Tagged with " Pakistan"
Jun 13, 2011 - published work, terrorism    8 Comments

Our cataclysmic descent into chaos


Yet another young man lost his life in what has become a norm in Pakistan – extrajudicial killings – and chances are that like previous incidents of such killings, the perpetrators of this crime will go free as well. It is not just a random speculation of a bitter citizen, there is hard evidence supporting this claim.
Before Sarfaraz Shah, the 19 year old who was shot point blank by soldiers of Sind Rangers, a paramilitary force, in Karachi on June 8th, two teenage boys Mughees and Muneeb were lynched by a mob – including policemen in uniforms – in Sialkot last year. 17 men were arrested, with most of them out on bail. It must be noted that before the video of this gruesome murder came out, Sind Rangers claimed that Sarfaraz Shah was killed during an encounter with the Rangers after he was caught red handed while snatching cash from visitors in the park. When Rangers officials entered the park, the young man fired at them.
On the contrary, the video footage showed an unarmed young man being shot dead at a very close range by one of the five Rangers personnel who all have a weapon of some kind in their hand. Sarfaraz was seen pleading for his life and was shot at in full public view.
Mr Rehman Malik was at pains to point out that Shah was a petty criminal – as if it justifies the cold blooded murder – likewise, brothers Mughees and Muneeb too were accused of committing robberies. The District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sialkot, Mujahid Sher Dil, later confirmed that the lynched youths had no criminal record. With exception of the cell phone theft case and attack on Sindh rangers personnel case filed against him on the day of his death, Sarfaraz Shah, too had no criminal record. Even if he was a thief and was apprehended by the law enforcement authorities, why was he not taken to a local police station, why was he shot dead? Surely the law enforcement agency personnel must know that theft cannot be penalized by death in Pakistan penal code.
Some of the apologists were at pains to point out that the soldier was right in shooting at the victim as he was trying to touch his gun and he is legally permitted to shoot at anyone who tries to get hold of his weapon during a confrontation. They also said that the Rangers official did the right thing and shot the victim in the leg, as stipulated in the law. But one must ask under what law they left him to bleed to death when he was begging them to take him to the hospital.
Those who cite the rights of the paramilitary forces should also remember that ordinary citizens, those who do not wear any uniform and actually pay for the salaries of the armed forces personnel also have some rights – at least the most basic right to live.                             
Just like these two incidents, five Chechens were killed in Kharotabad Quetta last month. Officials initially claimed the five were suicide bombers, but they turned out to be unarmed and video of the shooting further undercut their claim. So far no one has been apprehended and the inquiry is still deciding if it was the police or the Frontier Constabulary that opened fire at the Chechens who were traveling with just bottles of shampoo in their bags. 
New York based Human Rights Watch has documented the extrajudicial execution of up to 300 alleged Taliban supporters and sympathizers in Swat. Despite the fact that several videos have come out detailing those brutalities, no action has been taken against the armed forces to date.
The less said about Balochistan, the better. Parts of the province have become killing fields of late. Not a day pass by when one or two bullet riddled bodies are found on the roadsides.  Since 2010 approximately 140 political activists, journalists, academics and students were killed in extrajudicial killings.
Citizens have what social theorists call a social contract with their governments. Under that social contract people form states and maintain social order. The notion of the social contract implies that the people give up some rights to a government or other authority in order to receive or maintain social order. The citizens pay taxes with which government is suppose to finance their security and provide them with an environment which is conducive to their well being and ensure systematic access to livelihood. Forget about other rights, this incident shows that every day in Pakistan, the right to life of the people is made a mockery of by the people who are supposed to keep them safe.
Civilian government is apathetic to the woes of the people, armed forces have learned nothing from the fiasco of Bangladesh and are carrying out atrocities against their own citizens and supreme court judges are busy taking suo moto actions against actresses for possession of alcohol and dishing out verdicts on tv channels and their broadcasting right, access to justice has become an unattainable fantasy for most citizens of the country. The incident got so much coverage because it happened in Karachi. Imagine what goes on in Balochistan where there is no one to challenge or raise voice against such carnage. This continued deprivation of justice will expedite our cataclysmic descent into chaos and the killing fields of Pakistan will remain bloody because some animals are more equal than the other. 
Originally written for Dawn

Jun 1, 2011 - Porn, religion, women    93 Comments

The heavenly orgy

This heavenly orgy fantasy ….

…. was brought to you by a maulana near you.

Being a woman, I was never subjected to a Friday sermon (women don’t go to masjids in South Asians countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh). I have heard many a tales about the kind of hate mongering, violent and misogynist sermons that do rounds in mosques across the country every Friday, but four days back, a friend emailed me the link of one such discourse with the subject line “WTF speech of the millennium” and then I was inundated with the same link on facebook and my inbox.

This video titled, Jannat ki Hoor (heavenly creatures provided as companions for pious Muslim men – sorry, no hooris for non-Muslim man, no matter how virtuous you are), is an interesting commentary on our society. For starters, the maulana, who goes by the name Mairaj Rabbani and is part of Ahl-e-hadees group, thinks all women are low level dirty whores (his exact words are dirty, filthy, worthless and prostitute) and they are only good for providing men with a few seconds of pleasure. He thinks that good Muslim men should not waste themselves on earthly creatures such as women as all of them are soiled bitches. They should wait to get into heaven where they will get multiple partners who will wear see through clothes and entice and then satisfy their lust like there is no tomorrow. Technically it is wrong as there would be an endless stream of tomorrows in the eternity, but I digress.

This maulana wants to make sure that his congregation “gets” it, so he elaborates in great detail that Muslim men will not only get to kiss and cuddle them, they will actually get to experience hardcore action that goes on and on and on … for forever. When they will be done with one Hoor, another one, even more beautiful and voluptuous than the first one, would come and demand some action. Raise your hand if you too think it is taken from one of the millions of porn movies where hot women go after ugly men and say that want more and more and more! Maulana sahib’s porn fantasies are filled with heavenly playmates with awful taste in men.

Maulana sahib is actually quite smart. He knows that he has captive audience as long as he turns the sermon into a soft porn delight. In a deeply segregated society like Pakistan, such misogynist perversions actually form the basis of inter gender relationships. What we take from this video is: all men are supreme beings, women are filthy and not worth the time, piety is only good to get you laid in the afterlife and repeated use of the word istemal indicates that women will continue to being used as commodities in the paradise. If maulana sahib is ever in the market for a change of employment, he will be the toast of the desi adult film industry.

May 16, 2011 - Saudi consulate    8 Comments

Is it the same Pakistan I grew up in?

Is it just me or are there others who are facing the same dilemma as I do? Am I living in the same Pakistan that I have always lived in or is it some other country?
Now don’t get me wrong, it is the same country where rapists are released by the superior courts, where an enormous number of children are still out of school, electricity, rather lack of it, continues to wreak havoc with our lives and livelihoods and Aapa Firdous is still rocking the corridors of Islamabad (I am such a fangirl, I had to make a reference to her highness) but something is different. A couple of incidents that happened in past week changed things how they have been since forever. I saw things that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.
The first one is of course the appearance of DG ISI in front of the parliament for the in camera session where he actually took responsibility for leaking information, god-awful intelligence gathering, general bad performance and offered to resign. Resign!!! A serving general, no less than a DG ISI, appearing before that parliament (read them bloody civvies) and offered to resign!!! Who would’ve thought we would see a day when it would happen and it did. Granted the circumstances were extenuating, but still, that fact that it actually happened is kinda unbelievable.
Apart from Pak fauj, the other holy cow in Pakistan is Saudi Arabia. So what if they have been funding outfits involved in gross acts of terrorism in Pakistan? Who cares if they treat most of Pakistan like their personal fiefdoms and come here to hunt under age brides and Hobara Bustards and support the rent seeking elite? They are Khadim-e-harmain shareefain – a title that House of Saud bestowed upon themselves to seek legitimacy for all their wrong doings – and get away with anything! In past one week, the Saudi consulate has been attacked twice and a security officer of the Saudi consulate has been shot dead earlier today and no religious party took to streets blaming it all on Amreeka! I mean seriously!

Are things finally changing or is this yet another mirage?


And who would’ve thought they would see placards denouncing the corps commanders and likens them with jackals!

Bromances and brokeback !

So Cricinfo tweeted this photo with a “So much love in the Pakistan team” caption earlier today.

and the Pakistani twitteratti responded with this photo saying what about this one?

Pakistani tweeples thought that the picture with Ajmal and Akhtar was more bromance whereas the one with Sachin and Sehwag was more … errr. Brokeback. 
I asked people to come up with captions and here are some of the more interesting ones.
@shiringul “if I lose my head, it’s your ass on the line!”
@a_bong “I got your back …”
@ammaryasir   Sehwag: “Pedicure?” Tendulkar: “Ahaa, usual preparation for the big match against Pak”
@absarshah   ‘Sucking the marrow out of life”
@kamranbukhari   “Ass, gas or grass, nobody rides for free”
@alexpressed “baout yaraana lagta ay!”
@fayyazahmed  Tendulkar: “Cover my behind, will ya?”
@Ahmad_Malik  “After an intense batting session, Sehwag helped Sachin take care of his guard problems.”
@Zonk_D  Sehwag “I got your back ! ” Sachin – “only if you keep your head in right place ” ; )
Haya Fatima came up with “Bum chick chick bum, bum, bum chick chick bum!!”
Nabeel Zuberi came up with “Turn over and do it the Afridi way, Viru.”
Ibrahim Muhammed Khalil gets a special mention for double submissions along with Aneela Z Babar.
Ibrahim came up with “jin pe takya hay, wohi hawa daynay lagay” and “CYA – Cover your Ass”
And @AneelaBabar  came up with gems like “The Butt stops here” and “Haseena Atom Bum Part 2”
And winner is @amna_kaleem  who came up with this sterling line “Who needs a shoulder when you have Sachin’s bum to lean on.”
Here are some other caption worthy pictures. 
Defying gravity?

An India Pakistan game can make Service Cheetah go all witty

Arrrggghhh! enough with the lecture already…

Somebody get me out of here

Orange is the new black

bach ke jayega tu kahan

To borrow a line from Ali Azmat, bum bum phatta 
Audition for High School Musical 4?

Byoz offering prayers, the only one missing is good ol’ Shoiab Akhtar 🙂

Poster boy for liposuction!
Mar 27, 2011 - Shahid Afridi    26 Comments

What’s a pressure cooker, we live in Pakistan

Back in 2006, my friends and I went to National stadium Karachi to see a match between West Indies and Pakistan. Though it had nothing to do with the match, for every Boom Boom poster we’ve made, we made one that said Darryl Hair Sucks. For cricket fans in Pakistan, umpire Darryl Hair was the most despised human being that year. Last year, it was the bookie par excellence Mr. Mazhar Majeed (those who are on twitter and want to tell him personally what a ch**t piece he is can do it here). During this world cup, Pakistan cricket team’s number 1 enemy seems to be Mr. Ian Chappell.
Chappel has had problems with everything; from our idiot of a captain to our team huddle to the celebrations by the same captain. Everything we do seem to rile him up. In addition, he thinks we are not capable of winning the world cup because we cannot beat three teams in a row. Mr Chappell is of the opinion that “Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a much calmer leader than Shahid Afridi” and that India under Dhoni is more capable of taking pressure on than Pakistan under Afridi.

Now don’t get me wrong; I think Dhoni is one of the smartest Indian cricketers and he is one hell of a fighter but things are not as stacked against him as they are against our Lala. Lala lost two of his front line bowlers last year to the spot fixing scandal, he has been playing his home series in places as varied as Dubai and England, he has not played a single game in front of his home crowd since March 2009, but he still managed to galvanize a traditionally fractioned team into a cohesive unit where everyone (barring Kamran Akmal) is doing what they are supposed to do to the best of their abilities. Mind you, he does not even have the human resource that some of our past captains have had at their disposal yet he still managed to get team Pakistan in the last four, something that eluded us in the past two world cups. If this is what idiocy is capable of, then I say bring on some more of the same madness – Lala’s brand of madness. Considering the lives we all live and the battles we all fight everyday for mere survival, I think no one can handle pressure better than a Pakistani and our men in green are just as capable of surviving the pressure cooker in Mohali as anyone else, if not more.
Lala’s brand of madness

The other person who is being booed by Pakistanis, though with a little less intensity, is ICC chief Haroon Lorgat. To say that Pakistanis have been irked by his wish for a fairy tale ending for Sachin Tendulkar would be putting it mildly. Mr Lorgat wishes/believes that India will win the semi final and that Sachin Tendulkar will get to make his 100th century in International cricket in Mubai in front of his home crowd which will be an awesome end to the little master’s career. It seems that ICC chief, who should have been impartial, has actually not been impartial and if his words are to be taken seriously, then the whole tournament is organized not to see which team has performed best, but to provide that fairy tale ending to the Indian cricket team in general and to one Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar in particular.
Mr Lorgat sucking up to Indians

I wish team Pakistan goes on to win the Semi final and the final so that we can rub it on Mr Lorgat’s face.
Here is wishing the men in green all the good luck, I hope you bring the cup back with you and give us something to smile about.
The idiot who will do the trick
Some awesome men in green
Feb 24, 2011 - published work, Society    23 Comments

Hum dekhain gay …

As someone who read up on 20th century revolutionaries quite a bit – although my readings were for mainly non-revolutionary reasons – I used to cringe every time I spotted a finance undergraduate or an aspiring MBA candidate in a Che Guevara T-shirt at my college campus in England. The irony of it almost never failed to hit me. Most of these kids were middle-class (in the British sense) or upper-class (in the Third World sense) whom Che would have shot without blinking his revolutionary eyes. But as we have all been forced to concede, Che is popular today not for his philosophy or political practice but for his face, i.e. as the quintessential postmodern icon, which means (relatively) different things to (relatively) different people.

In Pakistan too, after the Lawyers’ Movement of 2007, a new generation of urban youth has become enamored with the idea of revolutionary change. For them the closest thing to a homegrown, feelgood, postmodern iconoclast is the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The man and his poetry have become one big symbol of the underdog, the idealist, as well as the man or woman who is willing to suffer for a cause.

On the occasion of Faiz’s 100th birthday, many events were organized across the country to celebrate and commemorate his life and work. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see so many young people turning up at different venues to celebrate someone who consistently supported causes that were dangerous then and are passé now, and who wrote in a language that is no longer considered fashionable.

But my delight experienced an early demise after a series of unfortunate events that have led me to believe that Faiz is celebrated – just like Che – as a symbol rather than for what he actually believed or practiced. I have by now met too many wannabe revolutionaries who print out Faiz’s avant-garde anthem ‘Hum dekhain gay’ in the Roman alphabet and call themselves Faiz aficionados. Reading Faiz, or for that matter any great Urdu poet, in the Roman script alone is a sacrilege, but for such people to claim to be an authority on his very vast repertoire of outstanding work, when they have only a chorus in mind, is both hilarious and infuriating.

I recently met one such specimen of a Faiz fan at a Faiz fest (fittingly, if you’ll forgive all the effing). The interaction, though it was mercifully brief, convinced me that Pakistanis can trivialize just about anything. What follows is an excerpt from our conversation.

Boy: Isn’t Faiz awesome?

Me: I believe he is.

The Boy: Isn’t his revolutionary work great.

Me: I am not sure what you mean by revolutionary work but I assume you are referring to his poetry against tyranny.

Boy: Yeah. So what do you think about his work.

Me: I have not read a lot of Urdu poetry and cannot compare his work with others but I truly admire Faiz’s ability to relate his internal, subjective world to the larger world and the fact that his empathy for people transcended geographical boundaries…

The Boy: That’s cool. He wrote for people from other parts of the world?

Me: Yeah, he wrote for the Palestinians and the colonized Africans and he showed compassion for Bangladeshi people when no one dared to do so. Haven’t you read Aye Arz-e-Falasteen?

The Boy: I can’t read Urdu. My family recently moved back from England.

Me: How have you read Faiz if you can’t read Urdu?

Boy: Oh I haven’t read him. I only know the revolutionary bits like “Bol ke lub azad hain teray” and “Hum dekhain gay.” You know we sang them during the long march and all! They are freakin’ awesome.

Me: Errr… but you do realize that Faiz is a lot more than those two “revolutionary bits” as you have called them…?

Boy: Yeah but those are the ones that matter

That boy is not alone. During my stint as a teacher of undergraduates, I came across many students who were filled with a similar zeal and wanted to change the world through Faiz’s poetry. It’s quite interesting that for such Pakistani students Faiz is the only symbol of liberation from oppression and exploitation. They are not familiar with other poets of the time, such as Josh Malihabadi, Noon Meem Rashid or Habib Jalib, to name a few. In fact, during my class on popular social movements, Jalib was referred to as the “dude who wrote songs for the Band Laal.” Jalib must have been somersaulting in his grave after that.

Most young people who claim to be impressed by Faiz’s poetry are familiar only with his famous poems; and they don’t even understand those. During one of our discussions, I asked my students about their views on Faiz’s employment of the Arabic term Ana-al-haq (or ‘I am the Truth’), attributed to the martyred Sufi Mansur Hallaj. I was looking for a response about the political struggle, about how Faiz may have tried to relate it to the personal quest for self-actuation. But it drew a blank from all my students except one. When I pointed out that Ana-al-haq has been used in one of the most popular anthems of our times – none other than their “favourite” Faiz poem, that’s right, you got it, the one that goes ‘Hum dekhain gay’ – I was bombarded with excuses that ranged from “Urdu is very difficult to understand” to “the poetry was against people like Musharraf and Zardari and not about religion.”

The sad reality of our times is that Faiz – the revolutionary is expropriated by everyone and anyone who thinks Faiz’s words can serve their purpose, especially by people against whom most revolutions are targeted. From right wing politicians to rich kids who are sent to liberal arts colleges abroad on money their parents made by running sweat shops, Faiz is the poet everyone loves to recite to lend credence to their rhetoric. In 21st century revolution loving Pakistan, Faiz’s popularity among a certain section of society represents ignorant kitsch which should not be taken seriously. During a recent protest, some of such Faiz lovers who espouse revolutionary ideas expressed displeasure at marching with trade union activists because they did not smell good.

Reciting Faiz in a party or to quote him in a blog or to join a facebook page can never replace real activism. Real activism means de classing yourself and to give gut and blood to the ideology we believe in. In this day and age when “idiology” has replaced “ideology” how many of us can remain true to what we believe in and are willing to walk in Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s formidable shoes.

A slightly edited version of this post has been published in The Friday Times


Feb 23, 2011 - Uncategorized    8 Comments

Things I see in Islamabad …

If you happen to be/live in Islamabad, you will see banners thanking PM Yousuf Raza Gillani for retaining Senator Babar Awan (of Monticello University fame) as a federal minister.

A couple of days later, you see more banners thanking the PM for retaining Aapa Firdous as a minister and these banners are from PPP, Islamabad.

But if these are banners from PPP Islamabad, why are they just favouring the two Awans and not other PPP stalwarts?

PS: Reading the word “Sher Jawan” with Senator Babar Awan’s name makes one wary of both the “shers” and “jawani”. 

Feb 10, 2011 - published work    15 Comments

From the French Beach to the foothills of Margalla


When I first went to college abroad, I was quite often asked if I find it difficult to get adjusted coming from a vastly different background and how “shocking” was the culture shock. Honestly, I never really had any trouble in getting adjusted to life in North West England. I was young, was acquainted with British sense of humour through television, knew the language, made friends very easily and was very keen to learn the slang so that I too can converse in local speak. Slipping into the life of a student was quite easy, especially when everyone else was as unfamiliar with the place as I was. No shock was shocking enough to merit anything more than a raised eye brow. 
After having recently relocated to Islamabad from Karachi, where I have spent most of my life, I am reminded of all those conversations about culture shocks and differences. Islamabad is neat, has a clean crisp air and a relaxed atmosphere bordering on lethargic. Karachi is chaotic with its salty sultry air and boasts of people that are always on the go. Although I just moved cities in the same country, I am more astounded by the differences now than I was back in my college days. 
Before I moved up north, I have been told by all and sundry about the laid back culture of Islamabad but you gotta be part of it to actually know how it works – or not. For instance gentle, reminders like emails are generally ignored, if you want to get things rolling, telephone calls, physical presence or best of all a telephone call from people who ‘matter’ would do the trick . If you are dealing with the bureaucracy, be ready to mouth the word ‘Sir’ at least a dozen times in a single conversation to get to them. If you are from Karachi, you would know how difficult it is to repeatedly say that word.    
In Islamabad, people, at least the ones that I come across to, generally assume that you have a driver and a cook and if you happen to mention that you have neither, they don’t know how to respond Another thing that I have noticed is that domestic help is much more obsequious in the cooler climes of Islamabad than in the coastal shores of Karachi. If we ever had to ask our driver to stay after hours or call him on his day off, we had to tread very carefully to make sure that we do not offend him in any way before we ask for the favour. Here in Islamabad, they throw ma’ams and begum sahibas left, right and centre. After 3 months, I have finally stopped looking over my shoulder every time someone address to me as ma’am.
Another thing I found quite shocking was that there are gyms in Islamabad that are not only exorbitantly priced, some of them like to be paid in Benjamins (that’s 100 dollar bills for the uninitiated) and they charge more than my monthly salary to make sure that their clients stay fit. Honestly, if someone is paying that amount of money, they would think at least thrice before putting a morsel of food in their mouth. 
Islamabad is beautiful, and all the more beautiful when it rains. It is quite possible to go out, enjoy the weather and have fun when it is raining, unlike Karachi where everyone rushes to home at the first hint of rain causing crazy traffic jams for the fear of water logged streets. Every generator owning Karachiite also head to the nearest pump to store petrol or diesel to bear the imminent long hours of electricity break downs that follow the first rain drop. But all is not hunky dory in the tree lined lanes of Islamabad. When you go home and you want to enjoy a hot bath and a hot meal, you realize you have to make do without them as gas supply is erratic, at best, during the winters. One is always found choosing between a hot meal or a hot bath. Running heaters before 10 o’ clock is out of question so hiding under the duvets is the general recreation during the long evenings of winter. 
Karachi is probably more overtly religious than Islamabad as one get to see more girls in hijabs/burqas and a lot more men in beards than in Islamabad perhaps because of greater class and ethnic diversity in Karachi.  Something else worth noticing is that more men dye their hair in the capital than they do it in Karachi. If one is perceptive, there is a pattern to be observed. On Monday mornings, men would be sporting jet black moustaches but as the week progresses, their white roots would start peeking and by Friday evening, they would be quite visible, come Monday morning and all the mustaches would be miraculously black again. 
Unlike Karachi, people in Islamabad actually follow traffic rules (though over speeding is quite common) and actually wait for the traffic signal to turn green before they push their foot down the accelerator.  Karachiites, unlike people in the sanitized capital, take pride in breaking the traffic signal and unless a traffic police constable is physically standing in their way, they would not stop when the light turns red. 
Islamabad perhaps boasts the maximum number of four wheel drives and expensive cars for a city that size in the entire region. One run from Kohsar Market to Fatima Jinnah Park and you would get to drive next to one massive expensive vehicle after another.  Karachi though has its fair share of mean machines on the road, is also the city of colorful rickshaws and minibuses. I quite miss checking out rickshaws with funny one liners or poetry over their tail lights. 
Anyone who has ever lived in Karachi would be familiar with flags of various political parties vying for your attention from the maze of electrical wires along with Free Afia Siddiqqi banners. Islamabad, on the other hand, has hoardings with pictures of the Prime Minister and the President along with the recent visiting dignitaries from our friendly neighbours – be it Turkish President or the Chinese premier. Karachiites are used to staying at home because of violent strikes whereas people in Islamabad get a day off when Chinese head of the government address the joint session of the Parliament. 
Islamabad is serene in comparison to Karachi’s commotion. No quacks are selling you quick solutions to regain your manhood or to get back the love of your life. Despite all its greenery and rose and jasmine garden, it is insipid for someone who has lived in Karachi.
View of Islamabad from Peer Sohawa
Rainy roads of Islamabad

Film hoardings at the cinema in Saddar  makes Karachi all the more rangeen

The regular rallies in front of Karachi Press Club

The most awesome rickshaws dot the streets of Karachi

Originally published in The Friday Times.

This screen shot of the page is duly provided by Abid Hussain of The Friday Times

Feb 4, 2011 - Uncategorized    11 Comments

Get cruel or get out.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about how a 17 year old boy was arrested under Blasphemy ordinance for writing unpleasant remarks about the prophet. 

Most newspapers just reported the same brief report that he wrote something in the papers which lead to his arrest but Rabia Ali of The News is perhaps the first reporter who bothered to visit the boy and presented a humanized image of a conflicted teenager who fears for his own safety – even inside the prison – and is burdened with guilt for bring trouble to his mother and siblings. 
This is his story as narrated in The News
Constantly shivering, the 17-year-old student accused of writing objectionable comments in his first-year examination papers speaks in a very low voice.

“I was mentally disturbed. I was unaware of what I was doing. It was all unintentional.”
Tears well up in his eyes and he looks down on the floor, thinking of what would happen if he was ever to leave the juvenile jail — his current home.

“I don’t feel safe here either. I have been isolated from the rest of the inmates and I’m scared to tell them about the charges against me. They still don’t know why I’m here. Outside, I know it would be much worse. I would have to change my name, and maybe my identity.”

The student was sent to the juvenile prison on judicial remand till February 11 for allegedly writing blasphemous remarks in the answer-sheets on the complaint of the Board of Intermediate Education (BIEK). He was arrested on January 28 and presented before the court next day.

But what he did, he claims, is greatly linked to some past incidents. His father’s death devastated his life and his cousins influenced his religious beliefs. These and other happenings, the boy says, misled him into writing the offending remarks.

The lean-framed teenager repeats: “I was under severe mental stress, and whatever I did was unintentional. I did not mean it, and I deeply regret what I did.”

“In 2008, my father who was working in the air force passed away. I was traumatized. Being the eldest of my siblings, I felt a huge responsibility on my shoulders to support the family,” he wipes the sweat off his brow.
The family went into financial straits, surviving on the pension of the deceased.

“I wanted to get good grades and a good job to earn a living for my family. When I got 69 percent marks in Matric, I was very upset. Since my father’s death, I’ve been under so much stress. I can’t stop shivering since then.”

When Sami’s cousins from Norway paid him a visit, they worsened his mental condition. “I used to pray five times a day and recite the Holy Quran. But when my cousins came, they influenced my beliefs and discouraged me from following the religion.”
It was a hard phase, Sami believes. A fight was taking place inside him — between good and bad, right and wrong.
“I was double minded and confused about a lot of things. Whether what my cousins are saying is true, or what I’ve been practicing all my life. During my first-year exam last year, I did not know what I was writing in the paper. It was unintentional.”

When the pre-engineering results were announced in November, Sami Ullah’s result had been withheld. He knew there was something wrong. After 10 months, in January this year, the Intermediate Board broke its silence and issued him a show-cause notice, followed by a visit by the controller examinations and his colleagues. They asked the boy to write an apology.

“They told me to write an apology and asked me to confess to my crime. I thought that after my apology, they would understand my mental status and would forgive me. I was wrong. They rather filed an FIR at the Shahra-e-Noor Jahan police station.”

On January 28, he was arrested, thrashed and beaten up the whole night at the police station, before being brought to the jail. My family says that they are not being threatened, but I know things will become difficult for them soon. For the time being, my neighbours are supporting my family.”

It was the boy’s neck or mine

Commenting on the case of Sami Ullah, Chairman Intermediate Board of Karachi Anwar Ahmed Zai admitted that he was aware of the severe repercussions of the case.

“It was the boy’s neck or mine. I was aware of the harsh consequences which the boy and his family would have to go through, but we could not do anything. Our legal adviser advised us to take action against the boy, or else we would be in hot water. The professor who checked the papers had sent reports about the incident to other places. My hands were tied.”

When Controller of Examinations BIEK Agha Akber Mirza, also the complainant in the case, was asked as to why the board decided to take action 10 months after the incident, he said that the papers were checked in September and then an Unfair Means Committee investigated the matter to verify Sami Ullah’s writing.
He said that the boy had apologised, but still they had to highlight the case due to its sensitive nature. “The crime is severe.”

Need for psychiatric evaluation

Human rights activists and psychologists have called for a psychiatric evaluation of the accused boy, saying Sami seems to be suffering from a mental disorder.

Prominent psychiatrist Prof S Haroon Ahmed told The News the boy might be suffering from Obsessive Compulsion Disorder, in which an idea against the person’s belief system keeps recurring in his mind. Such extreme thoughts can torture him with guilt and depression.

“Such thoughts could also be against one’s religion. The person is fearful of disclosing such thoughts in public, and due to the fear and guilt, is compelled to divulge them. In this case, the boy wrote them down. I suggest that a psychiatric evaluation of the boy is carried out.”

Representatives of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), who have also visited the boy, called for establishing a medical examination board to assess the boy’s mental status. “Sami Ullah is mentally disturbed. We demand that a board should be set up, and he be examined thoroughly.”

My heart goes out for this boy who has a dark and dangerous future ahead of him. What kind of a sick and twisted society we are that we get high by maligning and physically beating a teenage boy. What kind of cruelty compels us to go all vigilantes on poor unsuspecting victims? We are a nation of flesh eating vultures who are just waiting for someone to commit a folly (which in this case is holding an opinion which is different from the majority) so that they can torn apart. The way things are going; soon there would no room for compassion and camaraderie among human beings. There will be just tormentors and sufferers. If you are vindictive and malicious, you are quite at home but if you are empathetic and considerate, there is no room for you. The message is clear: get cruel or get out. 
For those who inflict this in the name of religion should know that a religion – any religion for that matter – is not just a sum of rituals and calls for love and compassion for fellow humans.
Dard-e-dil ke wastay paida kiya insaan ko,
Warna ta’aat ke liye kuch kam na thay karr-o-biyan 
Feb 2, 2011 - Shahid Afridi    58 Comments

Afridi – the quintessential Pakistani


In 21st century Pakistan, cricket can be called the opiate of the masses, and the hardest most potent drug of all is one Shahid Khan Afridi. Pakistan has produced far better cricketers than Afridi who brought greater accolades and honor home, some were even bigger stars and some had more charisma but no one invoked as much passion among its subjects as Shahid Afridi does, for he is, undoubtedly, Pakistan’s favourite son.
Pakistan, unfortunately, is divided on most matters, whether it is the matter of royalties for natural resources, water distribution or Veena Malik’s conduct in the house of Big Boss; what Pakistanis agree on, wholeheartedly is that Afridi is essential to cricket in Pakistan and they would want him around for as long as he can play. Afridi is the biggest – perhaps the only – leveler in Pakistan. He belongs to everyone and is adored by all with the same intensity.
Pakistanis whether living at home or abroad love Afridi, whether they are young, old or senile, they love Afridi. Whether they are male, female or a hermaphrodite, they love Shahid Afridi. Whether they are gay, straight, confused, bisexual, trysexual or asexual, they love Shahid Afridi. Whether they are tribal or urbane went to one of the Peela schools or something as elitist as Aitchison or KGS, they love Shahid Afridi. They love Afridi because essentially they can all see a little bit of themselves in him, for he is a quintessential Pakistani – irreverent, restless, a little rough around the edges, impulsive, talented, street smart, ambitious but a little clueless (ok, Pakistan is a lot more clueless, but this is not the place for that rant), quirky and oh-so-endearing.
Though his heart is always in the right place, like most of Pakistanis, the line for right or wrong is a little blurry for him. He has danced and hopped and walked on a pitch to make it work – of course for the country –got caught and was forgiven by all because he was doing it for the motherland. He tried chewing a ball with over a couple of dozen cameras zooming in on him – again for the country – and we absolved him. He was impulsive and did not think but we forgave because we all have been guilty of doing the same. Afridi, probably like most of the Pakistanis, believed that the end justifies the means and was willing to go to any lengths to win it for us, even if meant chewing a ball with Umar Gul’s sweat on it!
Afridi has announced his retirement as frequently as Lindsey Lohan has attended rehab – which is an insane number of times – but he always comes back and we always welcome him with open arms
Though Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif have gained more notoriety for getting banned, Afridi too has had his share of bans for pirouetting on the pitch in Faisalabad, for mistaking the ball for an apple in Dubai and hitting a spectator with his bat in South Africa. He also received various reprimands from PCB for shooting from his mouth. Unlike Akhtar and Asif, Afridi is can transgress like no other and is still forgiven by all.
Just like most Pakistanis, Afridi too has gone through an identity crisis. He got into the team as a leggie and then scored that record breaking earth shattering mind numbingly stupendous century and deluded himself for a very long time that he is a batsmen. He then thought of himself as a batting all rounder. However, unlike most Pakistanis, he has metamorphosed into what he was always destined to be – a bowler. Though his heroics as a bowler are legendary these days, the idea of an Afridi six still has aphrodisiac like qualities and despite coming to terms with the fact that he is mainly a bowler, we all yearn for those blows that have enthralled us all for oh so long.
Just like other Pakistanis, Afridi refuses to learn and continues to make the same mistakes. While Pakistanis continue to elect the same old faces and vacillate between democracy and dictatorship, Afridi continues to squander his wicket playing one suicidal shot after another. He may shake his head and vow never to slip-up again but every time he puts on the pads, out goes the memory and the rush of blood propels him to do the same – all Pakistanis have been guilty of this, hence we forgive our mercurial Lala for all his follies.

Diplomacy and tact are alien to most Pakistanis; we are one of the most “in your face” people in the world and Shahid Afridi is a true son of Pakistan. Whether telling the world that PCB has announced the team without his consultation or calling Yasir Hamid an idiot with mental faculties of a 15 year old, Afridi never shied away from making his opinions known.
Lala is the only Pakistani and third player in the world to have scored 6000 runs, taken 100 catches and 250 wickets in ODI history. He is also the first, and to date only, cricketer to have taken 50 wickets in T20 and also holds the record for hitting maximum number of sixes ever but we also know that we don’t love him for his cricketing prowess.

Let’s admit it. Lala is not the best cricketer who has ever graced this land, nor is he most articulate, but he is magic when he is on field, even when he does not do much. But when it is his day, he is breathtaking. Back in 2005, I went to see an ODI against England in Karachi. The crowd screamed when Afridi’s name was announced as he was back in the side after two match ban. He came and played a short and sweet innings like he mostly do. He got run out because of a bad call from MoYo. So miffed was the crowd with MoYo that he dared to get Lala out, the a full capacity National stadium booed him and the stand I was in did not even cheer him for his half century. That was the day I was convinced that Lala transcends it all and appeal to people like very few mortals can. He can temper with the pitch and get banned, eat the cricket ball, cavort with Indian actresses, peddle awful soda drinks, kill animals and gets away with it all.

Afridi sells and every brand manager worth his salt knows it. He can add the cool quotient to something as mundane as rice or toothpaste and make it popular beyond its target audience because Lala’s audience is just about everyone. If anyone has doubts, they should check his title of Boom Boom on the shirts of the whole cricket team – a brand name that is coined after him. Heck, he has even made spin bowling look sexy.
Here is some Lala love for all Afridi fans.

Lala is not at home in test kit

Lala ki sawariyan

Lala is awesome in a car

But then Lala is just as awesome inside a plane

and no one can rock bus riding like Lala does

Lala – the sartorial wonder

Lala in a cap

Lala does wonders for chappals

Lala attempting Levity

All tied up and ready to go

on the right head, even namaz ki topi can be a fashion statement

Modeling for his own brand

Working a floral shirt

Working desi formals – with ice cream parlor chor in the background

Afridi with relief goods in Balochistan during 2007 floods

Afridi signed up for I-Own-Karachi campaign

Flood relief work in KPK

Flood relief work

Awww I got visited by Lala

Probably telling the mates how did he dance around the pitch and got banned
He models with mates when the occasion calls for it, sometimes even the crew joins in
Even Brett Lee is charmed by our Lala

But MoYo is more interested in Burger (Would Burger King be Halal enough for MoYo?)

Doing the kaptani duty

Convincing the coach that he indeed is a lucky bastard

With Rashid Lateef

Lala in groupie mode with Courtney Walsh

Younus loves him as much as we do

Lala inspires awe in his fans …

This kid is in seventh heaven

aray yaar camera tau hathao samnay se


Lala in the middle

Yes!!! got an autograph. My friends will be, like, so jealous.

demand for autograph is just as great among aunties..

and kids …

and gora people

the police walah is probably envied by his colleagues

Lala craze in unfazed

This girl is ecstatic but who can blame her,he is actually holding her hand

Lala the family man

playing with daughter

Come on Lala, keep your children away from Kakmal, he is bad influence

and he should also keep his girls away from Inzi and his towel clad gaddi nasheen son

With Aqsa and Ajwa

in pain
Lala in action

defying gravity with blond highlights

with gray hair at the temples

major lolz, Lala attempting to read ICC rulebook. Kakmal and Gullay are not even trying

Lets get that one

At times, Lala kills soft furry birds

but then he takes on a snake as well

Though he gets paid shitloads of money to peddle pepsi, he is not averse to other brands

Telling reporters to bow down to his awesomeness

Making prayers look cool (YK needs to shave though)

What??? Lala leading the prayers even when MoYo has a bigger beard and spend far more money on beard hair dye!!!

Under pressure, he can mistake the ball for an apple


If only I had food available, I would not have eaten that ball

Inzi bhai tau road pe lay aye hain yaar

the strut

that’s why I sell that shampoo

is that a hint of a paunch? the fans really don’t care

Lala can also work a pole without stripping

Self love much? ghar ke har kamray main apni hi photo

o ja bhai, rasta pakar

SRK wants a piece of Lala
Lala is so beyond cool that even Ashton Kutcher copied his look

With arms wide open

and still open
oh the arms

and that’s how it became the signature style

and here I am … again

I get escorts, but not the right kind

Come on man, you gotta listen to me..

yes, cheer me on

yar bhaji, you dont crack Patha jokes and I wont crack sardar jokes

Lala is so nice, he even takes care of the crying babies

Need some breathing space please

Samson Afridi

Yeah baby

A towel over shorts!!! I think Lala is trying to hide the fact that there is less fab and more flab around the waist
An ass-tastic view

PS: this is perhaps the most time consuming post ever
PPS: I initially posted some 85 odd pictures but then decided to go for a century, so added a few more.