Monday, 29 August 2011

Roy Keane's book

Last and Final Part of Roy Keane's autobiography can be downloaded here.He is regarded as one of the best midfielders since the start of English Premier League.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Pillars of a society

Health care and education system are the bedrock of any successful society. Currently, United States is the world leader in education and health care. United States contain most of the top universities and majority of top doctors in this world. Every other powerful country(Germany,china, India, Australia, UK,France) has very good healthcare system and education infrastructure. Pakistan-as opposed to all the countries listed above-has got a poor education system and a negligent healthcare system. Education is the basic right of every human being. Governments in Pakistan have never given enough importance to imparting quality education to its citizens. As a result, the class divide has blatantly crept up in our education infrastructure. Children born to financially-weak parents have to choose between government schooling or charity-driven madrassahs. Private schooling is a stuff of dreams for them. This is injustice at the very basic level of education system. Poor people are denied their right to climb up the rungs of society by this hurdle as education imparted in government schools is mediocre,at its best. Since the time of independence,our education policy has changed directions more than the curves in the Islamabad-Murree Road. We have had totally incompetent people at the helm of education ministry. Private education has become bussiness. Qasuri family is one of the many, who have benefited from this situation. Curriculum, paper pattern, quality of education are different in the 4 provinces,another grievance. If Pakistan has to progress,If Pakistan has to be a developed country, If Pakistan has to keep adrift with this world, education is the one-word panacea. Healthcare system is another issue of grave(ironically) importance. Health Services at government hospitals(particularly at district level) require a lot of up-gradation and improvement. Sanitation and cleanliness are alien words to our society. As a result, disease-producing agents are free to reproduce and free to spread. Our hospitals are overcrowded and under-staffed. Emergency departments lack special equipments and personnel. Doctors in high offices don't spend much time in hospitals and focus mainly on private practice. This occurs mostly because the field of medicine particularly in our part of the world demands tremendous work while the dividends are nothing compared to that. 

State of Football in Pakistan

Football is the most-widely played sport in the world.Pakistani people are far behind other people both in matter of playing playing and watching football. Pakistan's national football team is ranked 163rd in the FIFA ranking while on population basis, Pakistan is ranked 7th in the world. Football is not taken seriously by most people as cricket is deeply ingrained in our culture and our blood. Hardly anybody knows about major football leagues in the world or the names of famous players in those leagues. Many People get interested in football only during world cup season and afterwards the fever diminishes. A football league does exist in Pakistan(Pakistan Premier League) but it is not well supported and most people don't even know this fact. Demographically, most players in the national team and the league teams come from Southern parts of Pakistan(Karachi,Gwadar,Quetta) and northern parts, with exception of Lahore and Faisalabad are not equally represented. Schools and Colleges do have football teams and competitions but there are no proper academies or infrastructure to develop young and talented players into world class footballers. There is also shortage of grounds for the teams to practice and play. In big cities, there are local clubs that provide opportunities for people who can spend time and money to play football. As far as support for international clubs is concerned, most fans belong to the upper middle class or upper class(mummy daddy type) who support clubs from English Premier League or Spanish La Liga.These lads can be seen wearing replica shirts in markets or they decorate their cars with their favorite club's merchandise. However,there are fans from middle class or lower middle class who watch the game just because they love it and understand it. They don't require fancy shirts or stickers or hand bands or mufflers to tell anybody that they support a particular football club.There is also the issue of very few pakistani players at international level. Recently Mehreen Khan wrote an article the football section of Guardian regrading the low number of British Asian players in upper echelons of british football( needs to be done to rectify the situation and government interest in development of football will do much good. FIFA has provided the national federation with funds and support but they still need to do more in this regard. So that Pakistan can be able to participate in international competitions within next 10-15 years.
A notable mention must be made of efforts of the website FPDC( who have been working for the last many years to provide latest news and coverage regarding Pakistani Football. 
P.S:- This article was written last year, since then Pakistan has competed with Palestine, Bangladesh at senior level and our under-16 team has won the inaugural South Asian Championship. 

Facebook is Dangerous

(wrote it for a competition)
Facebook is dangerous. More than 500 million users. More than the population of 4th and 5th most populous countries in the world and all others below them.Price evaluated around 11.5 billion dollars. Originated in the dorms of the best university in the world.Connects more than 110 countries in the world. Thats quite a pedigree and these are just a few statistics boasted by the social networking behemoth we know as Facebook. Before facebook grabbed our attention in pakistan, orkut was the name of the game. Being a part of orkut was considered chic and cool. It was kicked out of the market by a the new kid on the block, Facebook.Facebook was totally refreshing in its outlook,was more user friendly and privacy-savvy. Its rise concurred with the advent of microblogging giant twitter and together, they became a political phenomen that catapulted Barrack Obama to the office of President of United States. Even the recently held mid-term elections, tea party members and many prominent politicians relied heavily on the internet based media to put forth their agendas. In Pakistan, ex-President Musharraf gathered more than 2 lac fans and he used this logic as one of reasons to re-enter politics. Apart from him, Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif have also got thousands and thousands of facebook fans. Many radio programs use facebook fan pages to get song requests or allow people to get into some discussion. Many business companies use facebook for advertising.It is a proverb that nothing is bad in itself,its use determins it to be either good or bad. According to a recent research report published by ProPakistani as well, many offices in Pakistan are suffering due to wastage of time because employees had their attentions towards facebook and not work. I have personally observed professionals(a doctor and an I.T Manager) using facebook during time of duty openly..Some offices using a single node for internet access have banned facebook. Even in those cases, some devout facebook lovers started using facebook on their handsets. Another issue pertaining to facebook use is abuse of privacy. Pictures of girls who have allowed access to anyone can be copied and terrible things can be done with them....Like any other internet forum where anonymosity can be maintained and storied can be fabricated, frauds and friendship with dangerous people can happen due to lack of awareness..Then there are some idiotic facebook applications (its a democracy after all.. :) ) like 'enemy of the day' and 'lover of the day' and many others that can't even be mentioned here due to censor regulations. They can prove to be a nuisance to a facebook user. Like I said earlier, facebook is not evil in itself,its how you use it that matters.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Biography of an Unfortunate son of Pakistan

(From the book "The Coffee House of Lahore" by KK Aziz)
 Abdus Salam
Salam was the son of Chaudhri Muhammad Husain, a schoolteacher of Jhang and Hajirah who belonged to Faizullah Chak near Batala. Muhammad Hussain was Jat and Hajirah a Kakkezai. Faizullah Chak was an almost exclusively Kakkezai Village. The Kakkezais were a close-knit community. Born in 1926 and educated at the Government High School and Government Intermediate College, Jhang, Government College, Lahore and St. John’s College, Cambridge, he made it a habit to excel in every examination he took. He stood first in 1940 in the matriculation of the Punjab University and again in 1942 in the F.Sc. Examination. He joined the Government College, Lahore in 1942 to study mathematics A and B and honours in English. He graduated in 1944 winning every laurel in sight: 300 out of 300 marks in Mathematics, 121 out of 150 in English Honours, standing first in the University and breaking all records in the B.A examination. In 1946, he took his M.A in Mathematics, scoring 573 marks out of 600, and topping the list.
In September 1946, he left for Cambridge on a Punjab Peasant Welfare Fund Scholarship to study Mathematics at St. John’s College as an undergraduate (Its worth mentioning here that this fact was recently mentioned in an article by Javed Chaudary, and the origin of the said fund was the money that was left over from the War tax, after the war had finished-AM). If in India, his academic career was brilliant, in Cambridge, it was dazzling. He got a first both in preliminary in 1947 and Part II in 1948, and then gave up Mathematics for the time being because on the higher level it could not be fully mastered without a good knowledge of physics. In an unprecedented performance, he read Physics for one year and took its Part I and II together in 1949; scoring a first and surprising even his teachers.
His scholarship was extended for two years (it should have been three years) to work for his Ph.D. He came to Pakistan in the summer, married Ummatul Hafeez, and returned to Cambridge in 1949, deciding to tackle theoretical Physics for his doctoral thesis.
The year 1951 was the time for him to harvest the fruits of his labour. He completed his thesis(though he could not get his PhD till the following year because the university statutes required that the candidate spent nine terms before being eligible to receive his doctorate), won the smith prize(From Wikipedia: The Smith's Prize was the name of each of two prizes awarded annually to two research students in theoretical Physics, mathematics and applied mathematics at the University of Cambridge,Cambridge, England-AM), was elected Fellow of his College, and named Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton University.  Pending the award of his degree, he came to Lahore and was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Head of Department of Mathematics at both the Government College and the Punjab University. In 1952, he went to Cambridge for his viva voce and to receive his doctorate.
His problems began almost as soon as he took up his job at the Government College. Instead of honouring him for his brilliant achievements, he was humiliated by the College and the Education Department. He was not given an official residence, as was his right. Temporarily he stayed with Qazi Muhammad Aslam, the professor of Philosophy at the College, and continued his efforts to get a house allotted to him. Disappointed with the indifferent attitude of the officials he asked for an interview with the Minister of Education, Sardar Abdul Hameed Dasti. Salam told him that he had a family to accommodate and was entitled to a residence. The minister brought an end to the interview by refusing any help and declaring: “If its suits you, you may continue with your job; if not, you may go” (Translation from Punjabi-AM). Salam was so frustrated with that he was considering a resignation, but soon a house was found for him and he stayed on.
But that was just the beginning. A little later, the Principle, Professor Sirajuddin, asked him to do something to earn his keep besides his teaching. He was given three choices: to act as Superintendent of the Quadrangle Hostel or to supervise the college accounts or to take charge of the college football team. Salam chose to look after the footballers. Occasionally, at the end of his chore at the University Grounds, he would drop in at the Coffee House and tell me (K.K. Aziz, the writer-AM) about his bitterness on being forced to waste his time. A man who had worked 14 hours a day at Cambridge as a student had now hardly any time to read new literature on his subject, and the facilities in the college laboratory were dust and ashes compared to the Cavendish Laboratories where he had worked as an undergraduate and a doctoral student. It was not difficult to take the gauge of Salam’s frustration.
A more serious contretemps occurred in the Christmas Holidays of the same years. Professor Wolfgang Pauli, the 1945 Nobel laureate of physics and a friend of Salam, was visiting Bombay on the invitation of Indian science association. He sent a telegram to Salam wishing too see him and asking him if he could come to Bombay. Salam, who had been craving to talk to a peer in his field, at once left for India, and spent a week with Pauli. On his return to Lahore, he was charge sheeted for absenting himself from his station of duty without prior permission. Salam was shocked. He was used to European freedom of movement and had been part of Pakistani bureaucratic set-up for a mere three months. The principal made so much fuss about the incident that Salam feared that he might be dismissed from the education service. At this point S.M. Sharif, the director of Public instruction of the Punjab, intervened and the period of Salam’s absence was treated as leave without pay.
When Salam had been elected a fellow of St. John’s College in 1951 he had accepted the honour on the condition that he would be allowed to go to Lahore and teach there and live in St. John’s only during the long vacations. St. John’s was so anxious to have him that it made an exception and accepted his condition. This was a measure of Salam’s love for the Government College; he was prepared to forego the considerable honour of a fellowship of St. John’s for the sake of the prospect of teaching at the Government College. But he had been insulted and humiliated so often by the College he loved so much and for which he had sacrificed the full facilities of the St. John’s fellowship that he now forced to look somewhere else for his professional future. As luck would have it, in the middle of the same year (1953), the Stokes lectureship at St. John’s fell vacant. The holder of the lectureship, Nicholas Kemmer had been offered the Tait professorship of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He had been Salam’s teacher at St. John’s and a fellow at Trinity College. He was so keen on Salam’s succeeding him at St. John’s that he wrote to the Punjab University, pleading that Salam should be persuaded to accept the offer. The vice-chancellor, Mian Afzal Husain, had kept in touch with Salam since his departure from Cambridge and 1946 and had great admiration for his work. He advised Salam to accept the lectureship and go to Cambridge. Salam’s love for Pakistan and the Government College was boundless. Notwithstanding the treatment he had received from the authorities of College, he was still reluctant to snap the umbilical cord that tied him to his alma mater. Finally, s.m. sharif solved the problem by suggesting and sanctioning an arrangement that satisfied Salam. He was to go to St. John’s on deputation from the Government College for an unspecified period and would receive a deputation allowance of Rs. 181 per month. He left at the end of 1953 and took charge of his lectureship on the new year’s day of 1954.
He stayed at St. John’s for exactly three years, and on 1st January 1957 took up a professorship at the Imperial College of science and technology in London; he was then 31 years of age, and thus won the distinction of being the youngest professor in the British Commonwealth. He retired from here in 1993 for health reasons. Between leaving the Government College and his death, his march to the summit of his profession was phenomenal. At St. John’s he taught some advanced courses and made his reputation on the international level by the research papers he published and by his work as scientific secretary of the first United Nations atoms for peace conference in Geneva in 1955. His research and teaching at Imperial College attracted favourable attention of the greatest scientists of the world. He acted as the chief scientific advisor to the president of Pakistan from 1961 to 1974. In 1964, he established the International Centre of Theoretical Physics and served as its Director from 1964 to 1994 and its President from 1994-1996. 
He won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979(he had come very close to winning it in 1957). Immediately after the news of his Nobel Prize was published in October, Government of India and Indian scientific bodies invited him to tour the country. There was no reaction from Pakistan until the Pakistan high commissioner in London informed his Government of India’s invitation. Only then did the Government of Pakistan ask him to visit his home country. Salam decided to visit Pakistan first and India a year later.
In December 1979, on his arrival in Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad, he was received by junior army officers who were military secretaries to the provincial governors and the president. The convocation of Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad summoned to bestow upon him the honorary doctorate of science was cancelled because of the warning from the students belonging to the right-wing Jamaat-i-Islami to disrupt the function, and the venue was shifted to the hall of national assembly. In Lahore, his lecture arranged to be held at the campus of Punjab University, had to be moved to the senate hall in the city because certain groups had demonstrated earlier and threatened to murder Salam. The University of Punjab refused to honour him with a degree. The Government College did not even invite him to visit its precinct.
A year later when he was in India, five universities gave him honorary degrees, including the guru dev Nanak university of Amritsar where he delivered the convocation address on 25 January 1981 in rural Punjabi, and the university, on his request brought to Amritsar four of his old teachers who has taught him in Jhang and Lahore. The Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, invited him to her residence, made coffee for him with her own hands, and sat on the carpet throughout the meeting near Salam’s feet saying that was her way of honouring a great guest. Later in his tour of several Latin American countries including Brazil, he was received everywhere at the airport by the head of the state.
In 1986 the director general-ship of the UNESCO fell vacant and nominations were solicited. Salam wanted to be considered and everyone was sure that he would be elected. But the rule was that a candidate must be nominated by his own country. Pakistan nominated Lt. General Yaqub Khan, a retired army officer. Both Britain and Italy offered to nominate Salam if he agreed to become their national. He refused. The Pakistani general received ONE vote. A French member, when pressed by her Government to vote for the Pakistani candidate, resisted, protested and then resigned, saying “An Army General will run the UNESCO over my dead body”.
Salam died, full of honours and laurels from across the world, on 21 November 1996, in oxford. His brother, who lived in Lahore, asked the Government if it would like to provide protocol on the arrival of the coffin. There was no response. He was buried in Rabwah, on 2 November at 11 A.M at the foot of his mother’s grave.

A treat to read

I consider myself unfortunate to have missed reading Mohammad Hanif's excellent book "A case of exploding Mangoes" till a few days ago. I have read his v.good satirical blog for BBC, his occasional articles for The Guardian and follow him on twitter. For people like me, I have uploaded the book in PDF format, Read and Enjoy..
The book can be accessed here.