Category Archives: Bawaqar Pakistan

This section is dedicated to my father, who is one of the few people I have known in my life who is truly and really emotional about his country and truly upholds ‘…what you can do for your country’. Bawaqar Pakistan was his brain child and I shall try to contribute to this theme with a few posts on his page.

What is Bawaqar Pakistan? The idea is to promote goodwill about Pakistan in the current chaotic times. Be the conscious voice supporting Pakistan, love for Pakistan and the true values that make us all one united nation in the current chaotic times.

Dear #Zoheb #Hassan


Dear Zoheb,

Listening to Coke Studio’s version of your song, Chehra, was a very painful experience! Not that one kept thinking of Nazia, but also what she might have said to you listening to all that noise! I assure you, I even listened to it for the second time.  I really do believe wholeheartedly in giving second chances.   Your original, was such a romantic soulful melody! It was all about Zoheb Hassan! The coke studio version is no where close! It is, dare I say, nothing but a lot of noise, and your own voice, seems to be coming from a distance far far away!  Maybe I did not like the new version because, like all your fans, I am so used to just Zoheb being the star of the show!

While I welcome your return to the screen, but pray dont ever do this again……ever! For the love of Nazia and Zoheb on which us 80s kids thrive! For the love of all the times we would all pray to get a chance to listen to your song every time ‘naghma‘ (song) break would flash on the only state-run television screen! We did not have online collections/recorded videos so if you remember we only lived on those moments of joy to see you both on the screen! and we LOVED your music!

For the love of my memories of Nazia and Zoheb (The only man I ever admitted to my father of liking), I now present to you the original Chehra – does it not drown out all the noise around you? I am now listening to it on repeat – such is the ill fate of all my favourite songs!

Enjoy and you’re welcome! 😉

Here is the link!




Far from the madding crowd


My dearest Pakistan

I may have been away for almost four years now, but my heart still lies in Pakistan.  While I may be far from the madding crowd, my mind is constantly on what is happening in my country. I too get worried when I see the political antics and since my sources are limited to the crazy media, and word of mouth, it probably makes it worse.

I shall only say this – to all those who love Pakistan.  It is not easy being a patriot in the given situation.  Patriotism, like I mentioned to a friend yesterday – is like your Great Love.  It is loony, crazy and totally confusing! Hang in there, do not lose yourself amidst the ongoing stampede of what you thought was your political ideology.  Politicians, like any other person, disappoint us.  Anybody you consider a ‘hero’ will disappoint you – with great expectations, comes greater disappointment.  We do not fail with mistakes, we only learn to make a better decision next time! In a chaos, holding onto yourself and your patriotism is difficult, and there is no quick fix to the solution.  But remember that things do fall back in their place in their own good time.  This too shall pass. I hope.  One day!


When Terror Hits Home


Last evening, a group of friends in Manila were gathered together to bid a melodious farewell to two of their fellow colleagues, retiring and returning back to Pakistan.  Everyone swayed to Kabhi Alvida na Kehna and enjoying every moment of a camaraderie that living away from home connects you to.  When one of my friends shared the shocking news of attack on a dear friend, and colleague Raza Ahmad (aka Raza Rumi), it was as if a huge dampener has been put on everyone.  Only a night before I was sharing with Raza how we will all miss him here in Manila at this event, this news was beyond scary – it was as if terror hit home!

Allah is the best protector, Raza remained safe, but his guard was injured, and the poor driver, an innocent victim and sole bread earner of his family succumbed to injuries and passed away. He, like many others in Pakistan, died for no fault of his own.

How long will we continue to put up with this blatant injustice, the ‘unknown’ force that goes around shooting people of courage, because the truth they stand up for and speak against is not according to another school of thought.  We are not indifferent, you may say – as we go about living our own lives and doing our own things. I recently wrote about indifference, and how “….It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don’t stand a chance against it. It lets neglect and decay and monstrous injustice go unchecked. It doesn’t act, it allows. And that’s what gives it so much power.” 

I condemn this, and all the other innocent lives being killed by the dozen every other hour in Pakistan – not because this time terror hit too close for comfort – but because its about time remaining silent is akin to supporting the terrorists.  Neutrality – in any given situation always supports the oppressor, never the victim.

Stand up for justice, freedom, for your friends, family and countrymen! We are only given today. It is tomorrow which is not promised.  Life is too short – live it well!


Baat Bun Jaay!


On August 13, in the year 2000, the fans of Pakistan’s first pop star brother-sister duo faced a major shock! The gorgeous singing sensation Nazia Hassan passed away – she was only 35.

For those of us growing up in Pakistan in the 80s – singing to Nazia and Zoheb was a lifestyle! Their videos were magical! (remember Zoheb’s Pyar ka Jaadoo anyone?) I was probably three back in 1980 when her famous ‘baat bun jaay‘ song was aired in the Indian movie Qurbaani and to date no family Karaoke is ever complete without me singing the Baat Bun Jaay song with my siblings 😉 Yes, I even do the sound effects (aaoooow!)

I remember staying up all night to wait for the first PTV interview of Nazia and Zoheb which was conducted by Anwer Maqsood sb, but was perhaps still young enough not to wait until 11 p.m. and dozed off! However, much to our relief (and combined duas) we were able to watch the repeat of the same interview next day! Yes my dears, Youtube/Vimeo were not even an option back then! And I remember when PTV would air those songs in between programs and ‘gaana’ would flash on the screen, in the three seconds before the actual song was aired, hands would go up in prayers to have the luxury of watching a Nazia/Zoheb song instead of any other! We would squeal and jump with happiness when it would really come true! 😉 Ah, those were the days…

This blog, is in the memory of the woman who gave us all fascinating songs we all still sing along to – the only Pakistani pop music which was and will remain very close to our hearts. Im sorry Zoheb, but my childhood crush on you aside, its just not the same watching you on screen without your beautiful singing partner! It was a wise decision afterall, Nazia-Zoheb music is just not complete without her!

Im sharing my current favourite Nazia Hassan song Teri Yaad – and I dedicate it to my readers (mostly in Pakistan and so yes its not a youtube link!).

May Nazia rest in peace and eternal love!





Two Dynamos


This post was originally printed in The Friday Times on 23 July 2010

In 1988, a second-generation Chinese Philipino was elected Mayor of Naga City, the youngest city mayor of Philippines at the age of 29. By 1999, ten years down the road, Naga City is cited as one of the ‘Most Improved Cities in Asia’ by Asiaweek Magazine.  By 2010, he aims to make Naga City a ‘happy place with happy people’. It is the ‘principle of rising expectations’, he quips. ‘People seek a higher standard of living from the service providers and each time, a higher level of ‘happiness’, he says.

 Sitting in the conference hall, in Manila city, at the Capacity Development Learning Week, organized by the United Nations Development Programme regional center, I could not help but marvel at his commitment to his city, his vigour to have an informed constituency, and to empower his people.  “When you try to cultivate a culture of professionalism, people want to be a part of the government.” Is it any wonder that Naga city is the most awarded local government in the Philippines. Mayor Robredo himself has earned 14 major individual awards including the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government service. In recognition of his skills and competence as a leader and development manager, his peers elected Robredo as President of the League of Cities of the Philippines in 1995, the national association of city mayors.

 Mayor Jesse M. Robredo, who walked in the hall in his Jeans and a shirt, without any formal protocol, atleast the one that we are used to seeing, was truly a leader of the masses.  On being questioned by one of my colleagues of what drives the Mayor in life, he answered humbly that no material or financial benefit can compare to the sense of satisfaction that comes with serving your city.  For a man who has won landslide victory in local government elections six times in a row, this hardly seemed like a pretence statement.  Mayor Robredo was vocal about allowing citizen’s voice as a process to support the outcome – improved performance, a sense of ownership for their city government and thereby a sense of citizenship.  

 As I sat there, awed by his personality, the hall numb with pin-drop silence and respect for the Mayor, I could not help but compare him to the only man I could think of, from Pakistan, who could match his loyalty to his city – Mustafa Kamal, former District City Nazim (mayor) of Karachi.

 I am reminded of what Helen Keller once said: ‘People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant’.

 Former Karachi District City Nazim Mustafa Kamal, generally agreed as Karachi’s most forward looking mayor and a ‘do-er’ also happens to be its youngest Mayor – ever. The fact remains that Mustafa Kamal is also generally seen as the face of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in Pakistan, a party seen as rising from ethnic grounds in the face of Pakistani politics. Praising Mustafa Kamal is often seen as being a supporter of the MQM and blinded by our own prejudice or political alliances we are often silenced by our inner critic. 

 How many of us are aware that Mustafa Kamal has been nominated for World Mayor 2010 prize, ironically enough against the very Mayor of Naga city in the Asia region? Many say that the Mayor implemented the policies initiated by the Nazim who preceded him, but how many of us have seen ‘do-ers’ in this land of the pure who serve the people with true dedication? You can actually count them on your finger tips. I do not live in Karachi and so I have a bird’s eye view of the city and perhaps influenced by international media projecting former Karachi District City Nazim Mustafa Kamal. This is sad because the ‘true working class representative’ has remained shrouded in the mayhem that defines Pakistani mainstream media.  They would rather play a certain notorious video clip depicting Mustafa Kamal frustrated and angry with the red-tape of the bureaucracy rather than show a video clip showing him sitting by the roadside at 3 a.m., making sure that the ongoing work is expedited to ensure better service delivery to the citizens.  Have we ever thought about the personal life of the man who we expect to serve the city at the cost of his family time, serving his people in the wee hours of the night?

 Mayor Robredo and Mayor Kamal, to me are examples of Leadership in action.  For someone flying in from Islamabad to Karachi airport, the first sight of the airport itself is a reminder of dedication and work of a leader, who was backed by an entire system of the city district government in Karachi, and yes, the ‘ethnic’ party who actually brought him to the forefront.  Big budgets can help set up programmes but true success comes from proactive leadership and a commitment to work with the institutions allowing involvement of the people with forward looking planning.   I am not aligned to any political party and I strongly believe that in this era of negative publicity of our country in every part of the world, perhaps it is time we ‘own’ our star-performers who may have their own sets of faults and weaknesses, but as long as they serve the people, there is no reason why we should shy away from supporting them.  It is leaders like these who give a common man hope to make it to the corridors of power and perhaps the opportunity to be the change we wish to see?

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility


Ashura, the tenth of Moharram, is one day in the entire year when majority of Muslims all over the world remember the great martyrdom of Hussain Ibn Ali (AS) in the battle of Karbala and who stood up for Islam by laying down the lives of his family, companions and even children by refusing to bow down before injustice, tyranny and oppression of Yazid Ibn Mauwiya.  The day of Ashura stands for the patience Imam Hussain (AS) and his family held in the very testing times against the forces of evil. 

Today, during the annual procession marking the day in Karachi witnessed a horrifying bomb blast that ripped apart the mourning crowd, so far killing 30 innocent lives and injured as many as 80+ people.  Unfortunately, a suicide or otherwise bombing in Pakistan has become a regular feature of our news.  What was even worse were the chain of events following the bombing in Karachi today.  ‘Angry mobs’ were reported to have set ablaze ambulances, shops, banks, and police mobiles among others.  The twist in the story is that the miscreants and trouble makers that are also sadly part of our society actually leverage their plans in such situations and setting surrounding buildings on fire as was witnessed today is perhaps one way to add fuel to the raging sectarian fire.  Reason fails to believe that a normal, peace loving citizen who would set out from his home in the morning to mourn the cause of Hussain (AS) would cause further damage following an event that has already taken innocent lives.  Angry mobs and their outrage is not a phenomenon specific only to Pakistan, however one must keep in mind the vested interest of so many conflicting parties in this strange and entangled web that we have weaved in our country! The participants of an Ashura procession are average Pakistanis like you and me, who feel that the one day to show solidarity to the cause of Hussain is to come out on the road and show their support against the injustice Hussain (AS) stood up for.  They come on the road with their young children and old parents. I therefore fail to believe that an average peace loving citizen would cause damage to the business and property of his own city.  It is like a person breaking his own bricks and wall in his own house should a tragedy befall on him… tragedy upon tragedy…who would be at loss? Only the person himself…. Is the equation then so hard to understand?

While the question addressing who these miscreants possibly could be is beyond the scope of my blog, I just wanted to share the grief of the many families who would be either mourning the loss of their loved ones, or attending to the injured, on a day, which is ironically dedicated to the remembrance of the spirit of Islam.  Ironically enough, Islam is now synonymous with terrorism to the outside world.  But that too perhaps is a subject for another day. What we can do however on such occasions is to not get involved, not support or facilitate the blame game that usually follows such incidents and avoid speculating who the perpetrators were.  In an ideal world, the doctor would advise that you let the Government handle the situation. 

Ah! The Government….  In the golden words of Confucius: ‘The essentials of good government are: a sufficiency of food, a sufficiency of arms, and the confidence of the people. If forced to give up one of these, give up arms; and if forced to give up two, give up food. Death has been the portion of all men from of old; but without the people’s trust, nothing can endure.’ Need I say more….

One can only hope that we live to see the day when our gatekeepers and administrators of this Land of the Pure would take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof to stop such heinous crimes.  In a supposedly democratic set up, the least that can be done is to be accountable to the people who bring forth the elected leaders with their votes.  With great power comes great responsibility, reminds my son after watching Spiderman.  I wonder if anyone else is listening out there? Issuing statements of ‘condemning the violent act’ does not help the listener, or the grieving family – action does.  What does help is to show solidarity in these troubled times.  We are a nation at war.  The least we can do is to stand united and keep reminding ourselves we cannot give up on Pakistan – not yet… not now…not ever!

Let us all be Worthy of Pakistan


Friends, Bloggers and Countrymen….lend me your ears (and eyes):

A few hours ago, I returned after a traditional trip to the heart of the city to watch the ‘lights’ in celebration of the 62nd independence day of the country and it warmed my heart to see people dancing and cheering with joy.  Later in the night, I switched on the TV and all across the country I could see men and women cheering and celebrating their independence day with infectious zeal…all for one cause: Pakistan.  And that left me wondering: what makes the love for one’s country all encompassing and so overwhelming despite one’s crisis, problems and challenges? More importantly, why do we need to ‘go green’ and wear the Pakistani flag only around the month of August? Is love for one’s country limited to only as far as waving the flag is concerned or is it much more? Why can our hearts and minds not remain for and on Pakistan for the rest of the year too?

62nd year of independence and still standing, as a friend stated on her facebook page.  I also heard many stating with a tongue in cheek: Na bijli hai na paani hai, phir bhee dil Pakistani hai (there is no electricity, no water, but my heart still sings Pakistan!). Perhaps it is time to really and practically realize what we can do for our country, rather than fret over what our country can do for us.  I do not have a long wish list to share with you all, just a few contributions we can all make.

For starters, maybe all of us, and I really mean each and every one of us, make a very conscious decision not to clutter the parks, markets and places we go to, just as much as the effort we put in cleaning our own home!  If Pakistanis can abide by the law outside Pakistan, they can be conscious citizen back here too. I see no reason why not. We may not have implementation of laws in place, but at the end of the day, it is us the citizens who make or break the law too.  So why not start from today and really make an effort to keep our surroundings clean.  Teach our children to pick up the litter after a picnic in the park, tidy up after a birthday party at a public place and definitely not throw anything outside the car window!! Small steps but they bring great changes!! Think Clean. Think Green.

Respect the individual, especially those at the bottom of the food-chain so to speak. Respect the policeman who dares to stop your car because you do not have your seat belt on.  He has been standing in the heat all day long, but it is the gentleman sitting in the air conditioned car who fumes up with rage because he has been stopped by the policeman! The poor man is only performing his duty.  The least we can do is to comply and to respond with respect.  Respect the cook who stands in the melting heat to cook food for you and your family, while you slouch and chatter away in the living room.  Ask the value of house-help versus self-help to all your family living abroad, most of whom do not have the luxury of affording house help and need to do everything on their own, starting from cooking, to cleaning, to washing to running around and finish their daily chores.  Thank your lucky stars for living in a country that still provides you with the luxury of having more support staff than the number of people living in the house! That’s a royal lifestyle, just in case you are missing the point.

There is no denying the fact that our country is currently in one of its biggest crisis, ever.  It is important for an average citizen like you and me to stand up and be counted.  Being the silent minority of patriotic but indifferent citizens will not help us, will not help raise our concerns over things that are close to our heart and history will definitely not forgive the silence of the educated, enlightened and conscious minority of this country.  Instead of constantly complaining and grumbling over the failure of the state and its machinery, perhaps we should keep doing our bit by enacting the change we wish to see around us.  Perhaps it is time we start justifying our own job descriptions, start delivering at our own micro units because every little drop counts!

And last but not the least, lets us not, for even one second doubt the integrity of Pakistan or the future of Pakistan.  It is heart breaking to see how convenient it is to declare Pakistan’s disintegration in one random rush of moment by average citizens like you and me.  Let us not forget that we are the future! We are the ones who will make or break the country, not the circumstances.  Let us make peace with the past, and on this 62nd birthday of our country, let us all do our own bit to be able to tell our children in the future what role we played in the current crisis. 

 Let us finally be worthy of Pakistan.

I am remembering Shakespeare’s Mark Antony as I mourn the loss of true patriotism in our country and only hope for people to rise above all differences and celebrate this Independence truly green from their hearts, not just appearances!

 O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,

And I must pause till it come back to me.