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Okay. Am done with reading two books on philosophy and science, back to back, dealing with inception, existence, purpose and history of life and universe. Phew! If I still sound intoxicated, so you know who to blame. (Not me, of course!). Just raking my way through the hangover which is more like a dizzying experience we suffer from, while standing at the edge of what we humbly term in structural engineering as an overhang.

The blockbuster ‘Sophie’s world’ written two decades ago is highly recommended. In pursuit of simple everyday babble such as ‘who are you?’ and ‘where did the world come from?’, the book leads you through a philosophical trail of three thousand years of history of mankind and civilization. At the end, the author through his masterly fabricated tale, plot and theme, leaves you wondering whether you are living in reality or surviving in a mere realm of reality. The evolution of mankind and civilization and the ever itching human quest and need to discover and explore the secrets of universe and life have been briefly narrated. A cautious approach, if not meek, towards the existence of God is evident throughout and questions of religion and faith are at best left open ended. It will be fair to remark that the author has stated a variety of perspectives without taking any firm positions for or against them.

On the contrary the assertions of our modern day researcher cum scientist Stephen Hawking are rather revolutionary and blasphemous. Relying upon a notoriously evolving M theory, in his work “The Grand Design”  he painstakingly sweats and is hell bent upon proving the creation of universe and life sans God. The complexity of what he proclaims all boils down to the fact that multiverse i.e multiple universes owe their existence to the big bang that occurred some 13.7 billion years ago when ‘something’ was created out of ‘nothing’. Thus all evolution and creation of universe and lifeform is no miracle but a logical conclusion and result of immaculate obeyance of laws of nature. Knowing our present as a reality and a fact, and eliminating various possibilities by virtue of statistical and mathematical probabilities, he argues, history as well as the future of the universe can be predicted. Thus, there are more than one probable histories as are there probable multiple futures. What comprehensively beats all my wits and senses is the sense and assumption that there exist eleven dimensions in the universe including a dimension of time space. Sounds sense less? Who knows !?

As regards the creation of first physical atom, the author claims it to be hydrogen. However, he fumbles and staggers to build a convincing case for the creation of first carbon atom from thereon, which happens to be the basis and essential element of all organic lifeform. The worst part and the bad news is that he still firmly stands by Darwin on my evolution_ when he stubbornly declares that my forefathers existed in the form of baboons and monkeys for centuries tracing back their roots and tails to the first homo sapien that came to breath some two hundred thousand years ago on the cooling planet.

From here I would rather retreat to the safety of being a believer and a monotheist, for it gets increasingly difficult to chew on and swallow bits as indigestible as these.

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Before I really get started, let me clarify that I have no personal or political affiliations with PTI or any political or religious outfit for that matter. I am an ordinary citizen of the land of pure who simply believes in keeping his eyes and ears open and as tired and averse to all the gimmickry and everyday drama staged on the political stage by the buffoons, we hold in high esteem and reverence and shamelessly call our leaders. Neither do I believe in generalizations or stereotyping (or atleast I suppose so) nor drawing corresponding inference from an action just for the simple reason that it is associated with a particular source.

Yes. If I have some regard for the man, that is for his well rounded leadership skills. For he is the only skipper who led us to the victory stands during the ‘92 cricket world cup. I believe, that is extraordinary as no one else could accomplish the feat in 36 years of world cup history for Pakistan, even with much more talented super stars and players in the respective teams. A glance upon the history of the game reveals that despite various controversies, Imran Khan is easily one of the most successful captains, the cricket of Pakistan has known. Those who think I am digressing, I am actually not, as various leadership theories emphasize that it is the personality and personal attributes that formulate the central core of leadership skills or abilities. So whether you are leading a political party, a nation or a cricket team, it has more to do with your core personality, vision and motivational charisma than prowess and acumen.

In addition to that, Imran Khan has shown much more consistency in his political career than any other so called political leader, I have known lately. He is one person who has contributed directly to health and education main stream by establishing mega projects such as Shaukat Khanam Cancer Hospital and Namal University for the common man.

When it comes to drone attacks, I’ll rather base my case on facts, figures and reason than on rhetoric. The emphasis shall be upon the basic human rights’ violation as opposed to any political argument. As the various authentic sources reveal and the buzz is in the air, some 1184 innocent citizens have been butchered by drone attacks just in 2010. Wikipedia quotes the number of the slaughtered since 2004 anywhere between 1439 and 2290 including significant number of women and children, even infants. Brookings Institution suggests that Drone strikes may kill 10 or so civilians for every militant killed. Whereas, according to Pakistani sources, against the strike on every single terrorist or extremist, 50 innocent lives are acclaimed. How shameless can it really get when we dismiss it with such a God forsakenly brazen expression as ‘collateral damage’!? Are we living in stone age? We are talking of human blood and gore for God sake!

Where are all those so called champions of human rights who keep on jumping like clowns on every drop of the pin? Why are they deaf and blind to all that unjust bloodshed? It is disgusting even to watch some of the self proclaimed human rights’ workers to ridicule Imran for the simple reason that they cannot get over his right wing political leaning. At least he has the guts to stand for a just cause and humanity that I see as more than a mere lame attempt at gaining some political mileage.

Not that the butchering of innocent population like herds of sheep and goats can be justified in any way, when it comes to effectiveness of the drone attacks, how far have they been able to weed out extremism? How many scalps of proclaimed offenders or terrorists have we claimed and how many terrorist attacks or suicidal strikes have we been able to suppress so far in 7 years? What good has it contributed to restoration of regional peace?

It is not about Imran Khan or his politics but it is about standing up for a just cause and lives of innocent Pakistanis. Forget national sovereignty, forget foreign intervention, forget that nefarious and bogus war against terror_ how bizarre and ironic it really seems asking for the right of basic existence and putting forth a demand as innocent as sparing of those precious human lives and letting them live in peace in that rush of madness, supremacy and brutality!?. Really wonder if we are living in 21st century or are we transported back in history to the age of darkness and times of Genghis Khan?

In this golden era of modern civilization, a tower of human scalps is growing and well on the making for the world to witness! 

Sources :- 

http://www.presstv.ir/usdetail/174477.html 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan

 

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An eighty four year old groom weds a seventy six year old bride. This is not a page out of an epic tale weaved by the great Marquez Garcia in another world representing another age but a real show staged in our world of happenings and dramas. 

Unlike Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza (a girl with the doe’s gait), who in order to stay together, for the lack of better option mutually decided to keep that gooddamn coming and going forever_ our present day bride and groom preferred to choose a convenient, reliable and prudent course by deciding to settle for good in their native village near Bhowana instead of an old stinky marine vessel. Times and circumstances do change after all.
While Florentino had to wait for fifty three years seven months and eleven days and nights to espouse the love of his life, the history books are silent on the length and even depth of current affair. However, the groom has confessed of knowing the girl for ages. In cultural context, if that took ten years to seek permission from her seven kids (who in all probability would’ve constituted the bulk of the dowry by now), after she turned into a widow, or more than twenty years by the groom to convince his own seven offsprings_ a period for which he has remained a widower, nevertheless, remains an enigma. Whatever the barriers were, the couple has successfully surmounted them together with their stoicism and sweet will to lay foundations for yet another happy beginning in their lives.

Amidst all that torrent of suicidal strikes and terrorist attacks that mars the country, the seven kids merrily bid farewell to their mom. Let us join the celebrations and wish the married couple the very best for their union!

Here is the link to the story as published by local press

http://tribune.com.pk/story/144696/no-age-limit-on-love/

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I watched this movie a long while ago. It was touching to the core. Overwhelmed I watched it over and again. There is something very unique and subtle about the human feelings, sensations and realizations embedded deep down. The plot is simple yet warm and passionate steeped in sincerity and bonding typical of a human soul.

There is a subdued air of romance and love about the whole theme but this love emanates out of the realization and commitment of the man with the family and the role and responsibility he has taken upon himself. This has more to do with the penance and grief he is suffering from within that induces him to go to every possible extent within his capacity to make amends for the accidental death of a stranger and the unintentional loss he has inflicted upon his family living worlds apart.

Apparently with all his sincerity and prowess, leaving no stone unturned that is humanly possible, he smoothly blends and mingles into their lives and turns things around for them! 

Perhaps it is another depiction and hue amidst a spectrum and rainbow of multitude of shades reflected by the prism of selfless and devoted love.

Each time I listen to the music from the movie, it leaves a lasting impression upon my senses and mind and transports me to another heavenly material-less world. But then this ghazal is immortal!

Lyrics:-

Koyi fariyaad tere dil mein dabi ho jaise
Koyi fariyaad tere dil mein dabi ho jaise
Tune aankhon se koyi baat kahi ho jaise
Jaagte jaagte ek umr kati ho jaise
Jaagte jaagte ek umr kati ho jaise
Jaan baaki baaki hai magar saas ruki ho jaise

Jaanta hoon aapko sahare ki zarurat nahin
Main sirf saath dene aaya hoon

Har mulaakat pe mehsoos yehi hota hai
Har mulaakat pe mehsoos yehi hota hai
Mujhse kuch teri nazar pooch rahi ho jaise

Raah chalte huve aksar yeh ghumaan hota hai
Raah chalte huve aksar yeh ghumaan hota hai
Woh nazar chupke mujhe dekh rahi ho jaise
Woh nazar chupke mujhe dekh rahi ho jaise

Ek lamhe mein simat aaya hai sadiyon ka safar
Ek lamhe mein simat aaya hai sadiyon ka safar
Zindagi tej bahut tej chali ho jaise
Zindagi tej bahut tej chali ho jaise

Is tarah pehron tujhe sochta rehta hoon main
Is tarah pehron tujhe sochta rahta hoon main
Meri har saas tere naam likhi ho jaise
Meri har saas tere naam likhi ho jaise

Koyi fariyaad tere dil mein dabi ho jaise
Tune aankhon se koyi baat kahi ho jaise
Jaagte jaagte ek umr kati ho jaise
Jaan baaki baaki hai magar saas ruki ho jaise

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‘Coaches don’t win you matches, players do’, goes the word of wisdom. But lets not forget one man’s contribution to the India’s lifting of the world cup after twenty eight long and tedious years. 

Taking over the coaching of the Indian team during turbulent times and then moulding it into an invincible unit by sheer motivational training in just three years has not only earned Gary Kirsten due recognition but also put many unsettled questions to rest. Most importantly when a former Australian great Greg Chappell fell out with the skipper and the team and packed his bags under bitter circumstances in a classic showdown that witnessed magnanimous exchange of vocabulary and accusations from both ends, the efficacy of foreign coaches in regional context was widely questioned. It was in those adverse conditions and controversy that Gary accepted the challenge to work in an alien world and environment. 

India and its cricket with all its geographical vastness and cultural diversity was all ripe to present every possible shock and challenge to a man on threshold of discovering wide regional, religious, traditional and ethical spheres within a whole. The team representing a rich mix emerges from a background comprising dozens of languages, having entirely different habits, preferences, approach and way of doing things. It was under those conditions that the man took to his job, not only acclimatized himself but just during a brief stint of three years, delivered and accomplished what none other could achieve for India during his tenure. 

In their own turn, looks like the Indian lads took his every advice to heart including indulging in fervent sex ( not between themselves ) before the match to stimulate flow of their hormones and testosterone yielding aggression and spirit in the field defying and thus trampling the solemn lessons of celibacy preached ardently by the fatherly figure of Mahatma Gandhi for decades.

Perhaps what makes Gary unique is his motivational approach. Knowing the potential and capabilities of his players apparently, he knew how to extract the best out of them individually and more importantly to gel them together into a formidable unit with full faith in themselves. That is the reason that even the cricketing giants like Sehwag and Tendulkar are all praise for the man and have been drumming about the difference he has made to their game and the Indian cricket. Going through a depressing phase, from a low, when he was even left out of the squad for a few games to the ultimate surge where he emerged as the man of the tournament, Yuvraj Singh acknowledges his coach’s contribution in his achievement. Even a senior and accomplished player like Yuvraj considers Gary a parental figure. 

Coaching a star studded rainbow of players with huge egos boasting of enviable and extravagant records takes all one could possibly imagine. In all probability, it was South African’s humble and intelligent handling, seamless communication and overwhelming commitment that helped him sail across the seas and deliver perhaps more than what he was expected to. 

With a job well done, while the man is all set to return to his homeland and family to possibly accept a similar assignment for his native country or some Australian teams as the press reports reveal, lets give the man his due credit who has stamped his mark on the history of the game.

Taking nothing away from Indian team and their well deserved victory, WELL DONE Gary Kirsten!!!

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Pakistan has never beaten India in the world cup cricket_ a hard and bitter bare fact and well yes a jinx maybe! But the history has to change its course somewhere. So what’s the harm if it takes a diversion on coming Wednesday?

Having remained invincible for so long against Pakistan adds to the vulnerability of the Indian team just as the Aussies came crashing down after a remarkable winning streak of thirty four matches to lose two successive games_ the last one sending them packing back home.

It is not just the statistics, though skewed heavily in favour of India, that make its victory improbable but the immense home ground pressure against arch rivals Pakistan coupled with its inconsistent performances. Whatever the outcome is going to be, nothing can be more electrifying than the mouth watering clash between India and Pakistan.

Having advanced to the semi finals, the game ensures representation of at least one team from the sub continent in the final thus continuing an intermittent pattern of regional supremacy. Both sides have obvious strengths and weaknesses that make the contest even and potentially highly interesting.

With an unending depth in its batting, India can perhaps boast of the most potent and annihilating batting arsenal the one day game has ever known. Batting first on any surface, the team can never be sure of ‘a potentially safe’ total if that happens to be setting a target for the Indians to chase. With the likes of Sehwag, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Gambhir, Yousaf or Raina, the tormenting lineup on a home ground is capable of accomplishing any score that seems improbable. The only ray of hope is the vulnerability to collapse that the Indian middle and lower batting order has displayed time and again during the world cup.

India’s biggest weakness lies in its makeshift bowling attack_ an ordinary and average lineup that has been unable to defend humungous totals like 338 and 297 on its own pitches. If Pakistan has to win, it will definitely have to target a couple of weak links in the Indian bowling chain. How well will Pakistan cope without having a chance to acclimatize to the conditions and playing for the first time on Indian soil in nearly four years is anybody’s guess!?

In contrast, Pakistan’s main strength lies in its bowling resources. Traditionally known to enjoy supremacy in fast bowling faculty, the spin bowlers have been very effective so far in the tournament. This, in all likelihood, is the one clear edge that Pakistan has maintained over the rest of the teams and has been the main driving force behind the Pakistani victories. Talking of the game at hand, Shoaib’s appearance can be decisive even if there are some differences brewing up in the dressing room.

Averse to chase and batting in pressure situations, Pakistan’s best bet lies in getting a sizeable total and then restricting India by bowling on a cracking pitch. In case India bats first, restricting India to a chase able total can prove testing. Remember our batting has been tested only once by New Zealand and that was the match that we lost with a phenomenal margin.  

In the end what is most crucial are the nerves and the team that deals with the enormous pressure by staying calm and collective gives itself a fair chance to sail through.

And like I have been emphasising throughout the tournament, defying all logic and reason, nothing serves us better than our unpredictability. If qualifying by securing most points and climbing to the top of the pool and then storming to the semis in a mesmerising royal fashion was unpredictable, why not beating India and then cruising to penultimate victory in the finals!?

Go greens go! 

All the way!

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Another contribution by Mrs. Delirium

Driving through the main roads of any Metropolis, Billboards displaying the latest collection of the en vogue fabric of the season one is invariably stuck with the impression of beholding familiar countenances from across the border.  

Whilst those strongly objecting to the presence of Indian Icons on Pakistani billboards, and may have a point when they criticize the exuberant amounts spent on hiring them in endorsing their products, that have little or no appeal on the other side. 

Regardless of the protests these multinationals or textile giants as they are now called, are spending colossal amounts owing to the mass appeal they enjoy on this side of the divide, not withholding the ideological segregation dominant on the socio-political and the ideological fronts. The fact that these models cost four times as much as the local ones is no deterrence to their advertising budget. That they are employed repeatedly is testimony to their popularity that they are reaping the desired dividends. 

So where does that leave us ideologically speaking? 

Despite our leaders’ stance on India and on foreign cultures in general, with India-bashing remaining as their favourite pastime, the obsession of Pakistanis with Indian icons is a reality which cannot be ignored. The cultural similarities between the two countries and the constant didactic exchange between them is also a reality.

In the face of dearth of local movies to cater to the demands of the local population, Indian movies and channels have taken the local market by storm and have worn as far as the cultural front is concerned. The huge fan-following of the Indian Channels with our local ones emulating them in language and attire is not something of the distant past.

Is this representative of the dichotomy that exists within us as Pakistanis? The ideological confusion amongst us since the inception of this country. A fragment of the society shunning India and everything associated with it and another incorporating it into their daily lives. Not only as means of entertainment, but also as their idols.

With their music loudly blaring from our vehicles, our homes & mobiles, our weddings incomplete without having their dances choreographed to the minutest detail, are we constantly living in denial?

From our National policy of fuelling hatred towards them to our unadulterated fascination with them, do we as a nation need to wake up to the fact that we cannot survive isolate in an era of information revolution and war is NOT an option for our economically challenged, terror-stricken and internationally isolated country?

So while we need to retain our individual identity as nation and adhere to the basic principles that this nation was founded upon, we need to understand that culture is and ever-changing concept. And we need to celebrate the similarities in our language and heritage to exist as a harmonious whole.

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With twenty out of forty two matches played and decided, we are almost halfway through the preliminary rounds of the world cup cricket 2011. There has been plenty of excitement during the matches as well as mismatches. But what is draining is the current format of the tournament.

At the end of a prolonged and tiring first round it will all lead to qualification of eight best teams. To me, it would’ve been more thrilling if the first round ended up in knocking out more than half the participating teams and picking something like a pack of six teams to compete further.

With the current lot of teams broadly categorized into eight heavyweights and six minnows, the result of the first round thus remains highly predictable. Despite some great efforts by the underdogs, there doesn’t seem to be much of a possibility of a displacement, unless of course, if Ireland stages another upset or England opts to be kind to another unfancied opponent such as host Bangladesh. And then it would rest more on the shoulders of luck and less on cricket, to scrape through the knock out rounds with only a handful of games played between the eight best sides to determine the fate of the championship.

What we have seen of the sport so far in the world cup, there have been some very interesting observations. At one extreme, we have seen Indians or English fail to defend totals considerably in excess of intimidating figure of 300 while at the other Pakistan romped home and defended lowest winning score of 184 at Columbo and yet in another game that lasted less than one third of the scheduled one hundred overs Bangladesh succumbed to the Windies bowling onslaught at a mere 58 paving way for an easy victory for the opposition.

In all probability, the most classic and thrilling contest was between England and India. Massive entertainment, a huge pile of 776 runs in a day, enviable fighting spirit, fluctuating fortunes, loads of excitement all leading to a most improbable draw but it was eventually the game of cricket itself that emerged victorious!

As opposed to the popular belief, it is the bowling capability, skills and effort that are proving decisive instead of the much fancied batting prowess. That is precisely why even the teams with lethal and mesmerizing batting lineups like India and England have struggled while Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa and to a degree West Indies have appeared formidable so far. The way the world cup has progressed, even a massive first innings score does not warrant a win unless the team has a strong bowling reserve. Who would know it better than the shock-stricken England who chased 338 against India only to earn a draw and then lost surprisingly to lowly rated arch rivals Ireland who stunned everyone by chasing the biggest total in the history of the world cup?

While the world cup remains predictably open, there have been some impressive performances. Australians, unbeaten in the world cup since 1999, seem to be peaking at the right time yet again. South Africans are as clinical and devastating in their approach as ever. By far, Pakistan is the only team to have earned all 6 points and had the nerves to survive a batting slump and a scare against Canada and a nail biting finish against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka lost to Pakistan but one can argue to their defence that the team was devoid of capabilities and skill of ace bowler Malinga on that particular day.

While the rest of the games in the first round are unlikely to affect a great deal on the predictable quarter final line up, the results would determine the pool rankings that would then decide the eventual opponents from the contrasting pools confronting each other in the second round. Thus a slight slip in the ranking of Pakistan could easily land them in another potential quarter final contest against India_ a side they have never beaten in the world cup. Such a happening will invariably refresh the sore memories of 1996 quarter final in Bangalore when even a gallant start by Amir Sohail and Saeed Anwer leading to 113/2 in 15 overs could not prevent a collapse making Pakistan fall drastically short of Indian score of 287.


Aussies, who have failed to live up to their reputation lately, have appeared menacing and ominous so far. It won’t be a surprise if they clinch the victory for the 4th successive time but will the fortune favour them yet again? 

The way spirited Pakistanis, on course to revival, have blended and forged into a team is impressive and amazing. But there are still certain question marks and a long way to go. While Afridi has performed consistently as a captain and a bowler, both him and Razzaq have failed to fire with their batting. Like Imran Khan has pointed out repeatedly, making Razzaq bat so much down the order is pointless. It is time to advance and attack with a balanced combination and as Afridi himself asserted, it is inevitable that the top of the (batting) order comes up with a good start. 

While the Pakistan side remains highly unpredictable, it has shown signs of vulnerability and major batting collapse that it is highly known for. A prospective challenge; It will be interesting to see how we fare in case of a batting chase during the upcoming pressure games? 

It was the leadership coupled with the spirit and passion that made us win the world cup against all odds in 1992. Let’s see how far Lala Afridi can lead us eighteen years later?

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    Picture Sourced from internet

It was a cold day in early December. There was a biting chill in the air with familiar over cast conditions. I was returning to the town after a lapse of nearly six years. The overwhelming aura of the place and its enchanting environment had preserved the childhood memories not letting the tide of time wipe or wash them off. I could vividly remember a similar damp day, years ago, during early summer when we had departed and left the town one late afternoon.

The car was moving up a gentle steady ascent along the road that tore through the profusely green environs. Winter and cold had sucked the life out of rich grassy patches rendering them lifeless and fiery amber. Trees were abundant but no longer bore the burden of fresh leaves that wilted and dried away only to be scattered in irregular patterns here and there. A deserted trail of straight, tall and bare poplar trees filed like a continous row of defeated soldiers on either side of the road. An array of fields, spread everywhere in a delightful terraced arrangement stretching as far as the vision ensued, waiting for the days when the whole landscape would be daubed in an undulating vibrant coat of mustard.

As the journey progressed and the kaleidoscope of colour accompanied, the wide vista bounded by rising hills narrowed gradually. The road crossed over occasional streams of splashing water rendered brownish and muddy by the drizzle. Atmosphere was calm and the world was serene all around.

The mountains seemed to advance and step closer, their skylines jagged and jutting out at places, covered partially with snow; the higher ones veiled in a shroud of mist and clouds_their slopes rocky and steep at places blending with thickly clustered growth at others.

Once we crossed the bridge over Haro following the cantonment, POF and town of Hawailian, we were greeted by a series of spiraling ascents. The meandering curls led to elevated passage with steep curved face of the hills marking the boundary of the narrow road on one side and a precipice terminating into a deep ravine and stream on the other. The freezing cold breeze was getting heavier now. We could literally inhale the fragrance and freshness with every breath. A drape of green seemed to curtain and shield everything. Rampant clusters of trees sprawled across while occasional patches were dominated by sturdy pines swishing and dancing merrily in the wind flowing along the shelving slopes.  

There were orchards and fields and a series of graves dominating those fields wherever there were signs of settlement along the outskirts of the town. Wooden huts with gabled and corrugated glittering aluminum or asbestos roofs stood obliquely across the road. Their delightful colours and simple yet attractive designs and outlines together with eye catching placement on the ridges and slopes presented a splendid view. Thick timber doors hinged in the middle and painted in a variety of colours, braced and nailed with slanting cross bars added further to the beauty and simplicity of the glimpse of life. Mud and block construction diversified and augmented the captivating charm of the scenic beauty.

Amidst the draught of scented damp breeze, the road took a couple of sharp turns and entered a broad spectacular valley. Lovely multistoried buildings followed by a market and a fuelling station came into the view. A huge arena displaying a fleet of Bed Ford buses and wagons approached next. This was the crowded general bus stand and soon we took a busy road that passed before a variety of motels and hotels, Eid gah ground, Army Burn Hall School and the DHQ hospital as we drove through the heart of Abbottabad. Soon we drove before the lady garden and headed towards Mansehra road which is the start of the silk route leading to China. The maple leaves had died and fallen, their red glow making the world appear as if on virtual fire.  Verdant training grounds of Baluch and FF centre presented an absorbing view. Governor house perched up high, visible as a dot on the contours of pine covered Shimla hill stamped its mark like it always did. Road rose and depressed passing by the CMH and later we took the divergence leading towards Kakul.

The long boulevard bisected the scattered residential pockets, picketed fields, stone masonry walls and hedge bounded bungalows. We drove passed the dairy farm and polo ground as the road rose along a gradual grade on its way to PMA.

It was getting dusky and extremely cold after a splash of rain when we reached our destination. The weather was getting unbearably cold and dislodging our luggage, we retired to our room in the mess raving about our first dawn in the city of Abbottabad after many years.

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Despite all that potential bashing that our baRey Khan Sahib invited at the hands of patriotic and sensitive Pakistanis, I highly feel tempted to echo his views on Dhoni and Indian team. There is a difference between being realistic and patriotic just as between being emotional and rational. Sometimes the games are won by sheer passion but only once in a while.

With increasing technological breakthroughs and professionalism coming into play, cricket is transforming into a strategic warfare. Physical and mental toughness, accuracy, flexibility and versatility, strengths and weakness of the individuals and limitations as a collective lot, weather and surface behaviour and conduciveness of the conditions and environment are analyzed to the last shred to devise a strategic game plan for each opposing outfit. How much room does that still leave for the cliche ‘cricket by chance’ to govern is anybody’s guess!      
So when Ian Chappell analyzes and picks up the five prospective world cup champions and Pakistan figures NOWHERE, I feel despondent but not surprised at all. If I sniff an element of bias and malice in the claimed rankings that may well be intended against England for obvious reasons but certainly not towards Pakistan.

He is very right when he says that tournament is potentially the most open since the inaugural world cup in 1975 and not anymore the case of ‘Who’ll meet Australia in the final?’

Once again India riding a high tide with a lethal and mesmerising batting line up, braced by its seasoned and calm leadership, that makes up for its ordinary bowling resource comes out as a favourite. The question remains whether the co- hosts would be able to sustain the immense pressure and expectations of home crowd to belie the maxim that ‘the home team never lifts the world cup’?

Australian team looks far from the best. Ponting, with his drooping shoulders, is not the near invincible captain that he once used to be. Michael Hussey, the most accomplished and gifted lower middle order batsman, is a great potential loss. With a prospective mouth watering quarter final clash against the arch rivals England, even with a recent one sided one day series win against them under their belt which they swept away 6-1, it won’t come as a surprise if the howling lions seeking their fourth consecutive trophy are shown the exit doors at such an early stage.

That brings us to another prospective winner. What about the chokers? As strong and balanced as ever and one of the best on the paper, do the Proteas have the temperament to deliver? They have the potential to beat every side and can never be underestimated to emerge from the wings to break the myth.

The Sri Lankan tigers can may well prove to be the dark horses yet again. Having already one a world cup on subcontinent soil, they have every capability to repeat that feat again. Not to be forgotten, the match winner in Muralitharan can tilt the balance with his quest for glory during the farewell series.

England has come a long way from the ordinary and ‘bits and pieces’ side of yester years. It has finally evolved and forged into a team well worthy of winning their maiden world cup. Their chances may hinge on their capability to overcome their traditional weakness i.e to counter spin bowling. Although in the one day version of the game the balance is skewed highly in favour of the batsmen, the spin still can sometimes play a role on subcontinent’s surfaces.

The rest of the teams including Pakistan can, at best, be given an outside chance. What goes in our favour is a recent surge in the form and blending into a team with better cohesion and co-ordination as a singular unit. The conditions are better suited to our liking and spirits will be at all time high while performing before the Indian crowds. Fitness and fielding remain nagging issues and Pakistan will have to count highly on one factor that it is conventionally and most known for_ its unpredictability.

Unless that unpredictability pops up repeatedly with some consistency against the top notch sides, Pakistan’s  chances to fare well during the world cup remain slim.

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