Sunday, July 5, 2009

Beauty and Inspiration

I have been absent from the blog for quite a while now.Getting adjusted to the summer,war and life in islamabad.

Lots of things have happened on the war front since i last wrote.I hope to be more regular in writing about the war.But right now i feel inspired after watching an epic final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick at Wimbledon.

Federer has been a favorite for me from the time when he was making early exits at the grand slams.But today he has won the 15th grand slam to be officially crowned as the gratest player in the history of tennis.

The final was a treat to watch.I read up on Andy Roddick yesterday and was impressed by his struggle to bounce back from the lows of last year.This is why i wanted him to win today but the great man did it again.I just felt bad for Roddick after his great performance.The final lasted for more than four and half hours with the final set score being 16-14.

What can we learn from this?
I felt that there were many lessons to be learnt from the epic struggle between Federer and Roddick.
1. Never give in.It was this attitude from both which made it a final to remember.
2. Following the dreams.Both Federer and Roddick were inspired by their visions of glory and destiny.It was the desire to realize their dreams which kept them going.
3. Being the best that we can be.At the end everyone who was privilaged to watch this match had absolute respect for the two players.Federer and Roddick gave it their best both personally and professionally.By rising to the occassion,they inspired countless people around the world.

Why am i writing all of this stuff about tennis on a blog about war?
Because these are testing times for us Pakistanis.Our resolve,dreams and courage are being severely tested.Today Roddick and Federer provided joy,inspiration and hope to people all around the world including myself.
Inspiration and beauty are in short supply these days hence they are precious commodities. Today belongs to Federer and Roddick.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The last two days have been full of optimism in Pakistan.On sunday evening, like the hundreds of millions others, i watched Pakistani Cricket team win the T20 world cup at Lords, London. I was over-joyed and reminded of the 1992 world cup. After 17 years Pakistani Cricketers won the world cup again. But more than that, it is these circamstances which make this victory very special. Recently, i have stopped being critical of the Pakistani team because these poor fellows do not get much exposure to international game. Due to war no country likes to send its team to Pakistan. Only Sri Lankans dared to show support by sending their team and almost got killed for that.International matches are few and far for these players.Hence,the Pakistani team was ill-prepared and an under-dog and yet they played beautifully to win the world cup. I was reminded of what life used to be like in days gone by.It was a hard existence in a typical third world patriarchical soceity. But nothing like the current madness, insecurity and uncertainty.Hence the world cup win brought a lot of happy memories.

However good things are in short supply in the republic of Pakistan which is at war with itself these days. Waking up this morning, i find out that the war against TTP (the Taliban Movement of Pakistan) has suffered a major set-back. As the Pakistan army has begun its offensive in South Waziristan against TTP and its commander Baitullah Mehsud, it succeeded to bring about defections of two of his close aids. These two ex-Taliban commanders were extremely critical of TTP and Baitullah in the last one week. Of the two, Qari Zain Mehsud was very important for government's strategy against TTP. He hailed from the same Mehsud tribe to which Baitullah belongs. By defecting from TTP, he was trying to weaken Baitullah's control over Mehsud tribe. His defection was a major victory for the Pakistan army who were trying to quarantine TTP anb Baitullah from all sides.

So much for dreams of an easy victory. This mroning Qari Zain was murdered in cold blood by one of his close aids. According to still breaking news, Qari Zain was offering morning prayers at his residence in DI Khan this morning when one of his body-guards opened fire on him. He was immediately killed and his second-in-command is in critical condition. The killer escapaed. This is a major set-back for the war against Baitullah and TTP. Now anyone opposing Baitullah will think long before defecting to the governemnt and army. It shows how strong Talibans are. A simple military operation in FATA will not be sufficient to defeat them. Baitullah has a huge network of foot soldiers, suicide bombers and intelligence. The Pakistan army was only beginning to break this netwrok by employing a multi-pronged strategy. And now Qari Zain is assassinated creating fear in the hearts of anyone willing to oppose Baitullah. What it means is that there is no easy victory in sight.

So i guess one day of celebrations and dreams of good old days is all that we can afford. This morning we are back to present which is pretty ugly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Small Ray of Light in the Darkest of Hours

Yesterday the Pakistani Cricket team surprised everyone by defeating South Africa in the semi-final of the T20 World cup in England. In the last 24 hours, the tv channels media have shown unprecedented scenes of joy amongst the Pakistanis at home and abroad.

I have hardly watched a single match of 20-20 format. But its not the game per say but the message that it gives that matters to me. In times of war, suicide bombings, anarchy when everything seems to be falling apart, something good can happen to us. It feels strange becuase there has not been much of good news coming out of Pakistan. Every morning i brace myself for news of someone being blown into pieces somewhere. Everytime when i find myself grieving for these people that i never knew, life seems cruel and tragic. So in times like these, when there is collective fear, paranoia and anxiety all around, a bit of good news feels great. Our cricket team reflects the rest of the society. As everything has declined in the last 2-3 decades, so has cricket. Now all of sudden there is something good to look forward to for people across the vast landscape of this country. The headline news is not about military operations in Swat, suicide attack in Islamabad or ethnic violence in Balochistan. It is about cricket.

Come on Pakistani tigers....just give your best. We all need to only put in our best effort in times like these.