Art & Culture

Our attitude as Pakistani and Indian expatriates in Australia

Pak-India flags

When I migrated to Australia permanently in 2010 I decided to make this beautiful country my home. I taught my daughters that Australia is our home and we should feel proud on being residents of such a beautiful and developed country. However later I realised that unfortunately many Australian citizens who were born in India still show their hatred towards Pakistani born Australians. Few good people fighting against this negative attitude are Ejaz Khan, Zahid Minhas(serving the community through Radio Dosti program for last 20 years), Balbir Singh, Maqsood Nagi, Shagufta Zia, Rekha Maharaj Vikas Paul and Lucky Singh. I also try to promote friendship between Pakistani and Indian born Australians wherever possible.

Recently Sydney saw a sad incident that affected these efforts badly. Indian film awards show IFFAA was being organised here in which renowned Pakistani artists were also invited by the organisers. Tickets were selling very fast and Subcontinent community was eagerly waiting for the date of event. All of a sudden the event got cancelled. Initially the organisers informed that due to tensions between India and Pakistan, the Pakistani artists would not be participating in the event, and later they cancelled the whole event. Vikas Paul was one of the main organisers. He told later that he and other organisers received threats from RSS (Indian extremist religious group) members in Australia that they would not let it happen and would attack Indian celebrities in their own country who were participating in the event. On their pressure management decided to drop Pakistani artists initially and later cancelled the whole event.

It’s not something new. India has got more extremists than Pakistan has. In Pakistan religious vote makes 2.5% of the total votes cast, whereas in India RSS supported BJP got 60% of the total cast votes in their last polls.

I would like to request my Australian friends from India and Pakistan to take each other as Australians, not Indian or Pakistani. We much promote love and respect for each other so that we could create a better environment here. Anyone who promotes hatred must be left alone.

Advance Australia Fair

Pakistan Zindabad – Jay Hind

Malaysia – A peaceful and model Islamic state

After spending almost one week in Kuala Lumpur I can say without any doubt that Malaysia presents a wonderful image of Islam to its visitors from world over. I visited my Pakistani friend Khurram in a town Tronoh where you get amazed to see a newly established beautiful university UTP (University of Technology Petronas). Khurram and his loving wife both are doing there PhDs from the same university and have been living in Malaysia for more than five years.

Khurram told me that there are three main races living in Malaysia; Malay who are Muslims make 55% of the total population, Chinese (mostly Budhists) and Tamil Indians (Hindus). He added that Malaysian Muslims feel proud of their religion and their girls always wear Hijab to show their identity. Malaysian government is liberal and provides religious freedom to everyone living here. There is no street mosque in the Malaysia like Pakistan and other subcontinent countries, but you will find only large Mosques located on different parts of cities. Call for the Islamic prayer, i.e. Azaan is not read loud using the loudspeakers from these mosques, but only the prominent mosques are allowed to use the loudspeakers for this purpose.

Khurram also told me that also liquor is sold at the bars and hotels openly but Malaysian Muslims are not allowed to drink and Police take strict action if a local Muslim is found drinking or doing any major religiously prohibited act. Both Muslims and non-Muslims staff are found at the airports, railway stations, hotels and shopping centres. Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful and very developed city. It has modern transport system. Trains, monorail, busses, taxis and Uber are cheaper and easily accessible. There is a state owned free bus service GoKL that runs four routs which take you to important attractions of the city. People are very friendly and polite and most of them understand English. I loved visiting Malaysia and found it cheaper and better than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I recommend all my Pakistani and Australian friends to visit Malaysia if they want to enjoy an affordable holiday excursion.

Absence of strict laws helping pornography spread in Pakistan

When I was a college student in 90s, a video scandal got viral. That time famous Pakistani actress Shahida Mini’s sex video with some unknown male was easily available on the video rental shops. To my surprise no notice was taken at all. However Shahida Mini was strongly condemned over this vulgar act.

Last year Lollywood actress Meera got involved in a similar scandal when her private bedroom video got viral in which she is doing shameful activities with her friend Naveed. Both later denied the video by claiming that someone made it using computer technology. However again no one took any action at all. Later two TV actresses Sophia and Rida Isfahani also released extremely vulgar videos of themselves. These videos are uploaded on porn websites and can be watched easily.

PEMRA and other government agencies and authorities are silent on this sensitive issue which is simply affecting our youth. These actresses are using such videos for their sex marketing so that the upper class could pay them high for their time. We demand that PEMRA should immediately take up the matter and these culprits must be given strict punishments by the courts so that no one could ever do to do such ugly activities again. Also these artists should be banned by the media.

Response to the hateful sentiments of Adnan Sami Khan and Abhijeet Bhatacharia

In the recent weeks Indian forces have crossed every limit of violence in the occupied Kashmir. They killed independence movement leader Burhan Vani which ignited the Muslim community of Kashmir and as a result clashes started between the Kashmiris and the Indian Army deployed there.

Indian government allowed soldiers to use pallet bullets against the protesters. This is the worst example of inhuman torture. Pallet bullets made many people blind, including women and children. When Kashmiris saw that no one in the Indian government was worried about this violation of human rights, they attacked Indian Army base camp in Kashmir and killed some soldiers. India once again, without any proof, blamed Pakistan on this. Indian Army later claimed false fully that they conducted surgical strike in Pakistan, which they failed to prove. Pakistani Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif addressed to the UN General Assembly where he supported Kashmiris and their cause. He condemned Indian forces on using pallet bullets in Kashmir.

In this scenario Indian film industry Bollywood had to announce that no Pakistani artist would be cast in their new projects. Pakistani actors were told to leave India immediately by the terrorist Indian political parties. In the last week we listened to the ugly and hate provoking statements from ex-Pakistani national Adnan Sami Khan, and Indian singer Abhijeet Bhatacharia. Adnan supported Indian army on attacking Pakistan. Abhijeet Bhatacharia also used foul language against the Pakistani artists and said they should have been kicked out of India immediately.

I have been a big fan of many Bollywood artists like Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Hima Malini, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit. I believe that artists have nothing to do with the politics.

adnan-sami

Adnan Sami Khan; I would like to say “Shame on you”. You were introduced to the world through Pakistan Television, where you gave piano performances. Veteran Pakistani film director Syed Noor gave you chance to act as a hero in his classic film Sargam, which got flopped because of your fat body, but he never blamed you for his loss. You moved to India few years back and later got Indian nationality which India offered to you just because they knew that it would hurt Pakistanis. You must remember that Indian armed forces are torturing inhumanly in Kashmir. Did you have courage to speak against the use of pallet bullets in Kashmir??? No! So please just shut up!!!!

abhijeet

Abhijeet Bhatacharia; you are a loser who nobody wants to listen to after listening to the melodious voices of Pakistani artists Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam and Shafqat Amanat Ali. You are jealous with Pakistani talented singers and actors because they are much more popular than you. Shame on you and your ugly thoughts!!!

Kumar Sanu Concert – A night to remember!

It was in 1990 when I first time heard the voice of Kumar Sanu after release of Bollywood super hit film Ashiqui (عاشقی). He was introduced as playback singer by the music producer duo Nadeem-Shravan. Kumar’s beautiful voice made everyone his fan. After this initial success he didn’t stop and gave wonderful songs to the Indian film industry.

On 30th of July 2016 one of my biggest wishes got fulfilled when I got a chance of listening to this great singer live in Sydney. Whitlam Leisure Centre in Liverpool was jam packed with 2500 people who had gathered to experience one of the best Bollywood performances. Sadhna Sargam was there with Kumar Sanu to make the evening a memorable one. Concert started around 7:30 pm with the performance of a young Indian female singer Rachna Chopra. She sang four beautiful Bollywood songs which included Chura Liya (چرا لیا ہے تم نے) and Raat Baaqi (رات باقی، بات باقی). She impressed with her melodious voice.

Now it was the time for which everyone had been waiting…… Host announced the name of Kumar Sanu. A short video documentary was played for displaying Kumar’s musical journey. Sanu gave his entry with his evergreen song Dou Dil Mil Rahay Hayn (دو دل مل رہے ہیں). Then he sang a large number of his super hit numbers. Some of them are:

Saansoun Ki Zaroorat Hay Jaisay

Ek Larki Ko Dekha

Tu Milay Dil Khilay

Sanbhala Hay May Nay

Dil Hay Ke Maanta Naheen

Mera Chand Mujhay Aaya Hay Nazar

Tu Meri Zindagi Hay

Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhayn

After this session he left the stage for Sadhna Sargam, who maintained tempo of the concert with her superb performance. She sang her popular songs. Some of them are:

Saat Sumandar Paar

Pehla Nasha, Pehla Khumaar

Chak De Saaray Gham

Chanda Re

Hanstay Hanstay Kut Jayain Rastay

Mujh Ko Hui Na Khabar

Meray Khwaaboun Mein Jo Aaye

Gajar Nay Kia Hay Ishara (with Rachna Chopra)

Then Kumar Sanu came back and both he and Sadhna sang some beautiful duets, which included:

Tujhay Dekha Tou Yeh

Jab Koi Baat Bigar Jaye

Chura Ke Dil Mera

Baazigar O Baazigar

Larki Barri Anjani Hay

Mayn Tujhay Chorr Ke Kahaan (last song)

It was the best ever concert that I have ever attended. Not only the performance but sound system, stage setup (done by Taj Mahal Events) and lighting all were just perfect. Audience enjoyed every moment of the concert. Sada-e-Shahid congratulate the organisers for arranging such a memorable event.

Evening with Zia Mohyeddin – an unforgettable event!

Urdu International Australia is a Sydney based cultural organisation which tried to promote Urdu literature through its programmes and events. On 7 May 2016 they organised a beautiful evening in Husrstville, a Sydney suburban area, where we got opportunity to meet and listen one of the most dynamic literary person, the living legend, Mr. Zia Mohyeddin who was joined by the visiting Urdu poets Mr. Musaddaq Lakhani, Dr. Baqar Raza and Khushbeer Singh Shaad. In addition there was a breathtaking classical dance performance by Sydney’s local artist Jyoti Duxit, termed as ‘Poetry in Motion’.

Beautiful hall of Civic Theatre was jam packed with the audience and many of them could not get seated. President of Urdu International Mr. Ashraf Shad, a renowned Urdu poet, inaugurated the event with his opening speech in which he welcomed the distinguished guests. He presented a brief introduction of Zia Mohyeddin. Dr. Shabbir Haider was then invited onto the stage for welcoming the legend formally.

Zia Mohyeddin as usual was dressed gracefully. He thanked the organisers and audience for their love and respect. Zia sahib then read a number of poems and proses which were selected from the best Urdu and English literature collections of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Pitras Bukhari, Dr. Younis Butt, Ayub Khawar and Shaukat Thanvi. They included humorous as well as serious and thought provoking subjects. But the best thing was the presentation. Zia has got a God gifted skill and voice quality that is unmatchable. He gave life to the written words. We smiled and laughed with him, and at some sentences we got our eyes filled with tears. 83 year old gentleman made a non-stop performance for almost 90 minutes. After he finished crowed gave his standing ovation.

During the interval Zia sahib came to meet his fans in another hall where the organisers had placed his two books for sale. Zia sahib gave autograph on the first page to every purchaser. It also provided a lifetime opportunity to his fans of getting their photographs with the legend. I didn’t miss the opportunity and purchased his autography titled as “The God of my Idolatry”. I not only expressed my best wishes for him but also told her a little about my blog writing, which he appreciated.

After the interval Jyoti Duuxit was called onto the stage who gave a spectacular dancing performance on Urdu Ghazal ‘Haal-e-Dil Hum Ko’ (حال دل ہم کو یاد آنے لگے). I was getting late so left after her performance and missed the Mushaira (poetic session).

I greet Urdu International Australia for arranging such a marvellous programme and providing us the opportunity to watch and listen to a living legend.

Aman Ullah – the king of comedy and mimicry

Aman Ullah

Since my early youth I have been watching Pakistani stage dramas live in Lahore, and on CDs. Pakistan has got the best comedy artists that include late Moin Akhtar, late Albela, Omar Sharif, Iftikhar Thakur, Muhammad Ali Mir, Shakeel Siddiqui, Sohail Ahmed, Nasim Vicky, Honey Albela, Saleem Albela and Sakhawat Naz. No doubt that all of them are gems of comedy and no Indian artist can compete with them in comedy and mimicry.

However there is one name that can be declared simply as the king of comedy and mimicry. Aman Ullah is the recognition of Pakistan. Wherever in the world people live who understand Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi, are his big fans. His dramas and programmes are watched everywhere. These days he appears on the Dunya TV show Mazaaq Raat, where he with his fellow comedians Iftikhar Thakur, Jawad Waseem and Sakhawat Naz, participates in social and political discussions and spreads smile on the faces of audiences.

Aman Ullah’s observation is just remarkable. The way he mimics lower, middle and upper classes, is highly commendable. His sense of humour is amazing and he sometimes really touches your heart with his though provoking sentences and judgements. In addition to this he has a great knowledge about the legendary artists like late Mehdi Hasan Khan, Madam Noorjehan, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and many others. Aman Ullah has a very good control over the tone and pitch of his voice, and sometimes when he sings in the programme on request, his vocals are just amazing.

Pakistani nation is very lucky that we have got such an amazing and highly talented artist who always has brought respect and recognition for our beloved country.

Comparison between Big Apple (New York) and Harbour City (Sydney)

NYCSydney

I visited USA in the first fortnight of November 2015. When I got my Australian citizenship in June this year I planned to celebrate it by visiting great places. First I spent two beautiful days in Australian entertainment capital Gold Coast in July. Then I visited Auckland, New Zealand in October. My parents also accompanied me during this three day tour which was a memorable one.

On 6th of November I left for New York by a Qantas airline flight. During my stay there I was asked by many of my friends to compare the New York lifestyle with that of Lahore, Karachi and Sydney. I however replied that I would like to compare NYC with Sydney as it can’t be compared with Lahore or Karachi. It doesn’t mean that Lahore and Karachi are not good cities, but the reason why I can’t compare NYC with them will elaborate itself in the following paragraphs.

  1. Roads, rails and transport

Roads in both cities are generally good. However in New York there are lot more bridges, intersections and flyovers than those in Sydney. In all over USA you will find distances measured and written in miles rather than kilometres. However one thing that bothered me during my driving was the lack of speed limit signs in NYC, whereas in Sydney we see them quite often. In Australia we drive right hand cars on the left side while in the USA they drive left hand cars on the right side. Traffic rules are almost the same.

NYC has a much bigger metro train network as compared with the Sydney’s one. Trains in NYC are extra-long and have single deck. Many lines run parallel to each other and there are too many junctions. Even in Manhattan (NYC business and financial hub) there are countless stations. Sydney has a smaller train network but Sydney has much better double decker trains. NYC subway stations are not very good and present a poor impression whereas Sydney train stations are much cleaner.

Taxis in NYC are quite cheaper than those in Sydney. Uber is legal in USA and Uber drivers display a ‘U’ sign on their front screen to identify themselves. NYC also has a large number of private companies who have Lexus and other high brand cars which they rent out with their own drivers. They charge very reasonable fixed amounts for them.

  1. Manhattan Vs Sydney City

This is the main difference between these great cities. Manhattan is perhaps the biggest central business district (CBD) in the world. It has countless number of high rise buildings and departmental stores. Many head offices, branded stores and attractions are located there. Manhattan is divided in three areas, i.e. Uptown, Midtown and Downtown. Times Square is the heart of Manhattan. You can check it on YouTube. Sydney CBD is at least quarter of the Manhattan in area.

  1. Shopping and cost of living

USA as a whole is much cheaper for shopping especially if you are a traveller from Australia. Branded clothes are available at very good prices and you will find a very good variety there. House rents are almost the same. Sydney suburbs are much cleaner than the New York City neighbourhoods. Fuel prices are good in the USA and remain constant. Train fares are also cheaper in NYC and you pay fixed US$2.75 per journey regardless of the length of journey.

  1. Dining and Grocery stores

In New York I could not find a single fast food chain that serves halal food. Whereas in Sydney Nando’s and Oporto serve halal chicken. We also have many halal branches of KFC, McDonalds and Hungry Jack’s (Burger King brand name in Australia) in Sydney. In Manhattan however you will find many carts serving halal food. There is no cart culture in Sydney and in CBD halal food is not available easily.

In USA offering tip to the waiters and taxi drivers is a culture whereas in Australia there is no such culture. In Sydney we have a very large number of grocery supermarket stores managed by Woolworths, Coles and Aldi. In New York there are few stores managed by Safeway, Vons, Ralph, Food 4 Less and Aldi. Due to this small grocery stores are found in abundance.

Soft drink became Soda water in the USA. There is free refill on every McDonalds there. Coffee at the McDonalds is priced US$ 1 regardless of the size. Coffee cups at the cafes have a bigger size in USA.

7-Eleven have different types of coffees in both countries. In Australia you get coffee from machine, whereas in USA coffees at 7-Eleven are placed in containers that include Hazelnut, Vanilla and Caramel Lattes, and you have a large variety of different creams to mix.

  1. Lifestyle and culture

I liked NYC because markets and stores remain open till late there and families hang out till late on the weekends. In trains you will see African boys showing dances and difficult acrobatic tricks on fast music. They of course demand tip at the end. However undercover Police arrest them if they are patrolling on the train. Sydney in comparison is a quieter city for the families and after 5:00 pm there is no activity for them except dining out. Shops and stores keep open till 9:00 pm only on Thursday nights. Another thing that I noticed in NYC was the large number of Jewish community members. You will especially notice them on trains, and in Manhattan. In Sydney Jewish people mostly live near Bondi beach.

A last but not the least difference is the English accent. American accent is very different from the Australian one. They don’t twist the words like us and there is no ‘mate’ there. 🙂

Daughter of India Geeta reaches home – message of love from Pakistan

Geeta

Edhi family brought respect for Pakistan once again…. This time they helped a deaf and dumb Indian woman Geeta, who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan about 13 years ago. She was about 11 when she was found sitting alone on a train by Pakistan Rangers at the Lahore railway station. Since then she has been staying at Edhi Centre in Karachi.

In the recent weeks Indian government and their extremist Hindu citizens have shown ugly attitude towards the Indian Muslims, and the visiting Pakistani Cricket officials and stage drama artists. Members of Shiv Sina attacked the meeting venue of PCB and BCCI and asked Indian officials to announce that India would not play Cricket with Pakistan. Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) associated the much awaited Pak-India Cricket series with the dialogue between both Governments. Similarly Shiv Sina mob attacked a stage drama being played by Lahore based artists. Organisers hardly controlled them and continued the session.

A Pakistani author Kinza Jawed has been denied Indian visa who applied for the same for attending a literary festival. In another incident Shiv Sina put black ink on the face of an Indian organiser who had arranged book launching ceremony of Mahmood Qasoori there. On this even a large number of Hindu journalist returned their awards to the government.

In this difficult and hate-filled environment Abdul Sattar Edhi and his family once again won hearts of every Indian by protecting their daughter and taking her back to her motherland. I wish Indian prime minister Mr. Narindra Modi can open his eyes and see that how much positive Pakistani people are who are promoting love and peace with their actions.

We salute Edhi Welfare Organisation on promoting Pakistan’s image allover the world.