Friday, September 27, 2013

Radical Islamists Would Never Compromise

By Saeed Qureshi

It would be simply a moronic hope and mere illusion if any government in Pakistan believes that Islamic militants most notably the Taliban factions would agree to lay down arms and turn peaceful citizens. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is seriously contemplating dialogue with Taliban for restoring peace and to erase terrorism that is enormously destructive for a socially peaceful, economically robust, politically democratic and territorially stable Pakistan. By all reckoning such a peace initiative would not materialize. Taliban would not relinquish their militancy no matter how far Pakistan accommodates their conditions.  

 In history, particularly in Islamic regimes, the renegade religious militants went fighting down but never submitted. Muhammad ibn ╩┐Abdal-Wahab (1703-1772) the founder of the Wahabi sect became so powerful that he forced his belief to become the state religion that is still in vogue in the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Assassins (1080-1256) rampaged, terrorized and killed with rare abandon, the rulers, the viziers and high ranking government functionaries for almost two centuries till a barbarian, savage army of Mongols annihilated them with a colossal and inexorable use of force.

These are some of the precedents from among a long litany of such horrific episodes not only in the Islamic world but in the Christendom that have held their respective dispensations in ransom. Similarly the Idrisis and the Fatimid and similar other religious movements in Islamic lands prevailed and ruled till they were swept away by more radical and ruthless contenders. These have been raising their ferocious heads in different phases of history and in different lands

The Al-Qaida and Al-shabab and various shades of Taliban are a newborn face of the erstwhile religious fundamentalist forces. The present day religious outfits with stubborn agenda and unflinching will to fight the heathens are the spillover from the past. It is mind boggling to watch that in these times of enlightenment, liberalism, free societies, the human rights, the planet earth is still infested with such bands that want the obscure dogmatic orders to be revived and implemented in entirety.

So the only effective way-out for dealing with the radical militants is to exterminate them physically and debilitate their militancy with full might of the state. If in Pakistan the skirmishes with the Taliban and Al-Qaida continue unabated, there would never be an end or any tangible result coming out of these. The compelling reason is that those who are killed among the insurgents are filled by new cadres and volunteers indoctrinated and motivated by religious zealots and fiery demagogues with a dainty and alluring promise of straight away going to paradise as martyrs.  

The taming of hardcore religious bigots and tenacious fighters is a far cry and cannot be attained by solicitation or sweet overtures. The underlying purpose of Taliban and their supporters from the mainstream politico- religious parties is to revive the pristine Islamic caliphate and towards the attainment of this objective they would never compromise or budge.

Even if by a miracle they join hands with the government, they would not abandon their option of falling out with the civilian or democratic government. The induction of Taliban factions into the democratic political culture of Pakistan would always remain like strange and incompatible bedfellow and would backfire.

Pakistan along with other Islamic regimes created a force of universal Islamic crusaders to fight ungodly Russians in rugged Afghanistan as allies of a free and religious Christian world led by the United States. What a hoax it was that while the Islamic countries were arraigned against the Russian with a resounding spirit of Islamic resurgence, the underlying catch was to bring victory of capitalism over communism. While the second purpose has been ideally served, the first one became a lasting millstone around the neck of Pakistan or like a Frankenstein ever ready to swallow its own creator which in this case is Pakistan. Pakistan allowed its land and manpower for the fulfillment of a goal that was extraneous to its national interests. Hence we see the proliferation of terrorism all over Pakistan by Taliban and hardcore religious fanatics.

The ferocious Taliban and their cohorts had virtually occupied Swat valley in 2007. They were driven out with full-fledged military operations in 2007 and 2009. One could gauge the resilience and the systemic way the Taliban broadened their tentacles based on primitive orthodoxy in that marvelous enchanting valley. From Swat valley they were planning to march towards the federal capital of Pakistan Islamabad and terrorize the local population through coercive regimentation. They and their agents forced the people to abide by religious injunctions such as for the ladies to cover their head in the market places.

The dream of crafting a modern egalitarian, Liberal, pluralistic and democratic society in Pakistan is entirely out of sync with the crude model of state envisioned by the obscurantist and the conservative Islamic forces. Islam fundamentally is a progressive religion and can tailor itself with the changing times. The creed and ideologies of fundamentalists and reactionary religious assortments are retrogressive and negate the fruits of modern times such as advancement in technology, universal culture of humanism, emancipation of women folks and a fusion of religion with modernity and so on.

The sectarian and ideological conflicts now rife in the Islamic countries are the formidable hurdles in their progress and getting into the strides of modern nation states. With the advent of a fossilized version of Islam imposed on Pakistan, the country can transform into a medieval state but not the one that is indispensable in the present times of enlightenment and awakening. The conservative Islamic societies are in a state of flux and groping how to explore an identity that serves both their religious obligations and the imperative of the present times.

The Taliban and their ilk would resist, thwart and block, by every conceivable means, all such endeavors that overhaul Pakistan into a modern frame. The fundamental question is whether Pakistan survives as a modern state or succumbs to the dictates of Taliban and fanatic orthodox religious entities. The choice is certainly a modern state with a secular and pluralistic edifice erected on the foundation of an enlightened Islam. It would not be advisable or thinkable to live with a monster like Taliban and then expect to remain unscathed.
The ongoing, unrelenting mayhem of terrorism is primarily being spawned and tenaciously carried out by Taliban and sectarian rivals while the government and society in Pakistan are relatively free. It would be spine-chilling to imagine what would happen to Pakistan if such rigid, extremist and ruthless militants as Taliban in tandem with the homegrown religio-political groups become shareholders in power. In that horrid situation would Pakistan be any different from Syria and Iraq or certain African countries where religious insurgents are braced against the states and also fighting one another on the sectarian basis?

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Police Occasionally Overreacts


By Saeed Qureshi

 Last week an unarmed man, 24-year-old Jonathan A. Ferrell seeking help after a car crash was shot 12 times by the Charlotte police officer. The incident was widely reported by the media and remained a subject of discussion for many days on the TV channels.  After the car accident the victim somehow reached a house and frantically knocked at the door for help. The inmate suspected that some burglar was trying to break in the house. She called the 911 for help that rushed to the venue. The injured person believing that police has come to his rescue, ran towards the police officers. The police officers feared that he was rushing towards them to attack. The police officer killed him with a volley of bullets.

Now this is not the first incident of its kind when police by using excessive force killed the suspect. In some cases they literally shot their target several times demonstrating what could be judged as their vengeance and excessive firepower. As such many individuals whose lives could be spared with more modest and cautious strategy lost their lives.

The traffic police tends to be mostly unforgiving and occasionally acts with unjustified vengeance. In minor cases, such as expiry of a token either of inspection or road tax, a driver with first violation could be let off with simple warning. In so many other cases where the police sergeant can take a lenient view, a heavy fine is imposed. In one of cases that I personally aware off, a person was fined $ 350 for not indicating to change the lane.

In some other cases an ignorant driver who had come to United State afresh went without realizing that a police officer wanted  him to stop. Finally when he somehow stopped, he was shown a weapon, handcuffed and nabbed with rude expletives. His case dragged for a year in the court and finally he was indicted with five years probation besides heavy fines.

In my personal case I have never committed any traffic violation. I am a senior citizen too. I pay the taxes on time. My care is new and each year I take it for inspection. I seldom over-speed. But once on Green Oaks Boulevard in Tarrant County, I was stopped by a relatively young police officer for expiry of the yearly token. He could have warned with advice to get it re-validated. He issued me a ticket and I had to go through a torturous hassle for number of days starting from the payment of tax at one office, to final stage of showing that in the court.

In Western and particularly American movies we see encounters between the police and the culprits. In most of these movies, the police exercises all options before shooting their targets. Yet in practical life we come across entirely different scenarios. The police officers, more often than not, don’t give a chance to the suspect for a dialogue or to declare their identities. Fearing a violent back lash, they prefer to kill the besieged person.

It appears that the police officers in America by and large suffer from a sense of paranoia that if they don’t kill the opponent they would be killed in return. It could also be because of having a license to kill at will. In 2012 the number of people killed by non-military law enforcement officers is approximately 587. During the ongoing year of 2013 this number thus far stands at 183. These deaths did not specify as to who was at fault: the person killed or the officer involved. Mercifully all these killings have very few names from the immigrant communities now part of the American society as citizens or with some other legal status.

I can recall one incident of the shooting of a Pakistan youth some ten years ago in Houston. The young man was speeding on one of the highways in Houston when he saw the police car following him with lights on. Instead that he should have stopped, out of sheer fear he increased the speed of his car in order to escape. The police officer called for additional help and several police car started chasing him. The hapless boy entered his garage but in the meantime the police reached his house and encircled his garage. They showered the closed garage with bullets, killing the boy who was still in the car.

In this article I am not focusing on the police brutality which is a separate subject and merits another article. I am stressing the reckless way the police some time acts to nab the culprit but eventually resorts to point blank aiming at their targets. My understanding of the combats between the violators or law breakers on one side and the police on the other is that both are under some kind of compulsive phobia that they would be killed by the combatant if they don’t preempt by shooting. Since police has more fire power, more manpower, ancillary support and organized network they invariably prevail. But it should be a prudent and preferred option if they somehow catch the culprit alive.

Even if they have to physically debilitate the target and render him or her immovable, they can shoot at the legs.  While the person would be fallen and would not able to run, they can negotiate for his surrender both physically and weapon wise. To shoot at random perceiving that he was in possession of deadly weapon and must be killed is patently use of avoidable excessive force unless dictated by an indispensable situation like facing a group of unyielding outlaws or criminals.

If police acts with patience and with a mission of using minimum force for catching a criminal, several lives can be saved. It is possible that those who would be saved can turn out to be innocents and were unwittingly caught in a bizarre situation for no willful fault.

There is need for change in the police Manuel of duties. In that the police should be trained to not use force unless it was simply unavoidable. They should try to arrest or incapacitate the criminals first and if the situation gets unwieldy and the combatants refuse to surrender then the live ammunition can be used to vanquish them.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quincy Miller is now Abdullah Miller

By Saeed Qureshi

Last Saturday (September 14), Quincy Miller proclaimed Islamic faith. This sublime ritual was administered by celebrated mystic Hazrat Sufi Ameer Khan. Mysterious is the divine will. Quincy Miller read an article written by me about Sufi Ameer Khan’s spiritual marvels that his prayers have produced over a long period of time. I have been having the honor of writing on the amazing Karamat (Miracles) attributed to Sufi Ameer Khan.

It was a blissful coincidence that I came to know about Sufi Ameer Sahib through his most dedicated devotee Jinab Khaliq Qureshi Sahib. Khaliq Qureshi Sahib could be portrayed as the true model of a good human being that one would wish in a society or that what the religion of Islam ordains a mortal person to be. He is cast in a mold of self abnegation, truthfulness, humility and total submission to God almighty. As such for a saintly figure as Sufi Sahib to have an ideal follower like Khaliq Qureshi is one of the phenomena that by itself is nothing less than a miracle.

After reading one of my articles on Sufi Sahib, Quincy Miller wrote me an email desiring to meet him. I directed him to Mr. Khaliq Qureshi.  That is how Mr. Miller finally met with Sufi Ameer Khan Sahib and after a dialogue replete with spiritual exhortations he expressed his wish to become Muslim.

It would be delightfully instructive to the readers that Mr. Quincy has been studiously searching about religions and in that regard he had substantive information about Islam as well. This was the blazing urge that brought him into the company of Sufi Sahib who named him as Abdullah Miller. And before giving him a new name his consent was sought. Mr. Miller’s main thrust was having peace of mind and solicit blessing of almighty God.

His email message to Khaliq Qureshi Sahib expressing his desire to meet Sufi Sahib is reproduced below:

Hello, Mr. Qureshi,

My name is Quincy Miller. I live in Arlington, TX. I have been in search of someone who can guide me on the path of submission to Allah. I was raised as a Christian and have studied several other religious traditions. I became attracted to Islam through the writings attributed to poets and saints of your faith. Their words have resonated more with my heart and mind than anything else that I’ve encountered. I’ve read some books about Sufism and have begun studying the Quran, praying to Allah only, and trying to remember God in my thoughts and feelings as much as I can in my current state. I am convinced of God’s presence. I realize that I am not a likely person to meet such a great Sufi as Hafiz Ameer Khan .but I feel that I need to be guided by a true servant of God so that I can align my life with God’s will, not just for own sake, but for the sake of all the lives that I touch as husband, father, friend, neighbor, school teacher and mental health interventionist. I have to be a better person, the person that God intends for me to be. For this reason, I’m writing to you to find out if and how I can meet Sufi Ameer Khan. I am searching to see if there was such a person in the DFW area and found a couple of videos of him praying. I could find no other information about him until I came across an article by a Mr. Saeed Qureshi. After reading his words, I feel that I have to try to meet Sufi Ameer Khan. A prayer, a word of encouragement, even a glance from a man so surrendered in Allah would help to set me on the right course. I emailed Mr. S. Qureshi, and he gave me your email Address. I apologize if I‘ve overstepped my boundaries by contacting you in this way, but I have no choice but to ask. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I await your response.


Quincy (9/10/2013)

In the backdrop of this profound and intense urge that Mr. Quincy was finally successful in having a rendezvous with a true Dervish and servant of Allah, Sufi Ameer Khan. He was inducted into the fold of Islam through an established religious tradition. According to tradition, a intending person recites or repeats the proclamation uttered by the Imam (guide or leader) or saint while their right hands are clasped.

This process is called Shahada (declaration of faith) in Islam. Every person entering Islam has to declare, that “I testify that there is no deity except God and Muhammad is his Messenger”. Readily Mr. Quincy Miller was given the Islamic name of Abdullah Miller by Sufi Sahib. However, he was also free to retain his original name as well.

Besides administering the oath of conversion to Islam, Sufi Sahib and Jinab Khaliq Qureshi gave Mr. Quincy a set of books to make himself knowledgeable about Islam with regard to its basic teachings, beliefs, traditions, five mandatory articles of faith and five obligatory pillars. Although this meeting was meant to be introductory yet by the divine grace, it culminated into the blissful fulfillment of the compelling urge of a person seeking the path of God and spiritual sublimation.

This ceremony took place over a sumptuous lunch hosted by Sufi Sahib in a local hotel. Besides esteemed Khaliq Qureshi and reverend Sufi Ameer Khan Sahib, those who also attended this holy and virtuous occasion were, a renowned humanist Mr. Farooq Khan, an eminent journalist Shah Alam, a famed Radio anchor Mr. Azad Khan and this scribe.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Terry Jones versus the World of Islam

Note: This article previously written on September 10, 2010 when Terry Jones for the first time announced his intention to burn the holy Quran is being posted again. However, the necessary updates have been incorporated in this write up including his latest attempt to burn Quran on September 11 this year.
Saeed Qureshi

September 12, 2013

By Saeed Qureshi

Terry Jones a throwback fanatic from the flock of the Middle Ages Christian crusaders does it again. But this time the local administration preempted his insidious attempt by arresting him. His hatred for the Muslims around the world knows no bounds. Burning 3000 copies of the holy book of Muslims would have satiated his leaping animus against the second largest segment of the humanity on this planet earth.

“In April 2013 Jones announced plans for a Qur’an burning event to be held on September 11, 2013. The Police arrested Jones on September 11, 2013, before he could burn 2,998 Korans soaked with kerosene at a park in Polk County, Florida. He was charged with unlawfully conveying fuel and openly carrying a firearm”

In such previous Quran burning event on March 21, 2011, Jones with the help of some aides, held a mock trial of the Qur’an and set a copy on fire as a "punishment" for “crimes against humanity.”

He repeated his despicable act on “April 28, 2012, by burning a copy of the Qur'an, to protest the imprisonment of an Iranian-American Pastor, Saeed Abidine in Iran. Jones was fined $271 by Gainesville Fire Rescue for burning books without authorization.”

That a single fanatic Christian is up to a vicious goal what the entire Christianity in the present times would not want to do and that is to traumatize the Islamic countries by audaciously defiling their holy book.

Three times, Terry Jones  the pastor of the non-denominational Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida singlehandedly, has placed the United States  government in the most embarrassing and awkward position and exposing the Americans all over the world and to grave dangers to their lives. He has symbolized himself as the vanguard of those extremist elements that detest other religions especially Islam and the Muslims living in the Pluralistic society of the United States.

 It is unbelievable that in 21st century an odd, isolated, unknown clergy has so much audacity to defy the American constitution, spite the Islamic world, and go ahead with an action that was patently outrageous and provocative, unchristian and un-American. 

After all Quran has been there all these centuries and yet what impelled a deranged pastor to rock the entire world with his insane obsession. The burning of Quran was aimed at expressing the hate and bigotry of the ultra- right Catholic Christians towards Islam.

During the previous Quran burning announcements by Terry Jones, the fervent imploring and the passionate requests and supplications of president Obama, the celebrated leaders of Jewish community and that of Christians, the serious concern of the Gen Petraeus and even the condemnation of Vatican Pope failed to convince Terry Jones to change his insidious plan. Should one call it an unbridled freedom of doing anything in the United States? However, Terry was not arrested on the charge of infringing the first amendment of the American constitution that guarantees freedom of practicing religions.

He was not pacified by any appeal until the secretary Defense called him and apprised him of the harmful ramifications to the American forces in Afghanistan. Robert Gates’ telephone call somehow persuaded the stubborn pastor to postpone his diabolic action on the condition that it was subject to the relocation of the Islamic center near ground zero to a new place. He has still kept the option of burning the holy book if that condition was not met.

I f this is not fanaticism or terrorism in board day light then how would someone define this most sinister act of an individual that would neither promote Christianity nor annihilate or erase the Muslims from the surface of the earth. Where do we draw a line between the most sought after terrorist Ben Laden and the present day lone Muslim basher? 

The American ethos and culture of religious freedom seems to be shredded by one individual who was deaf to the frantic calls of the entire world not to go ahead with his monstrous propensity. Muslims cannot respond by burning Bible because it is their sacred book also. Most of the substance especially pertaining to the ancient prophets is almost similar to what is presented in Quran.

The paramount question is:  why this endemic and deep-seated hatred for Muslims in this country that is famed for its religious freedom and abounding tolerance. In the wake of this earth-shaking event, Terry has fired the first glaring salvo towards fomenting clash of religions. 

Would it be in order if the American government enacts such a law that would prohibit demonstration of such brazen bigotry about other religions? This is imperative because if someone denigrates or derides others’ religions then the law should move against such a person.

 If tomorrow, some other individuals like Terry Jones also replay the same sordid episode then will it not foment the same crisis over and over again? What is going to happen to the sanctity of the American constitution and the American spirit of liberty, openness, and egalitarianism that the American society so grudgingly protects? 

This tendency of professing or demonstrating hatred against other faiths must be nipped in the bud, before it assumes endemic proportions. It would be a kind of poisonous proliferation posing a new threat every now and then for the minority communities in this America. It may also slight America as a bastion of human dignity and religious freedom.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

In India Rupee Goes Down: Rape Goes Up!

September 7,2013
By Saeed Qureshi

While the incidence of rape is soaring in India, the rupee is falling steeply. From 54 rupees per dollar in May this year it has dipped to Rs.65 to date. There is a likelihood of its further plunge in the coming days if not arrested by effective measures. Let us deal with rape situation first.

India seems to be caught up between two mammoth crises. One is the moral meltdown and the other is the economic downturn. The societies do suffer from setbacks. But it also devolves upon the leadership to overcome such ugly monstrosities and put a halt to those setbacks in a competing world.

India has been neck and neck with China in economic growth.The economic debacle has lowered Indian ranking to 60, as mentioned in the annual Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, released by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF). It is distressing for India because it is 31 points lower than her regional rival China.

Statistically every 20 minute a rape of a female takes place in India. Recently there has been a spate of agonizing and atrocious rape incidents in India. Doing masturbation in front of women in public places is a common spectacle. The gang rape by five males of a 23-year old medical student on December 16 last year in a bus is the most outrageous incident that shook the entire India and the world beyond. As a result of that brutal attack she died two weeks later.

Now as recent as August 22 another horrific rape of a photojournalist was committed in Mumbai. One can imagine how sinister and ugly the situation is getting in the largest democracy of the world.

The story of Rose Chasm a Chicago university student who stayed in India for studies is nerve shattering. In her article, “India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear” viewed by over a million people, she shares her account of personally “experiencing repeated sexual harassment and the way travelers and local women folks were s were exposed to this insidious epidemic in India” Some extracts of her poignant article titled, India: the Story You Never Wanted to Hear “are reproduced hereunder:

For three months I lived this way, in a traveler's heaven and a woman's hell. I was stalked, groped, masturbated at; and yet I had adventures beyond my imagination.”

“This is the story you don't want to hear when you ask me about India. But this is the story you need. There was no way to prepare for the eyes, the eyes that every day stared with such entitlement at my body.”

“When people ask me about my experience studying abroad in India, I always face the same dilemma. How does one convey the contradiction that over the past few months has torn my life apart, and convey it in a single succinct sentence?”

Let me quote another observation from a report published in AP and penned by Nirmala George. She writes,
“Rapes in India remain drastically under-reported. In many cases, families do not report rapes due to the stigma that follows the victim and her family. In other instances, families may decide not to report a rape out of frustration with the long delays in court and harassment at the hands of the police. Police themselves are reluctant to register cases of rape and domestic violence in order to keep down crime figures or to elicit a bribe from the victim.”

In a fiendish propensity for raping underage and very young children of late, several cases have been reported in the Indian press. One such horrific incident was of a four years old girl raped on April 17. She died in hospital nearly two weeks after she was raped and found unconscious at a farm. One can also reckon how other countless rape incidents remain unnoticed particularly in villages and dense urban areas where a pall of aloofness and fear of stigma deters the victims from disclosures.

In a recent report, the “Asian Center for Human Rights” cited statistics in which it showed that 48,338 child rape cases were reported in India between 2001 and 2011. The report said that the number of cases rose from 2,113 in 2001 to 7,112 in 2011.

ABC’s South Asia correspondent Michael Edwards in his August 20 article paints a dismal picture of the dwindling state of Indian economy. He quotes Mark Colvin as commenting that, “One of the world’s biggest economies is heading towards a crisis. India’s currency, the rupee, has crashed to record lows and its stock market is experiencing serious falls." 

"To add to India’s problems, capital is also flowing out of the country at what economists describe as dangerous levels. Analysts argue that investor frustration at the slow pace of economic reform is a major part of the problem. Others point to a lack of political leadership.”

In his most objective analysis of the fledgling Indian economy, Arvind Subramanian in his article published by New York Times on August 30 writes that, “Growth has slowed to 4.4 percent a year; the rupee is in free fall, resulting in higher prices for imported goods; and the specter of a potential crisis, brought on by rising inflation and crippling budget deficits, looms.”

He apportions the blame for this crippling economic downturn to, “The current government, which took office in 2004, has made two fundamental errors. First, it assumed that growth was on autopilot and failed to address serious structural problems. Second, flush with revenues, it began major redistribution programs, neglecting their consequences: higher fiscal and trade deficits.”

India is the second most populous country after China. Its present population of 1.21 billion is projected to be the world's most populous country by 2025, surpassing China. Correspondingly the socio-economic challenges would also exacerbate with the growth of population. If far reaching strategies are not evolved to forestall the population growth or create additional resources, there is going to be complete mayhem in India.

India is beset with a plethora of ethnic and racial mosaic. It is also bedeviled with draconian caste system that somehow hinders an even handed socio economic uplift. The dillats or untouchables and also the religious minorities remain marginalized. India is a secular society by constitution but practically the people go by their religious obligations. 

That is why one can witness cows, apes and occasionally elephant in Indian streets. The round wheel on the Indian flag and otherwise the displays of Indian sacred weapon Trishool are manifestations of preponderance for Hinduism. Like Pakistan and other religious dominated country, there is a predominant section of population that comprises die-hard and fanatic Hindu extremists. They protest vehemently and even go on rampage against the minorities particularly Muslims in case of a dispute such as Babri mosque.

India is certainly advancing comically but it still falls short of eradicating rampant poverty and raising the quality of life as China has done. China being a one party system can enforce her decisions effectively. India being a democracy has to seek consensus for watershed decisions.

The infrastructure in India has been markedly improved over the years but still one can see the slums and ghettos in big cities. It would take a great deal of efforts and time for India to put on the grab of a veritable modern state.

Like other third world countries in India to there is endemic corruption and manipulation of state funds by the influential sections and misuse of power for personal gains at every level from top to bottom.

India is also plagued by a multitude of separatist movements. That challenge is the most formidable because it fractures and at least poses a grave danger to the Indian territorial integrity. Moreover it puts enormous financial burden on the Indian economy. No one could forebode how long it would take India to bridle, tame or overcome insurgencies for separation from the Indian federation.

The cardinal issue of Kashmir between India and Pakistan on one hand and Tibet with China on the other are formidable deflections that would continue to bog down India till these are resolved.   Once these territorial disputes are resolved India would be free to divert the funds now being spent on these issues to development and reconstruction.


Monday, September 2, 2013

A Joyful Visit to “Turner Falls Park”

By Saeed Qureshi

Have you ever been to Turner Falls Park? It is reputed for having “Oklahoma’s largest waterfall”.  Tuner Falls Park is a marvelous tourist haven with a picturesque layout crafted both by Mother Nature and human ingenuity. The water of the Turner Falls flows all the way down through a narrow gorge confined between the lofty walls of mountains. 

This awesome tourist attraction is situated between the Oklahoma City and the State of Texas’s Northern border line. It was my first visit to this delightful valley along with my family members during the so called long holiday.

The enchanting enclave remains overcrowded during the summer and more often at the weekends. The mountains are not spectacularly high or imposing but combined with lovely zigzag terrain and rugged landscape it certainly offers a soul, refreshing and unique panorama. 

The main valley should not be more than a mile long with a small water stream flowing in between. The moment one covers the last road curve to enter the park; the lower side of the stream unfolds before your eyes.

The first glimpse is the swarms of tourists and fun seekers bathing and rolling in the ponds or small water enclaves. There are adults and there  are children all jumping up and down in the slightly greenish water that shouldn't be more than chest or knee deep.

Now this is the starting point of the road that snakes through the valley leading to the mighty rock over which the water plunges down from a height of 77 feet. This is what is known as the “Turner Falls” and this is paramount spectacle that brings the visitors to this breathtaking valley.

One may not depict it as a Fall in true sense of the word but still it is a Fall. Perhaps during the summer, the volume of water considerably recedes. However the brochure carries a warning that there could be “flooding during a heavy rainfall”

Starting from the main lake or the pond just under the falls, the Davis city tourism department has created a host of several other smaller lakes all over the stream for the water to accumulate instead of flowing down. This is an ingenious plan to accommodate as many tourists as would wish to stand and splash in the slightly muddy yet greenish water.

In one cursory glance one may come up with a sizable number of tourists standing or jumping in all the ponds from top to the extreme end of the stream near the main entrance to the valley.

All along on both sides of the  passage of the brook or at best a small rivulet, one may witness the rows of tents pitched with the accessories of barbecue grills, the swings, cushions and tables laden with food and drinks. When not bathing, the enthused and rather thrilled tourists would be busy in cooking on the barbecues, eating, playing or singing. Now that spectacle is enormously mirthful and an eloquent testimony to the picturesque surroundings and enlivening atmosphere at this resort.

And that is one part of the bounteous fun, captivating enticement and soul stirring charm interspersed all over. Let us now move up on the valley. Either you can drive in your car or else there is a shuttle service that plies between the parking space and a stop near the main falls. The second shuttle operates between this point to the second level. Thereafter you are on your own.

A fresh tourist cannot fancy as to what would be laid out at the second and the third level of the park. Well here is a wonderland that is reserved for camping and hiking trails besides the swimming galore in a rather longish flat flowing creek. On the second floor is the cave that is just over the top of the Turner Falls. 

From this cave one can see the main pond under the falls and the row of tents and the revelers. This cave called as outlaws’ resort is densely covered with bushes and foliage and one has to be cautious while walking through to reach it.

From here either you have to walk around a long circular camping sites or drive in your own vehicle. By a conservative estimate there should be a few hundred camps on both sides of this round, zigzag route. One may describe it as a city of camps and tents spread all over.  Though this road is partly gravel and partly paved, yet one can comfortably drive through all this passage.

You will watch the families busy in all kind of fun generating activities ranging from dancing, singing, playing music to cooking and eating. The tents or canopies are put up either in the open grassy space or under the shady trees. One may find the faces of the tent dwellers shining with a lively exuberance and a glow that depicts the inner peace and genuine happiness because of the break from the monotonous city live and by having an embrace with nature.

Pets are no allowed and it is great relief. In camping the life is somewhat demanding and the care of pets would be an ordeal. Moreover the animals can cause further pollution and it is therefore a wise decision to ban the pets.

However there was an irksome sight as well. You would see the tourists and camp dwellers queuing up before the makeshift toilet booths. Granted that there cannot be foolproof and or ideal sanitary arrangements like in settled areas or cities, yet still one would wish and expect that some better, respectable and cleaner facilities could be provided. The toilet boxes placed all over camping sites are reported to be overflowing with human refuse and excrement.

 I saw the desperate campers lined up before these cabins to answer the call of nature. The privacy that one observe in homes or in offices is nonexistent here. The women and the men alike would be standing to take their turn. The one inside the cabin may take longer time to relieve and those waiting outside would be hard pressed to get in. Such is the bizarre scenario at this park that needs to be rectified.

On may suggest that instead of placing the toilet booths, it would be more preferable and rather productive to provide bigger permanent or make shift rest rooms with running water and flush system. The number of such permanent lavatories can be determined by the Park administration. 

It would be cost effective and a respectable mode of facility. This camping site remains functional round the year. However, when the presence of tourists is less some of the rest rooms can be closed.

Nevertheless, overall this resort offers a great fun and unique enjoyment for the city dwellers.  They can take a break from the stress and boredom of the urban life and live in the wilderness for a while. Here they can be at home with the wonderful serene Nature and enjoy a blissful, rekindling solitude.