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DAWN - Features; May 15, 2002

May 15, 2002

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Managing Quetta’s water resources

By Babar Baloch


WATER resource management has always been a difficult task for a water-scarce province, like Balochistan. The recent drought made this subject tougher to handle.

The provincial capital Quetta and its adjoining areas present the worst case of managing the available water resources. Ground water exploitation has taken place at a very fast pace in this area due to the availability of electricity and good quality of water. Uncontrolled development in this regard is increasing the stress on available ground water resources. This over exploitation of meagre water resources is also drastically decreasing the ground water recharge. Unfortunately the public and authorities remained indifferent in recognizing the extent of this problem and it’s aftereffects.

Agricultural land had been irrigated through traditional means of “Karez” for centuries in Balochistan. These ways complemented water recharge in natural reservoirs and kept the water table intact. However, with the advent of diesel engines and electricity, tubewells replaced the traditional irrigating methods. Quetta also underwent the same metamorphosis.

Tubewell irrigation began in early 70’s in and around Quetta. During the last two decades hundreds of tubewells kept pumping out water, changing the barren outskirts of Quetta into green orchards. But no one bothered to take into account the future cost that was to occur. Farmers, today, watch their 20-year-long investments going in drain, as tubewells are rapidly going dry with the depleting water table.

On the outskirts of Quetta, Hanna Lake, a few months ago, told the sad but true story of water shortage in and around the city. The lake that once used to be a full water reservoir, stood empty with wide mud-cracks.

It was astonishing to hear about a French geological expedition that visited Quetta somewhere in early 1900s, in a discussion of concerned citizens deliberating on the same issue. According to them the French team had warned that in the following 50 years Quetta Valley could drown in water because of an ever increasing water table. The first impression, after hearing this, from anyone, keeping in view the present conditions, would have been a negative head-shake in disbelieve. The credibility of this information is doubted but things must have been far better and manageable than they appear to be now. However, the British did warn city dwellers against using water for extensive agricultural and farming purposes.

The government, to control over exploitation of water, had applied distance restrictions on tubewell installation. Unfortunately it has been unsuccessful in enforcing the said rule. According to reliable information there exist more than 10 tubewells in under 0.5 square kilometres in the city. In most cases every neighborhood has opted for installing a tubewell. This runs very much contrary to water conservation ideas.

The bad state of affairs, today, is also attributed to the flawed official policies regarding water resource management in the provincial capital. Recharge dams were supposed to be built a few years ago for controlling the continued water table depletion, unfortunately this could not be materialized. Instead more tubewells were dug.

According to the agricultural statistics of Balochistan 1998-1999 the total number of tubewells in the province was 22,456. This included 20,346 in the private sector and 2,110 in the public sector. Building recharge dams was the perfect idea had it been carried out. Dams on four sides of the city could have improved the devastating situation. No logical reasons were given when the project was discarded. Water experts have rightly suggested the provincial government to put domestic water supply on the priority list in a report published last year. They also endorsed the idea to heavily tax those who use pumped water to grow orchards or farms. And supported arrangements for the supply of treated sewage water for agricultural use.

Today we are clear that the city is running short of water supplies. And water conservation, now, needs to be our top priority. A collective will is required by the authorities and the public to understand this problem and act wisely. Keeping the short and hard to manage resources it is true that orchard growing in and around Quetta now onwards would be a luxury that few could afford.

Riaz Basra’s career

THE death of country’s most wanted terrorist, Riaz Basra, brought an end to a nightmare haunting the law enforcing agencies, especially in the Punjab, for the past eight years. The ‘encounter’ came as no surprise as the rumour had been for the past three days.

Basra was born in Chak Chah Thandiwala, Sargodha, in 1967. He was the youngest of four sons and two daughters born to Ghulam Muhammad and Jalal Bibi. His eldest brother is an employee of the Auqaf Department in Lahore. The others live in their hometown.

Riaz Basra was admitted to Government Primary School, Mauza Khurshid, but dropped out within a few months for lack of interest in studies. Later, for a few months he received religious education from a local religious leader, Hafiz Ata Muhammad.

When he was seven, his brother-in-law, Maulana Muhammad Feroze Madni, brought him to Lahore where he was admitted to Darul Uloom Islamia, Allama Iqbal Town, where he studied for two years before shifting to Jamia Usmania, Wahdat Road. It was at Jamia Usmania that he memorized Holy Quran. He then started teaching it to children at home.

According to the police record, Basra joined the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan in 1985. Initially, he was elected secretary of its Lahore district organization. He was instrumental in raising funds for setting up the organization’s office on Lytton Road. In 1987 he became central information secretary of the SSP. In 1988 he contested a provincial assembly seat from Lahore.

By now, he had started visiting Afghanistan and according to police reports received combat training at camps run by Harkatul Mujahideen, a militant group now banned in Pakistan. He also fought in Afghanistan and was wounded in the left leg.

By 1990 he was involved in criminal and terrorist activities. The first group of people brought together by Basra for terrorist activities included Sheikh Haq Nawaz (hanged later for killing an Iranian diplomat in Lahore), Zakiullah, Anees Khalid, Master Afzal Saeed (killed in a police encounter), Muhammad Husain, Hafiz Muhammad Ramazan (killed in a police encounter), Muhammad Ahmad Mujahid (the prayer leader at Bilal Masjid, Sabzazar Lahore), Muhammad Yousaf, Masoodur Rahman (killed in a police encounter), Javed Ahmad, Waseem and Sheikh Arif.

Basra was first arrested on June 5, 1992, on charges of killing a Shia leader, Syed Sikandar Shah, and Sadiq Ganji, the Khana-i-Farhang Iran, Lahore, director general. On April 30, 1994, when he was brought to a special court set up on The Mall for the hearing of the case, he escaped. Next, he founded Pakistan’s most dreaded terrorist organization, the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. The name hit the headlines on March 7, 1995, following the killing of Imamia Students Organization leader Dr Muhammad Ali Naqvi and five others on Multan Road, Lahore.

Unofficial reports of a rearrest started appearing in the newspapers in the last quarter of 2001. Official silence on Basra’s arrest and his killing in a shootout in Mailsi tend to give weight to the assertion of Qari Abdul Hai alias Qari Asad alias Talha, also of the SSP, that since his escape in 1994, Basra, had been acting on the directions of certain people within the government.

Qari Abdul Hai, wanted for the 1994 massacre in Shehar Sultan, Muzaffargarh, carries a Rs1 million head-money. At one time he was considered Basra’s most trusted ally. In 1999 a rift developed between Basra and the Qari following the killing and arrest of a number of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi terrorists at the hands of Punjab Police. The Qari accused Basra of being a government agent and an informer and taking decisions which led to the killing of many activists.

The Qari was not the only one who suspected Basra of being a mole. Shakeel Anwar alias Mustafa and Fayyaz Tarar (recently killed in ‘shootouts’ with the police), Tanvir Khan alias Tani Pathan and several others parted ways with Basra and formed a separate faction of the Lashkar with the Qari as the chief.

The reports of Basra’s arrest had raised hopes of a trial that would not only boast the morale of the law enforcers but also expose those responsible for keeping alive the sectarian conflict. The government had tried to conceal the arrest but Basra’s family was said to be aware of it. His mother, Jalal Bibi, was said to have identified, about four or five months ago, a man in custody of the law enforcing agencies as her son, Riaz.

The following are some of the cases in which Basra was nominated:

* FIR No 285/90 (dated December 19, 1990) under Sections 302/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Race Course police station, Lahore, (regrding murder of Iranian consul-general in Lahore). * FIR No. 217/90 under Sections 341/148/149/120B PPC, 16 MPO. Police station Civil Lines Lahore. * FIR No 117/92 under Sections 379 PPC. Shadbagh police station, Lahore. * FIR No 140/92 under Sections 392/511 PPC. Shadbagh police station, Lahore. * FIR No 132/92 under Sections 379 PPC. Allama Iqbal Town police station. * FIR No 174/92 under Sections 379 PPC. Allama Iqbal Town police station, Lahore. * FIR No 144/92 (dated May 30, 1992) under Sections 302/34/109 PPC. Wahdat Colony police station, Lahore (regarding murder of Shia leader Syed Sikandar Shah). * FIR No 134/94 (dated April 30, 1994) under Sections 324/223/224/225/148/149 PPC. Old Anarkali police station, Lahore. (regarding escape from police custody). * FIR No 13/96 (dated January 15, 1996) under Sections 302/34/109 PPC. Allama Iqbal Town police station, Lahore, (regarding murder of poet Mohsin Naqvi). * FIR No 406/96 (dated May 8, 1996) under Sections 302/324/109/34/120 PPC. Satellite Town police station, Sargodha, (regarding murder of Sargodha division commissioner Syed Tajammul Abbas). * FIR No 363/96 (dated December 31, 1996) under Sections 302/34/109 PPC. Kot Lakhpat police station, Lahore, (regarding murder of TJP leader Syed Zulfiqar Shah and three others). * FIR No 198/97 (dated May 6, 1997) under Sections 302/324/34/120-B PPC. Civil Lines police station, Gujranwala, (regarding murder of Gujranwala SSP Ashraf Marth). * FIR No 15/98 (dated January 11, 1998) under Sections 302/324/148/149/109 PPC. Qila Gujjar Singh police station, Lahore, (regarding massacre of 25 people at Mominpura Graveyard). * FIR No 1/99 (dated January 3, 1999) under Sections 302/324/427 PPC, 5-EA 7-ATA. Sattokatla police station, Lahore. — AZMAT ABBAS

Tajwar Najibabadi’s role in free-verse movement

QUITE a substantial space of our literary periodicals has been used up by literary controversies and the claims of ‘whodunit-first.’ The blank verse and free verse movements have also had their share of the ‘fervour.’

I believe that the best alternative to discussing these claims and counter- claims is the discussion of those campaigners and practitioners who proved themselves successful at the end of the day. Maulana Tajwar Najibabadi is, perhaps, the successful campaigner for the vogue of Nazm-i-Muarra. He led a movement for the success of Nazm-i-Muarra way back in the early 1920s and he could be credited with the success of the Blank Verse Movement which gave birth to the free verse’s as well.

Let us, first of all, see as to when the blank verse was introduced. There are many claimants to the vogue of blank verse — Maulana Mohammed Husain Azad, Nazm Tabatabai, Abdul Halim Sharar, Ismail Meeruti, Akbar Allahabadi, Waheeduddin Salim, etc, but the research has finally gone in favour of Maulana Mohammed Husain Azad as per Majmua Nazm-i-Azad published by Syed Mumtaz Ali of the Rifah-i-Aam Press, Lahore, in 1899. This is the first-ever Majumua containing Azad’s poems in a chronological order. The collection contains two poems, Jughrafia-i-Tabaie Ki Paheli and Jazb-i-Duroon, and they have been recognized the first blank-verse poems of Urdu. All other claims have to take the back seat. The 1899 edition is the first edition of Azad’s poems, and not the 1897 edition as claimed by some researchers. There is no doubt that Nazm Tabatabai, with his translation of Gor-i-Ghariban, proved to be the first successful practitioner of the blank verse, but quite a few others, like Ismail Meeruti, Sharar, Waheeduddin Saleem, Akbar Allahabadi, came out with their blank-verse poems and the history of Urdu literature records their contribution.

It was around 1925 that the claims of pioneering the free verse were made in the early 1930s. The free verse movement was a logical continuance of the movement which sought to remove Urdu poetry from the shackles of rhyming. Hali was the first who thought that the rhymeless poems were freer than the rhymed ones, but he had not provided any example —because there was no example by then — and it fell to Muhammed Husain Azad to come up with successful examples. The credit can thus go to Lahore for having introduce blank verse — and then free verse — in Urdu poetry, but its vogue was not without the hectic efforts on the part of Tajwar Najibabadi.

Maulana Tajwar taught at Dayal Singh College and he was the greatest missionary of Urdu among the educated section of Hindu and Sikh population. He was a Jagat Ustad in Lahore who wanted to learn and teach the art of poetry and prosody. Syed Abid Ali Abid, his disciple, did a lot to popularize Urdu literature among the Hindus and Sikhs of the Punjab. It was he who led the blank verse movement in the early 1920s. Among other things the movement worked for was for Indian allusions, legends and landscape in Urdu poetry. He wanted to expunge Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit words from Urdu poetry. What Bhartendu Harish Chandra was doing for Hindi he did for Urdu with the difference that he was opposed to Arabic and Persian vocabulary. He was for the common lingua franca - Urdu or Hindustani - and achieved a modicum of success in having the Geet tradition prosper in the Punjab. Hafeez Jullundhary and Akhtar Sheerani were influenced by this movement. He also wanted to remove the convention of employing ‘male gender’ for the ‘beloved’ of the Urdu poet.

Maulana Tajwar’s crusade had taken a scoutish colour. He would impress upon the salient features of his Movement at literary sittings and meetings. I believe that Lahore had another Tajwar - albeit of a different variety in Mubarak Ahmed - whose spirited advocacy of prose-poem sometimes assumed a comic turn and poets and writers were often seen bypassing him or avoiding him lest they were stopped and asked when he (Mubarak Ahmed) could come and collect the prose-poem to be written on his express demand. Mubarak would travel on his bicycle from Gujranwala and Sheikhupura to Lahore and back and report about his converts. He came to Karachi as well and contacted several poets and writers - including myself. One of the reasons why prose-poem came in for sharp rebuke was the missionary fervour of some of its exponents who thought that the Third World would turn into the First World by switching over its creative energies from the conventional to the prose-poetry. A simplistic way of bringing about an intellectual revolution.

Maulana Tajwar was a spirited advocate of blank verse. It is strange that Lahore’s rightful claim of having pioneered blank verse and free verse forms is due to the writers who were not born in Lahore — one was born in Delhi and the other in Najibabad.

Maulana Tajwar wrote an article in Humayun, in January 1923, titled Urdu Shaeri Aur Blank Verse. He was all praise for it because Shakespeare and Milton had used it to good effect. Maulana Tajwar’s views were so radical - formwise and contentwise - that progressives as well as traditionalists thought that he had some axe to grind - pleasing the Hindus and Sikhs. They forgot that he was equally antagonizing Muslims while asking them to forsake Arabic and Persian vocabulary. But it goes to prove that he was, perhaps, blunting the criticism of those who accused Urdu of being more Arabicized and Persianized than Indianized.

Noon Meem Rashid is also credited with having the same zeal for the free verse which Maulana Tajwar had for blank verse. In those days some writers confused free verse with blank verse. Even some Rashid critics have done that in regard to his poem Inteqam describing it as a model of free verse though it is patently a blank-verse poem. There was a time when Rashid claimed the pioneering role, for himself, for the free verse, but in a letter to Zia Jullundhary dated 7 April, 1975, he retracted from his earlier statement and said that he was not the first poet to introduce free-verse poetry in Urdu and the crown of pioneership was being laid on his head to distract poetry lovers’ attention from the merits of his poetry. Rashid did the same in respect of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. He once derided him and then, in a letter to the editor of Monthly Afkar a month before his death, he heaped praise on Qasmi’s poetry and wished that he would wish to be graced with the inspiration which graced Qasmi. What a way to retract. Maulana Tajwar was no such retractor. He once wrote that the only way to enable Urdu acquire its rightful place as the only lingua franca of the subcontinent was to cleanse it of the Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian encrustation. He didn’t like the allusions of Shirin Farhad, Laila Majoon, the reverential mention of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates and the mountains of Central and West Asia. Quite a sensible way to think but no justice has been done to Maulana Tajwar and even books, like Taaruf, to serve the needs of introductory notes for school and college students don’t have any introductory sketch of Maulana Tajwar. Nuqoosh’s Shaksiat Number discusses him in an article, titled Lahore Ki Chand Adabi Shaksiatain. Syed Abid Ali Abid has authored this article and he has lumped together such outstanding personalities as Saha Mujaddadi, Asghar Gondvi, Maulana Tajwar Najibabadi and Hafiz Mahmud Khan Sheerani in one article, while quite a good number of writers, having lesser stature, have independent articles exuding euphoria and undue enthusiasm.

Maulana Tajwar, undoubtedly, played a seminal role in changing the contours of Urdu poetry.

Cancelling Karachi Test was obvious course of action

By Omar Kureishi


IT may be semantic nit-picking but the New Zealand tour was not called off. The tour had proceeded without a hitch and the three One-day Internationals had been played as well as one Test match. It was just the last match that was abandoned for reasons that had nothing to do with cricket.

It is imperative that it is understood that the New Zealand team was not the target if they were in any danger because of blast, so too was the Pakistan team who were staying in the same hotel. There is no denying that it must have been traumatising and cancelling the Test match was the most obvious course of action, players of both teams being in no mental frame of mind to play.

There is much pessimistic talk that the future of Pakistan cricket has been put in jeopardy and no foreign team is likely to tour Pakistan in the near future. Particularly at risk is Australia’s tour. If Pakistan is a high risk country, so too is every other country in the world. We are living in extremely dangerous times.

Unlike the IRA and the Tamil Tigers which can be described as vertical terrorism, the terrorism against which a war is being waged, is horizontal. It knows no frontiers, no boundaries. There are no obvious targets. Who, in his wildest imagination, could have foretold the attack on the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon? Or, for that matter, what happened at the Sheraton Hotel, in Karachi?

International terrorism must come in the same category as a natural disaster. This is the case that the PCB must place before the Australian Cricket Board. Whatever is humanly possible to provide security to the Australian team will be done, as it was, in the case of the New Zealand team. Can the United Cricket Board of South Africa give a water-tight guarantee that terrorists will not strike during one of the matches of the World Cup 2003? Of course, it can’t.

International media, particularly television channels, have done a loathsome job in projecting Pakistan as a volatile country. Pakistan’s law and order situation may not be as good as we would want it to be but life goes on as it does in other countries which are as safe or as dangerous. Let me just add here that as far back as 1974, when I was manager of the Pakistan touring England, we twice had to evacuate our hotel rooms because of bomb threats. The IRA was pretty active in those days. The thought of abandoning the tour never crossed our mind. These bomb threats were real.

I think there is a need to be level-headed. At the time of the bomb blast, a certain amount of hysteria was perfectly understandable as it is understandable that the New Zealand players should feel traumatised though I must say that the Pakistan players who too were “five minutes away from death”, (Stephen Fleming’s words) seem to have steadied their nerves.

The West Indies are concerned with the form of Brian Lara but the Indians should be concerned with the form of Sachin Tendulkar. At the start of the series, there was much hype about the series deciding who was the greater batsman. But cricket is a great leveller. As in the case of Inzamamul Haq who too went through a wretched lean patch and bounced back with a triple century, I am sure that both Lara and Tendulkar will soon shrug off this lean patch and runs will start flowing from their bats. Presently, they are proving that, like the rest of us, they are mere mortals. And a good thing too because cricket is a team game and no individual is bigger than the game. But what you lose of the swing, you gain on the roundabout.

Tendulkar’s failure have placed a greater responsibility on the other Indian batsmen and Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Vangipurappu Laxman are coming through and as a bonus so too is Ratra with a superb hundred.

For the West Indies, Carl Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul seem to be in top form while Ramnaresh Sarwan continues to bat with great fluency but seems to lose his concentration just when it seems that he is set for the big one.

Sri Lanka will find the going tough since they are touring in the first half of the summer when it is cold and wet and the ball seams about. Without Muttiah Muralitharan, they are half the team.

England have chosen to go backwards and have recalled Alec Stewart and John Crawley and Sri Lanka on its part have included that old war horse Aravinda de Silva. Strange that I should call him an old war horse since I first saw him play as a teenager and I still remember him hooking Imran Khan for a six at Faisalabad. I was doing the commentary and was momentarily speechless.

The recall of these ‘veterans’ is an admission that there is a lot of difference between Test cricket and the one-day game. In Test cricket, the premium is on experience.

Sir Vivian Richards was a part of the commentary team for the Antigua Test match. I think it would be fair to say that he was a better batsman than he is a commentator. But he is still capable of being outrageous. He was asked by Harsha Bhogle (with great reverence) why he (Richards) did not wear a helmet. He said that he liked to chomp on his chewing gum and the helmet interfered with that.

“You have to be comfortable when you are batting,” he said. What an advertisement for chewing gum. He could have made a fortune from Wrigley’s.

Viv is also somewhat guarded in his comments. He would have liked to say more about Hooper’s decision to put India in after winning the toss. Hooper probably thinks he still has Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose in his team.

Star Sports interviewed Wasim Jaffer and the interview ended up as a coaching lesson by Geoff Boycott. The young batsman had played a jewel of an innings. It seemed singularly inappropriate to be telling what he was doing wrong.