Indus Script – Holy Grail of Undeciphered Scripts

One of the world’s oldest cultures is known as Indus Valley civilization. A culture that was far more advanced than we give it credit today. For instance, 5,000 years ago they had cities built on a grid based system. A water distribution system to homes and most remarkably, a citywide sanitation system, world’s first, which allowed people to use the bathroom in their homes.

The society was well ahead of its times, and thousands of years before Greeks or Romans had something similar. The remains of their cities can be found all over present day Pakistan. The most famous of them is Moenjodaro. A city worth rivaling the best ancient world left for us to wonder.

The civilization also left behind remnants of their long forgotten language, the Indus Script. Today, scientists around the world are trying to use technology to resolve its mysteries and share with us what they said in those few tablets, seals and signposts that we have gathered.

This video shows one such effort of how they are getting closer to an answer. It is one of the greatest language puzzles of all time and a Holy Grail of undecipherable scripts.

Greg Mortenson – You are still my hero

Greg Mortenson - a saint among usCBS may have taken a few potshots at you to improve their sagging TV ratings. Jon Krakauer: might have gotten his 15 minutes of fame that he has been so desparately seeking to improve his profile (and possibly make his next book a best seller). But in reality none of this changes the fact, that for the better part of last 20 years you have dedicated your life to building hundreds of schools in the most remote and forgotten parts of the war ravaged world.

It also does not change the fact, that your schools were the first education that anyone has received in in generations, especially the girls.

It also does not change the fact, that your books have inspired countless people, to think for others rather than themselves for the better good of humanity.

Your actions, have inspired a whole new generation of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs who are out there trying to play their part in making this world a better place.

While CBS’s tabloid journalism might try to derail your noble mission to educate the poor of the world, it does not change the fact that each day another child comes home better educated than his parents. Each day, a girl learns the meaning of life and her rights as a human being which sadly her mother missed out by being kept illiterate.

While the CBS investigative team (Andy Court, Kevin Livelli and Maria Usman) has never left the comfort of their homes to visit any war torn regions, nor have they gone and lived among the poorest of the poor. They certainly do not know the meaning of poverty, uneducation and powerless lives. They are probably just seeking cheap publicity to further their journalistic careers. Today, they take a pot shot at you, tomorrow, they might go after Nelson Mandela.

Dr Greg, you are our hero and you will remain one no matter what. What you have done for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan is unique and angelic. May God give you reward in this life and hereafter for your good deeds.

Moin Akhter – Greatest Comedy Act of our Times

Moin AkhterThe greatest comedian ever to have been born in South Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) played his last act today. Moin Akhter died today in Karachi, Pakistan when he suffered his second heart attack. He was 61.

I still remember with fond memories, when as a kid, I used to hear audio tapes of stand up comedy acts of Moin Akhter. Even to an 7 year old, he was funny. Really funny. My mom would put on the tapes to amuse us all. Not just the kids, but even 70 year olds could not stop but laugh at his jokes.

He was a big hit across the Indo-Pak subcontinent drawing in large audiences wherever he performed. Even some of his memorable  jokes made their way into Bollywood cinema and acted in the films by the greats like Amitabachan and Dharmindara.

He made it big on stage, as a stand up comedian traveling worldwide and entertaining people of all ages. His jokes were always family friendly and never crossed the border into what one may consider “Adult only” audience.

He respected his peers and elders and encouraged youngsters to make a name for himself. Moin Akhter was a truly gifted person. And he used it to perfection in every field he worked.

I share here a link to one of his memorable program on PTV in 1980s where we see him take on a banter with some of the greatest contemporaries of their time.

http://youtu.be/aT7enljEJsE

Comedy cannot be the same without him.

May Allah rest his soul in peace.

Can Australia, England or India lift the Cup?

It is worth a thought. But can Australia, England, India or South Africa succeed in lifting the cup? Based on the cricket played in the past one year it is clear that these teams are well placed above the rest to lift the coveted cup. Australia, having soundly beaten England in a recent one day series, while India and South Africa have triumphed over opponents have made their case for lifting the trophy very strong.

Pakistan has not shined in a worldcup since their final appearance in 1999. In fact, since that time, they have had spectacular exists in 2003 and 2007 worldcups. Making the worldcup campaign moot. This time round, they are without the services of some of their best fast bowlers (Asif and Aamir) who are sadly banned for at least two worldcups (including this one) and therefore, are limping into the tournament with not a strong bowling attack. Their openers are beginning to score runs, which is rare, but can they last the form in the tournament only time will tell. Without the top order firing, Pakistan will have a hard time even winning the quarter final.

New Zealand have had a torrid time in the recent past and therefore their chances of even making to quarterfinals are remote. While Bangladesh cannot get their act together for more than a game to even scare any of their opponents. They might win an odd game here and there but that’s where their World Cup campaign will wither away.

West Indies have not really fired since the 1983 World Cup Tournament in England. Heck, they have not made even the semi finals since that time. And that is almost 30 years. Their chances of winning quarterfinals are very remote considering that they have hardly won any matches in recent past.

Sri Lanka, is probably the only team capable of breaking into the semi final lineup by causing an upset between our favourite four (India, Australia, England and South Africa). However, it is only an outside chance. They are the finalists of the 2007 worldcup so they do have some match winners among them, but time will tell if their campaign will go beyond Quarter finals.

The teams that make it to the semi-final are going to be India, Australia, South Africa and England. All these teams have tasted victory at all levels of the game and know what it takes to win. They will be pushing each opponent to their limit and will make it harder for the rest to win this tournament. If I had a choice of a winner among them, I choose a final between England and South Africa with South Africa finally lifting the Worldcup.

But in cricket, one never knows what is going to happen till it happens. So we shall have to wait, watch and see who finally lifts the coveted trophy.

ICC New Mantra – Frying Small Fish

ICC (International Cricket Council) has once again failed to live upto the expectations. Banning Asif, Aamir and Salmat Butt over spot fixing will not rid the sports of the match fixing. These are small frys. Players who will be replaced by the next generation willing to risk it all.

For almost twenty years, when Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were caught sharing information with bookies, world cricket is plagued by the match fixing allegations. The situation, like in Warne and Waugh’s case, was quickly brushed under the carpet and forgotten while in case of India and Pakistan, some bans have occurred. However, it were always the players being banned and never the real sharks, the ones calling the shots, the bookies themselves who have never been caught.

By banning Azhar, Malik, Butt or even Cronje the world is not better off. The sport is not even close to being clean from match fixing. Heck, the fixing will go on with new faces and new methods by the big money that bookies command.

ICC under Haroon Lorgat, needs to take this matter more seriously and needs to go beyond a behind the doors closed meeting to catch the culprits. By frying small fish like Aamir and Asif, they will not get anywhere.

Alas, this world cup, I will not be tuning in to see it. Its not because it is not exciting, but because ICC is willing to do half measures to save their own skin than really save the game for its true fans. Too bad, because cricket is a great sport and due to its administration handling it poorly, it is losing its fan base.

Remember Flood Victims During Eid ul Fitr

Waiting for aid to reach them

As we all know 21million people in Pakistan are directly affected by the floods in Pakistan. Its a staggering statistic making it one of the biggest natural disasters in recent memory.

As Eid approaches later this week, Islam’s largest celebration, we must remember the stricken. While we buy new clothes for ourselves, let’s also buy one for them. While we share sweets and dinner with friends, we should also remember to give them food. While we sleep well in our beds, we must try to donate bedsheets, tents and utensils to them so that they may have a cover over their head.

So this Eid ul Fitr, while we celebrate and pray to Allah, we must also pray for their health and well being. Let’s hope their hardship comes to end soon.

We are working closely with UM Healthcare who have been in the field since the day floods hit Northern Pakistan. They have treated over 6500 patients in the month of August 2010 and 3,000 families received food rations through them. Do help organizations like UM Healthcare out there so that help could be sent to the needy.

Today, Cricket Died. Period.

Stunned. Anguish. It does not even begin to express my emotions at this time.

Watching Pakistan under perform on such regular basis is always heart wrenching. Watching them lose matches from seemingly a winning position, was depressing and incredulous. But, as die hard fans of our team, we would always come out supporting the green shirts no matter how they fared in the field. Hoping against all odds, they would eventually overcome their short comings and give us victory like yester-years. Today, all that changed.

After shocking revelations in News of the World which was lapped up by the international media  on spot match fixing in cricket, I am now not only disturbed but utterly disgusted with the players who have literally played with our emotions for such a long time.

The under cover investigation claims that this has gone on for over two and half years and possibly much longer. And that the players themselves initiated this ring is rather alarming. The investigation claims as many as seven players are fixing the outcome including the captain Salman Butt, fast bowler Asif and Aamir and wicket keeper Kamran Akmal. The other players names were not revealed, but it is safe to say they are probably all batsmen. It did mention though that Shahid Afridi is not involved and that all these seven players are ganging up against him to oust him.

Last year, Yunis Khan dropped out of the cricket world saying he has lost the confidence of his players. Or was it the same players orchestrating his ouster, like they are doing today of Shahid Afridi? All these stories of infighting among team members really revolving around the match-fixing gang? If so, then the problem is far deeper than the seven named.

This is not the first time we have heard of spot betting and match fixing. The first I heard was in early 1990s when Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, two great Australians, were caught sharing some match information with bookies. Not dissimilar to what has happened today. However, they were fined (AUS$5,000 each) and the story was not aloud to go out till leaked many years later. Similar claims were made in India for Indian team when it was failing to win critical matches. Pakistan, South Africa also suffered from those allegations. Eventually, Hanse Cronje (South African Captain), Mohammad Azharuddin (India’s Captain) and Salim Malik (Pakistan Captain) received life bans and made the scape goat of the corruption within Cricket. Sadly, Australia never banned any of its players.

What the Cricketing body, ICC, did not do is investigate thoroughly and capture the rest of the gang of players in each team. Surely, Warne, Azhar, Hansie and Malik cannot throw a game or bowl/bat badly alone to change the outcome. They need support of others. Shockingly, ICC left it for the boards to decide the course of action for them and went sleeping. Players like Shane Warne (Australia), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Wasim Akram (Pakistan), among many others were internally reprimanded but never publicaly punished. They, like many other team members, were far too big a star and cricket brand to be publicly lynched. Sadly, spot fixing survived, under closed doors till this day.

ICC has no clue what is going on out there. Today, could be a great eye opener for them. But judging from their previous conduct, they will not budge from their sleeping position and refer it back to respective boards to sort out internally.  But if they continue to turn a blind eye to such matters, it is no secret that more people, like me, will turn their eyes away from cricket. In not so near future, we will have a time when young fans will no longer come out to support their teams. They will switch to other cleaner sports and ICC, which is now banking on a billion people audience for their billions in rights, will be competing for their attention with other sports. Time has come to not only fix the game but to catch/ban all those old timers who are still playing and enjoying the protection of their boards while participating (covertly) in spot fixing.

Its no secret that we have all heard of spot fixing, and we have all heard of incidents in cricket matches for many decades. We all know that incredible collapse and that spectacular batting performance is not always genuine. Especially, if the batsmen is part-timer and the bowler has bowled his first 5-wicket haul.

Dear ICC, your fans have been jolted to the reality. It’s time that you also wake up and smell the foul stench that surrounds your sports stars. Its not just limited to Pakistan, it has roots in every major Test playing nation. Standup and clean the cricket field, before we clean the bleachers and head for other sports arenas.

Dr MA Shah T20 League

This Ramadan, Karachi is home to another edition of Dr. MA Shah T20 league where top clubs compete at night for the coveted cup.

It is probably the most watched club cricket tournament in the world. With live TV Broadcast by Geo Super, full attendance at the stadium, and thrilling encounters between club cricketers.

Occasionally, a cricket star would also participate, like Shahid Afridi and Yunis Khan. But the large majority of the players are never heard of pure talents from the streets of Karachi.

This year, there is a healthy addition of Afghanistan Youth Team, which is playing in the tournament. What was even more interesting to see was a whole enclosure for Afghani Fans to sit and enjoy their team take on Pakistani clubs. It goes on to show how popular the league is becoming with foreign teams now participating.

What I like about watching these matches is that it is raw talent slugging it out there among the best of their peers to win the coveted title. Even the sponsors, there are quite a few, are all local brands to Karachi that probably no one has ever heard of before. The atmosphere is electric and the competition enthralling.

Karachi has truely produced a great cricket T20 tournament from the ground up. It has a huge fan following and games are nothing but great entertainment.

The timing of the games is also interesting. Usually the matches begin when the sun goes down. And continue on till wee hours of the morning. The spectators still make it to the bleechers, despite needing to go to work the next day, and local restaurants keep them fed with their mobile kitchens. Considering it is Ramadan, many prefer to do their Sehri meal at the ground rather than at home.

Over all, I look forward to this tournament as it is truly unique and indigenous to Karachi. I hope similar high powered and quality cricket tournaments could be arranged at other towns and cities of Pakistan. Maybe, I might turn out to play for one of those teams, if it happens to be in Islamabad.

Amazing Last over by Pakistan Against Australia

Cricket is truly unpredictable. And with Pakistan playing, even the unpredictability matrix goes out of whack. The final over of T20 match against Australia, Pakistan did just that. Mohammad Amir, an 18 year old lad from Pakistan, bowled a magical over where Australia saw 5 of its wickets fall in just one over. This is probably the most bizarre world record in all forms of cricket.
Mohammad Amir had Brad Haddin caught by Mohammad Sami at gully. The next ball Mitchel Johnson was cleaned bowled by a beautiful Pakistani tradmark yorkers  The next two deliveries saw batsmen run suicidal singles and lose their wickets by accurate throws from the wicketkeeper, Kamran Akmal. And the last two balls, S. Tait tried to score some runs only to see his wicket rattled by Aamir’s last bowl. So in a space of 6 deliveries, Mohammad Aamir bowled three victims and two were run outs. The over was a maiden and Australia were bundled out for 191. Just an over earlier, Australia, were cruising at 181/4 and all set to cross 200 and give Pakistan an imposing total to chase. However and quite astonishingly, were all bundled out in a space of 11 balls with only 10 runs added during the same span of time.

This was in quite a contrast to the earlier part of the innings when Australia hammered Pakistani bowlers all over the park. Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Hafeez were especially targetted by Australian batsmen and in 8 overs together they gave away 101 runs. Thats a whopping 12.5 runs an over. Shahid Afridi had the services of Abdul Razzaq and Fawad Alam as other bowlers in the team (just in case if his main bowlers were hit out) but he persisted with Sami and Hafeez which turned into a costly gamble.

Pakistani batsmen will now be tested against the quality Australian bowling. And if Pakistan wants to get anywhere in this match, they will need to hang onto their wickets and bat sensibly. They should not try to play lose shots till the 12th over. Uptil then, bat with responsibilty. This is also a match where players like Abdul Razzaq and Misbah ul Haq, their most quality batsmen, should be promoted up the order and allowed to bat themselves in. Once they are in, they can easily hit big shots later in the innings.

Shahid Afridi should keep himself in the dugout till the last 5 overs. As that is when he should come out and play his natural game.

Can Pakistan really trust USA? Take a quick Poll to find out.

Can Pakistan really trust America? (Cast your vote)

(polls)

Secretary of State, Ms Hillary Clinton’s three day visit to Pakistan opened up more questions than it answered this week. Ms Clinton once again failed to alley the fears of the general public who still are sceptical of US designs in Pakistan. She also hinted at USA’s mistrust over handling of the War on Terror without once acknowledging Pakistan’s army brave men fighting in the trenches an American (foreign) war. While she was quick to blame Pakistan army for not being able to capture Al Qaeda members, yet she never fully explained why America, with all its might, has failed miserably in Afghanistan and Iraq to do the same. Surely, if they expect an economically and militarily weak Pakistan to curtail Al-Qaeda then US, being the super power of the world, be able to produce better results in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The mistrust, sadly as it seems, is at its highest and is only getting worse. The disillusionment is not just among the general public in Pakistan, but is slowly creeping into the political and military leadership of the country as well.

Despite Pakistan successfully capturing more Al-Qaeda high value targets than any nation (including USA) it is never acknowledged nor really commended upon. Instead a sleuth of allegations are placed by the world leaders. At the same time, Pakistan army has lost more troops than any other army (including the USA) in this war on Terror since September 11, 2001. Yet, no US senior diplomat or military general has acknowledged their sacrifice or even placed a wreath on their memorial.

Worst still, millions of innocent Pakistanis have been uprooted by the War on Terror in many districts of Pakistan, but little or no US humanitarian support has reached them. Pakistan has seen thousands of civilian deaths that are directly attributed to US drone attacks are also acknowledged by American leadership as “acceptable civilian losses”. It seem that Pakistanis lives have no value as compared to the American citizen.

The mistrust between Pakistan and USA is not a recent story. In fact, it dates back to the 1960s and here is why:

1960s:
Pakistan was member of the alliance (SEATO and CENTO) similar to NATO in Europe. That meant that if any member was attacked the alliance would support them. The U2 spy planes would also fly from Pakistan over Russia as part of the agreement between US and Pakistan. This was a major source of anger for Russia with Pakistan and had threatened a war on Pakistan. Yet, Pakistan, stood fast in support of USA throughout the time the U2s flew.

In 1965, a war broke out between India and Pakistan that lasted 17 days. At the end of the War, the Lyndon B Johnson’s US administration, rather than supporting Pakistan, put them on a sanctions list and ended the military and economic support of the country. Pakistan’s economy had been growing tremendously between 1960-1965 period primarily due to the US economic support. With that gone, the economy suffered and went south. At the same time, our military which was reeling from the war with India suffered a major setback when it was left to fend for itself without any support from America.

As a contrast, India’s main supporter Russia, not only increased its support for India but gave it the latest machinery (fighter jets, tanks etc) to better equip them against Pakistan. They, Russia, also played a vital role in end of war treaty between India and Pakistan while US stayed away.

The economic downturn that followed the sanctions turned into a political turmoil and eventually culminated in the breakup of the country and creation of Bangladesh 1971. Pakistan military was weakened considerably during the past six years and crumbled easily against a well equipped Indian army during the short 1971 war with India. Once again, US played lip service and did nothing to assist its ally, Pakistan throughout this conflict.

Dejected and left to its own, Pakistan unilaterally walked out of CENTO and SEATO treaties as the allies failed to help them.

1970s
Pakistan played a pivotal role in bringing China and America together. If it were not for the efforts and role played by Pakistan, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon would not have had the opportunity to build a long term relationship with China. Yet, Pakistan’s role is never discussed or acknowledged by the US. It seems they did all the work while no one helped them.

1980s
To fight the Soviet Communist threat, Americans gave rebel Afghan forces not only sophisticated weapons, but trained them in the guerrilla warfare under direct supervision of trained CIA operatives. When the rebel Afghans were running short in number and did not have enough manpower to continue to take on the Soviet Union, CIA devised a clever plan to make it into a religious war, a jehad, and invited/recruited many young people from various parts of the Arab world as part of the mercenary army. Each one of them received complete weapons training and a healthy stipend among other perks. Money was no object. It was literally distributed in sacks to the recruits and their leaders by CIA.

Osama Bin Laden and his cronies were among the recruits during the mid 1980s who flew in from the Middle East to fight the war. The fighting force was renamed as Mujahideens (Army of God) and given full support from all Western powers. Today, these same fighters, some still have the same leadership, are all jumbled up by the US administration as Talibans and AlQaeda. Yesterday’s Mujahedeens and today’s Talibans have little difference and sometimes have the same leaders guiding them in their war with America.

The administration also fails to acknowledge that it created its own Frankenstein and continues to blame Pakistan for it. This strategy may work in USA, where an average Joe is not familiar with Afghan war, but in Pakistan in particular and in Middle East in general, where such recruitment and trainings were openly carried out, such American amnesia is not only baffling but considered an outright lie.

1990s
Pakistan was threatened in the 1980s by Soviets with a nuclear annihilation for its support of rebel Afghans. It was also told not to fight an american agenda in Afghanistan. Soviet jets would bombard various parts of Pakistan throughout that conflict yet, Pakistan stood steadfast with its ally, the US. By the time, 1990s began, US had won the war in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union had collapsed and Berlin War had come down. Once again, US had no use for Pakistan and instead of rewarding its old ally, it instead placed it on new economic and military sanctions under Pressler Amendment. This was not a just reward for a nation that stood by the US throughout the 1990s.

Once again the nation spiraled into economic depression. The military was left to fend for itself. And worse of all, Afghanistan was left to its own peril with no support from the US. Leaving it to Pakistan to sort out the matter.

In this chaos and gloom of 1990s, Mujahideens of the previous decade transformed themselves into autonomous bodies in the form of Al-Qaeda and Talibans. Trained and well equipped by the CIA, these operatives had not only working knowledge of how to take the fight to the enemy but had already played their role in bringing a super power down (Soviet Union).

In this chaos and vacuum, these organizations rose to take the fight back to the US culminating in the tragedy of 9/11.

This week, Hilary Clinton, was in Pakistan. Rather than acknowledging the mistakes of the past, she preferred that the Pakistan forgot the past and embraced the future. She also failed to thank the nation for its sacrifices and skirted the issue of the drone attacks that has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Pakistan. She never delved deep into the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) crisis, and also failed to explain the draconian clauses in Kerry-Lugar Bill similar to Pressler Amendment whereby America can pull its support at any instant if it deems necessary.

The question remains. Can Pakistan really trust America? I have created a simple poll asking this very question and see if our readers can answer this question in the light of the facts just mentioned.

So click on the link below to vote:

Can Pakistan really trust America?

(polls)