Saturday, 31 March 2012

"Qanoon naqis karne waale idaare...

...kahin maujood na the. (Law enforcement agencies were not present anywhere)." Well why would they be? If a number of hooligans decide to involve a city of 15 17 18 million people in their war games, how could a force of already corrupt officials be expected to tame them? The favorite past time of policemen is err ... let's not be judgmental. But truth is that a number of corrupt policemen have tainted the image and the power of what is generally a disciplined force in developed nations. The opening statement is something you will regularly hear in local television news reports. We, Pakistanis, are so good at blame games that there is rarely a reporter or news caster who fails to mention that policemen were not present on a day when they could have had made a difference to the local situation. Me thinks the policemen are getting their inspiration from Afridi...hit hard when not needed and vice-versa.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Death and the city

I was crossing the Kashmir Road Society Office intersection today morning on my way to my brothers' school when I saw approximately 50 mazdoor (labourers) sitting on the footpath adjoining the roundabout. They were mainly Pathans or maybe Afghans and looked very grim.
Day before yesterday, Karachi was burning because 2 political workers had been ambushed Yesterday evening, one ANP worker was shot dead in a busy district of Karachi. Within a few hours, traffic had thinned and the city had reverted back to its blood-thirsty counter-strike mode. 

In my mind I was trying to think what those labourers might be thinking. For them, the bloodshed and sectarianism was meaningless. Their struggle in life is to provide two square meals for themselves and their families. What is the meaning of political killings to them? Two days of lost work during one week which will only add to their economic and social problems. They have sunk two days back in time compared to the rich. This divide is getting wider and wider and unfortunately forcing such people to the point of frustration. As I rode around the corner back on my way after a while, I could see their depressed eyes. They looked tired...from the fight they had to consistently engage in for their survival in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan...a nation that was envisioned to be an embodiment of justice and equality...unfortunately it ain't no more.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

1 upon Karachi

2 brothers were killed and the wife of one was injured when gunfire attacked their abode in the early hours of March 27, 2011. It turned out they belonged to the emotionally unscrupulous party named MQM whose strings are controlled via phone calls from London. What happened next is a child's guess for Karachiites: more than three dozen buses (and cars) were set alight, shop owners refused to risk their lives for one day of business and schools panicked and started sending children home. Sad but true.

You may ask "Where was the police?" so I will answer "At Bilawal House, protecting the empty kothi (mansion) of the current rulers". "Who were the killers?" The people who lost their vehicles and their lives :( were not the killers. The killers in fact have a high chance of themselves being eaten away by insects in their graves now or on a flight to Sri Lanka. They will never be caught, prosecuted or punished. Sad reality.
For the taxpayer, such a situation is like a market crash. Everything and anything that was unfortunate enough to come in the way of hooligans who make the most of such situations perishes. People died without having any cause or relationship with the deceased or their killers. "How long will this continue?" God knows better.

Social Theft

'Kitne number hai meter pe?' I asked slightly agitated.
'Mera bhai...aapki bike mein maine 250 ka petrol daala hai, aap befikar raho. (I filled in Rs. 250 worth of petrol in your bike).' replied the chum attendant.

The context of this conversation was one which hundreds if not thousands of unsuspecting residents of Karachi may never encounter unless they choose to cross check the fuel meter at petrol stations.

I am not a social policeman but I lose my temper very quickly when I discover that I am being cheated. The conversation in question happened when I asked for Rs. 250 of petrol to be filled in my bike. I was observing the meter which had a very blurred '.' separator. Nevertheless, when the attendant finished the meter read 2510. The attendant said that this was equivalent to Rs. 251 whereas I believed that it was only Rs. 25.10.

What ensued next was a challenge to him to fuel the next car while I observed. Lo and behold the next customer was a car who had asked for petrol worth Rs. 250. At the end of the filling (which took a considerable amount of time as compared to when my bike was fueled) the meter read 25000. It was at this point I pointed my question to whom I would now like to refer as the chum attendant.

Despite his 'assurance' that 'he was my brother' and that he had put in Rs. 250 worth of fuel (which was evidently not true when I inspected the tank level) he shrugged at me when I demanded the remaining Rs. 225 petrol to be filled in.

He however, referred me to the pump manager who, after hearing my ordeal, decided that 'bhai Rs. 200 ka aur petrol mein dedeta hun (let me fill Rs. 200 worth of petrol more).'

The point was not petrol or the sum of Rs. was about trust and the reliability of both the fuel attendant and the fuel meter. I do not know who was wrong. Maybe the attendant was right and the fuel meter misbehaved or maybe he had a treaty with the cash collector to pin unsuspecting middle class people (bike owners>>middle class and lower middle class). But in any case, it was a situation I pray that other bikers do not fall prey to. This is the best way to spread awareness amongst the people I know and care for...and that is exactly what I am doing.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Time Dimension

Stephen Hawkings' analogy of defining time 'as an arrow' is notoriously interesting. It not only has allowed the lay man a better understanding of what time is but also makes it certain that time is a one-dimensional variable. And yet in the Holy Quran it is mentioned that 'time will be unfolded' (I will quote the exact verses when I read them in the whole Surah's context next time). Time may have three characteristics as defined by Stephen Hawkings that make it highly unlikely for it to coexist backwards; but there nevertheless is a greater power whose laws are Divine and yet to be understood by mankind.