Karachi Recently

Karachi has seen a very welcome change in the past few months. Law and order seems to be improving and crime rate has gone down drastically. All thanks to the man of the moment General Raheel Shareef, COAS Pakistan. The recent chaand raat shopping spree and 14th August celebrations are a proof of this. I had never seen such celebrations on the 14th of August on Karachi streets my entire life. People generally feel safer and there is optimism in the air. Here’s to better and peaceful times in the city and all over the country. All the best General Sahaab!

Thoughts on 23rd March Pakistan day

Pakistan is a country with four provinces more than 10 languages rich with different ethnicities breathtaking mountains old civilizations all seasons rivers forests and a beautiful coastal line . We have natural deep sea ports and some of worlds highest mountain peaks including k2 and nanga parbat . We have the worlds 5th largest military one of the largest reserviors of coal copper gold and various minerals . Our people have won oscars olympic gold medals worldcups and various international events in many sports includion polo snooker cricket squash weight lifting boxing to name some  . We have the highest polo ground in the world . Pakistan produces top quality surgical goods and sports products including the footballs used in fifa worldcups . One of the handful countries home to snow leapords and home to poet of the east . Country with the first female prime minister in the muslim world . A feat which even usa hasnt achieved in its more than 200 years of history . Being a tropical country that strtches to the himalayas in the north we have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables . Our people are resilient hardworking patriotic and dedicated . Yet Pakistan is one of the poorest countries in the world . It has one of the poorest infant and maternal mortality rates . A country with a potential of so much has one of the lowest literacy rates . Its the most dangerous country for journalists . It witnesses the largest  number of suicide attacks per annum . And despite all the good mentioned above Pakistan is known mostly for its terrorism worldwide .

Why ?

People have different opinions to the question . Some see bigotry and religious extremism as the no 1 problem . Some see corruption . Some see the law and order situation as the culprist whereas some see impartiality favouritism and biased attitude without merit as the top most priority as the reason for the sad state of affairs in pakistan . Whatever the no 1 reason is there is no doubt that all these contribute to the problems we face .

We have been facing these issues for too long now and it has resulted in a loss of pride and insecurity in our people . Every good news is a luxury hard to come by these days.

The Pakistan day parade today was no less than a luxury . It was a much needed morale boost for the people . The social media was a buzz with the pictures and videos from the parade and there were statuses and tweets praising the armed forces of the country . The hastag #PakistanDayParade tretrended world wide for more than 5 hours today and was tweeted more than 71 thousand times . Mostly generated from within Pakistan . Thats how happy we were today . Thats how happy i was today .

It shows the immence love people have for the country and that only if we have good leadership which is not hell bent on corruption we can achieve a lot . We can easily surpass countries like india.  pakistan is a relively small country and easier to manage with a large workforce . If opportunities are created sky is the limit for our people.

we also need to let go of this india centric approach . Its going to restrict us to the level of what india achieves at max and not more . We dont want that. We want more . If we follow our ideals as laid down in quran sunnah and take guidance from the speeches and poetry of iqbal and others we wont even need to see what others are doing. We’ll easily surpass all . I see pakistan as a counry similar to turkey with greater power in near future if we do that . We are also the only muslim country with a nuclear bomb . We can take the role of the leader of the muslim nations if we set our home straight. Our people are passionate about the muslim cause world wide including palestine and i believe we can become the country that has the capability to look directly into the eyes of israel or other enemies of the muslim world . We should focus on the greater role of pakistan in the muslim world .

About kashmir , we need to think with our brain not heart . Kashmiris always will relate to Pakistan more than India. It has always been ours . Kashmiris love Pakistan and by heart they are Pakistanis . We need to keep this issie alive in uno but at the same time focus on peaceful relations with india to work more on our internal issues . Kashmir issue sooner or later will be resolved and  in the mean while lets focus on the issues at hand like education terrorism etc . The kashmir cause should be taken as a humanatarian issue . We must raise it in all international forums but wars and skirmishes will get us no where . Kashmiris are a people who are supressed and thier right to freedom is being ignored by India and we relate to their cause because thats the basic foundation on which Pakistan came into being .

All in all it was a very good day for the people of pakistan . One should thank the armed forces and the army chief for the effort . Heres to hoping the parades will continue every year and will include more of our culture languages traditions and history as well in the future .

What a Pakistan win means

The result of cricket matches involving pakistan have immense influence on our mood . for me a pak loss can destroy the whole day , a weekend or even the week! ( sometime  back a pak loss against india indirectly landed someone i know in a psychiatrist’s clinic ! ) . where as a win can guarantee better moods and behavior with friends family and people close by . thats how seriously we take our cricket . the bigger the victories the better the moods . we beat ireland today and qualified for the quarter finals . hence expecting a good week and happier people ! aussies next . all the best pakistan

Memories from the street cricket days

The Icc cricket World Cup is reaching its climax with the knockout stage just round the corner . All major teams except England have qualified from group A while the fate of group B will be decided in a couple of days .

With all the cricket blogs and posts on my fb and twitter timelines I could not help but think about the time when I was a kid and played cricket on the street outside or in my apartment building

following are few of the memories that ill always remember

Breaking into the scene : 

I was 9 or 10 years old and we had recently shifted in the apartment complex on main Mai Kolachi road  . I was batting for the very first time and every one was shouting “chaka chaka”. Apparently they all hated the bowler for some reason. They didn’t know how I played , heck I didn’t know how I played ! All I remember is that this boy delivered the ball and drenched in adrenaline I slogged it for 6 . I instantly became the Brain Lara of my building and everyone wanted to be my friend .  I had broken into the cricketing scene !

The famous catch : 

It was my birthday and I had invited my school friends over . After the cake and everything we went down to play cricket. It was just supposed to be us but some kids were already playing in the parking area ( our cricket ground) and u cant just ask them to leave so we asked them to play with us. They agreed. The teams were made toss done and target set. One of my closest friends Munim was on the field on the offside  while I was batting. The bowler came delivered a full toss and i did what i could do best-Slog. I hit the ball in the air towards the offside boundary. It was far from Munim and I thought he was never going to make it . But to the surprise and amazement of everyone Munim ran a good 20 25 feet, made a full length dive on hard concrete floor and caught the ball with one hand , tearing his jeans and injuring his knees in the process . We were hardly 11 yrs old but such was his dedication.  He had become a hero . A champion with a bloody knee . We still talk about that famous catch .

The Phadda : 

I was 14 and the older guys would occasionally bully the younger boys. They would ask us for money for the drinks ball tape etc.However one day I refused to pay. This boy Omair  about 17 at that time came to me and said “kya bay ?”

“mai kyun dun paisay” said I

“sab daitay hain isliey”

“mai nai dun ga”

We came nose to nose but the other kids stopped us . Anyway the teams were made and play started. Umair was a very fast bowler and he made sure I would be in the other team so he could hurt me .

After a few wickets fell I came in to bat and Umair took the ball . He wanted to face me and make sure I regret not paying the money. His first ball was a very fast low full toss and I completely misjudged it. It hit my leg and hurt me bad. Umair didn’t say a word. Instead he just stared at me for a few seconds as if saying “take that ! ”

Second ball , I was expecting another full toss . A full toss it was . I flicked it to the leg side … SIX !

It was my time to stare .Take that Sucker !

Third ball , faster and it hits my stomach . Ouch !

Fourth ball , another full toss , I hit it in the air  and another 6 it is .

How do you like me now ?

Dolly aunty and Chacha  :

Every building has a villain . We had 2. One was a middle-aged single woman named Dolly . We called her dolly aunty . And the other was a very thin old man , a grandfatherly figure but always irritated for some reason . It was his mission in life to eradicate all signs of cricket from our building . We called him chacha . We  don’t know his real name to this date . There have been so many incidents with dolly aunty and chacha but mentioning all would require another blog post .

Out of the most famous ones , one was when someone put a firecracker outside Dolly aunt’s house and she was so freaked out that she called the cops ! She called the cops on us innocent kids ! The police did come but they didn’t know what to do . We were only kids . They talked to dolly aunty and assured her it wont happen again but dolly aunty was adamant that they lock us up . How cruel .  We witnessed the drama from a safe distance and later laughed our hearts out .

Another such incident happened outside chacha’s house. Someone broke his window with the ball and we all ran away and hid somewhere . The usual . However chachaa didn’t come out to scold us this time . Maybe he wasnt home .

After a while we go back to playing and had all forgotten about chacha . Few minutes later we hear a click…it was from chacha’s door ! The door burst open and he comes out in his shalwar and banyan with a viper in hand !

He was out to kill us !

We ran and he ran behind us completing the whole lap around the apartment complex  . From then onwards we never played outside his house .

Chacha outsmarted us and was still fit enough to give us a good chase !

The inter-apartment cricket tournament : 

Every mohalla has such cricket tournaments where the buildings compete against each other to become the champions of the neighbourhood . Ours was the Jason luxury condominium and we were up against the Jason paradise. Don’t be fooled by the names, its anything but luxury or paradise !

Anyway it was the last over and we required 8 runs to win . We were down to two last batsmen , one of them being yours truly . I was on the bat facing the heartthrob of the area, Ahsan . Ahsan was son of the famous classical singer Salamat Ali .

Ahsan was popular , he looked good and bowled nice and fast . But he also had a dirty mouth  .

Before he started to bowl I went up to him and told him that I will hit the next ball for a four . I was just taunting him . He told me to go fuck myself . His actual words . It was no longer just a taunt now .

I had to destroy that filthy piece of rotten eggs .

He comes in balls fast and BANG ! I hit him for a four .

My team mates go crazy .

Next ball I take a single and the rest is bad history . I never faced another ball because my partner was bowled out the very next ball.

We lost by 3 runs but I had beaten Ahsan

48 off 12 balls :

The thing about playing cricket on the streets is that you don’t really need to know how to bat . You just need to know how to slog . I made sure I learned to do that  .

I was out to bat one such day . The bowler was some kid who was very easy to play . My team expected me to put some big runs against him .

I missed the first ball .

The boys threw all kinds of colorful words at me . Street cricket can  be very harsh . You miss one ball and you get abused like anything .

However , that didn’t matter much because I hit the poor kid for six every ball the remaining 5 balls . The colorful words were now directed at the poor chap . I hit a few more the next over and was finally caught out on 48 runs off 12 balls .

It is my favourite innings.

We went on to win the match and I was the hero that day !

On being original and the urgent need for meritocracy in our society

Our society is rapidly disintegrating into a web of mediocrity . We don’t want to work hard any more rather find quick fixes to the problem . Even those who worked hard previously are not motivated any more by looking at how this society rewards the person with the most power , privileged family or most money instead of the person with the most merit .

This is what I stand against .

We have become extremely superficial and fake and I find that extremely disgusting ! We copy everything from either the west or India . Our favourite comedy show is comedy nights with kapil and our role models are shahrukh khan or amitabh bachan . This is an extremely sad state our people are in . We are slowly disintegrating into a lower level of human beings !

Fake is not attractive and mediocrity is ugly .

Look at our leaders and thinkers of the past . Why cant we be inspired from them ? Why cant we talk about iqbal ,  faiz or mushtaq ahmed yousafi more often ? Why don’t we listen to Zia Moheyddin or read Ashfaq Ahmed anymore ? Do most of us even know these names ? I’m afraid we don’t .

I was so sad to find out that there was no extra supplement in the newspaper on Iqbal this Iqbal day . We learned from those papers and our parents . Who is going to teach the kids these days who Iqbal was ? Who has the time in this fast paced society ?

I have always liked to be original . I have never followed the herd . For this I have often been a victim of harsh criticism and dislike . But that’s just the way I was brought up .

There is an urgent need to be more original . Original doesn’t have to be boring . We just need to raise our standards where we appreciate mushtaq ahmeds humour more than kapils humour . We need to create a society where iqbal bano is not boring and where the role models are quaid e azam and liaquat ali khan . A society where following the Quran in its true spirit is the norm and the right way to go about things .  A society where merit is immensely rewarded and mediocrity is looked down upon .

We need to be confident enough to wear traditional dresses on days other than Friday . We need to be proud of our past , realize that the present is indeed not good and that we need to work for it , and if we do , we can create a promising tomorrow . Lets begin from ourselves and the rest will follow .

Lets do it !

The psychiatry ward

I am posted in the psychiatry ward these days . The ward is interesting enough to warrant a blog post

Day 1 :

First day and we were introduced to the house officers and residents .. The ward round was quite interesting . There were people suffering from severe depression . Also people recovering from relationship issues . A young boy had tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrist . He looked better though . The scars were healing – the ones visible as well as the ones not visible . Then there was a man who was extremely heart broken from financial loss in business . He looked ok . He said he felt better .  A man hadn’t gone out of his house for one whole year . Again , depression .  In the female ward there was this girl who talked about going home . We could not take her history properly and moved on .

Day 2 :

Posted in the opd . An interesting case where a young girl about 14 to 15 years old complained of sudden blackouts  . She felt her mother did not love her as much as her elder daughter . She did not trust her mother and was losing friends . Then there were few patients who had anger management issues .

Day 3 :

The highlight of the day was the ward round . Finally got to meet the female patient from  day 1 whose history we could not take . An extremely interesting case . She had hallucinations . Visible , audible …and sexual . She believed that her father had assaulted her in the past and she had vivid memories of the experience as she believed she was always intoxicated first . Detailed discussion of the case followed . And later a detailed history in the presence of our supervisor . Interestingly she wanted to go back home , the same place where she believes she had been assaulted . Which indicates that what she believed to be true was not true .  She blamed a witch for the whole incident . Also blamed the father . She was confused . According to the supervisor she was suffering from the Electra complex where a girl is in competition with her mother for the possession of the father . But was definitely unaware herself and therefore blaming the witch and the father . Here is a link for the Electra complex : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electra_complex

Day 4 :

A schizophrenic patient comes to the opd . Thinks the agencies were after him . Nobody understands him according to him and that he wished his family was a bit more educated so they could understand what he was talking about . Made some references to extra terrestrials and his ability to communicate with them . On asking the details he was lost . Had this sense of grandeur . Said he could talk to the Chinese ( implied via brain ) . Also said the Chinese had given him a 2 year visa . He complained that If the Chinese knew his worth who is the family to say something is wrong with him !

And then there was another interesting young boy with a history of substance abuse . He was 20 years old and badly addicted to gutka . He now wanted to be admitted in the ward by choice so he could stay away from it . The reason he wanted to leave was his girlfriend ! We refused to admit him but prescribed a few medicines to help him taper the amount of drug and eventually quit

Day 7 :

An 18 year old female patient was in the ward tied to the bed . She came with a history of  hysteria . She was laughing uncontrollably , was verbally abusive and making no sense whatsoever . She has been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder combined with psychosis . Her mother tells us that she was absolutely normal when she went to meet her friend on eid day 4 . She has been like this since then . The family thinks its something supernatural or paranormal . I asked the girl if she prayed or wanted to pray . She replied with a very straight stare into my eyes “bohot lay liia tum logon nay Allah ka naam ..main ab aag dekh rahi hun”  Insane or not , this gave me goosebumps  .

Day 8 : Saw a young patient with anger management issues . He had very low tolerance for things he did not like . He could not take jokes . And fought very often . He has been like this since 2 years now , when his brother passed away . Most probably agitated due to depression .

A woman married for 30 years came with the complain of an unsatisfactory marriage. The husband did something that broke her heart . She just wanted to talk about it . It appeared as if she required a councellor more than a psychiatrist .

A young girl came with a history of fits since 2 months . She also had one incident of audible hallucinations about 6 months back . During the history she suffered another attack where she moved uncontrollably . Treated like a princess at home , there are no responsibilities on her. The attacks are most likely convulsions . Convulsion is a method the brain uses to let other people know that something is not right . It usually happens when the person is unable to convey his or her feelings to other people . It leaves the brain with no other option but to carry out such attacks to seek attention .

Day 9 : The first thing i did today was  go to the ward and see how the hysterical girl from day 7 was doing . Unfortunately the family had taken her back home . They had never really believed that medical treatment was the answer .

It was a slow day otherwise . We were posted in the child clinic today . A father came with 2 of his 8 children , both suffering from a form of mental disorder . The boy , 12 years old had a history of physical abuse at home . He now beat other kids up to take out his frustration . He was very defensive and shy . He did not open up at all during the session . His father told us that the boy had become extremely stubborn and angry over the last few months . Father was advised to get an IQ check up done for the kid .

The girl , 9 yrs,  on the other hand suffered from a somatoform disorder . She came with a history of excessive vomiting and nausea . The fact that the father came without the mother , the untidy condition of the children and a history of abuse at home suggests the environment at home is probably the main culprit behind the children’s condition .

A walk through heritage


I am glad something like this happening in our country .

Originally posted on Lahore Nama:

This article was originally published in The News on Sunday

Haroon Akram Gill

A walk through heritageAround 600 photographers from all over Pakistan and other countries i.e. Philippines, Bulgaria, Belgium, UK, USA, and Germany participated in the Walk. — Photos by the author

The Walled City is home to the cultural and architectural heritage of Lahore. Its blind arches and the pillars of its buildings, elegant havelis, multi-storey houses, wooden doors and windows and, above all, its famous Gates are some of the old city’s glorious features, all of which have long fascinated the tourists, especially those coming from outside the city/country. Though, terrorist incidents badly hit the tourism industry over the years, the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is trying hard to pull the tourists back in, by organising cultural activities; ‘Photo Tourism Walk’ being one such event.

The WCLA claims to have introduced the concept of photo tourism by holding…

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Me, Muharram and why I dont like the word ‘Moderate’

Originally posted on The Selfie Writer:

I don’t like the word ‘moderate’.

Imagine this. The love of your life gets down on your knees and promises to -through good times and bad- love you ‘moderately’. At your annual appraisal your boss says you remained ‘moderate’ in your performance during the year. The cards your children make in school for Mothers Day read ‘Thank you for being a moderate mummy’. Your friends come to your home, before the paint on your burgundy coloured feature wall has dried, and say you have new house is pleasingly ‘moderate’. Your friends read your blog and say its  ‘moderate’ (hypothetically speaking of course).

I don’t like the word ‘moderate’. And I don’t like being called a ‘moderate’ Muslim.

‘Moderate’ seems to suggest that I am tepid in my faith- uncertain, tentative, non-committal. Most importantly, it defines my faith in terms of the ‘extremes’, a handy short form for ‘Hey it really really…

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The verse

I am not a very religious person but at times I like to believe that I am close to God. Maybe the thought is the creation of my own mind to satisfy me or maybe it is indeed true I do not know . All I know is that Allah swt has always been there for me ,as He has been for all humans on earth . Whenever I am looking for answers that I do not have , He does not let me stay in a confused state for long .

Hazrat Ali ra said ” Whenever I want to talk to Allah,I pray and whenever I want to listen to what Allah has to say to me,then I read the Quran ” And Allah knows best.

It has often been the case that when I am pondering over things I find the answer in the Holy Quran . I usually come across ayats that fit as the solution to my problem .

So recently I started pondering over the issue of different sects in Islam . I started pondering how can people from one sect say that they are on the right path whereas rest are not . Ths pondering led to frustration and ultimately anger . I was angry how could we mess up our religion so badly that even following Quran and Sunnah was not enough for some people and that you had to be part of a sect – and that too the “right sect” to become a Muslim of the purest nature .

I didn’t want to be a second class Muslim . I too thought that I was on the right path and wanted to be a Muslim of the “purest form” .

Hence , I did a little research . I searched the internet . I learned about the basic teachings of Shia Islam and Sunni Islam . Also read a little about other sects . I read blogs , articles , used twitter to find religious people from different sects . However this added to more frustration and headache . In some articles there was hatred for others . And few were very complicated for my mind to grasp properly .

I am not too religious at this point in life , however , I still am very God fearing . The thought of being wrong scares me like anything . I have always prayed to Allah to show me the right path . Even if I did not , this prayer is a prayer by default  in Namaz in the form of Surah Fatiha

Nothing seemed to help . I gave up and thought that this might be a test . So in a frustrated state I prayed isha , prayed to God to show me the right path and prepared to sleep .

Many times the last thing I do before I go to sleep is read 2 to 3 pages of the quran wih translation and try to think over it and remember it . It is usually in these lessons that I have found relief many times in the past . The surah was surah anam and the verses were one of the last few from the surah.

I don’t like to believe that things happen as a coincidence . I like to believe that everything has order . Every person we meet is destined to teach us something . In every illness , success , hardship there is some lesson to be learned only if we ponder a little . So I like to believe that the following ayat that I came across that night in my lesson was no coincidence either . .

Here it is : 6_159

Translation : “Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects – you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do.”

I can’t describe what I felt the moment I read those lines . It gave me goosebumps and sent shivers down my spine. Indeed Quran is the true guidance for mankind .

Quranic ayats are open to interpretation . The miracle of the quran is that it has been sent for all times . Always relevant . And each ayat can have several meanings.

The meaning I took from the ayat strengthened my belief in the way I was brought up and what I had always advocated ; a strong and united Muslim nation .

The process of learning is indeed long and continues throughout life. People have a right to believe in what they think is right as long as it does not invade anyones personal space .

The way the countries in the Mideast are disintegrating , partly because of the issue of different sects created by mischief mongers , I think we (Pakistanis) have to open up to the the idea of talking about these issues openly in a healthy and friendly manner . Talking about these issues will make us comfortable about our differences and therefore prevent any outsiders to create differences between us .

May Allah guide us all . Ameen