April  2003




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Letter from Pakistan- April , 2003

By Bak Mai

ISL-snow2.jpg (38014 bytes) ISL-mustard2.jpg (29194 bytes)
Winter and spring in Islamabad


Dear Readers,

The mania of cricket in Pakistan has finally ended with the ending of the Pakistan cricket team’s hope of entering the World Cup Cricket Championships in South Africa last week. The whole cricket affair has become a farce and while cricket is a very popular sport it also arouses intense passions among people here. Briefly, here is what happened and it involved a Pakistan Army General Tauqueer Zia [ ex-Corps Commander Mangla ], who naturally is the brain behind the Pakistan cricket team.

February 15-28- Act 1 – Scene 1 : Euphoria & Entrance

-- Very glamorous send-off and pumped-up farewell to the Pakistani cricket team at the Lahore Gaddafi Stadium.

-- Amidst search lights and live TV coverage, Captain Waqar Younis arrived in a helicopter a la James Bond and General Tauqueer Zia , head of the Pakistan Cricket Board , and the team players make their entrances.

-- Also making the entrances are the famous Rock n Roll Bands [Vital Signs, Ibrar, Shezad Roy, etc] and thousands of crazed cricket fans behaving like the drunken football mad British crowds [minus the drinks – who knows how many did have a drink?] – sorry folks no short skirted cheer leaders. Still it was good fun all the same.

March 1-8 - Act 1 – Scene 2 :SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fouled Up – Bungling

-- Pakistan cricket team proceeds to successfully bungle each match against the teams that matter. Shoaib Akhter " the so called "Rawalpindi Express" gets an object lesson in the match against India from Tendulkar who single handedly breaks the cockiness of this bowler and team.

Situation is Normal All Fouled Up [SNAFU], which dear reader is the normal state of events in South Asia.

It is found that Pakistan is playing with 10 players and that Shoaib Akhter is playing for the Indian team with 12 players. Ugly rumors of Pakistan team and General Tauqueer Zia being involved in match fixing spread like wild fire.

Act 1 – Scene 3 – FUBAR – Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition- Exit

As the defeat sinks into the fans, TV chat shows and experts call for General Tauqueer Zia’s blood and the cricket team to be disbanded. So much for the promised winner prizes for the team.

As the kid with the cricket bat in the elevator said, the team was greeted on arrival by a shower of tomatoes ." Wasim Akram ko tamatar logon ney phainkey ……………."

Snow in Islamabad

ISL-snow2.jpg (38014 bytes)Yes, it did snow in Islamabad in February [see the photos of the Main Boulevard leading to the National assembly]. The weather [as all small talk among polite, well behaved Gora Sahib and Memsahibs takes place] has been kind to the farmers. There has been a great and glorious, non-stop, cats and dogs, winter rain season. This has brought the five-year-old drought in all parts of south-Asia especially in Sindh, Baluchistan, Afghanistan and Punjab and the Frontier provinces to an end. The fields are ripening with mustard and their beautiful yellow flowers, and the wheat grains are filling up nice and juicy. The farmers in the barani areas of Chakwal /Potohar areas are over-joyed; I hear from my friends in Sindh that Rahim Yaar Khan and the desert areas have received excellent rain.

The Basant Kite flying festival in Lahore netted Rs 10 billion between February 1-14. And folks, Pakistan foreign exchange reserves have moved into double digit billions [$ 10 billion] – the highest in its 50 + years of history. This is due to a combination of circumstances—namely post September 11 restrictions on currency transfers via unofficial " hundi" operators, and the resilience and acumen of export- oriented business groups from historically old business groups – the Memon, Bohra, and Parsee communities of Karachi to the entrepreneurs of Chiniot / Sargodha and the Small and Medium Enterprises [ SME’s ] of Sialkot , Gujranwala in the Punjab.

It was a spectacular winter, and so was the spring season; the flowers and horticulture shows remind you of Omar Kayaam’s Rubaiyat poetry lines. The birds are flying in great swinging elliptical arcs [as against straight lines in the searing June heat] taking their joy and share of the great weather and making merry; the lalis and the sparrows outside my window wake me up with a noisy din as they get their morning rations of bran bread from "Bakewell" Bakery in the F-10 Markaz market in Islamabad. I think the pigeons have had babies judging from their cooing and the "cheen, cheen" noises of the baby pigeons.

Crow Eaters Art Gallery, Lahore

LHR-Crow-eatersglry.jpg (34598 bytes)Went down to see the Crow Eaters Art Gallery on Mall Road in Lahore opposite the Delhi Bakery next to the Tollington market (see left picture). Inside, anwpe4.jpg (24460 bytes) exhibition of old hackneyed miniature paintings with a few pseudo-modern touches applied to no result, overpriced at Rs 10,000 apiece. The view from the top of the Crow-Eaters Gallery roof was far more thought provoking. I took a few shots of the evening sky, with the Tollington Market in the foreground, the old Punjab University Buildings skyline and in between you can see the Government College Main Building Spire (picture on the right). You can buy a few good greeting cards with the paintings of Ajaz Anwar of old Lahore and a nice sketch of Hiran Minar in Sepia toned paper evoking the past.



O ye who believe …., the mad mullahs of the Frontier province’s political party [ MMA- Maulvis , Maulvis And more maulvis ] have managed to

1. Stop a few cable TV operators in Peshawar,

2. Get Friday as the National holiday instead of Sunday and

3. Are trying to put the women in the kitchen and under the veil/ burqa  [preferably of the very functional "shuttlecock" line of cleric fashion.]

Talking of Mad mullahs, a particularly loony follower of Al- Qaeda [Mr Qudoos who was liaising with Sheikh Khaled Mohammed SKM- not Shaukat Khanum Memorial ] ] was nabbed by our ISI from Nisar Road, Westridge, Rawalpindi on March 1. Although SKM is dubbed as the brain behind the September 11 attacks, he was clueless on the power of the almighty US Dollar [US had a prize money of $25 million on him] and US Surveillance technology.

The mad mullah party of Jamat-i-Islami [a women’s group in shuttle cock veils/burqas ] was in touch with him at a flat in the Saddar bazaar in Rawalpindi from where SKM was picked up after the ISI raided and picked up Qudoos from his Westridge house in the Rawalpindi Cantonement suburb . Qudoos’s brother is also under interrogation as he was posted as a major in the Army in Kohat where the PAF chief’s plane crashed.

There has been much gnashing of the mad mullahs brigade’s teeth in the shape of a 50,000 strong Karachi street rally. Reports in the "Independent" and "Herald" monthly magazine indicate that Al-Qaeda terrorists are still hiding along the border towns of Afghan/Pakistan border and that the recent crash of the Air Force Fokker plane with the Air-Chief and next in command officers may have been the work of Al-Qaeda.

It is said that SKM has provided ISI with a list of phone numbers and that he himself was nabbed courtesy his Egyptian comrade who decided to cash in on part [$ 2 million plus re-location to UK] of the $ 25 million US head price. Also nabbed in the arrest was Mustafa al-Hisawai, the alleged financier of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Pakistani Ahmed Abdul Qadus, whose family is closely affiliated to the hard-line religious organization Jamaat-e-Islami.[ originally opposed to the independence of Pakistan in 1947 ] .


Meanwhile in the Democratic Parliament much dog is being cooked [ " Kutta puk rehya hey …"]

and another madness has started with the Mid-East war on Iraq.

Buddha was Right-On when he delivered this sutra

Everything is on Fire

"Monks, everything is on Fire. 

What All is on fire? 

The eye is on fire. 

Forms areon fire . 

Consciousness at the eye is on fire. 

Contact at the eye is on fire. 

And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye -- experienced

as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain -- that too is on fire .

On fire with what? 

On fire with the fire of passion/greed, 

the fire of aversion, 

the fire of delusion. 

On fire , I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows,

lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. ……………………… "

[the Fire Sutra ]



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