Categories
Blog Social Issues

Pakistan: Vote now!

A ballot paper being inserted in the ballot box in Pakistan General Elections 2013On 11th May 2013, the people of Pakistan will vote and elect our Parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly; along with the Provincial Assemblies of the four Provinces. This will be a landmark day, that will decide the future of Pakistan for the next 5 years to come. This day, Pakistani’s will, according to their wishes elect their representatives to rule the country for a mandate of 5 years.

Electing our government is not just our right, enshrined by our Constitution and the Law of our land, or by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by our founding fathers; it is, I believe, an obligation, a responsibility, that we owe to our nation. Casting our votes wouldn’t just be exercising of our constitutional rights, but fulfillment of our responsibility and our obligation towards our nation and our effort for a better, brighter future.

Election Commission of PakistanBeing citizens of a democratic state it is not just our right to be a part of, or be represented in, the government of our country; it is our obligation! We share as much guilt and sins as our corrupt and/or bad politicians. Why? Because they have had been our representatives, and ruled our nation on our mandate! And for those who overthrew our elected governments and assumed control of our nation, well our silence and ignorance was their approval to plunder our nation, and our money which we pay in form of taxes for the functioning of our country!

Now is the time for a change! We wish for and really need a better, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan, we have to vote for better representatives to do that.

I don’t care who you vote for, I am not asking you to vote for a particular political party or ideology or individual. I am just requesting you to vote! Vote for and elect the party whose manifesto matches your vision for the future of Pakistan; for the party you think is honest and determined to tackle the problems faced by this nation! It is our country, our motherland! We cannot allow corrupt, morally bankrupt people to do whatever they wish to do with our nation!

The Pakistani flag flys high in the skyPlease exercise your right and fulfill your obligation onto our nation! Stamp your ballot paper! Cast your vote! Only you have power to decide the nation’s future! Your action will write Pakistan’s destiny for the next 5 years, and your inaction will seal the country’s fate for another 5! You have been given the right and the authority to decide the future of the nation! Please use this, and use it wisely and fairly!

11th May 2013 is the opportunity and chance we have of fixing our nation, helping it stand on its feet once again, and make our great nation, great once again! I will be casting my vote… Stamping the ballot paper and putting it in the ballot box, with a believe and satisfaction that I did my part!

Democracy - Everyone is equal and respected!Democracy isn’t just casting our vote, we have to keep a check and balance over the people we chose to represent us. If the go astray, we have to remind them that we have given them the mandate and we have the ultimate, collective authority over the way our country shall be governed. Staying silent and turning a blind eye to evils, especially by our representatives is some not less than a sin! I read a quote which was something like this:

The world’s problems do not lie in the evils of a few but the silence of the many!

Its time to rise up! For our nation, for our future and for ourselves! Please cast your vote and vote wisely!

I earnestly request each and every adult Pakistani reading this to vote! If you aren’t old enough to vote, please make sure that all those around you who are, do go to the polling station and cast their vote! Share this with those around you; the least you can do is to ask your loved ones to vote!
SMS your CNIC number to 8300 and check the polling station where you have to cast your vote, and then DO vote please! For Pakistan!

Categories
Blog Published Social Issues

An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record

Coat of Arms of Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Govt. of Pakistan

Ever since Pakistan became a sovereign state, the issue of human rights has been one of grave importance. The partition of India in the second half of 1947 saw one of the worst massacre, as thousands of individuals were slaughtered, made homeless, raped and abused in the process of migrating to the homeland of their choice. Governments on both sides of the newly drawn borders could not do much to prevent this; they were silent spectators to one of history’s most bloody moments.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented in the United Nations General Assembly; Pakistan was among the 48 states that voted for the adoption of the Declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed that year with 48 votes in favor, no votes against it and 8 abstentions. The declaration became an integral part of Pakistan’s constitutions, all three of them, and still is an integral part of the fundamental rights enshrined in, and guaranteed and safeguarded by the current constitution.

Pakistan, however has seen much ups and downs in its political arena. The Constitution, when first suspended by the first coup d’état, saw unlawful arrests, exiling of influential political figures, and unreasonable restrictions being imposed upon the citizens, as the Martial Law administrator General Ayub Khan said that he believed in “Democracy with Discipline” (there wasn’t any democracy, just the innocent civilians being disciplined along military lines). During the era of Gen. Yahya Khan, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh was fighting for its independence and dismemberment of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army committed severe human rights violations, which may be classified as atrocities and war crimes. The army massacred many professors scientists and doctors in the East, and was accused of rape and torturing prisoners to death.

Public  flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime
Public flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime – Human Rights Violation?

After Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted from office in another coup d’état, and General Zia-ul-Haq took over; the country saw its worst nightmare. The Constitution was ridiculously amended and new laws were promulgated in the process of ‘Islamization’. These new laws, aimed at legitimizing Zia regime, provided the administration far-reaching powers to suppress political activities. Public floggings became a common sight, political parties, trade unions, student unions, all were banned; those who dared to question Zia’s legitimacy or actions were tortured to death. The Hudood ordinances, provided for the punishments of victims of rape, and took away the rights of inheritance of women.

After Zia’s era, the Constitution was abrogated twice by Gen Musharraf, however this did not accompany large-scale human rights violation. Musharraf’s attempts to control the judiciary backfired, and the protests eventually lead to Musharraf leaving the country, and the presidency. The situation has improved greatly since. General elections were held in Pakistan in 2008, that saw the coming of a democratic government, which introduced the Constitution 18th Amendment act 2010, which reversed many of Zia-ul-Haq’s changes, and introduced articles, to safeguard the right of education and grant the right to a fair trial.

Islamabad Police beating up a protester
Police Brutality – quite common in Pakistan

Judiciary and the Election Commission in Pakistan are now fiercely independent; this means that the right to a fair trial and right to participate in the country’s government for all Pakistanis are now secure. Much has still to be done; prisoners are still being tortured in jails, child molestation is still taking place in underdeveloped urban areas of Pakistan, according to UNICEF reports.

Sindh Police beating a protester in Karachi
More Police Brutality – you just cannot stand up against injustice

Pakistan, although has a democratic government, there are still incidents of human rights violation by the government. The Pakistani constitution, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of expression, subject to “reasonable restrictions imposed by law in order to protect the glory of Islam…”. This provision is being used as a tool to impose censorship on media and access to Internet. YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing platform is not in Pakistan, just because a few videos insult Islam. This action of censorship, in my humble opinion, is violation of an individual’s freedom of speech, expression, choice and right to information as granted by the universal declaration of human rights and the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and law.

The government has also failed to protect the right of life of its citizens; many people fall victims to target killing and terrorism each day. There have been instances of the law-enforcement agencies doing just that: in June 2011 the paramilitary forces shot dead an individual in a public park accused of armed robbery.

Protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan
The poster says it all – protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan

The situation of human rights abuse is improving in Pakistan, ever since the democratic forces have come to run the country. Pakistan, however has still a long way to go, before it transforms itself from a security state to a welfare state, which safeguards all the rights of its citizens without any discrimination of any kind whatsoever.

Read more about this issue:

Categories
Blog Published Social Issues Speech

Confessions of a writoholic!

Extract from the Personal Diary of Ahmer Jamil Khan
An extract of the diary I write each.

No matter how much you love to write, there are times when you’re writing, or planning to write and you can’t think of something. Writing is an art of expression, just as speech is. Many people express themselves by their speech, some do that better by writing, but there are some unique cases that can express themselves to the fullest only after speaking what they’ve written; more like a prepared speech.

Some people write, because they have an inner urge to write or they might simply feel like writing; others do it because they have to, either because they’re a student and have to sit for a language exam and are writing on a given topic or a topic of their choice from the options given to them, or because they’re paid to do so, like writing a review, a how-to instruction, news, or any thing of that sorts. For the former, writing in fun, enjoyable and easy, for the latter, it may be either fun, enjoyable and easy or it may be a herculean task, burdened upon them which they must endure with patience.

I consider myself in the first category; I write a diary, a daily journal or log of what happened each day, my feelings, emotions, dreams, desires, wishes, feelings, any and everything that occurred to me whether no matter how pleasant or bitter it may be (I try to curtail and distort the bitter part however, for reasons to be discussed earlier on), I know no one is ever going to read my personal diary, not that any one may or may not be interested in reading, but because to read it they’d need an extraordinarily long password, and my fingerprints! Yes! My personal diary is encrypted in a manner similar to how the any intelligence agency may encrypt, secure and store information pertinent to global or national security. Well, honestly, there is nothing of that sort in my personal diary, really, but its just not that I cannot risk it getting into wrong hands and earning me some embarrassing moments; it is also encrypted so securely because, simply put, I can do it!

Why I write my diary? Well it is just so that I may, in my free time revisit the past joyous moments and re-live all the happiness in my life! Trust me it just works this way! Reading about what I wrote in the vacations on the chilly mountain peak besides the fast flowing river reminds me of the natural beauty, excites my senses and brings me back to those moments, to enjoy life’s most joyous moments once again! I’m a writoholic, addicted to writing! Apart form that I write a blog, you know, the one you’re reading right now!

So how do I come up with things to write? Well, to start off with, I must first confess, my best friend said that “I’m maturer than my age”, well I guess that’s why my thoughts and believes differ from those held by the majority in my age group. I believe in equality of every person, freedoms and fundamental rights, I’m a staunch believer of parliamentary democracy, equal justice under law and rule of law. Not the kind of believes and mindset of a typical 18 year old in Karachi, Pakistan, or perhaps around the world. I’m quite interested in scientific research, researches on human psychology, social interactions, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and so much more. Such thoughts, believes and interests inspire me to write about many things (which do not interest many of my age group).

Then why do I write? Just for the sake of it! Writing is my expression, just as speech is my expression!

How do I get inspired about writing?

Well here it goes:

  1. Daily occurrences: There’s so much happening around us all the time, so many arenas look around: sports, politics, celebrity news, gossip, new developments!
  2. Overheard dialog: If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park, bus, a waiting area or a mall or my school, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not in a gross way or anything, but I’ll just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t happen on purpose — you can’t help but overhear people sometimes. If you happen to overhear a snippet of interesting dialog, jot it down in your writing journal or on your smart phone (like me) as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing.
  3. Google: Stuck for ideas? The old standby, Google, has often helped me out. I’ll just search for the topic I’m writing about and find tons of great resources.
  4. Free writing: One of the best ways to get unstuck if you’re uninspired. Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Don’t edit, don’t pause, don’t think. Just write and let it flow. You’ll end up with a lot of garbage, probably, but it’ll help you get out of your rut and you might just write some really good stuff among all that garbage.
  5. Brainstorms: Similar to free writing, but instead of writing prose you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. Speed and quantity is more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness. One of my favorite ways to get ideas.
  6. Newspapers: The newspapers are a great resource. Not just news, you also get to read opinion of people, their views etc. I prefer the online version where people actually comment under each and every news article.
  7. Exercise: I get my best ideas most often while running. There’s something about the quietness, combined with the increased flow of blood through your brain, combined with being out in the fresh air with nature, that really stimulates the mind.
  8. Religion. Many of you aren’t religious (and many are) but it doesn’t matter much — the great religions in the world have ideas in them that are beautiful and inspiring. I’ve studied some of the writings of not only Islam, but Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology, Raëlism and many cultures with a single god, multiple nature gods, or no gods at all, yes, I studied them all! I can’t say I’m an expert at any of these religions, but I can say that any time I’ve spent reading the ideas of religion have paid off for me in inspiration.

So what do you write about, if you do at all? Write about it in the comments below!

Categories
Blog Shared Social Issues

Belief and the Right to Believe

Did you know, that Belief and the Right to Believe are two separate things? A “Right to Believe” is something entirely different from a “Belief”. Understand the difference!

You, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the constitution and/or law(s) of your country, have the Right to Believe in any/everything you may wish to believe in/about. I, sincerely respect your right.

However, your belief(s) might be quite different form mine, do I respect them? Well, that, my friend, is an entirely different question!

Categories
Blog Published Social Issues Speech Tribute

Positive Thinking

Following is the text of my speech on Friday, 10th August 2012 before the Assembly of students at St. Michael’s Convent School. The speech was titled ‘Positive Thinking’, was a part of my personal effort to reduce, if not eradicate negativity and negative thinking from my fellow students’ minds.

Respected Deputy Principal, teachers and my fellow students. I am Ahmer Jamil Khan.

I’m here to share a few things with you all…

I think I just heard someone back there say, “abay yaar phir ek lambi speech” (Another long speech). Well, is this the attitude we have to start our day with? Negative thoughts, negative speech, negative actions and all this leads to a negative approach to life.

But why shouldn’t we be so negative? There are problems everywhere, in everyone’s life, getting scolded by our parents, being nagged by our teachers, and there are those nose poking neighbors, friends who are no better than pests, and then she said this to me, he said that to me, life is so unfair for those with a negative attitude…

Some of us have a really very negative approach to life and all the things that come our way, and when someone says something negative, others around them get carried away. People with a negative attitude have reasons to justify their attitude.

But friends, I have learnt, negative attitude to anything can never be justified. If I call anyone up here to tell us what’s wrong with the school, I’m sure many people can come up with some reasons to dislike our school. But did anyone ever realize how fortunate we are to be in this institution, or how fortunate we are to be able to receive good education here, can someone count the blessings they have?

Why do we have to complain about the one thing that we do not have, when there are 9 other things that we do have.

If someone can come up with 10 reasons to dislike our country, there are 90 reasons to love it!

I just checked this morning, 925 million people in the world are undernourished and 6 million children die of starvation each year! We have had a good meal this morning!

Our negative thinking takes up most of our attention, and we do not realize all the good things in life that we are missing out on.

A really good approach I found to tackle this problem, I write a diary every day. I only mention the good things that happened to me each day, and I also mention all the good things I did in the day. By doing this I realized how beautiful life is, how fair things are, and how easily I neglected the blessings I have.

Sometimes life hits us with a brick in the face. When it does, never lose hope, and never curse, but try to appreciate this as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes, try to appreciate the experience gained from that.

We should learn to appreciate our blessings before they are taken away? We should enjoy the things we have in life, instead of regretting over what we do not have, and to do this we need to change our attitude.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “People are only as happy as they want to be.” Really, happiness is a choice, and it’s up to us to choose to be positive or negative.

Life is too short to be unhappy. Let’s change our way of thinking, our attitude and let’s choose to be happy and see the magic.

Thank you all for your time.

Ahmer Jamil Khan