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Sir: On April 12 Daily Times carried a story titled, ‘Buddha statue dismantled at Lok Virsa’ on its front page. The culprits, according to the report, were students from a nearby madrassah (seminary). This is not the first time madrassah students in Islamabad have damaged or destroyed public property that had significance for religions other than Islam. In a similar incident, a few years ago, the students of a seminary in Islamabad had set on fire and almost destroyed an ancient banyan tree in a protected wooded area in the foot of Margalla hills. The tree was said to have some historic significance for Buddhists and attracted visitors and even tourists from Japan and South East Asia.
In a far more serious and tragic incident a few months ago (which was widely reported in the press) protestors, including students from different madrassahs of the city, rampaged through Melody Market in Islamabad, setting fire to the only cinema house in the capital. They were protesting the murder of Maulana Azam Tariq that had taken place a day earlier. Since they had been taught that movies spread obscenity in society, they found the cinema house and the people associated with it a fit target for their rage. When the poor watchman of the cinema house tried to escape the burning building, the protestors mercilessly started throwing brickbats at him thus blocking his escape. The young man died inside the smoke-filled building.
Yet we are told, rather too frequently, that the madrassahs in Pakistan impart only religious education and do not train terrorists. Perhaps they do not specifically teach or train students to destroy public property or kill innocent citizens, but clearly whatever they teach these young students creates a mindset that thinks nothing of destroying a harmless statue, burning an ancient tree or, when the circumstances are so created, even killing an innocent person. As Fareed Zakaria wrote in a recent article, terrorism is not necessarily directed; it is usually inspired.
Carve up the provinces
Sir: First, let me say Happy second Birthday Daily Times. Like most two-year-olds you are eminently quotable and I love from ‘back home’ even if I don’t recognise half the faces on Sunday.
Now to your editorial (Musharraf and the NFC logjam, Daily Times, April 13, 2004). Did you stop to consider that the ‘mistrust’ smaller provinces evince could possibly stem from the sheer size of Punjab? Punjab is intimidating. However, Punjab carved into three provinces on linguistic (hence cultural) basis i.e., the Pothowar, the Lahore and the Seraiki belts would get rid of mistrust. While we are at it, why not create two provinces out of the Frontier and two from greater Sindh? The provinces would be easier to administer because they would be smaller and more integrated within themselves.
In India in the last three years three new provinces have been created and the experiment seems to be working. But of course we don’t learn because we don’t want to. Ask me: I’m Punjabi!
Sir: While visiting the UK, I saw that every area of the city has a cleaner. The cleaner would come everyday and walk around the area with a cart and brooms. Apart from cleaning the area, he would also remove any garbage lying around.
In contrast, in my area, University Town, we have cleaners who come in early in the morning to sweep the area. Their visits are not regular even though all they have to do is sweep the area. And despite this the roads of University Town are a mess, especially the road around the Customs office. I would like to request the respected authorities to take note of this problem and take necessary action.
ZEESHAN BASEER KHAN
Sir: Karachi is the biggest seaport and the business centre of Pakistan. It is a beautiful city and its people are friendly. The city of Karachi has the capability to accommodate and integrate people coming from various regions.
However, it seems as if the number of beggars in the city is increasing day by day. Large numbers of beggars are found everywhere — near traffic signals, shopping malls, restaurants, mosques, holy shrines etc. Begging has now become a profession and the beggars operate in specified areas. It seems as if a begging mafia allots areas to beggars. Most of these people are not only beggars but also professional thieves or pickpockets. Groups are also involved in kidnapping children.
Strict action should be taken to rid society of this scourge. The people should also realise that they need to discourage this trend by not giving alms to professional beggars.
What we need to win
Sir: Once again the Indian cricket team has proved its mettle by showing discipline and motivation. On the other hand, the Pakistan team has made it clear that it suffers from weak leadership, indiscipline and lack of motivation.
One can see ‘fundamentalism’ creeping into the team. Saeed Anwar has said that he has convinced four of his fellow members to join the Tablighi Jamaat. Cricket has to be played under fixed rules. It is becoming more competitive and demanding everyday. I hope our players do not think that growing beards and saying ‘Inshallah’ will win them games. If they want to win games, they have to put in disciplined hardwork.
I would also like to suggest to the chairman, PCB that he should arrange for the players to have lessons in spoken English. These players represent Pakistan and they should be able to communicate in English while being interviewed by the international media.
Prayers and politics
Sir: It is essential that we keep in touch with history so we can understand our ‘tragicomic’ present and be prepared for the future. It would also help understand our present predicament. We might even end up siding with the Patriots and others who are asking President Pervez Musharraf to carry on and on and on…
Back in 1979, Lt. Gen Faiz Ali Chishti asked General Ziaul Haq if he (Gen Chishti) could be promoted to the post of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and some one else could be appointed Chief of Army Staff. Zia said he did not trust anyone. He added that if he appointed some one else as the COAS he himself would be at his (COAS) mercy. Chishti commented that if Zia was unable of trusting a single individual out of 40 generals, the country was doomed.
Chishti and other generals had also suggested that Zia appoint a deputy Chief Martial Law Administrator, just in case anything happened to him but they were told that it would be better if they kept praying.
Perhaps that is what we also need to do. Start praying.