Remembering 2014
Jan03

Remembering 2014

Alas 2014 comes to an end and with it we bury everything we’ve been through in the past year, under the rug. As 2015 begins we look forward to new beginnings, new opportunities, possibilities and some of us, to more disappointments. Every year we look forward to New Year as a second chance at life but why is it so? Why do we wait for a “New Year” for a new beginning and why is it that we push last year’s mess under the rug, out of sight? 2014 may have ended but its ramifications remain. 2015 may have begun but we’re still the same. Let’s take a look back at what 2014 had in store for Pakistan. January 1 A bomb blasted on the Qambrani road in Akhtarabad, Quetta near a bus, which was carrying at least 50 pilgrims from Iran to Pakistan. Police confirmed that three of the passengers were killed and at least twenty-four injured. January 6 A bomb detonated in a tribal elder’s home in Khyber Agency, killing 10 people and injuring another 9. January 9 14-year-old Aitizaz Hassan in northern Pakistan was killed stopping a suicide bomber at the main gate of his school but saved the lives of all of his schoolmates gathered for their morning assembly. The Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack   Chaudhry Aslam Khan, police chief and SSP of the Crime Investigation Department in Sindh Police, was killed in a bomb blast March 31 Musharraf was charged in treason case April 8 Blast struck Pakistan market April 19 Hamid Mir was wounded in a gun attack May 7 Joel Cox (FBI agent) was arrested with 15 9mm bullets, three small knives and a     wrench after he attempted to board a domestic flight between Karachi and Islamabad   Malala pled over Nigerian schoolgirls May 27 30-year old Farzana Bibi was been stoned to death by her relatives outside Lahore High Court for marrying against their wishes June 3 MQM leader Altaf Hussain was held in London June 6 Altaf Hussain was released by police June 8 Gunmen attacked Karachi international Airport, killing at least 10 people June 9 Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility behind the airport attack Karachi airport reopens after raid June 13 6.0 earthquake hit northwest Pakistan June 14 Airstrikes killed as many as 100 militants in Pakistan June 15 Operation Zarb-e-Azb is launched by PAF against various militant groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jundallah, al-Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Haqqani network. June 17 The Model Town clash ensued between the Punjab Police and Pakistan...

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Never Forget
Dec29

Never Forget

  16th December has to be one of the blackest days in Pakistan’s recent history. I remember sitting in a classroom at University the morning (around 10:00 am) of that day, chatting with some of my friends as we waited for our class to begin. My best friend was sitting next to me. He was checking out messages on his cell phone when he received the news, via sms, that terrorists had entered a branch of Army Public School in Peshawar. The look on my friend’s face changed from shock to concern as he read out the horrible news to us. The sms didn’t provide much detail of the incident. We knew, however, that this was a developing story and one we all hoped would end happily. This was not to be the case. In the afternoon, we received news that the terrorists had killed close to 30 children and a couple of people from the school staff. The army had begun its operation against the terrorists and was having some success. I had left my university around 3:30 pm and by the time I had reached home an hour or so later, the death toll had risen to over a 100. The most heartbreaking part of it was, of course, the killing of innocent children. After I had gotten home, i had turned on the TV to watch the media coverage of the incident. What I saw on the TV were scenes of chaos as concerned relatives were running around secured areas looking for their children among those who had been evacuated as soon as the terrorists had started their despicable activities. I moved on to another channel and there I saw relatives crying their eyes out over dead bodies and coffins. I clearly remember fighting back a flood of tears as I was watching this.   A scene from the media coverage of the incident. This is just one of many coffins over which parents were seen mourning.       The emotions at this time were in stark contrast to what they were when I had first heard the news. The shock and concern wasn’t as huge as it should have been, when I had first come to learn of the incident. It’s probably because we have become used to the constant flood of bad news and to scenes of injustice, cruelty and suffering, living in Pakistan. We have become desensitized to violence, especially, in cases where we aren’t directly affected by it. The suffering caused by the killing of sweet, innocent and joyful children or even the thought of it is enough, however, to cause...

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Those Green Sweaters…
Dec18

Those Green Sweaters…

I too wore those green sweaters with yellow lining once. Every morning was a hustle – the niggling race against time to catch the bus. As soon as the chacha rang the assembly bell, we all use to linearly arrange ourselves for the assembly and sang the national anthem at the top of our lungs. Keeping those ‘Bata’ shoes shiny and lustered till the end of assembly was another mighty struggle of our lives. As soon as the first class started, the wait for the recess began. The geography class never seemed to end, while the games period used to just quickly slip away. The silence of the library was lingering while the shouts in the Khokha were never enough. Ahhh! How convenient was my time, how trivial were my issues! Never once did I fight the terror of gunshots, never once did I not survive. Now let me share the tale of some different faces in those same green sweaters with yellow lining. They too left home today in the usual hustle of race against time. Bata shoes still were sparkly clean and the national anthem was still sung from the top of the lungs. But then the script changed and some coward men with big guns decided to fight these small warriors armed with bite marked pencils. The gunshots were way louder than the Khokha frenzy, whereas the lingering silence of the library was nothing compared to the haunting stillness while being crouched in horror underneath the rusty table. Time never froze like this in geography class while the blood of the wounded friend was oozing out faster than the ticking clock of games period. With only one stain of ink, I was moved out of assembly line; while they were drenched with buckets of blood, and nobody moved them away from line of fire. Today they went to school and saw another day.  Today they faced the radicals and stood stern against the terror. But today they didn’t survive. Ahh! How convenient was my time, how trivial were my issues! Dear gallant friends of today, we are proud of you! You will forever survive in the hustle of our mornings and in struggles of our days. I promise you one thing that in those green sweaters with yellow lining, we will rise and shine… Again! For you and for the pride of the anthem you sang today!...

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Pakistan Mourns…
Dec16

Pakistan Mourns…

What happens when a regular person sitting at home switches on T.V in morning? He/she comes to know that there is not a moment of certainty for a Pakistani. There are four scenarios we are well-acquainted with on Pakistan’s media 1. Talk shows with political bantering. 2. Demonstration and processions with political bantering. 3. Dramas with women crying Lately the fourth scenario i.e terrorist attack, is in the process of being controlled by Pakistan Army through operation Zarb-e-Azab. But then catastrophe struck, marking a sad end to the year 2014 for Pakistan. Army Public School, Peshawar became a militant battle ground. But wait. Battles are raged against those who are armed. They were just children. Six gunmen wearing suicide vests entered the school and gunned down 135 children as reported so far out of 200 victims. Some are still held hostages and many more are missing. This was a children massacre at mass. I switched off the T.V. It was getting unbearable. I couldn’t help knowing the stories of the survivors so i started reading about it online. The ones who survived and returned to their conscious state reported that they played dead to escape the claws of these coward scavengers. School is the time, people crave to go back to. I know I do. I miss everything about it. But these survivors are among those who wouldn’t look back to this memory. Ever. Its filled with screaming classmates and open gunshots. Although they returned alive, a big chunk of them is probably dead within. You know why terrorists are always reported to be around 18 years old or younger? Because if they were mature and had children of their own, they would not be ready to blow themselves up in a school. The fear of devastation of their own children and family would have held them back. Heartiest condolence to the families of the victimized. If only our grief could bring back the lost ones. If only it had such a strong impact that future generation could be saved. Today we mourn. Tomorrow things will be back to normal for politicians, for people sitting in front of their t.v sets, for anybody who wasn’t directly affected. Or everything would change… Maybe. If only we had caught these brutes alive and publicly executed them to warn those who were behind this. All these children have left us with, is the wish for ‘If only’ we could have saved...

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The Malala Conundrum

It was two years ago, on the 9th of this month that Malala Yousafzai was shot by a gunman from the Taliban. Malala survived the ordeal and since then her rise to global prominence and fame has been nothing short of meteoric and has culminated into her being awarded half of a Nobel Peace Prize on 10th October, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize is just one of the many feathers that Malala has added to her cap since 2012. She has been the recipient of the Sakharov Prize and honorary degrees from Universities such as the University of Edinburgh and University of King’s College. She is perhaps the youngest person to address a UN assembly. The list of her accomplishments is long and diverse. It shows that Malala has been accepted by a large part of the world as an icon of peace and the struggle for the right of humans, particularly women and children, to education. Pakistan hasn’t readily or wholly accepted Malala as such because there are mixed views among the Pakistanis about her story and her struggle.   How many can say that they have rubbed shoulders with UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon or addressed a UN youth assembly. Malala’s confidence and accomplishments are indeed undeniable. Pakistan has been on the verge of economic, social and political instability for quite some time now. The conditions of Pakistan are such that a large section of its citizens suffer from trust issues. They think about the negative aspects of people and situations before the positive ones. The negatives are usually enough to deter them from even thinking about the positives. Malala’s story has been questioned by many people with this mindset. Some say that Malala’s story is fabricated and unverifiable (at least accurately) and it seems that her fame has been manufactured to serve a dark purpose. Multiple conspiracy theories with regard to the attack on Malala exist. The names of intelligence agencies such as CIA along with terrorist organizations as well as enemies of Pakistan have been added to the mix. Malala’s family is accused of being fame and money hungry and the activities of Malala’s father in promoting her daughter or her cause have not helped in dispelling such a notion. The western world is accused of using Malala to justify their war crimes (drone strikes and what not) in Muslim countries and promoting a bad image of the religion of Islam, a religion that Malala herself follows. Some people question how a 12 year old was able to write about issues which kids of similar ages and coming from similar conditions, don’t have a...

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