Election 2013: Straight up truth!!!

Election 2013: The straight up truth!

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May 11th is here. The day we have all eagerly waited for a long time. Pakistan has swung between being a pseudo-democracy to being under military regime.

Fact: Almost all Pakistanis hate Zardari , but the truth is that the man has made history. He was a known thug, Mr. 10%, but despite that he not only became the president of the nation, but his elected government is the only one to have completed their entire tenure of 5 years without a military coup. On the surface that seems like a bad historical record, but the reality is, that is the step in the right direction. This is the FIRST TIME in Pakistan’s history that a democratically government is going to be handed over through the process of democracy, rather than a military coup.

Fact: Musharraf’s missteps and people’s dissatisfaction with his eleven year rule had led to the stirrings of a revolution. Add the mishandling of the Red Mosque, and the firing of the Chief Justice, this spelled out disastrous for the military dictator. Imran Khan and the lawyers were in the lead to fight for a free and just judicial system. The lawyers movement proved to be potent and led to the removal of Musharraf as President. Musharraf’s last few months brought shame to Pakistani Army, and the post Musharaf era led the Army to take a backseat for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

Fact: Army taking a step back from the political process proved to be a catalyst in the completion of Zardari’s 5 year regime of tyranny, corruption and looting the nation of all its resources.

Fact: Zardari’s tenure was the needed ingredient to push Pakistan and Pakistanis to the threshold of helplessness.  This stirred the nation enough and feeling helpless was no longer an option.

Fact: This proved to be the perfect environment for a Messiah to rise. The Phoenix, by the name of Imran Khan took the nation by a Tsunami. Youth, adults, elderly, and women, all said enough is enough and have become a force behind Khan.

Fact: Imran’s ideological stance for which he has been mocked for the past 17 years has appealed to the masses, so much so that they woke up early morning on May 11th, 2013 to go out and vote for change.

For a nation to be mobilized the way Pakistan has been in the past two years, and more so in the past few months all because of the words and leadership of one man says something about that man, and also about that nation.  The man has earned people’s respect through his record of honesty and accomplishing his goals. This proves that given the right set of conditions and the right leadership, Pakistan’s otherwise apathetic nation can be galvanized into a force to be reckoned with. This is the resilience of Pakistanis.

Fact: thousands and thousands of voters showed up to their polling stations to vote despite threats to their lives by the extremists. Despite bomb attacks in Peshawar, firing in Karachi, delays in allowing people to vote and stopping women from voting, people have not given up.

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Fact: Karachi has always been a forced MQM majority and despite all tactics being used to limit the people of Karachi from voting, Karachi is standing firm and refusing to let go. They are fighting for their right to vote.

 

 

Whether anyone believes it or not change has indeed come. This is probably the highest turn out of voters in the history of Pakistan (we will get the final numbers by tomorrow to call it fact). All of these are signs of a nation awaken. Irrespective of what the results are, the greatest feat for the people of Pakistanis is to have seen what they are capable of if they put their minds to it. This is a great example that we as a nation are not useless, hopeless or worthless. No matter what the results tomorrow Pakistan, a new Pakistan is definitely in the making. Realize the power that is you and never let anyone oppress you again. In my prayers, in my thoughts, in my heart forever and always Pakistan!!!

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APATHY IS NOT AN OPTION: WHY EVERY PAKISTANI MUST VOTE?

May 11th is upon us. Pakistani all over Pakistan MUST go out to vote. There are great threats to lives, and security, but a safe democratic system is the only hope for a better tomorrow. If we fail to exercise our right to vote and have our voices heard, then we lose the right to complain of the tyrants that come to rule us. For the first time in many years, the nation of Pakistan has been mobilized to this great extent. People of Pakistan are rising to say enough is enough! There have been mass rallies; people have taken to the street without concern for their safety only because they want a prosperous Pakistan. My only hope is that this momentum continues today when it really matters and people actually go out and vote. I know there will be some who will get deterred and not go out. This is a form of complacency and is being apathetic. Apathy is NOT an option!

Every vote counts. If you think what difference would one vote make? Remember, change starts from the self, if each and every person took responsibility for their actions, justice would prevail. Here is why apathy is NOT an option. By not voting, or by making light of the right to vote, you inadvertently accept the oppression that is around you. You become a part of the system of oppression. You accept that you have no responsibility to your nation, to your children, and to your own future.

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If you are a parent, you are to stand and lead by example. I remember being a child and eagerly waiting to be 18 so I could vote. The right to vote seemed very precious to me even at the tender age of 10. I may have not spent a long time of my living days in Pakistan, but for some reason I grew up with understanding the value of a vote. My grandparents were first generation immigrants to Pakistan. I grew up hearing of my maternal grandparents leaving everything behind in India, risking their lives, travelling to the now Pakistan on trains that were looted.  I remember distinctly my grandmother telling me of her journey to Pakistan. While she was travelling on the train with a new born, a bullet shot through the train compartments grazing her as she held onto her baby. I grew up being thankful for the blood our ancestors shed so that we could have a free Pakistan. Perhaps, growing up with that knowledge is what gave me my sense of responsibility to Pakistan. I do not feel a sense of entitlement to a nation that was given to me by our ancestors. I feel we are lucky to not have had to shed blood or make many sacrifices for this country. This country was a gift, it is a debt to our future generation and we owe them at least being responsible enough to go out and vote.

Today, Pakistan is burning. The same sacrifices that our ancestors made are being made by my fellow brothers and sisters in Pakistan. The decision is ours, do we want our kids to grow up feeling thankful that their parents made the sacrifices for their future, or do we want our children to become the victims of a system of oppression and give the ultimate sacrifice in the shape of their own life and blood? Every parent’s dream is a better life for their child than the one they had. Please mothers and fathers go out and give your children the gift of a secure future by voting today.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of emotions, activism, violence, mud-slinging, defamation and absolute chaos in Pakistan. I have had the honour of being a mentor to two campaign managers in Pakistan who are working during these elections. One of them is a campaign manager in the Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan. He explained to me the threat of security to one’s life in that region, yet every morning this man gets up and goes to campaign in a region that is fraught with violence. His motivation is the betterment of Pakistan and not relenting to the oppression of the extremists. Similarly, I spoke to the other campaign manager who is campaigning in Dera Ghazi Khan. Even though, unlike Pakhtunkhwa, she has been able to canvass and organize relatively safely in Punjab, her biggest concern was the threat to life on Election Day and getting people out to vote. Both these brave souls are a few examples of the people who are on the front lines, putting their lives in danger, all because they want a better future for themselves, their families and their children. We may fail to be active political volunteers, rallying people around us to vote, but the very least we can do for the betterment of Pakistan is to get out and vote. I am unfortunate like many overseas Pakistanis who are unable to vote during this election, but those of you who are living in Pakistan, you MUST vote!

At Jummah Khutbah at my Masjid today, the Imam spoke about the darkness that envelopes one’s heart, which allows us to continue sinning. I couldn’t help but relate it to apathy. Apathy is a form of a sin; the sin of not taking responsibility, the sin of not speaking up against oppression and falsehood. If apathy was an option in Islam, then our beloved Prophet Mohammed SAW would not have risen against the falsehood of the time. Him and His Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all) would not have risked their lives to spread the message of truth. Yes, he was divinely guided, and none of us can dare to compare to him, but he is the example we follow. Our love for Islam and our love for the Prophet SAW dictates we rise up against oppression. Sitting idly and crying against a system will never change the system. Being a working cog in the system, and being a voice within that system is what will bring change. We MUST not let extremists stop us from our rights to a good government, a responsible and just government.

Pakistan, please rise today and vote. Here is another reason why NOT VOTING IS NOT AN OPTION. For every vote that is not cast, it is an open opportunity for the corrupt to go and cast a false vote in YOUR name! This HAPPENS in Pakistan. Unlike, the Western countries, where such fixes are almost impossible to do, perhaps not voting could be considered an option, but it is definitely NOT an option in Pakistan. Think of the worst possible alternate to the leader you would like to see in power and think of him as the elected official to represent you for the next five years, all because you could not be motivated enough to go out and vote.  Do not let your precious vote go to waste by those who would misuse it. Remember, when you don’t vote, you leave the option for someone else to vote in your name and allow someone else to falsely speak on your behalf.  Vote for Peace, vote for justice, vote for a Naya Pakistan!

Enough is enough! You must take the reign of your future in your hands and vote today. May Allah protect each and every one of you and may all of Pakistan defeat the oppressors who are responsible for hunger, for poverty, and for the loss of precious lives. May tomorrow bring a new beginning for all of Pakistan ameen.

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From my heart to Istanbul

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this picture quite aptly sums up to me the essence of Istanbul-

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

We just got back today from beautiful Istanbul. Landed in London, from 23 degrees Celsius to 3 degrees, needless to say my body, nor I were too excited about this dramatic temperature drop. Luckily, sunny skies greeted us and not the perpetual rain. I have been struck by my usual post-travels depression bouts, then again who wouldn’t be if they were returning from the beautiful, soulful, and cultural city of Istanbul to this comparatively bland city of London.

I saw many things, learnt an even more about the Turkish history, fell in love with the city, and the people. I can go on and on about the amazing food, but all I know is that I have left a big chunk of my heart in that city. I have a lot to say about Istanbul and share my experience, and I will in the coming days.

Istanbul definitely is a unique city and MUST be experienced at least once in your life. But, if you are anything like me, you know your soul will always crave going back there. I feel, my soul may have found a home in Istanbul.

The whole five day experience was absolutely amazing, and it ended with us finding two Turkish friends towards the tail end, but I hope that we can keep in touch with them through the years and only build a stronger bond.

Now, off to bed, but will come back with more to say, pictures to share and tips for other travelers out there.

On the topic of love

Beautiful quotes I came across today:

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. here is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever.”

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and for the writers out there:

“And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or a husband), I smile and think, ‘There’s someone who knows.’ Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.” – Stephen King.

“Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you’ve made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you. You don’t marry someone because he’s your soul mate; he becomes your soul mate because you married him.” Julia Shaw

Love-in Istanbul!

Istanbul, the ultimate city of love…the love of the Lord, the Love of the beloved, the Love of the world, the love of all…sitting here on a late Saturday night, listening to the sounds of the music that are penetrating through the very air that resonate five times with the sound of the Adhaan (prayer call)…can’t help but be inspired especially after a day with Rumi at the Galata Mevlevihanesi (Museum of Divan Literature-Divan Edebiyat Müzesi). 

Love–in Istanbul

Love is which makes you soar

even when you don’t have wings

It is what makes you rise

when all you feel is fallen

Love, is which makes you wanted

even when you stand out like a sore thumb

It is the acceptance of one soul

of another….

forever eternally complete

Yes, it is love indeed

that makes you weep

cry

laugh

all in one night

It is the contentment of the soul

the peace that stirs the seven seas

when the laughter of your beloved

is reason enough…

Love won’t mock,

won’t criticize

It will just let you be

Love is freedom

the freedom to be

the freedom to live

the freedom to soar

yes, even when you don’t have wings….

BUT,

Especially, when you DON’T have wings

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