Artistic Traffic In Pakistan

It has been over 14 years since I last visited Pakistan and this is certainly something I do not remember although my mom is well aware of the tradition that dates back over 100 years. Literally every inch of a truck is covered with artistic design made by hand and then carefully placed onto the truck and each region has their own design to leave their mark and it certainly brings a roadway to life.

Here is the reporter’s first hand claim from her blog:

It’s my first trip to Pakistan, and one of the things that immediately jumped out is the trucks. I realize that sounds strange, but the trucks here are like no other I have ever seen. They are not lumbering and drab monstrosities but a canvas of spectacular and intricate art, a kaleidoscope of exploding colors. I am not one to have much patience for traffic, but here I could sit and watch the roads for hours. Each truck is unique, each a different combination of designs, poetry and other adornments.

What made the “truck art” even more intriguing was just how intricate it is. The designs are made up of tiny pieces of tape, all done by hand. The artisans’ fingers move at breathtaking speed and precision.

Arwa Damon, CNN’s Jakarta-based correspondent covering stories from Indonesia and the surrounding region, graduated from Skidmore College with a double major in French and Biology and a minor in International affairs was born in Boston but went on to spend most of her childhood in Morocco and Turkey. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French and Turkish which is certainly a very useful ability to communicate with the local populous.

It is certainly great to see a different perspective of coverage regarding the news from Pakistan and one that you rarely see here in the West.

Photos: Artistic Gallery From Pakistan

In Obama, Muslims Trust?

(A condensed version of this article should appear in the upcoming print of The Muslim Perspective newsletter.)

Long before the ballots for the 2008 elections were cast, there was an unusual amount of optimism regarding a skinny guy with a funny name from Hawaii and what he could accomplish not only for those here in America but what he deliver for those around the globe. A large community that is going to be impacted is the Muslims not only here but around the world.

The simple rationale for the new hope behind Barack Obama could be found in his political approach to nearly every critical issue facing us today. He has been brutally honest in his assessments regarding the economic turmoil, his willingness to be patient to rally for multi-national support in determining foreign policies, bringing immediate change from the previous administration by admitting early on in the race for Presidency that he was willing to put all options back on the table when dealing with Iran.

President Barack Obama in his inauguration speech spoke to the Muslim world leaving very little to imagination. “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” he stated in his address and sought to renew a relationship built upon trust and not based on power or dissent. It has probably been a long time coming but the time is here for the Muslim world to be thrust upon the center state in a positive light by an American President.

“In Islam, there is a hadith that reads ‘None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself,” he said at a prayer service just two weeks after his inaugural address, once again showing his willingness to put asides the philosophical and ideological differences of the past administration in hope for a new beginning.

By no means has this been a smooth campaign to win over the Muslims after a tumultuous past eight years. He drew some heavy criticisms from within his own political party when in an apparent attempt to appear slightly hawkish and readiness to be commander-in-chief, he stated that he was willing to strike within Pakistan, if the Pakistani government would not align militaristic policies with him. He was quoted in saying “if we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” Obama said.

Plenty within the Muslim community were also troubled with the fact that throughout the campaign and through the constant baseless attacks on his religious affiliation, he rarely spoke out in favor of Islam. There were consistent photo opportunities released by his staffers and close advisers meeting with Christian and Jewish leaders but very little was done to reach out or extend an olive branch – they seemed to be in repetitive damage control mode to dispel any Obama-Muslim rumors.

There is an unrealistically high amount of expectation for President Obama to provide solutions for not only a failing economy and housing crisis here at home but also a large amount of anticipation has been built up for how he plans to handle the Middle East situation. He has become a superhero of sorts with his intention of taking charge of critical issues and attempting to solve them in these difficult times should lead us to what great uncle Ben once stated to a young Spiderman: With great power, comes great responsibility.

He has a great amount of political capital to work with in his first hundred days in office and it will certainly go a long way to defining the rest of his presidency. His initial plans on whether to be complacent with Iran or aggressive in removing the troops from the occupied areas in Afghanistan and Iraq can be a stepping stone towards proving that he has the right intentions at heart and in mind when dealing with Muslims worldwide towards achieving a better tomorrow.

Quote Of The Day: Barack Obama

Definitely the quote of the day by far. Barack Obama speaking to a South-Asian community and hauling in a record $7.8 million in one fundraiser in San Francisco, California.

“Not only do I think I’m a desi, but I’m a desi,” he said, using a colloquial term that describes South Asian immigrants. The remark was greeted with laughs. “I’m a homeboy.”

He said that when he went to Occidental College, his first roommate was Pakistani. And in his dorm, he said with a laugh, “Indians and Pakistanis came together under one roof … to cause havoc in the university.”

To applause, he said he became an expert at cooking dal and other ethnic dishes, though “somebody else made the naan,” the trademark Indian bread.

As if he didn’t already have a huge advantage within the community, I am sure he certainly picked up several more points with this record fundraising and that quote up there.

[Source: San Francisco Chronicle: Shakil Bhai to Summaiyah to Me]

Pervez Musharraf Resigns As Pakistan’s President

President Pervez Musharraf began his address to the nation at 13.13 PST at the President’s House in Islamabad, saying “Today is a day of an important decision for me.” Proceedings began with recitation from the Holy Quran at 13.10 pm. President Pervez Musharraf said the nation is aware of the crisis it is going through. He said ‘when I assumed charge nine years ago the country was about to be branded a failed state and a terrorist state. He asid assumed charge with the aim of rescuing the country. In the last nine years I have tried my best to serve the country to the best of my ability… during confrontation with India, 9/11 and its aftermath and the devastating earthquake.’

‘In all these crises we stood up thanks to the Grace of Almighty Allah and saved Pakistan from the crises. In handling the problems the sole aim was the well-being of the people and the safety and security of Pakistan. I have taken part in two wars which Pakistan fought… [The coalition government] They deceived the people. Never did they realize that they may win against me but how adversely the contry was affected did not concern them. Economic decline and energy crisis we’re experiencing is being attributed to my policies. I would like to put some facts before the nation, especially the economy. The economy was doing well, in fact very well before Deb 2007. he GDP growth was 7 percent. Revenue collection had reached $1 trillion. The KSE index was around 15,000 points. All these indicators are of reight months ago. Pakistans economy was poised to take off. How did the economic probkem start all of a sudden? Why has the stock exchange lost 5,000 points. Why has the rupee lost almost 30 percent of its value?

Surely, the present economic crisis is owing to rising oil prices and similar other developments on a global basis. But it is wholly incorrect to put blame on these global factors alone. It is our own failures during the last 8 months. Power Sector: We were producing 14,000 MW in June 2007 but are now producing just about 10,000 MW. Why? In a nutshell, the people are being fooled. Let us now look forward to find solutions to take the country out of the woods. During the past nine years, we addressed all sectors and accelerated development in the country. In these 9 years , we constructed several roads and bypasses and worked on several other developmental projects. You can see for yourself how much we have done including all the dams that have been constructed (such as the Mirani Dam). Several canals are also being constructed. These developments will help irrigate 3 million acre fields in the country.

There was massive industrialisation during the last nine years. There was a lot done for higher education. Nice universities from different foreign countries had agreed to set up campuses in the country. In the health sector primary and secondary healthcare was given priority. Safe drinking water was a sector that was addressed on priority and 6000 water purification plants were set up. Women were given political empowerment and now you see a lot more women in eh assemblies. Honour killing was discouraged and Hudood Ordinance laws were revamped. The minorities were given opportunities and culture and heritage was given due importance.