Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Flood Relief Efforts By Youth In Karachi.

FLP team with 9 year old volunteer and Highway Patrol Officer.
The team of volunteers with Future Leaders of Pakistan.
The massive devastation and displacement caused by floods in Pakistan brought immense grief and difficulties for the people affected but the youth of Pakistan especially that from Karachi showed the spirit of humanitarian volunteerism and caring.It gives us hope that the Pakistani nation is alive and has a bright future inspite of the immense negative challenges and destructive obstacles to its progress and development. One such extremely active, smart and sincere group is the Future Leaders Of Pakistan.
 Its members including Jamal Ashiquain, a photographer, Sana Saleem , a medical student, blogger, writer and activist, Hira Saleem, a student, artist and photographer, Mrs. Malik, Sana and Hira's aunt and lady transport enterpreuner and many other young volunteers have adopted camps around Hyderabad and Jamshoro. They have provided them food, Shelter, Wash and NFI's and are now planning their rehabilitation.
His clothes should always fit and he should have shoes.
 They hold medical camps also where they invite specialists to see the patients and provide medicines. Active in this group is also very kind officers of the Hyderabad Highway patrol who not only provide security but also much needed medical and emergency help to these camps. The initial condition of the flood affectees was so bad according to Sana Saleem when the mainly Marri tribes people settled around Hala came almost without any belongings clutching to their kids and a goat or two. They had no shelter and as there were no trees in the Jamshoro area where they landed they just sat along a few bushes. The difficulty the young volunteers faced was that the women in the camps were not allowed to take any food or help without the men's permission. The traditional male dominance and mistrust of the strangers was gradually won over by persistent and consistent humanitarian behaviour of the volunteers. When I visited the camp last month for a medical camp the people were very welcoming and flocked around for medical help. We provided medicines and the highway Patrol Officer even provided link for free medical tests as advised to a few patients in Hyderabad in addition to providing promptly the medicines that were not there.
Sana Saleem had arranged with the Pakistan Medical Association water purification filter systems which were installed.The incidence of diarrhea was not so prevalent in this camp as they were using water in clean ,covered containers provided. It seemed the major problem was the Sanitation as there were no toilets and the women were especially without bath. Many skin infections in children and women were because of lack of  bathing facility. This problem is seen in almost all camps in Pakistan as the toilets and shelter cluster is only around 12% pledged. As the water drainage in Sindh will take almost an year to be completed, there is dire need for temporary Wash and shelter facilities to be given for rehabilitation. many houses will not be inhabitable as almost all areas are flooded and the houses have to be rebuilt. The one room concept now accepted as part of OCHA planning is already proposed by the Institute of Architects of Pakistan. We have inspected the shelters made of bamboo and reed which can be used for home abodes, clinics, schools and offices.the entire structure can be easily installed and dismanteled and relocated. Bathrooms can also be made from the same materials. Details are on this blog.
Mother and Child health should be the first priority in Pakistan's development.
The amazing youth Sana Saleem.
Dr Meher Zaidi loves welfare work.
We should give them hope and a future with education.
The wheel of Life must go on.
Medical check.
Water filters.
The groups from Karachi like the Future Leaders of Pakistan have a long way to go and I am sure people like these will make Pakistan a country worth living.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010



Sheikh Ayaz 
Sachal Shrine
Shah Latif Shrine.
Bhagat amazing art form.
Sindhi footware most original.
sindhi gaj work 

Sindhi Alphabet.
The ancient land of Sindhu has a very vast, extremely rich socio-cultural background. This is a land of more than a million saints. Not an inch of this fascinating land of Sufis, sages poets,  and singers is bereft of a cultural history so rich and varied that it may take several intellectual lifetimes to unravel the mysteries of the wise saints and poets and yet the task may remain unfinished. The works of great saintly poets like Hazrat Sachal Sarmast, expressed in languages of the Indus region as varied as Seraiki, Sindhi, Punjabi, Persian, remain to this day mainly unpublished, translated or intellectually explored. His great poetic expression is a vast and deep treasure of religio-philosophcal wisdom that has been the hallmark of linguistic and intellectual expression in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Nowhere in the world such profoundly humanistic and almost divine poetical methods of expression is used by millions of sages in a short space of history as it is in Sindh, It seems that all the love, tolerance, intellectual expression in poetic form of divine  thought has passed into the souls of these great Sindhi poetic saints.
Millions of people from all over the subcontinent have been drinking out of this fountain of beauty and love. The ancient ritual of finding a mentor, a teacher and then spending one’s whole life at his feet, trying to reach God, in one’s own way, through intellectual probing that was the tradition in the Indo-Pak subcontinent has gradually been eroded , like the “Kallar” that has eaten away the fertile land of Sindhu’s vast expanse.
As the transition from an ancient to a modern life has been  intellectually uneven and incomplete in Sindh, the ugly spectre of immorality, dishonesty  and violence has become a part and parcel of the average man’s life. The recent case of the Khipro rape, blackmailing and utter devastation of the entire population of an ancient town has been raised like a red flag for all of us to realize our demoralization and deviation from our ancient path of dignity, tolerance, love and respect that was the gem of our socio-cultural existence. The ugliness, the baneness and the smallness is so profoundly writ by this incident that we must react by rejecting this sort of attack on our cultural values.
Will there be discourse on this ugly fact as a very narrow , modern religio-political concept of Islamism ala deobandi/Pathan/ Islamist   or a more probing, humane search for answers in a sagely manner which is so characteristic of Sindhis of yore years.
The poetry of Hazrat Sachakl Sarmast  Marvandi, the poetry of Shah Abdul Lateef Bhittai and a million other Sindhis is there as a guiding light to show us the true path of reaching God, by treading softly on the sands  of the Sindhu’s warm lands. We must turn away from the ugly, superficial, bitter modern path of intolerance and blackmail. We must treat the human body like a cherished beautiful creation of God. We must respect the soul of a  person ,be it  a man  or a woman. This ugly creation of the modern Islamist of taking away the right of education of a girl by exposing the society to these immoral acts where a modern life is infested with immorality in our society must be fought against. This shows that in the towns of Sindh there is utter breakdown of law and order. This shows that there is vast disconnect between the administration and the people of the town.This shows that there is no true representation of the people in matters of the state .The implication that this gang of about 17 boys and girls who are operating some kind of a  pornographic blackmailing ring in Khipro since quite some time shows that how far and wide the gap between the average citizen and the administrative machinery has become. Each seems to operate in a different sphere. Due to continuous Martial laws and disenfranchisement of the people, the voice and say of the common man is inconspicuous. The decisions for the town well being are not made. All are imposed and that too in an arbitrary manner. Sindh is a state where there should be research on how there was so much cultural cohesion in ancient and premodern times and how the state has become so superficial and cruel in modern times. The Sindhi speaking population has to address these issues in a cultural context.
A large complaint by the Hindu community which has been  living in Sindh pre-Islam that their girls have been largely targeted shows the ugly religious intolerance that is breeding amongst the administrative setup imposed on Sindh. Hindus in Sindh are accepted culturally and socially as equals since ancient  times. Post Pakistan’s creation this harmony continued till a certain time when the neo-Islamist/Deobandi mentality especially of the administration and police has eroded the fabric of this harmonious society. The concept of ruling from the centre has continuously weakened the consensus and tolerant socio-cultural harmony. The modern politician who has to fight an election is continuously on the defensive, always looking over its shoulder for safety. No time is given for true representation of the people. The Wadera keeps his power because not enough time is given to a democratic polity to develop. The naming and division of Sindh along minority that is religious and majority has really harmed the socio-cultural profile of Sindh. This is against the Sindhi spirit. Now that Pakistan is a reality, this continuous tussle and tension will not let the spirit of Sindhism survive. Even the nationalists who may have been on the left of centre have become small groups behaving like a “Pseudo-Center” itself. That there are so many of them and not even agreeing on basics, and fanning their fire on ethnic intolerance is a comment on itself.
The whole concept and soul of Sindh is tolerance and a deeply spiritual path to strive for truth and God. It has nothing to do with superficial and artificial worldly existence such a s the body form. What does “Moomal” stand for? Treading softly on the warm sands of the “Bhit” will there be not a “New Sindh” same as the ancient SIndh where men and women are equal . Equal in the eyes of God, humans and  the poet Sufis. Where the only path to God is through love, the heart and tolerance. Where the rich and varied colors of the Ajrak and the Rilli emphasize and empathize with the woman, man and child. Where the peacock dance is as precious in the sands of Thar as it is  on the stage of  an auditorium.
Mera Saeen Shah Abdul latif Bhittai. 
We have to come out of the soapy, artificial  Indian/Bollywoodsy cultural assault  on our  values. We have to stand against the ugly, deathly  Islamic/ neo-fascist assault on our Sindhi culture. We have to find our roots in the deep abyss of peace that shines bright on our future, within our Sufis, within our folklore, within our music, within our poetry. The Sindhi literature  has to be researched and published. The young Sindhi has to make choice between MBA degree or the Social sciences  and art degree. The young Sindhi has to find the meaning in life by not just pursuing a government job and worldly goods but also a fulfilling life as a teacher, social scientist, agricultural expert. Above all the young Sindhi has to endorse the seal of love, tolerance and peaceful co-existence. The young Sindhi has to reach out to the world not through blackmail and the internet misuse but through researching and truly publishing its enormous literary and socio-cultural wealth and wisdom. Only by this spirit of research and finding the truth will the young Sindhi make an indelible mark on the history of the modern world. States may come and go but true poetry, literature and culture of a people remains.