Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Maverick I Know (iii)

Since Makhdoom sahab had moved into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), people from both sides of the aisle have contacted me to either express their pleasure or hatred of the decision. Some people, especially the younger lot, is quite confident that he has made the right choice at the right time. Some older hands severely reprimanded this choice. Both sides have a valid reason to support their argument. Both sides are very charged up to show their love or displeasure. But both sides love this man. The reason they are all expressing their opinions about him is because they care about him, no matter which party he joins. 

There were several times when Makhdoom sahab mentioned to me that he had been sidelined by the party for good. The party leadership does not give him his rightful place in the ranks. He could have easily retired from the politics and nobody would really care about it in the party leadership. But the only reason, he is still given importance in the meetings and a seat right next to the top leadership is because the party workers demand that for him.

I have been contacted by people not only from Kot Addu and Multan but also from abroad. Some of his class and prison fellows have also contacted me to express their opinions in this regard. I am truly touched and humbled by this huge following. 

I know Hashmi sahab has spent almost all of his adult life in politics which spans over 40 years. He started his politics back in the University of Punjab as a student leader. And he has seen all kinds of ups and downs in his career. And he has been in the news on and off for all these years. When I was getting married, he was in Kot Lakhpat prison in Lahore. I had arrived from the U.S. just a couple of days before my wedding. He called me the next day and told me that he is really happy for me and really wanted to be part of the wedding. But, he continued, he would not be able to attend the function because he does not want to request the dictator for attending the wedding ceremony. That is why he won’t be joining us but his prayers will be with us all the way. I know certainly that I would have been much happier if my father-in-law would have been attending the ceremony but I also did not want him to bow down and lay down his principles for this. So I said that I totally understand what he was saying and I am with him on this. 

The following day, as we approached Multan with barat, we were informed that Hashmi sahab had been released on parole and will be arriving at Multan airport for this function. The rest is history that many of the journalists, media persons and politicians from all kinds of backgrounds joined us to show their solidarity with Hashmi sahab for standing his ground in respite of all kinds of hardships.  

The history will be a better judge of the decision that he took of joining the PTI. When he asked my opinion, I told him that I was sure that he would have thought on all angles before coming up to this decision. Both way, I understood and I am with him on this all the way.

A Maverick I Know (ii)

On my wedding day, Mian Hamza Shahbaz, son of Mian Shahbaz Sharif offered Makhdoom sahab Rs.100,000.00 as a ‘salami’. Makhdoom sahab plucked Rs.1000.00 out of that bundle and returned the rest to Mian sahab. And he added that I have taken only the amount which I am able to pay you back.
Over the years, I learnt how he operated on different levels in terms of relationships, politics, and various other affairs of his life. We are all muslims and we all believe in the conviction of our religion. I am still trying to grasp the extent of conviction of Makhdoom sahab in Allah. I have seen him time and again taking a bold decision first and believing that Allah will definitely succeed him in his endeavors. And Allah has always helped him to withstand the extreme pressures of this life. 

During the last few years, I have been surprised by his quietness and trying to put on a brave face in difficult situations. I must admit that I can be a cruel questionnaire some times. On various occasions, I asked him hard questions pertaining to him, his political party and the party leadership. He always tried to defend his party and the leadership. Like one time at the wedding of my younger sister-in-law, I inquired him if he had invited the party leadership? He said that he had extended the invitation to them. But he did not insist on them to be there since they were quite occupied by other important affairs of the province and country. You see, for a political layman like me, I would not understand why the party leadership could not find a few precious hours for a party worker who had spent several precious years of his life in prison for them. But I had a hunch that something was really killing him inside. 

Another time, when he had suffered brain hemorrhage, and was in ICU of General Hospital, Lahore, Mian Nawaz Sharif visited him. I could see how keen he was to receive him. It had been a few days for him that the hemorrhage had affected his speech badly. He had tried to speak earlier but could not utter a single word. And when Mian Nawaz Sharif showed up, for the first time since his hemorrhage, he uttered several words to show Mian sahab how glad he was to see him. Even the doctors present in that room were quite surprised with that effort. 

At a different occasion when Mian sahab spent a few days in Bahawalpur for hunting, I had a chance to visit Hashmi sahab. It was after he had suffered the hemorrhage. We talked about different things and I mentioned to him that Mian sahab was staying in Bahawalpur, which is hardly an hour and half drive from Multan. He tried to ignore the presence of Mian sahab in the adjacent city and moved to a different topic quickly, not giving me a chance to ask him the obvious question. Nonetheless, I could see he was hurt.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Maverick I know

I met him the first time when I was in fifth class. His mother-in-law had passed away. My female family members wanted to visit their place for condolences. Every able man in my family was busy to accompany them. So they took me along with them for this visit. I guess at that age, you don’t have any choice.

Once we got there, I paid my condolences to a close relative for passing away of their family member. As we were waiting for my family members, we were informed about ‘his’ arrival. I was taken to meet with him. When I was introduced to him about who I was, I remember his words. He said, “I know him.” I was stunned. I thought to myself, how could he possibly know me? I have met him the first time in my life and I am hardly ten years old. Anyways, after spending a few more minutes with him, we departed their place.
The next time I met him was on my wedding day. In fact, I was marrying his daughter. As mentioned above, we had only one meeting in my life. But he still took this bold decision to trust his instincts. And this time when someone asked him, “have you known him before?” He said, “Yes. I know him quite well.” 

He is no other than Makhdoom Javed Hashmi. To begin with, we both are Qureshi Hashmi, so we are both connected there. But more recently, there have been very close marriages between our families. But in our culture, people do take keen interest in people and families where their daughters are getting married. Like all his daring political decisions and moves, and practically living on the edge, he didn’t even try to do his ‘research’. Now that I have known him for a while, I know for sure that he couldn’t have researched even if anybody would have asked him to conduct one. Once he makes up his mind, he does not go back on his words, no matter what. 

Second, he is a very straight-faced and forward person. He does not mince his words to put a rosy picture. He will tell you in direct words to make you aware of the situation. I remember that when I was thinking of moving back to Pakistan, I thought of discussing with him too. He told me that the decision would not be an easy one. I would have to make some sacrifices. May be life would not be exactly like the U.S. There will be a few difficulties on the way too. And your lifestyle graph will be zero, maybe negative, before you get somewhere. But once you make that leap and come out of the adjustment period, you will come out of that cycle with flying colors. 

And so far things have been exactly how he predicted. There were many individuals who told me otherwise and showed me gloomy and depressing picture that nothing works in Pakistan and all is bad here.
I don’t write politically-motivated articles in my blogs, and this one is no different. But I am guilty by association this time. And Makhdoom sahab has joined Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf officially recently. So more on this in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Job Opportunities in Pakistan

Life in Pakistan is pretty laid back. I am sure the situation various from person to person and profession to profession. But overall, I think once the things get to normal, life is put on ‘cruise’. For a working individual in the Pakistan, things start early in the morning. This includes but not limited to before work rituals. Also getting to work and how to avoid the rush traffic is kept in mind.
Once at work, the usual skimming the newspaper, emails, checking any ‘Urgent’ write-ups etc. before any ‘real’ work is done. So basically, if someone ever wondered if working in Pakistan would be any different than working in any other country; I think things don’t change much. However, I do think the work environment changes from floor to floor. The work pressure also varies.
For the most part, people take pride in what they do here. Considering the job situation and general environment, all the employees feel privileged and honored to be working for the government. The best part is government job is ‘permanent’. At least, that’s what it is termed as. There are also ‘temps’ or ‘contractual’ employees. The ‘permanent’ employees are entitled for all the benefits of the department like promotion, medical, pension etc. The contractual employees are only offered relatively higher salaries without any benefits.
The private sector is also thriving in Pakistan. They offer much better salary packages and benefits. But as mentioned earlier, the work pressure is exponential. The competition is cut-throat and it is result oriented. If the defined goals are not met in the given time, this could mean disaster for an individual. Also, in case the company does not meet its financial goals, this could also result in few lay-offs. On the contrary in the government or the public sector, no matter how the department performs, meets its financial goals or not, meets its objectives or not, the employees are not laid off. The department gets government’s help in one way or another.  We have a few very good examples of performing and non-performing departments in our country.
These government departments do have annual performance evaluation. One has to meet the requirements of these evaluations for promotions.
My responsibilities are quite similar to what I was doing in the U.S. I think there are many learning opportunities here. There is enormous amount of work which needs to be completed. Also, there is a quite a bit of government and private sector interactions with our department on regular basis. This also shows the importance of work that we perform here. That is why we all take great pride in what we do for the people of Pakistan. I think there are many learning opportunities here. There is enormous amount of work which needs to be finished. We get to see all kinds of varieties of work in my field. Also, we have a quite a bit of interaction with people from both government and private sectors. This also shows the importance of work that we perform in this department for the people of Pakistan. That is why we all take great pride in what we do.
I think there are many learning opportunities here. There is enormous amount of work which needs to be finished. We get to see all kinds of varieties of work in my field. Also, we have a quite a bit of interaction with people from both government and private sectors. This also shows the importance of work that we perform in this department for the people of Pakistan. That is why we all take great pride in what we do.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Aitchison Days - Junior School (vi)

I have been tied up with ‘other’ activities of life. That is why I wasn’t able to add another one of my gems on my blog. However, I ‘think’ that I am back now and I would try to keep scribbling down my blogs in routine. So here goes the continuation of Aitchison Days…

In 1988, I was in K-3-A. The boys in this section along with K-3-B and C are sent upstairs in Green Wing. Green Wing was mostly for K-4 boys. But the first three sections of K-3 resided with K-4 boys. I think one of the positives of moving our sections with the upper classmen taught us a few good things from them. We learned how to maintain our composures with them and the things which we would have learned in K-4 the next year, we learned them a year earlier just by living with those guys. On the other hand, there were a few negatives in this too. One of them was that we somehow lost touch with our class fellows of K-3 in normal routine. It has been a while I have been back in Gwyn House. So I am not sure that practice is still in place or has been changed for any reason. 

Our class mistress in K-3-A was pretty laid back. However, she was stickler as far as discipline is concerned. She did not tolerate any of the loose talk or careless attitude in the classroom. She demanded the best from her students. 

K-4-A was also pretty exciting. It was a good feeling to be getting to the second highest upper classman in Junior School. It made us feel much more matured, learned and experienced as I moved along in these classes. As we moved along, the competition in all areas got stiff. Athletics was most favored by boarders. And competitions like recitations (English and Urdu), readings (English and Urdu), writing (English and Urdu) etc were excelled by day boys. They also received top academic positions in the classrooms. Boarders competed with them in these areas but were quite outnumbered. 

Riding, the trade mark of Aitchison College, also started in K-4. Many of us signed up for riding. There is a certain uniform for riding the horses. There were britches, a riding hard hat, riding shoes accompanied by a blue blazer. So this sport was quite suitably looked very English. I also signed up for this sport and learned how to mount, dismount, jump and few other tricks of the trade. 

There was also a singing club present there. Ms. Abid conducted this club. This club had introduced many upcoming and talented students in the public. Students learned to recite Naats, Qawwalis, individual and group performances and many other aspects of singing here.

There was also a Scouting group. We learned how the scouts live off the land and live in tents. These were pretty exciting outdoor activities for us in those earlier years of our lives. All of these activities seemed pretty novel to us. At the end of the scouting year, we had a ‘Fire Camp’ where we performed our scouting activities and also showed our singing talent here. 
To Be Continued....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mother– The most loving and caring human being

Some kids, when they are young, sometimes ask their parents if they loved him/her? And if they did, how much? These are fairly simple questions. However, it is difficult to quantify for parents how much they love their kids. You can’t put a number to parents’ love. So, for a kid, it is difficult to know how much love he/she is getting. However, parents do remind their kids to wait for this answer until they have their own kids. That is when; they would really know the answer to their questions.

This had happened to me too. You would think that you have stumped your parents with these questions. But once you become a parent, the whole ball game changes. That is when you find out what your parents have been through to raise you and showered you with their love, care and affection. 

When I became a parent, I tried to do my part as a father. It is a painstaking work. But when I compare my work with a mother’s, I think they beat us on all fronts, fair and square. The kind of patience and love which they have been gifted, nobody can come close that. Sometimes, it just leaves me with awe. When God wanted His people to know how much He loves them, He compared His love to a mother’s love. He said that He loves His people 70 times more than their mothers’ love them. He could have compared His affection and care for His people to a father’s love too. 

Mothers are also big institutions for learning for their kids. I remember when I was very young and used to leave me village for my education, I hardly remember my mother showing any sadness or weakness. Now, as a parent, I can understand what she would be going through at the time of my departure. But she did not show her feelings to make me weak. Now, I can understand how much she loves me and cared for me that she held her tears for me to get my education, and become a decent human being. She knew that she may not be able to see her six year old child for next three months at a stretch. 

Presently, I have heard mothers telling their husbands that they would not want to put themselves through like my mother did for me. These mothers don’t care whether their kids are educated from the best or the mediocre schools. They just don’t want to send their kids away for such a long time. I can understand what they mean. It really takes so much courage and strong heart to bare such an extended separation from the young kids. That is why I salute to my mother for her sacrifice. She could have also demanded my father to put me in a school close to home. But she wanted the best for her child.