The Alchemist (1)

“In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.”

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Impact Of Nationalization On BECO And Pakistan Economic Development

There had been many times in Pakistan’s history when stupid decisions were taken by the government. Nationalization in Bhutto’s era was one of those decisions. 22 Families lost everything that they had worked  for all their lives. BECO (Batala Engineering Company) is one such example.

Late Chaudhry Mohammad Latif was the founder and chairman of the Batala Engineering Company (BECO). After attending a meeting of leading Muslims in Batala, who wanted to establish Muslim industries in the face of Hindu dominance of retail, that he struck upon the idea of forming BECO.The company was established in 1932. , He sold its first 10 shares to a lime merchant for Rs 10. In the early years, he worked almost single-handedly to build up the company from its first workshop in two rooms and a veranda. Over the course of the next forty years, and in spite of losing much of his business when he migrated to Pakistan at Partition, he built BECO into a stalwart of the engineering industry in Pakistan. when the migration took place and all the muslims came to Pakistan. BECO donated a very large amount of its money to the govt of  Pakistan, so the institutions could start functioning.

At its peak BECO employed 6,000 workers producing tools and engines that drove forward Pakistan’s fledgling economy. A model of Pakistani industry and the pride of Pakistan, BECO was a regular stop by visiting foreign dignitaries

Board of Directors (Lto R)

Chaudry Abdul Karim, Arif Latif, CM Latif, Khan Abdul Rehman , HMS Chaudri

Visit by Chinese Prime minister Chou En Lai. He was so impressed by BECO that he vowed to send Chinese engineers there for training.

Visit by Syrian Head Of State

King of Thailand on a visit to BECO during his state visit to Pakistan. Mr. Latif showing him a diesel engine coupled with pump. In those days all visiting head of states were shown BECO as a national asset

Mr. Latif with his team showing slow speed diesel engine parts to visiting dignitries. A lot of these were sent to East Pakistan to drain out water and produce power.
In background is Mr. Schneider BECO’s German works manager and Chief Engineer.

Mr. Latif with visiting KSB pumps director from Germany. BECO produced pumps in collaboration with KSB pumps with Siemens electrical motors in the BECO Kot Lakhpat factory

Visit by Pakistan’s Prime Minister

Being an Engineer Mr. Latif always believed in making progress in development of ideas and technology. In an interview couple of years back he said “I believe in creating money and not in making money.” “We can create money by employing more people and by expanding our business. Money, as such, should have no attraction for any reasonable person. What should really move us is the task of adding to our national wealth.”

Mr. Latif was a man of great genius and dedication . He brought BECO to teh heights of glory. Beco was ahead of its time in terms of technology.

Concrete Mixers

With his team of Japanese engineers

Machine tool division with lathe machines.

Testing the gates for barrages and canals

Machine tools division.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over power on December 21, 1971 and on January 1, 1972 his government promulgated the Nationalization and Economic Reforms Order nationalizing 31 key industrial units, completely wiping out BECO. The company’s name was changed to PECO (Pakistan Engineering Company). Like other nationalised companies, PECO did not cut it and by 1998, it had run up an acknowledged accumulated loss of Rs 761.58 billion. In October 1977, Gen Zia-ul-Haq offered to return control of the company to Mr Latif and his management. Mr Latif refused to accept the offer unless the same were extended to owners of all nationalised industries.

It is such a sad thing that in the name of the country Mr.Bhutto ruined what was something to be proud of as a Pakistani. Had BECO remained with its owners we would have put Tata and Birla to shame. Govt abandoned the factory, sold out tons and tons of steel in the building structer and , and now what is left of it ,is an Industrial graveyard.

abandoned halls in the office at the Badami Bagh location

The desolate time office crumbling with time surround by acres of nothingness. At one point it was responsible for a factory chock a block full of sheds. There was no space to move without encountering a crane, machines, raw materials, spare parts and 3000 workers.

Every single shed was taken apart and all steel used in its construction was sold off made money pocketed. The glorious days pictures show the strength and amount of steel used in the sheds. Thats a gigantic amount of cash ……..

The office at the Badami Bag factory……the only remaining building at the 52 acre unit that was completely covered in production sheds. Wondering why this was also not pulled down. Perhaps not enough steel in the construction to sell

graves haunted by spirits of diesel pumps, machine tools, textile power looms, concrete mixer, diesel engines………………………….

This room was filled with drawing boards jammed next to each other. A place of engineering creativity which now lies in ruin.

If a pillar has huge steel poles then its no surprise the sheds were demolished, scrapped and sold

Foundations of the factory under the grave like mounds………a true industrial graveyard where hope for Pakistan has been buried by greed of political leaders and bureaucrats.

A true industrial graveyard……….. When successive governments failed to run the company the Badami Bagh factory was demolished to the ground. Surprise surprise the aim was to plot it and make into a housing scheme……The family now has a stay order on this, but they often wonder what good is it when everything has been destroyed

As Mr. dadbuoy said in an interview to a loacal newspaper

” Had we gone at the rate of growth during the decade of 1960’s, I reckon we would have definitely been an Asian tiger by now”

Special thanks to Mahbina Waheed for sharing such historical pictures.

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President Musharraf

Mana ke aaj mein Mushkil may ghira hoan,
Dekho tufan mein kis qadar himmat se khara hoan…
ab samna hai mujhe mukhalif hawaon ka
per sath hai mujhe Maa ki duaoon ka
Zalim khud mujh pe zulm ka ilzam lagate hein
koi poche ke wo is mulk ke liye kia chahte hein
Mein tanha ho ke bhee tanha nahein
ye bat tum bhee jan lo qaum k logo aaj tum
apne gheron ko pehchan lo!
yaad karoge mijhe jub mein chala jaonga
Sipahi hun mulk ke liye Jaan bhee dejaoonga..

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Follow up!!!

Mr. Thomas beatie , better known as “the pregnant man” has given birth to a really cute baby girl named Susan Juliette. It was a natural delivery and both the baby and the father/mother are doing fine.


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A Vanished Friend!



Around the corner I have a friend,

In this great city that has no end,

Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,

And before I know it, a year is gone.

And I never see my old friends face,

For life is swift and terrible race,

He knows I like him just as well,

As in the days when I rang his bell.

And he rang mine but we were younger then,

And now we are busy, tired men,.

Tired of playing a foolish game,

Tired of trying to make a name.

“Tomorrow” I say! “I will call on him”

Just to show that I am thinking of him

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,

And distance between us grows and grows.

Around the corner, yet miles away

“Here’s a telegram sir,” …….,” “he died today.”


And that’s what we get and deserve in the end;

Around the corner…… a vanished friend!

(Charles Hanson Towne)


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Rachel Corrie


Rachel corrie (April 1979- March 2003) was an american peace  activist and  member of International solidarity movement (ISM) . She traveled to the Gaza Strip during the Second Intifada. She was killed by a Caterpillar D9 armoured bulldozer operated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during a protest against the destruction of Palestinian homes by the IDF in the Gaza Strip.The details of the events surrounding Corrie’s death are disputed; an Israeli military investigation ruled the death was an accident, while some of the ISM activists present at the scene allege Corrie was run over deliberately. ISM members have also stated that the driver lost sight of Corrie before she was injured, or did not see her at all.


In a remarkable series of emails to her family, she explained why she was risking her life.  May her soul rest in peace.


February 7 2003

Hi friends and family, and others,

I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what’s going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me – Ali – or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me, “Kaif Sharon?” “Kaif Bush?” and they laugh when I say, “Bush Majnoon”, “Sharon Majnoon” back in my limited arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn’t quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: “Bush mish Majnoon” … Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say, “Bush is a tool”, but I don’t think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago.

Nevertheless, no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it – and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting halfway between Mud Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I’m done. As an afterthought to all this rambling, I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are refugees – many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, “Go! Go!” because a tank was coming. And then waving and “What’s your name?”. Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously – occasionally shouting and also occasionally waving – many forced to be here, many just agressive – shooting into the houses as we wander away.

I’ve been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the “reoccupation of Gaza”. Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren’t already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope you will start.

My love to everyone. My love to my mom. My love to smooch. My love to fg and barnhair and sesamees and Lincoln School. My love to Olympia.



February 20 2003


Now the Israeli army has actually dug up the road to Gaza, and both of the major checkpoints are closed. This means that Palestinians who want to go and register for their next quarter at university can’t. People can’t get to their jobs and those who are trapped on the other side can’t get home; and internationals, who have a meeting tomorrow in the West Bank, won’t make it. We could probably make it through if we made serious use of our international white person privilege, but that would also mean some risk of arrest and deportation, even though none of us has done anything illegal.

The Gaza Strip is divided in thirds now. There is some talk about the “reoccupation of Gaza”, but I seriously doubt this will happen, because I think it would be a geopolitically stupid move for Israel right now. I think the more likely thing is an increase in smaller below-the-international-outcry-radar incursions and possibly the oft-hinted “population transfer”.

I am staying put in Rafah for now, no plans to head north. I still feel like I’m relatively safe and think that my most likely risk in case of a larger-scale incursion is arrest. A move to reoccupy Gaza would generate a much larger outcry than Sharon’s assassination-during-peace-negotiations/land grab strategy, which is working very well now to create settlements all over, slowly but surely eliminating any meaningful possibility for Palestinian self-determination. Know that I have a lot of very nice Palestinians looking after me. I have a small flu bug, and got some very nice lemony drinks to cure me. Also, the woman who keeps the key for the well where we still sleep keeps asking me about you. She doesn’t speak a bit of English, but she asks about my mom pretty frequently – wants to make sure I’m calling you.

Love to you and Dad and Sarah and Chris and everybody.



February 27 2003

(To her mother)

Love you. Really miss you. I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. Jenny and I stayed in the house with several women and two small babies. It was our mistake in translation that caused him to think it was his house that was being exploded. In fact, the Israeli army was in the process of detonating an explosive in the ground nearby – one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance.

This is in the area where Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses – the livelihoods for 300 people. The explosive was right in front of the greenhouses – right in the point of entry for tanks that might come back again. I was terrified to think that this man felt it was less of a risk to walk out in view of the tanks with his kids than to stay in his house. I was really scared that they were all going to be shot and I tried to stand between them and the tank. This happens every day, but just this father walking out with his two little kids just looking very sad, just happened to get my attention more at this particular moment, probably because I felt it was our translation problems that made him leave.

I thought a lot about what you said on the phone about Palestinian violence not helping the situation. Sixty thousand workers from Rafah worked in Israel two years ago. Now only 600 can go to Israel for jobs. Of these 600, many have moved, because the three checkpoints between here and Ashkelon (the closest city in Israel) make what used to be a 40-minute drive, now a 12-hour or impassible journey. In addition, what Rafah identified in 1999 as sources of economic growth are all completely destroyed – the Gaza international airport (runways demolished, totally closed); the border for trade with Egypt (now with a giant Israeli sniper tower in the middle of the crossing); access to the ocean (completely cut off in the last two years by a checkpoint and the Gush Katif settlement). The count of homes destroyed in Rafah since the beginning of this intifada is up around 600, by and large people with no connection to the resistance but who happen to live along the border. I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world. There used to be a middle class here – recently. We also get reports that in the past, Gazan flower shipments to Europe were delayed for two weeks at the Erez crossing for security inspections. You can imagine the value of two-week-old cut flowers in the European market, so that market dried up. And then the bulldozers come and take out people’s vegetable farms and gardens. What is left for people? Tell me if you can think of anything. I can’t.

If any of us had our lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew, because of previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us were beaten and held captive with 149 other people for several hours – do you think we might try to use somewhat violent means to protect whatever fragments remained? I think about this especially when I see orchards and greenhouses and fruit trees destroyed – just years of care and cultivation. I think about you and how long it takes to make things grow and what a labour of love it is. I really think, in a similar situation, most people would defend themselves as best they could. I think Uncle Craig would. I think probably Grandma would. I think I would.

You asked me about non-violent resistance.

When that explosive detonated yesterday it broke all the windows in the family’s house. I was in the process of being served tea and playing with the two small babies. I’m having a hard time right now. Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom. I know that from the United States, it all sounds like hyperbole. Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the wilful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can’t believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it. It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be. I felt after talking to you that maybe you didn’t completely believe me. I think it’s actually good if you don’t, because I do believe pretty much above all else in the importance of independent critical thinking. And I also realise that with you I’m much less careful than usual about trying to source every assertion that I make. A lot of the reason for that is I know that you actually do go and do your own research. But it makes me worry about the job I’m doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above – and a lot of other things – constitutes a somewhat gradual – often hidden, but nevertheless massive – removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. This is what I am seeing here. The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities – but in focusing on them I’m terrified of missing their context. The vast majority of people here – even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave (which appears to be maybe the less nefarious of Sharon’s possible goals), can’t leave. Because they can’t even get into Israel to apply for visas, and because their destination countries won’t let them in (both our country and Arab countries). So I think when all means of survival is cut off in a pen (Gaza) which people can’t get out of, I think that qualifies as genocide. Even if they could get out, I think it would still qualify as genocide. Maybe you could look up the definition of genocide according to international law. I don’t remember it right now. I’m going to get better at illustrating this, hopefully. I don’t like to use those charged words. I think you know this about me. I really value words. I really try to illustrate and let people draw their own conclusions.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me. This is not what I meant when I looked at Capital Lake and said: “This is the wide world and I’m coming to it.” I did not mean that I was coming into a world where I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide. More big explosions somewhere in the distance outside.

When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

I love you and Dad. Sorry for the diatribe. OK, some strange men next to me just gave me some peas, so I need to eat and thank them.



February 28 2003

(To her mother)

Thanks, Mom, for your response to my email. It really helps me to get word from you, and from other people who care about me.

After I wrote to you I went incommunicado from the affinity group for about 10 hours which I spent with a family on the front line in Hi Salam – who fixed me dinner – and have cable TV. The two front rooms of their house are unusable because gunshots have been fired through the walls, so the whole family – three kids and two parents – sleep in the parent’s bedroom. I sleep on the floor next to the youngest daughter, Iman, and we all shared blankets. I helped the son with his English homework a little, and we all watched Pet Semetery, which is a horrifying movie. I think they all thought it was pretty funny how much trouble I had watching it. Friday is the holiday, and when I woke up they were watching Gummy Bears dubbed into Arabic. So I ate breakfast with them and sat there for a while and just enjoyed being in this big puddle of blankets with this family watching what for me seemed like Saturday morning cartoons. Then I walked some way to B’razil, which is where Nidal and Mansur and Grandmother and Rafat and all the rest of the big family that has really wholeheartedly adopted me live. (The other day, by the way, Grandmother gave me a pantomimed lecture in Arabic that involved a lot of blowing and pointing to her black shawl. I got Nidal to tell her that my mother would appreciate knowing that someone here was giving me a lecture about smoking turning my lungs black.) I met their sister-in-law, who is visiting from Nusserat camp, and played with her small baby.

Nidal’s English gets better every day. He’s the one who calls me, “My sister”. He started teaching Grandmother how to say, “Hello. How are you?” In English. You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers passing by, but all of these people are genuinely cheerful with each other, and with me. When I am with Palestinian friends I tend to be somewhat less horrified than when I am trying to act in a role of human rights observer, documenter, or direct-action resister. They are a good example of how to be in it for the long haul. I know that the situation gets to them – and may ultimately get them – on all kinds of levels, but I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity – laughter, generosity, family-time – against the incredible horror occurring in their lives and against the constant presence of death. I felt much better after this morning. I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.


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Eternal Zeal

A world within me,
Shining alone,
Happy, glittering and care-free,
Like a child of unbound destiny,
There I ran again,
Or its a pleasure un-named,
No grieves, no sorrows,
It feels lightest like a butterfly,
Or its a joy of eternity!

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