~ 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

~ Enamoured


 

 

To those afar, she appears the pompous plump;

Her bearing ostentatious,

Her voice piercing;

Her beauty mendacious;

 

But to those who opened their eyes to her dazzle,

She is a goddess,

Of vivacious manners,

Under whose spell fell numerous warriors and rulers,

Adorning her with the jewels of their civilizations,

They sought to bring her under their own banners;

But history took to unsheath her mercilessness,

And withered all Maharajas, Rajas and Emperors,

Yet she remained unblemished,

Bestud with all the kingdoms’ splendour;

 

 view of Historical Badshahi Masjid lahore

 

With the richness of diversity her bosom swelled,

Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Parsi – all to her embrace were impelled,

Her body became the canvas of cultures,

And her gardens accomplices in forbidden meetings of lovers;

From her veins the poets drank to intoxication;

In her company philosophers and thinkers indulged in contemplation;

 

 

The winds of time have rumbled past since,

But even today,

Infront of her majesty and grandeur,

Can dare not stand a rival or contender;

 

She throbs with life, with no blink of sleep,

Pounding with vibrant resilience as the heart of a land whose wounds are deep;

 

A part of me, she has become,

I dwell in her, and she dwells in me;

There is calm in her clamour;

In which whirls my soul,

As I love her for her all madness; enamoured.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

 

Before You Speak to Judge.


*Written back in 2010.

Before you cast a look of disgust on my face,

Decree my value by it, that too in haste,

Ever do you wonder, what made it lose its grace?

 

 

From the abundance and lack of crisp paper,

The fortunes I posses, you suppose,

To where it really lies, you fail to peek and know,

For it is the heart in which wealth is held, sole and alone,


By how I walk, by what I eat,

How magnificent my abode is and in which street,

You draw a conclusion of what I am,

Not by my deeds but all these?


All my actions,

You examine and dissect,

 What forces me to inherit these ways, do you ever check?

The scars it left,

The bruises it gifted me and of much it made me bereft,

With your hands tied to your back,

In one glance, from the unfathomable depth of my painful past,

 You think the real reasons you can fetch?

 

Deeming me a sinner,

Declaring others future inhabitants of heaven,

Who are you to say?


Because when open will 
crack the grounds,

And swallowed will be mankind,

With each’s souls by the Angel of Death, impounded,

On our bodies will lay the same single cloth of white,

No riches in hand, no tongue to speak,

Time would’ve crumbled to dust with and with no second to contrite,

So remember the Last Day,

And through what you’ll trudge,

When you speak to judge,

As we have our own paths to pave,

For at the end we’d have separate graves.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

A Land Stained by the Blood of its Own


The massacres and bloodletting in Pakistan seem to have no end, and along with 180 million other people, I too, have been riven due to them between helplessness, hopelessness and pain; to which I have given the following expression:

Splattered blood,

Splintered bodies,

Strewn limbs,


To live the living have ceased,

To rest, the dead have no peace,

Houses increasingly empty,

For graveyards now burst at the seams,

Karachi-Target-KillingA certain name, a particular belief,

Spell a license to be killed,

For the land of pure must be rid from these burdens of filth!


Apathy dances naked and unashamed,

Chiselling hollows where hearts should lie,

Mocking humanity,

Chasing it into vanity,


Fear and suffering reign,

As relics of worlds unknown, tolerance and harmony are remembered to remain,

To survive another day,

Or to die in one piece,

We make pray,

For not a speck of land in this country, is unstained by the blood of its own,

Not a single home in this country, in its cries of mourning, has been alone!

~ H. K

Sean Penn and The Qaumi Phenomena of Beyghairati


On Saturday, American actor Sean Penn who starred in the award-winning ‘Dead Man Walking’ which featured two of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s tracks, came on a visit to Pakistan to meet and help the flood-victims of Badin.

Sean Penn in a traditional Sindhi Ajrak.

This is not a first for Penn, who had extensively and actively taken part in the relief activities following the devastating earthquake in Haiti and is known for his social activism.

During a time when most people around the world, stay away from Pakistan out of fear, threat and the perception that has been created of it by the international media, Penn’s sudden arrival sparked excitement and surprise in most quarters of the Pakistani people – while in the few rest, a typical and common reaction was evoked: of ‘Ghairat’ and ‘Beyghayrat’ [Honor and Dishonorable].

The members of this Ghairat Brigade, rued and lamented the existence of such days, when people from other countries come to dish out and toss ‘alms’ in the ‘begging bowls’ that have been thrust into the hands of the nation, by the corrupt rulers while they indulged in the orgy of deepening their own pockets [ This is precisely, their perception regarding foreign aid ] . And how ‘Beyghairat’ could our people get to smile at this and accept its occurrence?

Though, its quite a conundrum to determine how someone’s genuine intention to bring succor to the distressed, is an act of foreigners coming to condescendingly chuck a few pennies for poor people, as they have made to look through the expression of their thoughts.

But now that the topic of ‘dishonour and being dishonourable’ has been approached, let us also be reminded of a bigger example ‘Beghairat,’ executed in the land of pure.

Beyghairat is that nation, out of which only a handful pay their tax. A nation, which justifies its wrongs as a ‘natural’ result of having wretched as leaders, which they themselves elect. A nation, that possesses the self-inflicted malady of amnesia; which forgets its forlorn after a customary time period of notice. One, that has selective compassion, tolerance and concern. One that refuses to accepts the best of its own, on the basis of their relationship with Him.

One that shamelessly makes choices when it comes to acknowledging its daughters, rising for Aafia Siddiqui, yet with blithe or no concern for Fakhra Younas, Zareena Marri or Uzma Ayub.

A nation, that spares no moment to spur into action out of indignation, when those outside seem to breach its sovereignity and integrity but has forever closed its eyes towards the trangressors rupturing the country and its very pith, from within. Pointing fingers at devils of foreign origins, intentionally unbeknownst to the sneering Satans inside.

A nation, that fancies drowning in denial, than facing the scorch and sear of the truth. One, that rushes to hold vigils for Steve Jobs, but never for those slayed everyday, from whose blood, this soil has been drenched red. A people, whose sensibilities are more hurt and whose outrage more elicited by a nude body and a distasteful show, instead of the charred body and dreams of a poor man in despair, who died in vain, hankering for a four-square meal for his children.

Beyghairat is a nation, which is fine with the sights of its future withering away begging in the morning, and sleeping the hunger pangs away on cold, stone footpaths at night. A nation, blind to the massacres and deaf to the plight of its own.

Come to think of it, the phenomena of ‘Beyghairati’ and all that it pertains, isn’t really a phenomena – it is actually the nature and state of us, as a people. 

So, when a nation that itself is audaciously inglorious, speaks on the tragedy of the lack of ‘Ghairat’ in Pakistan, it is nothing but a joke cloacked in glaring hypocrisy.

All apart, a hearty thank you to Sean Penn, for trying to aid the flood-hit of Badin, who have long been shoved back into neglect by us all.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Rest In Peace, Pakistan’s Iron Lady.


On 23rd October 2011, Nusrat Bhutto departed from the world.

Although she was mainly known as the wife of popularly-elected Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was dubiously hanged by the Military Regime in 1979, and as the leader of his Pakistan Peoples’ Party after his execution; there was much more to this figure than this aspect.

Stanley Wolpert writes in ‘Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan’:

‘Nusrat Isphani was one of Karachi’s most beautiful debutantes. Her Kurdish-Iranian parents had migrated to Bombay, where she was born on 23 March 1929. Her father had founded Bombay’s Isphani Soap Factory, which soon exported large quantities of soap to Iraq that he later changed its name to Baghdad Soap Factory.’

‘Nusrat joined the Pakistan Women’s National Guard, was good at martial drill, and soon learned to drive trucks and ambulances. A tall, slender, dark beauty, she was soon promoted to captain, with silver pips on her shoulders.’

With her efforts even praised by Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, she is widely acknowledged for her exemplary role as part of the Women’s National Guard at the time of the Refugee Crisis.

It was at Bhutto’s sister’s wedding, where they were first introduced to each other and just after a few meetings, he proposed to her. Even persuading her to elope with him when parents on both sides objected to the match, but after her refusal to undertake such an initiative, much drama ensued leading to Zulfi and his Nusratam (My Nusrat, as he used to call her) becoming man and wife within a week.

As the First Lady of Pakistan, Nusrat Bhutto was unparalleled. A paragon of style, class, refinement and sophistication along with being a fashion icon of that time, she dressed with flair and carried herself with natural poise as she stood side by side and hobnobbed with Heads of States and their wives.

At this position, she splendidly represented and promoted Pakistan at international forums. As the head of the Red Crescent Society, she worked tirelessly for the poor, women and children of Pakistan.

In 1975, she led the Pakistani Delegation to the United Nation’s International Women’s Summit and was also elected the Vice President of the Conference.

Since her marriage, not only was she the emotional and mental anchor for her ambitious husband in all his endeavors and decisions but soon became a political backbone for him when she assumed charge on his orders of PPP’s leadership (Coming to be the first female chairman of any party in Pakistan‘s history), when he was incarcerated after being deposed through a Coup.

During Zia’s authoritarian rule, she was kept under detentions, possibly in Class-C cells with no running water, bedding or air, hit with batons while attending a cricket match at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, when the crowd began to raise pro Bhutto slogans (It is said, that this clubbing was the origin of complete health deterioration that affected her later and the cause of Alzheimer)

Before Bhutto’s execution, both Nusrat and Benazir were whisked away suddenly, without previous notice, to his cell and were allowed only a half an hour with him instead of the full one hour entitled to the family on the prisoner’s ‘last day’. And that too, they could ‘meet’ only through the bars.

It was then that Bhutto gave permission to her to take the children and leave Pakistan if they wished to, but instead Nusrat Bhutto chose to take the dicatorship head-on.

Diagnosed of lung cancer during her battle against the cruelest of dictatorships, Zia ridiculously constituted a Federal Medical Board to decide whether her condition was serious enough to allow her to travel abroad for treatment which expectedly decreed that she was perfectly fine while recommending her tests that could have aggravated her malignancy. After much international lobbying, she was allowed to travel abroad.

With the founder killed, deserting members on the rise and the Zia regime leaving no stone unturned in trying to isolate PPP and throttle any legacy of Bhutto, she not only kept the party together but astutely organized it in the fight against the autocratic military regime but was one of the most prominent spearheads of the Movement To Restore Democracy, a movement for the revival of democracy and all the freedoms and rights it entails.

A lean woman who felt no hesitance in defying the dicatator and standing up to oppose his afflicted oppression on the nation , she was considered a threat by him and unsettling for the whole system he had organized to his advantage thus, arrested and placed under detentions numerous times as the MRD spread its activities throughout the country and gained support.

Throngs would come to hear her speeches or to her rallies.

Nusrat Bhutto endured a life, that is best-described as a struggle of suffering with a tragedy at each turn; From the Coup of 1977, Nusrat Bhutto’s life took a plunge into tumult and tragedy which continued till her demise. A plunge that took away her husband, both sons and a daughter from her. All murdered. Since the last few years, Begum Sahiba had even lost the ability to recognize her own two daughters, grandchildren or remember anything.

In all her 82 years, Begum Bhutto proved to be an epitome of strength, valor, resilience, elegance, resolution and extraordinary prowess; giving weight to her family’s tracing of their ancestry to the legendary Salahuddin Ayubi. She was and will remain a symbol of resistance and unflinching conviction against tyranny and suppression.  Something that even those with political dislike for PPP and the Bhuttos, would find hard to deny.

Her fortitude and story will inspire generations to come.

May she rest in what was never granted to her in this world; peace.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Shia Hazaras: Guilty of Being A Minority In Establishment’s Pakistan


*Also published at LUBP.

The Pakistan of today has found itself to be nothing but a wreckage of a country, a carcass of a state and an international outcast.

A tragedy brought upon itself by both; the sharp functioning muscle of the unofficial institutional dictatorship that aggrandized itself under four decades of military authoritarians and the Pakistani nation’s obscene obsession with easy acceptance of the exacerbation, denialism, dogmatism and preposterousness.

The very characteristics have been manifest in wake of the recent unleashing of organized and systematic bloodletting of the peaceful, educated and civilized community of Shia Hazaras in Balochistan by the associates of the Establishment’s ‘Assets’.

Carrying a history replete with persecution and torment, the Shia Hazaras have found little relief and difference between their past in Afghanistan and present in Pakistan; where they are the victims of various sectarian militant groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, that deem and decry Shi’ites as Non-Muslims. ‘Impure’ creatures that they are determined to completely exterminate from ‘The Land of Pure.’

A question might arise, why is it that blame for this bloodshed is ascribed as such to them.

Amir Mir writes in one excellent article of his on the predicament the Hazara Shia have been placed in and the militant sectarian groups:

‘The SSP and the LeJ, which is considered to be the military wing of the SSP, were once the strategic assets of the state of Pakistan and have linked with al-Qaeda as its ancillary warriors, killing Pakistani citizens and targeting the security forces to dissuade Pakistan from fighting the “war against terror” as a United States ally.

The LeJ today has deep links with al-Qaeda and the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and is considered to be the most violent terrorist organization operating in Pakistan, with the help of its suicide squad. As with most Sunni Deobandi sectarian and militant groups, almost the entire LeJ leadership is made up of people who have fought in Afghanistan with the backing of the Pakistani security establishment and most of its cadre are drawn from the numerous Sunni madrassas (seminaries) in Pakistan.’

The fact that these terrorist organizations are the ‘ancillary warriors’ of the ‘elements’ that the Establishment cherishes and avails in pursuit of its detrimental ‘Strategic Depth’ policy in Afghanistan (The Policy, to put it simply, is constructed on the Establishment’s compulsive obsession with the theme and idea of India as the arch enemy of Pakistan and envisages a Pro-Pakistan Government in Post-Troop-Withdrawal Afghanistan that counters the Indian influence there and protects ‘Pakistani interests’.) naturally transforms their position to being ‘untouchable’, considering they are part and parcel of the deal – thus the ‘failure of intelligence and the forces’ when it comes to sectarian killings similar to that happening in Balochistan of the Hazaras.

While much has been excellently chosen, written about and posted about the grave issue on LUBP and a few other sites that have proven to challenge the distortions of the mainstream media and welcoming to topics that they either ignore or willingly twist and feed to the people with their vulpine cunning – this post aims to focus on the collective, institutional and national conspiracy of silence that was concocted after the slayings of the Hazara Shias based solely on a sectarian footing.

One can only wonder where the conveniently-free-media is when fatwas, pamphlets and declarations of hate and instigation of murders are circulated around in different parts of the country?

Where does their self-proclaimed ‘patriotism’ and professional magnificence vanish to when it comes to the intentional misrepresentation of the massacres that only helps to reinforce, what those under whose patronage the groups act, want the people to believe?

Why is it that only outrageuously sparse coverage is provided to the victims and their plight but hours of talk shows are wasted on futile discussions?

And the ever-eager-to-take-suo-moto judges? Are the Shia Hazaras Children of a Lesser God in the eyes of a so-called judiciary that is anything but independent, rather just another instrument of the Establishment for furthering their goals and ambitions?

Afterall, what can be expected of judiciary that releases butchers like Malik Ishaq on grounds of ‘lack of evidence’

The Government too, brazenly watches over the the whole community being pulled down into pools of blood of their own while the Punjab Government gives the very butcher, a montly stipend and their Law Minister proudly courts extremists to garner votes for elections.

Hundreds from amongst the ordinary came marching on the streets and roads against Raymond Davis gunning down two Pakistani citizens and for a dubious ‘Daughter of the Motherland’ but as corpses over corpses pile of the Hazaras, none speak up nor the ‘activists’ hold their famed vigils.

Is the nation only moved and it’s compassion and anger only evoked when America is the proposed guilty party?

It must be made public knowledge to the citizens of Pakistan that these incidents of carnage aimed at the Shia Hazaras are not sporadic as they seem but part of an entire crusade (Note: The Shia Tooris of Parachinar, often slaughtered by the Haqqani Network members and other ‘Assets’ given refuge there) waged by sectarian militant outfits that are best-described as the subsidiaries of major terrorist organizations (in whose name and due to whom, the entire country has been struck by sheer devastation) and are under the auspices of the Establishment.

Which other nation should hold the importance of the lives, security, liberty and interests of the minorities highly than that of a country whose history bears witness that the threats to the interests and protection of the Muslim minority of Pre-Partition India was a central factor in fostering the struggle for its creation?

And today when the generations of that minority are a majority of the country – other minorities: the Shias, Christians, Hindus and Ahmedis are fraught with peril.

It is about time, that the proponents of Jinnah’s vision in this country, if any, come forward against the Establishment on all fronts and also fight for the rights of those whose only crime is being guilty of being a minority.

- Hafsa Khawaja

*Ironically, much of the non-controversial content in this post that concentrated on the lack of attention that the Shia Hazara murders deserved, was sent as three separate letters to the ‘News Post’ of ‘The News’ which they decided not to publish. So much for a free media.