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Friday, September 21, 2007

Creative Thinking and The Creation

You may believe that the present is the key to the past, but what if The Present has been 'created' as is, and there is no such thing as The Past?

For those of you who need a nudge from your science-infested arrogance, to return to belief, the Institute for Creation Research offers a great deal of information to counter the propaganda spread by such ignoramuses as Charles Darwin, Julian Huxley, and the evil-mouthed Richard Dawkins. Here's an extract from an article by Andrew A. Snelling, Ph.D., of ICR, that finally trumps all the fallacious logic which has resulted in conclusions based on faulty extrapolation of evidence.
The Appearance of Age at Creation

At the marriage feast in Cana (John 2:1-11) Jesus commanded servants to take huge water pots and fill them with water. He then told the servants to draw from the pots and take it to the Ruler of the Feast, who deemed it excellent wine. However, the Ruler of the Feast had used the assumption that the present is the key to the past! He used his own reasoning based on what he knew happens in the present. He assumed, based on everyday experience, this wine had come from grapes grown on vines, grapes that had been harvested and crushed, fermented, and bottled. He thought it had taken a long period of time, but he was wrong. Jesus had, in fact, created this wine. This then is the characteristic of anything God does in creation. From our experience it has an apparent age, an appearance of a non-existent history. And why did Jesus do this? He did it to meet an immediate need.

When God commanded the fruit trees into existence He created them already bearing fruit. If we went back in time, we would have looked at those trees and would have said that they had taken years to grow and mature. But God created a mature, fully-developed creation, because it was meant to be in existence immediately so that when Adam and Eve walked the earth three days later, their food needs would be met.

What do many people say today? They say the world "looks old," therefore the Bible is wrong or God has deceived us. No, God has not deceived us, because He told us what happened in His eyewitness account in Genesis 1. God saw what He made and said it was very good. He was present. He was fully capable of recording and preserving for us His eyewitness account so we would know what happened at creation with absolute certainty. The Gospel accounts give Jesus' stamp of approval on Genesis 1 as the historical record of the earth's beginning. God's timetable for the creation was that He spoke the earth into existence.

Yes, the earth has an appearance of age. But if we use the wrong assumptions to interpret the evidence, we come to the wrong conclusion that the earth is very old, when God clearly says it isn't.
Evolution is not the only misleading theory under attack by the people at ICR, which claims that its "articles are written by top professionals in the fields of geology and biology."

"Global Warming may affect some parts of our society negatively ... but would likely benefit others. In fact, the current warming trend may be returning our global climate closer to that prevalent in the Garden of Eden...", says Larry Vardiman, Ph.D., also of ICR.

Hmmm ...

Dr. Snelling bases his conclusions on the Bible, but what about Dr. Vardiman? I searched and searched ... and finally found the book from where he got his great insight.


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Monday, September 17, 2007

Update: The eCrime Bill Videos are ALL uploaded!

The proposed eCrime Bill is the subject of several blogs (including a couple of posts on this blog). It affects everyone. It needs your understanding and input.

This is the ~90 minute presentation that Lawyer Zahid Jamil made at T2F. It's been broken into under 30~minute chunks for convenience.

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

Part 3 -

The brief follow-up one-to-one Q&As that cover a few specific situations are a good starting point, if you do not want to watch the longer videos right way -

Please circulate these links widely. Thanks.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

T2F Q&A: CyberCrime Bill - Flaws and Dangers

Ok ... Until a permanent and larger space is found for all the stuff, I am running some clips on this post. Also, for those in Karachi who missed the session, the 2 hours or so of videos will be available on a CD for the nominal cost of Rs. 30 at T2F from next week. It's a bit large to post on the 'Net and breaking it into 10-min chunks (as now required by YouTube) is not a pleasant solution. However, I believe that the clips you see below will do more than enough to get you thinking and participating, since they deal with YOU!

Lawyer Zahid Jamil is seen responding to the questions in all of the videos hosted here.

If you are just a citizen who uses Computers and wants a law to deal with cybercrime you may find that you have no protection against such a law if it is misused.


* * Dentists


* Doctors


* Photographers/Bloggers


* Marketeers/Programmers


* Educators/Researchers


* ISPs (Does the Government think it means Inadvertent Service Providers?)


* IT Professionals and Companies that receive outsourced work


Everyone is going to be affected. So, spread the word. Write to Newspapers. Question this on TV Channels. Write to the Ministry. Apply all the pressure you can.

Download the 3 PDF files that are recommended reading.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Draconian Law In The Offing!

Death penalty proposed for cyber terrorism!
Leghari says e-crimes bill to be enacted soon!

Friday, August 24, 2007
ISLAMABAD: The Electronic Crimes Bill 2007 has already been approved in principle by the federal cabinet and will be enacted soon through an act or an ordinance.

Addressing a news conference here on Thursday, Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said under the porposed legislation the FIA would probe the e-crimes.

The minister said the e-crime law would require the internet companies to maintain their traffic data for at least six months to enable the agencies to investigate cases involving data stored by them.

Illegal interception in electronic communication like e-mail of another person will get five-year imprisonment or a fine of Rs 500,000. Whoever commits the offence of cyber terrorism and causes death of any person shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, he added.

Leghari said anyone involved in attempt to obtain confidential information of any other through electronic device like network system or router will get up to two-year imprisonment or a fine of Rs 300,000.

An imprisonment for three years will be awarded for data damage crime like illegally manipulating the financial record or other important information of an organisation.

Similarly three-year imprisonment will be awarded in case of misuse of electronic system or electronic device in which a person develops a software or hardware with trap door for manipulation.

Persons involved in unauthorised access to codes will get three-year imprisonment, the minister said.

Such misuse of encryption and using malicious code will invite imprisonment of five years, while a person involved in cyber stalking will get seven-year imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs 300,000.

Answering a question, he said the government had followed a thorough consultative process, including study of similar laws being practiced in 42 countries.

Responding to a question, Leghari said illegal use of name of political parties for issuance of press material would also be a punishable crime.
Those of you who missed the above news report may be excused for not panicking. And those who did, too, may be excused for thinking that we certainly need to prevent the upsurge in cyber crimes, so - other than the matter of one's personal opinion on Capital Punishment - the idea and concept seem ok ... Why make a fuss?

Well --- here's what one blogger has to say after the first session on the bill was held at T2F: For two hours yesterday, Barrister Zahid Jamil scared the living daylights out of everyone who showed up at T2F for the session on the E-Crime Bill 2007. We had heard rumors about this draconian Bill but it wasn’t until all the arcane legalese was presented in “normal” language, that we actually “got it”. Read the rest, too. A post on The Lootmar Blog on the subject is well worth a read.

Breakfast at Dawn had IT industry's Omniprotestant Jehan Ara and Lawyer Zahid Jamil as guests. Watch the video (which will also going to be posted on YouTube, soon)!

Think again ... and "Be Really Scared!" (which was the theme of second session held at T2F).

"Surely, CyberStalkers should be punished - they are a menace and a danger", you say. Absolutely! But don't we need to be really clear about what is CyberStalking to know what actions would be covered by the definition? Spamming, for example, is a hideous and annoying offence, and should carry a penalty - perhaps even equal to that proposed for CyberStalking, in the opinion of some. But it is NOT CyberStalking, so it cannot (and should not) be covered by that portion of the law. It requires a separate definition and a separate clause for a charge to be correctly made.

And this lack of clarity is one of the many problems with this Bill becoming a Law (and through an Ordninace, at that)! Experience and record shows that when Laws are vague, the only ones that take advantage of the loopholes are hardened criminals and the government (many would find that redundant). Honest citizens can get entrapped into a rigmarole - on grounds of someone's political opposition or personal vendetta - for long and un-affordable periods, with great personal losses, financial and emotional, that they cannot ever recuperate ... as Faisal Chohan learnt, sadly.

The definition of CyberTerrorism - for which a death penalty has been proposed - is not just vague, it's outright wrong! Shouldn't depriving a person of his life through carelessly and stupidly put-together laws be punishable, too?

Watch this space for more news and info on this bill that threatens the freedom of everyone who uses a computer or a cellphone.

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Noel Coward Remembered (WARNING: PG13)

Yesterday evening I played back all 3 of Noel Coward's vinyls that I own - scratches and all - and was transported to the wonderful days when, on our family wind-up gramophone, Abi and I would listen to "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" (or, later, on my first Zenith Stereo, to that utterly delightful "I Wonder what Happened to Him").

Last night I had a conversation about NC and recalled two of his ribald poems I first heard in the late 60s - from Les Eley at a pub in Manchester (Are you still around, Les?) - over a pint of Bulmer's Extra-Strength Cider. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did.

The Dromedary

The sexual urge of the camel
Is stronger than anyone thinks:
This perverted but passionate mammal
Has designs on the rear of the Sphinx.
But the Sphinx's posterior orifice
Is choked with the mud from the Nile,
Which accounts for the hump on the camel
And the Sphinx's inscrutable smile.

& the even more risqué


Those portions of a woman
That appeal to men's depravity
Are fashioned with considerable care ...
And what to many may appear
A simple little cavity
Is really an elaborate affair.

Now doctors of distinction
Have examined these phenomena
On numerous experimental dames,
And classified these articles
Of feminine abdomena
And called them nice exciting Latin names.

There's the Vulva and Vagina,
And the jolly Perineum,
And the Hymen that one hopes to find in brides;
And lots of little gadgets
That you'd love (if you could see 'em) -
The Clitoris ... and God knows what besides.

So, isn't it a pity
When we common people chatter
Of these mysteries to which I have referred,
That we use for such a delicate
And complicated matter
This very short and unattractive word?

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Religion's Magical Mystery Tours

Some of you may recall Rashad Khalifa (sometimes also referred to as Khalafa) and his Miracle of 19 - a mathemagical and computational 'proof' of the Divine origins of the Qurãn. Why a True Believer should look for scientific proofs to validate his beliefs is beyond me, but it certainly caught the imagination of a lot of people. You can read some details by others, too, here, if you are unfamiliar or wish to become more familiar. The gist of it, for others with less time, was that a so-far not clearly explained verse in the Qurãn seems to assign some significance to the number, 19. Khalifa postulated that this was a kind of 'checksum validater', since far too many occurrences of the multiples of 19 abounded in the book. There were, to start with, 114 chapters (19x6) and scores of other such incidences.

Ahmad Deedat, the brilliant debater and, primarily, an [anti-]Bible scholar ... (and I wish to emphasise this to clarify that he was NOT, as some have begun to insist, a scholar of the Qurãn or of Islam ... ran with the idea, making delightful presentations of this theory (initially without even categorically acknowledging the source) until the theory was challenged from within and without and even called deceitful. To add to the problems, referring to Khalifa became a serious embarrassment after Rashad Khalifa's proclaiming some form of prophethood - so Deedat and his students (among whom, though now in opposite camps, are Zakir Naik and Muhammad Sheikh) dropped the '19'-related videos and pamphlets like hot bricks. The last straw came when, holding his own theory above the Holy Book, Khalifa decided to 'expunge' two verses from the Qurãn after he discovered that they did not fit in with his calculations. Errrrr ...

Rashad Khalifa - who also taught that the end of the world will come in 2280 - was, not too surprisingly, assassinated, after he professed that he was sent by God to purify Islam from all fabrications and injections and to restore The Message to its original. He thus claimed to have rightfully removed what he insisted were Satanic Verses (9:128 & 9:129). Incidently, he was stabbed to death 29 times, a number not divisible by 19 as a tabloid noted.

A recent email from young friend, KK, brought back memories of Khalifa and the time some of us spent diving into Al Mu'jim ul Mufharis to confirm or reject his 'theory'. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to weave RK into the preamble before commenting on the mail itself.

OK. With that out of the way, over to the email (which quotes a website) and my responses:

• Very interesting findings of Dr. Tariq Al Swaidan might grasp your attention: Dr. Swaidan discovered some verses in the Holy Qur’an that mention one thing is equal to another, i.e. men are equal to women. Although this makes sense grammatically, the astonishing fact is that the number of times the word man appears in the Holy Qur’an is 24 and number of times the word woman appears is also 24, therefore not only is this phrase correct in the grammatical sense but also true mathematically, i.e. 24= 24.

While one cannot argue with the grammatical correctness, many would assert that the notion of gender equality in the Qurãn is riddled with enough statements - such as laws of inheritance, the status of witnesses, and more - to make the matter of 'unqualified equality' (and I am not talking of 'similarity') debatable within the various sects and scholars of Islam. However, here, I am concerned with the mathematics of Swaidan's claims.

First, let me state the obvious: The words that appear in the Quran are neither 'Man' nor 'Woman', but their Arabic counterparts, right? So, are we going to count all instances of the words that stand for 'Man' & 'Woman'. And shall we not take 'Men' & 'Women' into account, too? Of course, if we look at an English Translation - and I am using Abdullah Yusuf Ali's text at the moment - I am assuming that simple words like Man and Woman have not been translated radically differently and some degree of accuracy (within reason) would still result.

So, Dr Tariq: Take your pick, preferably one that suits your argument best, and then s-t-r-e-t-c-h it a bit. Well, more than a bit, actually ... because, in this translation of the Qurãn, Man appears 144 times, Woman 14 times! Men appears 213 times, Women 108 times.

And what about including Male and Female? At least for those occasions where the beings under discussion are humans (and not animals)...

• Upon further analysis of various verses, he discovered that this is consistent throughout the whole Holy Qurãn where it says one thing is like another.

I am sure 'like another' cannot include opposites, making examples, such as "Life 145 .... Death 145", pose a bit of a problem (albeit, only for people with some form of a brain). But let us waive this objection, too, and even allow words that have some perceptible links (synonymous, antonymous, whatever...) to each other to be included. This would certainly permit the Life/Death example to be used. But what connections can you see between the first and second word in the following 'pairs', chosen from the submitted list?

• See below for astonishing result of the words mentioned number of times in Arabic Holy Qurãn:
Benefit 50 .... Corrupt 50

Misled People 17 .... Dead people 17

Mind 49 .... Noor 49

Muslimeen 41 .... Jihad 41

(Does that mean Muslimaat have no connection with Jihad, then?)

• And, amazingly enough, have a look how many times the following words appear: Salat 5, Month 12, Day 365

I must admit that, in the case of Salat, I was unsure of whether I should search for 'prayer', 'worship', or both. So I left that. (Later, in the Mu'jim, I found it mentioned 68 times. Not 5. But I could have made a slight mistake in counting).

Month appears 11 times, Months 13 ... I guess one could take an average to prove a point.

Day: 535, Days: 31 really threw me off, though. So I request someone who is reading this post - and understands Arabic - to please list (in the comments box) all the possible words for Day that I should look for in the Mu'jim.
Until then, I am working out possible ideas that could explain what, at first glance, seems to be a flaw in 'Reason'. Here's one: Day (535) + Days (31) - Surahs (114) Names of God (99) = 353. Now add 12 to it and you not only get the correct number of days (365), you also get to see how important the correct number of Imams is to the takmeel of Islam.
• Finally ...
Sea 32, Land 13

Sea + land = 32+ 13= 45

Sea = 32/45*100 = 71.11111111%

Land = 13/45*100 = 28.88888889%

Sea + land 100.00%

Modern science has only recently proven that the water covers 71.11111111 % of the earth, while the land covers 28.88888889

If the number of references is correct, that would have to be an amazing coincidence. But, by now, the combination of suspicion about Swaidan's 'integrity', my limited knowledge of Arabic, the appearance of accurate-to-8-decimal-place numbers ... all lead me to one state: I am confused. This is furthered by the fact that in the first quarter of the whole 230-page PDF of the English translation I have already counted 45 incidences of Land ... so something is amiss.

One could excuse misunderstood coincidences ... but juggling figures around and fitting them into places of choice is not defined as a coincidence, dear Doctor. And every belief system has charlatans like you, who work on the principal (wrongly attributed to Barnum):"There's a sucker born every minute!"

To those who fall for such fraudulence, I can only say that your gullibility serves to strengthen Sam Harris's view: "Religion remains the only mode of discourse that encourages grown men and women to pretend to know things they manifestly do not (and cannot) know."

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Years ago, while teaching at Hamdard University's HIIT in Karachi - set up by friend, Samir Hoodbhoy (the elder brother of Physicist-Activist Pervez H.) - I was also provided an opportunity by an older 'friend', Syed Mumtaz Saeed, who then headed the sister-institute, HIMS, to address its students for a few weeks and to introduce them to some modern thinkers in a few areas of my interests. My choices included Edward de Bono, Alvin Toffler, Ray Kurzweil and Timothy Leary in the list of the 8 or 9 people and ideas we discussed.

Among the 'Futurist' sessions - possibly the one in which Toffler's concept of Waves was discussed - we looked at what the shape of Education, Business, Health Sciences, Communications and much else would be at some well-into-the-future date. Discussions and questions about post-Humanism and Singularity intially shocked and then intrigued many of the students who, apparently, had rarely been exposed to such 'open' and sometimes 'controversial' discussions. But when I went on to Religion (for which my strength - and you do require some bravado to teach anything sensibly these days - came from my initial interactions with Hakim Said, which I shall blog about soon) and posed the question of what Belief Systems would look like in situations resulting from the above, there was confusion, to say the least. Someone rather angrily (but not too angrily) shouted "Islam Is Forever". I said that that was an acceptable response and we should then try to extrapolate what the practice(s) of Islam would be like in the future ... after all, who a thousand or so years ago, would have predicted the varied ways in which Islam is practiced today. That not only lowered his boiling point but led to our very enjoyable discussions, later, in the cafeteria.

I have often wondered if anyone in the class at that time - a violent one for Karachiites, but not because of religious differences - could have envisaged the veiled threats that we witnessed during the Lal Masjid crisis. Or predicted the international scourge of the fundamentalism of today as the imminent future of religious societies. Or how this violently divisive trend would be affected way into the future after possible encounters with a different set of little green men.

And speaking of extremism and its consequences, those of you who have seen the film, Jesus Camp, or watched with horror the videos of how almost every religious creed seems bent on destroying the minds of its young may even ponder - like many did in the late 60s and some are sadly voicing now - if it's sensible to bring children into this world today :-( Reminds me of the scene in Quo Vadis, one of finest film epics ever made outside of Cecil B DeMille's kingdom, when Petronius, sickened by Nero's burning of Rome, decides to end his life and sends his last letter to the emperor (super-superbly played by Peter Ustinov), that states, "To die in your reign is a pleasure. To be born in it, a miscalculation."

Hindsight tells me I should have run a joint session (and I do not mean that kind of joint!) with HIMS & HIIT students and explored the possibility of an OpenSource Religion. Does that seem crazy? Remember Haldane's Law - 'The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we CAN suppose!' - as you explore Yoism.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

More T2F evenings

The hall was packed for 3 recent sessions at T2F: Ardeshir Cowasjee, Ayesha Siddiqa, and Javid Iqbal (Retired Chief Justice and the youngest son of Allama Iqbal), whose session was preceded by a documentary called Beyond Partition.

Ardeshir's session has been covered well (like most things) on Jehan Ara's blog. And his advice to young Pakistanis ("Leave. Or suffer.") made the Indian press - quoting the Daily Times (where it made the Karachi Edition, only!) - just hours after he uttered these words.


Ayesha Siddiqa & the Oxford University Press, as many of you know, had trouble launching her book (Military, Inc.) in Islamabad. While no 'ban' was placed upon it, pressure from the powers that be prevented them from organizing the event at almost every place they tried. The book, for days, was sold almost under the counter by stores that carried it, for fear of offending the unnameable. T2F was unofficially told by the co-organizers at the time of the event that that there were "no guarantees" that it would not get into trouble. Often, such threats - like virus hoaxes that flood our eMail boxes - are more in the minds of the people. But, as the saying goes: "Just because you are paranoid, it doesn't mean they are not out to get you!"

Ms. Siddiqa, while a good conversationalist, with a very pleasant personality, had very little to add to what her study has already revealed. She certainly did not venture into providing more revelations - though she did fill in some details. Her response to many questions was that the questioner read the book first. This was by no means a cheap way to promote her book (already OUP's biggest/fastest seller to date, not counting their reference books). People seemed to constantly ask questions about parts they thought (gathered through hearsay) were in the book - while, often, the view she had expounded in it was quite the opposite of what she was being lumped with.

The session was rather limp, I thought - and not because the author was. Members of the packed audience kept asking her how we ("we the people") could stop the army swindles, what could be done to send the army back to the barracks, and more such stuff, as if writing this book had now made her the Oracle of Delphi. There were a couple of amusing energetic exchanges (with the energy generated being more Heat than Light) when certain people insisted upon being heard and the moderator, Tammy Haq, thought they were being irrelevant or delivering speeches, rather than asking questions during the Q&A.

I believe a discussion of the rumours that she and OUP had been threatened or were about to be sued would have added some fun ... (Digression: Mushtaq Yusufi says, "Pakistan is unique in that most rumours about it are true.") ... But such topics were not broached, for obvious reasons. Ardeshir, among the audience (he's a frequent T2F visitor) had his usual cynical interjections, which I enjoyed. What did come across from the session was that the most popular military personality among civvies was General Dissatisfaction.


Beyond Partition turned out to be a good example of a well-made garden variety documentary. It offered a collage of scenes from old and new films interspersed with interviews of Directors, including Shyam Benegal and Sabiha Sumar. Though not ground-breaking in terms of either the format or presentation, it nonetheless held the audience's attention, specially that of the rather large young shanaakht-searching group present who were not familiar with many of the movies discussed or quoted. I'd say, it was certainly worth a viewing.

Shyam Benegal's assertion near the end of the documentary that there are 3 Indias - the Geographical, the Cultural, and the National - may be true (as it would be for most large countries) ... but to state that the last-mentioned category included Pakistan and Bangladesh was, IMHO, way out of line. I would have accepted - within certain parameters - his view if he had placed the two neighbouring chips of the old block together in the second category.

The trouble is the widely-held Indian belief that the 2-Nation Theory failed after BD separated - and I come across this among a variety of people in my trips to India as well as among some Pakistanis - always seems to assume that its failure means we really were one nation. Sure, the 2-Nation Theory has many detractors and some questionable aspects accordin to them, but the formation of BD could equally well have proved that we are 3 or --- with the passage of time and the further inevitable break up of large groups of people into smaller ones --- even more nations. (Anyway, I am no one to speak of these matters since I do not accept ideas of nationhood and identity in the way they are promulgated, anyway.)

The session that followed --- and lasted well after the formal one (moderated by Mujahid Barelvi) was over --- started with Justice Javid Iqbal (JI, from now on) explaining in his still-youthful (at 81!) and passionate manner how Pakistan's current flirtation with Islamic Fundamentalism is a far cry from the view of the Muslim Reformationists (Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Dr. Allama Iqbal, to name two) who were the catalysts of the final ideas that led to Jinnah sahab's proposals. He also emphasised that the country came about because of Nehru's (and the Congress Party's) obstinacy and conspiracy, more than Jinnah's doings since Jinnah had been an apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity and would not have wanted to see India break up.

Much of what JI said, apart from the above - and the intermittent references to progressive Islam - was the stuff of books and the young members of the audience seemed less interested in it than they were in their own questions. Many were heavily critical of the people and ideas that earlier generations have held in official high esteem and never questioned. It seems that, despite our break-away from Hindu-dominated India, we have many more sacred cows here, which brings to mind Bhutto's classic quip when he trounced JI in the elections in their co-constituency in Lahore. "I have slaughtered the sacred calf", announced an exuberant ZAB.

Matters that he did not (or could not) tackle were those that questioned the vision - or the alleged lack of it - of the Founding Fathers and the inevitability of a feudal-run state when almost the entire leadership among the Muslims was beleaguered with Nawabzaadahs, Knights, Chaudharis, and Sardars. The very first comment that came from a young blogger attending the event stated that the 'leaders' had no 'connect' with the people they professed to lead and, like in Manto's famous Toba Tek Singh, many just became Pakistanis overnight in the interior of Punjab, without really knowing or understanding what Pakistan meant. Equally inevitable, it seemed to some, was the fundamentalist-leaning nature of a state created through a separation on the basis of communities that differed from each other primarily (if not solely) in religio-cultural practices. A secular Pakistan would most certainly have been a strange thing to carve out of a secular India. An activist wondered aloud whether the Hindu majority - had India been left undivided - could have really trounced or even ignored entirely a sizeable Muslim minority, given that the population of Muslims in India would have been 3 times its current figure with Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations added.

The most alarming remark that JI uttered was in response to the question that, though asked by one young person, echoed the thoughts of many: To what do we owe the mess that Pakistan is in? Without batting an eyelid, JI's odd - and totally ludicrous - retort was, "The young. Because they have strayed from the values and goals." C'mon, Sir. With apologies and reverence for your seniority, may I remind you that you have meted out Justice; You have been in a position that requires unemotional, cool, logical thinking before passing such sweeping judgements. Be willing to accept that your generation (and mine) passed little to the young in any form or shape worth keeping or being proud of. Corruption, nepotism, lawlessness, slavish boot-licking of foreign powers for personal gains, indecent politics, loot-maar, apathy, personal glorification, hypocrisy, hero-worship, martial-laws, horse-trading, continuing class wars, provincialism, the worst aspects of nationalism, sectarianism, ethnic and linguistic strife, destruction of institutions, and worse, is all they have seen while growing up. Fortunately for us (and them), there are a few people like Edhi still around (and like Akhtar Hameed Khan in the recent past) for them to understand that even one person can make things happen. This is what will keep their activism and spirits alive. These are the people whose biographies should replace those of trivial personalities in textbooks so that role models are established early.

If I see any hope, it is in the current set of 20-to-30-somethings who are sick and tired of all they have been short-changed by and who realise that setting this country right is not merely an abstract nationalist-crap-infested duty but a fight for survival for them. I have great faith in them ... and feel that the least we can do in supporting their last ditch efforts to set a new direction is to stop making it difficult, stop wrongly blaming them, and get out of their way. They have the energy, the will. They'll find a way. It's their world. Neither you nor I should have much say in it. Perhaps our role is one that the following couplet by my father explains best:
Ek hikaayat haeñ, keh iss raah say jaae nah koee,
Kyaa samajhtay ho keh kyaa haeñ meray qadmoñ ke nishaañ
Years ago I had met JI, That was soon after my CD-ROM, Faiz - Aaj Kay Naam, had been published and Hamdard U had suggested that I do one on the Allama. Though the project died with the dastardly assassination of Hakim Said, JI's recounting of the anecdotes of his father, the irreverent humour, and much else that we discussed had confirmed the fact for me that the Iqbal we knew through state propaganda was a much truncated and deformed version of the man - a strange case where the myth had actually made its hero a lesser being than he probably was.

I asked JI at his very enjoyable T2F session, in closing, how he felt about this distortion of his father's image. "Bardaasht karta hooñ aur gaaliyaañ bhi khaata hooñ" (I live with it and suffer verbal abuse for it), he said, laughing.

All in all, a wonderful evening. The debates that raged after he left will go on forever. But should the ghost of partition continue to haunt generation after generation? Do the young really want to inform their future with this past? I'd love their comments on this subject.

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