Uraan – ‘A Burning Desire’

The engagement of an individual with a purpose bigger than what is taught in schools and universities is a tedious task. Purpose – The word, most unflinchingly demands a seriousness that seldom the youth at large, can fathom. I see it almost as a journey. Uraan set out a task that we feel must be carried out whether or not we achieve our own fashionable careers, and within the resources we have today. It was a drive against the odds; against the current. And it still is.

We asked ourselves some questions: Do we have to wait for ourselves to carry a heavy salary before we can engage in social causes? Do we have to make sure our families are well taken care of before we can imagine raising our voice for what the Nation needs today? Should we make sure we avoid sacrificing anything in our effort for social help? The answer to all of these was “No”.

Uraan began as a simple analysis of our social predicament. After we expressed that successfully through posters and simple phrases on t-shirts, and reveled in the achievement of actually launching ourselves – we realized we had opened a door. A door we entered and found ourselves to be in a very dark room.

The dark room is the confusion. Ahmed Ilyas, our team member says, “Zohaib, confusion is the biggest enemy of our times.” I wish I could prove otherwise. Ever since our inception we have chaotically addressed the issue of launching a tangible direction – and it becomes a question of principle. To explain this I will give the example that one of our mentors, Mr. Faisal Qureishi gives, “Do you want to pick the garbage from the streets or make sure it doesn’t come back?” Obviously the sustainable solution is to make sure it doesn’t come back. Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult option, an option of life-long commitment, of sacrifice and vulnerability. Consequently, I see URAAN as the desire to make this difficult choice; and to make it every day.

But not everyone can do that. It is not the most ‘practical’ solution anyway. The practical solution is to do social work. And to a great degree, it is of great use. Sabahat Saqib, one of our founding members, explains, “Why is anyone going to listen to you if you haven’t a project to your name?” Tehmina Mansoor, another founding member and Amna Mahmood Khan, our chief coordinator, agree with her. I agree as well. But I can’t help to think, why do badges of social work give merit to a word spoken of enlightened thinking? Would people only listen to Molana Edhi for Children’s Right and Protection in Pakistan? Doesn’t every parent have the place to stand up for children’s right? I have yet to learn who the government will listen to, if at all.

Rana Asif Habib, who runs ‘Initiator Human Development Foundation’ and has also been a mentor to us, presented the idea that political activism and advocacy are the responsibility of civil society and must be exercised if we imagine that a democratic system should function. And I agree with him. How can our Leaders, who travel the streets without experiencing the Reality of Beggary, be moved to alleviate it? We must march the streets with hoards of people to demonstrate the need for the implementation of the National Child Protection Bill. And on April 1, we marched with about 75 students of Szabist University for this cause. It felt great! Not because I was sure the government heard us, but because the zeal in the youth is astounding!

Mr. Sami Mustafa, a figure of national stature also lended us a critique. He blasted us and threw us in disarray! His premise was that advocacy is a redundant direction, and in contrast, action groups form the greatest change in society. The question is, “Who are our Nation Builders?” That is the gauge to measure any work and effort. If you change lives directly and immediately you are on the right track. And I agree with him. The track record of advocacy groups is contemptible. How many streets will it take, for me to march, until I can convince the government to ratify a law? And what if it is done? Will the lives of street children change? Faisal Qureishi says: “No!”

If we need to bring change, it needs to happen in the nation’s “mindset”. There are innumerable laws for social benefit, but do the masses of people respect them or follow them? The Nation is the first to express contempt for the country and its systems and it is, ironically, the last to uphold its own responsibility. This is not an assumption that I am making. You merely need to drive on the roads to realize this fact. Hardly anyone follows traffic laws today or respects traffic constables. Hence, our nation is not working in coherence with what is good for itself.

The people of our nation are at war with their own selves. URAAN is hence, a simple equation – ‘we are a burning desire to change the mindset of people: the leaders and the masses – to work for societal benefit over self-interest.’ A gargantuan objective and a feeble beginning. We are a long way from accomplishing our task.

But the decisive reality that haunts this nation is this: that a revolution will take place in the country. And it is without any doubt that I express to my readers that it will come. Just read the news for another 25 years and you will measure the change because people like me and organizations like URAAN are spreading like wild fire. We have had enough of this cruelty and corruption. We are the promise of the future and against all odds, URAAN will elevate this nation.

Our current projects under way are the filming of short films and advertisements directed for social change. We are also designing new t-shirts to spread into the market, the profits of which will go into the running of the organization and social work. Our updates can be followed on our website www.uraan.org and also on Facebook.

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The people of our nation are at war with their own selves. URAAN is hence, a simple equation – ‘we are a burning desire to change the mindset of people: the leaders and the masses – to work for societal benefit over self-interest.’ A gargantuan objective and a feeble beginning. We are a long way from accomplishing our task.

    Author Information

    Zohaib Zuby is Director of 'Uraan' and the Deputy Convener for the Movement for Child Protection and Welfare. He is a practicing architect working in the firm DazDesign. He is an artist and a writer, and has a passion for teaching youth to think critically and impartially. He also teaches General Paper to A'level students. He can reached at zohaib.zuby@gmail.com

    One Response to “Uraan – ‘A Burning Desire’”

    1. nagin #

      Zohaib,very heartening to see your fervour. May you get what you want for Pakistan, all the best :)

      May 29, 2010 at 3:28 am Reply

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