Monday, November 8, 2010

Gaps to be filled...

Through the last year or so, I have been in the course of meeting quite a lot of new people, facing go-ahead situations, and realizing weird and strange particulars of human behaviour. It may be for the most part because of my exposure to the so called outside world. For someone, who had spent all her years under the protective shade of her family and friends in a world that’s ideal to the extent that everyone knows and understands everything, everything is as one expects it to be, and wherein even the unspoken words get understood, the experiences of the real world are like gruesome discoveries revealing the traits of each human being within one's circle.

There are some not-so-good traits or aspects of behaviour which I feel have become inherent to majority of the people of Pakistani society. Please note that my post is not an attempt to self flagellate the people of our society. But, I have simply tried to state few deadly traits of our combined behaviour that I believe play a major role in our lagging behind despite the abundance of talent, and valued guidelines from our history.

1. We’re Matchsticks:

Yes, we are those: match sticks. Just a little prick is enough to ignite us. We bore within us so many complaints and grudges, so much despise and hatred, over the most trivial issues that we make irrational decisions based on our emotions and not on reason. Emotions are like wild horses. They direct us to the way deviating far from the reality. And when we let ourselves be directed by baseless assumptions, we sure are to fall prey to making unwise decisions and thoughtless reactions. We are one angry young nation.

2. We simply love short-cuts:

No matter what we have been assigned to do or what we are into doing, we aren’t sincere and dedicated to it. We look for short-cuts. We will find gazillions of reasons from nowhere at all to go for the easiest way. This one trait is ubiquitous. I mean, I have seen almost every other person who simply doesn’t feel enthusiastic about what he/she is doing. Teachers take teaching more as a commercial business rather than as a noble profession. Students study more to gain marks than to acquire knowledge and groom themselves. In other words, we miss the real essence and purpose of our actions. We suffer from myopia. We lack the vision needed. One of the five qualities of “Iqbal’s shaheen” includes having a clear and broad vision. (An entire post can be written on Iqbal’s mentioned qualities of shaheen).

3. We’re lost.

To put it straight: we lack faith and belief. We regard all our achievements entirely as the results of our own abilities and capabilities. We see ourselves as the master of our possessions. And thus, we become defensive and protective. Later, little by little, we begin fearing little things. In all in all, we become weak persons internally who are quick at defending, criticising, and percieving threats.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Return to hostel

Three months of complete carelessness and placidness, throughout which all that used to worry me were very trivial matters such as deciding on novels next to read, coming up with ideas to write new blog posts about, and getting together with old pals, passed away very quickly. And now it was time to get back to the normal routine, no more staying late at nights and waking up late till afternoons. It was time to pack up little of my belongings and get back to the wacky world of hostel life.

I go through the weirdest feelings each time I travel from home back to the hostel. And to put into words those feelings has always been the most difficult task for me. I am not sure if those feelings can be termed as anxiousness, excitement, enthusiasm or plain homesickness. But one thing is for sure that they have become integral and inescapable. Thus this time around as well, I experienced those same feelings with a bit of inquisitiveness, predicting and trying to figure out how state of affairs would be at the hostel. Some major changes were to take place. I and my senior roommate were shifted to a new room where another freshman was to join us. Countless questions stormed my mind during my two hours journey from Hyderabad to Karachi which seemed like an endless one. How is it going to be staying in a new room? Will I be able to get the corner bed? Will my new roommate be friendly and sociable? How is it going to be meeting my old buddies?

But one thing that hostel life is very closely associated with is homesickness. During my first year, I suffered terribly from homesickness. There weren't any familiar faces to be seen. You're all alone without family and friends in a world of strangers with no privacy of your own. You miss homemade food, and you miss out watching your favorite TV shows. Continuously trying really hard to form an intimacy with your seniors and please them, you try your level best to adjust to this place where you have planned to stay for at least a few more years. In the process, you sometimes feel extremely miserable that you even start wondering why you ever decided to come to this place.

But eventually, you learn to cope with the situation emerging as a more strong and independent person all together. And it is only then that the hostel life offers to you its real charms. These charms are the stories so exceptional that you will never forget them, experiences you're proud of having experienced, characters you have so closely observed, lives you have lived, surprised parties you have organized for your friends, quarrels you have solved, friends you are so fortunate to meet, movies you have watched till late at nights, deliveries you have made, and little life's lessons that you have learned. It's nothing less than an exceptional stay at a place where you get to learn a lot. If you feel school and university have taught you all that was required, hold back with this opinion until you get into a hostel. And honestly, you're surely missing out something if you've never stayed at a hostel!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The fuss over registration

One can never imagine what one might have to go through while his/her exceptional studying experience at IBA. You become indubitable sufferers of insomnia, dealing with multiple tasks at time, and successfully finishing your assignments just before the deadline. So that it could be assured that by the time you leave IBA, you have supposedly excelled in facing the real world challenges awaiting you.

You are burdened so heavily with pop-up quizzes, assignments, lengthy reports, and final presentations, that by the time you reach the end of the semester, your once gleaming eyes have turned all sullen with no glow left in them, the straightened hairs have all gone disheveled, and the dark bags under your eyes have all turned out to be as dark as the kohl you have so meticulously applied to your eyes. But, WAIT, all of it is acceptable. No complaining and whining about it at all. After all, we ourselves have committed to give our best in exchange for our high aims and ambitions. Don’t we ourselves dare to dream of becoming the future CEOs and corporate managers working in multinational companies? Don’t we take pride in ourselves being part of IBA? And sometimes even go the extent of being a bragging boaster.

But, what seems most unacceptable and tormenting about IBA to me is its cursed registration process, an inescapable major source of great mental anguish. It's nothing less than a torture. First, there are hours spent on grasping the convoluted timetable itself which most of the time keeps on changing and most probably won't be the same the next you go looking for it making you all the more crazy and mad. The IBA administration made it more difficult this time. Previously, one did the selection on the basis of teachers only. But this time around, it wasn't just about deciding on the teachers but courses as well. Had it not been the guidelines from our all-the-time-available-for-help seniors, we would have been completely lost and bewildered. However, there’s one positive point about the course selection process, which I mostly tend to overlook and ignore owing to the tension this process generates. Through this process, we can actually develop familiarity with the various courses we will have to take in future. It can be argued that the process sort of helps students in increasing their understanding of the courses (as many indulge in discussing about them) and enables them to make decision for themselves inculcating in them decision making capabilities. So, let’s not complain about the selection of courses; it provides the liberty to decide for oneself and helps in developing the aptitude for wise decision making.

The real unfair part starts when you have actually made all your choices, decided on the courses and their timings, prepared and scheduled yourself, and then later when its time to register for courses, you fail to register yourself for the courses of your choice only because there wasn’t enough capacity. Could not extra sections be made? Or could not the capacity be increased? I remembered I failed to register myself for General History last time and had to forcefully register myself for History of Ideas only because I lacked the smartness to arrange a PC for myself. Luckily, there were only six students registered for History of Ideas, and thus I got into General History. But had I not got into General History, I would have to endure that boring subject with much patience for the whole of semester. And the irony is that all of this happens only because you could not arrange a PC or because your server went down while registering from the ERP. This sure agitates students greatly!

Image courtesy: IBA

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sialkot Lynching - the culture of vigilante justice:

It is with great compulsion and nerve that I bring myself to write on the horrendous incident of Sialkot which troubled the minds and emotions of many. In fact, I averted writing about this appalling atrocity for a long time for many reasons. First, the incident itself is of such dreadful nature that it causes shivers down one’s spine. Leave aside the question of writing about it, but even a single thought of the incident is a severe pain in my stomach. Secondly, approach towards this incident leads only to feelings of indignation and distress. And most importantly, I wanted a break from continuously being subjected to downhearted feelings already caused by the preceding shocking occurrences in the country (the airblue crash, floods, and constant hue and cry about political corruption).

So why after all those balanced reasons mentioned, I come around writing on this subject when in fact I am personally against the obsessive observers of sensational or sordid subjects (as found on facebook)? It is because that the incident besides exhibiting the peak of brutality in a civilized society also reveals some noteworthy specifics in relation to our society which mostly have been overlooked in our discussions. I will mostly restrict myself to talk about those specifics throughout my article. Enough have already been said about the terrible nature of the incident and the degree of brutality like here.

It is important to note that this is not the first time that human beings have been murdered callously with inhumane people viewing and doing nothing. If you can recall, it’s just an incident of two years ago when two guys accused of robbery were burned alive in Karachi(here). Often times, we hear about the ruthless murders of mothers, sisters, and daughters for honor. Anger and violence had always been prominent characteristics of many of our protests. But this time we had the clippings and videos run on our screen which brought stern reaction from the public. Also lately, the trend of vigilantism (when people start taking law into their hands) has increased immensely and sort of a culture of vigilante justice has been developed.

Just two days back, I was watching a talk show on television in which some xyz DPO told that Sialkot had this tradition of murdering the thieves and then celebrating. So in short, angry citizens have started taking law into their hands and then they overlook the violence unless they themselves become sufferers of it one day.

The culture of Vigilante justice becomes common when citizens stop trusting the state or authority to provide them with justice. If they believe that the state will provide them with justice, they would not take the law into their hands and in fact, leave it to state. But if they believe that they won’t be compensated as they should be, they would take the law into their own hands convicting and punishing whoever they find responsible. This results in a society wherein aggrieved groups in their frustration and desire for vengeance fail to judge all accounts of actions, and are involuntarily granted the unqualified liberty of deciding an appropriate punishment for the guilty. Effectively in civilized societies, this freedom only lies with the state which in turn is efficient enough to ensure civil order and justice to the citizens. But when authorities fail, people establish their own mini courts which often times result in innocent being accused and guilty being punished brutally. Also, we are pretty much aware of how badly Pakistani institutions have failed its citizens. Not only has this but the decrease of civility in our society worsened the matters more.

With the decline in sovereignty of the state, weakening of public institutions, and decrease of civility, it would be absolutely misleading to expect a society free from violence and aggression. But the latest clippings of Sialkot incident clearly indicated how deep-seated violence in Pakistan has turn out to be. It becomes extremely vital then that the state put efforts to gain trust of its citizens and that the institutions are made effective. On our part, we should collectively make efforts to restore civility by practicing tolerance and preaching peace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pakistan engulfed in seas of woes

Sixty-three years of Independence have passed. But this time Independence Day, amid the "heart-wrenching" devastation caused by the worst floods to hit Pakistan in history, was somber than ever. From a close look at few decades from now, I realize how much of Pakistan has tainted. It’s lamentable and indeed hard for a devoted Pakistani to consider as truth, but it is what the current state of Pakistan so strongly indicates.

The present Pakistan is not the one Quaid wanted to be. Jinnah's once liberal and progressive Pakistan is now looked by the international community as a forefront of terrorism. The present Pakistan is not the one Iqbal dreamt of. He dreamed of a united Pakistan where ethnic tensions and conflicts were not prominent. The present Pakistan is not the one Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto so proudly spoke about. He spoke about a Pakistan where rulers served people and despised living lives of extravagances. We, the unfortunate people, have certainly left behind the Pakistan our forefathers lived and struggled for.

It’s not the first time we are confronting a calamity. People of Pakistan valiantly faced up to the challenges of the 2005 earthquake and the crisis of the IDPs last year. But the enormity of the destruction caused by the floods this year is unprecedented. According to estimates, the floods have killed more than 1600 people, destroyed 8 million acres of crops, and rendered around 2- 5 million homeless. The shocking waves of flood swallowed with them the housings and livestock of the poor who had no other wealth or property, and who currently starve in camps with nothing to eat and drink. Under the sky, these moth and snakes bitten unfortunate people living in poor sanitary conditions, now become disposed to deadly waterborne and skin diseases. The situation can’t be more appalling. The sight of Pakistani brothers and sisters raising hands and fighting over the food distributed is the most troubling one to my mind and emotions. And this just does not stop here. Once the flood stops, more aid will be required for complete rehabilitation of the villages washed away. With one-fifth of the country flooded, infrastructure of the affected areas has been severely damaged. Also, crops worth of billions have been cleaned out causing substantial agricultural and economic loss to the country. For a country already afflicted with inflation and economic instability, these losses will have unimaginable consequences in the form of food shortages and price hikes.

The destruction of such large scale as this obviously requires to be met with considerable domestic and international aid. Despite all of it, we do not find the same zeal among our Pakistani fellows to donate as we did during the 2005 earthquakes, though the situation is eventually getting better. And we are certainly not getting enough aid from the international community. Even though Britain, USA, Saudi Arabia, Canada, World Bank, and UN are providing aid, there is no response from other international organizations like European Union, SAARC and Nato countries. According to statistics by BBC, the donation for a survivor of flood amount to $6.89. But compare it with the donation per survivor of the Haiti earthquake which amount to $669.90. Now, Is it because Pakistan has become extremely unpopular? Or is it because donors are not that motivated to donate owing to many recent disasters? Or is it because of biased media coverage (interesting article)?

Having sufficient aid is just not enough, it is equally important that there proper and strategic use be made. Without efficient disaster management and tactical planning, it would be hard to meet the tasks on hand. A large number of people suffer from indecisiveness to make a contribution only because they believe it won’t be spent on those in dire need. An obnoxious air of distrust has overwhelmed people. But now with the formation of a transparent fund raising committee and the growing understanding of the terrible nature of the disaster, people are willing to contribute.

It’s not adequate to talk about the tribulations only. When we are put into difficult situation, there is always a way out. Though the misery we are in is of exceptionally high degree, it does not make us helpless. As citizens of this nation, we all have role to play at such crucial time as this is when every 1 of 10 is suffering.

Our instant duty should be to contribute and help in whatever capacity we fit in. In fact, we should try to do as much as we can in this blessed month of Ramadan. Instead of squandering all our pennies on extravagant Iftar parties, let us contribute that little also on our millions of brothers and sisters who lost everything. And it is important to note that our contributions should not stop after Ramadan. We would only be able to get out of this dreadful disaster, if we continue contributing. May ALLAH help and bless Pakistan. Ameen.

Image courtesy: boston. com and CNN

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer time

Two months of break from IBA passed as quickly as my first year at IBA did. Time flies. And now, there is only one month remaining to prepare myself for the departure from the comforts of home and for returning back again to the sociable and at the same time solitary hostel life routine. Although I have always loved the time spent at IBA and hostel, I never wish to be away from home. Therefore, this summer is a very special one for me and I wish to spend it in ways I can get the most of family time and also be productive. Here’s a short account of my activities this summer:

  • Visit to Larkana with family ( baba’s official visit):

We are all aware of the difficult time Pakistan is going through. Millions have been affected on account of the recent flood which is now moving towards Sindh. Owing to these conditions and my father’s job (general manager), he was asked to visit the power plant at Naudero to ensure the safety of the employees there. When we were visiting the place three days ago, the situation was much under control. Although the river Indus which usually seems to be nearly dry and arid had enough water, it was not in an exceptionally high flood. On our way, we spotted some relief camps with police officers, few tires and boats. I observed that, though many politicians associate great significance to this city which is the hometown of Bhuttos, it is still not completely well developed. There were few universities and schools (including SZABIST and city school), but the population still seemed to be poor and illiterate. Besides that, there were beautiful green fields of rice and wheat crops. These fields gave a wonderful view from car windows. So in all in all, while exploring the city, I get to spend some constructive time with family. Long drives of 5 to 6 hours provide great favorable circumstances to family members to discuss and debate on issues they feel are important. For now, I pray for all the flood victims. May ALLAH give them great strength to endure all hardships. And may they receive quick aid and resources. Amen.

  • Internship at Bank:

It’s an enriching experience. Not only have I learnt about the banking operations but also about the ways with which we should deal and interact with people. Remaining at home teaches men nothing but it’s the exposure of the real world situations that teaches men how to behave and conduct themselves. What I hate about interning at a bank the most is that usually the works given are extremely boring like posting entries into journals, learning about stamps, arranging documents, keeping records, filing and all clerkish sorts of works. The explanations given are not that boring though. Moreover, interning at a bank means four hours spent on a single chair with no physical activity except records keeping and hands movement. How hard I wish to get up and have a 5 minutes walk I can not explain!

Banking is a sedentary job with same routine works. All my sympathies with bankers!

  • Goodreads:

As mentioned in my ‘About me’ that I am a book addict, I love this social networking site for book lovers which provides them with tools to keep track of what they’ve read, compare books with other members, give book recommendations, write and read book reviews, join and form book clubs to discuss on books read and other various issues as well. So for anyone who has a real knack for book reading, this website is the place to be. It has other options as well like customizing your profile with favorite quotes and authors. The only misfortune is that there are not many Pakistani members.

  • Tweet, Tweet, Twitter:

I I have also sort of become a twitter-holic. Before joining, I assumed that this site was for youngsters to be connected and tweet their thoughts and let other fellows know about them. But I am surprised how this site has good number of great bloggers, journalists, anchorpersons, politicians and media devotees. Though I am a late embracer of this site, I find it an interesting and informative place to be

So, that is all I have been doing this summer!

Image Courtesy: Google