off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid



“A Frightening Dream” 


Pakistan Film industry in the past has produced some marvelous films which not only provided entertainment but also had a message. The story writers, poets who wrote film songs and dialogue were also men of exceptional talent who were blessed by God almighty with numerous qualities. One such film in the 70s “ZARQA” was produced by producer Riaz Shahid. It was a revolutionary film which depicted the atrocities being committed by the Jewish State on Palestinians. The Characters played by Neelo (Mrs. Riaz Shahid) and Agha Talish (Major David) had made them immortals and legends in their lifetime. I still remember I saw this film forty six times. One of the songs in the later part of the Film was so popular that I used to see this Film just to see that song. Hence, after getting up from office on way to home I will buy a ticket and enter the Regal Cinema in Sadder, Karachi where this film was screened for many months. Since that particular song comes after almost one and a half hour once the film starts, I never missed that song. In this song Talish strips Neelo time and again who is carrying some heavy weight on her shoulders and chained, whenever she got beaten up by Major David with a strip, she cries “Allah” and then the song sung by Mehdi Hassan starts and Neelo also starts walking slowly with the whole body in chains. One of the famous couplets of this song is as under:


 On July 27th as I went to bed, I suddenly recalled that film and the song and then started recalling the whole story of the film. As I went to sleep the story of the film still revolved in my mind as if I was not sleeping. People of Palestine are still struggling for freedom and a country of their own which they can call their motherland and live there in peace with freedom. While the film scene and the famous song was going through my mind, I also recalled the story which my parents, my late mother in particular used to share with us when our parents with their other family members migrated from East Punjab to Lahore in West Punjab so that they will live in a Muslim independent country with honour and dignity. Almost 80% of our family members were slaughtered on way to Lahore, another 5% died in Refugee camps due to cholera and other diseases. Only a few survived. Hence we know the real value of this country. Once in Pakistan, they faced very difficult times and settlement was a very challenging task which one does not wish to recall as it is very painful. Then I also started recalling my childhood, my early school days, attempts to enter a college, coming over to Karachi, starting a job while continuing my education in the evening shift first at Islamia College and then at S.M. Commerce College eventually to earn my B.Com degree from University of Karachi.

The first three months which I spent in a “Pan Cigarette” Khokha in Mahmood Abad at a rent of Rs. 30/- per month and later rented a roadside shop nearby at Mahmood Abad No. 2 at a monthly rent of Rs. 50/- Then how I started my professional love affair with medical journalism, became a founder member of the first Medical Newspaper published from Pakistan “Medical News”, then resigned from there in 1978 to start my own medical newspaper, “Doctor International” later renamed as “Pulse International” then adding another publication a scientific journal “Specialist” which was also later renamed as “Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences” and how all this progressed. While all this was passing just like a film in front of my eyes during fast asleep, I suddenly saw the election process under way. Someone was shouting at a voter saying “Do you think you can make or change a Government by vote. Your job finishes after voting. Who has to form the Government and rule this country will be decided by those who count the vote and announce the results”. This scene was so frightening that I suddenly woke up with the Azan-e-Fajar. Moazzan was reciting “Heeya Allasula, Heeya Allasula” come to offer prayer. I tried to get up but soon realized as if my whole body was not accepting what I was saying. Despite lot of efforts I just could not get up. It gave me an impression as if I had suffered a massive stroke and my whole lower parts of the body had been completely paralyzed and refused to move. It was with great struggle after almost couple of minutes that I felt as if some electric current had passed into my body and I regained the strength. I slowly and gradually tried to get up and finally succeeded but my whole body was just lifeless as if someone has beaten me up. I waited for next ten minutes before going to the wash room, did Wazu and went to the mosque to offer Fajar prayers. After the prayers, Maulvi Sahib in Duae said, “Muslims should never lose hope. It is a crime to feel helplessness. Struggle should continue, better days will come. We got freedom from English but were made slaves by those who followed to rule. Day will come when we will have real democracy in the country, it will be made an Islamic Social Welfare State where everyone will get justice and fair playing field. People will live in peace with respect and dignity” But this was such a frightening dream that I could not fully recover for almost a week, could not concentrate in my thoughts. The tragic scene of trains full of refugees coming from Indian Punjab was still in front of my eyes. There were people all over the train, hundreds of them sitting on the roof top and they had taken all this risk to enter an independent Muslim State Paksitan which was going to emerge on the world map on August 14th 1947.

I being an optimist never lose hope and still believe better days will come. Hence, went to office and became busy in my usual office routine.

Tail Piece: Elections 2018 held on July 25th were one of the most controversial elections in the history of Pakistan wherein the Election Commission of Pakistan failed to control the situation after 6.00 PM. After having seen what happened from 6.00 PM on ward on July 25th during the counting of votes till the announcement of results, I do not think many people would like to vote in the next election.

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