Shimon Peres, the founder and former prime minister of Israel, has a famous book, “No Room for Small Dreams”. To explain this rigorous topic in one sentence, he argues that great people have great dreams while ordinary people have ordinary dreams. The history is replete with extraordinary, genius, great, and super ambitious people who dreamed big for their generations and dedicated their entire lives for achieving those big dreams.
When you have big dreams for the improvement and transformation of humanity’ lives, no matter where you are living as long as you believe in serving the humanity regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. In Afghanistan, we also had and have persons who dream /dreamed big for their people, not only for their own community in which they live but for the whole country and their country fellows. Dr. Mohammad Yahya Noori is one of those few persons who dreamed big for his people and the future generation of Afghanistan. But unfortunately, we lost him in March 2019 as a result of a brain attack.
Dr. Mohammad Yahya Noori was born1959 in a religious and farming family in Nawrak, an area located in the first part of Behsud, Wardak Province in Afghanistan. He received his first education from his father, Karbalai Mohammad Akbar Noori, and obtained his initial elementary education at a school in his birthplace. When he was six, he was deprived of maternal favors. Two years later, at the age of eight, he lost his father. After elapsing a few days being alone, he went to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to his sister’s home. In Kabul, he resumed his education at the Habibiha High School. Graduated from Habibia High School as a high achieving student, he was accepted at Kabul Medical University – a prestigious public university located in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
When he graduated from Kabul Medical University, instead of living in Kabul with comfort and fewer problems, he chose to go to Behsud, one of the far-reaching districts of Afghanistan located in Wardak province. Wardak is located in the central and eastern region of Afghanistan; bordering Parwan to the northeast, Kabul and Logar to the east, Ghazni to the south and Bamyan to the west. Even though, he could live in Kabul to enjoy the modern facilities of life and accumulate wealth like others, instead, he went to Behsud where its inhabitants were deprived of any kind of the basic facilities of life let alone medical care services. Over there, he set up the Frakhlum Clinic with his personal budget in 1994.
Thinking of such great devotions and impetus, one can simply argue that Dr. Yahya had figured out that his knowledge and medical skills were far more needed and helpful for his birthplace residents who were struggling with several kinds of diseases due to not having access to medical health centers and aids. As the famous saying echoes, “A person’s most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help others”. Indeed, Dr. Yahya did not only apply his knowledge and prowess for helping his people, but he also used his heart to understand his people’s problems. He did not only apply his medical ability to cure his patients’ diseases, but he also offered his social and emotional intelligence for the service of his people from the day he started working as a medical doctor.
In June 2017, I had gone to Behsud for visiting Dr. Yahya. Within the three days that I was over there, we had many fruitful and insightful conversations about the political, security, educational, and economic situation of Afghanistan but particularly the residents of Behsud. During our tough conversations, I asked him, “Dr. Saheb (Saheb is a Persian word that we use in Afghanistan to show our respect to someone) are you optimist or pessimist about the future of Afghanistan?” To be honest, his answer was out of my expectation – from a person who has been threatened several times by the militants. He told me, “Hamid, throughout my life, I have been opposed by many people of being too optimistic – of having a very promising view regarding Afghanistan. I tell them that both optimists and pessimists die in the end, but the optimist leads a hopeful and happy existence while the pessimist spends his days cynical and downtrodden. It is a high price to pay. Besides, optimism is a prerequisite of progress. It provides the inspiration we need, especially in hard times. And it provides the encouragement that wills us to chase our grandest ambitions out into the world, instead of locking them away in the safe quiet of our minds.” To put it simply, Dr. Yahya was a man who was replete with promising ideas for the progress of his community – full of hopes, determination, and motivation for moving forward despite all the prevailing challenges in Afghanistan.
As Woodrow Wilson says “We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.” Likewise, Dr. Yahya was a big dreamer. He had big dreams for his community and country. But unfortunately, the death did not grant him the chance to make his all of his dreams come true. Though he did not live long, he offered many things to his people – medical care, educational services, promoting the gender equality in his community, and most importantly, he left a legacy that anyone who has got to know him will always cherish and praise it.
In Afghanistan, girl’s education is a controversial issue, particularly in far-reaching areas. Despite all the cultural and social challenges toward the girl’s education, Dr. Yahya was a serious proponent and advocate of girl’s education. Though he was living in a traditional community abounding with rigid cultural norms that impede girls from gaining an education, he was advocating for gender equality and equal social, economic, and educational opportunities for girls and boys. He was in this believe that preventing girls from going to school on the basis of cultural norms prevailing in communities, has been a major cause of child marriage, violence against women, discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan. Therefore, he would argue that Afghan families instead of halting their girls from going to school and keeping them at home, should fight with the predominant cultural norms that underlie their interpretation of girl’s education. They should help their daughters obtain an education so that they can help the other girls who may encounter the same fate in the future. Escaping from the problems is not a rational solution, instead, facing and fighting with them can help the entire communities to secure their well-being and development in the societies. Therefore, families should help their daughters gain education and provide them with equal opportunities as their sons.
Additionally, he was inclined to hold that the lack of female education can be the root of gender inequality in Afghanistan, and women are the main victims of this gender inequality in society. Afghanistan, as the country with the most patriotic power in the political, economic and social spheres, some families wrongly either by cultural means or on the basis of the patriarchal principles deprive girls from their basic human right – gaining an education. So, via paving the way for girl’s education, communities will transform, and gender equality will be rooted in society.
Mr. Yahya was not only a medical doctor, but he was also a teacher for his people, he was a political, social, and cultural leader for his people. As we, in order to be a good leader, we must possess the quality of honesty. Our followers must know that their leader has a sense of morality and values and integrity. The subordinates must have a sense of confidence in themselves and as well as in their leader – only then a leader can be successful. Indeed, Dr. Yahya possessed all the above-mentioned qualities. When he was in charge of Frakhlum Clinic in Behsud, he treated all his staff both male and female from any cultural, racial, socioeconomic status and background equally. To say the fact, it is pretty hard to find a person to have full authority over everything and treats his friends and strangers equally. He was always saying that he was glad that he has had the opportunity to work for some of the most neglected people in Afghanistan in a remote area where its residents did not have access to basic medical care facilities. Dr. Yahya, besides serving as a medical doctor, he was encouraging the local residents to send their progenies to school. He himself advocated for building schools, obtaining the attention of foreign donors to help the local residents in providing stationery, and other facilities required for providing education.
To sum up, though Dr. Yahya is not among his people physically today, his deeds, achievements, benevolence, and services will live in people’s hearts and minds for generations. As Norman Cousins articulates, “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
Is PTM Genuine to its Cause?
Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) v/s Sate is a fiery tale which none can anticipate how it will end. Sparked from the extra judicial murder of model aspirant Naqeeb Ulllah Mahsud on January 13, 2018, the movement continue to get a constant hype on the political spectrum of Pakistan. Initially named Mahsud Tahafuz Movement turned into Pashtun Tahafuz Movement when the case was put forward to the court and Rao Anwar was arrested. However, things got transformed as PTM started taking a constant nudge with the state. From the protest in front of press club in Islamabad, in 2018 to different rallies across country things shifted vigorously. PTM’s defiance is mainly pointed at criticizing the military institution and falsely blaming the institution for their plight. But the question rises that is PTM another mainstream political movement subjected for the elites rather than addressing the actual issue? And are they trying to internationally politicize the issue in order to demoralize the efforts of Pakistan?
On April 29, 2019, DG ISPR Maj Gen. Asif Ghafoor, military spokesperson, addressed PTM leadership and apprised them that the time has come when legal actions is mandatory to be taken against them. He further claimed that the financial records makes the existence of PTM skeptical as they are directly being funded by the foreign factions from neighboring countries for their protests and rallies. He was also of the view that PTM is being used by the foreign factions to instigate instability when Pakistan has achieved relative peace. However, the fact should not be neglected that the Government of Pakistan and military establishment acknowledges the demands put forward by the leadership of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. At various points both, government and military, tried to engage with them in a collaborative manner. Recently on April 16, 2019, Senate Special Committee met the PTM leadership along with the MNA Mohsin Dawar. Even before, when the movement was in its early phase military was the first one to engage with them. When a request was put forward by the PTM leaders to meet military in order to express their grievances, it was agreed. Meeting was held between PTM delegation of 15 members and DG, ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Feb 08, 2018, in which apart from primary demand of justice for Naqeeb Mahsud there were other 4 demands. The military showed consensus on all of them. But the duality of the PTM should not be unremembered as on one side it engages with the government and the military but at the same time the constant barraging on the state and its institutes continues through social media. Things got more complicated as the tone of PTM got discordant day by day. The relentless spewing of hate and impudent comments against the state and its institution clearly show as on whose side PTM is. Movement is kind of drifting away from the true cause when the anti-state and separatist slogans and hymns are openly vocalized in the rallies and are now directed to demoralize the standards of army rather than demanding the rights.
With constant efforts from both government and military the PTM appears reluctant to develop a consensus. Keeping this whole saga in mind One might consider that either PTM leaders are not well negotiator or they don’t want to negotiate and the picture is much larger then it seems.
In 2018, a commission was also formed to facilitate PTM which included high ranks from the military and reputable civilians. State was persistence in facilitating the PTM grievances. DG ISPR also highlighted in his briefing that in order to remove landmines, a team was formed and is currently putting every effort at their disposal. The team had cleared 45 percent of the area and in pursuit of the task 101 Jawans had lost their lives. State constantly acknowledges the demands of PTM but PTM and its virtual diaspora have failed to acknowledge the efforts made by the state.
Pashtun makes up to 15% of the total population of Pakistan. What will happen if this number of population, a province indeed is brought in confrontation with the state? It will be enough to vandalize the socioeconomic fabric of Pakistan. Pashtuns of Pakistan have always been delicate segment of Pakistan as they were in the crossfire between Pakistan’s efforts against eradicating terrorism. It makes them soft target and vulnerable to be used by animosities against Pakistan. The point to ponder is that despite the efforts, and acknowledgement of their grievances by the state why this matter is getting more intense whereas the fact should not be forgotten that both parties are on same line in terms of addressing the problem. The only way this can be resolved is when the PTM stop being patsy against Pakistan and show real concern to give solace to the Pashtun community rather than exploiting their grievances
RSS: Grim Reality under the Secular Veil of India
Religious extremism is not something novel to mankind. Between 132-136 CE, Romans faced the confrontation with the Jews. A Jew extremist, Simon Bar Kokhba, led the revolt against Romans known as Kokhba Revolution. He succeeded in establishing a Jew state which lasted for just three years, ultimately falling again in to Roman hands.
Under constitutional veil almost every other nation has some sort of religious or ethno extremist factions in their ranks with mass support. India too, which claims to be a true secular model in the subcontinent has their own version of extremist militia and what is worth worrying is that it is well organized and well structured.
RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is an extremist Hindu vigilante militia which is being nurtured by many political hands. It came into existence in 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar – a Hindu nationalist. Initially it was established to retaliate against the British raj and Muslims and unite Hindus to devise a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation) but in post-independence scenario it became a blot on the secular veil of India. Indian Constitution makes it a secular country but RSS finds it against the norms of Hindustan. It is not the RSS which shifted its discourse but it was India which became a secular state by constitution. Even before the inception of RSS various Hindu nationalist emphasized on the existence of solely Hindu nation. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar,the founder of Hindu nationalist ideology Hindutva (an ideology which aims to form hegemony of Hindus) stated that there is a dire need of a solely Hindu nation.
RSS was banned three times in its post-independence continuity. First it was banned in 1948 after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu nationalist. The interesting fact is the man named Nathuram Godse, who murdered Gandhi, was not an active RSS member at that time but was once. In 1975 RSS came into scrutiny again when Indra Gandhi banned extremist organizations and imposed emergency across the country, and then in 1992 when dispute over Babri masjid erupted and it got demolished.
But what is making the organization function with full momentum? The organization has a fully functional website where one can recruit itself in the organization. Its proper hierarchical order makes it worth worrying as there is a National leader and then there are Regional leaders to oversee the local dealings. It also conducts daily quasi military exercises in parks and open spaces. On many occasions, the members of RSS were involved in the lynching of Muslims and lower casts Hindus. RSS’s Cow protection squad was constantly involved in various incidents during Modi’s reign.
Indian Prime minister, Narendra Modi, during an interview revealed that the personality and the discipline he has, RSS played a major role in shaping it. He also said that he became part of the organization at very young age. RSS also played major role in the putting the throne of Delhi under the Modi’s feet and is again playing a major role in running his election campaign for upcoming elections.
The institutionalized structure of the RSS makes it unique as it has a Cow protection squad, women wing, Labor union and a farmer union to outreach mass population. On its website, they claim that they have more than 50,000 shakhas, a Hindi word for branches, in villages and different cities across the country. Utar-pardesh, a city with largest population in India and major electoral club in the lower house; it is reported that there are 8000 shakahs only in UP which are there obviously to influence the elections and win majority in the house.
Embedded hate against Muslims and other minorities is not something new, in fact, it is in the core beliefs of the organization. M.S Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghchalak (head of RSS) wrote a book named Bunch of Thoughts which comprised of the lectures he had given to shakhas over the country. In his book he wrote that internal elements pose far greater threat to national security than outside aggressor. Golwalkar than identified three major “Internal Threats: i) Muslims; ii) Christians; iii) Communists. Not just this, in an article published in THE HINDU on November 26,2006 it was revealed that the murder of Mahatma Gandhi was somehow celebrated by the RSS. Moreover, giving reference to the secret documents which he had seen the writer divulged that Golwalker had called a meeting on December 6, 1947, where RSS workers of Govardhan, a town not very far from Delhi. As per the police report regarding the meeting, assassination of the leading persons of the Congress was discussed to create terror and panic among the public and to get hold over them. Just after two days. Golwalkar again addressed several thousand RSS volunteers at the Rohtak Road Camp, Delhi. The police reporter notified that the RSS leader had clearly said that Sangh would not rest content until it finishes Pakistan and if anyone was a hindrance in their way they would not spare them either whether it was Nehru’s regime or any other.
Having such militant Hindu organizations flexibly working without any state censorship and proliferating into Indian society is a threat to Indian secular dream. Aimed at making India a purely Hindu state such far-right groups in subcontinent will make exclusive societies rather than inclusive. Intra-state tensions will continue to mount. Which will create the so-called nonpolitical groups like RSS propagating into the Indian society through political interference and can make India’s future bleak. With such intra-state terror groups Indian vision for secular and inclusive India will remain a chimera.
IMF bailout package and public opinion
The 22nd bailout package for Pakistan at its final stages. There exists a mix of public opinion on this package, some are in favor and some differ. Both lobbies have own reasons and strong justifications, which makes a common man even more confused.
PM Imran Khan was criticizing previous governments for seeking IMF bailout packages in the past and expressed that he will not go to IMF, and may prefer suicide over begging. In the early few months of his Government, he was hesitant to go to the IMF and tried his best to seek help from friendly countries alternatively. Some of the friendly countries extended helping hands too, which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, and China.
But the economic situation was so serious and dangerous that the country was at the edge of collapse or default. Still some of his advisors of the opinion that there exist other options instead of going to IMF. The deal under consideration is US Dollars 6 billion over a period of 39 months. It means less than 2 billion a year, which it really too little. If we control our imports of luxury items and un-necessary item, we may reduce our import bill by US Dollars 5 Billion easily. Or with a little bite of our efforts, we may be able to increase our exports by US Dollars 5 Billion easily. Some experts are thinking only for US Dollars 2 billion a year, we should not accept the harsh terms and conditions of IMF.
In the 7 decades history of Pakistan, 21 prgrammes of IMF were not good enough to make Pakistan a sustainable economy. Why one should expect, this 22nd will do something good. During the previous 21 programmes, Pakistan was a very close non-NATO ally of USA. Pakistan was on the right side of the US, a partner in Cold War Era, Front Line State in War on Terror. Politically, Pakistan was one of the favorite nations of the US and secured all possible support. But today the situation may be rather different, as, after the Abbottabad Incident and Salala Incident in 2011, Western World has almost written-off Pakistan. USA has signed Major Defense Partner (MDP) agreement with India. The USA has created the Indo-Pacific Alliance with India, Japan, and Australia, to counter China, where Pakistan is engaged with China under BRI/ CPEC.
Against the tradition, people of Pakistan have voted Imran Khan, who so ever was given ticket of PTI, the public has voted him or her blindly in good faith & trust to Imran Khan. A few of his candidates might not be having very high capabilities or very good reputation, but, the public has trusted Imran Khan blindly. Imran Khan is the third most popular leader in Pakistan, after Jinnah the father of nation, and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the Former Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1970s.
Unfortunately, he failed to form his own team and was depending on a team lobbying for IMF, World Bank or Western World. They have encircled him and kept on lobbying for their agenda. They finally pushed him to a stage, where he agreed to accept IMF. Close to him, sources think, he was never convinced but was made to accept. We are afraid, if this lobby can isolate him from nationalists and patriots, may succeed in the implementation of their agenda.
PM Imran Khan, is honest, hardworking and people loving leader. He loves Pakistan and common citizens of Pakistan. He really wanted to bring a change in the Society, where common man’s welfare is a top agenda. He is sincere with the nation and wanted to establish a total comprehensive welfare state. Unfortunately, he was lobbied wrongly and opted for IMF.
People of Pakistan have blindly trusted in Imran Khan and possess very high expectations from him. I know, Imran Khan understands it very well. He is an honest, brave and visionary leader and I believe he will not disappoint his voters.
Hope PM Imran Khan may educate people of Pakistan about the details of the IMF package and try to convince the masses. The welfare of common man and all other promises made with the nation before elections may be explained to masses, this is required urgently before he loses credibility and popularity among the masses.
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