Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pakistan gets women combat pilots

The Pakistani Air Force (PAF) has inducted four women as fighter pilots for the first time.

"The women were part of a batch of 36 cadets who were awarded flying badges after three years of gruelling training at the PAF academy at Risalpur.

Being a fighter pilot has until now been a purely male domain. Women could join the armed forces but only for non-combat jobs like the medical corps. Three years ago the PAF decided to allow women to train as fighter pilots."

"It was a passing out parade with a difference. Never before had any woman been part of the batch of fighter pilots being awarded flying badges. And the difference was recognised by the vice chief of the army, Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat, who handed out the certificates of honour to the successful men and women cadets.

Expressing his delight, Gen Hayat said the air force had taken the lead to induct women in the combat units of the armed forces."

"Although these trailblazers were few in number, many instructors admitted their presence was already being felt.

At the passing out, one of the graduating women flying officers, Nadia Gul, received the trophy for best academic achievement along with two of her male colleagues who got trophies for best flying performance and general duties.

The air force academy is still male-dominated, and it is not clear what the real feelings of the male cadets have been to the induction of women into the fighter pilot programme. Officially, most have welcomed the move.

Even so, the fact that four women are now officially fighter pilots is a clear indication that the new policy of opening up the combat units of the Pakistani armed forces for women is here to stay."

News Courtesy of BBC News

Thursday, March 23, 2006

23rd of March - Pakistan Day

23rd March 1940

It was today that All India Muslim League held its annual session at Minto Park, Lahore. Muslims from all over India gathered to attend this session that proved to be historical.

The founder of Pakistan, the great leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, decided to address a public gathering on the opening day. It was a huge gathering of the Leaguers, the Khaksars and the Muslims at Minto Park (now Iqbal Park). Jinnah had expounded the rationale of the resolution in his presidential address that lasted for hundred minutes and frequently punctuated by thunderous applause. Though, most of his audience of over 100,000 did not know English, he held their attention and visibly touched their emotion. He asserted that the Muslims were "a nation by any definition". In his historical address he laid the foundation of a separate state for the Muslims of India:

"The Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs, and literature. They neither inter-marry, nor inter-dine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspirations from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different, and they have different episodes. Very often the hero of one is foe of the other, and likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that may be so built for the government of such a state."

In the end of this session, the Lahore Resolution was passed, which, founded the base for claim of a separate homeland for Indian Muslims, Pakistan.

This Resolution declared: "No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign".

The Resolution repudiated the concept of United India and recommended the creation of an independent Muslim state consisting of Punjab, N. W. F. P., Sindh and Baluchistan in the northwest, and Bengal and Assam in the northeast.

Having passed the Pakistan Resolution, the Muslims of India changed their ultimate goal. Instead of seeking alliance with the Hindu community, they set out on a path whose destination was a separate homeland for the Muslims of India.

"Jinnah's Lahore address lowered the final curtain on any prospects for a single united independent India. Those who understood him enough know that once his mind was made up he never reverted to any earlier position realized how momentous a pronouncement their Quaid-i-Azam had just made. The rest of the world would take at least seven years to appreciate that he literally meant every word that he had uttered that important afternoon in March. There was no turning back. The ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity had totally transformed himself into Pakistan's great leader. All that remained was for his party first, then his inchoate nation, and then his British allies to agree to the formula he had resolved upon. As for Gandhi, Nehru, Azad and the rest, they were advocates of a neighbor state and would be dealt with according to classic canons of diplomacy."

Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan.


Friday, March 17, 2006

The legend of Narcissus & the lake

"The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus.

The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.

But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.

He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

"Why do you weep?" the goddesses asked.

"I weep for Narcissus," the lake replied.

"Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus," they said, "for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand."

"But...was Narcissus beautiful?" the lake asked.

"Who better than you to know that?" the goddesses said in wonder. "After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!"

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:

"I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected."

"What a lovely story," the alchemist thought."

From Paulo Coelho's International bestseller "The Alchemist".

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A rescue-worker's Farewell

Isabelle Giasson of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has spent the winter helping earthquake victims find shelter in remote mountain villages of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Here she recounts her final goodbyes to those she has worked with and helped.

"Today we left the mountain - for good. It is the end of our mission here.

We have been here four months - long enough to get to know people well and to make friends. Leaving them was both painful and emotional.

As we were going, Gul Hassan, who has worked with us from the beginning, came to see my husband, Daniel, and me despite the cold and rain.

He is about 50 years old, but physically very strong.

We always joked with him about the size of his family, teasing him that it could form a village in itself. He is the only man we know with two wives and 14 children.

Although illiterate, Gul Hassan would always insist on trying to write his name rather than putting a cross on paper when receiving his wages.

It was an act of determination that never ceased to impress me.

He had come with two of our other staff from our base village, Datura, to return his IOM hat.

We told him to keep it as a souvenir, a gesture that suddenly reduced this big, strong man to tears. Daniel hugged and comforted him as best he could.

I tried to shrink into the background because I knew it couldn't have been easy for a man like him to cry - not only in front of his peers, but also a woman."

Read the whole:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Basant; A festival of Kites & Colors

The grand Badshahi Mosque

Basant is a true Lahori celebration of colors, flowers, kites, fragrances, of love & of a sweet youthful time called Spring.

Each March brings the colorful blooming of Lahore, the city of Gardens; my city.

Whole of the city is decorated with colorful sponsor banners and lights all along the canal, the Mall road and Main Boulevard, Gulberg. All major landmarks are lit up to show grandeur of Lahore's rich culture and its Mughal & Colonial heritage.

Asif Jha's Haveli; one of the main venues of grand Basant celebrations.

Friends and family gather at common places to celebrate reunions and party for most of the Basant Night. Starting from the sunset, flood lights are lit up all over the city's skyline as people start off with white-kite flying. BarBQs are served with traditional Lahori dishes as the cries of "Bo Katas" & Dhol (traditional drums) echo throughout the next day.

Basant Night

People from different cultures and countries are welcomed by their hosts. Many foreign dignitaries from the federal capital, Islamabad are invited over to different Basant events in Lahore.

Basant has become the biggest drawer of tourists for this historic city and Pakistan's cultural capital. Most of the suburbans book roofs in the old city especially for this event.

Guddi Luteray; Children run after kites that land

From 5-star hotels to Golf Clubs, from Banks to Telecom companies; all become a part of Jashn-e-Baharan (Celebration of the Spring) by arranging functions of their own in different vicinites of the city.

For a Lahori, Basant is a blend of joy, happiness, love and celebration; a moment of rejoicing with loved ones and that of just chilling out.

This time, Basant Day was on March 12, 2006 i.e. Yesterday.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reason for no Blogging

It's been long since last update on my 'world'. The reasons were too obvious for a person in my place. It was my father going through a major heart by-pass surgery.

Finally, I'm out of the most hard times of my life. This previous month has been most crucial for me and my family.

During regular tests a few months back, it was discovered that my father was having three main arteries of his heart +80% blocked. After consultations with the best physicians and heart surgeons in Lahore, the only option was an open-heart surgery.

He went for it and by the grace of God, everything was perfect & quite well. Now, he's on the right road to recovery.

As far as making the world go round & round is concerned; here I'm back.

Lahore Metblogs