By Uzma Bawany/Thaakat Foundation
Remember when you were a kid and you ached to be able to get your hands on your big brother or sisters expensive shirt ? The one shirt that had a price tag of $120 dollars. Or how about when your mama told you to go wash your face in the morning and you wiped your face on the sulkiest towel you had ever laid your hands on.
Then came the moment- you pulled the tag out because it was bothering you and as soon as you got ready to rip and pull you saw a light shine from above..
It read, “Made in Pakistan.”
It soon became a game- I looked for the labels. I was proud that such adorned clothing and accessories were being made in my home country. Pakistan is currently the world’s fourth largest cotton producer, thus those proud labels all now made sense.
For a country that struggles to maintain its core industries amongst other international pressures, domestic struggles and threats of drought- government support to ensure abundant fertilizer and attention to these cotton crops is vital. Pakistan’s textile and cotton industry make up almost half of the manufacturing base in the country and account for approximately 60% of the country’s export receipts according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. In the past year, there has been a 7.7 percent decrease in healthy growth of cotton for the country of Pakistan. Hope flickers.
As of most recently, the cotton crop in Punjab entered a most pivotal stage in its fight to continue as the country’s backbone. Various levels of attack by the Curl Leave Cotton Virus have attacked the masses of cotton crop in Punjab province. The virus has been further complicated by numerous havoc wreaking pest assaults. Substantial water shortage from a drought in June and July has multiplied pressures for farmers to bring resolve through compounding pathways. Farmers have not only lost money and time, but hope now only glimmers as the government has set no support price. These farmers are taking severe chance in investment as only time will tell how the return will fare.
Though the area for cultivation of cotton has been increased significantly in Pakistan in the past decade, corresponding growth is still resistant. There is no cotton crop insurance system in Pakistan and without this, farmers with abundant knowledge and resources will be hesitant as they cannot afford the fiscal risk. The government has helped maintain the country’s mainstay for its “white gold” but a proper insurance program, pest prevention and superior irrigation structures will ensure we all continue to have our moments of proud variety when we turn the labels in our shirts.
From all of us at Thaakat Foundation, we wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year!!
By: Uzma Bawany
1. How low will the Pakistani Rupee go?
2. Oil Futures- Let’s not take this Under $2.00/ gallon for granted. Gas prices skyrocket…
3. Angelina Jolie- Pregnant AGAIN?
4. The UK faces an economic crash- worse than the U.S.
5. Reauters- “Retail spending in the Euro zone fell for the seventh straight month in December.”
6. Twilight heatthrob featured in a Sequel.
7. Palestine becomes a legally recognized state- I’m crossing my fingers.
8. Malaysia and Vietnam recognized as top emerging markets.
9. Russia will storm media headlines once again…I’m not talking about with Ms. Universe.
10. More planets are found. Hey these are just predictions!
11. Someone will write a book glamorizing a diet called “the Obama diet”.
12. Hollywood will make a Bollywood copycat- Let’s hope Yuvraaj is not a consideration.
13. “Virtualization” takes off. Wiki it.
14. Atari makes a hip comeback. Get ready gamers!
15. Though our pockets are wrung dry- there will be increased focus on philanthropy as a means of growing your business. In the end, good deed receives good payback. It’s all about social responsibility guys!
16. The Asian long horn beetle makes a comeback. Just kidding about that one. Let’s hope not.
17. A runway is not built over our beloved Bensenville homes. The village will rise again with a flourishing economy. So I’m hopeful?
By: Aemen Hussain
Politics is a force that somehow manages to accentuate the differences among people; and if given the chance, even create new ones. The latin root of this word comes from “poli” which means many and “tics” which means blood-sucking creatures. If the derivation of the word is not enough to demonstrate how evil this word is, then people could reference any political example in the history of time. In the current election, was split into two main parties, the democrats and the republicans. Theoretically, these two parties have opposing views on every aspect of ruling a country. But what happens when over-laps occur? It is more realistic that the presidential candidates usually just cater to their supporters with some sweet-talk rather than expressing how they really feel about certain issues. If the opposing candidate has picked one stance on a subject, the other candidate must pick the stance which represents the other side of the spectrum, or atleast a small detail of it. After all, what is the point in having two candidates with the exact same views? How would people decide which candidate is the one that is fit to rule a country if both candidates have mutual feelings about every issue presented to them? For example, one party has decided to pull troops out of Iraq as soon as possible while the other party wants to keep them there until Iraqis “stable.” One candidate wants to raise taxes in hopes of fixing our damaged economy, while the other wants to keep them low. Even though these views seem obviously different, one issue that overlaps in discreet manner is that regarding energy policy. Both candidates have promoted green jobs that could be created through alternative energy, decreasing dependency on imported oil, clean-coal technology, offshore drilling. When campaigning though, the candidates emphasize the two small differences in their views on the policy regarding energy; one side focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, while the other pushes the importance of fossil fuel supplies and the construction of more nuclear power plants. These politicians use these minor differences to get people to sway from one side to the other, a small game many politicians seem to play. By making the differences which seem like a big deal, they can win or lose people to their opponent.
A particular political rivalry that affects Muslims much more closely is that which occured about the year 632 (CE). Once in a while, the idea of “one united Ummah” is thrown around lightly, but not many people have made a true effort to emphasize how important this idea truly is to the religion of Islam. The political debate occurred when Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and the Muslims of that time had to decide who would take the responsibility of spreading the message of Islam to all other believers. Some argued that the Prophet had chosen Ali while others argued that Ali was not yet ready to take this role; thus the majority of the Ummah elected Abu Bakr into this role. Majority followed Abu Bakr, then believed Umar and Uthman to be the next two caliphs, and Ali was the fourth; while Shi’as followed Ali all along. Whether Ali or Abu Bakr should have been the first caliph is an argument that is being revived century after century, but what does not seem to make sense is how these two branches began to differ in practice. Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) preached the same type of religion to all; what he demonstrated in front of Ali was no different from what he demonstrated in front of Abu Bakr. Why then, do some rituals vary in these two sects of the same religion and when did these variations come about? It makes no sense that the same Islam, practiced by the same people, taught by the same founder, has changed in practice in so many ways. Perhaps somewhere along the line certain rituals, such as the way Salah is offered, were changed on purpose in order to decipher one sect more prominently from the other, the way Obama and McCain changed their energy policies.
Would something that has torn apart the religion of peace not be deemed evil? The important point to know is that ummah by definition, means a community of muslim believers, where all Muslims are considered fully equal members of this community. It is sinful how we discriminate against one another and hurt each other when we all come from the same background. Times like this, when our religion and all of its followers are under attack, is the best time for all the followers of Allah to come together and become one. Before one Muslims attacks another Muslim’s faith keep in mind the words of the Quran, the book of Islam:
”And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not
divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for ye were
enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye
were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs
clear to you: That ye may be guided. Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all
that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain
felicity. Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after
receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty” (3: 103-105)
By: Syed Favad Ali
Since 1947; Submission through fear
Let the people decide the fate of Kashmir
61 years and still no solution
It’s time to start a peace revolution
With a message of tolerance and brotherhood
And a belief that inside all people are good
India and Pakistan must understand
That the enemy of both is a common man
One that eats at us from the inside
One that hides from us in the mountainside
The time has come to bring the madness to an end
Let’s take the hand of enemies and make them a friend
This is not what Gandhi and Jinnah had envisioned
When they agreed to the terms of the ‘47 partition
If they are watching now they can only shed a tear
It’s up to us; we must persevere
So people far and wide please hear my call
Its time for extremism and hate to finally fall
By: Uzma Bawany
On August 8, 2008, I had the opportunity to serve as a media guest at a conference hosting Imran Khan, below I share my afterthoughts.
When I think of Pakistan, I think of the expressive Mughal Empire, the knowledge, the talent and inspiration of a country that was built on dreams of a grand future. And for some time it flourished, it had built a foundation strong enough to sustain its independence. It became known as one of the prominent knowledge hubs in the Southern Asian Region and populace from around the world gathered there whether it was to view the mystical regions of Kashmir or to earn the highest national standard in education known to the provinces of Asia.
Underlying all which was very pretty was a tumultuous political platform. A Pakistan that was young and developing as a country was in need of a leader that was strong yet compassionate, powerful but never overbearing, charismatic but also substantive of declarative intellect.
Over recent decades, we’ve seen a many leaders come and go. We’ve seen people change, the country change, unfortunately, all contrary to any efforts in prosperity for the country. Let’s face it, we all know that Pakistan doesn’t have a very brag worthy record as far as media—or the rest of the world is concerned. During these trying times, when the spotlight is on our country do we run and hide—denying our heritage? Or do we, as a cohesive group come together and promote an elect for a promising Pakistan?
Why is the country in such a chaotic position today? (And when I use words such as chaotic and tumultuous—we all know what I’m referring to. Pakistan has become popularly known as home to the most dangerous of international criminals, an illegitimate political system and has fallen ranks in a campaign for global literacy.)
I feel it’s a combination of circumstances; threads of poison that have come together to create a knot that is nearly inescapable. The only thing that can make a difference is a leader that is for the people and a people that supports such a leader. The people of Pakistan need inspiration and hope. They need to know that there are genuine people who will fight for a cause—for the betterment of the country at no expectation of reward. They also need to know that people in other realms and regions of the world will believe and invest in the future of Pakistan. So don’t you for a second think that just because you are oceans away, you have no responsibility.
You my friends, are just as much responsible for the future of Pakistan—for Pakistan is what bred the opportunities our parents were given and the golden torch is now in our hands.
Now I will share with you the inspiration for the short excerpt—yes I know Pakistan Independence day is approaching and so a thought provoking narrative is fitting. Though my true inspiration is a fundraiser I attended in promotion of Imran Khan and his cause for an honest political government in Pakistan.
Imran Khan is leader elect of a political party called Tehreek-e-Insaf. A party which he says stands for Justice, Humanity and Self-Esteem.
After serving as a master cricketeer, Imran Khan could have retired to luxurious land to live a life of no worries, no compromising and no struggles. Instead, he chose to facilitate his time to guarantee that the poor have a world-class health care institution. He founded Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust and established Pakistan’s first and only cancer hospital; providing patients with 75% free care. Mr. Imran Khan continues to raise funds and has been currently working on several other major social projects which include construction of a cancer hospital in Karachi, Pakistan and the establishment of a technical college in the Mianwali District.
Many people turn the other way and “pretend” they don’t realize the troubles of the world. It’s easier that way right?
Because in the end, people will realize that we are all bound to one another. The fruits that suffice your appetite, the clothes that you are wearing, the technology that you’ve been privileged with—it all came from someone else, somewhere else in the world. When a regions moral landscape is destroyed, when the structure of a province has collapsed—we all are at a loss. The world is out of balance. When the region holds historical, personal and spiritual relevancy to us—the depth of loss is even greater.
Imran Khan is a representation of what it means to not turn the other cheek. And time and time again, he has proven that his talent is above and beyond just physical aptitudes.
Mr. Khan represents an ideology which necessitates a political structure built on an honest judicial system and investment in its people. A publicly instated, qualified and dignified education for the people of Pakistan must be a priority. Mr. Khan said, “Pakistan at one point had the greatest scientists and the most talented of people, today, our state school education system has collapsed and all of our money is in arms.”
Mr. Khan compared judicial systems—pointing out that Singapore has an incredibly high per capita income and coincidentally also sets the international standard for a judicial system which no other country has yet crossed the ranks of. “The better the law, the more prosperous the expectations will be of a country. The better a judicial system, the more realistic will be the hope.”
“A country itself cannot be changed, until the country itself wants to change,” He states.
He shared with us his story of visiting a jail. A jail which he said was crowded with innocent people, people only guilty of being poor. If you want to curb assassins of the law you must “Stop letting crime pay,” He says. “All of the criminals are out in the open, they have taken a stronghold on Pakistan. “Crime can stop and it will stop—when it becomes expensive to be a violator of the law. These people are not being caught or punished and so crime prospers under these conditions.”
We must not forget about domestic priorities. The agricultural, industrial and services economy has grand potential in Pakistan, the resources are there. What is required is solid investment and an efficient working infrastructure. In correspondence with the support of an honest judicial system and educational priority the country CAN achieve dreams.
Opportunity is counteractive to violence.
Thank you Sir Imran Khan for speaking out in view of a policy for change in the benefit of the people!
*Thaakat is a non-political, non-religious organization, this is my lighthearted perspective as a passionate Pakistani- American and in no way reflect the vision or views of the organization*