Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It was challenging from the very onset. Approaching from the Garhi Habibullah’s side,  bus came to a halt at a sharp turn a few kilometres short of Muzaffarabad. The near vertical fragile face of the mountain was bleeding. A slurry of mud and rain water flowed across the eroding muddy road channeling its way into the river deep down.

In a steady down pour and a welcoming moist breeze on a very pleasant August morning, we wore our raincoats and backpacks and began to stroll. Once we were able to cross the heaps of soft mud and make our way watchfully across the landslide, the road became more stable. A couple of hundred meters ahead, walking on a higher platform, the beautiful valley of Muzzafarabad met our eyes surrounded almost completely by the roaring serpentine of river Neelum.



Few minutes walk down the road accompanied by the scenic views of the valley washed by the rain,we were offered a lift by a random UN vehicle that was gratefully accepted. The roads were noticeably vacant and the traffic was understandably sparse but what was most revealing and shocking was the fact that the bus stop was completely vacant. It had been raining heavily and incessantly for days and all the approaches to Muzaffarabad were reportedly blocked. There was no public transport entering or leaving the town.

Determined and not prepared to let our plans fizzle, after much deliberation, we finally convinced and negotiated with the sole rent a car driver to take us a few kilometres further to the verge of landslides blocking access to the Neelum valley. Twenty minutes later the driver dropped us pointing towards a series of weeping and melting slides containing abundance of water and mud but equally considerate to the innocent desire and cause of an occasional stone or a piece of rock that hastily wanted to find its way down the slopes. The driver greeted, shook his head in disbelief but then thought the better of it, charged his bill dutifully and drove back.



Walking in the rain, keeping an eye on the weeping mountain while balancing ourselves, we began to cross the series of intermittent land slides that spread for a couple of kilometres. It all went smoothly supposedly until a couple of slides later, we were halted by a man on duty. He was supervising the clearance of the road while the machinery was at work. We were advised to wait until the reach was clear and no one was allowed to walk across.

As one testing ordeal followed the other, much to our delight and hope, the approach was cleared shortly and we were allowed to stroll further. Soon we realized there were heaps of mud and gravel scattered along the road with vehicles and bikes stuck in between. Some of the guys who had gone through some miserable conditions over the past couple of days had a strong warning to utter. However, our resolve kept us going.

Short of Khori, when it all looked highly improbable, with a stroke of luck, we were able to negotiate a deal with a pick up driver who agreed to give us a ride till Ath Muqam. We embarked on our next leg of journey. There were intermittent slides posing serious challenge but the driver full of commitment managed to cross every barrier skilfully. The landscape became increasingly scenic while the rain lent even more lively tinge and glow to the exuberantly rich and green panorama. Even though we were thoroughly wet and the torn canvas spread over the top of the vehicle was also leaking, the bewitching beauty and atmosphere of the valley was truly gripping. As much as it seemed improbable, it took us three hours to be transported to Ath Muqam. Not surprisingly, the place was equally deserted. The bus stop presented a sorry and disappointing look with no signs of conveyance visible. Just when it seemed, it was over for the day & possibly the trip, the invisible divine hand came to sort things out for us mortals again. Lurking behind the torrents of rain, there appeared the owner of one of the two jeeps parked in the deserted compound of the bus stand. Spirited by his unexpected offer to take us to not Sharda but even Kel in that inclement weather with a lot of premium understandably led to some heated negotiations under the thundering . He finally settled for a demanding price but hoped to drive us to Kel in another four hours by the sunset. Hungry but much conscious of the precious time that was lapsing, we settled for the sizzling pakoras, the only relishing delight available that we could lay our hands on, at the deserted bus stand.

More to come…..

Read Full Post »


To many it came as an unbelievable shock. For some it was an eye opener while for the rest it was a mere revelation and demonstration of the bitter reality that refused to blink and stared right back into the face.

To me and many others who had seen the environment deteriorate and the institutions, state and system ( if any ) to crumble to an extent whereby the echoes of a failed state were beginning to make regular noises, all the indicators were nose-diving whilst there was a continous hue and cry and red flags raised by the think tank and various experts, it was a prospect of a possible vibrant new beginning. It was at that point that sucked in by the state of chaos and uncertainty, the middle and affluent educated urban class was jolted to come out of its slumber and hibernation to wake-up to reality.

Whether the deck had hit the rock bottom, the only survival lied in the prospect of a change. Ignorance or avoidance wasn’t a choice any more. For survival, action was the only option. When the grounds of Minar-e-Pakistan were swamped and swarmed by the families, women, children, old and young by an electrified crowd of hundreds of thousands that cut across entire cross-section of society on Oct 30th, 2011 it was a flash point. It marked the eruption of lava from within that had been boiling for decades. Many of us who had been pulled to the venue by the mere realization of need of the hour had nothing to do with the active politics and were hence participating in our maiden political rally _ what emerged as a result was an unusually rich and unprecedented demographic, cultural and social mix that glued together into a cohesive whole for a selfless and common cause. Every soul was charged up and every one, young or old, man or woman, wanted to be counted.

For some it raised the alarm bells but for most it brought heaps of hope. It was a clear sign of a living nation who refused to budge and, if not over-emphasized, signaled a rude and rebellious awakening of a nation willing to stand and fight for its survival and rights that was put to a tranquil sleep for the loot and plunder to go on unabated.

Whilst the volcano had exploded, the aftermath and repercussions had to be enormous. The jaw dropping event and a series of others that followed shortly sent shock waves through the circles at helm. Sooner than later, it came as a bitter realization that non deliverance wasn’t an option any longer. Thus thoroughly threatened and under enormous pressure, the provincial government that had been sitting on its haunches for nearly four years ran into a state of panic that accounted for many of the gimmicks and questionable projects and initiatives that were forced down our throats while the elections were fast approaching.

But the winds of change continued to blow setting unprecedented examples and unsettling the competition that found itself more and more at loss with each shift. What we saw progressively was rise and formulation of a party structure from bottom to top on purely democratic principles; a mini revolution in this part of the globe in itself.

So when the captain stood in the shadow of the Minar-e-Pakistan once again on March 23rd, not alone but accompanied by thousands of elected representatives of his political party belonging to all walks of life, some of them hailing from very humble backgrounds, facing an endless ocean of people and waves of fluttering national as well as green and red party flags and declared with a beaming smile that the ‘change’ had arrived, he was stating the obvious. Below the stage, the emotionally charged crowd roared in frenzy waving flags and chanting slogans in sheer passion. Many of us were those who had ridiculed his intent and motives when he had started his unorthodox political movement as a novice in the same city about sixteen years ago. But it was his sincerity to the tune of devotion, determination, boldness, truthfulness, enormous love for his homeland and leadership qualities that convinced us to part ways with political inertness and rally under his flag. Most of all it was his consistency and habit of winning against all odds repeatedly and belief in himself, his God and the youth of his country that made the nation absorb new rays of hope.

Battling against the inertia, status quo and traditional politics the movement of justice continues its dynamic journey unabated. A mere morsel that began to roll down the hill many years ago gradually assumes the giant proportions of a snow ball that takes everything along in its fold. The challenge and erosion it poses to its competition is immense and grows with its dynamism and continuity progressively. Innovative and setting ever higher standards for the nation to guage, with a towering and gifted leader at the tip with a character to fill potential leadership void that has existed, it promises a better future to Pakistan and its citizens. It is a gradual process that demands decades for its materialization and consolidation. But the signs of challenge and evolution are significant. The will and determination is there. It is for the same reason that awash with rain, as if baptized and cleansed, amidst the soaring and unwavering tides of fluttering flags when the tsunami of impassioned enthusiasts listened to its leader, every soul and mortal stood its ground soaking up all the energy and verve in the air to imbibe the currents of the impending and inevitable change.

Read Full Post »

I crawled below the mountain. It was mammoth and huge_with its vanity and head held high. The clouds kissed passed the peak and the summit. Posing an air of apparent indifference, it shuddered and felt insecure as the travellers approached. It stood tall but its  form changed perpetually as it succumbed upon each step.

On the far side there is a stream that sprouts from its very core. It flows down murmuring gently_distancing itself from the peak with every moment that lapses and ceases to exist. The stream watches the mountain getting smaller and smaller losing its grandeur.

The mountain is huge. It has multiple perspectives. To each it appears unique and different.

The mountain has many faces. Forming and deforming. They are all real…..yet all fake!

Read Full Post »

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)

 If I didn’t believe in it till this morning, I do now!

I was going through that much controversial book “ The Secrets” by Rhonda Byrne a few days ago that talks at length about the law of attraction and the conviction that thinking and acting positive exudes positive waves and energy in the universe that attract and earn all the positive returns. You’ve got to believe in your dreams and determination was the simplified crux and message that I was able to grasp.

I am not sure if it actually works but it did pretty well for me. When I was craving for a trivial innocent personal wish to come true and everything seemed to go against it, I refused to budge. In the words of my best friend “ I know the stubborn soul in you is not going to give up!”

And so it happened. The things turned unbelievably in a matter of hours if not minutes. While it all looks sorted out for now and with all signs and indicators going green, looks like it is all set to finally embark on another mind-blowing trek in the days to come 🙂

Read Full Post »