Youth Are The Lifeline

I am posting here an old essay of mine that I wrote back in 2011 but the relevance of which cannot be denied in today’s or future Pakistan, though the relevance and importance of a young population could spring hopes of a better future anywhere in the world.

A French proverb goes like ‘youth lives on hope, old age on remembrance’. Here we would discuss in detail the first part of the French wisdom that is universal in soul and has proven right time and again.

The evolution and progress of societies need solid grounds i-e the strength of population, the economic resources, cohesion etc. Today’s world that is massively populous, less ethical and dangerously power-centric, is a practical example of Herbert Spencer’s coined phrase of ‘the survival of the fittest’. Hence for a given society to survive and thrive, it must have a well managed and conspicuous chunk of youth population, for youth are the most potential and capable of all the segments of a society.

In the above context, the struggle for the independence of Pakistan was the fruition of the efforts of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who channelized the energies of the Muslim youth through the Aligarh Tehreek. Allama Mohammad Iqbal deemed the awakening of the Muslim youth to be the only way out of the British and Hindu manipulation. He did stir that hope in the Muslim youth, hence the creation of Pakistan.

The preservation of independence they say, is the hardest part. Sadly enough the post independence era in Pakistan saw the demise or ageing of the stalwarts of the Pakistan movement and there was no next breed of the erstwhile inspired youth to carry the country through to progress and prosperity. Men with myopic vision and unsatiable lust for power took reigns one after the other squandering  a significant part of the country in the process.

Yet Pakistan emerged out of many a catastrophe mainly courtesy the vibrancy of its youth. Were it not for the  valiance of its Jawans in the war of 1965, Pakistan could so easily be a victim to the whims of the neighbor. The devastating earth quake of 2005 saw the emergence of a new, refreshing face of the Pakistani youth who employed all their capacities to help the earth-quake stricken stand on their feet. Be it helping the war-hit IDPs or the flood affectees, we have numerous examples of the sincerity and capability of the Pakistani youth to transform despair into hope.

Pakistan is fortunate in a way as to have a youth population of more than 50 percent, larger than any other neighboring country. If properly channelized and groomed it could make wonders. Today when Pakistan is caught in the worst internal and external crises, one finds hope to see the organized bodies of the Pakistani youth on the social networking websites and their activism on roads to help bring positive change in the society. In the prevalent gloom if the national horizon flashes with any light they are the silver lines drawn by the brilliance of youth.

 

The OBL Episode

The last couple of days have been eventfully immense. The guy who figured central in the security turnarounds in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the last 20 years or so, someone been dubbed as the most wanted person to the USA, the enigma called Osama Bin Laden is said to be killed and ‘taken out’ from a house in Abbottabad in a Sting operation conducted by the US Army. The US civilian and military leadership pronounced the news to be a great victory and ‘justice’ to the victims of the twin towers in New York. The US military took all the credit of the operation terming it their own and that they were in surveillance of the hideout for quite some time.

The details of the event as they poured in and swelled through the idiot boxes in Pakistan, made the masses bamboozled much like Osama did the world media and leadership at large. Our ‘democratic’ and military leadership were caught unawares leading the former, the PM of Pakistan to issue an abrupt statement much in the tone of Obama.

The military are still keeping mum as to what exactly transpired. The significance of the event is such that the Pakistan Army might find itself between a rock and hard place. If it confesses a role in the operation, it in effect invites the wrath of a wounded enemy; if it denies an involvement, serious questions arise over its ability to defend the national borders.

The operation itself looks dubious. The haste it involved, the city the location and the very presence of the person who suffered renal failures almost a decade ago. Somebody told this scribe that Osama had a dialysis session at the CMH Rawalpindi in the late nineties and that he was gifted a dialysis machine by the hospital administration. How on earth could an aged dialysis patient survive without constantly been treated, especially when no such equipment was found in the house that is said to have been constantly monitored and whose inhabitants are said to be aloof and isolated? Why such haste to dispose the body of the most wanted criminal on earth? And why the waters when he could be showcased to the world for the fate he met? The more one probes the matter the more deceitful the story appears. We haven’t yet forgotten Donald Rumsfeld’s confession of the false grounds Iraq was invaded on.

However twisted the story seems, the US of A delivered a decisive punch to floor an ‘ally’. The points it aimed to score are;

  • To send a message that it can strike anyone, anytime and anywhere
  • To salvage something of a war it is finding hard to win
  • To keep its ‘strategic partner’ under pressure to ‘do more’
  • To legitimize its claims of a ‘double-game’ the Pakistani spy agencies play
  • To further alienate the Pakistani masses from an erstwhile trusted Army
  • To legitimize drone insertions

These are tricky times for an energy short, ill governed Pakistan. The confidence of the people ever dwindles. The civil and military leadership need to come out firm and erase the layers of ambiguity around this whole OBL episode. We could always start afresh if the sincerity and will is there.

Random Thoughts

Floods: They have wrecked the body structure of Pakistan. Starting from the mountains in the north in KPK and protracting through the plains of southern Punjab to Sind and Baluchistan. The waters were never so high and never so wide to sweep along high buildings, bridges, houses, crops, cattle and most of all precious human lives. The dent to the infrastructure is immense. The misery of millions of our folks is heart-wrenching. People are starved of food, bereft of shelter and exposed to water rife in epidemics. What they need now is the support of us all spared by the calamity. The magnitude of the disaster makes it our obligation to try and restore the lives, pride and dignity of our people in troubled waters.

Altaf bhai: As if we were short of the disasters, bhai saab wants us to be hit by another. In his recent signature telephonic sermon the moron politician invited ‘the patriots’ in military to come forth and take over the reins of this ill-governed state (of the government he himself is a part). He acts crocodile when says he is moved by the cause of the flood-stricken – advocating the cause in his cozy London flate where he’s glued from eternity come hell or high water. And more so, his proposed military takeover to him is neither a martial law nor something unconstitutional – a marriage of both amid the larger national tragedy. He wants chaos, utter chaos!

Spot-Fixing: Let us not bash them left right and center. Let us not propose punishments. It is pre-mature. The allegations are still to be proved. Till whatever comes this latest scandal of spot-fixing by some of the Pakistan cricketers is damaging with a potential to taint the very image of Pakistan and its cricket beyond redemption. Controversies of one or the other kind has been a regular feature on the Pakistan English tours throughout history. The English media is always on a lookout to malign the gifted players from our part of the world. This is not to say our cricketers are innocent. There is a possibility of black sheep everywhere. But they ought not to be considered guilty until proved so. I feel for Aamir. He is too young, too talented to lose his reputation and career in the nasty business of match or spot-fixing. I wish he’s not the culprit!

An evening to remember

It has been quite some time since I last attended a function of sorts at the Pakistan Academy Of Letters, so when I received this sms of invitation from Khurram Khiraam Siddiqui, the PAL editor of English I had to go there for one doesn’t always come across a person of the stature of Zulfikar Ghose, the US based poet, novelist and essayist, whom the gathering was arranged for.

I was fortunate to arrive earlier at the Editor’s office, meet the honorable Ghose sahib and exchange some pleasantries with him. Thats where I got my hands literally on a copy of the biannual anthology of the Pakistani writers, ‘The Pakistani Literature’ where translations from a variety of Pakistani languages as well as original English works of the prominent Pakistani literati are published. I flipped through pages and was pleasantly surprised to see the publication of four of my translated poems from Pushto. I conveyd my gratitude to Mr. Khiraam who enhanced my delight by showing me a heavier anthology which included pieces of translations as well as a selection of the original Pakistani English literature from 1947 to 2010, that again included a translation of mine. I requested for the contributor’s copies which the Editor generously handed me with compliments.

The function itself was a wonderful experience. Ghose sahib recited poems from his latest collection called ’50 Poems’ published by the Oxford University Press. In between the recitals of his inspiring poetry Ghose sahib delighted us with interesting anecdotes pertaining mostly to his experiences in life. There was a question-answer session in the end which again was full of information as we came to know how writers born in the third world are assigned labels in the West and how it limits the scope of a writer.

The modertator Khurram Khiraam Siddiqui (left) with Zulfikar Ghose (right)

It was an evening to remember and one would like to be a part of such enlightening gatherings more often.

Life

Of all the great definitions of life brought up by many a great mind, the one that truly manifests it is short like the life itself which says, ‘it ends’. However, the enormity of trials and tribulations one suffers makes one wonder as to how come they fit into the tiniest of times an average human is allowed to spend here.

Domestic worker Shazia lived a small chunk of an average human life but the marks on her tortured body revealed an agony well beyond her 13 years.

We are largely a race of myopic merry makers, blissful in our escapism, tut-tutting phrases like, ‘life is an ice-cream; enjoy it before it melts’

An Exercise

Cav is generous in help and I’m indebted for his gesture. He gave me a theme of ‘memory’ with words like ‘grove’ ‘midgets/midges’ ‘tingle’ ‘dusk’ and ‘window’ to be used in the development of a concept. I tried it abliet with a frozen mind resisting to unshackle and came up with a raw, rushed up (I wasn’t hastened, though) story. Here it is. It will be shaped, reshaped and even written off, in light of you people’s suggestions.

Sitting poles apart

in his cozy room

he would crave to be

a part of the scence

when he’d watch

on his tv screen,

the glistening Himalayan peaks

kissing the Indus-blue cheeks

of the sky that would blush

into all the possible hues.

As if a speck of a mettle

enchanted towards a gigantic magnet

he found himself moving

towards the mountaneous range.

Standing at the feet

of the Nanga Purbut

he was a midget

filled with the naivete

to surmount love.

Pinching the body

of the slumbering beast

he crawled up

unaware of the pitfalls

waiting under the sheets

of white snow.

The arrival of dusk

emboldened the air

that lanced through

his mountaineering gear

as he was tingled

before being gobbled

by a cavernous hole.

It all happened in a trice;

his body writhed like a fish

in protest of decption,

his heart blissed out

and froze like that

of the beloved

and his mind rolled

in a backward motion

showing him the glimpse

of his wife sitting across

the window pane

staring deep at the

grove where they’d play

hide and seek.

A heartbreak

I had planned to celebrate an anticipated win with a post here but I was jolted to the reality that wishes aren’t horses and that it takes the nerves of steal, discipline on the field and a Captain who leads by an example to prevail in tough matches like the Champions Trophy Semifinal.

There were a multitude of reasons for our failure, the foremost being our inept middle order led by an under performing captain. Its high time our selectors unearthed gems like Umer Akmal and get rid of mere reputations so that we get rid of the heart breaks that we experience from the failure of our batting lineup on a permanent basis.