Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


DAWN - Features; May 28, 2003

May 28, 2003


Met office without phone

THE local meteorological office amazingly is without a telephone connection causing inconvenience to institutions, including media men, who want first-hand information about weather forecast.

It is learnt that the meteorological office has been without a telephone connection since long. Its office is located on the outskirts of Bahawalpur city. The distance from the city centre is about three to four kilometres. If any one wants the latest information, he has to travel either on a bike or a rickshaw, which is too costly.

There are reports that a peon of Radio Pakistan, Bahawalpur, has to go daily on a bicycle to collect the forecast report.

The meteorological department is under the administrative control of the Defence Ministry, and the officials serving in its local office are central government employees. The federal government, therefore, should take note of the inconvenience caused by the absence of a telephone connection at the met office.

Weather reports provided by it to Radio Pakistan often vary with those broadcast by PTV in its Khabarnama at 9pm. Listeners to radio and viewers of PTV are puzzled as to which forecast is correct.


THE Bahawal Victoria Hospital will have a new intensive care unit (ICU) soon. BVH is a teaching hospital attached to the Quaid-i-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur. It has a strength of over 1,200 beds, but until now it was without an ICU.

Principal Executive Officer Prof Dr Mohammed Amin has secured the services of a donor, to modernize a portion of the hospital as an airconditioned four-bed ICU with a ‘high dependency patients’ room.

The ICU will have the latest machinery and equipment worth Rs10 million. It will be an addition to this hospital for the benefit of patients not only from Bahawalpur, but also from the surrounding areas.

BVH — an autonomous institution — is currently being renovated with a sum of Rs30 million. With this amount, according to the PEO, new family rooms, bathrooms and wards are being repaired to create a healthy atmosphere and improve the sanitation for indoor patients.


THE forcible introduction of students uniform in the Government College of Technology, Bahawalpur, has compelled students and their parents to lodge a protest.

The college administration under Tevta has enforced the uniform of a blazer-trousers and blue shirt. The blazer, besides being costly, is not suitable during the summer season. Earlier, the students’ uniform was khaki trouser and blue shirt. The students and their parents have urged Tevta to withdraw such orders, which will further burden them financially.

The Balochistan literary scene

MY RECENT visit to Quetta provided me with an opportunity to participate in a literary function which sought to honour a young Urdu poet, Mohsin Changezi, on the publication of his third collection of verses — Uran.

Mohsin Changezi belongs to the Hazara community. The Hazara community of Quetta could be termed an indigenous community of the city in the sense that the bitter memories of their uprooting from the neighbouring Afghanistan in the last two decades of the 19th century has almost gone down the inner recesses of the group’s subconscious and they are, today, bona fide Balochistanis as the Pakhtuns and Balochis themselves. Urdu is almost their ‘second language’ and Persian or Hazaragai — a version of Persian — is the mother tongue.

Mohsin Changezi’s Uran has all the ingredients to make it a worthwhile collection and the speakers of the evening — Ali Baba Taj, Tahir Muhammad Khan, Abid Shah Abid and Justice (R) M.A. Rashid, the Vice Chancellor of Balochistan University — spoke on the grand promise that Mohsin Changezi has emerged to be.

A poet hardly in his 20s, his ghazal poetry appears to be so chiselled and ‘seasoned’ that one does not really know whether to give credit to Mohsin’s temperament or to his mastery over Persian for the linguistic structures that have a ring of classical orientation.

I would like to believe that Mohsin Changezi has the rightful claim to being a fresh, exhilarating voice from Quetta and Balochistan is sure to listen a lot more about his stepping out of the common run of poets in days to come. He is destined to take the place of Ata Shad, who combined the best of Balochi and Urdu hues in his poetry to delightful effect. Ata Shad’s exit from the scene has made Balochistan lose a poet whose presence was sought everywhere in the Urdu-speaking world.

Be it Europe, the US, the Gulf or India, he was one poet who was on every organizer’s list. I believe that no other Balochi poet was equally important to his Urdu and Balochi fans in our times. His death has caused a vacuum insofar as the slot of the popular Urdu poet from Balochistan is concerned. I do not want to dwell further on the obvious.

Now there is a handsome young man in the person of Mohsin Changezi who is being applauded in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi as someone worthwhile. If he does not put on airs, and keeps his cool and concentration, and allows himself to continue his journey and to rise to the areas of higher consciousness then all that is being said about him will surely come to pass.

Tahir Muhammad Khan, the ex-senator and federal minister, in his paper eulogized the promise Mohsin has come to be but cautioned him against complacency which I believe was a good advice as poetry is a domain which does not settle for less. Even the weak couplets of Mir Taqi Mir and Mirza Ghalib are dubbed weak, even a blemish on their reputations, but a great poet has always been given the prerogative of having lean moments or days yielding unsatisfactory compositions.

Abid Shah Abid’s paper was well written and he voiced his pleasure in having a young Balochi poet round the corner who would bring laurels to his region.

TALENTED POETS: How can a visit to Quetta be fruitful without calling on the Baba of Balochi, Abdullah Jamaldini? It was my misfortune not to have met him this time since he was in Noshki and when my friend Dr Shah Muhammad Marri — the editor of Sangat and author or translator of scores of books — informed me that Abdullah Saheb was not in town, it was time for me to leave the city.

A meeting of writers took place at the residence of Muzaffar Hashmi and Dr Zoya Iqbal, who are the sought after couple of Quetta. They have been playing an important role in the intellectual life of Quetta and are quite popular in the literary circles of Balochistan and also Karachi.

Tahir Muhammad Khan also arranged an important sitting with the literary and cultural figures of Balochistan and gave a penetrating account of the literary and cultural developments in the city. Quetta is a fast expanding Metropolis of 1.3 million people and its literary life has also grown rich along with the attendant tensions of growing big.

Dr Shah Muhammad Marri, the editor of the bilingual periodical Sangat, is an important man of letters and historian of Balochistan who has carved for himself a place in the intellectual circles of the country. He briefed me, in particular, about the fast changing socio-economic situation in Balochistan.

In a sitting he made it clear that the stranglehold of obscurantism was the first problem which must be dealt with. The Sardari system is still there, more in practice than on paper.

Dr Marri spoke of two very talented poetesses — Nadira Qambrani and Sabeena Riffat and he was sure that it won’t be before long that their mettle would be recognized. He was quite hopeful that Mohsin Changezi, Nadira and Sabeena were going to create a stir in the Urdu world.

The stir Dr Marri was talking about will be welcome but the book he gave me enriched me immensely. It was Abdullah Jamaldini’s Lat Khana. I believe that this book is an important addition to Urdu literature. It records the literature and cultural history of the literary movement which influenced Balochistan. It has a lot to say about the development of Balochi literature by the Balochi writers of Karachi and Balochistan and has a lot about the role of Lyari in the development of Balochi journalism and literature.

Abdullah Jamaldini is the doyen of Balochi writers. His contribution to the progressive thought in that province is of great importance. He has had a tremendous influence on the Balochi writers and intellectuals and he has been playing a key role in the intellectual life of the province.

Lat Khana should be studied for the socio-politico-economic study of Balochistan and I wish that this book was published in English. No other book could illuminate us more about the contemporary authors of the region who played important roles in various spheres of the Balochi life. Abdullah Jamaldini passed his youthful days in Karachi and he has been a good friend of many a writer of Karachi. Jamaldini Saheb has remembered most of them in his Lat Khana.

Another aspect of Balochistan is that most of its bureaucrats are the old students of Karachi University and it won’t be wrong to say that the Unikarians are in the forefront of the province’s civil bureaucracy. They love their alma mater so much that some of them have to hold back their tears while reminiscing about their youthful days. I was really moved to see the feelings of nostalgia. The Unikarians should pay attention to the fund of goodwill which their Balochi members have for their alma mater.

The Islamization move

THE NWFP Shariat Law Bill, 2003, was formally presented before the NWFP Assembly on Tuesday. The people of NWFP will start seeing the fruits of Shariat in two months time, law minister Malik Zafar Azam promised at a press conference later.

Some of it they are experiencing already — vandalism that knows no respect for the rule of law.

The government was on the defensive when the opposition for once put their voice together to castigate the wreckage wrought by Jamaat-i-Islami activists in Peshawar.

“Are we heading towards anarchy?” asked Sikandar Sherpao of People’s Party (Sherpao).

Awami National Party’s Bashir Bilour was threatening to match an eye for an eye if the JI zealots dared touch the sculpture of red shirt leader Bacha Khan.

Opposition women parliamentarians too raised their voice against the Friday rampage.

And for once, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal women MPAs too broke their long silence, although to defend their party workers for tearing down symbols of ‘obscenity.’ Those covering the proceedings from the press gallery had no clue as to the identity of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal women representatives. Veiled as they all are, speaker Bakht Jehan, who announces the name of every MP who rises to speak, was equally clueless.

But before the debate could turn into a melee, Bakht Jehan intervened and allowed the law minister to present the government’s point of view.

Nobody was above the law, Law Minister Zafar Azam said. And therefore, he said the police had been instructed to register a case against those involved in the destruction of signboards. Interestingly enough, he said, the government would have dealt with those breaking the law, had it known their intentions before hand.

But coming to the Shariat Bill, it will be interesting to see whether the government will allow the proposed law to go to the standing committee for discussion,or force it through the house by the sheer dint of its majority.

What is this Shariat Bill? A detailed look at the three-page document reveals it all. There is nothing new in this document.

It says that Holy Quran and Sunnat will take precedence over every thing. But so also says the Constitution.

It also pledges to bring all provincial laws into conformity with Shariat. What are those laws that according to the law minister would start bearing fruit in a month’s time?

The real purpose of introducing the Shariat Bill is to bring amendments to provincial laws, seventy-one in all, as recommended by the Islamic Ideology Council.

The laws are as old as 1798 and 1802.

Here’s a brief resume of those laws. Cotton Ginning Factories Act 1925, Factories Act 1934, Hazara Forests Act 1936, The Control of Essential Commodities Act NWFP, 1947, The NWFP Kabul River Project Act, 1948, The NWFP Provision of Edibles Act 1948, The NWFP Trees and Brush Wood Protection Act 1949, The NWFP Control of Sugar Mills Act 1950, The West Pakistan Nomads Ordinance 1958, The West Pakistan Pests Harmful to  Crops Ordinance 1959, the West Pakistan Goats Ordinance 1959 and the West Pakistan Rice Ordinance 1959 etc.

Can anybody explain whether by amending “this” in place of ‘that” would turn any legislation into an Islamic law? And pray, what will change after the introduction of the Shariat Bill?

 Will any amendment to the West Pakistan Pests Ordinance 1959 or for that matter the West Pakistan Goats Ordinance 1959 bring any improvement in tangible change in the lives of the hapless people of NWFP?

The Quran and Sunnat remain the supreme law of the land. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan guarantees that.

Has anything changed in Pakistan?

Shoaib Akhtar got off lightly

THE Pakistan team did well enough in the triangular to deserve two cheers. The third must be withheld because it did not bring the experience gathered in the earlier matches into the final. The top order repeatedly failed and there was no attempt to plug the gap and in every match, including the final, it was the middle and lower middle batsmen who had to repair the innings and reach competitive totals.

It was Pakistan’s good fortune that Shoaib Malik ran into useful form and proved to the most dependable batsman. I had written last week that the number three position is a pivotal one in both forms of the game.

Faisal Iqbal had been tried but failed. The job was then entrusted to Yasir Hameed who may be an immensely talented batsman but clearly lacked the experience. The top three batsmen in the final contributed 15 runs between them.

The key to the one-day game is to try and get a platform and not lose early wickets. Most teams have their most experienced batsmen up the order. Pakistan had Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq and Rashid Latif coming at 5, 6, 7, and 8 and any one of them could have gone in much earlier.

It doesn’t say much for these batsmen that need to be protected from the onslaughts of the new ball. It means too that the newer and less experienced batsmen are thrown in the deep end.

I think too it was a mistake to have dropped Taufiq Umar. He may not have been in the best of form but he had the advantage that he was a left-hander. It was too much of a gamble playing Faisal Athar and the general idea is to play your most experienced team in a final.

There is no doubt that Pakistan missed Shoaib Akhtar. He had bowled well and was back to his best. That he should have been caught on television appearing to do something hanky-panky with the ball is not conclusive proof that he was tampering with in order to get an unfair advantage.

But the rules are clear and he should have been aware of them. Jeremy Coney, the New Zealand TV commentator, was making unfriendly noises about ball-tampering and it would not surprise me that it was his comments that egged on the TV producer to show some tight, close-ups and the pictures were pretty incriminating.

Players should know by now that television cameras miss nothing that is going on and Big Brother is watching. Shoaib is too good bowler to be indulging in sharp practices. All things considered, he was, it seemed to me a pretty foolish thing to do.

Shoaib has been penalized before for the same offence in Zimbabwe. In legal terms and police language, he is a repeat offender. In the circumstances he got off lightly. Darren Lehmann had a four-match ban slapped on him for a heat-of-the moment a racist slur he made.

There has been some mild criticism of Gundappa Viswanath, the match referee for being harsh but it must not be overlooked that he had the option of imposing a stiffer penalty and did not do so.

Imagine someone like John Reid being the match-referee! The PCB must ensure that there are no further transgressions of this sort. in the future, PCB should take action of its own. It’s a strange thing about wanting to be in the limelight all the time. Limelight has a way of following you around even when you shun it.

Pakistan will play three One-day Internationals in England and Shoaib Akhtar will have to miss the first of these. It will seriously weaken the bowling attack.

Among the positives of the Sri Lanka tournament was the bowling of Mohammad Sami and Danish Kaneria. Sami has emerged as one of the main strike bowlers. He is the one player who seems to be getting better with every outing and though one should not cry over spilled milk, it makes me wonder why he was not an integral part of the playing eleven in all the World Cup matches.

When I first saw Danish Kaneria bowl, I felt that he had potential but he wasn’t going to another Abdul Qadir. He lacked Qadir’s guile and variety but he has developed into a top class leg-spinner. He mixes them up and is not afraid to toss the ball up.

More than that, he is aggressive and doesn’t like it when he is tonked around and comes back strongly. He brings a positive attitude to his game which means that he will get better.

Both Shabbir Ahmed and Umar Gul are exciting prospects. I see productive careers ahead of them. It is the batting that looks iffy and though these are early days, none of the youngsters appeared to have that touch of class that a Zaheer Abbas or a Javed Miandad had when they first appeared on the cricketing scene. Both had Test hundreds or double hundreds when still in their teens or just out of it.

Pakistan needs a exciting batting prospect around whom the batting will be built in the years to come. Pakistan has always had one such batsman, the first being Hanif Mohammad and the last Inzamam-ul-Haq.

The decision to make the One-day International between Pakistan and South Africa a tribute to Wasim Bari is highly welcome and the PCB is to be congratulated.

Wasim Bari is one of those cricketers who has not been honoured enough in this country. In his days, he was easily the world’s best wicket-keeper and no one before him and since his retirement has been half as good in Pakistan. He has been essentially a private concern who has minded his business and given his best to every assignment given to him, either as a player or a selector or as an executive in PIA.

Wasim Bari was a superstar in his playing days and many a great bowlers owes his tally of wickets to the spectacular catches Bari took. By present standards, he was a quiet wicket-keeper and never demonstrative. But nothing got past him. Needless to say, I wish him all the best and more. He wore the green Pakistan cap with dignity.