Thursday 15 November 2012

Children of Gaza - by Michael Rosen

In Gaza, children,
you learn that the sky kills
and that houses hurt.
You learn that your blanket is smoke
and breakfast is dirt.

You learn that cars do somersaults
clothes turn red,

friends become statues,
bakers don’t sell bread.

You learn that the night is a gun,
that toys burn
breath can stop,
it could be your turn.

You learn:
if they send you fire
they couldn’t guess:
not just the soldier dies -
it’s you and the rest.

Nowhere to run,
nowhere to go,
nowhere to hide
in the home you know.

You learn that death isn’t life,
the air isn’t bread.

The land is for all - you have the right to be not dead.
The land is for all - you have the right to be not dead.
The land is for all - you have the right to be not dead.
The land is for all -you have the right to be not dead.

A heart rendering poem by Michael Rosen, prominent British Jewish writer and broadcaster. He was Children's Laureate in 2007-2009

Saturday 8 September 2012

Urdu poetry: Messages from Allama Mohammad Iqbal - I

A heart warming poem from Allama Mohammad Iqbal. A messages that "Liberal' thinkers in Pakistan today would like to be forgotten.

یہ غازی یہ تیرے پراسرار بندے 
جنھیں تو نے بخشا ہے ذوق خدائی  
دو نیم ان کی ٹھوکر سے صحرا و دریا
سمٹ کر پہاڑ ان کی ہیبت سے رائی 
دو عالم سے کرتی ہے بیگانہ دل کو
عجب چیز ہے لذت آشنائی 
شہادت ہے مطلوب و مقصود مومن
نہ مال غنیمت نہ کشور کشائی 
خیابان ہیں منتظر لالہ کب سے
قبا چاہیے اس کو خون عرب سے 
کیا تو نے صحرا نشینوں کو یکتا
خبر میں، نظر میں، اذان سحر میں 
طلب جس کی صدیوں سے تھی زندگی کو 
وہ سوز اس نے پایا انہی کے جگر میں 
کشاد دردل سمجھتے ہیں اس کو
ہلاکت نہیں موت ان کی نظر میں 
دل مرد مومن میں پھر زندہ کر دے
وہ بجلی کہ تھی نعرہ لا تزر میں 
عزائم کو سینوں میں بیدار کر دے
نگاہ مسلمان کو تلوار کر دے 

Transliterated in English 

Ye Ghazi, Ye Tere Purisrar Bande
Jinhain Tu Ne Bakhsha Hai Zuaq-e-Khudai 
Do-Neem In Ki Thoukar Se Sehra-o-Darya
Simat Kar Pahar In Ki Haibat Se Rayi 
Do Alam Se Karti Hai Baigana Dil Ko
Ajab Cheez Hai Lazzat-e-Ashnayi 
Shahadat Hai Matloob-o-Maqsood-e-Momin
Na Maal-e-Ghanimat Na Kishwar Kushayi 
Khayaban Mein Hai Muntazir Lala Kab Se
Qaba Chahye Iss Ko Khoon-e-Arab Se 
Kiya Tu Ne Sehra Nasheenon Ko Yakta
Khabar Mein, Nazar Mein, Azan-e-Sehar Mein 
Talab Jis Ki Sadiyon Se Thi Zindagi Ko
Woh Souz Iss Ne Paya Inhi Ke Jigar Mein 
Kushad-e-Dar-e-Dil Samajhte Hain Iss Ko
Halakat Nahin Mout In Ki Nazar Mein 
Dil-e-Mard-e-Momin Mein Phir Zinda Kar De
Woh Bijli Ke Thi Na’ara-e-‘LA TAZAR’ Mein 
Aza’im Ko Seenon Mein Baidar-e-Kar De
Nigah-e-Musalman Ko Talwar Kar De!

Translation in English 

These warriors, victorious, These worshippers of Yours,
Whom You have granted the will to win power in Your name;  
Who cleave rivers and woods in twain,
Whose terror turns mountains into dust; 
They care not for the world;
They care not for its pleasures;    
In their passion, in their zeal, In their love for Thee, O Lord,
They aim at martyrdom, Not the rule of the earth.  
In the flower-bed, Rose is waiting from long time
The Color from Arabs' blood 
You have united warring tribes,
In thought, in deed, in prayer. 
You have united warring tribes,
In thought, in deed, in prayer. 
They think of death, not as life’s end,
But as the ennobling of the heart.  
Make alive in the heart of a Muslim again
That Power the slogan 'My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers'  had.

Poem entitled "Tariq ki Dua" from the collection Bal-e-Jibreel 

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Messages that the nation of Pakistan chose to ignore - 1 Speeches and messages of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

For some time there has been a debate in Pakistan whether the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be a free tolerant and secular (note: secular doesn't equate to being atheist) or a religious Islamic state. This is one of his speeches that the conservative thinkers in Pakistan would like to forget.

"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan…You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State…. and you will find that in due course Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State"

Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August 1947

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen! I cordially thank you, with the utmost sincerity, for the honour you have conferred upon me - the greatest honour that is possible to confer - by electing me as your first President. I also thank those leaders who have spoken in appreciation of my services and their personal references to me. I sincerely hope that with your support and your co-operation we shall make this Constituent Assembly an example to the world. The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing the future constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. We have to do the best we can in adopting a provisional constitution for the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. You know really that not only we ourselves are wondering but, I think, the whole world is wondering at this unprecedented cyclonic revolution which has brought about the clan of creating and establishing two independent sovereign Dominions in this sub-continent. As it is, it has been unprecedented; there is no parallel in the history of the world. This mighty sub-continent with all kinds of inhabitants has been brought under a plan which is titanic, unknown, unparalleled. And what is very important with regards to it is that we have achieved it peacefully and by means of an evolution of the greatest possible character.

Dealing with our first function in this Assembly, I cannot make any well-considered pronouncement at this moment, but I shall say a few things as they occur to me. The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this: remember that you are now a sovereign legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions. The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.

The second thing that occurs to me is this: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering - I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think our condition is much worse - is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so.

Black-marketing is another curse. Well, I know that blackmarketeers are frequently caught and punished. Judicial sentences are passed or sometimes fines only are imposed. Now you have to tackle this monster, which today is a colossal crime against society, in our distressed conditions, when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life. A citizen who does black-marketing commits, I think, a greater crime than the biggest and most grievous of crimes. These blackmarketeers are really knowing, intelligent and ordinarily responsible people, and when they indulge in black-marketing, I think they ought to be very severely punished, because the entire system of control and regulation of foodstuffs and essential commodities, and cause wholesale starvation and want and even death.

The next thing that strikes me is this: Here again it is a legacy which has been passed on to us. Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil, the evil of nepotism and jobbery. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any any influence directly of indirectly brought to bear upon me. Whenever I will find that such a practice is in vogue or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.

I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of everyone of us to loyally abide by it and honourably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all. But you must remember, as I have said, that this mighty revolution that has taken place is unprecedented. One can quite understand the feeling that exists between the two communities wherever one community is in majority and the other is in minority. But the question is, whether it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than what has been done, A division had to take place. On both sides, in Hindustan and Pakistan, there are sections of people who may not agree with it, who may not like it, but in my judgement there was no other solution and I am sure future history will record is verdict in favour of it. And what is more, it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that was the only solution of India's constitutional problem. Any idea of a united India could never have worked and in my judgement it would have led us to terrific disaster. Maybe that view is correct; maybe it is not; that remains to be seen. All the same, in this division it was impossible to avoid the question of minorities being in one Dominion or the other. Now that was unavoidable. There is no other solution. Now what shall we do? Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.

I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England, conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.

Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

Well, gentlemen, I do not wish to take up any more of your time and thank you again for the honour you have done to me. I shall always be guided by the principles of justice and fairplay without any, as is put in the political language, prejudice or ill-will, in other words, partiality or favouritism. My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world.

I have received a message from the United States of America addressed to me. It reads:

I have the honour to communicate to you, in Your Excellency's capacity as President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the following message which I have just received from the Secretary of State of the United States:

On the occasion of of the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly for Pakistan, I extend to you and to the members of the Assembly, the best wishes of the Government and the people of the United States for the successful conclusion of the great work you are about to undertake.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Umrao Jaan Ada - made in China

Loved this Chinese take on Umrao Jaan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa - also credited as the first novel in Urdu language. I am sure anyone who has seen the Bollywood film production is going to love it.

iPhone - made in China
iPad - made in China
Katrina Kaif - about to be made in China


Saturday 23 June 2012

Endangered languages in Pakistan

I just watched a short but shocking report by Aljazeera television highlighting the plight of 6900 contemporary languages that are under threat and might disappear in the next 90 years. It was, however, good to find out about this worthy project ( that is attempting to record as many of these endangered languages as possible before they disappear
The Endangered Languages Project, is an online resource to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat.
It doesn't come as a surprise to me that some of the languages listed under the project come from regions (mostly North Western) in Pakistan including Balti (308,800 speakers world wide), Ormuri (1050 speakers worldwide), Torwali (60,000 speakers), Bateri (29,100 speakers), Ushojo (500 speakers), Kalasha (5030 speakers), Kalami (1500 speakers), Wakhi (5000 speakers), Dameli (5000 speakers), Phalura (10,000 speakers), Khowar (222,800 speakers), and Yidgha (5150 speakers).

I hadn't heard of many of these languages before. The project is open for partnerships and offers good resources and helpful advice on how these languages under threat can be recorded before they disappear. At the moment I don't see any Pakistani organisation or group among the partners. Does anyone know of similar work being done by any other international or Pakistani organisation to save or record the endangered languages in Pakistan?

Monday 11 June 2012

13 year old video maker covers the Diamond Jubilee garden party by International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH)

A 13 year old student of Altrincham Grammar School, Simal Asher produced this short video coverage of the Diamond Jubilee garden party celebrations hosted by International Foundation for Mother and Child Health (IFMCH) on Monday 04 June 2012. Using an iPhone4 Simal Asher produced, directed and did the screen play of this video.


Sunday 10 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Celebrations Pakistani Style by IFMCH (International Foundation for Mother and Child Health) in Altrincham

It was apt that for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations last weekend even the English weather decided to stick to its tradition of being entirely unpredictable and offered all sorts of variations that it could muster up. Muslim community of Pakistani heritage in Altrincham, Hale and surrounding areas were dealt a better hand with the sun shining all day, temperatures rising to an enjoyable level and winds slowing down to make Monday 04th June a perfect day for a garden party.

In a typical Pakistani style we did not plan well in advance, that resulted in it becoming too late to get a street closed for a street party. But there was no stoping us from celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at a garden party.

Dr Faeza Khan, the hostess with the mostess, and Vice Chairperson of the local charity International Foundation for Mother and Child Health, offered gardens of IFMCH office at 185 Grove Lane in Hale as the venue for what turned out to be an excellent Diamond Jubilee Celebrations party.

Big difference from an average street party from around the country was sheer abundance of Pakistani food contributed by each family joining the party. Woman heads of each house went out of the way to bring out their best in culinary delights. It was great to see a number of neighbours and friends from non-Pakistani heritage joining in the festivities.

Simal Asher, a young student from Altrincham Grammar Girls High School was our roving reporter interviewing participants and recording fun and festivities using her iPhone.

Highlight of the day was when cutting the cake it appeared that out of over 150 people of English and various other ethnic backgrounds there was only one Pakistani child who remembered all the verses of God Save the Queen.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Stop! make yourself accountable please! What's your business on this blog?

A hilarious take on UK's CCTV culture. A very poignant user comment on YouTube summarises the message aptly.
We live in a free country. Just as long as you don't actually use your freedom or anything. Because you have to have a reason to do everything. And not only do you have to have a reason to do everything, but the government has to know that reason at all times. I don't see how this ISN'T 1984.

Monday 27 February 2012

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy wins an Oscar for Pakistan

There are not many occasions for Pakistanis to feel real pride - this is one of those beautiful proud moments watching Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy lift the coveted Oscars statue along with Daniel Junge for "Saving Face' in Short Documentary category at the Academy Awards 2012.

A touching film about a topic that not many want to talk about in Pakistan. More than a 100 woman every year suffer the humiliation of acid attacks mostly in the name of Honour. The women’s “bravery and resilience in the face of adversity inspires me every single day,” Sharmeen said. “They are the true heroes of Pakistan.” 
Pakistan is proud today.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Oscars Night: Rooting for "Saving Face" and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

“The single act of throwing acid on a woman’s face completely ruins her life. It’s like the living dead, because if you throw acid on a woman’s face, she can seldom go home after that. To me, it’s the most heinous of all crimes against women.”
Says Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy whose documentary 'Saving Face" is nominated for an Academy Award under the category of Short Documentary.

Watch trailer of the documentary

Sharmeen is aleady a winner of prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists (first non-American to have won), Overseas Press Club Award, the South Asia Journalist Association Award, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, as well as an Emmy Award in 2010 for Pakistan: Children of the Taliban.

Describing the biggest challenge faced by her in making of this film Sharmeen said
Although my crew and I did not face any physical danger, we did have to struggle against a mindset that accepted such extreme forms of violence in Pakistan. The Seraiki Belt, a cotton growing in the province of Punjab, has some of the lowest levels of education and highest levels of poverty in Pakistan. Prevailing mindset violence against women is acceptable. Difficult to work with such people. 
Pakistan is rooting for Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy at the Oscars tonight.