To live a happy life....

Many of us have been brainwashed into believing society’s definition of success: lots of money, a high-powered job, a picture-perfect family, a big extravagant home and a beautiful body. All too often, when we don’t have them all, we are left feeling dissatisfied, restless and sad. The reason behind these feelings is lack of self love and self worth. We usually form the opinion about ourselves on what others think of us and this is where all our problems arise. Here are four ways to live a tension free life.

We are all unique beings

All of us can’t squeeze ourselves into one same mould, and we shouldn’t want to. No one else is more important, worthy, or special than us. Just because someone is richer, more famous, or more attractive - does not make them more valuable than we are. Do not treat your own physical, emotional, and spiritual health as an afterthought. Make your own well-being a priority. We deserve all the bounty this world has to offer and we are definitely worth it. The sooner we start loving ourselves, the faster all of our other relationships will be filled with fun, closeness, love and happiness. When we start noticing the wonderful things about ourselves, other people will have no choice but to see them too.

We meet the people we need

Have you ever noticed that whether it is in our immediate circle of friends, at work or just life’s everyday events we tend to find ourselves attracting the same types of people into our lives? If we take a step back and really look at these people we will often see a similarity between them and one of our nuclear or extended family members. Those people are needed to help us, to hurt us, to leave us, to love us and to make us into the person we are meant to be. There’s a famous saying by Khalil Gibran, ‘I have learnt silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers’.

Do away with all the old, negative messages you were given about yourself. If someone has told you that you are worthless, undeserving, dense or unattractive, that is their problem. People hurt others when they are hurt themselves and they are mostly just dealing with themselves. It has nothing to do with us.

Forgive yourself

Some of us have to learn the hard way. There are really no failures or mistakes, just opportunities for growth. Usually something good does come out of our mistakes. So learn from them, don’t repeat them, forgive yourself, and move on. If you’ve hurt someone else in the process of learning your life lessons, make it right. Reach out to them, and tell them you are sorry or just start being nice in general. We are accountable for our behaviour so we should own up to it.

No pain, no gain

Life is full of ups and downs. Even though they are more difficult, we learn more during the challenging times. We might not see the value of it; but later, when we look back, we will reach the realisation that we have learned a great deal. Know that nothing we experience is an accident. Everything we experience and everyone we meet teaches us something or holds a lesson for us. Eventually we will see that sometimes we have to lose something to gain something else. Even illness, death, and financial loss have a purpose. Keep faith, for faith is - knowing that everything will work out. We only grow stronger from our experiences.

Always remember that we need to define our own reality and create the life that will make us happy. This is our life, so we should be the ones creating our own standards of success.

Published on 21 September 2010, You mag, The News

Among the people corrupt…

Corruption is the most predominating concern in our country these days. Now and then, we hear so many ongoing debates on the corruption only to conclude that it is a symptom of our deep-seated economic, political and institutional weaknesses. Political instability, bureaucratic red tape, weak legislative and judicial systems, tax evasion, misuse of public sector expenditures, underground economy – so many things to name. We need reforms – in anti corruption enforcements, police force, law system, courts - reforms in everything.

But one thing is for sure; to be effective, measures against corruption must address the underlying root cause and not the symptoms. What is the root cause of corruption anyways? Is it the weak economic, political or legislative system?

The root cause of every problem is at individual level. But we usually find it easier to put fingers on things other than us - to external factors. Politicians, bureaucrats, law enforcement institutions are all made up of people like us. We cannot condemn them, while we can grant an undue favour to some friend or relative at our company’s expense or when we can violate the traffic rules when traffic police is not around. At individual level, a person, who can break a queue to be served before its turn, can easily break laws at institutional and national level, if provided a chance. It’s all the matter of who is provided a chance to do corruption and at what level.

Here, it will be good to raise this question as to why are we so corrupt as individuals? Why we can’t stand queues, speed limits or any other codes of conduct? Are the reasons again political, economical and judicial? They are a bit social.

The root cause of corruption is people’s desire to earn respect in society, not their drive to have more money and better status. The motivation behind every single thing we do is ultimately a drive to earn respect - to justify ourselves that we are good enough. The great robbers rob only to get money enough, so that people could one day give them the respect reserved for rich class only. The motive behind getting a good job, in anyway possible even if it involves nepotism is to get counted among the so called rich class; the intention behind getting a brand new car and labelled outfits is again to be treated with reverence.

Especially, in our part of the world, where we still couldn’t liberate ourselves from the legacy of our ancestors - semi converted Hindus and the Arabian invaders. We are still not able to unshackle the social stratifications created on the basis of materialism. Brahmin, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras have only replaced the lower, working, middle and rich class. These classes earn their respect in the society accordingly to their status. Neither could we free ourselves from the psyche of our Arabian ancestors who couldn’t stand to queue up with their captives who were the majority of residents. We have learnt to link up respect to one’s status in society and their possessions.

We can’t eliminate one’s desire to be respected, but what we can do is stop attaching respect to material things - ethnicity, profession, property and possessions. Respect people for who they are as individuals. Respect them for their moral values and their behaviours. If we could treat a milkman equal to the seth with BMW, the milkman probably won’t find an urge to mix water in the milk. Why can’t we say thank you in a courteous way to the worker at the fuel station for filling gas. Why can’t we offer greetings to the cleaners across the roads on the way to our morning walk? While these things may sound petty, but the impact they would make is great and like I said every change has to start at individual level. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Bushra Naz

Published on 9 July 2010, Daily Mail
The e-paper

Holding the grounds for women

ActionAid and Ajoka celebrated International Women’s day in Islamabad by staging a theatre at Pakistan National Council of Arts on Thursday. Initially they were to stage the play ‘Kala Mainda Bhes’, based on a real life incident took place in Sindh where a woman was exchanged for an ox. But due to time constraints, they decided to perform their play ‘Burqavanganza’.

'Burqavaganza' is a love story in the times when Pakistan is grappling with issues such as extremism, intolerance and terrorism. The play takes up many issues regarding women's oppression in our society. It is the story of two young people who are determined to defy the hypocritical values of an ultra conservative society and challenge the self appointed custodians of morality and faith. While the social and political fabric is falling apart because of terrorism, injustice and fanaticism; the state and society is only obsessed with petty issues like preventing the lovers from meeting etc.

Throughout the play the whole cast is wearing shuttlecock Burqas. The Burqa is used as a metaphor here for the mask our society wear in the name of Islam to hide their corrupt norms. Every possible evil is there in our society, our false moral values; Hinduism oriented thinking, our obsession with the opposite gender to name a few. Yet, we focus only on portraying an outside image of being Islamic and do nothing to curb these false values that are making the bigger impact. They satire how our people and maulvis are wasting their time, discussing the silly trivial issues, while the bigger ones remain unnoticed. The play also spoofs at Talbanisation by linking Usama Bin Laden and Talibaan approach with ours. All of us are playing with Islam and moulding it to fit our self interests, hiding our evils under the Burqa or the mask of Islam.

This tale of love in the time of Jihad is however told in a lighter way with humour, song and dance. Like all Ajoka plays it is thoroughly entertaining and at the same time thought provoking. The play has been widely appreciated by the public and the media whenever it was performed. An English translation of the play has been published by the Oxford University Press.

Expressing her view, Madeeha Gohar, the Executive Director of Ajoka Theatre said, ‘We are committed artists and artists can only protest through their art. We have the right to protest through our performances. We are determined to expose the Taliban in our midst. The real danger is from the individuals who are ideologically aligned with the Taliban and are promoting an agenda of hatred, intolerance and fanaticism in our country’.

Speaking to audience before the play, women rights activist Dr. Farzana Bari emphasised that it is for all of us to empower women and recognise their justified status in society. It is common in our society; men having reservations about the movements for empowering the women. But if the same men could place themselves in their father’s, brother’s and son’s roles they would also feel the need to think differently about women empowerment. If a women has to live a life of slave, her husband, brother or son can not be free either.

Bushra Naz
Published on Wednesday 17 March 2010, Daily Mail

Lok Virsa is keeping the traditions alive

Somehow our museums haven't been a popular subject for media but Lok Virsa museum is completely different from other museums. Located near the beautiful Shakarparian Hills, the museum validates the link with our past - spreading over a thousand years or more. Entering the museum, a visitor sees the story of Pakistan, the development of its crafts and trades from old to new ones - all at one place.

The Lok Virsa Museum also known as the Folk Heritage Museum represents art works towards preserving the living folk culture and crafts of Pakistan. The three-dimensional cultural displays and creative dioramas exhibit the life style of the different areas of Pakistan. The statues with painted backgrounds seem real for a while.

It has a large display of embroidery, costumes, musical instruments, ceramic objects, jewellery, wood work, block printing, ivory, metal and textile work. Traditional architecture facades exhibiting such skills as fresco, mirror work, marble inlay, tile mosaic and stucco tracery are also displayed. You will also find some handicraft shops selling local garments and souvenirs, at the entrance.

The Museum was inaugurated almost six years ago as the first state museum of ethnology in Pakistan to display living traditions of all the regions of the country. There are large halls dedicated to architecture, musical heritage, textiles, folk tales, Sufi shrines and several other cultural themes. Featuring more than 25 large galleries in four blocks - linked through passages, it also has galleries to depict cultural linkages with Iran, Central Asia and China, making it the finest cultural museum in Pakistan.

Lok Virsa is a cultural organisation working for the collection, preservation and dissemination of Pakistan's folk culture. The Lok Virsa Heritage Reference Library is the only library in the country with the largest number of books and other resources on our folk culture. Another interesting hearsay is that the institute has published over 200 books on Pakistani folklore and cultural heritage, covering all regions and remote areas. Books on cultural heritage and cassettes of folk music are also available for sale at Lok Virsa's Sales Centre. The Archive continues to collect and preserve folk tales, legends, songs, adding to the collection of over 10,000 recorded tapes stored in a library with public access. Hats off to them for this is really a hefty step towards preserving and publicizing our folk culture.

A must watch event at Lok Virsa, is its annual Artisans-at-Work Festivals called Lok Mela. Marked by the colourful inauguration and award ceremonies, the festival features a host of daily attractions, including song and dance ensembles, provincial cultural pavilions, craft bazaars and food fairs of traditional cuisine. The festival provides an opportunity to master artisans from the remote parts of the country to display their skills. Every now and then, Lok Virsa remains in motion for arranging entertaining musical concerts, exhibitions and public film showings on cultural heritage. They are doing an incredible work towards cultivating the original folk mores of Pakistan.

No one makes you feel inferior without your consent

Inferiority complex comes from thinking your self less worthy than the people around you and it continues to undermine us when we rely heavily on the approval of others and not on our own personal approval of who we are.

A lot of you will be surprised to know the inferiority complex and the superiority complex are pretty much the same thing. According to Psychologists ‘superiority complex is a subconscious neurotic mechanism of compensation developed by the individual as a result of feelings of inferiority. The feelings of inferiority in this specific complex are often brought on by real or perceived social rejection. Concluding, every superiority complex has an underline and unresolved inferiority complex. As we grow up we often fill the void, created by building our self image on others’ criticism, by false pampering of our selves. In this case, we feel everything others say about us is because they feel jealous or insecure of the supercilious way we are. This is equally damaging for us, as we eventually realise, after being abandoned by a lot of people, that our self image is not built on solid grounds again. So next time you find yourself wondering about someone’s air of arrogance, you should know where it is coming from.

Be it an inferiority or superiority complex, it needs to be get rid of to prosper well in life. There could be many ways of doing that. The foremost is recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. Take time to do your self analysis and shift your focus from the area you feel inferior about onto your strengths. Practice this. It puts you in a better position to look for ways in which you can enhance those areas. This way you draw a clear line between your strengths and weaknesses, so the thoughts of your weaknesses do not overpower the positive aspects of your strengths.

When you have an inferiority complex, you’re constantly battling with the feeling of self-consciousness. In order to conquer them, focus more on the enjoyment part. Laugh, smile -have fun. This will greatly help you become more comfortable in your own skin. Instead of feeling a victim, take actions to improve what makes you feel inferior. They say, ‘if you cannot change a thing, change the way you think about it’. Surround yourself with positive people. When you hang around positive people you become fired up to be the best you can be and the encouragement to keep trying.

We all love the feeling of approval and acceptance. What others say may have an effect on us but only if we accept that external perception of who we are as our own. When other people make negative remarks with the intent to make you feel inferior, allow your strengths to be the answer. The key is to practice focusing on your strengths and accepting you for who you are.
Bushra Naz
Published: 24 February 2010, Daily Mail
The e-paper

It's not about you!

While we are growing up, we learn to take everything personally. It's always about us. Consequently, when we are adults, we usually take criticism or rejection very personally. When someone tells us 'you are … (fill in the blank)', we may take it as the truth. But actually, it's not about us.

The other day, I read a story about a saint and his follower going down a jungle. While they were trying to find a shelter in the heavy rain; they saw a snake under a tree - whirled up and fainted because of the rain. Pitying the helpless creature, the saint went up to it and picked it up in his arms. Anxiously, his student asked, 'Sir what are u doing? It's a fatal animal. It will bite you'. The saint replied smiling, 'It's God's creature too, if I would leave it like that, it would die'. He tried finding a good shelter for it. As the rain stopped, the snake came about and as soon as he did, he bit on saint's arm. Even then the saint found a safe tree and nicely placed the animal under it. His student said, 'Sir I told u it's a fatal animal'. The saint replied, 'it was just his way of saying thank you'.

When people make insulting or vicious remarks about you, it's a reflection of what's going on inside them. It is about them and their perception of you and has nothing to do with who you really are. You are simply the target at the moment. Taking things personally makes you an easy prey for their emotional poison. They can hook you easily with their little opinion, and feed you all their poison. When you take it personally, you eat it up, and now it becomes your poison. But if you don't take it personally, you are immune to their poison.

So nothing that other people think about you is really about you; it is about them. They are in a completely different world from the one you live in and have a different belief system from yours. When someone gets mad at you, it is because he/she are dealing with themselves. You are just an excuse for them to get mad.

After you understand this, the next step is to give others what you want to receive from them. If you want others to be less critical and vicious about you, then you must be considerate of their feelings and recognize their self respect. We are usually quite miser, when it comes to giving others their credit or appreciating them for the good things they do. Also, we all say things at times that we wouldn't want others to say to us. We get impatient and forget that it took us time to learn the very things we're expecting others to perform perfectly right away.

Bushra Naz

Published on 17 January 2010

The e-paper

Killing the green eyed monster

Once, a green eyed monster assailed a realm. The giant monster would eat hundreds of men in a day and still would look for more. In due course, people became so afraid of the monster that they couldn’t even dare coming in front of him. The more people he would scare, the bigger and stronger he would become. The king issued a decree whoever kills the green eyed monster would get as reward whatever he wants. Knights and wrestlers from all over the country came to kill the giant but in vain. The moment they would face the giant, it would get ever bigger. Soon he was considered as invincible. One day, a skinny young man turned up and claimed he could kill the monster. While people were still laughing at his dare, he went up to the monster and said heroically: ‘Come out; I am here to kill you’. Furiously, the monster came out yelling: ‘I would eat you alive’. The young man didn’t move an inch back. He replied looking back into his eyes ‘I’m not afraid of you’. Listening that, the giant started to shrink smaller and smaller until he was vanished.

The story tells us how to conquer our fears. It holds true for all forms of fear and ‘Jealousy’ is one of them. Yes, Jealousy is basically our embedded fear. Looking jealousy in a more rational way, we feel jealous when we have an underlying fear of losing something or someone. But just like our other fears, if we look this one in the eye, we can kill it. Accept the fact that everybody is free to make their own choices and we cannot control other people. What we can control are our own feelings and actions. Believe in yourself. Know your own strengths and uniqueness. Take some time to appreciate your self, count your strengths and forgive yourself on your weaknesses. Love your self - because if you won’t, nobody else will.

Good communication can also resolve the problem. Communicate your feelings to others in a healthy way, without hurting them. Ask candid questions, the things that make us jealous are often just our assumptions. When we feel jealous we are holding the wrong beliefs or assumptions about things; I am not good enough for getting as good a job as of him. This is a wrong belief. Nobody is born with all the best skills in the world to get a good job. We learn it in due course of time. You can learn to become as good as the other person is. You encounter this person you’re feeling jealous of; to give you a drive - to work harder, to develop your self and to achieve the thing you value - a good job for instance. If not, your destiny could be to achieve something beyond this point. Something that was better for you but you were not aware of that.

Jealousy is not a bad feeling. It basically is a healthy feeling that actually helps us to identify the things that matter to us. The things we feel jealous about are basically things that carry more importance in our lives. It usually gives us a drive to pursue what we truly want.

Bushra Naz

Published on 19 January 2010, Daily Mail

Cyber crimes – is there a solution?

In today’s world we use computers for everything; searching the internet, online shopping, accessing bank accounts, emailing, and online gaming as some examples. Communication is faster and more reliable. Where we are becoming more dependent on computers; we have also become more vulnerable. Today street crimes are becoming something of the past. It is not to say that they don’t occur but computer crime is more convenient. There are individuals that hack into computers and your personal or sensitive data can be stolen, destroyed or misused.

Do we have enough security mechanisms in Pakistan to prevent cyber crime? Daily Mail has asked some questions from Amir Nazir, Forensic Officer in Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

DM: Please tell our readers, being a Law Enforcement Agency, what is your organisation doing to help fighting Cyber Crimes?
FIA has a dedicated wing named as ‘National Response Centre for Cyber Crime’ (NR3C). This wing comprises of a team of technical experts and Investigation officers and has its dedicated Police Stations and Forensic Labs to deal with cyber crimes. After receiving complaints regarding cyber crimes, FIA conducts investigations and proceed towards arrest and prosecution of culprits. Our job doesn’t start only after a crime is committed, instead we are involved even when the information about an expected crime is received and the crime is in the process of commission.

DM: What could have been the consequences of hacking and using people’s intellectual properties without their consent according to the provisions of cyber law in Pakistan?
As defined in the law, gaining or attempting to gain unauthorised access to any electronic system, data or information is a criminal offence in Pakistan and the punishment of it is imprisonment up to 07 years plus fine for committing such offence. Similarly, law also makes it an offence to damage, alter or misuse people’s personal data without authorisation. The punishment for this offence defined in the law is also imprisonment up to 07 years with additional fine.

DM: Another newly emerged cyber crime these days is youngsters hacking people’s e-mail accounts, Facebook or Orkut IDs etc. and using them to send inappropriate and often obscene messages…sometimes the pictures are edited with some x-rated images very skilfully and then disseminated to the contact list of the hacked person from an anonymous ID. How could your department help catching these anonymous culprits?
We are already dealing with such complaints and have arrested culprits as well. If anyone is victim of such crime then he or she can lodge their complaint to:
National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes (NR3C), FIA Headquarters, Islamabad; E-mail:; Telephone +92-51-9266656; Cell +92-3366006060; and Fax: 051-9266435.
It is advised to the complainants to write their application in simple English or in Urdu, narrate your complete problem, provide as much evidences and details as they can and in the end mention their names, contact numbers and addresses.

DM: In Pakistan, we have a culture that people shy away from reporting such incidents because of their concerns about defamation? What does your organization do about it? Is the confidentiality of these cases maintained?
All information about complainants or victims is kept confidential during inquiries and investigations conducted by FIA and only few concerned officers have knowledge of the case so there is no need to shy away from reporting such incidents. Reporting a crime is actually helping government to catch criminals and prevent such crimes in future by the same criminal.

DM: What problems do you usually face in the process of investigation?
AN: The problems we usually face during cyber crime investigations are mostly related to cross border jurisdiction. Internet has become a virtual borderless world so criminals enjoy the facility to launch their attacks from anywhere in the world. The crime in Pakistan may not be a crime in some other country. Therefore during investigations, timely obtaining tracking information from other countries, arresting foreign criminals and examining computer systems outside Pakistan may not be possible due to many reasons. The solution is International Law for Cyber Crimes, which unfortunately doesn’t exist yet.

DM: Public awareness is very crucial to prevent Cyber Crimes and in Pakistan the awareness of Cyber Laws and its prevention is equal to nothing. Could you please tell our readers what is FIA doing for that?
Cyber Crime awareness among public and private sector organisations is one of our main objectives. As part of our public awareness campaign, we have focused on university students and conducted several seminars in different universities of Pakistan because most of the internet users in Pakistan are our young generation. Moreover, FIA also release news in the press and media whenever criminals are caught. This is also helping us to spread awareness among general public. Besides universities, NR3C wing of FIA has conducted many awareness seminars and trainings for Banking Industry, IT Industry, Police officers, Judiciary, and other law enforcement & Intelligence agencies.

DM: What could be done further to improve the cyber security in our country?
The emergence of internet in its known form is just nearly 20 years old and so are the related threats. Majority of internet users including many public and private sector organizations are not well aware of cyber laws in Pakistan and security mechanisms to prevent them. Education and awareness at the government and higher management level is the key factor that can contribute towards improving cyber security. Government needs to take initiative to start degree level courses in information security in all major universities. Government should also take steps to have provision for information security staff and controls for all important information repositories. Private sector should also come forward and contribute in Research and Development of information security.

As we can see, even though cyber crime is still a problem, we have mechanisms in place in Pakistan to fight them. The way to protect it is for everyone - individuals, institutions, and government should all have awareness to take preventive measures. When you see such crimes happening around report them and show the criminals that we have no tolerance for these crimes. If everyone does their part, not only will they be safer but it will be setting an example for others as well as making it more difficult for hackers to cause damage.

Bushra Naz

Published on 13 January 2010, Daily Mail

The e-paper