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"Truth liberates."

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, January 19, 2022, ,

Hazrat Ali (AS) on inclusive governance

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Raza Rumi

Imam Ali (AS) had written a comprehensive letter – articulating principles of public policy – for the guidance of the newly appointed Governor to Egypt, Maalik al Ashtar. In this fascinating directive, Ali (AS) advises the new governor that his administration will succeed only if he governs with concern for justice, equity, probity and the prosperity of all. There is a timeless applicability of this famous letter. Selected passages from the text are reproduced below:

Religious tolerance: Amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you [and] are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than yours, [who] are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to; they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realising the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you .
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, January 19, 2022, ,

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“Leave after the first lie.”

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, January 12, 2022, ,

Historic Trilogy

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The first thought that came into my mind after visiting Okara can be described by four words: milk, butter, mammals and farms. Peers also told me the same. Besides Harappan ruins, I did not know the area. But one thing I did know, though, was that I should be happy to say goodbye to the place. Two years later, I felt drawn to the area and its people and it was very hard for me to part. There is so much to be seen, so much to be done. Above all, it has spirited, sincere and full-of-love people living in Gogera, Dipalpur and Pakpattan historic trilogy. The distances in the hinterland are short but the landscape is so enormous that it had to be studied in parts like a large mural seen by a child.


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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, January 05, 2022, ,

Garam Chashma

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Some places are so idyllic and unspoiled that it is almost unbelievable. One such place is picturesque, tranquil and pollution free town Garam Chashma (meaning hot spring) in at the edge district Chitral. The very sound of it is (sort of) strategic - the role Garam Chashma played during Russian occupation in Afghanistan not very long ago. The town is located on the bank of a turbulent torrent known as Luthko Gol that is full of trout; about two hours drive from Chitral City.


As the Fokker Friendship hovers over Chitral before committing to landing, one can see the beautiful sights through window of small aircraft: red roof houses dotted on the hill contours, alpine trees, and fruit orchards. Chitral airport is built in one of the serene gorges of the River Kunar. I stayed at the deepest place in district Chitral known as Mir Khanni - over seventy kilometers from Chitral. As per the plans that I had made to see different sights in Chitral valley during free brakes in the schedule of my assignment, I boarded a passenger Mazda that was ready to go to Garam Chashma right from the airport early one April morning.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, December 30, 2021, ,

Happy families are all alike

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The first sentence of Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina is: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” (Tolstoy, 1875-1877/2001, p. 1) #.

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, December 24, 2021, ,

Gogera Heritage Trail

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People travel for many reasons; to see the things they can not see at home, to get away from the routine of life and work, to meet interesting people, to study different cultures and or to seek spiritual solace. For last decade, village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD known as Dolls Village) has become a unique village to attract large number of foreigners. Only in year 2000 travelers (including experts in different fields and social workers) from 40 different countries visited this village. And, most houses in TGD have built guest rooms for visitors who come here and stay as paying guests in homely atmosphere – clean linen, local cuisine and traditional hospitality. From Gogera one can ride a traditional horse drawn Tonga or an auto rickshaws to TGD on Gogera TGD Heritage Trail.


History and archeology make for good tourism that is largely a function of prosperity. The more money people have the more of it they will spend on travel and other intellectual pursuits. Today, worldwide tourism is an unprecedented 4.4 trillions dollars industry expected to be 10 trillions by 2010. Now once every beach, airport and other conventional tourist spots feel crowded like a cinema hall, people are constantly looking for quiet, unique and brand new destinations. Millions of tourists come to Asia every year. But the irony is that out side world does not know about Pakistan or has a distorted image of it; hence tourists cannot plan to visit. After all, Pakistan has much more to offer than many other countries combined together.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, December 02, 2021, ,

Mir Chakar Rind

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An old, sleepy and tranquil village Satghara lies about 80 kilometers from Lahore (20 minutes drive away from Okara) in the quiet backwaters of the Punjab. The coins found at Satghara prove that the place was inhabited at the time of the Kushan dynasty. The rule of Kushans was one of the most decisive periods in the history of the Subcontinent. At the height in the second century (A.D.), Kushans ruled from Oxus to Ganges and yet their influence spread beyond even these frontiers. On the southern bank of the Ravi, it is a typical Pakistani village where farmers live like rustics in the face of urban attractions. Though off the beaten track, it has never been out of limelight. Besides heritage conscious travelers from all over the world, Baloch leaders and contemporary historians visit the hamlet. Reasons: it is a "Tukia Nawab Chakar Ki" - last resting-place of Mir Chakar Rind. I see part of our history buried here whenever I have a look at it. And when I was stationed at Okara Cantt, I did it often.

As per one account, Mir Chakar Rind came to this village with seven families, hence the name. Another legend has it that the village was named Satghara because it was destroyed seven times by floods. Shah Abul Mo'ali, descendant of sixteenth century saint Muhammad Ibrahim Daud-e-Sani Bandgi in his book 'Maqamat-e-Daudi' maintains that Satghara was known by the same name even before the arrival of Mir Chakar Rind. In Baloch history, the sixteenth century was a very eventful period. Baloch fought series of wars amongst themselves. The result of these tribal conflicts not only caused large-scale bloodshed but also resulted in their mass migrations to the Punjab, Sindh and Gujrat (India).
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, November 29, 2021, ,

Men at Their Best

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The 55 PMA Lahore Chapter always keeps track of the comrades who happen to be visiting Lahore. Those who don’t know, after COVI 19 conditions relaxed, the first get together was on the visit of Salim Nawaz and last evening (19 Nov 2021) we met on the arrival of Jamil Bravo from Canada and Nadeem Gilani from USA.


Course get together is such an occasion where you need not prove anything to anyone. Everyone knows everyone and everything, more so in case of 55 PMA Long Course Lahore Chapter. In addition, when course mates get together, there is no change; same jokes, same tones, same level of nearness and relationship.

Meeting friends with a long and continuous history of over 46 year is always a pleasure. There is so much to talk, to update and to remind to each other.


Thanks to Zahir Khan, Muhammad Athar and Malik Abbas - the soul of Lahore Chapter – who like always made the get together (accompanied) possible; nicely laid out venue (DHA J Block Club), good food and lot of talks. Kudos to Baqir and Shabbir who were the hosts for the evening. Saleem Sarwar presented his beautiful painting to Jamil and promised one to Nadeem Gilani. Zahir Khan also filled in the details. Unanimous impression is that the spirit of 55 PMA and that of Lahore Chapter is alive. There are simply no signs of any of them getting old. They never will. 

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, November 20, 2021, ,

Pleased in PakPattan

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Pakpattan - the name is enough to start the travelers, cautiously curious and devoted faithful dreaming. Already the magic words like sultans and saints are stirring in the head. Let your gaze slip over the dhaki - original citadel of Pakpattan - and the town will suddenly appear. The antiquity is its own message: the town is heritage, and heritage permeates the town.

Enter the once walled inner-city through one of the existing gates and you will find yourself in archetypal form of an ancient town - crooked and narrow streets, dense housing, intricate woodwork on Jharokas, bay windows and doors. So many historic cities have developed losing much of their original character in the process during modern times, but Pakpattan has survived remarkably in tact. It is the entire urban fabric of the place that is historic. Though, the major portion of the fortification wall has disappeared. At places, the wall has even been utilized as a part of the residences. Four gates (Shahedi, Rehimun, Abu and Mori) have survived out of six but they are all crumbling. Now extensive suburbs stretch from the foot of the wall all around. Thin red bricks from centuries old wall are seen used in the new houses all over the town. The portion of the settlement that sits on the mound can be compared with walled part of Multan City.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, November 04, 2021, ,


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