Saturday, September 28, 2019

Imran Khan's Heart Wrenching Speech at UNGA Shakes World Conscious on Plight of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir


There are only few people in the world who make a lasting impression on their audience and convey the plight of people, suppressed and enslaved, to the world in a manner that even the hardest of hearts melt and eyes that have long since dried up start to cry with tears rolling on the cheeks uncontrollably. 

This was exactly the scene on 27th September 2019 when Pakistan's Prime Minister took the podium and spoke relentlessly, without consulting any written papers, and put across the case of islamophobia and plight of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir, presently occupied by India. 

Besides  exposing hypocrisy of developed world on climate change and money laundering safe havens, Imran Khan spoke at length on "Islamophobia". He blamed the world for implicating Islam to terrorism and creating conditions so that people around the world start to hate Islam and Muslims. Imran Khan spoke without any prejudice, liking or political affiliation, yet very forcefully pressed home his view point about Kashmir and Islamophobia to the world community. Imran Khan blasted the Western leaders on exploiting their self worded "Islamophobia" and said:
“Islamophobia since 9/11 has grown at a pace which is alarming,” said Pakistan's Prime Minister without fear of antagonizing some of the Western allies. “Certain Western leaders equated terrorism with Islam,” he said, by employing labels like “radical Islam.” Khan said that the very concept intrinsically contradictory, because “no religion teaches radicalism. The basis of all religion is compassion and justice, which differentiates us from the animal kingdom.”
The use of “radical Islam” by Western leaders has created an association between a whole religion and terrorism, and put people in the position of suspecting all Muslims. “How is a person in New York, in a European country, or in the Midwest of the US going to distinguish between who’s a moderate Muslim and who’s a radical Muslim?” Asked Imran Khan!!
Muslim women wearing hijabs has become an issue in some countries as if a hijab is some kind of weapon. This is happening because of Islamophobia.
IK speech which was a fine outburst of emotions duly backed with logic, captivated the audience at the UNGA session, oft interpreted by loud applause and clapping on every point that he scored. He very effectively put across the Kashmir dispute, the UN resolutions on disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir and recent annexation of it by India.



He very effectively presented to the world the issue of Kashmir, a people of 8 million Muslims, forcefully suppressed since independence of Pakistan and Indian in 1947. And more recently, after the unlawful annexation of Kashmir by the Indian government, disregarding the countless UN resolutions that declared Kashmir as a disputed territory and call for the holding of impartial plebiscite so that people of Jammu and Kashmir decide for them their future lives and affiliations.
“This is the time when you, the United Nations, must urge India to lift the curfew; to free Kashmiris who have disappeared and this is the time when the UN must insist on Kashmir’s right to self-determination.”
Every word that Pakistan's Prime Minister minced, spoke of his courage, sense of responsibility, pain and sincerity in him, far superior then his Indian counterpart Modi who sheepishly spoke before him and made no mention of atrocities his forces are committing against Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir.

Seeing and listening is believing. Listen to the part of Imran Khan's speech at the UNGA session that moved hearts and made many wept:
Talking of the consequences and fallout of Indian oppression, Mr Khan reiterated that for the freedom of the Muslims of the Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan will go to any extent, if world conscious continues to sleep and gives an indifferent attitude to the sufferings of the people under severe oppression by almost a million strong Indian army presence in Kashmir. He also warned the world that as and when siege is lifted by Indian government, it will lead to a genocide for which the India will blame Pakistan and may indulge in to an open war. 

And a stage comes to that, Pakistan will fight till the end, for a country seven times smaller than India, will be compelled to use its nuclear weapons to survive. But such a stage will be catastrophic for the entire region and the world for the fallout of the nuclear war will see no bounds, warned Mr Khan.

The speech being extempore, crossed the allotted 15 minutes time, but the enthusiasm and interest of the audience not only those attending the session but also worldwide never diminished and everyone listened to him with complete concentration, interest and understanding. For here was a man speaking his heart out to the world for it was full of pain and anguish, crying for those Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir suffering the atrocities of Indian government and its army.

Photo | References | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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Monday, September 9, 2019

Disappearing Tongas of Lahore - Once The Poor's Rolls Royce


The horse driven carriages have ruled the world for since time immemorial. Once these elegant carriages were the prestigious means of transportation for the rich and famous. By and by, these start to vanish from usual city roads as dirt roads disappeared and metaled roads came to accommodate cars and other means of transportation.

However, these continued to be a major to subsidiary means of transportation in our part of the world for a considerable period of times. And were used in cities as late as 70 and 80s. I remember, we had a stable called "Astabal" near in our house in Lahore and tonga stand nearby where one could hire a tonga for any destination in the city. Occasionally, the licensing teams would come and new tonga licenses were issued after giving many tests to the horses to ascertain their roadworthy strength, the same we now licensing authorities give roadworthy certificates to vehicles. 

Photo taken by me while travelling in a train

Abdullah, one of the kochwans (tonga driver) was our favourite for he had decorated his carriage very elegantly with brass couplings and plates polished everyday and a pedestal mounted bell horn. We loved riding his tonga and he would occasionally allow us to press the bell horn, a feel I still remember.

In Lahore, the single horse drawn carriage was known as Tonga or "Tanga" (in local language), similar to the one in above photograph. In Karachi, these were called Victoria for these resembled the carriages of England and the design came to this part of the world when the British came to the Indian subcontinent.
Lahori Tonga - Photographer Unknown
The tongas in Lahore were of two types: the straight carriage tongas, which were the usual sights, and the Lahore Tonga. The latter was unique design but very uncomfortable to ride. I wonder who designee it and why.



As of now these tongas are no more to be seen in the cities, but are still being used in the villages a cheap and affordable means of communication. I shot the above photo from the moving train a while ago when passing through a village.The state of the tonga speak of the poorness of its owner and the people who travel in these. But for them, it is still their Rolls Royce.

If you ever want to ride a in Lahore, do visit old Lahore, specially the Bhaatti Gate where local tour operators have these tongas specially prepared for tourists and you can have a ride of the old Lahore and be fascinated with the glory and awe of the narrow alleys overlooked with tall buildups, though now in much dilapidated condition. When the tip top of hooves of the horse of the tonga resounds among the rather closed environment of the walled city, it leaves reverberating memories of the once glory of the old Lahore where princes and wazirs once rode on their royal carriages.
Tourists from Abroad enjoying Tonga Ride in Old Lahore [Photo
One may also have a tour of famous old Anarkali Bazaar, now turned into a food street near the Tollington Market on the Mall Road. Here one can also have a hearty dinner in pure Lahore style with heavily oiled dishes which leave the diners licking their fingers even when the dishes have been wiped empty.

Watch this video below, though not in English, but it gives the viewers a good view of riding a tonga and walking through extremely compressed alleys of old Lahore:
So when in Lahore, look for tonga tours especially when you are in the vicinity of Old Lahore and Old Anarkali Bazaar. Believe me memories of tonga rides would stay in your memory chips for a long time. And do not miss to disembark at some eatery serving pure desi Lahori foods and lassi. If you are a early riser, then head for Old Lahore for breakfast of Halwa and Puri. This is something that very special to Lahore.

Photo[Header]: Source Unknown
References | Top 5 favourite breakfasts of PakistanThe Lahore Fort Road Food StreetEateries of Qaddafi Stadium, LahoreLakshmi Chowk - The Heart of Lahore | Nostalgic eateries of Lahore |

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Monday, July 15, 2019

People in Pakistan prayed for New Zealand to win ICC World Cup 2019 - Here is Why


While the final of the recently concluded ICC World Cup Cricket was being played, I and many Pakistanis had all our support for the New Zealand team. Not that we had any enmity with the Englishmen, but while watching the match and specially Kane Williams, our memory of APS Peshawar massacre flashed back. 

In December 2014, when the terrorists attacked an army run school (APS) and massacred innocent students, at that time teams of Pakistan and New Zealand were playing a series of ODI cricket in the UAE. Naturally, the incident was extremely tragic and heartbreaking for everyone in Pakistan, and even for the onlookers or those who read the news of tragedy.

It was at that time that the support and love of New Zealand Team for the victims and survivors of the APS students came to forth which was an extremely moving gesture ever to be expressed by team of sportsmen unparalleled in the sports history.



In those trying times of grief, Kane Williamson and Adam Milne of New Zealand team donated thousands of dollars in match fees and their kits to the families of the Pakistan terror attack victims. The gesture really moved every Pakistani and there were silent prayers of thanks for the New Zealand team, specially Kane Williamson and Adam Milne. After the Pakistan team came back, Younis Khan on behalf of the team visited survivors in hospital and distributed the pieces of kits beside handing over donated money to the families.

Younis Khan presenting Williamson's shirt to one of the survivors of APS Massacre [Photo: AFP/ISPR]

So when New Zealand and England were embattled in the final of the ICC World Cup Cricket 2019 in England on Sunday, I along with many Pakistanis prayed for the Kiwis to win the cup. Our prayers were almost answered had the Umpire Kumar Dharmasena not given his wrong decision of awarding six runs instead of five at the crucial stage of the match.

In fact the ICC should have taken a notice of this great violation of cricket rules and had at least awarded the trophy jointly to both teams for technically the New Zealand would have won the match had this unlawful decision not give.

Now that the event is over, we thank Kane Williamson and his team for amusing us with a more than world class cricket match and just want to tell them that they will always remain in our hearts for their gesture of goodwill five years back after Peshawar massacre in December 2014.

Photo | Reference: New Zealand Cricket Team Donate Kits and Funds for Victims of Peshawar School Massacre
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Sunday, July 14, 2019

England beat New Zealand in sensational ICC World Cup Final

What a day it was at London today where two finals were being played: The ICC World Cup 2019 Cricket between England and New Zealand, and the Center Court of the Wimbledon where the men's single final between two tennis giants was paled between second seeded Roger Federer and defending champion Novak Djokoivc. 

I was divided between the two finals but the last overs of the ICC World Cup Cricket final glued me to the cricket. And boy o boy what a closely contested finish it was for the New Zealand. In the last over, despite the bonus six runs (2+4) England could not take the last run to win the match.

The super over was equally exciting and thrilling. England scored 16 runs in six balls. And when it came to New Zealand, the same run out saga was repeated and the Kiwis just got unlucky to lose to the Englishmen.



So it is England who lifts its maiden ICC World Cup Trophy and the match brings an end to a memorable World Cup 2019.

Photo | References | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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Djokovic beat Federer to be the 2019 Wimbledon Champion

Novak Djokovic raises the winner’s trophy.
What a day it was at London today where two finals were being played: The ICC World Cup 2019 Cricket between England and New Zealand, and the Center Court of the Wimbledon where the men's single final between two tennis giants was paled between second seeded Roger Federer and defending champion Novak Djokoivc. The last time both met was at Wimbledon 2014 when Djokovic beat Federer in the final. Federer won the 2017 Wimbledon beating Marin Čilić of Croatia.

I was divided between the two finals but was more focused on the Wimbledon to know whether Federer, the aging yet extremely in shape Spaniard wins his 9th Wimbledon title or not. The first set was contested very hard and the Serbian finally managed a hard earned 7(7) - 6(5) win. But Federer fought back and had a easy 6-1 win.   

And from then on it was game of guts, stamina and fitness. None seemed to be giving in till the end. But it had to come to an end in favour of the defending champion who finally won over Federer 7(7)-6(5), 1-6, 7(7)-6(4), 4-6, 13(7)-12(3).



What a final it was and both players need commendation for providing so much thrill and world class match to the spectators all over the world.

References | 1 | 2 | Photo: Novak Djokovic raises the winner’s trophy. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Halep demolishes Serena Williams to be 2019 Wimbledon Lady


It was a great day for Simona Halep who completely demolished American Serena Williams in straight sets to lift the coveted Venus Rosewater Dish today at the Center Court.

Halep beat Williams 6-2, 6-2, completely outscoring and outsmarting and even surprising her of her might.

Losing the first set 6-2, Williams seemed to be coming back at score 2-2, but then Halep didn't let her win a game.



It was Halep's first Wimbledon title and first for a Romanian and it just took here less than hour, 56 minutes to be exact. She is also the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon title, though Ilie Nastase of Romania made to the final in 1972 and 76.

Now it remains to be seen whether aging yet extremely fit Roger Federer makes a come back as Wimbledon champion on Sunday or 

Photo: AFP | References | 1
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Meet Pakistan's First Female Mountain Guides


Mountaineering is a serious hobby, replete with dangers on each step one takes on the steep mountain slopes. A wrong step may cost one's life. Every year a lot of mountaineers come to Pakistan and wander around in the wilderness of Karakoram, home to four of the fourteen Eight Thousanders including the K-2, the second highest mountain top after the Everest.

And it is the sturdy mountain guides of the area that take the mountaineers from the wilderness to tracks leading to these lofty and revered mountain peaks they had dreamed of scaling. The valleys which lead to the mountains trouble overlooking the valleys are home to countless mountain guides, who know every inch of the area and can lead expeditions without much trouble and never wandering off the right tracks.

Shimshal Pass [Photo Mobeen Mazhar]

Shimshal Valley is one of the most favoured valley for the mountaineers for it provides easy access to many a mountain peaks of Karakoram. And most of the mountain guides can be found in the Shimshal village. In one of my earlier posts I wrote about the Shimshal Pass that takes it go from Shimshal village. The village is part of the Gojal Tehsil of Hunza District, in the Gilgit–Baltistan province of Pakistan. At 3,100 m above sea level, it is the highest settlement in Hunza Valley. The village is closest to China. As are typical helmets of high altitude, it has just over 200 houses with a population of approximately two thousand.

Mountain peaks overlooking Shimshal village include Distaghil Sar (7,885 m), Shimshal White Horn (6,303 m) Minglik Sar (6,150 m), Lupghar Sar (7,200 m), Yazghail Sar (6,000 m), Kunjut Sar and others are well known among mountaineers. Shimshal Lake sits at the base of the mountain near the Shimshal Pass (4,735 m). Due to closeness to these mountains, more than twenty well known mountaineers hail from this valley that have made Pakistan proud in the field of tourism. Some people call it " The Valley of Mountaineers". Rajab Shah and Mehrban Shah have received Presidential Award for Pride of Performance in recognition of their extra ordinary achievement in the field of tourism and mountaineering.




But wait a minute, where are the girls that I was supposed to talk about, for so far I have only been talking of male mountain guides and mountaineers of the area. Well that was just the introduction to the subject I am going to introduce. 
Qudrat Ali briefing the potential female mountain guides before the tougher tracks ahead

So here comes in  Qudrat Ali, one of Pakistan's best-known climbers, who thought that the girls of the area were equally sturdy, strong, motivated and ambitious as men to be in the mountains and could be good mountain guides. With this noble and ambitious plan, he has opened a small Mountaineering School where he is training the female mountain guides for the first time. 
The girls in full gear to scale their first test peak

I came across a video which is about three daring females from Shimshal Valley, Banu, Samreen and Zubaida, who decided to take the demanding course, hoping to make a good living for their families as fully qualified mountain guides. The video says it all about the efforts of Qudrat Ali in motivating females of his area and taking them to mountains the girls have never gone before. With these three becoming the first mountain guides, the complexion of mountain guidance may now change with girls sharing the role of guides, which has been the men's domain hitherto fore.

Watch the amazing video below prepared by the German TV Channel DW about the females of Shimshal Valley of Gilgit Baltistan learning to climb with their sights set for adventures even higher:
The video is both refreshing, motivating and a cue for other girls to come forward and join men in helping mountaineers finding their way up to mountain tops. May be female from other areas may too join in and attend Qudrat Ali's school and too become beacon for others.

Photo: Courtesy DW | References | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

New Zealand beat India to reach the ICC World Cup 2019 Finals


It was a great semi final of ICC World Cup 2019 today between India and New Zealand today. The Indians may have never thought of exiting from the tournament at the hands of the Kiwis - but the latter superbly did it to be the finalists.

Giving a target of 240 for the Indians to win the match, the Kiwis struck very early in the match and three top batsmen were shown the pavilion for mere six runs. And the fourth wicket fell at 37.  New Zealand could have scooped up another important wicket in the 13th over, when Neesham dropped a catch at mid wicket that would have dismissed Rishabh Pant.


Thereafter the Indians seem to have taken a stand, but the Kiwis were not giving in and kept the pressure. Jadeja from India placed himself firmly but he too was sent home at 77. Dhoni paid for his dirty trick by deliberately allowing England to win and keep Pakistan out and was too had to see way back at the critical stage of the match.

Thereafter, it was just minutes before the final Indian crumble who were all out with 18 runs to chase.

So well done Kiwis - now win your maiden World Cup !!

England and Australia meet in the second semifinal at Edgbaston on Thursday. The final is at Lord's on Sunday.

Photo: AFP | Detailed Scores | 1
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Wimbledon Quarters: Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Agut qualify


The Wimbledon is attracting its traditional spectators to its tennis courts while cricket lovers are waiting for the out come of the first semi final of ICC World Cup 2019 between New Zealand and India which has been suspended by rain since yesterday.

As for the tennis lovers, all seems to be going well as main starts are still in the arena. Today top seeded Djokovic is facing 21 seeded Goffin while 2nd seed Federer facing 8th seeded Nishikori on the Centre Court.



On Court 1, 3rd seeded Nadal will take on S Querrey of USA while 23rd seed Agut will face 26th seed Pella.

Quite a day today - let us see whether rain spares the tennis lovers for the quarters to go on as planned.

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Balochistan the Unexplored Travel Destination: Living with a Nomad Balochi Family

The onset of summers makes a large number of tourists moving from plains of Pakistan to the northern areas to escape the scorching heat. This year, there has been an unexpected  influx of tourists  not to Murree, the otherwise favoured hill station, but far up north to Gilgit and beyond, Naran and Babusar Top, and then descending to Hunza and onward to Khunjrab Pakistan-China border.

more and more tourists from abroad are touring Pakistan, taking back fond memories of love, warm hospitality and meeting with diverse people of Pakistan. I  have already shared experiences of Kimberley Clark and Drew Binsky

Now here is yet another daring lone lady venturing the unexplored travel destinations in Balochistan province of Pakistan, the barren, arid, almost vast lifeless stretches of muddy plains and muddy mountains and still enjoying her sojourn with people in their original nomad living. 
I am talking of Rosie Gabrielle, the lone motorcyclist, who dared the unexplored vastness of Balochistan and experienced staying with a Balochi family not living in some city but out in nowhere in a makeshift tent with no amenities of life whatsoever. Her travel across Pakistan is something different. Her account shows a life different in Pakistan than what media tells the world. She is simply inspired by their plain hospitality and love for others and her love for them - the ordinary people.



Despite the poverty, the family welcomed Rosie Gabrielle who stayed with them, lived the life they lived without any comforts of life. Yet the family was hospitable and staying with them was a experience of lifetime for Rosie. The woman of the house truly touched her heart, says Rosie. She ate with them, had her hair done up, dressed like them and played with their children. Recently she did a fundraiser to provide them with solar panels so they can have fans for the hot summer heat.  

Saying more would deprive you of the charm her video carries, so just watch her video as shared on YouTube and see her lifetime experience of living with a Balochi family and experience what she did not expect:
I will share her videos of travel in Pakistan, but seeing the video don't you think how safe is Pakistan where a lone female biker can roam in the wilderness all by herself and does not even feel threatened living with people she didn't know at all!!

Photo: Screen shots | References | 1
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