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Analysing how PSL squads could be better

This article was originally published on Cricingif here:

The second season of the PSL is in full swing, and once again the Sharjah leg has added more life to the competition. The teams have been constantly experimenting with their playing XIs and whereas teams like Islamabad have settled into their ideal combination early, others haven’t been so lucky. Let’s have a look at each side and what they could do differently.

Islamabad United

Islamabad’s plan has been simple. Stack the top with batsmen from the foreign players’ category and use quality local bowlers. This has resulted in Islamabad playing with Dwayne Smith, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Sam Billings in the top 5. What really works for Islamabad is that out of this top 5, they also get a genuine all-rounder, a part time medium pacer and their wicket keeper. This depth defines their team.

While their choice of replacing Sharjeel with Riffatullah might be questionable, his selection as opener increases the team’s batting depth with Watson or Misbah slotting in at 6. Alternatively, with Billings now gone, Duckett can easily slot in as an opener. For Islamabad to get the most out of Misbah, he should bat no lower than 4. With Watson at 5 and Asif Ali / Hussain Talat playing at 6, Islamabad are well settled.

Their bowling is strong enough that depending on the match details and Irfan and Sami having permanent spots, they can try a variety of combinations without weakening their playing XI e.g. choosing Ammad Butt or Imran Khalid for the lower order all-rounder; playing both Ajmal and Shadab for a spin heavy attack; or dropping a spinner and playing Rumman Raees to focus on pace.

Peshawar Zalmi

Peshawar can make a lot of changes to their side. Let’s begin by mentioning the elephant in the room – Mohammad Hafeez – who must be dropped from the top order. In 5 innings, he has scored just 29 runs! Instead of playing him, Tamim Iqbal and Kamran Akmal form a perfectly fine opening combination.

Zalmis have persisted with Sohaib Maqsood whose game is a bit lost right now. His tally is 35 runs from 4 matches, out of which 30* was made in a single innings. Stats aside, he just hasn’t looked like he belongs at this level. On the other hand, Iftikhar Ahmed’s playing too high at 3; it’s a position where they must look at Haris Sohail to beef up their batting. With Morgan gone, I would pick Andre Fletcher ahead of Marlon Samuels in a pure slogger role at 4.

With Shakib-ul-Hasan at 5, either Iftikhar or Hafeez can come in at 6, where they may or may not be required to bat dependent on whether Afridi or Sammy need to be given more overs. To maximize their batting potential, Zalmis who often get stuck in the middle overs, must give Afridi more overs to bat regardless of match situation. If Fletcher, Afridi and Sammy are given more time in the middle, they can turn things around. With Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali as easy selections, Asghar Ali can complete their bowling attack and must be played. If an extra pacer is required, they can replace Fletcher with Chris Jordan or one of Iftikhar or Hafeez with Junaid Khan; neither decision is likely to weaken their batting.

Lahore Qalandars

Jason Roy’s departure leaves a big hole in the Qalandars’ side. Brendon McCullum will mostly likely return as opener alongside Fakhar Zaman. Following them should be Umar Akmal, Grant Elliot, Cameron Delport and Mohammad Rizwan to complete the batting. Umar is a natural choice at 3 regardless of the match situation. Elliot is a better batsman than given credit for and should bat at 4 for Qalandars.

Sunil Narine, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Shah and Muhammad Irfan (jnr.) are expected to play each game unless Baz wants to see what the spinners Usman Qadir or Zafar Gohar have to offer. It’s a bit of a downer for Zafar who’s a talented spinner and looked good in the previous season but cannot find a place in the team with Baz preferring a leggie. Narine’s hitting form gives Baz a special edge & he might be content in playing Narine at 7 to include an additional spinner, or a seamer like Bilawal Bhatti. However, this has backfired at times for Qalandars this season, a problem which can be fixed by playing Aamer Yamin – a promising all-rounder who can bowl with the new ball and provide an additional batting option at 7.

Karachi Kings

It’s time to for the Kings to drop Chris Gayle and try other options. Kumar Sangakkara and Babar Azam seem to have clicked as openers. Ravi Bopara must come at 3 as he can bat aggressively against quality bowling, followed by Shoaib Malik.

Kieron Pollard’s being wasted down the order and can play a big role in Karachi overcoming the middle overs rut. He must play in a floating role, coming in at no lower than at 5 to make maximum impact. If Pollard feels like an unaffordable luxury as he isn’t bowling much, playing Mahela Jayawardena as opener would be an ideal boost to Karachi’s batting. Sangakkara can then move at 3, pushing Bopara and Malik one position lower.

Karachi should look to play Imad Wasim and Ryan McLaren – two high impact all-rounders – in the team. Karachi’s core bowling attack is now evident: Sohail Khan, Mohammad Amir, Usama Mir and Usman Shenwari. For slow pitches however, they can experiment with playing a spinner in place of Usman.

Quetta Gladiators

Quetta has done well again despite their selection which has been strangely muddled this season. They stuck with Asad Shafiq as opener for 4 games who’s done nothing in the past that inspires confidence in his T20 batting. In the 5th game, Saad Nasim, a promising middle order batsman and leg spin all-rounder played as opener and didn’t bowl a single over. This decision came despite the fact that Rilee Rossouw, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Luke Wright have all opened at the international level. In their last game against Lahore, they played 3 left arm finger spinners (Mohammad Nawaz, Hassan Khan and Zulfiqar Babar) and a right-arm finger spinner (Mahmudullah), and two seaming all-rounders.

Quetta must cement its choice of openers. Rossouw is well equipped to open with Ahmed Shahzad. Following KP and Sarfaraz, Saad Nasim can slot in at 5, a position that suits him more. If Sarfaraz is more comfortable with Rossouw in the middle order, they have an opener ready in Luke Wright, who also bowls medium fast. Umar Amin can play if either Saad or Nawaz fail to perform, however, Quetta must retain the afore-mentioned batting order for the top 4.

With Nawaz, Thisara Perera or Mahmudullah and Anwar Ali to follow, there’s enough firepower to play bowlers Hassan Khan, Tymal Mills and Mir Hamza / Zulfiqar. It is strange that a bowler of Mir Hamza’s caliber is yet to play this season. For the right balance, Quetta can play only one of Perera, Mahmudullah and Wright, as Rossouw, KP and Mills are undroppable. This gives Quetta enough bowling options to hide bowlers that aren’t having a good day. Though their bowling is weak, clever manoeuvring will ensure success.

Enough of Karachi’s trial-and-error!

I sincerely hope that all those who dream of military revolutions and military rule put an end to their delusional image of military forces. I mean, if not now, what is it going to take for people to realize, that this takeover of cities by military power is not the answer ? I mean, heck, an unarmed cab driver was shot to death like a dog right in the middle of Gulistan-e-Jauhar Karachi. How close do you want them to come ? How close ?

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We have the Police, that are trained to handle issues in the city. However inept they may be, however corrupt they may be, no matter how much we pillory them, please do not forget that they are the only forces that are trained to deal with civilians. Their whole hierarchy, training programs and the way command flows is modelled to make them capable of handling problems of the city, caused by citizens. This is THE reason why you generally employ Police in the cities and your armed forces / Rangers / FC Corps on the borders or on strategic missions. What muddled policymakers allow uncivlized, armed and schizophrenic madmen to take over the security matters of a city ? Does no one truly understand how dangerous military presence is in the cities ? Their minds and bodies, their stimulus is not trained to react or process civilian problems. This is not the first case that has happened in a city. Military forces, and specially Pakistan Rangers are notorious for their brutal treatment of citizens. This is the 3rd major incident of civilian kills from the Rangers. A little while back, a young man was similarly killed in Shah Faisal Colony. And don’t forget the murder 2 years back of a suspected robber that was already caught and bound, in Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Park Clifton! karachi-incident-rangers-atc-1324298967
Mentally-ill armed security officers are dangerous for the city. They place citizens under further terror and I do not know how I would feel the next time a Ranger’s team stops me for checking. You, my friends should be terrified of the thought.

This should not end with the prosecution of responsible personnel that finished off the cab driver. This is not a problem of a specific individual. Surely after all these deaths, we should realise the malaise has penetrated far deeper? It is an event that was waiting to happen. Sooner or later, civilians were going to die at the hands of the Rangers. Unruly wild animals are tamed. You do not send stampeding elephants to crush them, killing anything and anyone in their path. And a city of Pakistan, for all practical purposes, is a fucking jungle. It is high time our politicians take a brave stand and withdraw the stationing of armed forces from the cities. Let’s not be confused into thinking the Rangers or other military forces are free from corruption. What difference in the end does it make if its Police or the Rangers? People are still getting killed aren’t they? Places are still getting bombed right? Rangers are stationed in my locality 24/7 and yet people are robbed, looted, abducted everyday. Land mafias keep gaining strength, and from time to time conduct high profile shootouts. Did anyone stop the violence? Not really!

Does the general public still not get it that they’re stationing serves no purpose in the cities? One way or the other, our police forces will have to be the ones to patrol the city. They are the ones that will need a proper cleansing and a comprehensive upheaval of their working systems, otherwise there is no hope for any of us. Someday it could be you, or your child, or someone you know. A lot of people roam around in Karachi. Too many.

Hollywood made a wonderful movie ‘The Siege’ starring Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington which highlighted most beautifully, the exact problem of imposing military rule in the cities. People in denial about the armed forces should watch the movie and the videos of civilian kills made by our Rangers. They should. This video should be engraved in their minds so they know what such ruthless killers are capable of and why they should never be allowed to roam in uniforms in the cities or get involved in political games. This recent killing is as damning an evidence of their ugly face as any.

You cannot solve a chronic disease by giving it a quick fix. I am not supporting our lackluster police here, but it is them that needs to be bettered. The general public is not less endangered with the presence of Rangers. Now with this event, it has been proved that perhaps, they are more endangered than before.

Pakistan and specially Karachi, can endure no more trial-and-errors. Since no parties have done good, lay faith in the military? I dont think so. There will be no answer or an end to this madness, unless we stop doing that. This country will either rise through these very political parties or it will keep meandering on, with our blood sucked out of every vein, till we can give no more.

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The NA 250 lollipop

NA 250. A hot national assembly seat; so declared before elections and even further so, after rigged elections. A constituency where stalwarts such as Khushbakht Shujaat, Naimatullah Khan and Arif Alvi were contesting.

Let’s cut to the chase. As most of you know, ECP had called for re-polling in 43 stations of NA 250 on the 19th of May. The polls were conducted and even after a low turnout, Arif Alvi has won the seat. For PTI fans, I suppose this is good news.

I stand against it. I can’t imagine why PTI supporters are pleased at this. From what` I understand from all of this is, they went on the roads asking for the main course, and they are settling for peanuts. I am not so sure a battle based on principles (at least that is what Arif Alvi and Ali Zaidi have reminded us again and again) can be settled for something so substantially less as a single constituency; a far cry from the re-elections demanded in all 20 constituencies of Karachi.

I fear PTI has took the bait. By accepting re-polls in NA 250, you have placed the quest for Karachi re-elections in jeopardy. We have seen how ECP has given scant attention to the demand for re-elections. Do you really think it is likely to give more favors after giving NA 250 a chance? Also, PTI is overestimating its supporters. For how long can their supporters maintain the same enthusiasm and fervour in continuing the re-elections demand in Karachi, when majority of their supporters have voted in NA 250?

Often, the success of a movement depends on the degree of agitation of the people. Till the mob is kept agitated, a movement will live. Grant it a little breathing space, a certain degree of relief, and it is very likely that the small dose of happiness will eradicate the very agitation that led Karachi to come out on the streets. Is PTI sure it can continue its quest for Karachi re-elections when it has already acheived a soul-satisfying victory in NA 250? That is the biggest challenge for PTI, and at such a crucial juncture, when things are in their favour, may be they should have avoided putting this theory to the test.

As it is now, MQM has boycotted the re-polls and already acheived moral high ground. What’s to stop history from recording NA 250 re-polls, if Karachi re-election movement fails, as a protest of the affluent? Does PTI think some months from now, MQM, ECP and the media will not remind them of the fact that the affluent society of Defence and Clifton settled down after getting their desired constituency? Does PTI think the relevant stakeholders will not degrade the Karachi re-elections movement from a matter of principle, to a matter of a single constituency?

Perhaps the coming days will tell better of how PTI’s stance changes. Perhaps the protests will still continue with the same force. Perhaps the ECP, MQM and the media will crucify PTI for choosing NA 250. Perhaps I will be wrong. I certainly hope so.

The battle for Karachi – a fight for our rights!

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Contrary to popular belief, General Elections were held in Karachi too. Well, atleast one party says so. The others claim that elections were never held in Karachi. And by God, we the citizens of Karachi, bear witness to it.

The people of Karachi were misguided to think their vote actually meant something. They were misguided to think if they step out of their homes to do what they can for change, somebody is actually going to care. The state, the judiciary, the media, all seem impervious to the state of Karachi and the strong resentment that Karachiites are filled with, against the rigging.

Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the two large parties after MQM in Karachi, have taken the mantle for demanding re-elections in Karachi. And public sentiments are with them. Infact, perhaps that is the reason why no one is interested. Perhaps if a militia-backed party had violated Karachi streets in protests, the way they did on Election Day, Pakistan and its stakeholders would have been interested.

The bottom line is this : Karachi revolted. The vote bank of MQM is shifting. These elections were a chance for Karachi to let parties know they cannot terorrise and rule over them much longer. Their electoral revolt however, was cruelly stifled and killed. The powers in government / establishment it seems, don’t really care about Karachi. We have been handed back to the rule of tyranny. It seems Karachi has not shed enough tears, has not lost enough blood.

Even though Karachi contributes massively to Pakistan’s economy, and continues to display unflinching resilience in their daily lives, it seems the people of Karachi have been assigned to the dustbins of Pakistan’s national matters. Are just and fair elections really too much to ask? Is it too much to ask of the media to give fair coverage to the undeniable expression of truth on the streets of Karachi that the elections were massively and shamefully rigged, and that the current results DO NOT represent the mandate of the people?

A lot of pseudo-intellectuals have done nothing but expressed dissent over the protests, mocking it as unruly behaviour and a means to disturb the stability of Karachi. How stable exactly, is Karachi in its current state may I ask? How safe is it for a citizen to roam on the streets? How safe is it for someone to question illegal protection money, and the use of force to effect acquiescence?

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Why does the protests of JI and PTI irk you so much? Which of their demands does not seem reasonable? Why has fighting for your rights become such a degradable concept? Did the people who mock us really think change would come without any agitation? Did you have in mind that people were going to smile and accept the absolute thuggery displayed on the polling stations? The whole city witnessed first hand the hi-jacking of polling stations, the by-force ballot paper stamping, the stamps without ID cards, the screening of pro-MQM voters and the theft of polling rights of the people who weren’t. What, did the people mocking the protests think no one is going to revolt?

Loopholes in ECP preparations were already made before elections. JI most of all, had repeatedly highlighted the pre-polls manipulation being orchestrated in Karachi. JI’s decision to boycott elections, questioned by many, has now proved right. MQM is pushing to grant re-elections only in NA 250, the seat where PTI made its stand by not boycotting. However, PTI stance has to be respected. These political games are new to them and Karachi is a deadly game. Keeping that in mind, PTI has responded admirably and courageously, led by Arif Alvi. He has emerged as a fine leader in the wake of Imran Khan’s injury. He has connected with the people and given Karachi a new voice. People may degrade this as a burger movement, but it is far from it. It seems people have wanted to stand against Muttehda’s domination for years and now they have got a voice they feel proudly affiliated with.

It is very disturbing to see that in crunch time, the very torchbearers of democracy and freedom are questioning Karachi’s right to exercise their freedom of choice. All those expressing dissent at Karachi protests, know that if we succeed, you will go down in the footnotes of history as people who indirectly backed oppression and the bullying of Karachi citizens.

Re-elections in Karachi are not important only for the number of seats to be gained. They are important because it is Karachi’s right to choose fairly. Even if MQM wins and they probably will, re-elections are called for in the belief that the results will show the true representation of the political parties involved.

Victories of nearly 200,000 votes affected through rigging are an effective method to stifle hope in Karachiites. Victory by small margins on the other hand, will give Karachi hope. And by God, if fair elections are held, Karachi will prove just how close they have come to ousting corrupt parties from power in Karachi.

PTI Shahra-e-Faisal Dharna - joined by Dr. Merajul Huda JI

PTI Shahra-e-Faisal Dharna – joined by Dr. Merajul Huda JI

The people of Karachi, quite frankly, are frustrated. They are tired. I was there at Shahra-e-Faisal, people are ready to stand for something. That is an acheivement. They are tired of being mugged, tired of being killed, tired of being held hostage to the whims of non-representative political clashes. Most importantly, people find it impossible to wait for another five years for justice. For if they back down now, who can guarantee the next General Elections will not be rigged?

Muttehda, through media statements in the last three days have shown Karachi how they have alienated the people of Karachi from rest of Pakistan. Terming the protests burger, and a clash of classes, is the rhetoric they have used to maintain the safety of its voters. These are bold statements, when you consider Sardar Nabeel Gabol’s transformation into Nabeel Gabol Bhai. Today, we are nothing. Just heartbroken citizens of Karachi. Our city remains hi-jacked.

This is a call from a wronged Karachiite. Keep the protests going! Day 4 – PTI and JI keep the anti-rigging protests ALIVE.

Chaudhary Nisar Ali tops the 2012 Hall of Shame!

Proud nominees of the Hall of Shame 2012

Proud nominees of the Hall of Shame 2012

Without qualification, being so close to elections, 2012 has been a testing year for every political party in Pakistan. With conspiracies, inter-party clashes and the rising corruption cases, the can of worms has truly been opened. Under this enhanced pressure, every party has had a slip-up or two and have uttered some laughable, some ridiculous, and some downright slanderous statements on the media front. On the forefront has once again been Rehman Malik; he simply loves the media. There’s no denying that Rehman Malik was born for this; he loves attention and attention loves him. Here’s a collection in ascending order of laugh-ability from top to bottom, of the 10 statements that have topped the charts for the 2012 Hall of Shame:

10. President Asif Ali Zardari’s on President Obama’s new term in office: He stated that he was confident that the leadership of the two countries would be able to further deepen and broaden bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interests.

Yes we certainly are respectful of each other. The frequent instances of US and Pakistani officials taking jibes at each other’s policies are in jest; you know, to keep the blood pumping. The U.S has been more respectful in particular, from Salala to Malala; it has had nothing but words of affection for us. Sadar sahab, is baar to aapnay had hi kardi !

9. Rehman Malik on Muharram terror activities – ‘More terror activities are expected in the upcoming days across Pakistan’.
Why Mr Senator, you may as well be reading weather forecasts on TV. Weather presenters are known for their nonchalance in presenting the most extreme of weather news. I think PTV’s found a new guy! Our dear senator oozes nonchalance, be it weather, be it terror.

8. Sirajul Haq, Jamaat-e-Islami said the US and the West were creating an atmosphere of the World War-III through making of blasphemous film. The blasphemous film is being produced to hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
No, the film was produced to show the world what headless chickens we can be in violence and anger. The producers of the film must have had a good laugh at the resultant death count. It transcends understanding of how WW III is being constructed through this film, but only Mr. Sirajul Haq can explain.

7. ‘There’s no movement in Pakistan by the name of Taliban’ – Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Really Maulana sahab? It’s one thing to question the integrity of the source of information, where someone is always taking responsibility or is mysteriously identified by ‘khufia idaaray’. However, one must be completely off their rockers to deny the existence of Taliban in the first place. Sir aisa na farmaayen liberals ka tou heart fail hojayega! Good Taliban kehlayn Bad Taliban kehlayn magar Taliban tou kehlayn!

6. Below are 2 statements by different political figures that are so similar in nature that I must club them into one:

Senator Shahi Syed from ANP, has said his party is against “all mafias, including bhatta mafia, weapons mafia and land mafia”, calling for a “transparent operation” against all extortionists

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Sindh Unity Conference at Mehran Arts Council, Farooq Sattar said people were fed up with the “bhatta mafia” (extortionists), asserting that the MQM had a right to speak out against this evil.

I’m sure most people have read something similar to what I’m going to say here: Salman Butt speaks out against match-fixers, Amir Liaqat speaks out against religious manipulation, Meher Bukhari against compromised TV hosts and Veena Malik against vulgarity.

5. Government would provide arms licenses to political and religious parties in Karachi to secure their offices from terrorism’ – Rehman Malik

Great idea Malik saab. Karachi is in serious need of weaponisation. All this peace is killing me. I got a better idea, why don’t you train them in melee combat too?
I am more reminded of the starting dialogue delivered by Nicholas Cage in one of the most brilliant movies I’ve ever seen ‘Lord of War’ – “There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?’ You’re getting there Mr.Senator.

4. ‘I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the Holy Prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000,” Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said Saturday, adding that he’s ready to face the consequences of his actions.

Of course it’s much easier doing that in Pakistan where you know there are no consequences. So what next for the defenders of Islam? Hired mercenaries? Maybe the minister is in dire need of publicity. Nothing increases your visibility to the voting public better than a controversy with a righteous tinge to it.

3. Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while terming Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan a “western agent,” claimed that Khan wants to destroy our society by injecting his ‘western thoughts’ in it.

Oh the western thoughts, those dastardly beings are at it again! Imran Khan must be wondering how to make himself endearing to any political party. The leftists call him a Taliban apologist, and the rightists call him a Western agent. Perhaps both sides feel threatened. There has to be some defined ethic codes in defamation and slander for all parties to follow!

2. Pakistan’s PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf addressed the nation in Islamabad: “People of Pakistan should not worry because of the increasing population. It has some positive affects too” He further said that Pakistan is a country of limitless resources with atomic power in its possession.

Here you go folks. Our Prime Minister has given the official license to go forth and multiply! A family of 14? No fear, atomic power is here! Perhaps he needs reminding that our nuclear power generation is not even close to global standards. Perhaps his optimism on growing population will be understandable when the government unearths those limitless resources, including the projects they’re currently holding up.

1. In a statement, Chaudhry Nisar from PML-N said that PPP should stop dreaming of unity with PML-N.

I wonder what else has kept the two parties so cosy. PPP should not dream? They are living the dream these past 5 years! This has got to be the most ridiculous statement of 2012 and worthy of the No.1 Ranking! The elder Sharif has agreed to be a PM under the presidency of Zardari and Qamar Zaman Kaira has expressed similar adoring sentiments. A fantastic example of the great lies that are spoken to the public: foes on the front, alliances at the back.

This is my list of the top 10 statements of 2012, that deserve a place in my Hall of Shame. I may have missed out on some statements, for which I hope I can be excused for not having a news research agency at my disposal. Anyone who reads is welcome to share any statement that they believe warranted a position on the TOP 10 HALLF OF SHAME STATEMENTS OF 2012.

I plan on releasing another post at the end of 2013, or at the start of 2014. Without doubt, Mr. Dr. Allama. PhD Shaayirana Falsifaana Tahir-ul-Qadri must dominate that list. Till then, best of luck for a blood-free election!

2012 in review – Spat Out Vicious

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The anarchy of peaceful protests – a classic oxymoron

Could they have done anything different? Could the protests have been any other way? I mean, we all know by now that almost none of the prominent religious scholars can be trusted to raise an unconditional voice against the madness that comes automatically programmed into an average Pakistani protestor. It also remains undisputed that the large-scale protests were nothing, if not political. All religious groups and parties have proven beyond all doubt that presently, the religious scholars of this country are not fit to lead anyone.

So who can?

It may be fair to conclude that most of them did not want what ensued a month ago. However, none of them have displayed the courage of going against the popular norm. None of them publicly denounced with conviction the chaos that was taking place. No, their tone, their stance against the angry mob was how one friend might talk to another close yet misguided friend; ‘Yes I understand what you are doing and why you’re doing it, I know , I am hurt too, but please don’t do it.’

  

It’s come to a point where you’ve got to ask, ‘Who are they kidding?”. I mean, we have a long and colorful history of mass protests in which we have repeatedly exposed our distasteful disposition to violent behavior. Are our religious leaders really that naïve? Is their shock and surprise at the destructive nature of the mob really genuine? I don’t believe it, but if they expected something different, it would only go on to confirm the level of their disillusionment with reality!

As much as it saddens me to say it, for I have been a firm believer in the mantle of leadership being borne by our religious scholars, this is a combined failure of the whole religious organizational and political structure. The notion that we can be led and guided by them in these testing times has come crashing around our feet. Their wisdom and their politics both have disappointed me. The idea of religious leadership is dead.

This is what @tazeen had tweeted about them, and to which I fully agree:

Why is the protesters’ leadership called Ulma-e-Karaam by all the TV channels, surely we all know that they are hooligans.

Mufti Naeem on TV the other day, publicly denounced these acts and yet he had the audacity to talk about them in a polite and understanding manner, asking protestors to please go home and that God will reward them for their emotions and actions.

   

Does that not confuse you about the message they are trying to convey? Are our religious scholars not aware that an unruly faction is always waiting for such mass protests to create havoc, burn and loot valuables and public property? Do they not themselves recognize these events as an opportunity to promote their own agendas and display their hypnotic power over the masses, and do the protests not waiver strictly from the original purpose to everything deemed un-islamic? Why were banks and cinemas attacked and American flags trodden on and burned if that’s not the case? Their leadership and mandate has no direction; their political statements are more or less garbled insults at everything American (they are well aware of how much an average Pakistani likes to hear that).

   

On Saturday at Jauhar Chowrangi, a religious party had laid down an American flag on the road and took pictures as cars drove over it. I am greatly saddened for currently, there is no future for this country if such religious leaders continue to hold power over the masses. A peaceful protest in Pakistan is just a myth.

If you go on a social media round, as I’m sure most of you have already done, you might go on to question who the heck is on the roads when most of us seem to be in agreement on not resorting to violent discourse and adopting peaceful and more beneficial means of countering such anti-islamic propaganda. But then we all know that the majority does not have access to the internet for a start; a large majority of those who do, have not yet embraced social media. Add to that our unfortunate language barrier. As a result, we, the bloggers and the writers, only seem to be talking and discussing and expressing horror among ourselves! We may occur as intellectuals, but practically, what are we doing other than showing how sharply we can think and how eloquently we can write?

Maybe we need to ask ourselves if our efforts, with all our best intentions, are even sufficient to make a tangible difference. We debate, we argue, we discuss and exchange views. Yet this exchange and development of thoughts is not trickling down to the masses, most of which cannot even read. It’s just a theory, but there’s got to be something wrong in what we are doing. Are there any avenues for us to reach the masses? We know Pakistan does not have a vibrant reading culture. Can we reach out to the masses in a better way? Can large communities be educated through seminars and schools?

I am stumped to be honest. The only way I see to improve the situation is to break through the barrier between the intellectuals and the mere followers. How can we do that? Let’s generate ideas and share our thoughts. I am sure that when all of us start to think in these terms; we will come up with great ideas to expand the information flow from a trickle to a river.

The majority of our people only get to listen to the perpetually inflammatory media and the sermons of the self-appointed representatives of religion that are well aware that they are their only source of knowledge.

We must challenge that source. 

In anticipation of ‘hide-n-seek’ with bijli !

Hi everyone … yea Eid is just over, offices and schools start tomorrow in earnest, and Pakistan’s routine life will start again.

You’ve had your 4 days of fun with 24 hour supply of electricity. A slight warning: don’t get used to it – don’t let the disease get to you! If it helps you to adjust, close the main switch of your home for a couple of hours .. just you know, to get familiar with it. In case you have forgotten.

And we do forget dear old ‘bijli‘ don’t we  ?

But like any other bijli character that exists in real life (if you know what I mean, and you do!), this bijli will remind you again of its taste for uncertainty and drama.

Don’t depend on it, don’t count on it – it’s a damn ol’ heart breaker this one. Your game of hide-n-seek with bijli, starts tomorrow 😉

Put in your comments; let’s share how much load shedding different cities of Pakistan is facing. Let’s share our stories shall we ?

Za[Blac]k-mailed into giving

Blackmail is a very profitable venture to get your hands on something which isn’t really yours. As for our community, let’s just say we Pakistanis have got it fine-tuned to an art. Not just blackmail, every kind of deviously schemin’ trick in the book, or even ones that are not in the book; we know them.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why an average Pakistani must think thrice before parting with its money. The sad thing is, whenever we do part with it for the benefit of others, it’s for a lost cause. My target this time; Professional Beggary!

It’s a thriving business in Pakistan and especially in a cosmopolitan city like Karachi, this profession has struck gold. At almost every other traffic signal, you’re surrounded by a horde of ‘in-needs’ employing various techniques to get you to give something in their direction. They use efficiently memorized stories, verses, songs and ballads to move your supposed heart of stone and get you to have pity on them. Then you think what will become of these poor creatures in this mad bad world and thinking of it as saintly behaviour, you give them something. When you do give something, you are showered with praise. When you DON’T, Oh you should hear’em talking!

Let’s talk about the situation specifically in Ramzan. Twenty times a day, different people come at your house and all of them are in dire need of financial aid. Father, mother, son … some one is always dying and naturally, the poor ones must come on the streets and beg for help (sarcasm). After every Namaz in the Masjid, someone would get up and describe his need to the meditating public. A long line of beggars would litter the entrance to the masjid, depicting sorrow and misery in the hope of earning some cash. Come Ramzan, and suddenly it’s a free license to be out on the streets, spread your hands … and start begging!

I give an impression of myself as a cold-hearted toad that was found under a stone, I know … but let me explain why I dislike this practice so much. It’s not rocket science to understand who is faking distress and who is not. People in need generally don’t go around begging publicly for help, day after day, month after month. They don’t appear in a sacred month like mice from their bills, knocking unashamedly at each door, hunting opportunities to earn like businessmen hunt clients. This is where the blackmail comes in. The problem is; we as a nation are so religiously confused about our responsibilities that we might just about believe anyone. The trump card that professional beggars hold is the ease at which our confused ideologies can be bent or changed. The Muslim part of our community becomes so religiously motivated in Ramzan (not a bad thing); we happily start spending money on fake ‘in-needs’, leaving it to God to credit us for our generosity. Zakat is such a burden that we get it off our chests under the smallest of religious blackmailing. We spend in the name of Zakat, Khairaat, Sadqaat … but it is none of it, if you understand the true essence of its purpose! This kind of giving is for a lost cause. We help people that aren’t interested in helping themselves. Beggary is as much a profession for them as accounting/ engineering / medicine is to us. The non-Muslim community is not free from this plague either. They are emotionally blackmailed by questioning their sense of ethics and human empathy.

I am not against Zakat. I am not against social welfare. All I am saying is, there are a precious few resources to cater to a lot of people in our country. Let’s not waste our sympathies and generosity on people who don’t deserve it. All one needs to do is a little scouring to find people who really need help. Hard to believe, but there are people who still find peace in making an honest living, but lack the resources that could help them go on with their lives.

Providing food would only attract more spread-out hands. Showing them how to be in a position to buy their own food will help our community far more. We must adopt ways to TEACH, not to FEED. Tell me, why would someone in real need cringe and walk away when I offer someone a job instead of money when they beg? It’s the most well known secret that a whole Mafia operates this network of beggars and their earnings per day are quite astounding; it is a well established business. It’s infuriating and quite a revelation to see the preferred mode of aid is always cash. Rarely do they appreciate food, and NEVER a job offer! Most of them are shameless people who’d swear upon anything to prove their honesty, expose their infants to the cruel Karachi sun without clothes on just to portray a more miserable picture. What is worse is they subject their innocent children who are too young to even understand what they do, to this cruel way of life. Most of these children become drug addicts at a cringe-inducing young age. It’s time we start doing a little hard work to help those who really deserve it. I say Hard Work cuz who really deserve charity are NOT on the streets. These beggars; their lives would start and end with the same business, and they will keep on polluting the society with dishonesty, deceit and the general lethargic attitude that has currently gripped the nation.

The beggary business only thrives because of gullible minds that are easy to trick, easy to religiously blackmail. A way out may be to increase social welfare work and direct it towards those who are more focused on self-respect rather than self-pity; who want to stand, not carried through life. People who just need someone to put them in a position where self-sustainability can be achieved. These are the people that could contribute to society and our country as well. They are more likely to be productive for our nation; they may go ahead to form true drivers of change … because hell yes, we need them!

And yes, let’s not be Zakat[Black]-mailed into giving!

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