Monday, October 25, 2010

Wanted: a feel-good moment

Wanted: a feel-good momentAdd Video

By Anjum Niaz
DAWN NEWS PAPER Sunday, 24 Oct, 2010

Chilean miner Luis Urzua gestures alongside President Sebastian Pinera (R) after reaching the surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile. – AFP Photo

In a cavern, in a canyon
Excavating for a mine
Dwelt miners sixty-niners
And their darling Chileantines

Sorry ‘Oh my darling Clementine’ composer. But I must rewrite your script to talk of the heroic “sixty-niners” who lived in entrapment cooped up in a small space half a mile under earth’s surface for 69 days. Unlike your song that laments the death of Clementine, the miner’s daughter, my story has a happy ending. Reason for the 33 gold diggers (no pun intended) survival? The untiring efforts of their president and the country he heads.

Chile pronounced ‘chillay’ or ‘she-lay’ grabbed the world’s attention on the night of October 12 when it began the rescue of the miners via a capsule named Phoenix and painted red, blue and white signifying the Chilean flag. President Pinera, smiling copiously, dressed in orange just like the others in the crowd with a helmet on his head, stood cheerfully at the spot called Camp Hope for hours waiting and welcoming the miners till the last one was out. No frills; no fuss; no hangers surrounded his persona. He hugged them with words like “Welcome to life;” An appropriate sentiment considering that no human in recorded history has survived that long underground.

Luis Alberto Urzua, the shift foreman who helped his colleagues survive and not lose hope during the first 17 days before Chileans discovered the men were alive, was the last to surface. In the weeks that followed, the world was captivated by their endurance and unity. “Hanging firm to discipline and collaboration held firm in the lightless, dank space,” wrote the New York Times, “Their perseverance has transfixed the globe with a universal story of human struggle and the enormously complex operation to rescue them.”

Said President Pinera after the national anthem, “We are more unified than ever. Unity, faith, commitment, loyalty and solidarity fills us with pride and we thank God.
Chile is ready for great things… Viva Chile. I would like to thank Chileans for showing the world the best of Chile. I am proud to be your president… this has been a big lesson for our government. We need to improve our system, our procedure to take better care and dignity of our workers. We owe it to Chileans. I am announcing a new treaty to the workers.”

Two months earlier, another president was in the news. Here in
America, while we watched every night the savagery of the Great Flood, foreign news media also telecast a jean-clad, tuckless shirted President Zardari holidaying in Paris at his 16th century chateau juxtaposed with the colossal failure of his government back home to handle the crisis. Amidst harrowing stories of the flood victims, we got an earful from foreign journalists of how the Pakistani government was caught unprepared and left the victims at the mercy of the elements. One felt angry to see, hear and read details of the corruption stories cropping up and the reticence of international donors to come forward with help. Photos of stretching hands and hordes of people pushing each other to grab the relief goods being distributed showed massive chaos, confusion, desperation and looting.

Wrote the
UK based Economist “It gives donors time to find effective ways to co-ordinate their help—ways that, where possible, should bypass Mr Zardari’s loose-fingered friends.” The Great Flood was an opportunity for the leaders to shine. Had they come out of their palaces and glass houses to supervise the relief operations with excellent planning and execution, the 170 million would have stood up to salute them and the world would have focused on their feats. Instead, all they earned was a bad name and disdain of international donors.

Pakistan ever get a government worthy of its citizens’ admiration? If one believes in miracles, why, yes of course! If Chile managed to shake off the yoke of its worst president General Augusto Pinochet, the most controversial figure in the history of Chile, there’s hope for us too. As head of the military junta that ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, he enjoyed total control.

It is then not a pipedream for Pakistanis to hope for a feel-good moment like Chileans? The wait may be longer but it will happen one day.
Already, one hears such edifying stories of people going to the flood victims with relief goods to show their solidarity. Here’s one such story of a man called Razzaq in Kot Addu who has tended to 150 families encamped since July 28. Running out of rations, he sent an SOS to his brother-in-law Dr Babur Zahiruddin sitting 750 kms away, in Pindi. The Pakistan Thinkers Forum (PTF) promptly collected the rations and the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association (PESA) used their influence and arranged for a C-130 to airlift the two truckloads of donated stuff for their homeless brethren marooned on the other side of the Indus.

Yes, this indeed must be a feel-good moment for the 150 families knowing that they have not been forgotten. If only the leaders and the wealthy were the exemplars of such heedfulness, Pakistanis would have feel-good moments, times without number.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Dear Friends

This is one of the emails that touches my soul..............

It was forwarded to me by one of my friends who requested to share it with my friends

since i read this email I have started living, I enjoy my living, Say hello to people whom I dont even know, give a pat to youngsters in the street, Help out people with small gestures and gifts....

When I look back on my life I am astonished that I have not lived my life till now.

All my yester years were in vain and I wasted my time in worrying, apprehension, tension and fear of the unknown ..

Dear friends............................... ENJOY your life

Make the most of it.......................

Because tomorrow may not be the same as today.....................

Please forward this email.....

Dr. Babur Zahiruddin

A friend of mine opened his wife's drawer and picked up a silk paper wrapped package:

'This, - he said - isn't any ordinary package.'

He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.

'She got this the first time we went to
New York, 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on , was saving it for a special occasion.

Well, I guess this is it.

He got near the bed and placed the gift box next to the other clothing he was taking to the funeral house, his wife had just died.

He turned to me and said:

'Never save something for a special occasion.

Every day in your life is a special occasion'.

I still think those words changed my life.

Now I read more and clean less.

I sit on the settee without worrying about anything and just relax.

I spend more time with my family & friends and less at work.

Money is to be spent not saved.

I understood that life should be a source of experience to be lived up to, not survived through.

I no longer keep anything.

I use crystal glasses every day.

I'll wear new clothes to go to the supermarket, if I feel like it.

I don't save my special perfume for special occasions, I use it whenever I want to.

I go out with my friends whenever I want to rather than thinking I don't have the spare money or time.

The words 'Someday...' and ' One Day...' are fading away from my dictionary.

If it's worth seeing, listening or doing, I want to see, listen or do it now...

I don't know what my friend's wife would have done if she knew she wouldn't be there the next morning, this nobody can tell.

I think she might have called her relatives and closest friends.
She might call old friends to make peace over past quarrels.

She might have told everyone how much she loved them.

I'd like to think she would go out for Chinese, her favourite food.

It's these small things that I would regret not doing, if I knew my time had come..

Each day, each hour, each minute, is special.

Live for today, for tomorrow is promised to no-one.

If you got this, it's because someone cares for you and because, probably, there's someone you care about.

If you're too busy to send this out to other people and you say to yourself that you will send it
'One of these days' , remember that 'One day' is far away... or might never come...

No matter if you're superstitious or not, spend some time reading it. It holds useful messages for the soul.

Dr. Babur Zahiruddin

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dear Friends

We have been concentrating in MALAKAND, SWAT and other areas for our relief activities when I got a frantic SOS from my brother-in - Law (RAZZAQ) in KOT ADDU.

He was desperate to give help to some affectees of the deluge along spur no. 3 and 4, about 2 kilometers upstream INDUS (TAUNSA BARRAGE)where about 150 families were encamped and he was looking after them since 28th July 2010 and he was running out of finances and Rations.

At the first instant I thought that this was a very difficult task for me as collecting Rations was one major problem and transporting these Rations to about 750 Kms by road was another problem.

But as they say WHERE THERE IS A WILL THERE IS WAY ......................................................

By chance about 2 weeks ago I mentioned this request in one of our PESA meeting with ACM Kaleem Saadat who said that he will look in to the matter.

I more or less forgot about this, but about 5 days ago I received an email from ACM Kaleem Saadat to collect the donations from Col. Bakhtiar Hakeem's residence which is the head quarters of Pakistan Thinkers forum (PTF).

I thought this will be a small consignment for relief effort so I went to collect it from PTF head quarters in my car.

When I went there I was amazed that they had collected one SHAHZOOR Load of 150 beddings which were complete in all respects for the coming winter.

They also told me that the 2 trucks loads of RATIONS had to be lifted from CSD Chaklala and I should lift every thing today because of lack of storage facility.

I started with the Truck for going to the ADDA for onwards dispatch to KOT ADDU by commercial trucks who were asking Rupees 15000/- per truck load to KOT ADDU.

When I was half way through that I got a call from ACM Kaleem Saadat that Charlie (slang for C-130) had been arranged for the transportation and I should deliver the goods to Air movement at Chaklala base.


At one time every thing seemed so difficult, arduous, intricate and a remote possibility to me having limited resources and man power but yet the combined cumulative, synergistic and symbiotic efforts of all the team members made this so easy.

I collected rest of the goods from CSD chaklala which was handed over to me by Col. Bakhtiar Hakeem another supporting and sporting personality out to help others for a altruistic cause.

It took me three (3) trips to PAF Base chaklala to deliver the goods which I finished by 1830 hours in the evening. My passage was greatly facilitated by the courtesy of ACM Keleem Saadat and I would like to also thank the LOAD MASTER S/t. Muktar at PAF base chaklala who accommodated me even after pack up hours.

The next was the flight of the Eagle from chaklala to Multan on Monday for which I was in close liaison with base commander Multan Gp. Capt Farhat Ali, who again was very helpful in the unloading and loading on to the trucks brought by Razzak to PAF base.

Finally the relief goods found their way from Multan to KOT ADDU onwards to upstream Indus and DERA DEEN PANAH, where they were distributed on Tuesday.

I would like to share this story with you and also THANK all those who helped me in making this episode a success.

Photographs of the whole journey process are attached for your viewing. some of the other pictures will come in a separate email.

Please join me in this crusade in my fight against poverty, disease, exploitation, ignorance and hunger.

........................................LET US ALL PROMISE TO MAKE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE...........................................

Always in need of your prayers,

Dr. Babur Zahiruddin
Social Activist