is forgotten as if nothing happened. Life goes on as before.

It sometimes brought tears my eyes to see the people who are involved with security checking--the "fodder" of the society who are at the highest risk to be blown off-- are doing their job with utmost politeness. In my view, some are nice and respectful to the point of risking their lives. Like the last week I had work in a highly secure building. During the few days I visited the place the guards became extremely nice to me just because I was "frequent" visitor, may be because of my gender and also because I treated them with respect and was very forthcoming to getting my belongings checked!!! While it feels really nice to enjoy the respect and trust, but at the same time I feel sorry for my country where we are slowly being forced to forego our culture of Tahzeeb, hospitality, care and trust in the name of security. Of course security comes first, but is there no other alternative? Are we doomed to live in a police state forever? I hope that we do not lose our culture of trust, respect and politeness in the mindless fight of terrorism and the state of paranoia, denial and fear is only for now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Development Sector in Pakistan

There is a mafia in the development sector of Pakistan and let me confess, I am part of it. The big sharks are the donors like USAID, UN agencies, World Bank, ADB, DfID, different foundations etc. Then there are big research and program organizations like Population Council, Asia Foundation, FHI, JSI, WPF, Path Finder etc. The third tier would be the large national level "NGOS" like Rozan, Amal, Sahil and many others who get funding from the donors or other the large international organizations. The last tier would be organizations who are working at local level ranging from small one man shows like RH-Aid to large grassroots organizations like Bunyad, Behbood etc.

These organizations have different missions and mandates, however the common denominator among them is "development" which means that they are working towards "developing" our country. We can say that their work is supposed to improve lives of Pakistan's population.

My critique to all of these organizations, especially those who are working on pure or the so called operations research to show what is their dollar for dollar impact for Pakistan. The only measurable and visible impact is on the people who are lucky enough to find work with these organizations. Those staff have no doubt benefited tremendously from the millions of dollars channeled in the name of research and development to our country. In the last 5 years a few hundred million dollars were thrown to the maternal and child health sector. What did the ordinary people of Pakistan, gain from those millions!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Leisure is a privilege- especially for girls and women in Pakistan. A girl in a village in Balochistan would spend all her time doing household work like washing dishes, cleaning their mud-floor house, cooking, bringing water, taking care of the young and the old in the family.

Is leisure fun? What is leisure? Does spending time doing nothing, chatting with friends, taking a nap count as leisure. Leisure is something that you do to spend your time enjoyably. It implies that you have the economic and social means to do that.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Taslima Nasrin's Burqa article

Self proclaimed religious scholar and feminist from Bangladesh (now estranged citizen) landed herself in a fresh series of controversy with her latest views on Burqa Let's Think Again About The Burqa, the traditional covering garb of many South Asian women. This article was published by Outlook India (and others) and immediately sparked off riots resulting in the deaths of 2 civilians in Kannada!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The pushes & pulls of modernity and mediavilsm

How do you define modernity and traditionalism very much lies with the person who is defining it. To some the dichotomy of modernity and traditionalism is a parallel to the duality of Oriental and Occidental. To name a few, just the notion of use of technology, especially those related to means of communications are very modern, very Western, to those who got them as ‘imported; foreign technological goods. In some cases, to a father in a village in Pakistan watching an advertisement of sanitary napkin while his young daughter is around is a ‘modern’ and ‘foreign’ idea and in this context modernity is of course not taken very positively. A scholar might reflect differently on this and consider the acceptance of a female to lead Namaz (Muslim prayer always led by a male) as "modern". The idea of modernity is also very temporal though there are many who remain fixated with the idea of maintaining the 'purity' of a practice or concept by following the 'words' of the law rather than the 'spirit.' However, with the passage of time there is an acceptance of certain technologies or social norms as traditional which originally started out as radical and modern. For example, though the Muslims do not eat non halal meat (non Kosher) but those residing in Western countries where access to such food is hard or impossible, many Muslim scholars have given the verdict that it is allowed to eat the non halal meat of those animals permitted by Islam. Similarly, there is a considerable amount of debate going on regarding the issue of female seclusion and purdah, both in the Occident and the Orient. Some call it a privilege and some a sign of oppression, and how it is practiced and to what degree it is observed is also a matter of preference for different people and is according to their reading of Islam. While Modernity by itself is a complex, dense and multi-layered concept which does not have very specific contour and shape, I considers the current transition of Muslims towards adoption of more secular values a sign of "modernization".

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The question of my religion

It seems that I do not say Alhamdullah, Inshallah and Mashallah enough. Especially when I watch TV shows these days it seems more pronounced how Western I have become. I love to read the likes of NFP and M Hanif who constantly get battered by readers for their over-liberal views and are labeled by many Pakistanis as CIA agents.

The way things are secularizing in my life, it seems that many of my friends would not even consider me even a "Naam Ka Muslim". For me the biggest religion is humanity, the biggest duty is to help others and be a good human being. God is secondary to humanity! I openly denounce many practices my friends think are necessary to keep their religion like hating infidels, Yahud and Nassara! To me the ideology of hate does not make any sense. On the contrary I believe that an eye for an eye will leave everyone blind in this world. However, having said all that, I also admit that I do not want to give up my Muslim identity. I feel angry at the atrocities hurled at Muslims in Aghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan etc. The only difference between me and the self proclaimed good Muslims would be perhaps that I do not agree that a bloody jehad is a solution to solve the issue of the Ummah. Nor do I think that the rhetoric of Islamism, going back to Shariah, adopting Wahbi version of Islam etc. is an answer to our problems. I personally do not see Islam and the West as polar opposites. Yes, there are problems with Western culture but there are problems with our cultures too! I think we need to find a solution for us based on the Islam, but not on Badouin culture. And that solution should be according to the needs of the 21st century in which women are no longer baby producing machines but equal partners of men.

Coming back to my identity, I sometimes think that may be I have gone too far in shedding the layers of what makes my Muslim identity like practices, beliefs, dress, food etc. How far can you go in being liberal and be still considered Muslim, since there is an obvious dichotomy between beling libral and being a Muslim. Thankfully, there are several writers, journalists and bloggers in Pakistan who give me hope that a Pakistani Muslim identity for me is still possible for people like me. And, the biggest hope and solace comes from the sufi poets of this land of pure, who had to fight similar battles in their times but they never gave up their message of humanity and love!

Monday, February 08, 2010

A question of identity....

What makes a you a Pakistani? Or how do you "perform" your Pakistaniat other than using Inshallah and Alhumdulliah in every phrase... I learnt recently that you also have to show your hatred of the Kafirs like Indians/Americans/Israelis. I also learnt the same goes for many Bangladeshis who "perform" or prove their Bengaliness by Pakistani bashing/hating and holding all Pakistanis accountable for 1971 atrocities... It is a nightmare they do not want to wake up from! As for Indians I don't know who their favorite "others" are, other than Pakistanis.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Youth of Pakistan: Herald 2009 survey

Youth Speak

By Madiha Sattar

Surveys conducted by Razzak Abro, Irshad Akhtar, Qazi Asif, Asif Akhtar, Muhammad Badar Alam, Ali Hazrat Bacha, Bashir Baghi, Hassnain Ghayoor, Ali Hassan, Hameedullah Khan, Mohammad Hussain Khan, Muqaddam Khan, Shahnawaz Khan, Sikandar Bakhtiar Khoso, Nasir Rahim, Verda Adil Shah and Shahzada Zulfiqar

Herald February 2009 Issue If you arranged all 176 million Pakistanis in a line according to age, the person in the middle of the queue would be about 21 years old. This is fairly remarkable, given that the average citizen of this country lives to be 64 — there are as many Pakistanis in the first two decades of their existence as there are in the next four. So while the world’s current geopolitical focus means the country as a whole has been polled on its political opinions time and time again by international and domestic surveyors, what is not really known is how the country’s massive pool of young people – the majority of its future voters, consumers, producers, parents and civil society – will shape Pakistan.

Is this country becoming more conservative as it grows older? Is our future electorate politically engaged enough to make meaningful voting decisions? How has the recent spate of terrorism affected their lives? Will they demand a secular state or a religious one? Will they be able to contribute to the economy? Have they found role models among our major public figures? Are they likely to change family structures, sexual mores and the nature of social interaction between the sexes? What keeps them up at night? And, ultimately, how do they feel about being citizens of the complicated and challenged country they live in today?

Source: Herald Pakistan

Also read Husham Ahmed's analysis of the same on Dawn Blog.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

EWCPA cookbook

I am so frustrated with the recipe collection process for the EWCPA cookbook.. there is no desire and excitement from our so called community to submit recipes, have potlucks etc. Even the people who were initially very excited about the project are lukewarm and are providing only lip service!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How I spent my time today!

First of all, today was not a "typical day" for me. At least if a researcher asked I would not refer today as a typical day which could be used as a reference day for a time-use study. However, just for funʻs sake let us assume today was a typical day in my life as a women who is a doctoral student. How did I spend it? How productive was it?
Well, I got up this morning around 8, checked emails and face book (first thing in the morning). then brushed my teeth and had a boring breakfast... then i thought about sending some emails which have been pending for a while, like 6 months... So i set about looking at my gmail email TAGs (labels) to see which emails needed action... It was like a black hole.. I disappeared into the whirlpool of the cyber world for several hours and after reading my emails, favorite blogs, twits, FB statuses, news etc. and tweeting, sending emails etc. it was already past noon. Lunch time, so I go for lunch. Reheat old food and come back to the strong pull of the internet on my laptop.. Then I disappear once again into the cyber world and wake up to real world when the phone rings... It was 4:30 already... I did not go for work or anything else. I left the room 3 times to get food or use the bathroom!! Now I am going to go visit a relative who is in hospital. When I get back it would be dinner time... After dinner, I doubt I would have any energy for any "productive" work!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My tardinesses and impulsivenesses

I am paying about 3000$ for being tardy and impulsive.... It is painful to take out that hard earned cash from savings account and give it to the University of Hawaii cashier, but I have no other choice left... I could have prevented this by being more organized... But anyway, have no choice now.. Better get it done and over with and plan for the future...