Of Journalism

March 8, 2009

Merit, Politics and Pakistan

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 9:37 am

While the nation was still grappling with the controversy of unfairly granted marks to the chief justice of Pakistan’s daughter, another case of a special daughter has hit the headlines and this time Pakistan Peoples Party stalwart Makhdoom Amin Fahim’s daughter has been directly appointed as first secretary in the Pakistan Embassy Ireland.

The story appeared in The News on December 22,  tells about the gross violations of rules and merit.

“Maliha Makhdoom, daughter of the PPP diehard loyalist and Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim (MAF), has been appointed as first secretary to Ireland. She has been hired as a Foreign Service official without fulfilling the prerequisites of appearing in the CSS examination and going through 18-month training in two different academies.

Her appointment has been facilitated at the behest of the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. While following PM’s verbal orders, Foreign Secretary’s office moved the summary for appointment of Amin Fahim’s daughter.

The story further unveils the cancerous tradition of nepotism and rampant corruption of those who call the shots in the present political setup,

“According to the summary approved by the PM on 28th November, she would draw a salary of $3000 a month. Along with the perks and privileges of a diplomat, she will have a residence with $2500 monthly rent. The summary also says that Maliha Makhdoom, born on 11th February 1980 is appointed as 18-grade officer. Other than her Masters degree, there is no mention of her prior work experience in public service or of her any other relevant training. Maliha Makhdoom did her masters in English Literature from Brunel University, London in 2007.”

What about the cobweb of rules and regulations, that only seemed to be enacted to keep the have-nots at bay in God gifted republic of the pure:

“After passing the tough CSS examination, the successful candidates are required to take a collective training of 9 months at CSS academy Lahore, followed by another separate training of 9 months at Foreign Services Academy, Islamabad. After eighteen months of rigorous training, final passing out examination under FPSC certifies the candidate for Foreign Office service.

After going through all these procedural requirements, a successful foreign service personnel works on his first assignment as assistant director. After serving for 2 years at the headquarters, the official is then posted abroad as 3rd Secretary for three years.
After a series of postings back to headquarters and abroad, the official reaches the rank of First Secretary. Hence it requires at least ten years of Foreign Service experience to be elevated to such a high position. At some Pakistani missions abroad, First Secretary is the second highest post while at others it’s the third highest.”

Every second day media reports shameful conduct of members of parliament, judiciary, bureaucracy and other influential, but the well of our national conscience has dried up as no one feel ashamed of his wrong deeds. In every matter our so-called intelligentsia tries to compete with India, whether it is military hardware or nuclear deal with America, but why our rulers not follow the examples set by the Indian leadership by resigning from their offices, acknowledging their responsibility following Mumbai terrorist attacks.

What disturbing and disgusting fact this story reveals is that the where the millions of poor unemployed youths of this country would head, who prepare for CSS for years, if such appointments continued to be made on such high profile posts. What kind of massage our uncouth political leaders want to convey to career diplomats in Foreign Office, who have to wait for ten years for such appointment abroad.

The NRO anointed kitchen cabinet of President Zardari thinks that the newspaper reports could not open a Pandora Box, and let the media made a hue and cry for some time and then a new scandal would hit the headlines and they will forget the previous one.
Poet Akabar Allahabadi once lamented same situation in his famous couplet,

“Barbaad Gulistan karne ko, ek hi ullu kafi hai,

Har shaakh pe ullu baitha hai, anjame gulistan kya hoga”

“One owl could destroy a garden,

But what will be the fate of the garden with an owl perched on every branch”?



Mr Prime Minister Think before what you say

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 9:35 am

When Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was addressing the Formation Commanders at a banquet at the Prime Minister’s House on Thursday, he did not know how close he resembled Ziaul Haq, the bête noire for the PPP. “Pakistan Army, unlike armies of other countries, has double responsibility of protecting not only geographical boundaries of the country, but also its ideological boundaries,” Mr. Gillani told the glittering gathering.

This added responsibility of guarding the so-called ideology of Pakistan was assigned to the army by Ziaul Haq who toppled Z.A. Bhutto in late 70s. Like every military dictator he also promised to have been forced to scuttle democracy, and to hold fair and free elections within stipulated 90 days–a promise he never honoured. To the bad luck of the country the Afghan war started. Since it shares a long porous border with the land-locked Afghanistan, Pakistan became central to the U.S. designs to trap the Soviet Union’s Red Army across the Durand Line. The U.S., the West and Arab countries started pampering the military dictator to make Pakistan the staging post for a protracted war inside Afghanistan, and it came in as a double jeopardy for Pakistan and its people.

To ensconce the armed forces, his only constituency, in the political matrix of Pakistan, Ziaul Haq coined the slogan that our armed forces are the guardians of not only the geographical borders of Pakistan but also of its ideological borders. It raised the stakes of the army in the political structure of Pakistan. Like the much-abused term “national interests”, the ideology of Pakistan is also a vague term which was framed much after the formation of the country in 1947.

Probably, it was during Ayub Khan’s martial law that the term ‘ideology of Pakistan’ was formed. Since we have a very short and blur view of our otherwise short history, people at large owned up this slogan. Thus Pakistani politics, which was very pluralist, was constrained by an ideology. Every political force has to adjust itself to the new reality. Those who tried to oppose were dubbed traitors.

This turn towards ideology bolstered the reactionary a la religious forces. Being the guardians of the ideology the army found its allies in religious outfits like Jama’at-i-Islami and centrist parties like Muslim League which never changes in character; it adds a new letter to its name whenever there is guard of change in the corridors of power. [There is a long list of PML (Q, N, F, J, …)] However, Nawaz Sharif, going through tough moments of his life, has made his faction of the PML into a coherent party.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has a long history of struggle against military dictatorship, always ended up on the wrong side of the establishment. It sacrificed yet another Bhutto on December 27, 2007 when the charismatic Benazir Bhutto fell to the bullets of the assassins at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi after addressing a public meeting. It looked the end of an emerging bonhomie between the PPP and the establishment. But, it was not so.

Prime Minister Gillani put a seal on it while addressing the banquet also attended by among many President Pervaiz Musharraf and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiyani. Things have changed a lot since the days of Ziaul Haq. Today Pakistan is embroiled in another kind of war which is eating into its vitals. Our social fabric is in tatters. The writ of the state is challenged within the confines of the state–even Islamabad is no exception what to talk of Swat and Waziristan.

All this mayhem visited us when our rulers hugged a narrow ideology only to please a lunatic fringe that has a lot of nuisance value and no vision for a prosper future. It is time to do away with this politics of ideology and focus on building democratic institutions. Democracy is the best ideology if we need any to latch onto. Prime Minister Gillani must weigh words before uttering them in formal gathering, because the powers that be will take him for his words when they strike a blow on democracy.

Ban or boon?

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 9:31 am

Ban or boon?


Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in his first speech to the National Assembly, after being elected with a two-thirds majority, announced the lifting of ban on student and labor unions. Two kudos and too much trepidations. Many hailed the decision. They are of the view that democracy starts at the grass-roots level where young students learn the intricacies of leadership. There are no two words about that. However, the announcement raised many an eyebrow also fearing the politicization of the already polarized educational institutions.

Since 1984, when the military dictator Ziaul Haq slapped a ban on student unions, the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), the student wing of the Jama’at-i-Islami, monopolized the educational institutions across the country. Unchecked by any, the Jama’at students terrorized the whole community on the campuses in their zest for ‘Islamising’ the students and the education itself. This led to the emergence of a highly polarized situation on one hand; on the other, it circumvented pluralism on the campuses. Students and teachers found it difficult to expound their views on anything freely. Because everything was to be seen and debated within the parameters of a narrow ideology. Life was reduced to black and white without any grey areas. The fact is that life is all about the grey area which faded away in our society. While other student groups were hounded, the IJT had a field day to terrorize not only the students but even the teaching faculty.

The ban was imposed ostensibly to stop politicking in educational institutions. However, it produced the reverse results: atmosphere at the campuses became more polarized—and in many cases militarized. It caused a brain drain when the liberal-minded intellectuals were forced to leave the campus for greener pastures where they could breathe freely and express their thoughts without any fear. Pakistani universities, since then, are ruled by mediocre who stifle debate in the name of ideology and morality.

Ridiculously enough, during this period of regimentation in the name of Islam and morality, plagiarism flourished—as if intellectual stealing has nothing to do with religion and morality. University of the Punjab, which has been in the throttle grip of the IJT since long, has been in the press but for the wrong reasons. Five teachers at its Center for High Energy Physics have been found guilty of plagiarism. A professor of Applied Psychology Department has been dismissed from service after his MSc degree showing first division was found to be based on bogus notification.

This is the morality that has been pushed down the throat of the university students and teachers. What is more intriguing is that the Punjab university administration is finding it difficult to take any action against the plagiarists because they are protected by the Jama’at. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has stopped funding to the university for its dithering over the plagiarism issue.

From 1984 onwards the campuses saw more violence and less peace. Educational institutions are considered the breeding ground for the future leadership. By electing their leaders the student develop a taste for democracy, while the elected ones, while speaking for the rights of the students, learn how to negotiate on behalf of the community.

However in Pakistan, the student unions turned into a bane when they became hand tools of the mainstream political and religious parties. At their beck and call, the student unions are being used by the parent parties for their own political ends. Thus the dirty politics of the streets creep into the campuses. Egged by the support from the outside the education institutions, the student unions fought their war among themselves spilling a lot of blood.

One expected that before lifting the ban on student unions the government would have evolved a mechanism to ‘free’ the students form the stranglehold of mainstream political and religious parties. It is hard to oppose student unions, but it is far harder to see them play puppets to the religious and political parties. The 24-year old ban did not help our education system, but the lifting of ban in the present circumstances is going to radicalize the environment on the campuses.

January 7, 2009

Horrors of War

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 9:29 pm

7-year-old traumatised by horrors of war

KARACHI: Rooh-ul-Amin, 7, is sitting in a room of his uncle’s mud made house at the Khan Abad residency of Landhi, with his hands and feet shackled to his bed. The small room holds a shattered bed and two broken chairs. It looks like the room has never been painted. A single bulb is the only source of light in the dingy room, which does not even have a proper ventilation system. He suddenly starts shouting, “Save me mother, save me.” However, his words no longer attract anyone’s attention, as the residents of the house have gotten used to these sudden random spells.

“He has lost his senses,” his father Ameer Khan said, narrating his child’s sorrow tale to Daily Times.

Amin is one of the hundreds of victims of the terrorist activities in the war-torn Bajaur agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).

Amin has one sibling who is younger than he is. He was like any other child, without a care in the world but suddenly a war broke out in his area and soon peace was unheard of. “He loved going to school, where he could read and play,” said Khan, while gripping Amin’s face lightly. Everyday he would kiss his mother good-bye while charming her out of Rs 2 to spend on his way to school.

Amin used to carry ‘parathas’ with him for lunch and loved ‘aalo ghosht’, his father said.

He would play ‘gulli dandha’, ‘aankh macholi’ and sometimes ‘langri pala’, with his friends in the open fields. He was not aware of the Taliban or the horror attached with their name, said Khan.

“As Amin would get in to bed he would narrate his day to us, describing each and every detail,” his father said. While he dreamt, he unconsciously called out the names of his friends, laughed and kicked. When he had nightmares, he would call his mother and cling to her, says his father, who owned a shop in Bajaur, but now a days, he is roaming about searching for a job in Karachi.

Sadly, the government started an operation against the terrorists in the area. Ironically as retaliation, the terrorists started blowing up schools. As the intensity of the war in the area increased, the child’s behaviour changed. The burst of rifles and the thundering sounds of bomb blasts started taking their toll on the children. One morning when Amin was in school a rocket landed on the building, his father said with a tear escaping his eyes. The building burst into flames. Some students died whereas some escaped. Amin was lucky enough to be among those who escaped. However, the damage was done and Amin lost his senses. He was not the same child who sang songs for his mother. He could not play, as he forgot what games were. Zarmeena, his mother, went into a coma, after looking at his miserable condition.

After my wife recovered from the coma, we decided to leave the area for good, said his father.

They came to Karachi, where Amin’s maternal uncle was living. His uncle’s house is not properly made. It has two rooms, out of which one has been reserved for the displaced family. His father still does not have a job and his otherwise conservative mother is ready to work as a maid to earn some money.

Amin continues to dream but now he sees butchered friends and his destroyed school, “Save me mother, save me,” he shouts, the fact that he cannot even identify his mother now does not matter.

Though his parents have lost all hopes that their son will be normal again, psychologists are of a different opinion. Institute of Behavior Psychology Head Habiba Habib said that due to heavy explosions, continuous firing, children and even older people go into trauma and their nerves do not support their actions.

“Such problems are worrisome but can be treated,” the psychiatrist said, adding that it takes longer for children to recover. “The problem can be sorted out by counseling and medication,” she advises.

“We use therapeutics, to help the victims forget the memories and then use other tactics,” she said, “however sometimes traumas leave lasting effects on personalities.” His parents do not feel the need to consult a doctor for his treatment because for now they are still looking for means to earn their bread and butter in the so-called city of lights.

“With our present financial conditions, we hardly have enough money for food,” said Khan.

December 21, 2008

Of Parks in the city

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 4:52 pm


Forgotten land!: Lyari Model Park: Unclaimed property?

By Fawad Ali Shah

The neglected fountain

The neglected fountain


KARACHI: Broken benches, repulsive odours and remnants of a once lush green park. That’s what remains of the Maulvi Sadiq, Lyari Model Park.

Located in between the IC road and the Khadda Market it was built in order to provide the lower middle class residents of Lyari Town an open space for recreation. 

The foundation stone of this park was laid down by then City Nazim Naimutullah Khan on May 10, 2005. 

The sprawling park spread over two acres according to official records is home to a jogging track, canopy platform, swings for children, fountains and flower beds. According to area residents the park when inaugurated was in immaculate condition, however only a few months after, it fell victim to neglect. The park has been divided into two parts one for male individuals and the other for families and women. The section meant for families and women had lush green lawns, flowers and was equipped with swings and seesaws for children. The section reserved for males had benches, fountains and sunroofs. Employees belonging to the city district government regularly watered the gardens and took good care to maintain the park. But since then, things at the Lyari Park have changed. 

The once lush green gardens of the Lyari Park have now become barren lands filled with dirt. Flower beds are home to stray dogs and the fountains stink of polluted water. Unknown offenders have defaced benches while drug addicts and thieves have taken out anything they could get their hands on. One can smell the stench from sewers that run alongside the park. As for the playground, its remnants still exist.

Hanzla, 21, is a regular at the park. Soon after the park opened doors to the public, the residents of the area were really happy, as they finally had a place they could use to entertain themselves without having to spend money he says. Hanzla narrates the sorrow tale of the deteriorating park saying that as time passed by authorities forgot about the park. “Only drug addicts and dogs come here at night” he claims. Sabir, another resident feels the same way. “No body owns the park” he says. 

Union Council Nazim Karim Nizamani when contacted by the Daily Times said that the park had not yet been handed over to them by the city district government (CDG). “We have sent written requests regarding the park to the department of the CDG, but have yet to receive a reply,” he said denying further comment.

The District Officer Parks Karachi Liaquat Ali Khan however said that since the park was complete it was now the responsibility of the town government to look after it. “The city government has other big projects to work on,” he explained adding, that the city government will nevertheless repair the walls which were damaged by CDG vehicles while cleaning up the nearby sewers. 

Town Nazim Mehmood Hashim is not ready to take responsibility either. “In my knowledge the model park is incomplete,” he said claiming that he had written so many complaints to the CDG about the miserable conditions of the Maulvi Sadiq model park. 

Muhammad Farman, 30, who lives near Khadda market, is both angry and confused. He “If no one wants to take ownership of the park then why was created in the first place? Why did they have to waste national income?” he asks?

December 18, 2008

Oil line burst at Korangi, karachi

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 2:32 pm


Bring out the buckets

By Fawad Ali Shah


On one hand, people had to evacuate their homes that were flooded with oil. While on the other hand potholes, ditches and empty plots in Korangi Sector 48-D that were filled with oil became fruitful wells of black gold for nearby area residents whose houses were not damaged by oil and who did not have to evacuate the site. People who did not evacuate the area began to collect the oil in buckets, bottles and even vehicles. Men, young and old were grabbing anything that could carry and store liquid and were hastily trying to collect as much oil as they possible could from the ten inch deep black wells.


Oiled barbeque?

Aftermath of the oily raining

Aftermath of the oily raining

The Bar-B-Cue effected by oil

The Bar-B-Cue effected by oil

A bbq restaurant located 10 meters away from the oil pipeline that burst, was badly affected by the incident. The restaurant was brimming with customers when the pipe burst. The restaurant mangers were busy preparing bbq when oil suddenly started to rain on them. Due to the pipeline bursting with such force, oil sprayed nearly 2 km away. If the raining oil had met the restaurant’s hot grills, stoves and burning coal, a large and untamable fire would have erupted, multiplying the problems and claiming dozens of lives.

December 17, 2008

Pollywood and Vulgarity

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 1:23 pm

Pashto filmmakers thriving on vulgarity rather than depicting culture

By Fawad Ali Shah

KARACHI: Despite the fact that Pashto films no more depict the Pakhtoon culture and many of the admirers have bid adieu to the cinema, yet cinema owners of Karachi claim that the films are the sole reason for the survival of the industry in the city. 

These films attract youngsters, who serve as a replacement of the old fans, but many critics opine that the Pashto filmmakers are now attracting the audience at the cost of Pakhtoon cultural norms and traditions.

Youngsters of the city are seen flocking to the cinemas whenever Pashto films are released. Moreover, cinema owners claim that the number of ‘Pollywood’ film viewers are second only to Indian film viewers in the city. However, critics attribute the increase in the number of viewers of pollywood films to the sensually attractive scenes and dances. They argue that cinema-lovers are not coming to watch films and Pakhtoon families that once loved to watch Pashto movies like Adam Khan and Dur Khanai on the big screen, are no more ready to come to cinemas.

Ismail Shah, 63, who runs a travel agency, claims that he had enjoyed watching all of the classical Pashto films on the big screen but now he does not want to go watch Pashto films. “The new generation has killed our culture and tradition,” Shah opined, with his face mirroring his utter displeasure. Shah, seated in his office in a wooden chair, gazes towards a picture of Badar Munir and the colour of his face changes. “There were times when Badar Munir ruled the industry and only traditional films were produced. However, nowadays Pashto films are only known for their vulgarity,” he claims. 

“Most of the people watch Pashto films on the big screen in order to get sexual satisfaction out of them,” he said. It is not possible for a family to come and watch such a film, he states. Riaz, whose mother tongue is not Pashto, is also a viewer of Pashto films.

“I like Pashto films because of the dances in them,” he says, with a sly smile forming on his lips.

Another landmark of Pashto films are the camera angles used to emphasize specific body parts. Pashto film producers and cameramen have learned the art of making a scene out of nothing, he said.

The fact that none of the obese woman, seen jumping around the fields on screen, can speak Pashto means nothing to the people, nor does the fact that the writers and financers of the Pashto movies are mostly from Lollywood. Javed Babar, an artist and producer of Pashto films and dramas, told this scribe that those financing Pashto films were from Lollywood and that they only serve financial purposes. “They only include vulgar scenes to attract viewers and increase revenue,” said Babar, expressing anger at the lack of investment in the industry by Pakhtoons. 

“Non-professionals in the industry have destroyed Pashto cinema for mere pennies. 

What they are depicting is simply not Pakhtoon culture. Pakhtoon women do not dance without covering their entire bodies and neither do they come out to the Hujras,” he states, clenching his fists in anger.

Gulzaar Alam, a senior singer, is also against the interference of Lollywood in the Pakhtoon films. He, too, touched upon the fact that the industry is being used to make a quick buck and also objected to the way the dances are choreographed. 

“The way different body parts are presented in these movies is horrific,” he said, adding that at some point in the movie, the camera is focused specifically on body parts in a way that will make anyone blush.

Ajab Gul, a senior producer and actor in today’s Pashto cinema when contacted offered no comments

Lyari Expressway

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 1:14 pm


Broken links along LEW endangering lives

* Fencing along southbound portion of Lyari Expressway torn down 
* Pedestrians cross busy road risking their lives

By Fawad Ali Shah

KARACHI: The southbound portion of the Lyari Expressway, only ten months after its inauguration, has fallen victim to theft and vandalism.

The Expressway had been fenced in order to prevent pedestrians and animals from crossing the road directly. However, unknown perpetrators have torn down the fence at various points, thereby allowing people and animals to cross the road. This poses a great risk as residents in the vicinity often trespass the broken fence to cross the busy road. 

In the absence of proper security measures children can be seen climbing up on the road to fly kites. The open spaces in the fence also invite stray dogs onto the road endangering the lives of oncoming traffic. A few months earlier, a child named Saad lost his life when he was crossing this road. 

There is heavy traffic on this road and according to National Highway Authority (NHA), more than 6,000 vehicles pass through this road on a daily basis. The authorities charge a toll tax ranging between Rs 15 to 25 per vehicle and collect Rs 4 million a month from these payments. The 16.5 kilometers long southbound portion of the expressway was entrusted to the NHA and was inaugurated by then President General Pervez Musharraf. The project after its inauguration in February 2007 also won much appreciation from the public.

The Lyari Expressway extends from Sohrab Goth to Mauripur and facilitates hundreds of port-bound vehicles to travel to upcountry areas through the Super Highway whilst avoiding passing through the city’s congested thoroughfares. However less than a year has passed by and the fencing along the road has been torn down at several points by offenders, presumably drug addicts. Also reflectors that were put up at certain places along the road to facilitate traffic have been stolen.

Muhammad Fareed, a resident of the Gulistan Colony, which lies parallel to the road, is unhappy with the conditions of the road. “We complained several times to the authorities to block the road so that children could not climb on to it,” he complained. Fareed says that the lack of proper security measures also attracts muggers, and authorities have yet to take notice. Fareed is concerned that the lack of security endangers the lives of his children as well as the oncoming traffic. 

Arman Khan, a resident of the Gulistan colony, that neighbours the road, points out towards the underpass beneath the road, saying that Union Council (UC) vehicles regularly deposits garbage there. “UC vehicles throw garbage in front of the underpass on a regular basis; we have no other option but to cross the road”. 

It may be pointed out here that lights on the Expressway are yet to be installed, adding to the problems being faced by travelers that pass through during the night. Motorway Police DSP Shahjehan Baloch says that the road passes through some dangerous parts of the city. “Our main concern is the enforcement of traffic laws” he said.

National Highway Authority Maintenance Project Director Noor Mustafa Sheikh on being asked about the torn fence said that the NHA is committed to filling all gaps. “We are trying to protect the road and repair the fences and we ask the people to cooperate with the NHA in order to make the road safer,” he said.

Lyari expressway ignored all the way

Lyari expressway ignored all the way

December 14, 2008

Ziarat Ka Ka Sahib

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 1:41 pm


 By Fawad Ali Shah

NOWSHERA: Some come here in quest of satisfaction, while others to contact God, indirectly, through meditation. Barren women from far-flung areas of the country come here with ‘murads’ (wishes), and beg for children.

When guests enter the premises of Kaka Sahib village, on first sight they see the tomb, raise their hands for prayers and bow their heads in respect. Those possessed by spirits are also brought here for cure.

Located in the suburbs of Nowshera Cantonment, the shrine of ‘Kaka Sahib’ attracts hundreds of visitors everyday.

Contemporary of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and Pashtun warrior and poet Khushal Khan Khattak, Syed Kasteer Gul (Kaka Sahib)’s forefathers migrated from the Middle East and settled down in this area.

He was amongst those saints of that era who preached and taught Islamic principles, both to Muslims and non-Muslims through peaceful means. His descendants are called Kaka Khels.

Since his demise, his followers have been visiting his tomb in the village named after him.

“I do not have any child, someone told me that I will have one after praying at the shrine,” Jamila, 27, belonging to Jacobabad district of Sindh province, told Daily Times. The woman said that one of her friends, who was barren, had conceived a child after praying at the shrine.

An aged man, who was forcing his young daughter to enter the shrine, said that he belonged to Mansehra and had heard from somebody that those possessed by spirits get well after visiting the tomb of Kasteer Gul. He said that his daughter had been under the effect of black magic and evil spirits.

Mudassar Shah, a resident of the area, believes that Kaka Sahib was a saint and visiting his shrine motivates people for doing good deeds.

Dr Nazeer Kaka Khel, former chairman of Political Science Department of Peshawar University, who hails from the area said that Kaka Sahib had a charismatic personality and the efforts of the saint for bringing peace and harmony cannot be ignored.

He advised that in this age of extremism when people are standing on two extreme poles, visiting such places could motivate them to live with peace and harmony.

Dr Rahat Sajjad, chairperson of Psychology department of University of Peshawar, describes people’s visits to shrines with wishes and for cure of their ailments as a part of ‘spiritual or faith healing’.

Even a chilly January Eidul Azha in the hills of southern Nowshera district failed to deter crowds from visiting the shrine of Kaka Sahib some 45 kilometres from the city.

Thousands of people from around the country were found hiking across the mountains in the Kaka Sahib region about 10 kilometres south of the Nowshera Railway Station at an altitude of 400 feet.

“There is a bustle during Eid and Urs days,” said Niaz Muhammad, a tea stall owner, on shrine hill. Asked if business was doing well, he said, “We are making a bundle of money these days.” Syed Bahadur Shah Zaffar Kakakhel, in his book titled ‘Sheikh Rehmkaar’, says that Kaka Sahib’s nom de plume was Rehmkaar due to his kindness and public welfare activities, while his real name was Kastheer – a type of flower found in the area.

He was born in 983 Hijri, in the month of Ramazan. It was the era of Mughal Emperor Akbar, and the tribal areas and NWFP were under his stepbrother Mirza Hakeem Wali-e-Kabul’s rule. Pushtoons usually call their elders “Kaka” which is why Kastheer became popular as Kaka Sahib and his family is called the Kakakhel tribe. As his family had settled in the areas of the Khattak tribe about 200 years before Kaka Sahib’s birth, the move led them to take on the Khattak traditions, norms and values.

According to locals, Kaka Sahib was also known “Ziarhey (yellow) Kaka” due to his pale complexion. He was a pious man and due to the hardships he immersed himself in prayers, became weak and his complexion turned pale. Kaka Sahib died in 1063 Hijri (June 21, 1653) at the age of 80. For the last 350 years, his shrine houses a mosque and a langar khana (mess) where people are provided with free food, tea and qahwa.

Jamil Anwar, Bahadur Shah Zaffar Kakakhel’s grandson who wrote ‘Sheikh Rehmkaar’ said that the Kaka Sahib village had a population of around 15,000 people. “There are over 7,500 registered voters in our area,” said Anwar, who is working as an assistant at the Nowshera Election Commission Office.

Anwar said that his grandfather, Bahadur Shah Zaffar Kakakhel, had written around 101 books, including the first-ever Pashto dictionary called ‘Zaffarul Lughat’. “But nobody has recognised the services of our grandfather and even the government has not set up a memorial at Bahadur Shah Zaffar Kakakhel’s tomb.”

Ziarat ka Ka sahid, a legend

Ziarat Kaka Sahib, Nowshera

Love Letters

Filed under: Uncategorized — fawadalishah @ 1:30 pm

Chithi zara sayya’an jee kay naam likh de

By Fawad Ali Shah

KARACHI: Chithi Zara Sayya’an Jee Kay naam likh de, haal mery dil ka tamam likh de (write a letter to my beloved, tell him about the emotions of my heart), the lilting song sums up the yearning passions of love struck individuals and is a cult classic with those who have ever written love letters.

Thanks to the communication boosts, the unending SMS packages and low call rates, the art of letter writing is dying. While the younger generation claims that love letters were a bad way of communication, there are still many who hold the romantic notions of love letters dearly and believe that nothing can replace the charm of a heartfelt love letter.

“Love is an intellectual process and love letters consist of intellectual input,” opines Abdul Hai Kakar, a journalist and a believer that love letters are a part of literature. Kakar once had a crush on a classmate in his university days almost a decade ago. He has compiled and printed a book “Magar Yeh Ho Na Saka”, which chronicles the journey of his love, the letters he wrote and received during the said love affair.

The one time lovebird strongly insists that love letters had more than just romantic offerings. “They are like an on going conversation on different topics between soul mates,” says Kakar as he elaborates on how socio-economic issues, problems and other tidbits from everyday life were discussed in the letters. He argues that SMS and emails lack the emotions the thoughtfully crafted letters carried. “One would get satisfaction by writing or reading these letters and, as these were hard copies, one could save them and read them whenever they felt lonely.”

Apart from being written with thoughtfulness, another characteristic of love letters was that they were written after one had built some rapport with the person to whom they were addressed. There have always been two categories of love letters, with one being where there was an actual affair and both parties were exchanging letters and the second being those where the affair was one sided.

The individuals in the later category used different tactics to convey their messages. Often, they would throw the unsolicited love letters at their “beloveds” while following them to schools, colleges, shopping centers and even bus stops.

Unlike the stalker love letters, letters exchanged between couples in a relationship were much civilized. The involved parties would exchange letters, using different channels, from fixing time and leaving the posts at a particular spot to using a mediator, usually a child bribed with candy. In order to show affection, apart from the use of poetic language, blood was also used in place of ink to signify the extremity of passion and desire.

Just like the urban centers, this mode of communication was equally popular in the rural areas, where literacy levels are comparatively low. Those who were not well versed in the art of writing would seek the help of their learned friends to assist them in expressing their feelings.

Zubair Mir, 43, was in class ten when he fell in love with a neighborhood girl. “Her house was in front of ours and I would often follow her on her way to the school,” Mir smiles sheepishly as he narrates his case of puppy love. He says he loved her to bits but had no idea how to express his love. “I thought each and every step of hers was related to me. If she smiled looking at me I took at as an approval for my affection and if she had a flicker of anger in her eyes, I took it for anger directed at me.”

Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, he finally mustered the strength to write her a letter. “I could not sleep that night as I tried my best to write a letter. Sadly, I could just jot down a few lines,” Mir says and claims that after fifty attempts he managed to write a letter. Once the writing bit was done, delivering it to his beloved was another problem but he cleared that hurdle too. “She accepted the letter and the response was positive, hence, began my love story,” states a beaming Mir. He, too, says that he wrote his letters in blood and is proud of the fact that his love story was a success. With regards to affairs carried out via SMS and email, he considers them to be childish.

While Kakar and Mir still hold on to their romantic notions, the youngsters of today are more in favour of communication through SMS and emails. Sohail Raza, a student of Bahria University, believes that writing and delivering a love letter was a slow and tiresome process. “Without taking any risks, you can easily communicate your message and get instant feedback as well,” he opines. Endorsing Raza’s point of view is Azhar Khan, who says that the latest technology has made communication faster and easier. “Writing love letters was always a tiresome and risky job,” he adds.

Though he regards letter writing as an old fashioned approach, he does insist that one should be sincere, whether, communicating through emails, SMS or love letters. Faizullah Jan, a communication expert, told this scribe that the importance of both SMS and letters could not be denied. He opines that while the SMS culture has made the communication fast, yet, it has some negative aspects too, particularly the use of language.

“Although, people are making friends without even knowing each other, the SMS culture has adversely affected the language, as usually, people use short terms and lines,” laments Jan. As far as literature and poetry goes, he agrees that they played an important role in writing a letter but it’s the delivery and preservation of the love letters that was an uphill task. “When somebody was in love, he was willing to take the risk of delivering the letter.”

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