Quest for the Truth

The fact that a vast majority of individuals who inhabit our planet tend to stick to the religious beliefs of their parents is beyond dispute. A relatively small number do switch faiths: some because they find the new message appealing, some because they discern greater opportunities, some because of troubled backgrounds and some because contrived circumstances force them to. Those who get disillusioned for any reason tend to join the ranks of the atheists or agnostics.
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Historical Perspectives

Man Disposes and God………..(Cross-checks?)

Soon after the Pope declared the Albigenses, members of a catharist religious sect, as heretics(kafirs) and launched a crusade for their extermination, the first significant engagement took place with the siege of Beziers in Southern France in July 1209. When it was over, the papal ligate Arnaud-Amaury, under whose spiritual and military command the crusader army operated, proudly reported back to Pope Innocent(?) 3 : “Today Your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age or sex”. Prior to the engagement, however, Catholic inhabitants of the city were offered the freedom to leave unharmed, but many chose to stay and fight alongside the Cathars. When the crusaders were about to enter the town, Armaud-Amaury, the Cistercian Abbot-Commander is supposed to have been asked how to tell Cathars from Catholics. His reply: “Kill them all, the Lord will recognize His own”.
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The Family Way

While taking our daughter to the Airport to catch her flight to Scotland, where she worked, we decided, on her insistence, to briefly stop over at her Aunt’s place to enable her to say her goodbyes in person. When what was meant as a few minutes break was seen getting unduly prolonged, my wife sharply prompted her to hurry up and get in the car. My daughter’s smiling response: ” Can’t you see how wide her girth is? I have to hug her goodbye in installments, frame by frame.”

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State of Governance

The Pakistan Tehrik-e- Insaf has emerged as a progressive party in Pakistani politics and its founder President Imran Khan has touched the right chords and made all the right noises on all the vital issues the country is confronted with. There is possibly a single notable exception though. Has anyone wondered that while most of our countrymen were exercising their right to vote, those in some parts of the country weren’t : North Waziristan, because the writ of the government doesn’t extend there; Gilgit-Baltistan, because it doesn’t enjoy any constitutional status and till a few years back did not even have a name; Azad Kashmir, because it is supposed to be an independent entity, in name at least, with its own President and Prime Minister. So what do we see when we look analytically at Pakistan as a state: four provinces, one independent entity( in theory only), a large adjoining area without a proper status, Federally-Administered Tribal Areas(FATA) and even Provincially-Administered Tribal Areas(PATA). Whats more, the national elections of 2013 were the first to be conducted in FATA on a party basis; in all others, the independents getting elected were selling themselves and their constituencies to the highest bidder, which suited everyone admirably. The question we now need to ask ourselves is why after all these years we haven’t been able to integrate all the parts of Pakistan into a common system that grants equal rights and status to all its regions and all its citizens. What is most disturbing about this scheme of things is the silence that envelops it. No party worth its salt talks about such blatant inequalities, not even the morally-driven PTI. The first step towards change and a naya Pakistan is to get the basic governing structure right. Right??

Bottom-line.  For a start, all the regions should be woven into the fabric of a single system and be governed by the same rules, regulations and laws. No region should be federally governed, provincially governed, FCR governed, be without constitutional cover or enjoy extra-constitutional cover. As the saying goes, one country, one system. The next step can be to revive the defunct Divisions, with greater powers being gradually devolved to these divisions and districts. Formation of more provinces can then logically follow, the idea being to make the administrative, justice and security mechanisms more responsive and more accessible.

Pakistan’s National Elections 2013

As the countdown to the National Elections commenced, we came across a number of E-mails and SMSs, advising everyone to cast their votes as soon as the polling begins. When we got to our polling stations early in the morning, the realization suddenly sank in that a whole lot of people had access to the same advice. Anyway, since polling hadn’t started a good forty five minutes after the given time, we decided to go back home and give it another try a little later. When we came back around 1 PM , a kilometer long queue again confronted us; we were lucky though to get ushered in on a senior citizen basis. My polling booth was on the first floor of a Government School, where a U-shaped line had been formed in the narrow corridor.

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