Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hungarian couple rubbishes ‘tales’ on security in Pakistan

By: Mohsan Ali

ISLAMABAD – Newly-wed couple, Zita and Arpi, hailing from Hungary soon after their wedding decided to travel around the world on bicycles mainly for three purposes - to promote love and harmony among the different sects of people around the world, witness different sites, peoples and places and the most important of all it was purely about healthy purposes.

“We have started our long journey around the world on 11th of June 2011 and have since than visited 14 countries including Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghistan, China and Pakistan,” the happy couple revealed in an exclusive interview with TheNation here on Thursday.

Zita was particularly very excited while telling about her visit to Hunza valley. She said that Swat is a place like the heaven on earth and we really enjoyed staying at Hunza.

She further said, the people of Pakistan are very loving and caring, the amount of love and respect we are getting from the Pakistanis is hard to express in words, she further said, “We must like to thank the Pakistani security agencies’ role for providing us extra security throughout and they take well care of us.”

“We have heard a lot about the security issues and the people talk so much rubbish and tried to scare us by telling false stories regarding worsening security in Pakistan,” she said adding, “Let me assure everyone specially the West that Pakistan is completely safe for all kinds of sporting and visiting activities, we have now spend almost two months in Pakistan and we will travel to Lahore next where we will spend 4 days after that we will leave for India.”

They said, “We are already looking forward to visit Pakistan again, we will travel across the borders in next 1 year or so and then return to homeland, they both further said, we will like to say thanks to the Hungarian Embassy in Pakistan for their care and assistance and specially the embassy of Pakistan as they provided us visas without any delay and most importantly without going through unnecessary documentations.” They said that they have found Pakistan full of beautiful places and the people gave us tremendous amount of respect and lend us helping hand without even we asked for that.

‘We must accept one thing we could not have even dream about getting this amount of respect, care, love and guidance from the people of Pakistan,” they said.

Sharing about their experiences Zita and Arpi said, the finest moment of our travel was to cross the 4655 miles Pamira Highway (it is not highway in fact it is motorway but due to its height we called it highway) in Tajikistan.

When this correspondent ask them what does they feel is unique between Pakistan and other parts of the world, they both replied the bonded families is the main difference between the west and Pakistan, we must admit this country is blessed with people who care about their family values and remain together through thick and thin.

A thing, which we, the Western countries, are fast forgetting if we follow the same pattern and value our relations and try to keep our families together, we will soon be able to overcome all our problems and the divorce rate, which has already reached an alarming level can be controlled at a very short span of time.

The world must follow that example that every thing can be achieve through living together and value their customs, Zita and Arpi concluded.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How correct are mystical predictions about Pakistan?

How correct are mystical predictions about Pakistan?
by: From the Newspaper | Rauf Parekh | 14 hours ago

BEFORE I say anything about predictions by mystics and saints, please be assured that neither am I one of those who too readily believe in soothsayers, mystical or otherwise, nor do I intend to convince the readers of the validity of divine prophecies about Pakistan’s future. Rather the purpose of this piece is just to share with the readers the contents of an interesting research article on the subject of mystical predictions, which has just appeared in a literary magazine, as the article presents different views with an academic detachment.

Casting shadows of doubts over Pakistan’s future has been a favorite pastime of many ever since the country came into being and there has never been any dearth of pessimists who love to draw bleakest scenarios of Pakistan’s future. The so-called think-tanks in the West had even predicted, in their ‘research-based studies’, total chaos in the country; Pakistan becoming a failed state or even its disintegration in the first decade of the 21st century. A country — the most allied ally of the West — that came into being against all odds and survived against all odds has yet again managed to survive beyond the deadline given by our western well-wishers. Of late, some Western scholars have become more careful and they talk about only the near-future of Pakistan, say five to seven years, and are kind enough to vaguely say that in the near-future the country might “muddle along” in the same manner as it did in the past.

But, strangely enough, there have always been some people, no matter how few, who have had great confidence in this country’s future, which has generally not looked much promising. Aside from the common Pakistanis, the bunch of these optimists includes some mystics and saints, too. Interestingly, some websites have been posting predictions about the country’s bright future on the basis of prophecies attributed to a Sufi saint named Shah Ne’matullah Vali. Shah Sahib’s ‘qaseedas’, or panegyric odes, that have recently become hugely popular again are known for their prophecies. Just as symbolic and as arcane as the predictions by Nostradamus, these poems forecast, according to some interpreters, among other things, Pakistan would not only become a prosperous country but one that leads the world. Sounds too good to be true? Well, maybe.

Mumtaz Mufti, one of Urdu’s prominent fiction writers of the 20th century, had turned to mysticism during the latter part of his life. Mufti Sahib had always been very confident about Pakistan’s bright future. His optimism was based on some spiritual experiences and prophecies of some Sufis he was in touch with. When Dr Najeeba Arif, International Islamic University’s faculty member, carried out a research on Mumtaz Mufti’s life and works, the mystical dimension of Mufti’s life, too, came under her probe. In her doctoral dissertation, Dr Arif had brought under discussion this aspect of his life and works. Now she has come up with a research paper that discusses the prophecies about Pakistan based on Shah Ne’matullah Vali’s predictions.

Published in ‘Mabahis’, a new Urdu research journal from Lahore and edited by Prof (Dr) Tehseen Firaqi, the paper’s title can be translated as ‘Pakistan: a dreamland for South Asian Muslims or a failed state, a recent scholastic perspective of Shah Ne’matullah Vali’s prophecies’.

She begins her paper with some deliberations of the international conference on Pakistan held in Italy in May 2010. Delegates from 16 countries participated in the conference and all but one said that Pakistan was a failed state. The only delegate who disagreed with the view was a former diplomat, Tariq Fatemi. He later admitted to Dr Arif in an interview that he did not have enough evidence to prove his optimism about Pakistan’s future.

Trying to find a balanced approach towards the issue of Pakistan’s future, she reminds the readers of the forecasts posted on different websites and then refers to a paper by a renowned scholar, Prof C.M. Naim, who has been associated with the Chicago University for long.

Titled ‘Prophecies in South Asian Muslim discourse: the poems of Shah Ne’matullah Vali’, Prof Naim’s paper has appeared in an Indian research journal and he has shown doubts about the genuineness of Shah Ne’matullah’s poems. These poems not only predict that a new era of peace and prosperity is to dawn soon but, according to some interpretations, Pakistan is to become a super power. The prophecies include one that says Islam would be revived and Muslims would conquer India. Prof Naim thinks that these versified predictions, originally in Persian and translated into Urdu, surfaced first during the upheaval of 1857 (to encourage those who were fighting against the British forces) and again when political and economic situation deteriorated in Pakistan. The recent reemergence of these predictions shows, according to him, that all is not well in Pakistan and these verses have been used for ulterior motives in the past too. He alleges that the reemergence of these predictions might have been a work of Pakistan’s armed forces. His paper drew sharp reaction and criticism on websites and blogs.

Some 20 years ago, a booklet titled ‘Azeem paishingoiyaan’ (great predictions) containing Shah Ne’matullah’s predictions was published from Karachi, too, and this writer has a photocopy of that booklet. Even if the verses are genuine, the Urdu translation and the interpretations seem wishful. But attributing a renewed general interest in them to Pakistan’s armed forces is so far-fetched that one wonders how a veteran scholar like C.M. Naim can believe in it. Dr Arif has tried to trace the tradition of these forecasts, and the ones attributed to some other mystics, and then tried to figure out how authentic these poems are and whether there are sources other than Shah Sahib’s predictions about the great future of Pakistan that we all dream of.

She has first established the facts about the life of Shah Ne’matullah Vali (C.1329-1431) with historical sources and says that Shah Sahib was not only a well-known and revered Sufi saint but he founded a ‘silsila’ (an order of dervishes). He was a prolific writer and a poet, too. His divan was published from Tehran but more popular are his verses that contain predictions. She then quotes E.G. Browne, who confirms that Shah Sahib’s poems are “couched in the prophetic strain” and they “still exercise a certain influence”. Browne had visited Shah Ne’matullah’s mausoleum in Kirman and reproduced in his book the famous poem that consists of 50 couplets and contains predictions. Dr Arif also tells us that different versions of the poem containing slightly different text also exist. Prof Naim thinks some couplets were added later. Dr Arif has reproduced the entire poem from authentic sources and has given a gist of its meanings. But there are other poems too that have additional predictions. She then reveals that the authenticity of some of the poems may be questionable.

Dr Arif then narrates the visions and dreams of different Sufis, all of which point to a brilliant future for Pakistan. But the paper finishes with a message for her fellow Pakistanis: we must work hard and show a character that justifies the great Pakistani dream.

Now a few words about the magazine ‘Mabahis’ that carries the article: as it is edited by Dr Firaqi who is known for his meticulousness and a knack for perfection, one can well imagine the high standard that he has set from the very first issue.