Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy independence day to Pakistan

67 Years ago today, Pakistan was born. Indeed it was created out of the British India on August 14, 1947 and then the next day, August 15, 1947 India got her independence.  

As a Pluralist, I have always worked on the concept that we all belong to the same family of Nations.  Back in 1993, I started a Newspaper called Asian News, with a page each dedicated to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. 

In 1996, I started Asian News Radio, which continues today as Fun Asia Radio. A few years later when Rehan Siddiqi took over the radio to 24/7 programming,  I continued to do different programs, and one of them was during the month of August, from the 1st through 15th  I  shared a different aspect of the subcontinent from the cultural, geographic, ethnic, cuisine, clothing, singing to politics to national heroes of the nations.

What remains nostalgic to me was August 14th and 15th – on that day I took live calls asking Indians to sing the Pakistani national songs, and it was amazing so many Indians had learned the songs, and vice versa happened on the 15th, our Pakistani friends sang Indian national songs.

The Partition was difficult and intense - with people moving from one land to the other and vice versa, perhaps it was the greatest human migration in a single week ever. Of course it came with massive suffering - people killing and butchering each other on both sides. Unless we both people learn to acknowledge that the suffering and infliction of misery was mutual, we will continue to harbor ill-will and inject that in our kids. Some people live with hate and ill-will until they die and never receive the true freedom.  I hope we all grow up and not carry this forward or run the sewer of hate in our kid’s veins.
I wish a very happy independence day to both the Pakistani and Indian friends. As an Indian, I will do my own celebrations, reflecting on what I can do to contribute towards the wellbeing of my motherland: India.
Pakistan Paindabad !

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in several links at and his writings are at and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pakistan out of control, what's the hope?

The murderers are roaming in the streets of Pakistan killing and dictating what others can or cannot do. The role of government is to protect citizens and ensure their safety, what is the government doing about it? What is holding the military to descend in each town and pick up these murderers? Is anyone of these men charged with murder, jailed or punished yet? Is there any accountability?

Do you think if these dudes become a menace and threaten Nawaz Shariff, and the Military Chief, they will Re-act and fix the problem? What is your hope?

Mike Ghouse

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Pakistani American Doctor's Organization Is a Model of Pluralism and Is Worthy of Emulating


They had every reason to celebrate, what was a normal thing for them was an extraordinary thing to an outsider; the group demonstrated a working model of a cohesive organization that functions effectively with its given diversity.
Dr. Vasdev Lohano, the outgoing president of the association and I had a brief conversation during a break, and I am pleased to share the gist of it. Talking about the cohesiveness of his organization, his pride came through in these words, "Culture trumps religion and binds us together with language, customs, heritage, arts etc. We should focus our energies to promote culture to create harmony among each other. I have seen so many times people forget who you are, if you start talking with them in their language."

APPKI is a blessed organization with a blessed membership; it was great to see Dr. Vasdev Lohano as President of the organization, a Hindu, representing less than 2 percent of the membership, but yet, the Muslim majority elected him as its president. Indeed, when President Obama was elected as President on November 4, 2008, the whole world cried with joy, including me, to see an America where all of God's children (creation) are valued for who they are and what they can do. 


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Umar Cheema, a hope for Pakistan

Congratulations to Umar Cheema
ICFJ - International Center for Journalists  - Advancing Quality Journalism Worldwide

  • Umar Cheema
Umar Cheema has set a new standard for courage and quality journalism in Pakistan, a country where reporters are routinely attacked and murdered.

As a reporter for Pakistan’s largest English-language daily, The News, he has been a resolute force in investigative journalism for more than a decade.

In 2010, he was kidnapped and brutally tortured for writing critical stories about the government. Since then, undaunted, he has churned out a steady stream of hard-hitting reports. He documented how car smugglers rake in huge profits without paying taxes. He mined data to expose how top lawmakers spend little time in Parliament working on legislation.

Two years ago, Cheema founded the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan. In its initial report, he analyzed the tax records of 446 lawmakers and ministers. He discovered that nearly 70 percent of legislators did not file income taxes in 2011, including President Asif Ali Zardari. After his story ran, the government instituted rules forcing candidates in contested elections to submit tax returns and charged tax shirkers a penalty for past evasions.

Cheema has received numerous awards for his courage and reporting, including the 2011 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2008, he won a Daniel Pearl Fellowship, becoming the first Pearl fellow to work at The New York Times.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. He also attended the London School of Economics where he received a Master of Sciences Degree in Comparative Politics (Conflict Studies).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Message for PSNT and PAAT

We have to learn to respect different perspectives.

Pakistani American Association of Texas has cancelled the Independence Day celebrations, as an acknowledgement of the difficult situation back home, and we need to honor their sentiments.

Pakistan Society of North Texas continues with the celebration. That is another view; the life must continue and appreciate the freedom.
I urge Dallas Pakistanis to put politics aside, and not treat PAAT or PSNT over the other, each one has a role to play and each organization’s take on celebration should be respected.

If we can learn to respect the otherness of others, and accept the God given uniqueness of each one, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

A day will come when every Pakistani will live without apprehension or fear of the other within their boundaries and with other nations. That is indeed true independence and freedom. 
It will come, if each one drops the bias towards the other. It begins with each one of you - if you hold grudges against the other, I guarantee the reciprocity. 

Please observe a minute’s silence for every atrocity that is happening in Pakistan – including the attack on Ismaili Jamaat Khana.

A part of the poem I wrote a while back, 

Danishmando Mazhab pay lagatay ho tohmat kyoon?
Burayee my nay ki , ek Insaan tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Shiaon, Hinduon, Ahmadiyon or Maseehon ko tukleef di
Ilzam Sunni pay mardood my tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Lagana Ilzam to mujh pe lagao, mujh ko do sazaa
A gunah to mera apna tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Dekho Ai Samajh walo, gyan walo, ilm walo, fikr walo
Sachcha aur Jhoota my tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Mata-pita , na mulla-pandit ko, saza do us ko jis ka jurm
Ai kaisi parampara a Khuda, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Samaj may insaf ho to ummeed bhi aur pragati bhi
A mamla na-insafi ka tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha

Thakna mera kaam nahin, my samjhata hi rahoonga Sahir
Jo bhi huwa o mera kiya tha, a mera mazhab kahan tha


Since the majority of the Pakistanis are Muslims, it puts an additional responsibility on them to treat ever human on equal footing – this idea is embedded and repeated in Islam, day in and day out. Whether you pray, fast, or bury anyone – Mahmood and Ayaz are on par with each other.  Let every Pakistani be Mahmoud and Ayaz, but treated on par.

17 years ago for 7 years, I had a Radio program in Dallas for the Desi (people of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) people, and from August 1 through 15, every day we talked about each nation; its culture, history, geography and the foods.

On August 14th, on my Radio show, Indians would sing Pakistani National Songs and the Pakistanis would reciprocate by singing Indian National songs on the 15th.

The Partition was difficult and intense - with people moving from one land to the other and vice versa, perhaps it was the greatest human migration in a single week ever. Of course it came with massive suffering - people killing and butchering each other on both sides. Unless we both people learn to acknowledge that the suffering and infliction of misery was mutual, we will continue to harbor ill-will and inject that in our kids. Some people live with hate and ill-will until they die and never receive the true freedom.  I hope we all grow up and not carry this forward and neither runs the sewer of hate in our kid’s veins.

Again, I wish a very happy independence day to my Pakistani and Indian friends. Remember, as a Citizen of America, all citizens are equal to us. President Obama will wish Independence Day whether you are a Pakistani or Indian – and we the Americans ought to carry the same attitude.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer committed to pluralism and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in the links at  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Harvest of Hate - The story of Malala

Intisar Abbasi, thanks for sharing these piece about Malala and the people of Pakistan. The article, and additional article relating to this topic and about Malala can be found by placing "Malala" in the search box of this site.



Mike Ghouse

A harvest of hate

From Dr Abdus Salam to Malala, there is a long list of heroes who became our victim­s and eventu­ally our enemie­s.

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Published: July 26, 2013v

The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

Masters as we are of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, we have always ensured that we fall in love with the wrong causes. The art of belittling excellence, not aspiring for it, has become our recent obsession. Anyone who dares to excel in any field is loathed, often excommunicated, ambushed or abandoned. That’s how open-hearted we have become. From Dr Abdus Salam to Malala, there is a long list of heroes who became our victims and eventually our enemies. How dumb can you be to do something so stupid? Evidently dumb.

But then there is the legacy of pain and hate. That pain begets hate or hate gives birth to pain, is anybody’s guess. There is no gainsaying that we are a nation born in pain, brought up in misery. And yes, we live in a rough neighborhood that makes us more susceptible to paranoia but how long will we deny that most of our demons are of our own inventions? Like an insolent child, we can refuse to accept our fault, find excuses for everything that we have done, but that will change nothing.

We sowed seeds of pain, expecting love and happiness as a produce, and now the harvest of hate is ready for reaping. Amazingly, while we always had some taste for conspiracy theories, fuelled by our desire to reconcile ignorance with some thirst for knowledge, the last decade has done more to poison our minds and souls than the rest together.

Dictators know the knack of gathering around them a deadly coterie of sycophants. When the dictators go, this coterie, just in order to survive, uses its former glory to blind people and deceive them. And their gift of creating discord is amazing. They divide and penetrate the ranks of every division and lead the flanks to Lilliputian wars of egos. And hence, the chances of a democratic and intellectual recovery are lost for decades.

Just close your eyes for a second and place yourself in the shoes of Malala. Try living through the fear of a young girl ambushed on her way back from the school. Try imagining her pain after being shot by a grown-up criminal. And ask yourself which idiot would spew hate against her after this ultimate sacrifice. Had she been in India and done this much for their country, a temple would have already been built in her honour.

They now say Malala is a conspiracy hatched by the West to propagate against the peace-loving citizens of this country and our culture. Sirs, if you notice, it is no Western message. Your state has been telling the world how much we have sacrificed in the war on terror and that while we are facing the unending scourge of terrorism, we are resilient. Malala, then, is an embodiment of our message.

Then why do they accuse of her of bringing a bad name to the country? That is because somewhere in our hearts and minds, we have not stopped owning the Taliban. Had we disowned them, we would have realised that Malala is on our side and they are killing us all with impunity. Forty thousand and counting and yet, we cannot stand up with one symbol that defines us all. What a pity.

This sad realisation brings back bad personal memories. Almost two decades ago, I came to Islamabad to study further, a simple Pakistani and a simple Muslim. Arriving in this city, I was informed that that is not my identity and that my ethnicity, my mother tongue and sect defined who I was, not my nationhood. I have fought this reductionism all my life. But I have repeatedly been defeated. Today, I stand here a beaten, defeated man.

The tragedy of this state is that it fears change. It has no realisation that what it calls its world view and view of itself is not objective reality but just an infection. It tries to shoot down anyone who tries to administer medicine. Like it or not, we have made up our mind. We have chosen our assassins over our rescuers. Now, they will sow more seeds for posterity. More hate in return.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.

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Pakistan: The Malala backlash 

It was a shameful display of how Pakistanis have a tendency to turn on the very people they should be proud of. Prof Abdus Salam fell victim to this peculiar Pakistani phenomenon.

Source/Credit: The Star / Daily Dawn
By Bina Shah | July 21, 2013

Naysayers in her own country tore down the young woman, her father and Western nations for supporting her in her quest for education.

WHY has Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the UN on July 12, her 16th birthday, created such admiration all over the world, only to be met with a nasty backlash against the young education activist in Pakistan?

Perhaps the negative reaction of many Pakistanis to the young girl is the carping of jealous nobodies, but it bears examining because it says something profound about Pakistan.

The reaction to Malala’s words was swift in Pakistan; barely hours after she made her inspirational speech, people began complaining about its contents, the fact that the UN had dedicated an entire day to her and the adulation she was receiving from world leaders by her side.

Ignoring the text of her speech, which spoke out for the rights of girls and women and implored world leaders to choose peace instead of war, the naysayers tore down the young woman, her father, and Western nations for supporting her in her quest for education.

The insults flowed freely: Malala Dramazai was a popular epithet that popped up on Facebook pages and Twitter. The whole shooting was staged by “the West” and America, who control the Taliban. She was being used to make Pakistan feel guilty for actions that were the fault of the Western powers in the first place. Posters were circulated that showed Mukhtaran Mai and Malala with Xs through their faces, and berated the two women for speaking out about their experiences in order to receive money, popularity and asylum abroad.

Another popular refrain was “drone attacks”. Why had Malala not spoken out about drones at the UN? Why did everyone care so much about Malala and not the other girls murdered by drones? Why did America kill innocent children with drones and then lionise the young Malala to make themselves feel good that they actually cared about the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan?

It was a shameful display of how Pakistanis have a tendency to turn on the very people they should be proud of. Prof Abdus Salam fell victim to this peculiar Pakistani phenomenon, as well as the murdered child labour activist Iqbal Masih, Rimsha Masih, who recently received asylum for the threats to her life after the blasphemy case, and Kainat Soomro, the brave child who had been gang-raped and actually dared to take on her attackers.

Pakistanis have very deliberately abandoned these brave champions of justice, and each time one more joins their ranks, the accusations of fame mongering, Western agendas, and money ring out louder and louder.

The insults to Malala had a decidedly sexist tone, the comparison to Mukhtaran Mai – another Pakistani hero – making it obvious that rather than embracing female survivors of hideous, politically motivated violence, Pakistanis prefer them to shut up and go away, not to use their ordeals as a platform to campaign for justice.

What does this say about Pakistani mentality? Firstly, it illustrates the fact that most Pakistanis are very confused. As British journalist Alex Hamilton said: “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything”. Because we don’t know what to stand for, we fall victim to conspiracy theories, wild imaginings, and muddled thinking about what is so clearly right and wrong.

Secondly, people who deflect from Malala’s speech to the issue of drone attacks may believe they care about drone victims, but it is hard to find what, if anything, they have actually done for those drone victims besides register their displeasure on social media. Instead, it is a way of deflecting the guilt they feel about their own impotence, their own inability to make any substantial change or impact in this country.

A note of warning: Malala and her cause must not be hijacked by opportunists, money-makers, politicians, or those who wish to use this pure young woman for their own selfish ends.

In celebrating Malala, the world should not forget about the thousands of girls who are still in danger from extremist violence in Pakistan.

Malala’s beautiful words must be a source of inspiration for solid action on the ground in the areas most affected by the conflicts she describes.

Whether you support her or not, nobody can deny the urgent need to bring education and peace to Pakistan.

Don’t ignore this message, even if you feel like shooting the messenger all over again.

-- The writer is a novelist.

Kaafir Factory