Dialogue and Inclusiveness, central to democracy.


 

One early morning away from hustle and bustles of the capital of the county, a group of young minds left for enlightenment and comprehension of democracy in tranquil hills of Nathiagali in the wake of celebrating international democracy day .A three days conference had been arranged by SDPD (strengthening democracy through parliamentary developments) starting on 18th of September with the theme “Dialogue and Inclusiveness central to democracy”.

Each one of us is the product of our individual experiences, the environment and the available outfits of news, views, information and analysis chisel our temperaments. Likewise, I had my own perception about democracy whose canvas was confined to politics which in reality was not the case. The very first interactive session of conference dawned on me that                                                                                         “Democracy is not politician or parliament business but its people’ business; people regardless of criteria”.

I have had this privilege of attending other national youth conferences but this one transcended my expectations. This conference provided a distinct quadrant by virtue of which traits like tolerance, acceptance, plurality and inclusiveness stem henceforth curbing social menaces like radicalization and extremism within the crests of a society.

As the conference progressed , in addition to covering other associated phenomena, three basic questions “What, Why and How” central to democracy were addressed by the keynote speakers like, Senator Raza Rabbani and other adherents. This session had proved to be an eye opening for us in a manner that we went through the process of discarding the facade perception about democracy, ultimately learning the true meaning of democratic values and its effects on our daily lives. It is the name of tolerance, pluralism, respect for minorities and the ability to listen to your opponent views with intentions of understanding his/her position.

I observed a great paradigm shift among the attendees towards politics and politicians as Mian Iftikhar Hussain spoke on what it means to be a politician in Pakistan. The heart wrenching story of his only son martyrdom left everyone tear eyed which the price was paid by Mian Iftikhar for fostering peace through dialogue.

The point that a society cannot be flat since it is heterogeneous was highly upheld in this conference and stress was given on accepting diversity. It was mindful of the organizers to project diversity by selecting the youth ranging from Gilgat Baltistan through Karachi which also included minorities.

Before the event as the attendees were on a way to Nathiagali, I observed heated arguments among my fellows on ethnic and geographical background issues and one could feel provincial parochialism, unrest and huge communication gap impeding them from walking in one another shoes. As the conference ended, I witnessed a display of harmony, selflessness and nationalism among the same fellows. Change is not defined in words but through achievements. Coexistence observed among the participants who aimed to work in coherence to serve a national cause was the conference achievement.

Besides a great learning offered by the speakers; I ascertained from the participants but one name among them leads the rest. Qiyanoos , a young tribal who would work in daytime subsequent by nocturnal studies , managed to clinch 2nd position in SSC Board exams. He taught me curiosity knows no boundaries and hard work is dispensable of wherewithal.

This conference embodied a vision in me which will surface in form of initiating nurseries for democracy backed by the likeminded youth across the country.

Scary than a nightmare.


Exams, how this very first word has pinched you? I know it itches. Now you probably are not going to read ahead than this. No? Really? Okay then listen to what I have been through today. I student of BSc Electrical Engineering will remember this day as long as I breathe, when my first semester, first finals and first circuit analysis paper is taken.

                                       Okay, here examiner comes and hands over me  the paper. The very first sight of paper dawns on me that first three questions are not meant for us and that, one who has set the paper has done some mistake. These can’t be for us. No way!! I have not seen anything like these before. Or have I or others had?  I shrug. However questions which followed these look a bit familiar and I heave a sigh of relief. I have marked few questions. I pulled my socks.

                                            By now I have copied a very clear figure of circuit from the question paper to my answer sheet. Now what?  A question I was asking myself. No reply. Oh, it’s some messed form of the question. I simply can’t do it. I picked my scale and simply drawn an ending line below the figure.

                                               Now I have switched to the question about which I am sure I will solve  in no time. I have copied the question again and I have written few equations. Yeah!  What? Please not again. The question is subjected to tempering (crime which paper setters usually commit and they are shielded from the trial. I wish they would go under trial like players go for ball tempering). They teach us simple in class and ask very hard questions in paper. This is not fair. I am switching from one question to another but each question is tampered in a way for which I have no solution and neither it is in the book given to us. Is being an engineer means devising new equations and plots that too at the time of paper? I have flipped the question paper 5 to 6 times in a pursuit that maybe any question shows mercy, but none.

                                       With the help of ZAHID MASOOD’S (me) circuit laws, I am writing and I can feel the rush of blood in me. Oh, wow! I will solve all the questions. I am writing what I infer is correct. After tarnishing blank beauty of few pages of answer sheet, I feel slackened. Now I am kinda tired and laughing to myself over my funny equations which I have devised. Okay, enough is enough this untuned romance that too one day prior to valentines day with this ugly paper should stop now.

                                       The examiner is noticing me gazing out through the window of second floor of a building before which I am sitting. I rested my hands in my lap and now I am sitting quiet comfortable. He is coming. He asks “are you done?’ I am looking at my paper and in a quick short reply I say “Yes, with a paper and my brain juice too”. Thanks to the examiner for ending this truama.                            

                                                          As I walked out of  examination hall I was laughing and could not help myself. I don’t know why. A hard paper does that for you.  I noticed I was the first who has submitted the paper before the due time. I wondered is it only me who could not solve or others too. Anyways, the time is over and here come all of my class fellows. They are laughing too. One of them is shouting “somebody tell me the fee for summer supply papers. I will literally fail” another saying ‘Oh, God summers in Lahore, why me?” I am seeing a girl crying and yelling. Now I see a boy crying too. I see each class mate yelling. I am feeling happy to know it is not only me.  I see most of class fellows don’t know either to laugh or to cry.In 10 minutes, it was unveiled that in this paper each  of us is equal and none has done any better.You know in each university there are few Mr. Smith which are famous for the hot boiled papers they set and so were this paper set by Mr. Smith of our university. I am sure he has set such paper on purpose so maximum students repeat in summer.   

 This uniform situation of my class mates reminded me of the poetic lines of Dr. Aallama Iqbal

“Ek hi saf mein khare ho gaye mahmud-o-Ayaz,
No koi banda raha aur no koi banda Nawaz”

(This poetic line projects equality and draws back to an anecdote of a king and a slave, who were treated equal at that time.)

 

Vacuum


Français : Le Silence Allégorie de la solitude...

Image via Wikipedia

Out on a roof in a cold night

My eyes fixed on a single star

Such a big sky and yet

So alone in space, poor star

I questioned its loneliness

My voice echoed followed by silence

The same it asked

One more time but a greater silence

How alike we were

Like a mirror faces another mirror

it on sky; I on earth

Both answerless and in vacuum

A plea.


After laboring through 14 years of studies  from kindergarten through grade twelve , the Pakistani teenager is confronted with the monster known as  entry tests  , success in which, is to be rewarded by admission to an  engineering or a medical  college . Parents and teachers make it a point to hammer in the importance of these tests . We are repeatedly told  about the tough competition we will have to face if we are to get into any one professional college.We are given examples of  siblings or  cousins or friends  who have made it to prestigious colleges and the story goes on. What we are not told is, that it is not the only option we are left with or that if we fail to get in, the world does not end there.
 As the time for the tests  draws  close, we are under intense stress about the results: shall we , or shall we not make it! The general belief is that good luck as well as hard work  are the basic requirements.

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In the months preceding the  tests we reinforce concepts, stockpile shortcuts and key points for solving the MCQS, trying to train ourselves to work within the most stringent of time checks. Very much like the saying “ only the wearer knows where shoe pinches”, it is only we who slog through the preparation ,who are aware of all that it takes to go through the tension. Here it is important to know that there may be quite a  few   among us with a greater aptitude  for the  arts and literature  as compared to the science subjects. Sadly, burdened by filial duty and feeling honour bound to stand up to parental expectations, nobody at that age has the courage to  express his own preference. The fact is that  they have already spent the past year listening to the ambitions of parents who long to see their sons and daughters become  doctors or engineer like the children of their relatives . In the process, we are made scapegoats .

 

Lining up for the entrance test candidates are very conscience that compared to the large number of prospective entrants, there are very few seats available . As the bell rings to announce the start of the test, candidates respond according to their individual natures. There are some who will make a good start while others will panic. The result is that many  excellent students fail to apply the knowledge they have while others with lesser potential will perform very well. So there is no guarantee of who will get into what department when the result is announced .  There will be some who will be jubiliant while others will be   because they could not make it to the discipline they had aspired to. There will be quite a few who will be forced to accept the result like a bitter pill.

 

So what do we make of the situation? The bottom line is that the results of entrance tests to professional colleges are no yardstick by which to measure a student’s intelligence or efforts.

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The purpose of writing this article is to draw the attention of ambitious parents and prospective professionals  to the fact that those among us  who did not make it,  are no less intelligent  then those who did. Parents need to understand that these tests are no criterion by which  to define anybody’s potential. Also that what works for one may not necessarily  work for other because every individual has his peculiar talent  and diversity is the name of the game in this world.

 

If I could speak for the children who do not make it to the professional colleges I would say something like this:  ” We are sorry for disappointing you  but please give us your blessings to work in the field we really are good at. If you allow us to study the subjects of our choice and give us the freedom, who knows  how many Guljees or Hanifs are lurking in the shadows?”

BOL, movie review.


REVIEW:

Based on the domestic life of a lower class family living in Lahore, Shoaib Mansoor’s “BOL” beautifully showed the picture of oppressed women living in a family headed by a chauvinist, egoist, grouchy, the only bread-winner, an indigenous Hakeem, father of seven daughters and one more but trapped in a boy skin Saifee (eunuch), whose role becomes harbinger for the climax, has much for nearly everyone to relate it to their lives. It has a heart wrenching story.

The entire story unveils in a flashback mode as Zainab (Humaima Malik) eldest among the daughters of Hakeem, narrates her story to the media, a minute before her execution . Hakeem business is impeded by  shift in a trend of countrymen, consulting doctors for treatment instead of Hakeem. Income diminishing day by day leaves him and his brood from hands to mouth which utterly induces him to look for alternatives but he never allows his daughters to work. The film also throws light on the role of male dominant society and catapults the injustice they do, who even usurps the right of women to choose a life partner with her own consent but the film primarily objects to the idea of reproducing human beings into this world (blinded by faith and self-centered intentions) without taking complete responsibility of their basic necessities of life. The upbringing of Saifee amidst his/her sisters, and isolated life, defined to walls of home, negligence showed by his/her father for Saifee does not have a defined sex and the fate he/she meets is spine chilling

As the story continues we see only Zainab among the daughters of Hakeem  is courageous enough to speak for their rights and argues her father for his wrong concepts and beliefs. The two are often seen arguing about fate and their choice of changing it with their free acts. Hakeem time and again scolds her for he thinks what she says about family planning and limited free will granted by our Creator is an open heresy. Hakeem each unwise move pitches another tower of trouble for himself and his brood, leaving him penniless and you hate him for his condition and atrocities he does to his family. But at times you take pity on Hakeem, an old bearded man, as circumstances compels him to do immoral to keep his honor.

Zainab younger sister Mahira Khan forges friendship with her neighbor, Mustafa, (Atif) in their childhood and when they get mature, they wish to marry each other.  The movie has twists and turn and one cannot predict the story.  Shoaib Mansoor, famous for his script writing showed a great work of art in the movie. Keeping the legacy of “Khuda ke lye”, he gave his best shot once again. Dialogues of the movie are terse,  but carry volume of strong emotions and facts so vivid even understood by an average person, explaining things in a light never examined before.

The film is very real and one forgets for a moment he is watching a movie.  There are comic scenes and dialogues truly different from the bollywood cliché and the current cheap comedy which is usually inclined more towards vulgarity. The shift between humor and sensational scenes is exceptional followed in a rhythm and does not disturb the gravity and plots of the story. At times I found the audience in cinema bursting into laughter and in the next moment wiping out tears from their eyes (mostly women and few men). The music of the movies is soft, sweet, lively and lingers in your mind for long time,melodious enough to stir the soul and completely meeting the demand of the movie.  Atif and Hadiqa duo “Hona tha pyaar” is excepyional. Sajjad Ali “Din Pareeshan hai” perfectly synchronizes the plot of the story where the song starts and no other could have sung it better than him. Hats off and  applause to Shoaib Mansoor choice of selecting cast and place to shoot the film. Every actor did justice to their role and performed it in the best way but Atif acting was average. Better he stick to singing. Humaima Malik, in her début has given what was required on her part as she was the central character of the movie. Her acting added a silver outline to the movie.

i will not deny this movie has complicated stuff and it needs a discerning audience besides a company of adults for minors owing to controversial issues being discussed in the movie and that too out of context in few plots, vulnerable and few concepts can even misguide ..the director gave the viewers only a stimulus and has let them choose their own response to it, not giving it in the end of movie himself and maybe this is why it got mix views in Pak, besides other reason second of which among them is, it questioned the pre-existing doctrines of fate and our choice of changing it. i am not going to discuss every bit of it but the central idea, which i already mentioned which the movie objected is something i will call enlightenment.

The movie ends with an epilogue,not only conveying a message straight to audience mind but putting up a strong question and generating stimulus in them. “BOL” is another indefatigable effort of Shoaib Mansoor in revival of moribund Pakistani film industry. Let’s wait and see who gives another infallible production to bolster our film industry. So what are you waiting for, grab a ticket and watch for yourself this spectacular work of art . Its time to say be Pakistani and not only buy Pakistani but see Pakistani as well.

Taking on a forbidden tower. part 2


Note: Do not read until you have not read taking on a forbidden tower.

After reading”Taking on a forbidden tower”,  Many readers are asking me this question “what happened next after the gardener took notice of  me’? I know, it is a valid one. Actually what happened next was not worth mentioning but embarrassing.But now here it goes. The authority grilled me harshly for it. I had to pay for it. They did not conduct my interview. They called my parents. Are you people thinking all that? Well lets see what happened. I came down  as quickly as possible, hardly escaping a great fall on the stairs.

While descending the stairs some cartoonish scenes were exploding one after the other in my  mind, like, upon reaching the ground the gardener who had seen me would have raised an alarm by then, amassing the navy seals for the stealth mode operation and  I will find a bunch of gardeners armed with prunes, garden shears, rakes and what not. It will be like catching a rooster and putting it back to the chicken yard.

And I will slip from their clinched fists, running for my life in a way captain jack sparrow runs.  Stop playing that mission impossible music zatty!  I was not enjoying this at all.

descending those endless spirals stairs in less than five minutes made my head spin. okay! I came to the last stair leading me to the ground and began to descend it and made myself mentally prepare for a great run.  I descended it, stepping on the broken glass broke the silence which had sustained after I kept standing still behind the entrance door of the tower. I with one of my eyebrow raised and mouth little open came out expecting all the yelling but none.

To my surprise no one was there to welcome me and congratulating me for doing such a great deal.  what zatty! I made a fool out of myself. I came down to no good, I remember what I  had said at that moment ” All in a day’s life; I could have stayed on the top for a little while but what now”.