Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm on Facebook!

Yes, it's a new frontier for Brainwaves et al. So come see me! I fould a thing called Pieces of Flair that lets you make little buttons and the Ipps look good on there. I'll send you one! Anyway, come on down!

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: Baby Names

So, my name is generally used to refer to baseball bats, guns and cows. I don't really know what to make of that. I've never known what to make of that. I don't think the cow part is a good thing. Or the gun part. Baseball bats are okay, I guess.
Every year someone publishes a list of the most popular baby names of the year. For some people, these are names to use - for others, they are the ones to avoid.
One unforeseen effect of the name you choose is what happens when you name your kid after someone. At first, it's neat because you think of that special person whenever you talk to your kid. On the other hand, when you're really mad, you end up yelling your friend's or relative's name. Which is weird.
Eventually, the kid will grow into the name and make it his or her own. Hopefully. But in the meantime, it's astounding how many times you're gonna say/yell/screech that name yourself. So make it a good one.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Pinka - illustrator
pin up cartoon girl

Pinka Pinka
Pinka Pinka

More info and pics:

Henning Ludvigsen

Henning Ludvigsen - nice digital pin ups, fantasy and erotic art

Henning Ludvigsen is a Norwegian digital artist with basic traditional art education and with 12 years of experience in digital art, design, and illustration. He is currently working as the Art Director at a computer game development company in Greece, and is working on personal projects and commissions during his spare time, plus illustrating trading card games for Fantasy Flight Games

Info and pics:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mark Wasyl

Mark Wasyl - sexy modern pin up arts
pin up and cartoon girls
Mark Wasyl Mark Wasyl pin up
modern pin up
modern pin up art

More info and pics:

Monday, January 28, 2008

More Cartoons on My Website!

I've updated my website to include a lot more sample cartoons - somehow a sampling of 24 panels out of a library of 1,600 seemed pretty inadequate. So I've added links to more samples off the Favorite Cartoons page - and broken them up into subject matter like Working and Business or Arts, Culture or the Lack Thereof, or Kids and Parenting, or Environment and Science. Hope you enjoy browsing through some more favorites. Tell your friends!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Take an Ipp to the Store!!

Alright, one of my favorite people in the world helped me come up with this bag with a tree-hugging Ipp for groceries and all your various whatnot.
If you're trying to convince your friends to stop using paper or plastic bags, one way to do this is to give them a great bag to use.
It's also a great way to say, "I love the Earth so much I'm using these bags. Which makes me extra cool."
This one is washable too, which is great when your groceries get icky stuff on the inside of your bags.
Tip: I have quite a few bags like these, and I keep them both in the house and in the car - because sometimes I get to the store only to realize that I forgot to bring bags. Then I put them near the kitchen door too so I see them on my way out and get em back into the car...
Anyway, enjoy! And if you think someone you know would like these, send em a link! You can just click the little email button at the bottom of the post to send it along. Yay!

Friday, January 25, 2008

What the Heck is an Ipp?

Well, an ipp is... um, well, it's this thing.

They may be made out of jelly beans.

Or marshmallows.

We're not sure.

What I do know is, I've put one on a t-shirt.

And, there are more where that came from.

So watch out for the Ipps!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BTALD: Compatibly Odd.

This cartoon appears in the February Funny Times. It pretty much sums up what I've figured out about marriage - the ones that last are the ones where the parties are compatibly odd.

People go around looking for the person who's the best-looking, or richest, or whatever, but let's face it - we're best off with someone who is the right kind of strange. Even if that means being so normal it's kind of.. weird.


Alright, this is an image that I drew to promote the drawing classes I teach at my daughter's school's afterschool center. I dressed it up and put it on a journal to encourage doodling. Get one for your favorite budding artist!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

All Hail the Heater Vent.

Here's to everybody out there who's COLD today. Like, everybody in the Northern Hemisphere. You Australians, I hope you're enjoying your fabulous summer. You deserve it.

Our cat has a heater vent that's under a cabinet in the bathroom. It's like his own personal sauna. That was the inspiration for this drawing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Smoking is injurious to health

Art and Global Warming

When I was a kid, I produced a whole lotta art. Even long after I'd moved out and graduated with college, my parents still had a whole laundry hamper in my old closet filled with drawings and paintings and pastels and what-have-you.

Now, if you foster a love of drawing and general mark-making in your kids, well, they're gonna draw. A lot. On things.

This does not have to mean you must create a vast wasteland of used up paper and dead trees.

We all know about the problem of drawing on furniture and walls and other non-drawing surfaces. For this I advocate lots of washable markers. And in nice weather, chalk for outside. Our son tried to convert his room into outer space by drawing space ships and planets on his walls and door. It was pretty clever. We took pictures of it before trying to wash it off. We tried not to admire it too much in front of him, though. I was very stern and all that.

Then, there's paper. We all know that we should be recycling, and re-using the backs of things is great. Cardboard from packaging is really nice. Let em make marks, then recycle the whole kit-and-caboodle. Let em color the funnies. If you like something, take a picture of it first. Or, use it to make a greeting card to send to the grandparents.

But if you really want to be environment-savvy, get your kids a white board or a chalk board. A big one for their wall, or a small one to carry around. Both are great because they are tactile, and you can draw by erasing too. MagnaDoodles are okay, but not as easy to use. And the magnet stuff starts sticking when it shouldn't after about the zillionth drawing.
The impermanence of a white board or chalk board I think is healthy, too. It tells kids that the act of drawing is what's important, and you don't have to frame everything in order for it to be valuable. And, a drawing can evolve - get partially erased, get mutated, whatever. It's a living thing.
Oh, and if your kid draws on the white board with a permanent marker (yike, how did they get a permanent marker?! Probably the same way they do at my house -- I have no idea), just do this: Go over it with a white board marker, then erase. I learned that in corporate-land.

There. Drawing does not have to mean wasting paper. Isn't that great?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Okay now that I've blathered on about art awhile, here is some.

It's a little early for Valentine's, but here's what mine's going to look like this year.

Art and Emotions

Okay I promise I'll get back to the cartoons pronto. However, this is important stuff. Darn it.

When my daughter was 3 or so, she was being really cranky. Especially at her dad. So one day, I handed her a piece of paper and asked her to draw something about how she felt.

She drew a picture of Daddy, going off to work - complete with his suit and briefcase - walking into a giant erupting volcano. I said, "It looks like you're worried that when Daddy leaves he's not coming back." She nodded. After that, I was able to reassure her because I knew what was on her mind.

Could she have explained that abstract feeling in words? Probably not. Anyone who is around kids a fair amount knows that the relationship between what words they say and what is actually going on is tenuous at best. Is it because they are liars? No, it's because talking is just one tool in the whole box and sometimes it just doesn't do the job.

Yesterday I spent some time drawing with Kindergarteners. Now, you don't teach Kindergarteners how to draw a horse or how to do animation. But when you give them a pencil and some paper, something great happens. They turn into storytellers. "This is the rocket, and this is my cat, and the dog fell out the window, and the rocket is on fire." This is all explained along with various pencil marks. Lots of back and forth scribbles can mean something is on fire. When something goes fast, they take the pencil and zoom it across the paper, and make the appropriate sound effects. A lot of my job is to listen and ask questions.

Kids can tell stories with a pencil in their hands that they wouldn't otherwise tell. They can offer insights into what is on their minds. They can describe their inner world. It is not important whether their drawing is accurate, just that it is expressive. I often take their marks and tape them up on the wall to show that they are important.

So if you know a child who is struggling with expressing something, or you suspect that what's coming out isn't telling the whole story, or you're just having a hard time connecting, get a pencil and some paper. Watch and ask questions. And let the story unfold.

There's a difference between reproducing something in art and representing something in art. Even the realistic religious paintings of the Renaissance were not just there to reproduce what things looked like. They represented what was important to the people of that time, what was on their minds. So even a realistic painting isn't just a literal reproduction of something. It has feelings and priorities.

More recently art has been showing more literally how things feel, by way of Cubism or Impressionism or Expressionism. In filmmaking, we've done the same thing. "The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind" is a great example. So is "Fight Club." Graphic novels put both things together, kind of like movies in book form.

So, let that inner world out. As Dr. Seuss said, "Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Art Rant #1

Many of you know that I teach drawing and animation to kids. I've been doing this a few years now, and I'm finding that there is more demand for my services than I have time in the week. It's like watering a really, really dry houseplant.

Anyway, here is the first of my Art Rants. There's more where this came from. Feel free to forward it to anybody and everybody.

Art Rant #1

Look around you. Everything you can see is designed, from the products you use to the movies you watch to the buildings you work in to the parks you play in. All that stuff started out as a design that made the journey from imagination to reality. Even nature creates some of the most amazing, crazy and beautiful designs you could ever ask for.

Design is made using tools. There is architecture for buildings, modeling for automobiles, information design for websites. There are storyboards for movies and animations, schematics for machinery and electronics, mockups for toys, DNA for people.

This means that a child growing up today has enormous opportunities to imagine and shape the future of our world in ways big and small. Every industry, from filmmaking to product design to retail to airlines to hospitals and beyond needs design in order to function. But where does design come from?

Design comes from art, because art teaches us to visualize. Every design must be put in a form that can be seen, understood, and communicated by all sorts of people. Ideas must be tested to see if they will work. Leonardo da Vinci has a few examples.

Art teaches us how to take abstract ideas and put them out into the world. Art lets us see and solve spatial, compositional, creative, real-world problems. Art teaches us how to parse visual information, whether we created it or not. Art, in short, completes the human brain’s functionality.

Many people will say, “I’m just not good at art.” We don’t tell people they can’t use letters or words because they are not Mark Twain. We don’t tell people they can’t use numbers because they are not Stephen W. Hawking. We should not tell people that they can’t use pictures because they are not Pablo Picasso.

Is a design just a picture? Of course not. It can be a complicated mix of visuals, numbers and words that describe a bridge that won’t fall down, an aircraft carrier that will stay afloat, or a stage set that won’t squish the actors.

Can you imagine an airplane schematic written out in prose, or the specs for a piece of medical equipment expressed only in numbers? Of course not. But the designs for both of these things can mean the difference between life and death for everyday people.

So: The next time you hear someone say that we don’t “need” arts education, then point out that if we don’t need arts education, then we obviously don’t “need” houses, bridges, airplanes, cars, appliances, medical devices, movies, television, furniture, cell phones, clothing(!), or anything else you might see. Because by treating art as a nonessential, specialized skill rather than as a human way of thinking and communicating, we are making ourselves dumber by ignoring a tool we have used since prehistory and that shapes much of the world around us.

Thanks for reading. Betsy

Friday, January 11, 2008

Retail Detox

So, last night my 3 1/2 -year-old and I needed to get a present for a birthday party he's going to this weekend.
This involved darkening the door of the ever-popular Target, otherwise known as The Big Store Where Mommy and Daddy ALWAYS Buy Me Something.
Now, the reason for this is because we almost never go to Target, except when we actually need something. And that something is usually a kid-related thing. Being Target and all.
However, in the 3-year-old mind, this has translated to the idea that one gets "a box of cars" every time without exception or the Earth will spin into the Sun you just watch.
Anyway, the drawing here is what resulted after my son wailed for a full hour about how he wanted some cars. Fortunately, the thing we were buying was nowhere near the cars aisle, so we got our stuff and got the hell out.
But this did not prevent volcanic interplanetary bellowing. Even when it was clear he didn't really know what he was saying. And after I pointed out we were no longer at the store.
I'm going to call this "retail detox." And I plan to do it again. No kidding. We are so good at making people WANT things in this country. I mean, this is a kid who sees almost no commercial TV. But he's a good little consumer, man.
Anyway, after a few more trips into Retail Land without buying anything I think his withdrawal symptoms will start to wear off. It really is like withdrawal. But I'm there with him, man. I'm gonna help him through.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

BTALD: The House Whisperer

Winter is probably the time we learn the most about whatever structure we live in: Where the rainwater goes, where the snow piles up, which trees looked good but were actually ready to give up the ghost...
We live right next to a drainage creek that only has water in it in the winter. When you wake up in the morning, you can listen for the creek to know whether there was rain the night before.
Houses also seem to get sick like people - a bunch of stuff happens at once. Too bad we can't get flu shots for houses. Oh wait, I guess that's called maintenance. But if you don't know what's gonna blow up, how do you know what to maintain? I have no idea. I just figure if I know how to shut off the water I'll be okay. Always know how to shut off the water.
Oh, and just one little hint - those little valves in back of your toilet? The ones that are supposed to shut off the water supply? They don't work. If they're old. Don't do a darn thing. You've gotta shut off the water to the whole place. Don't ask me how I know this. It involved a lot of yelling and running around outside. But that was the old house - I hope it's being nice to its current owners.


Our embattled media

By Tanvir Ahmad Khan

GEN Pervez Musharraf’s latest address to the nation and his conversation with foreign journalists the next day has revived the question of balance between freedom and responsibility in our media. He seemed to return to the idée fixe of the present regime that Pakistan’s current troubles are mostly caused by irresponsible journalists.

Furthermore, there was the ancient lament that the foreign media ignores the great gap between the developed West and a primitive Pakistan in its reports and comment.

Prominent amongst the images streaming out of Pakistan during an entire year of political protest were those of a protracted tussle between the government on the one hand and the lawyers and journalists on the other. The media people and the legal fraternity had no background of working in tandem and what telescoped them together was the regime’s paranoid reaction to what these two disparate communities perceived were their essential professional responsibilities.

The lawyers claimed they were upholding the national Constitution and the rule of law. The media people were exercising their right to report the unfolding political drama freely. Draconian measures to curb both the groups probably did more harm to Musharraf’s standing than anything else during his long, mostly unquestioned, rule.

Unlike the predictable conflict with the men of law, Musharraf’s quarrel with the media was an unexpected development. No military ruler of Pakistan had ever been as media savvy as Musharraf. On their part, most journalists began by supporting him. He had taken major decisions such as ending the state monopoly on broadcasting that led to a veritable revolution in the dissemination of news and views.

An entire new generation of well-educated young men and women emerged that cherished freedom of expression while continuing the tradition of being patriotic to a fault.

In a recent BBC lecture, the distinguished Cambridge philosopher, Onara O’Neill, built up a case for media responsibility by arguing that any search for truth needs structures and disciplines and that this search is undermined by casual disregard of accuracy or evidence.

In Pakistan’s case, the need for such structures was never an issue as the innate restraint of a conservative Muslim society exerts a normative pressure. Compared to the mass media in the West, the Pakistani media is much less prone to slander and sensationalism. The major newspapers and electronic outlets can be tediously conservative. There is, indeed, considerable room for improvement in the discipline of accuracy and evidence.

There are discernable weaknesses of infrastructure and database, which can only be aggravated by the financial losses that the Pakistan government has imposed on media organisations.

The present travail of the Pakistani media comes largely from the unusual power its electronic component acquired in a society where access to printed information and knowledge is limited.

The regime wanted this power to work exclusively to the government’s advantage which could be done only by massive airbrushing from the picture of grim realities such as violated women, provincial insurgencies, thousands of terrorism-related fatalities including in the armed forces, police atrocities against peaceful demonstrators and, above all, a wanton disregard of the Constitution.

As if this litany of horror was not enough, the year ended with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, an event which sent shock waves across the globe and caused much foreboding about Pakistan’s future.

The Pakistani media has never failed to lend a helping hand wherever something positive could be found. Consider the transformation of public opinion in Pakistan about India. What might have been only a tactical shift in inter-state relations has struck deep roots as the media whole heartedly supported it. It demolished the myth of eternal hostility and enabled General Musharraf to conduct a dialogue with the Indian leadership in a tranquil environment.

In the ‘war on terror’ Musharraf got media support so far as the paradigm of it was concerned. But his regime never succeeded in carrying conviction with the people when it came to details. From the commitments made to the United States in 2001 to the “collateral damage” in Pakistan’s tribal belt, government versions have regularly conflicted with independent reports filed by Pakistani and foreign journalists.

It is often said that all governments are obliged to take liberties with truth for reasons of state. If this is so, they must also accept the fact that in this information age and in this globalised world a counter-narrative would also emerge.

Since the credibility of the regime remained in free fall, the suppression of the mainstream media resulted in a high premium on unconventional information disseminated through the internet and the mobile phone. These new sources of information are subject to no discipline of verification but are often credited with more truth than they carry. During ten weeks of travelling in Europe recently, I was struck by their impact even on professional foreign observers of the Pakistani scene. Between the blogs and the text messages, the official version became almost irrelevant.

Basically, Gen Musharraf fell out with the media because of its coverage of his conflict with the higher judiciary. There is no doubt that real-time coverage made a great difference. Without it, the forced retirement of the judges and the reconstitution of courts might not have become a public issue. Nor would there be internal and external questions about the plan to use democratisation as a means to perpetuate military rule by another name.

Even illiterate Pakistanis say that media curbs continue because the government plans to rig the forthcoming election or not hold it at all.Therein lies the ultimate justification for a complete restoration of media freedom.

Without that freedom democracy would remain devoid of credibility. Without recovering the lost trust no future government will be able to calm Pakistan down. The media must inform the people accurately; the state must treat it with respect. The Pakistani media is perfectly capable of balancing freedom with responsibility. It is time that the executive too learns to tolerate the accountability inherent in a modern democratic state.

Swat Tragedy

The roots of Swat’s tragedy

By Asim Effendi

For moving to Google page click here

THE journey that our serene Swat Valley has made from being a prime tourist attraction to becoming a battlefield is nothing short of tragic. Going back in history, it was the Yousafzai tribe’s migration into the area under Sheikh Malli in the 16th century that further pushed the valley’s original settlers, the Swatis and Dalazak, across the Indus.

Even today the Hazara region has a sizeable population called the Swatis because of its pre-Yousafzai affinities.

With the dawn of the 18th century, Swat emerged as a stateless entity pursuing a nomadic lifestyle as its population moved from one village to another under the administrative arrangement of ‘Wesh’ land distribution. The area’s political evolution was shaped primarily by events that took place around its geographical boundaries, and by the mid-18th century the arrival of the British made the need for a viable state more acute.

Lack of modern education and sociocultural restraints left the Yousafzais of Swat without any political options other than the moral authority exercised by its theocratic leaders. Abdul Ghafoor, locally known as Saidu Baba, was one such spiritual figure and it was on his recommendation that the first ruler, Syed Akbar Shah of Ghali Khay village, was selected. Subsequently the Akhund’s grandson Miangul Abdul Wadood, known as Badshah Sahib and recognised by the British, ascended to the throne as the Wali of Swat.

The mullah phenomenon that we now see in Swat is not entirely new to the area. A case in point is the uprising at the end of the 18th century led by Sartoor Faqir, called the ‘mad mullah’. But the British were astute administrators and countered the threat by taking care of the means and letting the end take care of itself. They not only recognised the new ruler but was also conferred a knighthood on Miangul Abdul Wadood (making him Sir Abdul Wadood) in recognition of his exceptional statesmanship that ensured an arms-free and peaceful Swat.

The Miangul dynasty, though founded on religious grounds, ensured that the state prospered on modern lines with foolproof law and order mechanisms. Its judicial system was fashioned according to local customs and traditions, or ‘Riwaj’, and the subjects ensured that all laws were observed and respected. In case of any violation the culprit was speedily brought to book.

The primary functions of the state were performed competently to protect the life and property of its citizens. This, coupled with the dispensation of speedy justice, created unprecedented economic dividends in the shape of a booming tourism industry. Boulevards, bridges, schools, dispensaries and lush playgrounds came to dot Swat’s landscape. Not only were religious seminaries built under state patronage but missionary schools were also constructed to ensure modern education for all.

There was absolute religious harmony and not a single incident occurred where any tourist felt insecure. Even Queen Elizabeth was impressed with the scale of development in the infant state whose economy was sustained wholly by tourism and forest resources.

The state was generous enough to gift the poorly equipped PAF a fighter named ‘Jehanzeb’ at the time of Pakistan’s independence. But July 28, 1969, when Swat was absorbed and fully integrated into Pakistan, marked a turning point in the area’s history. A supposedly theocratic state that was progressive and democratic, thereby ensuring economic prosperity, became a victim of superficial democratic dispensations that exploited the religious sentiments of the people for personal gain. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arguably the first to advocate Pan-Islamism, primarily to assume an international political stature with Saudi support. It was in 1977 that the Swatis, disillusioned with the new bureaucratic order, demanded the enforcement of Shariah for the first time.

General Ziaul Haq was another who made the people wait indefinitely for his brand of ‘Islamic’ rule of law that would ostensibly guarantee fair play and justice. All this while he flogged political opponents in the name of religion and served as the vanguard of a CIA-sponsored operation against the Soviet Union to prolong his rule. Subsequent democratic governments were extensions of their predecessors in one way or the other.

While political jugglery of the worst kind was de rigueur, Swat underwent systematic deterioration in all areas of its infrastructure. The roads began to disintegrate, the once leafy soccer grounds became deserted, deforestation set in and the emerald river was poisoned by effluent from unplanned hotels along its banks. Swat’s wildlife died out, and so did its art and culture. The corrupt judiciary dragged out day-to-day civil litigation over decades, contributing hugely to the emergence on the political canvas of the mullahs who eventually came to challenge the writ of the state.

Once a tourist haven, Swat today is a militant stronghold and at a virtual standstill. Confused residents are living under traumatic conditions, terrorised both by the mullahs and the military and braving indiscriminate shelling and daily curfews. The presence of some 20,000 army personnel sent to battle militancy in the area is unlikely to achieve lasting peace. The unplanned deployment, marked by operational flaws and an absence of clear objectives, has demoralised the troops who in some cases have surrendered to militants in the absence of logistical support. The subsequent use of excessive firepower, without any accounting for collateral damage or a proper rehabilitation plan for displaced residents, makes the shortcomings of the security ‘strategy’ all the more evident.

It appears that the most workable option would have been to empower residents to clear their own designated areas of militants. The security forces should have concentrated on eliminating militants in the inaccessible Peochar Valley through a simultaneous two-pronged ground assault from Dir and Matta. Unfortunately, the security forces continue to focus on all that is unnecessary, subjecting ordinary residents to the nuisance of checkpoints and hardship of prolonged curfews. All these measures will be counter-productive in the long run.

The extremism espoused by Maulana Sufi Muhammad and his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah may be one of the causes of the turmoil in Swat but it is not the sole reason. The incompetence displayed by the state machinery has contributed immensely to the present anarchy. Violence is likely to escalate further if the security forces continue to pursue the flawed strategy of securing areas without winning hearts.



For moving to Google page click here

Ajax (sometimes called Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a way of programming for the Web that gets rid of the hourglass. Data, content, and design are merged together into a seamless whole. When a client clicks on something on an Ajax driven application, there is very little lag time. The page simply displays what they're asking for. If you don't believe me, try out Google Maps for a few seconds. Scroll around and watch as the map updates almost before your eyes. There is very little lag and you don't have to wait for pages to refresh or reload.

Ajax is a way of developing Web applications that combines:

  • XHTML and CSS standards based presentation
  • Interaction with the page through the DOM
  • Data interchange with XML and XSLT
  • Asynchronous data retrieval with XMLHttpRequest
  • JavaScript to tie it all together

The Ajax engine works within the Web browser (through JavaScript and the DOM) to render the Web application and handle any requests that the customer might have of the Web server. The beauty of it is that because the Ajax engine is handling the requests, it can hold most information in the engine itself, while allowing the interaction with the application and the customer to happen asynchronously and independently of any interaction with the server.

What is Asynchronous? This is the key. In standard Web applications, the interaction between the customer and the server is synchronous. This means that one has to happen after the other. If a customer clicks a link, the request is sent to the server, which then sends the results back.

With Ajax, the JavaScript that is loaded when the page loads handles most of the basic tasks such as data validation and manipulation, as well as display rendering the Ajax engine handles without a trip to the server. At the same time that it is making display changes for the customer, it is sending data back and forth to the server. But the data transfer is not dependent upon actions of the customer.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cricket 2007-Test matches results

2007 - Test matches

For moving to Google page click here



















































New Zealand




















South Africa










Sri Lanka










West Indies










Urdu Poetry

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

tareek rahon main maray gaye!!

tere honton kay phholoon ki chahat main hum
daar ki khushk tehni pe waray gaye
tere hathon ki shamo`on ki hasrat main hum
Neem tareek rahon main maaray gaye
sooliyoun per hamaray labon say paray
terey honto ke lali lapakti rehi
teri zulfon ke masti barasti rehi
terey hathon ke chandi damakti rehi
jub ghuli teri rahoon may sham'e sitam
hmm chalay aaey laey jahan tuk qadam
lub pay hurf'e ghazal, dil may qindeel'e ghum
apna ghum tha gawahi terey husn ke
dekh qaim rehay iss gawahi pey hum
hum jo tareek rahon may maray gaey
narsai agar apni taqdeer thee, teri ulfat bhi to apni he tadbeer the
kiss ko shikwa hay gar shauq k silsilay
hijr ke qatalgahon say sub ja milay
qatal gahon say chun ker hamaray alam
aur niklain gay usshaq k qaflay
jin ke rah'e talab say hamaray qadm
mukhtasir ker chalay dard k faaslay
ker chalay jinn ke khatir jahan geer hum
jaan ganwa ker teri dilbari ka bharam

hum jo tareek rahon mai maray gaey.

Pakistan's Judicial History

PCO and its victim judges

By Justice Sajjad Ali Shah

OUR Constitution is the basic law of the country and is the fountainhead of all other laws, which are subordinate to and consistent with it. The oath of office is prescribed to important office-holders in the third schedule to the Constitution, and calls on them to preserve, defend, uphold and act according to the basic law.

Judges of the superior courts and officials of the armed forces also take the oath with an additional requirement for armed forces personnel — they are required to steer clear of political activities.

If the Constitution stands suspended, the oath of a judge remains intact because he acts according to law which includes a suspended Constitution, essentially an extraordinary situation. A judge, having taken oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), can declare both the suspension of the Constitution and the PCO illegal.

The country has seen constitutions abrogated in 1958 and 1969 and martial laws imposed. But the judicial system continued as it was, without any removal of judges. In 1971, after the war with India and the consequent fall of Dhaka, West Pakistan saw Zulfikar Ali Bhutto become president and the first civilian CMLA.

The martial law imposed in 1969 continued, with many government officers being dismissed and retired on grounds of misconduct, without a mandatory inquiry. However, some were retired following scrutiny of their record and in consultation with the chief justices of the high courts.

In 1977, General Ziaul Haq imposed martial law, suspending the Constitution instead of abrogating it as was done on two previous occasions. The Supreme Judicial Council was approached to investigate whether any judges in the high courts were selected for political reasons and, after an inquiry and the right of personal hearing, several were retired as political appointees.

As if this was not enough, the 1981 PCO was promulgated after the Supreme Court granted validation to the martial law, empowering the CMLA to amend the Constitution.

As a result, many judges were retired from the Supreme Court and the high courts without having their say. This PCO came after a delay of four years as the Supreme Court had granted conditional validation that required all orders and regulations passed by the regime to be subject to judicial review by superior courts. Hence, such orders were often challenged in the courts, much to the chagrin of the martial law authorities.

The martial law administration also wanted the courts cleared of non-cooperative, independent judges; hence a list from the federal ministry of law ensured that the selected ones were not invited to take oath.

In 1981, I was a judge in the Sindh High Court. The Chief Justice was instructed by the federal law secretary in Islamabad to meet the governor of Sindh, and he returned from the meeting to announce that two judges from the Sindh High Court, Abdul Hafeez Memon and G.M. Shah, would not be allowed to take oath. All other judges were asked to appear before the governor at 2 pm.

Some in the Sindh High Court argued that if all judges boycotted the oath-taking and bowed out, other pliant ones would replace them and therefore it was far wiser to fight from within. Meanwhile, events in other high courts were kept under wraps. After the oath, it transpired that countless judges had not been called and all those who declined to take the oath became heroes, garnering much admiration from members of the bar and the public.

In fact, despite attempts to conceal the events in the Supreme Court, certain proceedings did come to light. Chief Justice Maulvi Mushtaq of the Lahore High Court, who headed the bench of five judges and sentenced Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to death, had fallen out with President Zia.

Maulvi Mushtaq had been elevated to the Supreme Court but, although ready to take oath, he was not invited. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar-ul-Haq invited all the judges of the apex court to his chamber to discuss this matter and the fact that the PCO barred the jurisdiction of the courts.

The CJP began with the junior-most on the list, ad hoc Judge Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, who replied that although he was not party to the judgment in Nusrat Bhutto’s case, he had followed it and since the PCO curtailed the jurisdiction of the court and nullified the effect and object of the judgment, he would not take oath.

For similar reasons, Justice Dorab Patel also refrained but all other judges agreed and lastly the CJP declared that since he was the author of the judgment, he too would opt out.

The actual facts remain with the federal ministry of law but rumour has it that only Maulvi Mushtaq was not invited. If this is true then apart from Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, hats off to Dorab Patel who refused to become the CJP. It is worth a mention here that Dorab Patel, Mohammad Haleem and G. Safdar Shah had acquitted Mr Bhutto. It thus became clear that General Zia believed that under the PCO of 1981, he had the right to pick and choose judges favoured by the government and axe others.

On Oct 12, 1999 General Pervez Musharraf suspended the Constitution. Another PCO replaced the Constitution. One of the seven points in the speech the general gave shortly after taking over was his pledge to rebuild institutions. Interestingly, the Supreme Court came under attack again. Finally after a delay of three months, 15 judges were not given an oath under the PCO. These included five judges of the Supreme Court who chose to stay out.

However, General Pervez Musharraf has the unique distinction of imposing ‘martial law’ twice in the same tenure. On Nov 3, 2007 he imposed emergency-plus with the suspension of the Constitution and promulgated the PCO under which he sent home 13 out of 17 judges of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, and prevented about 50 judges of the high courts from taking oath.

This is how the entire judicial system was demolished to avoid a judgment from the apex court that restricted Musharraf from holding dual office — that of the army chief and the president’s — and denied him eligibility in the elections if he chose to stay in uniform. President Musharraf succeeded in obtaining an interim order to proceed with the polls. Apprehending a judgment against him, the president introduced the PCO to turn the judiciary around and the new Supreme Court issued a judgment in his favour on the basis of the law of necessity.

It is surprising how the western powers have been able to digest this unconstitutional and malafide action of dismantling the judiciary, an essential pillar of democracy. How this issue has been sidelined in favour of the elections is amazing. If the elections are held, President Musharraf may have a hung parliament of his choice and the issue of restoration of judges will certainly recede into oblivion.

The writer is a former Chief Justice of Pakisan.

Friday, January 4, 2008

How to iterate hash table in java

To print all the elements of a hash table is not simple task, here is a sample code to help you in this regard

import java.util.Hashtable;
import java.util.Enumeration;

// create a new Hashtable
Hashtable h = new Hashtable( );

// add some key/value pairs to the Hashtable
h.put( "LA" , "Lahore" );
h.put( "KR" , "Karachi" );
h.put( "MN" , "Multan" );
h.put( "SDK" , "SADIQABAD" );

// enumerate all the contents of the hashtable
Enumeration keys = h.keys();
while ( keys.hasMoreElements() )
key = (String)keys.nextElement();
stateName = (String)h.get( key );
System.out.println( key + " " + stateName );
// prints lines of the form LA Lahore
// in effectively random order.
} // end while


Another political watershed

By Ayesha Siddiqa

THE PPP is back on the road again to fight its political battle. While the steering wheel has been passed on to Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son Bilawal, Asif Zardari will be the actual driver. The decision will not be welcomed by all. The PPP will most certainly be criticised for being a dynastic party.

The foreigners, the educated middle class and the military’s covert propagandists will berate the murdered Bhutto and her party for concentrating power in her family’s hand. After all, progressive and liberal political parties do not do this. But then this is pragmatic politics and about the survival of a party which the evil forces in the country damaged severely by killing its leader.

I just read an offensive letter circulated to most writers by a fictitious character employed to propagate the myth of the military being the only worthwhile institution in the country. I would like to agree with the ghostwriter. In fact I would like to add that the PPP, which was the only remaining civilian institution representing the politics of federalism in Pakistan, has also been killed which leaves ample space for just one institution.

The symbolic significance of another dead body flown to Sindh from Rawalpindi does not bode well for relations amongst the federating units, especially the smaller apropos the one large province. Moreover, the PPP was one of the rare civilian institutions which connected the federating units and held them together. There was truth in the slogan ‘Saray soobon ki zanjeer — Benazir, Benazir” (the link between all provinces — Benazir, Benazir). Now we have just the military. Perhaps we are fated to remain with only one institution.

Is it then a foregone conclusion that the PPP is no more? Many believed even in 1979 that the party would die after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s assassination. The appointment of Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal is designed to keep the party alive. The educated classes might not understand how important are emotional symbols in Pakistan’s politics. Personal charisma is central to the game of politics. If you can’t excite people then it doesn’t work for you.

Many years ago I remember a personal conversation with Aitzaz Ahsan about playing a more active role in the PPP’s politics and about the possibility of challenging Bhutto’s dominance of the party. His answer was that the PPP worker commonly known as the jiyala only recognises the sacrifices of the Bhutto family or his own. No other person has the personal charisma to take over control of the PPP.

I remember another conversation with an Indian friend about the possibility of Rahul Gandhi, who is deemed intellectually less sharp than other youngsters in the party, taking over the Congress. Despite all what we believe about Indian politics I was informed that it would not take a lot for Rahul Gandhi to lead the party. For the common person it is not how smart you are but whether you have the personal charisma which the Gandhi name carries.

The PPP’s decision is about the politics of personal and familial charisma which its other leaders do not possess. There is no one to fill Benazir’s shoes. It is true that lately Aitzaz has built an impressive image but one wonders if he can carry this beyond the educated to the illiterate crowds and across the ethnic divide. The Bhutto name still works because of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s political legacy and personal charisma.

He was the man who for the first time in the country’s history convinced the masses that the world was about them. Furthermore his ability to come down to the level of the people and speak their language and inspire them was something totally new. He was truly the only charismatic leader. Bhutto even surpassed Jinnah who was not personally magnetic but had a charismatic cause.

So one understands Asif Zardari’s decision to appoint Bilawal as the party’s chairman. However, the boy is 19 and deserves political and social grooming to actually play the role he has been assigned. The six years in which he will educate himself, followed by years when he will have to acquaint himself with Pakistan, must be spent reorienting the party and providing it with a charismatic ideology.

The fact is that the PPP faces the major challenge of keeping itself intact. The forces which killed Bhutto will also find an opportunity to exploit the difference of opinion amongst its leaders and between leaders and party workers. After all the PPP no longer has Benazir whose commanding voice could silence difference of opinion and make all decisions appear unanimous. Under the circumstances, the best option is to adopt two approaches. First, the party must become inclusive and recruit leadership for the future. This could include other members of the Bhutto family such as the young Fatima and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Junior who could be seen sharing his duties during the burial of his aunt.

Second, the party leadership must revive some radicalism in the party ideology. Asif Zardari’s present posture is indeed understandable. His first priority is survival of the party and keeping it relevant nationally. However, he must get rid of the conservatism which had crept into the party. The PPP’s election manifesto, which almost seems to have been developed in the offices of the Asian Development Bank or other multilateral NGOs, is one example of this conservatism.

Surely Mr Zardari realises that the evil forces within Pakistan’s establishment might let him build and enjoy some power, but they will not let the PPP survive unless he can connect with the masses. The politics of pragmatism that every single person will talk to him about or educate young Bilawal in is good but it didn’t help Benazir Bhutto save her own life. The evil elements were not keen to see her party survive.

I remember talking to a prominent PML-Q leader a couple of months before Bhutto’s murder. The gentleman insisted that the era of Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif was over. Perhaps what he didn’t tell me was that they had planned to terminate Bhutto’s era because she was not listening. She was the leader of a popular party and could not be expected to compromise beyond a certain point. This would threaten the new state which the powerful forces of the establishment have built. So it made better sense to get rid of Benazir.

Asif Zardari is a survivor and has learnt the ropes of politics during his years in jail. But this also means that he might instinctively over-concentrate on the game of survival. The party intellectuals will teach him about pragmatism. But being ideologically barren is the least pragmatic thing. He has already filled the board of advisers with conservative members representing the landed-feudal-cum-industrialist. He must bring the more honest and ideologically motivated people on board as Bilawal’s trainers and party advisers.

The Bhutto name is important but it might not necessarily help Bilawal when he returns to Pakistan after six years to start his life as a Pakistani politician. More than the Bhutto-Zardari son, this traumatised country needs a political party which can heal the bleeding wounds. Mr Zardari, let it be the PPP once again.

The writer is an independent analyst and author of the book Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

BTALD: Compliments of...

So it's a New Year, when we're supposed to get all Big-Picture and try and resolve to do things differently. Or, boycott the process because we think it's dumb. Whichever you prefer.
If you don't have any particular resolutions, or can't think of any, I'd like to propose one: Pay more compliments.
You can make a person's whole week just by saying something nice to them. I know that when I get an email from a reader saying a cartoon made them laugh or they put it up in their office or sent it to a friend, that makes my whole career worthwhile. Seriously.
It's a really big deal for people to feel like they are seen. We do so much seeing of celebrities and lifestyles and reality TV and cheap plastic junk and... and...
What really makes a difference to a person is to BE seen.
And if you pay someone a compliment, it means you saw them and you noticed them.
So, that may not be a big ol' resolution like losing 50 pounds or traveling somewhere or whatever, but then if you did those things it would all be so worth it if someone complimented YOU on your tan, or how slim you are... see?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Sham university reforms

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

GEN Pervez Musharraf’s regime boasts of its successes in science and education at home and abroad. Recently I saw Pakistan’s successes trumpeted by a large official delegation headed by Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), at a conference in Trieste, Italy.

They came to address a special session on science development in Pakistan — the only country that had requested and paid for such special treatment at the conference. Those who did not know about the state of science in Pakistan were amazed by the claims made. Those who knew better were stunned by the flood of self-serving lies, half-truths and deceit.

The claims made were several. A 300 per cent jump in research publications shows that academic activity in Pakistan has vastly increased; nine new engineering universities with European teaching faculty will soon be established; the 3,000 Pakistani students sent overseas for higher degrees will revolutionise the university system upon return; PhDs produced annually from Pakistani universities will soon approach the spectacular figure of 1,500; mathematics is now a strong discipline in Pakistan; and so forth.

The truth is very different. Even though spending on higher education has increased 15 times over the last five years, the improvements have been cosmetic. Genuine science in Pakistan has actually shrunk, not grown, over the last three decades. The trend has not been reversed. Euphoric claims notwithstanding, public university education in Pakistan remains miserably backward by international standards. Its real problems are yet to be touched.

Take the HEC’s first claim: the three-fold increase in Pakistani academic publications. Fantastically large per-paper monetary rewards to university teachers — a practice not adopted anywhere else in the world for excellent reasons — have indeed boosted publication rates. But publishing more papers is not the same as doing more research. Instead, the high rewards have caused an explosion of plagiarism, theft of intellectual property, publication of trivial results and falsified data, and publication of slightly different versions of the same paper in different journals. Most published papers are worthless academically and scientifically.

The reader can readily verify the last point. All that is needed is a computer and an Internet connection. Simply type into your browser, and then the name of any individual scientist or scholar you want. (Academic databases even more comprehensive than Google are available but not free.) A list of publications of that person, together with a count of the number of times his/her papers have been cited by other scholars, will be displayed. Remember that a piece of scientific work is important only if it is useful to other scientists, or to industry in the form of patents that lead to new products (a separate database exists for that). So, in a matter of seconds, one can see which individuals are considered important by the world of science and academia.

The results of such database searches are eye-opening. A majority of papers by Pakistani authors, even if published in international journals by hook or crook, have exactly zero citations (once self-citations are removed). Such papers have contributed nothing. They may just as well have not been written. The average number of citations per Pakistani paper is 3.41 (includes self-citation), which is much below that in scientifically advanced countries.

Still more shocking is the citation record of some of Pakistan’s most well-advertised scientists, whose relentless self-promotion at government expense would be considered a crime in another country. While they have hundreds of papers and books to their credit, most of these have zero citations. Others in their field seem to have scarcely noticed any of their work. On the other hand, the reader can check that about 25-30 other Pakistani scientists, who are unadvertised and relatively unknown, have a far better citation record and a moderately good international standing in their respective fields.

Now for the HEC’s nine Pak-European universities project. This is a stunning disaster. The most advanced university (in terms of construction and planning) was the French engineering university in Karachi. Named UESTP-France, with a completion cost of Rs26bn, it was to have begun functioning in October 2007. There is still no official explanation for why this did not happen, no new date has been set, and no account given of the money already spent.

On the face of it, making Pak-European universities sounds like a wonderful idea. Pakistan would pay for France, Sweden, Italy and some other European countries to help set up, manage and provide professors for new universities in Pakistan. It would be expensive — Pakistan would have to pay the full development costs, recurrent expenses, and euro-level salaries (plus 40 per cent markup) for all the foreign professors and vice-chancellors. But it would still be worth it because the large presence of European professors teaching in these Pakistani universities would ensure good teaching. High-standard degrees would subsequently be awarded by institutions in the respective European countries.

Even common sense said that the project could not work. Perhaps one can persuade beefy mercenaries of the French Foreign Legion to go to some country where suicide bombings happen daily and killing of ordinary citizens by terrorists is routine. But it takes an enormous leap of faith to think that respectable academics from France — or any other European country for that matter — will want to live and teach in Pakistan for a year or more. Travel advisories issued by several European governments warn against even brief visits. That the French professors did not turn up at UESTP-France is scarcely surprising. But, lost to their mad fantasies, HEC planners are now working on the vain assumption that the Germans and Swedes are made of sterner stuff than the French.

A wiser leadership would have aimed for one properly planned new engineering university, set up under the European Union. It would have sought external help for adding engineering departments to existing universities, as well as to massively upgrade existing ones. But these relatively modest goals are unacceptable to the present HEC leadership that believes, like the Musharraf regime as a whole, in grand plans rather than practical, feasible reforms.

Showing the hollowness of the other official claims of progress would take more space than available here. Slick PowerPoint presentations by HEC officials throw one figure after another at dizzying speed giving the impression of fantastic progress. But the intelligent listener must ask many questions: does it make sense to select thousands of students on the basis of a substandard high-school level numeracy and literacy test, and then send them for an expensive graduate-level education in Europe? Will the quality of Pakistani graduates not be further degraded by pushing PhD production far beyond the capability of the present universities?

It is time to end the fetish of buying tons of expensive scientific equipment that, at the end of it all, produce only zero-citation papers and zero patents. Curiously, after a bunch of projects were exposed as phoney, the HEC broke with its past practice and now no longer puts on its website details of HEC-funded projects. It is also time to stop HEC officials and HEC delegates from gallivanting across the globe at public expense on the vaguest of excuses for ‘fact-finding’ missions and conferences.

There must be an independent investigation of the HEC’s plans and financing, a review of its programmes and a full audit of accounts. The inquiry should be jointly done by the future government through the PAC and NAB, assisted by a citizen’s committee. Individual whims and personal ambitions must be checked to protect the national interest. Pakistan is a poor country although, looking at the HEC’s spending patterns, one would conclude the opposite.

In my next article, I shall argue that there are far better uses for the enormous funding that is now available for higher education.

The writer teaches physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

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