Zarb-e-Azb and Pakistan’s Other Battles


*First published on Pakistan Today.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released a much-anticipated statement on June 15th 2014 announcing the decision on the directions of the government to launch a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists in North Waziristan; Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

The decision has been largely welcomed by both the segments of the nation which were divided over confrontation with the Taliban: those who, from the very beginning, questioned the logic of negotiation in the face of an expansionist and extremist force; and those who favoured negotiation only to be left disillusioned as the militants refused to cease their assaults on the country, the latest being the Karachi Airport Attack.

army-operationA state of war, as it is now, it is hoped that this would lead Pakistan’s political parties and the government to consider the gravity of the situation and demonstrate sheer seriousness by practicing maturity, sensibility and putting their squabbles aside. The complete opposite of which has been witnessed in Model Town, Lahore in the fight between PAT supporters and the Punjab Police; and Imran Khan’s incessant drive to push forward his rusty political agendas against the government by seemingly unending  jalsas.

The government and other parties must realize that now is not the time for political gimmickry, point-scoring and bickering. While the media should realize that responsible journalism, instead of sensationalism, is the need of the hour.

The government should leave no stone unturned for aiding the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), ensuring their easy transportation and suitable accommodation. It needs to have concrete plans for their rehabilitation, especially since the holy month of Ramzan has begun and the scorching heat is yet to subside. More importantly, the IDP crisis and the government’s sluggish response is being capitalized by several militant and extremist organisations who are stepping up to provide relief and aid to them, which could have potentially grave implications if the state continues limping. The participation of the ordinary people, the civil society and NGOs will also be vital to the efforts for the help and assistance of the IDPs, as has always been.

The Operation against the militants does not only involve our courageous jawans,but this fight demands that the entire nation stands together in this decisive hour.

The late Eqbal Ahmad, whose prophetic warnings (‘the chickens of Jihads’ once sponsored by imperialism and the state are likely to come home to roost’) regarding Pakistan’s future vis-à-vis the policy in Afghanistan during and after the Afghan war were made little use of, penned in an article of his titled ‘What after Strategic Depth?’ published in Dawn on 23rd August 1998:

The domestic costs of Pakistan’s friendly proximity to the Taliban are incalculable and potentially catastrophic. More importantly, the Taliban’s is the most retrograde political movement in the history of Islam. The warlords who proscribe music and sports in Afghanistan, inflict harsh punishments upon men for trimming their beards, flog taxi drivers for carrying women passengers, prevent sick women from being treated by male physicians, banish girls from schools and women from the work-place are not returning Afghanistan to its traditional Islamic way of life as the western media reports sanctimoniously. They are devoid of the ethics, aesthetics, humanism, and Sufi sensibilities of traditional Muslims. To call them “mediaeval” is to insult the age of Hafiz and Saadi, of Rabi’a Basri and Mansur al-Hallaj, of Amir Khusrau and Hazrat Nizamuddin. The Taliban are the expression of a modern disease, symptoms of a social cancer which shall destroy Muslim societies if its growth is not arrested and the disease is not eliminated. It is prone to spreading, and the Taliban will be the most deadly communicators of this cancer if they remain so organically linked to Pakistan’.

Pakistan will have to revise its policies if it wishes to effectively eradicate this cancer for once and for all today. Two contrasting policies, one which advocates a fight against the Taliban (“bad Taliban”) at home while going soft on the Taliban in foreign lands such as Afghanistan (“good Taliban”) in order to extract some sort of advantages is bound to ensure neither peace nor stability in Pakistan and come back to bite us, as it is today.

And while the nation wishes the armed forces success in the Operation, light must be also be shed on an equally important side of the battle: the TTP’s ideological prevalence in our social, religious and political sphere which is far more dangerous, in that it spawns and reproduces the fodder for bloodletting in the form of so-called jihadis which today Zarb-e-Azb is designed to defeat, and even more difficult to destruct.

The hate sermons that often blast from many mosques’ speakers against minorities and certain sects; the dangerous indoctrination that occurs in the madrassah; the open distribution of leaflets, pamphlets and issuance of fatwas that incite murder and hate; the consonance between the mindset of many ordinary Pakistanis and the Taliban regarding minorities, the West, democracy and modernity; a pregnant Farzana Bibi’s stoning in broad daylight; the existence of Taliban apologists and sympathizers in our political arena and their ideological and political patronage of the ancillary warriors of Al-Qaeda such as the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba; a certain High Court Judge planting a proud kiss on Mumtaz Qadri’s face during his trial for the murder of the late Salman Taseer – are all stark testaments to the ideological pervasiveness of the Taliban in Pakistan today.

Humayun Gauher in his article ‘The Enemy Within’ published recently in Pakistan Today says:

‘Finally, the army is launching a mini operation, but only in North Waziristan and perhaps the rest of the tribal areas. Big deal. The terrorists have reached every nook, cranny and neighbourhood of the country, even the houses of the rich and powerful. The operation has to be countrywide if we are to be rid of terrorism once and for all. ‘

Chris Cork also makes a striking point in his op-ed in Express Tribune titled ‘The Jihadi Spring’:

‘Subsequent air strikes are said to have killed many ‘foreign fighters — and that may well be true but it is not the foreign fighters that are the real problem.

That lies far from North Waziristan and is in the seminaries and madrassahs that give support and succour to the men who fight in the mountains. The anonymous compounds that are the rear-echelon for extremist groups. They provide rest and recreation, logistical support, are planning hubs and quite probably arms caches as well. All hiding in plain sight, all well enough known to ‘the authorities’ — and all apparently sleeping easy in their beds today. Which — if this huge operation in the mountains of the North were really about countering terrorism in Pakistan — they should not be.

Terrorism needs to be fought holistically, it is never going to be ‘defeated’ militarily (ask the Afghan Taliban about that one) and as long as the arteries of money and doctrine and patronage flow freely — as they are today — it will always persist.

Today Pakistan faces not a single but multiple threats of militancy, terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and violence, as identified by the government’s National Security Policy of 2014-18, all of which are heads of a single monster; only one of which the state as decided to take on now, to defeat which each would have to be destroyed. And for Pakistan to rid itself of this plague, it is an essential imperative to win both battles against the militant extremists: the one on the ground and the one in the state and society, the ideological front.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Published in: on July 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm  Comments (2)  
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~ Every Inch of This Land is Soaked with the Blood of its People


*Don’t usually prefer penning such despondency but this was written right after the Karachi Airport Attack; with a seared heart:

Every inch of this country is soaked with the blood of its people,
Every corner with fear and ordeal;

Peace left long,
Abandoned us with scorn;

From death and violence there is no respite, pakistan-unrest-karachi-airport-1
Helpless screams our plight;

Bodies pile in heaps,
From this land of green, only red seeps;

Grief marches,
And suffering strides,
But bravery reigns,
And resilience still resides;

The sigh between mourning,
The breath between cries,
The time between two calamities;
Is the only peace, out of life, that we can now prise;

They say there is a world beyond,
They say there is a heaven,
And we believe, for we’ve seen our heaven thrown to hell;

For every inch of this country is soaked with the blood of its people,
Every corner with fear and ordeal.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Published in: on June 13, 2014 at 3:09 pm  Comments (5)  
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The Real Malala Drama


*Originally published in Pakistan Today.

One would reckon that a shot in the head of a 15-year old girl advocating education against the agenda of barbaric monsters and risking their wrath would shake the nation into unanimously becoming a steel wall of support behind her. Not in Pakistan. Not in a society so deeply divided on issues that invite no second thoughts in most societies.

Malala Yousafzai

The attack on Malala a year ago and her fight of survival was the only phase that saw the Pakistani people raising their hands in prayers for her, yet her subsequent rise has left many seething in ire, leaving others with bad taste in their mouth.

Malala’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and her being the global favorite for the Prize resuscitated the riling against her in her very own country.
And the riling itself, has roots within this society.

Pakistanis, as a people, have been socialized into a society and people that inherently resent recognition, acknowledgement and achievement if earned by anyone apart from themselves. It is disliked and downplayed with passionate disdain.
753848-un-pakistan-youth-malala-yousafzaiEven if it is a 16-year old girl. Jealousy in Pakistan creates a genuine, and otherwise lacking, sense of unity with no bounds of age, class, ethnicity and language. After all, how many of us can boast of having celebrated our 16th birthday by addressing the UN; getting nominated for a Nobel and claiming world-wide recognition and fame?

From decades, Pakistanis are also suffering from a chronic case of the diseased, conspiracy-theory mindset molded on sheer McCarthyism. Indoctrinated by the state textbooks that brim with propaganda; the generation that was schooled reading those and heightened by general ignorance, it has only nourished. The late Ardeshir Cowasjee once penned in a column of his for Dawn that we like to believe Pakistan to be the nucleas of the world. It is this self-constructed myth that misguides the majority to believe the world is engaged in a constant pursuit of conspiracies against the beacon of development, progress, peace and prosperity that Pakistan has always been as is today.
Malala-meets-ObamasMoreover, the conspiracy-theory mindset is used as an instrument to make sense of events and incidents in Pakistan. An unfavorable occurrence, such as Malala’s shooting, and especially if it yields the global stare, is fit to be framed as a conspiracy to ‘malign Pakistan and damage its image’ therefore, naturally, Malala becomes a Western stooge; who has left many of these people confused by being both a Western stooge and meeting the President of the USA and letting him know clearly of her stance against drone attacks and their damage to her country and countrymen. Mind-baffling.

It would perhaps, be beneficial to wake up from this hopeful slumber and see that any image that Pakistan may have had, has crumbled into nothing since a while now; therefore the image-insecurity has no basis to exist either. There is no image for us to maintain. If we are to build one, it will take years because that necessitates creeping out of the narrow conspiracy-theory worldview that rejects any call for us to look within and identify what plagues us, rather than ascribing the plagues to foreign origins, for the correct identification of problems is the first step to fix them. Fixing our problems would build and fix any image that is to stay, as blogger and writer Abdul Majeed Abid describes it: only a country’s reality reflects in its image; a negative reality will produce a negative image.

But what is rather worrying is also the direction of the image-insecurity, which is more alarmed at the coverage and publicity of an unpleasant happening in Pakistan than the happening itself. It is not the attack on Malala that often bothers many, it is the global attention the incident received that concerns them for it highlights the brutality in Pakistan. Even though the fact that this very form of brutality, terrorism, has become Pakistan’s predominant reality should be beyond the grasp of denial for us.

1pakistandanger-1123055i1

Remarkably, many of the seemingly educated have been seen to be the most vehement in expression against the respect and admiration being lent to Malala from every corner of the globe as ‘undue‘.
It is at this point that popular blogger Sana Saleem’s argument in a recent blog post of her’s becomes most pertinent:

‘It’s true that not all human rights violations get the attention they deserve, the media industry we have is at best manipulative and heavily politicised. When children that are reported dead in drone strikes or military action do not get the attention they deserve, attention that would call an end to extra judicial murders, we are in the right to be angry. But we are bigoted, hypocritical and self flagellating when we blame the victim of one act of terror for the lack of acknowledgement of the other.’

The reason many urban dwellers can not fathom the fanfare surrounding Malala, lies in their social and geographical locations and situations. As one Twitter-user @pindibuoy commented:
“The urban dwellers can’t get their heads around the barriers the rural girls have to overpower [to attend school].”

Some are merely skeptic of the Western hullabaloo around her, and understandably so. As London-based Turkish writer and academic Ziya Meral tweeted: ‘Malala is inspiring, but really hope there are people who will protect her from consumption by Western media, Hollywood, ‘speaker’ market’.

But mostly, there are those who are just exasperated by the commotion surrounding her, misinterpreting her head-shot as her claim to fame. It has not been the shot in the head which Malala received that thrust her into global popularity and adoration, it is her cause of education; her resolve; her maturity; her pacifism; her determination; her courage and her resilience as both a target and victim of terrorism which makes her nothing less than the spirit of Pakistan in the fight against it. Malala is Pakistan. Honoring her is honoring our fight, our battle.

Malala laughing

The real Malala drama does not have Malala Yousafzai as the central character, it has the people of Pakistan in the main role playing out their entrenched hate, bigotry, misogyny with the props of denialism, conspiracy theories and McCarthyism. The hand that triggered the gun also triggered these social characteristics and foul national features, a part of the wider persisting social phenomena in Pakistan, to play out collectively. The real Malala drama is, but an expose of the Pakistani society and nation itself.

 ~ Hafsa Khawaja

Published in: on October 15, 2013 at 6:59 am  Comments (3)  
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Of Bullet-Proof Shields and Tests of Courage


*First posted on PakTea House.

There are usually, if not always, a certain set of characteristics and qualities that a people expect their leader to have. Amongst the numerous of honesty, integrity and dignity that Pakistanis seek in a leader, is also bravery.

With the elections approaching fast, the idea of bravery seems to have been accorded quite a role with populism at play.

A certain notion has been developed in political rhetoric plus social media and political discourse that equates bullet-proof shields and security for protection to ‘cowardice‘.

931286_157861574389201_218288170_nA number of statements and acts have sprung forth from different political sides either proudly proclaiming their pluck and fearlesness, that they declare only to be existing for the Creator; getting a security measure chucked publicly to testify that or pointing its continuance at rivals’ rallies to ’prove’ their chicken-heartedness.

Imran Khan who initially did the above-mentioned, had to resort to shielded containers at some jalsas, reportedly even Nawaz Sharif also ordered the removal of his bullet-proof shield at the jalsa in Jarranwala.

In recent years, Pakistan has been consumed into an abyss that has swallowed over 40,000 including countless political leaders and representatives. From the late Benazir Bhutto to Bashir Bilour, the onslaught has only expanded and continues to swell.

Extremism and terrorism have breached every inch of the country and the lives of its inhabitants.

With blasts ripping through different areas of the country, attacks on various candidates of different parties, their processions, offices and rallies, these elections have witnessed the resurrection of the electoral field in Pakistan as a bloody battleground.

nawaz-PHOTO-INP-640x480Keeping the present in mind, the notion of abandoning security by any political leader as a testament to his ‘bravery’ not only falls nothing short of absurd, but constitutes sheer recklessness.

This country can neither afford more bodies to bury nor more tragedies caused to orchestrate further instability, which is being referred to as the main means to subvert the link of completion in Pakistan’s first transfer of power from a democratically-elected government to another: the elections itself.

In these times, bravery does not lie in the removal of bullet-proof shields but the vocal, wholehearted and practical espousing of a hardline stance against all kinds, types, forms of terrorism, radicalism, extremism and terrorists; their wholehearted condemnation which doesn’t slip into selectivity; the involvement of public presentations of proper policies and plans designed to purge the country of this menace; pressure of demands on different national institutions such as the judiciary and the Election Commission for trying, barring and excluding extremists and terrorists from participating in all types of activities be it hate-mongering or elections instead of keeping mum over instances such as the recent (reported) allowance given to 55 candidates from Punjab, who belong to 10 different sectarian groups, to contest the electoral race.

For too long, the demonstration of this genuine valor has been staved off through its substitution by hollow and superficial displays of bravery.

And it must be realized today that the real test of courage lies not in the removal of bullet-proof shields but in the embrace of this sincere audacity for what truly is, Pakistan’s fight for its soul.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Published in: on May 10, 2013 at 8:04 am  Comments (6)  
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Saving Face: Beyond The Conventional Significance of the Oscar


On Monday 27th February 2012, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won Pakistan its first Oscar for her documentary-film ‘Saving Face’.

For a country that is virtually a pariah state, a nation which has, since the last decade, only occasionally been conferred reasons of rejoicing or relief, and is terribly misconceived, known for nothing more than a people who snuggle in the tight wrap of terrorism – Sharmeen and her win, go beyond the conventional significance of the Oscar and the scope of pride and joy for Pakistan.

Her achievement, sent out a reverberating message that read; as prominent Arab Blogger Bassem Sabry put it, in regard to Iran and Pakistan’s Oscar wins:

“There is much more to these countries than just clichés of bombs and terrorism.”

As an educated, talented woman, successfully juggling her profession and family with a  balance, and with a brave and laudable attempt to bring out the subject of a repulsive and sickening practice in many parts of Pakistan; Sharmeen clearly toppled the perceptions that most hold about the country and its women.

Through her work and her speech, she overturned the generalizing stereotype that all women in Pakistan are locked up in the four walls of their houses, provided no access to education or the freedom to pursue a profession, and are forcefully draped in yards of a dull cloth, from head to toe.

For the Pakistani people, she truly shone in defining an example of representing their country: replete with poise, and with a cause.

Most importantly, her commitment and ardor to bring out the plight of the innocent and defenseless victims of acid-attacks, who are fettered to their fatalities, and elicit and raise awareness against this sickening practice in many areas of Pakistan, is wholly praiseworthy.

Contrary to the view being held by most Pakistanis, ‘Saving Face’ doesn’t only accentuate this social disease but also includes the positive aspect of hope, resilience and the possibility of a difference, all in response to this.

Sharmeen with Co-Director Daniel Junge and Dr. Jawad.

To quote Sharmeen herself:

“Saving face is a testament to the fact that ordinary people can come together to achieve extraordinary things.

The film revolves around Dr Jawad, a renowned Pakistani British plastic surgeon who has been traveling to Pakistan for the past decade to perform surgeries, free of cost for people who are unable to afford treatment. Giving back to his country, Dr Jawad was able to transform these women’s lives through his generosity and commitment.

Over the course of shooting this film, a historic bill was passed by the Pakistani parliament that strengthened the punishments awarded to perpetrators of such attacks. This law was brought into existence by testimonies of survivors and the incredible will and dedication of Marvi Memon.

Similarly, a female lawyer took up the case of Zakia, a survivor who was attacked by her husband. Offering her services pro bono, this lawyer won Zakia’s case, and her husband was given two life sentences.

So, even though “Saving Face” deals with difficult subject matter, it is infused with hope and is a telling tale of the great things that can happen when people come together.”

Although already planned before, and now propelled by international support, wide acclaim and nation-wide interest, Sharmeen will be launching a national educational campaign about Acid Violence, in March.

A 2010 article in Time mentioned:

‘Accurate statistics on acid attacks in Pakistan are hard to come by … The perpetrators are most often relatives or rivals,  sometimes for one woman’s affections, or, in non-gender-based attacks, opponents  provoked by property disputes or other disagreements.

Shahnaz Bokhari, chief coordinator and clinical  psychologist at the Progressive Women’s Association in Rawalpindi, says her  organization has counted 8,000 victims burned by acid as well as kerosene and  stoves since 1994. “And that’s just from Rawalpindi, Islamabad and a 200-mile  radius. I am not talking about in Pakistan [as a whole],” she says. Activists believe that only some 30% of acid cases are reported.

Acid is a  readily available and inexpensive weapon; it costs less than a dollar a liter  and is often used for household cleaning or for cotton processing in rural  areas.’

One hopes that Sharmeen is as fortunate she has been in being rewarded the most prestigious of awards for her efforts, she will be as lucky in the accomplishment of her aim of changing peoples’ mindsets towards this physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically jarring barbarity, and moving them into action in opposition to this. And that Pakistanis will react to this, with the same zeal with which they celebrated the Oscar for it.

As the ‘Saving Face’ website states in their ‘Mission’:

‘Our goal is to leverage Saving Face as a pivotal tool in the campaign to end acid violence in Pakistan and beyond. As Co-Director Daniel Junge expressed, “the film must be more than an expose of horrendous crimes — it must be a recipe for addressing the problem and a hope for the future.”

Saving Face is uniquely positioned to advance awareness, education and prevention efforts.’

At the end, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy needs to be hailed once again. For being an outstanding representative of the Pakistani people, their capacity to attain great heights and their goals, their strength and their capabilities – especially Pakistani women.

Columnist Huma Yusuf writes in her article for the International Herald Tribune:

For once, Pakistan is making headlines for a positive achievement, not another terrorist attack, political squabble or natural disaster.

For Pakistanis who have been struggling to restore their country’s flailing image, it’s a relief to see a talented, young Pakistani woman receiving a coveted international award.’

  For showing that there is, a Pakistan, apart from the picture that majority across the globe, holds of it.

For chosing to cast light upon a cruelty and the healing of its scars, by the existence of hope and better likelihoods.

For raising this forlorn nation out of its abyss of dejection, even if for just a little time.

Thank you Sharmeen!

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Pakistan’s Image Insecurity and The ‘Aal Iz Well’ Syndrome


As written before:

‘Since the onset of Pakistan’s engagement in the War on Terror, the country nosedived in its entirety; politically, socially and economically. Not only was this unfortunate plunge a harbinger of possibly, the worst of times for it but heralded the introduction of a gamut of negative stereotypes in relation to Pakistan and its citizens.

Largely owing to the almost-routinely involvement of Pakistan or any individual with even a faint connection to it in incidents or reports of terrorism, the spread of these stereotypes fixed its image as ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’’

This particular instance had consequential effects on both sides; of the Pakistanis and the rest of the world.

Concerning the latter, [ for most of them ] Pakistan’s picture became what was a hodge-podge of stereotypes and words such ranging from terrorism, terrorists to poverty, illiteracy and bloodshed.

For the Pakistanis, grivieances were nurtured of being portrayed in the single shade of negativity in international media, an obejction or grouse justifed at times, while many ventured and are venturing to show the ‘real’ image [ As said in the Pakistani lingo ] and positive angle of their country.

With each passing day, as the worsening of Pakistan’s state ensured its quick descent into chaos with degeneration in every quarter of the country – certain approaches developed amongst the people – one of them associated with ‘insecurity of image’, after being swung onto a somewhat defensive edge by the quick spin of events involving the country.

This evolved into an attitude relating to ‘Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no Evil’ [ Which in some interpretations, ‘is used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance.’ ]. Many Pakistanis chose to shut their ears, close their eyes and sew their lips to silence when it came to the ills in the society and country. This has eventually lead to a self-concoted national ignorance, that has inevitably given birth to a sociteal conspiracy of silence.


As the numbers who chose to immerse themselves in this practise grew, a culture of shame, conspiracy theories, denialism and dogmatism flourished with it due to which any pinching incidents or facts that proffered chances for clamant introspection were tossed away by the dismissive wave of a hand after much nugatory tub-thumping and dramatic statements on the media by individuals.

With the PTA reporting over 22 million Pakistani internet users, which is about 12% of the total 180 million population, this concept and societal mindset slid onto the virtual world.

Plenty of these Pakistanis have been vociferating their opinion that no news regarding the country should be posted or discussed on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter [ where many have friends from other countries ] that sharpens the features of the poor picture that lots hold globally of Pakistan. This is the extent of the ‘image insecurity’.

One wonders how would the prevention of posting unfavourable Pakistanis news [ Say, cases of the treatment of minorities here, rape victims etc ] on these sites from reaching a handful of foreign people help in this digital age and era of electronic media where even a minor happenings are broadcasted or published through hundreds of channels and sites to millions all around the world within split seconds of their occurance.

Also, as of yet Pakistan has, in fact – no image at all. And it is food for thought, that if social networking sites could be tools for revolution, can’t they be instruments to stir a societal change? It is defined, that societies are the footing for nations that inhabit countries. Any change within the society will affect the nation which will inevitably reform/rebuild Pakistan’s perception positively that will come in its ripple effect.

But for that, the bizarre approach needs to abandoned. Pakistanis must shed the guise of ignorance and keeping mum while being cognizant about plagues and cultural malaises.

The people must be made aware of the innumberable and untold stories and issues stinging the core of Pakistan’s culture, society, politics and nation. They must be awakened from this sleep of dormancy that has been prolonged for too long a time, 64 years.

Debate should be initiated about them at all forums [ The internet, the streets, national media or at homes ] after this.
One of the reasons for the palpable and glaringly low tolerance in Pakistan is the absence of debate and arguments among people, which has helped to foster and instill a proclivity in each person for sheer insularity and unwillingness to hear opposing views – that if heard, are answered by profiling [ labelling someone as a RAW/MOSSAD/CIA Agent or a ‘liberal facist’ ] , judgements and fatwas rather than refuted by facts.

The stimulation of discussions will so, instill gradually a sense of open-mindedness along with stirring people to comprehend the situations, think, measure their words and then freely express their opinions.

Debates might also commence into finding solutions for the problems they are based on and individual efforts may be encouraged to apply those. Joint efforts may also be made. And the more the pandemonium and clamor of the people is, the more it is bound to reach the corridors of power and ensure decisive action.

There is an idiom in Urdu; Kabotar ka billi ko dekh kar ankhein band kar lena.
‘The shutting of eyes by the pigeon as he spots the cat’.

Some expound it as one’s turning away after seeing a difficulty. This might just be what the aforementioned Pakistanis are doing.

By averting one’s gaze from a problem [ Not accepting the existence of or talking about it ], it does not dissolve it. It needs to be faced. Pakistanis need to yield the need to identify conundrums, national dilemmas and social contaminations for only when they are recognized as problems, does one seek a remedy to be extricated from them.

The lean line separating resilience from indifference also needs to be accentuated and compreheneded. Pakistanis have begun to dwell more into the realm of the latter than the former. To be struck by bomb attacks, blasts and natural calamities and again get back and continue life with the same vigour is resilience but to see myriad cases of rape, discrimination against minorities, a selective genocide against the Baloch and yet remain silent – is shameful apathy.

Being lulled into a state of false security and satisfaction by not raising your voice against wrongdoings, thus they are not brought into the light of scrutiny and attention as they derserve to be, will only stoke the fire of such perversions and injustices for those committing it would certainly be basking in the knowledge of the nation’s propensity to remain indifferent towards them.

And as Sana Saleem wrote in one of her ever-brilliant articles;

‘The mindset that believes that acknowledging our issues is threatening to our ‘image’. What good is an image, other than deceiving ourselves, is another question altogether.’

Pakistanis have acquiesced with whatever has swept the country for too long and it has cost them too much.

Or as Ayaz Amir penned in his thought-provoking and must-read ‘Woes of an Ostrich Republic’;

‘Islam is not the state religion of Pakistan, denial is. And our national emblem should be the ostrich, given our proclivity to bury our heads in the sand and not see the landscape around us as it is.’

It will be nugatory to tart up Pakistan’s image for the world and act for them and for ourselves [ in betrayal of reality and as an ode to denialism ] as if everything is ‘Aal Iz Well’ while succumbing to the death-knell of destruction in the country due to national apathetic torpor that binds us in bondage of inertia relating to the situations in the country.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

The Pakistan At The Periphery of The World’s View


Since the onset of Pakistan’s engagement in the War on Terror, the country nosedived in its entirety; politically, socially and economically. Not only was this unfortunate plunge a harbinger of possibly, the worst of times for it but heralded the introduction of a gamut of negative stereotypes in relation to Pakistan and its citizens.

Largely owing to the almost-routinely involvement of Pakistan or any individual with even a faint connection to it in incidents or reports of terrorism, the spread of these stereotypes and a fixed image of ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’ has completely buried the Pakistan that existed before and still exists for the world to witness.

Despite a tumultous 64-year old journey and contrary to the belief that Pakistan ‘ a land virtually barren of achievements’ – it has had its fair share of achievements, pride and glory in every field.

Pakistan has played a significant role on the international stage.

Hardly two months after its creation in 1947, Sir Zafrullah represented Pakistan in United Nations General Assembly as the head of its delegation and soon emerged as the most excellent of a spokesperson for the causes of the Muslim World and other countries.

Perhaps, the greatest of the countless incomparable services he rendered was his exemplary advocacy of the cause of Palestine and Kashmir. Him being a champion of the former cause garnered enormous appreciation, acknowledgement and reverence from almost all Muslim countries and leaders at that time.

‘In October 1947 he delivered a speech on the Palestine issue in the UN General Assembly, which is one of the most strong case ever presented for Palestine to date.

[ Quoting from another blog on him ] :

‘His speech on Kashmir Issue on January 15, 1948 in the UN Security Council is considered as the most comprehensive presentation of the Kashmir Issue ever on international stage, his speech continued for 7 straight hours and resulted in materialization of UN resolutions on Kashmir.’

Through his stupendous championship of such causes, he also became an evident proponent of the advance of universal values, peace, human rights, democracy and justice as from 1948 to 1954 he represented Pakistan at the Security Council (UN) and outstandingly spoke for the liberation of Libya, Northern Ireland, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia and occupied Kashmir.

To date, none have come into sight that could rival the towering statesman, who was honored in his lifetime by numerous countries by bestowing highest of civil awards or a deserved deluge of praises, in prowess or services.

Pakistan’s Eeqbal Ahmed was a distinguished intellectual, ‘prolific writer and journalist, he was widely consulted by revolutionaries, journalists, activist leaders and policymakers around the world. ‘

He had joined Algeria’s National Liberation Front and was offered an opportunity to join the first independent Algerian government and refused in favor of life as an independent intellectual.

In a ‘Factfile’ for Islamabad Policy Research Institute titled ‘UN Peacekeeping Missions and Pakistan’, it is stated:

‘Pakistan is contributing to UN peacekeeping since 1960 and is the single largest contributor of UN peacekeeping forces, with more than 11,000 Pakistani military personnel serving in UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.

‘The Pakistan contingent for the UN Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone in 1999-2005 has been cited by the UN Peacekeeping Headquarters as a “Role Model for all UN Missions.”

‘The Pakistan Naval Academy, which was established in 1971, has since its inception trained over 2,000 personnel from other countries, including Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Qatar and Bahrain.’

Pakistan also has a history of hosting several communities of disparate peoples’ from around the world [ Either fleeing from violence or other reasons ] and refugees. It received about six million Afghan refugees from 1979 to 2001.

Along with hosting about 200,000 Burmese people who are largely based in Karachi [ To be precise, they are Rohingya Muslims from Western Burma who claim to have fled their homeland of Arakan State under the persecution of Muslim citizens by the Burmese Junta ]. A considerable number of Kurds from many countries also came to reside in the country and some still do.

Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to have received the Nobel Prize wrote in her book ‘Iran Awakening’ [ Page 78 ] :

But once it became clear that the war [ Iran-Iraq War ] would drag on, that Saddam would use chemical weapons and get away with it, a wise stratum of people started to leave..Some managed to obtain visas and boarded planes. Hundreds of thousands of others, desperate to get out at any cost, paid bandits to smuggle them through Turkey or Pakistan’.

There was also a time, in the ’70s, ’80′s and 90′s and even just before the fateful year of 2001, when students from other countries, would come to Pakistan in pursuit of education; from Palestine, Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern Countries.

Apart from such matters, Pakistan has produced many notable personalities and individuals in other fields.

In the sports cricuit, Jahangir Khan surfaced as the World’s No.1 player.


Stated on Ideas Evolved :

‘Pakistani control over the British Open and the World Open was created in 1976. The names of such great maestros such as Azam Khan, Roshan Khan, Mo Khan, Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan, and Jansher Khan have dominated the sport.

Moreover, Jahangir Khan is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to grace a squash court.

During his career he won the World Open six times and the British Open a record ten times.
Between 1981 and 1986, he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history, but also one of the longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sports.’

Sultan Mohammed Khan Golden ‘a motorcar and motorcycle stuntman and jumping specialist, who introduced the sport of reverse motorcar jumping - set the world record by reverse jumping 150 feet over 15 cars.’

Sultan holds his self-set world record of jumping over 22 cars covering 249 feet distance, under his belt, among other things.

Hockey is the country’s national sport, in which it has thrice won the gold in 1960, 1968 and 1984 Olympics. Pakistan hockey team also won the Hockey world cup four times in1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994. And the last major event: Champions trophy was won in 1978, 1980 and 1994.

Latif ur Rehman, Habib ur Rehman, Abdul Rasheed Jr and Dr. Atif Bashir are among Hockey legends from Pakistan.

Sohail Abbas has the highest numbe of goals in field hockey history to his name: 348.

Its said, that there are only two major religions in Pakistan; Islam and Cricket.

Not only does the nation have utmost madness for it but Pakistan’s Cricket Team has shone with splendour since it ventured into the game. They won the World Cup in 1992, the T20 Cup in 2009 and since then, many Pakistani cricket players have made records [ Including the Blind Cricket Team ] and given billions to witness spectacular performances. They are one of the world’s most greatest teams.

 

60% of the world’s footballs are made in Sialkot. In the 1980s, Sialkot gained international recognition  when it produced the Tango ball used in the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Pakistan International Airlines was the first airline in the world to operate scheduled helicopter services. One of PIA’s Boeing 720s broke a world record that year, when it flew from London to Karachi non-stop in 6 hours and 43 minutes and 51 seconds during its delivery flight from Seattle, a record unbroken to this day. Also in 1978 the airline provided help to Somali Airlines, Air Malta and Yemen.

Pakistan boasts of internationally acclaimed musician, legend and maestro, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who is said to be one of the most celebrated artists to have ever been born.


He also made it to TIME magazine’s list of ‘Asian Hereos’.

Ever mused, whose painting hangs in the United Nations Head Quarters? It is the painting by late Abdur Rehman Chugtai, a renowned painter, who was admired by Picasso and Queen Elizabeth II. Ismail Gulgee was globally known for his outstanding work too. 

Abdul Sattar Edhi, the illustrious philanthropist and a truly inspiring ‘living saint’ runs the the world’s largest ambulance help service and charity.

Coming to the sphere of science, Pakistan has the distinction of being the homeland of Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam. A man beyond brilliance.

Rahman Anwar Syed, on whom the Malaysian exalted title of Datuk was bestowed for his contribution to the social and economic well-being of Malaysia is best known for his discocery of the biological method of oil plam pollination.

Pakistan’s Prof. Rahman was elected as Fellow of Royal Society (London), becoming the one of the 4 scientists from the Muslim world to have ever won this honour

To name one, in the literary domain Pakistan’s Bapsi Sidhwa is extolled by many.

The prestigious Harvard Medal of Freedom award has only been given to a total of three people, including Nelson Mandela and Pakistan’s present Chief Justice.

 

Ali Moeen Nawazish is a record-holder for 22 A’s in A-levels. 17-year old Ibrahim Shahid set the record recently by 23 A’s in O-levels.

The late prodigy Arfa Karim, was surpassed by compatriot Babar Iqbal, who at 12 of age, became the Youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and she, at the age 9 had became the Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional.
He also set up three other world records Youngest Certified Wireless Network Administrator at the same age, Youngest Certified Web Professional Associate at age 10 years and in 2009, the feather of the Youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist was added to his hat.

 11-year-old Sitara Akbar, became the youngest student in the world to have passed the British Ordinary Level (O’Level) examination – passing six O’level subjects including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

In addition to this, she also attained seven bands out of nine, in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) , scoring 7.5 in the testing system.

               

Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara are two Pakistanis who achieved the feat of climbing Mount Everest.

Namira Salim is set to become Pakistan’s first astronaut in space in 2012, she is also the First Asian to skydive from an altitude higher than the peak of Mount Everest.

Visual-effects specialist and artist, Mir Zafar Ali was part of the the team that won the Oscar award for best visual effects in 2007, for the movie The Golden Compass. He is the first Pakistani to have been connected with an Oscar award-winning venture.

‘Other movies to his credit are: The Cabin in the Woods (2011), X-Men: First Class (2011), Hop (2011), Yogi Bear (2011), Aliens in the Attic (2009), Island of the Lost (2009), The Mummy (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), The Golden Compass (2007), Surf’s Up (2007), Spider-Man 3 (2007), Ghost Rider (2007), Open Season (2006), Monster House (2006), Stealth (2005), and The Day After Tomorrow (2004).’

The second and more-famed Pakistani to win an Oscar was Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for her documentary ‘Saving Face’.

To mention a historic event in its recent history, the Muslim World’s first female Prime Minister was elected in Pakistan after whom many other women came to be provided with the opportunities to be elevated at other important positions.

With looming mountains and paradisiacal scenery  in the northern areas, green fields in Punjab, desert areas in Balochistan and meandering rivers in Sindh, all four seasons that are followed by different natural delicacies and festivities of the people, sumputous food and scrumptious desserts [ Be it the spicy biryani of Sindh, the delectable ’siri paey’ of Punjab, savory Balochi ’sajji’ or the mouth-watering ‘namak mandi’ of the northern areas] while possessing a string of fascinating monuments,forts and remains of the different civilizations; Moenjodaro, Harrapa, Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Sheesh Mahal, Rawat Fort, Rohtas Fort, Derawar Fort etc – The land of pure has an immense potential for tourism.

Above all and everything else, Pakistan is the country that has stood against all odds gallantly as the continuation of their lives dispersed into a mere repitition of a 9/11 everyday.
As the terrorists blew their mosques, schools, buildings, shrines, hospitals and the bodies and limbs of their loved ones were strewn on streets,  while the world kicked up a din for the imposition of the ignominious appellation ‘Terrorist State’ for it, others clamored for its disintegration and declaring war on it and nature shook its geography loose by earthquakes and the most devastating floods in recent history  – Pakistan held together, braved through all with resilience, smiled and is still going strong. Every Pakistani has a hero’s tale.
This single fact stands tall on its existence and is a feat itself.

Pakistan isn’t a land virtually barren of achievements; it is just, among all other descriptions and harsh facts, of mettle and and lioneheartedness an emobidement.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

* This is a site that was created solely for the purpose of cataloguing and informing people of all the positive news related to Pakistan these days. The achievements and other seldom- good news.

For Syria, It Shall Be Hamza Al-Khateeb!


This is Hamza Al-Khateeb, a 13 year-old Syrian boy who marched with his family in a rally to break the siege of the city of Daraa. On April 29th,  he was detained with hundreds of other Syrians during the massacre of Siada [ where citizens of Deraa were randomly killed by Syrian security forces] .

His whereabouts were unknown until 25th May, when his dead body was delivered to his family – swollen with bruises with countless marks of torture, his gentials cut off [ Its being said, he was shot after this brutality ] and disfiguired due to decay.


This is the video of his body [ Extremely graphic ] :

Hamza is one of the thousands murdered savagely by the Syrian Forces [ Which is almost a mafia system under the command of the Assad Family, their cronies and mainly Maher Al-Assad who heads the 4th Divison - the most ruthless of all ] to smother the rebellion that erupted in the country on 15 March 2011 as part of the Arab revolutions that raged into an inferno this year.


Beginning with laying sieges to cities; cutting of water and electricity in the city of Daraa along with confiscation of flour and food. [ Similar situations occured in Homs, Baniyas, Hama, Talkalakh, Latakia, the Midan and Duma districts of Damascus, and several other towns ] – Bashar’s regime expanded and ran a whole gamut of inhuman tactics from flagrant killings, detentions, piling up of dead bodies in refrigerators to myriad of cases of unimagineable barbarity.

Bashar, whose quite the chip of the old block , is like all other despots clinging onto authority and declaring the revolution as a ploy by ‘armed terrorist groups’ as both to justify the crackdown on the people and display the revolt which calls for his removal in their list of demands – as a threat to the world posed by ‘terrorists’ who might takeover if he leaves.

The people of Syria, Libya and Yemen need to be supported wholly in their fight for liberation against the savages that have been throttling them since ages and in their struggle for basic human rights, social justice, freedom of expression, action and the right to take back the power to rule their countries.

As for Syria, Mosa’ab Elshamy [ One of the prominent youth activists in Egypt who took part in the revolution and has been just released after being detained for protesting infront of the Israeli Embassy on Nakba Day] aptly put it :

‘ Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi. Egypt, Khaled Saeed. Syria, Hamza El Khateeb.’

DOWN WITH BASHAR THE BUTCHER!

 

~ Hafsa Khawaja

* Also, a thank you to @tweets4peace for helping me with this!

 —————————————————————————

 Updated: It surfaced yesterday that Shahd, a beautiful 5 year old Yemeni girl was martyred due to the attack on Alhasba.

Oh and, will the West that claims to be the torch-bearer of All-that-is-right-and-good please raise its voice against these Heads of States/terrorists too, on whose head they kept their hands as Godfathers?

Why Aisam Is The Real Winner


So Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi is the name being uttered about by almost every Pakistani these days. Though he has been playing since an early age all on his own without any financial support from the Government or other authorities and has tennis in his genes (having his maternal grandfather, Khawaja Iftikhar was the All-India champion before partition and his mother Nousheen Ihtesham had won the national women title for 10 years and also represented Pakistan in Fed Cup.) – but him becoming the first Pakistani in history to reach any Grand Slam event Final brought him to the light and attention he deserved long ago.

And though he and his partners lost both US Open Mixed Doubles’ Final and Mens’ Double Final to, Aisam turned out to be a hero. After him and his partner Rohan Bopanna were beaten by the Bryan Brother, he delivered a speech which was concise yet was, in short the voice of 180 million Pakistanis:

 

“Every time I come here, I feel there’s a very wrong perception of Pakistan as a terrorist country. I just want to say we are a friendly, caring and peace-loving country and we want peace as much as you all. God bless us all.”

 

 

 

As New York Daily News writes:

“As a Muslim from Pakistan playing in the U.S. Open doubles final, he said New York needed his words the most, as post-9/11 counsel. So the 30-year-old grabbed the microphone and addressed the estimated 15,000 at Arthur Ashe Stadium – probably the biggest crowd to watch a Grand Slam doubles final – and made sure the moment wasn’t lost.

Prize money and rankings were never a motivating factor, Qureshi said, only good news for his flood-stricken countrymen and a platform to express his message of American misunderstanding.

He also defended the decision to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

“For me, as a Muslim, that’s what makes America the greatest country in the world – freedom of religion, freedom of speech,” Qureshi said.

“If the mosque is built, I think it’s a huge gesture to all the Muslim community out there in the world. I would really appreciate it.”

Qureshi said he’s been stopped at airport immigration “every time” in New York – three hours at a time – including after his latest flight for the Open. And on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he wanted to defend his country’s masses.

“There are extremists in every religion, but just because of them you cannot judge the whole country as a terrorist nation. I just wanted to get this message across as a Pakistani.”

These simple yet bold words were spoken by him, made the hearts of Pakistanis swell with pride and joy for not only was their true representation done but they were lit up in a time crowded with despondency as the cricket-crazy nation feels ‘betrayed’ with their three top cricketers being embroiled in a shameful spot-fixing scandal and being immersed in floods while trying to fight internal cancers.

Also him, voicing his opinion about the Mosque being built near Ground Zero and his rational reasoning behind why he thinks that way, displays his level of maturity and political awareness.

The message he conveyed was one that hasn’t been given out by many of our so-called leaders and diplomats. He chose the moment to defend his country on American soil with billions, probably, as international audience all over the world. It was a silent declaration of his pure patriotism and love for Pakistan.

Years back in the World Super Junior Championships, he beat Andy Roddick and while Roddick was noticed bythe authorities in his country (despite his defeat) to polish, sponsor and prepare for bigger events , our player was ignored so this event provides us the chance to realize who we should honour and value as national heroes rather than the brazen-faced who lack a conscience when putting a price to their country’s pride.

 Aisam had been playing for ages yet he was never appreciated or encouraged as those in cricket. He made the flag of Pakistan flutter on the courts in a time when we are in an abyss of dim and darkness. He may have not won the matches but he surely won the respect, admiration, support, regardful ness and above all, the hearts and minds of the Pakistani nation.

Pakistan and the world need people like Aisam to bring people together and heal the world with their thoughts of peace.

Aisam, we are proud of you!

Surely you are the winner!

 

- Hafsa Khawaja

‘We Are The World’ For Haiti? Not For Pakistan?


When earthquake hit Haiti this January 2010, the world rose in unison to help the victims of the deadly shake with many nations generously chipping in to donate for the people and governments munificently sending billions of dollars of aid and displatching relief teams to the country.

But today, when Pakistan has been hit by the most devastating floods in its history, which have been termed as “the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history with the number of people suffering possibly to exceed the combined total in three recent megadisasters – the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake” by the UN, it seems that the world has started to suffer from a ‘donor fatigue’ or has intentionally closed its eyes and ears to the cries and pleas of the flood-hit Pakistanis.

 

While it is true, that the number of people killed in the Haitian Earthquake were more than those killed in the floods but according to statistics and figures available it can be known that around 20 million have been affected, thousands injured or left homeless with their families separated from them, over 722,000 houses damaged or destroyed, 70,000 children at a risk of dying of malnutritioon and around 6 million can lose their lives in the second expected wave of death likely to be caused by a combination of lack of clean water, food shortages and water-borne and vector-borne diseases.

It has become apparent that those in other countries seem to ignore the current state of people in Pakistan considering the type of image that is portrayed of the country by much of the Western media – of a terrorist and barbaric nation that only breeds intolerance and extremism despite the fact that it is the single most nation that has bore the brunt of terrorism the most.

But some like Liz Borkowski have come to realize that the catastrophe is not being met with the appropriate response as it should. She has written a post on why the floods here are not receiving as much aid and attention as Haiti. Writing as :

“The UN has requested $459 million for emergency relief and has received or gotten commitments for 35% of that. The majority of that has come from the US and UK governments reports Nathaniel Gronewold of Greenwire.  Aid agencies report that responses from individual US donors have been slow, though.

On the list of possible factors behind the lag in individual US donations, Gronewold starts with “public opinion of Pakistan” and cites a June CNN poll showing “78 percent of Americans hold mostly unfavorable views of Pakistan.” I’d like to think people can hold an unfavorable opinion of a country but still be willing to help its citizens get food and water after a natural disaster; maybe when it comes to donations, though, decisions aren’t entirely rational.

I expect the slow pace of donations is mostly a function of less media coverage (compared to the Haiti earthquake). It’s not like the major news organizations are failing to cover Pakistan’s disaster at all, but so far I don’t think I’ve seen many stories about individual families’ struggles – and those are the pieces that spur donations. ” 

One UN assessment in the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) found: “37% of women in households surveyed were consuming less food than men, while 50% of households reported having no food for an entire day.”

The UN asked for $460 million to fund an emergency response. So far, donors have contributed or pledged $148 million, or 32% of the total.   The top donors are the United States ($75,621,599), the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund ($26,595,962) The United Kingdom ( $40,235,085 ) Denmark ( 26,595,962 ) and Private individuals and organzations ($10,510,184).

 After visiting flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “In the past I have visited the scenes of many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this.”

Approximately, 1/5 th of Pakistan is under water. 

Elizabeth Ferris at ReliefWeb has prepared an excellent analysis and report on the comparison between the Haiti Earthquake and Pakistan Floods, compiling a data as follows:

Haitian earthquake Pakistan flooding
Date of disaster 12 Jan 2010First OCHA Situation Report: January 12 Late July 2010 (First reports of flash floods in Baluchistan on July 23, floods in KPK starting around July 26/27)First OCHA Situation Report: July 29
National population 2009   10.2 million 166.1 millionii
Deaths   220,500iii 1,539iv
Injured   Over 300.000v 2,055vi
Displaced Est. 1.8 million (1.3 within Port-au-Prince, 500.000 leaving Port-au-Prince) vii Est. 6 million in need of shelter(August 23)
Total affected/as percentage of total national population 3 million (29.4 %)ix 17.2 millionx (10.35 %)
       

 

Houses destroyed/damaged    105.000/208.000xi 1,226,678 (August 23)xii
Schools destroyed/damaged    1,300xiii 7,820xiv
Hospitals destroyed/damaged    50xv 200xvi
Original UN Flash appeal launched     15 January: xviiUS $ 575 million  11 August: xviiiUS $ 460 million
International pledges 2 weeks after flash appeal as percent of total appeal     82 %xix   57 %xx
Flash appeal funded 100 %  16 February (35 Days)xxiOn Feb 18 revised Humanitarian Appeal is launched requesting US $ 1.4 billion for 1 year (includes the $575 Million of the flash appeal)
US pledges    US $ 211.6 millionxxii (part of the extended 1.4 billion US $ appeal)   US $ 150 millionxxiii (August 23)
Appeal by International Federation of the Red Cross/Crescent Society      US $ 103 million US $ 74 million
Number of tents/plastic sheets distributed 3 weeks after     10,545/11,390 (February 3)xxiv 109,500/72,200 (August 23)xxv
% of displaced receiving tents/tarpaulins (after three weeks)      1.2 % 3.0 %
Donation per affected person received after 2 weeks of flash appeal      US $ 157.16 US $ 15.24
Role of US military Deployed 22,000 troops,58 aircrafts,15 ships;oversaw airport operations,

rehabilitated the harbor,

distributed aid, hospital ship

15 helicopters,as of August 24 the U.S. military had delivered 1.5 million pounds of relief supplies and food,and helicopters had rescued or transported about 6,500 people.xxvi
Health concerns  Traumatic injuries,including crushing Injuries,high needs for surgery, infections Water-borne illnesses (diarrhea, cholera),skin-disease,acute respiratory disease
Protection concerns Trafficking of children;gender-based violence in camps,generalized insecurity Early reports of separated families, a few landmine victims,discrimination against lower castes,women-headed households
Shelter concerns Land tenure issues, rubble clearance Land markers washed away by floods, mud removal
       

 

Political concerns Interrupted Haitian election timetable,governance questions and relief effort; Potential strengthening of fundamentalist groups,destabilization and delegitimization of government
Economic concerns 70 % of Haiti’s GDP is generated in the Port-au-Prince area which has been most heavily impacted by the disaster, massive destruction of infrastructure Massive destruction of infrastructure, 3.2 million hectares of standing crops have so far been damaged or lost;widespread loss of livestock
Logistics Destroyed airport, harbor, roads.Generally bad infrastructure;Particular logistics difficulties in Port-au-Prince and surroundings Destroyed roads, bridges;some areas only accessible by helicopter;20% of the country flooded
Total GDP 2009 xxvii    US $ 6.5 billion US $ 166.5 billion
GDP per capita 2009 nominal    $733 $1,017
Estimated Damage    US$ 7.8 billionxxix Est. US $ 15 billionxxx
Estimated Damage as percentage of GDP    119 % 9 %
Reconstruction Pledges March 31 – Donors pledge US $ 9.9 billion of which US $ 5.3 billion is pledged over 2 years (requested US $3.9 billion). Aug. 22 – World Bank US $ 0.9 billion Asia Development Bank US $ 2.0 billion (loans)
Corruption Perception Index 2009 (out of 180)    160 139
HDI 2009xxxii (out of 182)    149 141
Media stories 10 days after the disaster xxxiii Well over 3,000 stories in both print and broadcast media respectively by day 10 and by day 20      320 broadcast news stories and 730 print news stories
Top 10 donors (pledges) Venezuela US$ 2.417 mInter-American Development Bank US$2.000 m

USA US$ 1.152 m

European CommissionUS$ 567m

IMF US$ 436 m

Spain US$ 427 m

World Bank US $ 399 m

Canada US $ 387 m

InterAction members

US $ 322 m

(Donor’s Conference) xxxiv

USA US $161.9 mSaudi Arabia US $114.4 m

UK US $108 m

European Commission US $93.5 m

Private Donors US $84.2 m

Germany US $32 m

Australia US $31.8 m

CERF US $26.6 m

Norway US$ 14.8 m

Japan US$ 14.4 m

(Flash Appeal) xxxv

 

 So why this difference? When over eighty international artists collaborated for the song ‘We Are The World’ for Haiti, why have not international celebrities other than a few (George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Ashton Kutcher) and sportsmen spoken about or rallied for the distressed and hopeless people of Pakistan who now neither have nothing to look back to nor a future to look to until people help them? If Haiti was poor, it should be remembered that Pakistan too is a developing country with rsising poverty and inflation. Does there not even a speck of sympathy and empathy reside in our hearts anymore? Why such slim coverage of this catalysm that has struck a nation already struck by many jolts?

 

I urge everyone to raise awareness about the flood-wrecked families in Pakistan and the need for the world to show their compassion and donate, for those in Pakistan are equally human and their lives equally important as those in other parts of the world.

 

RISE FOR HUMANITY.

 

- Hafsa Khawaja

Shahbaz Sharif’s ‘Request’ To The Taliban


My letter in the NewsPost today on CM Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif’s ‘request’ to the Taliban to stop attacking Punjab for they are on the same page:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shahbaz Sharif’s recent statement asking the Taliban not to attack Punjab, for they and the PML-N were on the same page as far as the war on terror was concerned, is utterly irresponsibly. The Taliban are not bothered about Musharraf. All that they are concerned about is their version of Islam and power. How can a political leader share the views of the murderers of his people who have shaken the whole country? The Taliban are criminals who have committed crimes far bigger than stashing bucks in Swiss accounts. Are the lives of the people of other parts of Pakistan not important?

This seemed like provincialism about which Jinnah had said: “You must learn to distinguish between your love for your province and your love and duty to your state as a whole. Our duty to the state takes us a stage beyond provincialism… our duty to the state comes first: our duty to our province, to our district, to our town, and to our village and ourselves comes next”. Sharif should have shunned the Taliban in his speech rather than trying to soothe them and tell them that he was on their side.

Hafsa Khawaja

Lahore

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 6:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wake Up ‘O My People – A Youth’s Plea


“Which was once formed on the name of peace,
Now roam it freely raven beasts,
Vicious intentions of these shadows of feinds,
Drenched with the blood of its sons are this land’s streets,
Fear is the thorny crown of each heart,
Piercing the inside with each breath taken,
Blasts rock the ground beneath billions of feet,
Prayers on murmuring lips and beliefs left shaken,
With each step of loved ones out of secure doors,
Dread greets each heart beat,

Emergency declared in hospitals,
Cities on high alert,
Back to the dim despondence we revert,
From the little intervals of glimpses of silence,
Considered by us as peace,
Hope and light upon us readily frowns,
Students sit home,
With schools shut down,

With each bomb making a crater,
For many dawns the birth of dooms-day,
Slips the life out of mourning mothers and moaning daughters,
Running to places to collect the remains of dead sons and fathers,
The dark clouds of bereavement linger on many homes,
Stripped are even mosques of security with blood-painted domes,
Laughters disappear from twinkling faces,
For witnessed they have the killings of their parents,
And from their little minds horror fails to be erased,

Targeted are funerals,
Above our heads fly foreign drones,
To oblivious innocents whose lives they leave torn,

Amongst ourselves,
Rove our invitations to death,
Militants under the skin of a human,
Mullahs with beards,
And devils with no beards but sitting on thrones as rulers they appear,

Wake up ‘O My People!
Wake up!
Why do you still sleep after sixty-three years?
When blood-stained are our frontiers?
And the sounds of war unleash in our ears?
Defend your identity,
Raise you head,
Let not the truth of Islam perish,
In what the extremists flourish,
Hands are abandoned by the Creator,
When they remain only to beg and pray!
Wake up ‘O My People And Fight!
For this burning heaven,
This land of pure,
Where rascals rule!
How many more tears will you shed?
To your children will you tell of a life of fear that you lead?
And the coming tomorrow,
That belongs to you!
Make Jinnah’s Pakistan with the blood in your veins,
Wake up and and salvage your fate!”

- Hafsa Khawaja

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