The appalling holocaust of Peshawar

A student prays at a private school in Chennai. (Source: PTI)

A student prays at a private school in Chennai, India. (Source: PTI)

Lead, they say, is the toughest part of writing. Never thought I would be so spoiled for choice to begin with, at such a saddening juncture. There is a sea of emotions, plenty to express, humongous grief within & a perpetual disgust ever since the incident occurred.

Who could have thought that a normal day at school, on the 16th Of December, 2014, would turn out to be a such a fatal one for the children & staff of Army Public School (APS), Peshawar & of course for Pakistan itself. Seven heavily armed attackers of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan caused the havoc in the Army-run school & took the lives of almost 142 students & school officials. Accounts of the eye witnesses, who fortunately escaped death,  explain how dastardly the attack was.

Sitwat Jafri, a 12th Grade student, lost his mother who was a teacher at APS. His younger brother, Baqer Jafri, was shot in the head but thankfully survived. Another teacher, Sofia Amjad, who was married to a lawyer, lost her battle with life before she could have made the dream of marrying off her daughters a reality. During the attack, some students pretended to be dead & later described the trauma to the world. There are numerous other stories that have surfaced thereafter, which have truly shaken us. Many countries including India, Saudi Arabia, Canada and United Kingdom have shown support & stood by Pakistan. India, in particular, has responded very positively to Pakistan, forgetting their differences & uniting at this crucial point. The #IndiawithPakistan was trending on twitter & the incident drew extensive support from the Indian base of Twitter users. Many schools, all over India, observed a two-minute silence to remember & pray for the departed souls. But, sadly among all these humanitarian gestures, there were still some insensible Politicians of our country, who took advantage of the situation to target Pakistan on grounds of historical differences & proliferating terrorism through their futile comments.

The Peshawar episode has raised questions about the security of schools in the minds of the young ones too. As reported in India Times, a leading Indian newspaper, a parent, Richa Sharma, found herself striving to answer the query of her six-year-old daughter when asked “Mummy, we don’t even have benches in our school. Only chairs. Where will we hide?” The same report also highlights, another Class 2 student, Kavya’s fear when she innocently asks her mother “How far is Peshawar from her school?” and “If all the bad people have been killed.”

Let us not forget those parents, who have lost the wealth of their life in this heinous act. That limitless pain, that feeling of never being able to see their child again & the resulting agony has left them utterly inconsolable. No other blessing in the world would perhaps commensurate the loss. Not an eye would be void of tears on the very thought of their excruciation. Let me also make it clear here that those who have carried out this inhuman act in the guise of Islam, had no right to do so. It would be like adulterating the ever so pristine religion to serve the nefarious intentions of a few ruthless beings.

Lastly, post Peshawar tragedy, both the countries of the sub-continent would remember 16th December as one of the worst days in their history. While Pakistan is lamenting this attack in Peshawar, India has also not been able to come to terms with the Delhi gang rape case that jolted the countrymen a couple of years back.

We wholeheartedly pray that may peace prevail on either side of the border & citizens of both the countries stay safe eternally.

 

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Humsafar….a synonym to magnificence

I recently came across a serial from Pakistan named ‘Humsafar’, written and directed by Zakir Ahmed & Sarmad Sultan, respectively. What attracted me towards the show was its appreciation from a few of my acquaintances. Overwhelmed by their recommendation, I thought of giving it a try and see whether I can justify the extols that engulfed me. The drama comprises of twenty-three episodes. I never assumed that it would turn out to be such a beautiful story. As my comprehension about the plot developed, I couldn’t stop myself from completing it at the nearest hour. Though, it would take a week for a normal viewer to complete the series, but if curiosity ascends to its zenith, like in my case, you can run through within a day or two.

Humsafar is based on a novel written by Farhat Ishtiaq, a female writer, author & scriptwriter from Pakistan. The story mainly revolves around three main characters – Asher Hussain (Fawad Afzal Khan), Khirad Ehsan (Mahira Khan) & Sara Ajmal (Naveen Waqar). Asher is portrayed as an upper-class businessman with a sensible approach towards life. Khirad(protagonist) is the paternal cousin of Asher, who is forcibly married to him under some inevitable circumstances. The third main role Sara(antagonist) is the maternal cousin of Asher and both are close childhood friends. She is shown as a spendthrift upper-class girl who also assists Asher in his business. Through the course of their friendship, Sara develops a liking for her cousin, Asher and is strong-willed to marry him, but is never able to. There are other few characters in the story who play an important role in furthering the sequence. Humsafar begins in Hyderabad, Pakistan, where Khirad lives with her mother in a small house. Her uncle(Asher’s father), who plays the role of Baseerat Hussain(Behroz Sabzwari), is a rich man but was never close to Khirad’s family. Early in the story, Khirad’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, which forces them to leave for Karachi, where Hussain is leading a luxurious life with his family. This is where it all begins, the trials and tribulations of Asher & Khirad.

According to me, the reason for the popularity of this serial was its simplicity and the way it depicted how important trust is, in the blessed relation of a husband and wife. The program conveys how truth can be manipulated and relationships be broken, when the notoriety of a few plays its part. In such a situation, we need to contemplate in a way in which no one would. A dialogue that I liked much in the serial almost translates to ‘It is easy to lie for the first time,but later it creates lot of difficulties. But, truth only takes courage to be spoken at first and may be difficult, later, everything becomes easy.’ Also, the tittle song of this serial deserves a separate mention. It is so melodious & has been appreciated by a wide range of audiences,both national and international. The lyrics of this song are wonderfully written, with the most beautiful diction from the Urdu language. Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch, the singer has sung it so well that it can never be expressed in words. Overall, Humsafar has been a treat to watch for me, being someone who is never interested in dwelling with this sort of fiction. It was recently telecast on ‘Hum TV’, a channel operating in Karachi, Pakistan.

Lastly, I would say that it’s a show for the people of all ages. So, it no doubt is recommended for ALL! Leaving you with the tittle song ‘Woh Humsafar Tha’.

Not with ‘US’ any more

Trammelled with favors innumerable and obligated to give handsome returns,Pakistan has now somehow managed to tear apart the monotonic reticence after a long time.History tells us that diplomatic relations were established between Pakistan and United States on the 20th of October,1947 and the former has ever since been subjected to continuous exertion by the latter.The flippancy of US towards Pakistan can easily be gauged by its stringent policies that have for long been part of those pacts and agreements signed thereafter.

As we all know that Pakistan is a Major non-NATO ally of the USA and their relations have seen many ups and downs in this period of around sixty-five years.There was a time in the 1950s when the US administration addressed Pakistan as its “most-allied ally” in Asia.But later in 1965 during the Indo-Pak war,no military support was given to Pakistan which thereby marked the first signs of declining trust among the two countries.The room of mistrust proliferated further when economic assistance(except food) was stopped in April,1979 because of US’s concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear program.However,it is evident that the era of Ayub Khan from 1952 to 1969 portrayed a healthy bonding between the countries in those early years of bilateral relations unlike in the reign of Bhutto and General Zia.Then once again in 1990,the united States suspended all economic and military aid to its ally under the Pressler Amendment which required annual certification from the President that Pak “does not posses a nuclear explosive device”.Despite the impertinent conduct of US,Pakistan still joined the “war on terror” as its ally after the episode of 9/11.In support,Pakistan provided military airports and bases to US for attacking Afghanistan and in turn was reciprocated by monetary gains and was allowed to buy advanced American military technology.Many are of the opinion that at the time of Musharraf,the party in power thought that they had found a panacea and prolonged the process of palaver.The post 9/11 scenario in Pakistan has shown vital signs of decadence in terms of  the country’s serenity.It has lost the lives of thousands of civilians and soldiers due to the suicide bombings that take place oftentimes whereas it was unheard of before 9/11.Once Barrack Obama joined office as the President,it was expected that the non-military aid would be tripled to $1.5 Billion every year for a decade so as to ease the economy and civil institutions of Pakistan.

If we classify the confabulations betwixt Pakistan and America over the years,a few major phases come to mind in a flash right from the Baghdad pact to the very recent Operation Neptune Spear that claimed to have killed Osama bin Laden.Talking about Laden’s death,US had been intransigent in this respect and always insisted that Pakistan has knowingly let Osama reside on its soil.And the news of the same staggered and flabbergasted quite a few around the world.To put it in the words of US officials,Pakistan never paid heed to what it was always cognizant of.The recent agitation and strong rejoinders from the government officials over the accusations of Admiral Mike Mullen regarding ISI’s relations with Haqqani network,have crushed beneath the pervasive air of oppression that had been blowing forcefully after the Raymond Davis case.Thwarted now seem the plans of America,after the newly created fuss over this issue.

The freshly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs,Hina Rabbani Khar also strongly condemned the way United States has dealt with issues in the past few days.She said that America is likely to lose an ally if allegations are not stopped.Pakistan always has a great advantage at its disposal by having China beside in any sought of emergency.Let us hope that things get better and peace prevails along with justice in the days ahead.