Manzoor Returns For Another Blog Post

I am very delighted to have the opportunity to again blog about a person who continues to make for smiles.

Manzoor, is a friend from Pakistan. He, along with Ferit from Turkey, years back discovered at our dinner table how some of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are served and tasted. They both were in Madison at the time and studying as international students. That meal, and the conversation that evening, is a continuing reason to smile.  

Today I post a video of Meher Zadi, Manzoor’s wife, while in an orchard in Hunza Valley which is laden with summer fruits such and Hunza apricots, different wild berries like feltz, figs, and a variety of Hunza apples. A morning walk to the garden or nearest orchard offers a healthy breakfast with breathtaking views.

Zadi has a web site that deals with cooking in the Hunza Province of Pakistan.

Manzoor Gets Vaccinated In Pakistan

I am constantly reminding people to get their vaccines so to fight the COVID pandemic. Be it from our front yard when chatting with those who pass our way—though thankfully most everybody here is vaccinated–to encouraging complete strangers around the globe when paying a bill to get the shots.

This past week I had a question about my bill for Sirius radio and following the payment, I chatted with the woman for a couple of minutes. I could tell she was from abroad, and so asked where she lived.

“In the Philippines”.

I asked if she had taken a vaccine for the virus, and I could tell she was hesitant to know why I would ask, so I quickly added it was my hope that people around the globe would have access to the shots and be better able to fend off the virus. It was then she opened up and we had a quick and meaningful chat.

She talked of living in a small village where there are no shots for anyone, and how working from home has been “a blessing” as she has an older parent living with her, and trying to protect her from getting sick.

I told her of my desire to see our nation to be more robust with distributing shots worldwide. I wished her to remain safe and to seek out the vaccine when it reached her area. She then concluded the phone call with the following words.

“God bless you”.

At about the same time as that call was taking place James and I received a note from Manzoor, a friend from Pakistan. He, along with Ferit from Turkey, years back discovered at our dinner table how some of the traditional Thanksgiving foods are served and tasted. They both were in Madison at the time and studying as international students. That meal, and the conversation that evening, is a continuing reason to smile.  

The best part of his recent note was news of being vaccinated.

The weather must be nice in Madison these days. We experienced extremely hot weather last week but now it’s cooled down after a couple of heavy rains. 

I had my first shot of the Sinovac vaccine, perhaps a Chinese manufactured one and the second is due on the 27th of this month. But overall things are all fine here as compared to other countries in the world. People generally are very well aware and follow all SOPs. The infection and death ratio is reducing day by day. 

But despite all this scenario, anxious travelers care more about exploring the world. Our business did not suffer much and we had some business activity to survive. Last month, we entertained some international travelers including Americans. This boosted our confidence and now we see the good days returning. 

In a previous note in 2020 he wrote the following.

I feel so very sorry about the loss of lives in the US. This is a very difficult time indeed for many families. No one might have anticipated about the pandemic and that the entire world would shut down. I think we should all take it positive and should learn from this time at least to prepare ourselves for any situation and to look after the needy fellows. 

As such, I was very pleased to hear this news since for the general population in Pakistan there has long been a struggle with disinformation about vaccines that have been proven safe and effective. But we also know that problem plagues too many–and a growing segment at that–of the American population.

I am heartened that their government has set a goal of vaccinating between 45 million and 65 million people by the end of this year, and Pakistan recently announced plans to spend $1.1 billion to procure doses. With about 2% of their population now vaccinated, they have a long road ahead.

But I am super pleased that Manzoor is one of the citizens who is leading the way and proving why it matters to care for the greater good by getting vaccine shots.

International Students Remain In Our Lives, Manzoor From Pakistan Writes

I have posted from time to time about not only the importance of international students coming to our state and country for diplomatic and educational reasons but also about the personal connections we made with truly engaging people from around the world.

So it comes as no surprise that we were pleased for an update from Manzoor, a friend in Pakistan who wrote a note and sent some photos.   The same kindness and intelligence I knew from his time in our home continue to shine through in the following letter.  It is with these connections that we share lives at great distances, but more importantly, recognize how much we are all the same no matter where we call home.2

I am excited that Gregory and you are doing well. I can understand that now we are not as independent as we used to be. Things have changed altogether all around the world but let’s hope that the hard times will over soon so that we could at least be able to meet friends and family openly and enjoy some travel.

I feel so very sorry about the loss of lives in the US. This is a very difficult time indeed for many families. No one might have anticipated about the pandemic and that the entire world would shut down. I think we should all take it positive and should learn from this time at least to prepare ourselves for any situation and to look after the needy fellows. 

4

Here in Pakistan, the death toll is not as high as in some other parts of the world but because of layoffs, people have suffered badly. The United States with its strong economy supports the companies and individuals to ensure the basic needs. We have a fragile economy but our prime minister is still trying hard to ensure possible support to organizations and families in dire need by providing some financial assistance.

My company has laid off 53% of employees so far and if it still gets worse, another phase of lay off will be considered. I have been retained so far.  

1

Our offices were closed since March 20 and I was planning to rush to Hunza. But one of my brothers suffering from kidney infection came here for a treatment and I had to stay back for one month. Meher and I spent about a month and half in Hunza, enjoyed the weather, fresh fruits, and family gatherings, and of course our video projects. She has already uploaded the video we made on a local bread made of some medicinal herbs.

I hope you will like it. We had plans to do more videos but she was called to report in her office and we had to rush. However, we are now planning to go back in August to complete other projects. 

Stay safe.

Manzoor

 

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Polio In Pakistan Due To Bizzare Taliban

Most of us agree that advanced science has proved to be most beneficial.   Which is why the news from Pakistan that polio is on the spread, and needlessly so, is so distressing.

Tens of thousands of children who have not been immunized against polio are leaving that region of Pakistan where the government is conducting a military offensive to rid it of Taliban militants.  The reason for the rise in polio in Pakistan is one of the most bizarre scenarios that anyone can imagine.

The Pakistani Taliban started a ban on immunizations for polio two years ago in response to U.S. drone strikes.  In June 2012, Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur released a statement that said vaccines “would be banned in North Waziristan until the drones strikes are stopped.”  He added that drone strikes “are worse than polio.”

One might argue from that news we needed at least one more drone strike to remove the one who made such a dreadful decision!

Due to this immunization ban Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is still endemic.  In fact, more cases of the virus were reported there than in any other country.

One doctor in a news story estimated more than 100,00o children from the area where the military operation is now underway has not been vaccinated.

 

 

Washingtonian Tells The Final Story of Danny Pearl

Danny-paper

This is one of those posts that only will attract a few readers, but should be read by far more.

I recall exactly where I was when hearing the news that Danny Pearl was dead.  I was seated at the dinner table with my folks in Hancock, Wisconsin and the television news was on in another room.  The reporter made it known that Danny Pearl, one of the reporters who felt it important to head to the source of a story, in his case to report from Pakistan about America’s so-called war on terror, had been killed.

Reporters are too often maligned for the work they do, and not given the respect they deserve for the work they do to inform and educate.  Some, as the case with Danny Pearl, even die as a result of covering the stories we need to know about.

Washingtonian has simply one of those reads that will make you think, cry, and wonder what if as it tells the final story of Danny Pearl. 

Pakistan Endorsed Drone Program In Private, Raged About It In Public

The fake outrage is hard to stomach from Pakistan when it comes to the drone campaign aimed at dealing with terrorists.

For the record I feel the drone campaign, for the most part, provides success by eliminating a terrorist element.  It pains everyone when a drone strike goes astray, and kills or injures others not meant to be targeted.  But drone strikes have proven effective in many cases at removing the target, and thereby making a region safer.    Drone strikes are cost effective, and do not require placing other assets into an area where a strike is to occur.  There are plenty of issues to be discussed that surround these strikes in terms of international law but at the end of the day it is necessary to view the real world we live in, and meet the dangers that do exist head on.  As such, I have come to see drone strikes as one way to deal with that reality.

And that is why the news printed in the Washington Post galls me.

Despite repeatedly denouncing the CIA’s drone campaign, top officials in Pakistan’s government have for years secretly endorsed the program and routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts, according to top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pakistan’s tacit approval of the drone program has been one of the more poorly kept national security secrets in Washington and Islamabad. During the early years of the campaign, the CIA even used Pakistani airstrips for its Predator fleet.

But the files expose the explicit nature of a secret arrangement struck between the two countries at a time when neither was willing to publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone program. The documents detailed at least 65 strikes in Pakistan and were described as “talking points” for CIA briefings, which occurred with such regularity that they became a matter of diplomatic routine. The documents are marked “top ­secret” but cleared for release to Pakistan.

A CIA spokesman declined to discuss the documents but did not dispute their authenticity.

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, the spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, said his government does not comment on media reports that rely on unnamed sources. But Chaudhry added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who took office in June, has been adamant that “the drone strikes must stop.”

Pakistan And Islamic Preacher Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri

If this were the start of a novel it would surely mean a long night of exciting page-turning.

But instead this is a real life situation that threatens the stability of Pakistan.  We need to be mindful of what is happening.

An enigmatic preacher is camped before the gates of Parliament with thousands of followers, demanding the government’s immediate ouster. The top court on Tuesday suddenly ordered the arrest of the prime minister. Violence is surging, with militants stepping up deadly attacks against both government forces and religious minorities. And relations with India have dipped, after ill-tempered border skirmishes in which soldiers on both sides were killed.

The preacher sounds in many ways like the modern day teabagger in America.  But, I repeat, this is no laughing matter.

The chief catalyst of this jolting change comes in the form of a 61-year-old preacher, Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, who catapulted himself into the political limelight less than a month ago, and now finds himself issuing ultimatums to Mr. Zardari from inside a bulletproof container within view of the soaring presidential residence.       

A giant rally in Lahore last month signaled the start of Mr. Qadri’s assault on Pakistan’s political classes, which he derides as incompetent and irredeemably corrupt — a resonant message in a country of high unemployment and crippling electricity shortages. He drove home his message with an intensive television advertising campaign, paid for with generous amounts of money, the origins of which he has not fully explained.       

On Monday evening, he stepped up the attack, leading tens of thousands of followers into the heart of Islamabad, where he renewed demands that Mr. Zardari resign immediately. The crowd fell short of the promised “million-man march,” but was enough to spook the government: by Tuesday morning, he had pushed forward to a square in front of the Parliament.       

“There is no Parliament; there is a group of looters, thieves and dacoits” — bandits — he said in a thundering voice, pointing to the building behind him. “Our lawmakers are the lawbreakers.”

Large Porn Stash Found At Osama Bin Laden Compound

What does one do when not planning jihad?

The pornography recovered in bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive, according to the officials, who discussed the discovery with Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The officials said they were not yet sure precisely where in the compound the pornography was discovered or who had been viewing it. Specifically, the officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.