In Bad Taste


My letter in the NewsPost today:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Recently I watched a comedy show on a popular private TV channel which discussed the debate in the Punjab Assembly over polygamy, and then joked about the marital life of a former female minister of information. It disturbed me greatly, for even if someone is a public figure, no one has the right to ridicule their personal life or judge them on moral grounds. The said politician is a bold woman and has performed well in office. I believe in freedom of expression, but there are certain limits that the media should stick to.

Hafsa Khawaja

Lahore

O’ Pakistani : A Call For 23rd March


 

Passed have seven decades,
Since the foundations of your land were laid,
On the 23rd of March,
In Manto Park,
The voices of Muslims were finally hearkened,
Put forward was a genuine intreperation,
Of Sir Syed’s thoughts,
Chaudhri Rehmat’s words,
And Iqbal’s dream,
As a path to a cherished destination,
Jinnah spoke, firm and tall,
Infront of struggle’s iron walls,
Demanded what belonged to us!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

So what holds you back O’ Pakistani today?
Which shackles touch your skin?
Which ropes tie your tongue?
What blinds your eyes?
To save Jinnah’s burning Pakistan?
                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

What blocks the sound in your ears?
Of your soil’s screams,
Screaming to be heard by her sons,
Once which was given to you as Iqbal’s dream,
Why do you sit and watch?
When devils savour your motherland’s flesh?
On her face when ramble conspirators in cahoots?

 
                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

Where were you?
When trampled was her dignity under marching boots?
In anarchy’s dump when she begins to drown,
Or in rains of terror, she is left to stand,
To foreign lands why do you run?
Evading to lend her a hand or be of a service to her?
                                                                                                                                                                                                         

You ask what Pakistan has given you,
Have you ever asked youself what you have given her?
Why do you desert and abandon your own destiny?
Your future, the land of your posterity?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      

What would Jinnah and Iqbal say?
For walking corprses did they so much envisage?
As to those whose eyes towards realities and brutalities are shut,
The face of change truly shuns,
How long for a saviour will you wait?
When you are the saviour of your own fate!
When what seemed impossible,
Through ails and illnesses,
Quaid-e-Azam achieved,
He stood and bestowed..
For us what the King had decreed,
A sky above your head,
The ground beneath your feet,

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

So,
What holds you back today O’ Pakistani?
To save for what leaders fought daringly against the wave of time,
Every foe’s try,
The Minar-e-Pakistan is still seen,
But seldom contain,
The passion that surged in the hearts and reigned,
Of those 70 years before, who once crowded Manto Park’s ground,
So let nothing hold you back O’ Pakistani !
To conquer what Jinnah had spoken of on this day,
Pakistan!
To conquer your own destiny!

                                                                                                                      

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

Who Killed Shahnawaz?


My letter in the NewsPost today:

Monday, March 15, 2010
This is in response to Shakir Lakhani’s letter “Who killed Shahnawaz?” (March 10). Shahnawaz Bhutto’s death was attributed to an overdose of drug by the Pakistani media which was under Zia’s control at the time. The former federal minister and one of the founding members of the PPP, Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Awan, stated last year that he had told Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that her brother was poisoned by Brig Imtiaz. PPP veteran Naseerullah Babar also believes that Zia was involved in the death of Shahnawaz.

As Shahnawaz died under mysterious circumstances, and his wife was also a suspect in the case, there are many conspiracy theories. But there is no definite answer to the question of the cause of his death.

Hafsa Khawaja

Lahore

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

Ban On Cricket Players


My letter in the inset of the NewsPost, make the inefficient people resign and get a stern man with an exemplary record to run PCB and they players will eventually straighten out :

Friday, March 12, 2010:
The PCB has banned and fined some of Pakistan’s finest players. Muhammad Yousuf and Younis Khan, who have done the entire Pakistani nation proud, have been banned for an infinite period as the PCB said that a dispute between the two players affected the team performance. Has there been no dispute among players in the past? What about the tussle between Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, and Imran Khan and Javed Miandad? Banning respected players is deplorable and unjustified. The Akmal brothers have been fined for indiscipline while Shoaib Malik and Rana Naveedul Hasan have not only been fined for bad behaviour but also banned for a whole year. I fail to understand why the PCB management did not address the issue during the tour.

These actions have been taken when the T2O World Cup is only a month away. It is undeniable that those who run the PCB today are unworthy of their job. I demand the resignation of the PCB management. Particularly, the PCB chairman should quit immediately as he has brought only doom and gloom into our cricket. He should accept his failure and go home. We need people like Majid Khan to run the PCB, and not those who spread nepotism and, to save their own skin, disgrace the best players of Pakistan.

Hafsa Khawaja

Lahore”

http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=228542

Its Not The Players, Its The Boards Stupid !


Since the arrival of 2010, Pakistan’s hockey and cricket teams have been sliding down a string of defeats. Our Cricket team’s Tour of Australia and our Hockey Team’s performance in the Hockey World Cup, both were indeed disasters. Not only did the shock the nation but crushed their hopes.We must wake up to the fact that there are many factors that contribute to the performances of our teams other than the players. Alot of debate has been going on to determine the reasons for such defeats and most of the time, the players of both teams are blamed and held more responsible than the the Boards who have contributed much to the failure than the players, PHF and PCB.

The PCB has recently stinged the major players of the Cricket Team with bans and fines as ‘punishments’ for the defeats on the Tour of Australia and PHF has sacked the management of the hockey team with the entire Hockey Team tendering their reisgnations after their performance at the World Cup.

While one already knows the situation and state of PCB currently, it is no surprise that PHF is also in a reflecting condition of the cricket board. Qasim Zia, President of the PHF was appointed at this position by the PM through a usual case of bringing relatives and politics in the stream of sports. Asif Bajwa, the Secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, is highly reputed to have come into PHF through his links with an MNA from Sialkot of the ruling party. Bajwa seems to lack the vision to purge the national sport of the country out of its current decline and so far, nothing remarkable from his side has emerged to revive hockey except rumours of his ill-management. It is evident that the state of inertia still persisted in our hockey after the elevation of both Zia and Bajwa to these posts, it is also quite evident that they lack direction, skills and leadership qualities to head the PHF. and should have long resigned after the failures of our Hockey Team.

Shahid Ali Khan, a former Olympian and though a hard-working coach of our team was previously a goal-keeper which is quite a restricted role in the game of hockey. Mr.Khan can not be blamed for a goal-keeper can not have the acumen to coach and that too when the state of the team is already deplorable. Can we expect Salman Akbar, our current goal-keeper to coach the future hockey team of Pakistan? Certainly not.

Our Hockey Players, many of who were playing for a long time, were also decided to be awarded the Central Contracts THIS year, and to get it straight, no player plays to his full potential without the assurance of money to be granted to him to support himself and the deserved respect.

Coming to our cricket board and its famed management that has no such qualifications to be in the management of a sport that is the heart-beat of its nation. The PCB Chairman, Ejaz Butt who played 8 tests in his time from 1959 to 1962 was appointed as the Chairman by President Asif Ali Zardari who is the Patron of Chief of our cricket board [Pakistan is the only country where the President is the Chief of a sports board] on account of his relations with Defence Minister, Ahmed Mukhtar. Butt is neither efficient nor is he capable of running PCB. He seems to have absolutely no knowledge about the game and how to handle the players and the management itself is maladroit.

People like Tauqeer Dar and Abdul Qadir are running private academies for the game of hockey and cricket respectively.
Dar who hails from a family of fine hockey players runs his own ‘Dar Hockey Academy’ in Lahore where any youth can join free of cost and he provides them with all the hockey equipment himself. Coaches are always there to instruct the boys.
Last year, Pakistan’s U1-9 Hockey Team won a Cup of a mega tournament and that team consisted of players who were part of Tauqeer Dar’s academy.

Abdul Qadir also runs his own academy for cricket for youngsters and is a strong critic of those who run the PCB currently.

Both Abdul Qadir and Tauqeer Dar are doing more than just a commendable job for the future of cricket and the latter for the revival of hockey and in producing players that shall take the game to its glorious heights again but as long as the official boards of these games, PHF and PCB are run on the basis of nepotism and politics, the conditions of both hockey and cricket will remain stagnant and exacerbate because that is the result when players are mismanaged and handled by people who lack in skills and knowledge.

It should be realized by now, that to save sports in Pakistan, politics shall be thrown out of it and each appointment should be on the basis of merit.

Hafsa Khawaja

PCB Shifting Blame To Save Face?


After Pakistan Cricket Team’s Tour of Australia which began this year and was indeed a debacle, an inquiry was ordered into the causes of the defeats on Tour of Australia which was lead by a committee and sent a number of punishments for certain players to the PCB.
Yesterday, they accepted the those punishments :
*One year ban on Shoaib Malik and Rana Naveed and a 2 Million fine on both of them for unacceptable behaviour.
*LIFE BAN on Muhammad Yousaf and Younis Khan for their infighting that affected the team [according to the PCB].
* Fine of 2 million on the Akmal brothers for indiscipline.
*Fine of 3 million on Shahid Afridi dor the ball-tampering incident.

I fail to understand the reason, that where was the PCB Management when the Tour was ON-GOING and so much was brewing in the team? They were supposed to control and warn the players right on spot if they were getting out of hand. Why were the Akmal brothers and Shoaib and Rana not sent back from the Tour if they were indeed involved in behaviours that were unacceptable? If so was the case with Shoaib Malik, why was he made the Captain of the one T20 Match against Australia?
Younis Khan was not even part of squad that were beaten brutally by the Australian Team. Why has such a harsh ban been imposed on him?

The reason that the PCB stated for the life ban on Younis and Yousaf is their infighting that affected the team, if such is the basis of imposing a life ban, then what about the rivalry and disputes between Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram and Imran Khan and Miandad in their times?

Maybe because Yawar Saeed, with whom Younis had problems as a manager in his stint as the Captain, was part of the Inquiry Committee and wanted to settle personal scores?

Shahid Afridi was already given a Two T20 Match Ban by the ICC for the ball-biting incident as a punishment for ball-tampering and again the people in PCB and the Standing Committee on Sports in the NA demanded more punishment for him, when it is already known that a man can not be twice punished.

Jamshed Dasti, the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Sports in the NAis a staunch critic of the PCB Chairman, Ejaz Butt whom he considers to be inept. This is equivalent to the pot calling the kettle black. Dasti himself was reputed to be a drug-seller and has no qualifications that make him worthy of his current position like Butt, both were made merely on the basis of nepotism and ‘links’ to the Presidency.
The entire PCB is marred with nepotism, maladroitness and failure. It is not that the Board is brimming with people of noble intentions and great adeptness.
Such bans have only been imposed by the PCB only to save their own face [and that too only a month before the T20 World Cup starting on this 30th of April] and have shifted the debris of the blame on the players, they should have long resigned after the Tour of Australia and it is time that they accept their inefficiency and go back to their homes.

Hafsa Khawaja

The Chain That Shackles Us – Poverty, Inflation and Child-Labour


We as Pakistanis have developed the habit of being unappreciative and ungrateful to what we have around us. Humans, as we are, are ravenous beasts wnating ever more. Recently, I heard a couple of young people I know whine and complain about not going to a posh restaurant where they wanted to dine but instead were going to a restaurant of equivalent standards. This made me ponder, have we ever seen what lies around us?

According to information available with WFP, the number of food insecure people in Pakistan has increased from 35 million to 45 million during and after the 3-F (food, finance & fuel) crises.

Also Pakistan ranks fifth among countries having the highest number of hungry people (to an estimate), with women and children among the worst affected.

A recent incident clearly paints the picture of desperation that has developed between people : in Karachi, women were killed due to a stampede as they all tried to acquire bags of flour.

The inflation rate in Pakistan was 13.68 percent in January of 2010. Inflation rate refers to a general rise in prices measured against a standard level of purchasing power.

In our country, around 85 per cent of the population lives on income less than two dollars a day and food costs are more than 50 per cent of the monthly expenses. And a surge in food prices has adversely impacted the food security situation in the country, resulting in poor children being deprived of the right of education just for the cause of working to do menial jobs at tender ages to help their families meet their ends.

According to a newspaper:

“Many wealthy Pakistanis employ children as servants, often to help with their own youngsters, a relatively common practice that Pakistani law does not prohibit. Slight and shadowy figures at the edges of birthday parties and nights out in fancy restaurants, these young servants, who rarely earn more than $50 a month, form a growing portion of Pakistan’s domestic labor force.
It was raw need that brought Shazia into the house of Chaudhry Naeem, a prominent lawyer who lives in a wealthy neighborhood in this leafy city in eastern Pakistan.
She received $8 a month to wash his floors, his cars and his toilets, her mother said, money that went toward paying off a family debt”

Inflation and poverty has lead to one of the most serious issues of child labour in Pakistan. As known to all, our population in the rural areas due to their lack of education and understanding, increase the number of children in their households as to strenghthen their man-power and with the envisagement that they’d be helped by their very children to facilitate them in times of need and by working.

Such was the case of Shazia Masih, a thirteen year old girl who worked as a maid for Former President of Lahore Bar Association and was tortured to death in Lahore. The girl worked for a mere amount of money for her family, that many in Pakistan would squander in a day.

The Senate was recently informed of 3.3 million children in Pakistan as child-labourers.
A report was published in 2009 :

“In Pakistan children aged 5-14 are above 40 million. During the last year (2008), the
Federal Bureau of Statistics released the results of its survey funded by ILO’s
IPEC (International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour). The findings
were that 3.8 million children age group of 5-14 years are working in Pakistan
out of total 40 million children in this age group; fifty percent of these
economically active children are in age group of 5 to 9 years. Even out of these
3.8 million economically active children, 2.7 million were claimed to be working
in the agriculture sector. Two million and four hundred thousand (73%) of them
were said to be boys.”

Child labour is also associated with physical, mental and moral exploitation of children. Not only is the child-hood of these children crushed and drained away but their mental growth is also stunted. These children when once, start working for their ‘Sahabs’ or ‘Bajis’, are blatantly mistreated and remain underprivileged of their rights. They are often beaten up as ‘punishments’ for little mistakes that these children might commit such as stealing. And why wouldn’t they?

*A child as defined by UNICEF is anyone under the age of 18.

When these children see us, of their very own age group and yet living a luxurious life and more fortunate, they start buliding grievance and grudges inside them that can be stated as a reason for the rise in crimes of murder, robbery that these youths later commit.

Though child labour is an entirely different issue in itself, my intention behing writing this is that the next time one of us begins to gripe about a meal not cooked of our choice, be thankful and remember the many children in Pakistan who sleep without a shelter each day, with hunger pangs resting in their stomachs and no hope for a better future.
Look around yourselves and aim for a change by working in your own capacity to put an end to the suffering of those who are victims of such atrocities or impoverished in any shade for every one of these issues are inter-linked and if we don’t break this chain, no one will.

Hafsa Khawaja

Feast Of Change – A Poetic Perspective


For the feast of change,
I refuse to wait,
And deprived I will choose to remain from its divine taste,

Close I shall my eyes to its existence, considering it a fallacy,
As rather I’d die than savor such a delicacy,
Which by others is served to me on a plate,
For how brazen it is,
To eat from another’s meal?
When only to have it, I have yearned,
And to acquire it, never burned?

Undeserving I will be of each second I breathe if I feed on such a treat,
Until I sweat to blood,
Stirring the cauldron to awaken hunger for it in every stomach,
And together with others, help to prepare the feast with my own two hands,
Not for me, not for you,
But for those who have waited too long,
The famished people of my land.

– Hafsa Khawaja