Category Archives: Letters
One of the very first visitors, after the inauguration of this latest religion wing in the museum, registered his comments.
According to him, the exhibition depicts that ‘Islam is a refined and peaceful civilisation’.
This is the swift impact which art can generate on the minds of the recipients. It’s a feasible and effective tool for making religious principles more comprehensible. The Islamic world needs to change the gear for countering actions that openly aim at denigrating Islam.
Islamic calligraphy and art itself is renowned and lauded all over the world. Any form of art should be considered for utilisation to target both believing and non-believing audiences. An anti-Islam film calls for elucidating and clarifying religious injunctions with a motive of communicating their true essence.
Comparing this aesthetic medium with the grotesque protests in the streets of Pakistan in the name of ‘Day of love for Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)’ makes one think that ‘artistic manifestation’ of religion is far better.
This can have a longer and profound impact of a religion that is a symbol of peace. Muslim countries across the world need to react unanimously and with prudence. Even if they label it as propaganda, then an intelligible ‘counter-propaganda’ is required.
Art is among the long list of peaceful ways of propagating Islam, as it is. A more sensible attempt was made by ‘Discover Islam UK’, a non-profit organisation working to promote a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
After the release of anti-Islam film, this organisation started to distribute large numbers of copies of books, which reflected the correct version of Holy Prophet ’s life.
Islam is a peace-loving religion and it does not need burning tyres or remonstrating mobs to claim that we love the torch-bearer of this religion.
Those who chant slogans of jihad must carefully look at its forms as well. One of the forms, known as ‘Intellectual Jihad’, demands that the arguments raised by non-believers are answered carefully. For that Muslims should accoutre themselves with weapons of intelligence, reason, truth and logic. In my opinion, art can make ‘Intellectual Jihad’ much easier.
Originally published in Dawn newspaper, September 28, 2012.
A few would disagree with the analysis that Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been overshadowed by rivalry with its neighbour, India. Kashmir has remained a bone of contention between the strategically-important Pakistan and economically-empowered India.
Both countries are spending huge amounts of money in order to swell their defence budgets. Bilateral and multilateral diplomacy seems to be the only solution for resolving outstanding issues.
Both countries have hardly ever used bilateral or multilateral diplomacy. It is imperative to utilise regional associations for developing a symbiotic relationship between states at a regional level without undermining their sovereign status.
With regards to Pakistan and India, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation can be considered a good option for the purpose of ‘accommodative diplomacy’.
Undoubtedly, the association has remained a debating platform since its establishment.
It has played a pivotal role to accentuate common issues and regional interdependence among the South Asian countries.
India being the second most populous country in the world, an emerging economy and a potential market, has left its neighbours with no other option except to live with it as good as they can.
The Siachen issue is often referred to as a ‘dispute within a dispute’ and for this reason it is intertwined with various factors. It is imperative to mutually decide and allocate the defence budget, keeping in view the resources of all the South Asian countries.
All the countries should only spend the amount decided for the purpose of their defence.
Through dialogue and negotiation both Pakistan and India should withdraw their troops from what is considered the world’s highest battlefield. Being an observer state of Saarc and Pakistan’s ‘all-weather friend’, China can become a mediator between Pakistan and India for transforming Siachen into a peace park.
On the other hand, India should remain flexible and comprehend the diplomatic intricacies of the South Asian region which directly affect its development, prosperity and survival.
Originally published in Dawn newspaper on April 27, 2012.
THIS is apropos of the photograph (Sept 9) which showed Japanese students studying in a gymnasium which has temporarily been transformed into a school.
The reason is that the Japanese government has made evacuation mandatory for the people residing within the 20km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant but not at the expense of ‘imparting education’.
It won’t be wrong to say that Japan’s progress is linked with its apt and well-regulated educational system. Sixty-six years ago, after the deadly nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan allowed foreign involvement in all other sectors of the country except for ‘education’.
From that day a uniform education system has been enforced over there cutting at the root of educational disparity and uneven opportunities. According to the latest Global Competitiveness Index, the quality of education system in Japan has been ranked 36th out of 142.
On the other hand, the quality of education system in Pakistan has been ranked 79th by GCI. Pakistan’s flood crisis had damaged more than 10,000 schools, affecting several million pupils and required massive investment in a nation already
struggling with lower literacy rate.
The schools which endured the torrential monsoon rains were transformed into refugee camps. Education standards are poor in much of Pakistan, particularly in the most impoverished rural areas worst hit by floods. Primary school enrollment is
around 57 per cent and government expenditure on education accounts for just 2.1 per cent of GDP.
The overall adult literacy rate is 57 per cent and Pakistan has three years to meet a Millennium Development Goal target of 88 per cent. However, many of the flood-affected areas have far worse rates — for example, in rural parts of Balochistan women’s e literacy is as low as seven per cent.
Unfortunately, no provincial government has proved itsr efficacy with regard to educational progress. This can be justified by the fact that Punjab will be able to provide all the children with their constitutional right to education by 2041 (the province with the highest literacy rate), whereas Balochistan will be able to do the same not before then 2100 (the province with the lowest literacy rate).
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani once stated that “education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan”. I would like to add that Pakistan requires a ‘Japanese educational spirit’ in this regard.
This was originally published in Dawn newspaper, September 25, 2011.
The first model of democracy exhibited in Pakistan by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto aimed at lifting the suppressed class of the society. Z.A Bhutto was cognizant of the fact that Pakistan does not possess the prerequisites for a real democratic set up that include high literacy rates and a robust economy. Therefore, he introduced a type of democracy fused with the concept of ‘politics of the downtrodden’. According to this amalgamation the poor man was told that; “you are the true leader of your nation”. Z.A Bhutto’s political acumen which carried politics into the villages and slums of Pakistan baffled everyone and worked like magic for the Pakistanis. For the first time the masses of Pakistan were mobilized and that was the reason that the initial period of Z.A Bhutto’s rule was marked with progress and prosperity. He wanted the common man to have a major say in how the country was being governed and that is when the nation actually witnessed the merits of democracy despite the fact that democracy was a luxury which Pakistan couldn’t afford at that time. The slogans of ‘food, shelter and clothing’ under the flagship of Pakistan People’s Party (a party that took birth during adversity) attracted the masses because they had a sense of owning their country and they were participants rather than being the spectators of the ‘political sport’. Unfortunately, nowadays our leaders are making decisions according to their aspirations and interests. They are ignoring public opinion and do not even know how to articulate the sentiments of the masses. They are deviating from the main essence of a democratic set up which can have bitter consequences like anarchy and civil war. The Karachi carnage and the spate of targeted killings is an admonition for the present government. It is a mere glimpse of the extremism and civil disobedience that might foment if the politicians don’t mend the ways through which they are trying to govern the country. It is high time the ruling coalition realised that both the progress and peace of the country are intertwined with how the masses want the rulers to rule them rather than how rulers want to rule the masses. The need of the hour is to revive the ‘politics of the downtrodden’ and shun ‘drawing room politics’ if at all the intention is to save Pakistan.
Originally published in The Nation newspaper, September 13, 2011.
For the past few months both Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League(N) have been claiming their popularity in the most densely populated province of Pakistan. Imran Khan is of the view that with the majority of the youth behind him he will sweep away PML(N) in the next general elections. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif’s message to the youth of Pakistan on International Youth Day clearly reflects that he has tried to persuade the youth about the devotion of his party by stating that his party is committed to work together with the youth in order to expand horizons of opportunity for the young women and men, answer their legitimate demand for dignity, development and decent work.
These initiatives are undoubtedly good but are mere illusions to meet political ends. It is not good to see that the politicians are playing with the sentiments of the youth. The youth is more committed than ever to play an assertive role in pulling out Pakistan from the inextricable mesh of corruption, faltering economy, poverty, illiteracy and nepotism. Clearing away a few grounds won’t serve well to divert the attention of youth away from their goal as the younger lot has witnessed a lot from the inception of a democratic setup till now.
However, being a part of Pakistani youth, my message to all the politicians would be to stop their dirty politics and make the country what it was supposed to be.
This was originally published in Pakistan Today newspaper on August 30, 2011.