Articles on this Page
- 06/22/15--03:12: _#HeatWave: Sindh ca...
- 06/23/15--02:20: _7 tips for Karachii...
- 06/25/15--03:55: _Five reasons why Ka...
- 06/26/15--04:18: _Would I adopt this ...
- 06/26/15--05:03: _Why India didn’t wa...
- 06/27/15--03:34: _Mass graves and the...
- 06/29/15--03:49: _Are we really going...
- 06/30/15--04:24: _Some of us cannot a...
- 07/01/15--04:19: _Suffering from Asth...
- 07/02/15--03:33: _Does Nawaz Sharif e...
- 07/05/15--00:00: _After 11pm, the IBA...
- 07/14/15--04:40: _Five reasons why yo...
- 07/16/15--02:12: _Cooked with Bollywo...
- 07/17/15--12:01: _Complete your Eid F...
- 07/17/15--23:00: _Why 374 families wi...
- 07/19/15--23:00: _Why Eid in Dubai do...
- 07/25/15--04:20: _When businesses flo...
- 07/25/15--22:00: _Zardari’s fool proo...
- 07/31/15--03:25: _Anwar Ali and Shoai...
- 08/01/15--01:38: _In Sindh, our child...
- 06/22/15--03:12: #HeatWave: Sindh can take lessons from Ahmedabad’s Heat Action Plan
- 06/23/15--02:20: 7 tips for Karachiites to beat the heat wave
- 06/25/15--03:55: Five reasons why Karachi is better than Dubai
- 06/26/15--05:03: Why India didn’t want us to have Kashmir
- 06/27/15--03:34: Mass graves and the filth that is our government hospitals
- 06/29/15--03:49: Are we really going to blame India for the heatwave?
- 06/30/15--04:24: Some of us cannot afford the hijab of today
- 07/02/15--03:33: Does Nawaz Sharif even care about Sindh and its people?
- 07/05/15--00:00: After 11pm, the IBA Boys Hostel turns into a prison
- 07/14/15--04:40: Five reasons why you should (or should not) watch Bin Roye
- 07/17/15--23:00: Why 374 families will not be celebrating Eid this year
- 07/19/15--23:00: Why Eid in Dubai does not even compare to the Eid in Lahore
- 07/25/15--04:20: When businesses flourish at the expense of poor hygiene standards
The scorching heat last month in most of the central and southern India resulted in the death of 2,500 people. And it seems like it is Pakistan’s turn now. Yesterday, around 180 people lost their lives in Karachi due to an intense heat wave. India recorded its highest maximum temperature of 47 degrees Celsius / 117 degrees Fahrenheit, in Angul in the state of Odisha. Similarly Pakistan, in recent weeks, has suffered from one of the most severe heat waves in decades, with temperatures reaching as high as 45 degrees Celsius / 117 degrees Fahrenheit. This was the highest temperature recorded for the month since 2005. It’s high time that we begin viewing heat waves as a natural disaster and make structural and lifestyle changes to mitigate and minimise their effects. Good planning at national and sub-national levels with preventive actions can reduce mortalities and reduce the damage significantly caused by these heat waves. For instance, in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, South Asia’s first Heat Health Plan has been developed and implemented. The successful implementation of the heat health management plan, developed by LEAD Pakistan and Climate and Development Network, restricted the loss of life in the city to seven, as compared to 1,300 in a similar heat wave event in 2010. Ahmedabad’s Heat Health Project has been recognised globally for its success and was named as one of the top 20 projects at the Sendai Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in early 2015. This project was also greatly appreciated in South Asian Cities Summit in New Delhi in May 2015, attended by officials from local governments and other stakeholders from different South Asian countries. The most important thing, however, is that this has started a conversation between different government officials and stakeholders to chalk out similar action plans for other cities in India which are witnessing high mortality rates due to the recent heat waves. The project has also kindled an interest to take up national policies and frameworks to address heat wave issues in other regional cities. A replication of this project is being planned for the Indian city of Nagpur, where heat waves have intensified over the recent years. Donors have shown interest in these projects because of their massive potential success and impact. The project provides steps to mitigate the impacts on health by identifying high risk cities and localities and briskly implementing a low cost-high return plan. These include increasing access to drinking water and providing shade to outdoor workers, developing building codes that are more heat-resilient, and provision of transport systems that enable people to avoid the impact of heat during frequent power outages, which only multiply the heat effect. The adaptation plan includes small and simple steps to ensure that heat waves have little effect on the population exposed to it. In Ahmedabad, these small steps included launching awareness campaigns through billboards, hand outs and other forms of communication with basic information of heat preparedness; installation of over 1,100 drinking water stations; keeping all gardens and parks open; capacity building of medical staff with respect to heat-affected conditions and their solutions; and installation of an early warning system which would help the people and the government departments to be prepared in advance. The key thing to learn from the Ahmedabad project is that urban design and development projects across the region can help cope with the constant heat waves. The mercury rises up to 53 degree Celsius in some cities and the number of such hot days is on the increase because of climate change and global warming. The knowledge and experience of the Ahmedabad initiative can be used by our government, non-government organisations, and development communities in Pakistan to plan and design similar initiatives for heat vulnerable cities in order to avoid the loss of human lives. [poll id="392"]
Sindh is witnessing one of the worst heat waves to date, where 350 people have died and the count keeps rising. These are tough times and one feels completely at loss when Mother Nature is so unrelenting. So here are a few things you can do that could help in preventing further loss of life. 1. Invite house help to temporarily stay at your house When faced with adversity, it is best to come together and offer whatever help you can. If you live in an area that isn’t receiving the overwhelming amount of load-shedding as other areas are, be kind to your house help and let them stay over at your place till the intense heat wave subsides. Sleeping under a fan and having access to water could be a God sent gift to the poor. 2. Freeze and distribute bottles of water While a lot of people are facing severe voltage fluctuations and power outages, there are those who are fortunate enough to either have generators or live in areas where K-Electric is kinder. Please make some space in your freezers for bottles of water and distribute them to the poor when you leave your home. The number one cause of death in this heat wave has been dehydration; share whatever you can and collectively, we can reduce this number. Alternatively, The Cakery is accepting donations to buy and distribute bottles of water. Send them some money in a sealed envelope and let this be your form of charity this summer. 3. Buy and distribute packets of ORS Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) is a great tool to prevent dehydration. Packets can easily be purchased at general stores, dissolved in water and consumed. Make sure to buy some for yourself and distribute as many packets as you can to those in need. If you can prepare bottles of it at home and distribute it, that’s even better. 4. Buy some water coolers It might be worthy to invest in a few good water coolers and give them to your gardener, driver, maid or anybody who you feel could use it. Freeze containers of water and encourage your house help to take a block of ice and water from your home every day. This way, if nothing else, at least their families will have access to cold drinking water. 5. Wear light colours and loose fitting clothing Stay away from dark colours till the heat wave subsides. Darker shades absorb light and will make you feel warmer. Opt for lighter shades that reflect light and avoid wearing tight clothes. 6. Don’t forget the animals Animals too are suffering, just as much if not more than humans, since they can’t ask for help. Be kind to birds, cats, dogs – any animal that you feel is in distress. Keep a bowl of water in your garden, outside your house or in your balcony. You could very well be saving the life of a desperate animal in need. 7. Follow this emergency protocol if you suspect a heatstroke It is important to understand and recognise the signs of a heatstroke; some symptoms include the following: - Unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds - Convulsions or seizures - Signs of moderate to severe difficulty breathing - Confusion, severe restlessness, or anxiety - Fast heart rate - Sweating that may be heavy or may have stopped - Skin that may be red, hot and dry, even in the armpits - Severe vomiting and diarrhoea If you observe these, observe the following protocol: - Seek immediate medical attention; call an ambulance or take the incumbent to the hospital yourself - If you are waiting for an ambulance, move the patient to an area away from direct sunlight - Remove any unnecessary clothing - Do whatever you can to cool the patient down; use a fan, damp sheets or an ice pack to cool the patient down Coming together in times of difficulty can help lessen the crisis if not completely resolve them. I hope that many around the country will open their hearts to ease the difficulty the less fortunate are facing by helping them with these basic gestures. Stay safe Pakistan, and on a parting note, make sure to give way to ambulances on the road no matter what the situation.
I have been living in Dubai for the past three years, and since my immediate family is based in Dubai, I haven’t gotten a chance to travel home much. But being an expat, I still miss Karachi. The city still feels like home because I was born and raised there and have numerous memories attached to it. Recently, I had the chance of visiting Karachi after a very long time and ended up enjoying it way more than Dubai. Turns out, Karachi is better than Dubai in a number of ways. 1. When it comes to food, there’s no comparison I feel this is an obvious one. The food in Karachi tastes much better than the food in Dubai. Our bun kebabs, biryanis, and barbeque are simply mouth-watering. There are Pakistani restaurants in Dubai as well, but only a few have the authentic Pakistani taste, and even that’s not anywhere close to the food in Karachi. The best part is that this delicious food is available at every street corner of Karachi. 2. Every degree counts The weather in Karachi and Dubai isn’t very different from each other, except that Karachi is usually five to 10 degrees cooler than Dubai, which makes a lot of difference. The intense heat and temperature in Dubai are unbearable during the summer and the prospect of outdoor activities is non-existent. Also, Karachi winters are just perfect, whereas Dubai winters feel like moderate summer. 3. The importance of U-turns The laws and layout of the roads are more relaxed as compared to Dubai. For instance, while driving in Karachi, you can take a U-turn easily, but in Dubai, majority of the roads don’t have U-turns. In fact, at times, you have to drive long distances to find a cut. Want to cross the road? Do it from anywhere you like in Karachi, but in Dubai, you can’t cross the road from just anywhere without risking a fine, other than a zebra crossing. Just as almost every Karachiite has been subjected of street crime, nearly every other person in Dubai has been subjected to street fines. 4. “I will give you best price” If you have ever sold your used/old electronics in Dubai, you would know what a hassle it is. In Karachi, there is an established market for buying and selling old electronics, and that even for a reasonable price. Even if it’s complete junk, you will be able to get something for it. I had a laptop, as well as an obsolete cell phone which I wanted to sell and it took me 10 minutes to sell them off for a reasonable price in Karachi. Perhaps the only way to dispose used and old electronics in Dubai would be throwing them down the garbage chute or in a bin. 5. When you buy things and convert Dirhams to Rupees or vice versa As per the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), Karachi is the cheapest city in the world. If you convert everything from Dirhams to Rupees, it feels way cheaper in comparison to Dubai. While shopping at Hyperstar in Dolmen Mall one evening, I kept buying items, mainly some local edibles which I wanted to take back to Dubai, as well as stock up for the time I was in Karachi. I kept picking up things off the shelves and noticed my trolley was stuffed. When I proceeded to the checkout, the bill was only about Rs1,600. My excitement escalated when I realised that I only paid AED60 for everything that I bought. Karachi, the city of lights, is the economic capital of Pakistan. Unfortunately, it has been marred by violence and other issues over the years. Perhaps Dubai may not have developed as much were it not for the violence in Karachi during the 80s. But we Karachiites still love Karachi. It’s a great city and will always be our home.
dubai and karachi copy
“If you ever had to adopt a baby, then whom would you settle for?”This was the question I posed to myself recently. Not because I had to nor did I want to adopt a child. I have two of my own (biological ones, so my wife tells me), and they are more than a handful. It all happened one fine morning in Karachi while I was working in the ER. A young couple had brought a two-day-old baby girl to me. The ER triages slip stated, ‘baby adopted’ as the reason for coming to the ER. I had never come across this as a presenting complaint in the ER, so my curiosity was piqued, irrespective of it still being the early moments of my ER shift without adequate caffeine in the system. It turned out that the baby had been picked up half an hour before from an orphanage in Karachi. The baby had been delivered the day before, per the orphanage staff’s speculation, and she had then been left at the doorstep of the orphanage. Although babies being abandoned there might have been a normal occurrence for the staff, even contemplating that scenario was angst-ridden for me. The above was the narrative that the adoptive parents had been given. The bottom line was that there were no pregnancy, labour and delivery records available; no information was there as to the location of delivery, i.e. whether hospital or home, although the latter was more likely. Furthermore, there was absolutely no biological family history available. Initially, I had assumed that the parents were the adoptive ones, i.e. they had adopted the child. However, what was more fascinating and a tad bit alarming was that they had not gone through the entire process of adoption. Hence, I was unsure as to how to address the young couple; as adoptive or foster parents or merely as transient custodians? The lady (adoptive mother), most likely figured the confusion written all across my face and stated,
“Doctor Sahab, we have been told that we can keep the baby for five days, have her tested and examined in any manner, but prior to that period ending, we are to make a decision.”She said this in impeccable English. The young mother to be (or not to be) let her statement trail off and didn’t maintain eye contact as she said the last bit. After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence that had descended, the father to be (or not to be) added,
“Doctor Sahab, we live in Los Angeles. We would like to have the blood drawn now and results available within the next two days. We don’t have enough time.”I was tempted to ask the couple why they were contemplating adoption in the first place, moreover, why in Pakistan. I didn’t inquire because the ER seemed to be an inadequate place for gathering such information. It also occurred to me that I could refuse to send the blood tests as it certainly was not an emergency case. However, given the novelty of the situation (from my perspective) and the fact that there weren’t many urgent or emergent children requiring my time, I agreed to examine the baby and send her blood work. In spite of difficulty in remembering names, I inquire about every child’s name prior to starting a physical examination. This time was no different. I asked,
“What’s your baby’s name?”The lady replied,
“Doctor Sahab, we don’t wish to get attached to this child within the five days period, in case we have to return her.”This was all she said, and perhaps this was her explanation. On examination, the baby was like any other normal two-day-old neonates that I had examined in the past. She was vigorous, pink all over, and sucking away at a pacifier. Her eyes were a remarkable greenish-grey in colour. Although babies that young are unable to focus very well, to me it seemed like she was looking at me right in the eyes. Somehow, I felt really connected to her. It might sound irrational, but right at that moment, I realised that I was silently praying for a good future home for her. I forced myself to keep on track with the couple’s request for testing her blood. A few simple screening labs, including infectious disease-related ones, occurred to me. Reading my mind and perhaps disagreeing with my plan, the man took out a sheet from the folder he was holding and said,
“Doctor, this is the list of diseases that we would like the baby to be tested for.”The list comprised of almost 60 diseases, several of which had exceedingly difficult names and were likely to be very rare. Methylmalonic or propionic acidemia, orotic aciduria, severe combined immunodeficiency, pyruvic dehydrogenase deficiency, familial hypercholesterolemia, and so on. Thus I stated,
“This list is quite illogical. We don’t have the expertise to test for most of these diseases. In fact, a lot of these can’t even be readily tested in the US. Last I checked, we are still a developing country.”I couldn’t control that last sarcastic bit, although I had tried my best not to show my mounting frustration.
“Doctor, just do what you can then”, said the baby’s male custodian.And I did. After the blood tests had been sent off, the family left, and I forgot the baby soon after as the ER became busy with genuinely critically sick kids requiring my attention. A few days later, while reviewing laboratory reports, I came across a battery of blood tests that had been run on a single patient. It was the baby without a name. The identification given to her was ‘Baby Girl of Salma’, followed by a medical record number. Intriguing! Although the legal process of her adoption had not been completed by then, the baby had to be identified through the potential adoptive mother’s name, irrespective of her not wanting ‘attachment’ to the child at that stage. Among the blood tests, there were two different Hepatitis B-related ones that caught my attention. One was positive and the other was negative. My analysis was that the latter highly sensitive and specific test made Hepatitis B in the baby unlikely. Did the couple become parents to the baby? Did she get named? If so, what was it? Is she really without a Hepatitis B virus in her bloodstream? I don’t know, as I never saw the baby or her custodian-parents again. If I ever had to adopt a baby in five days, would I settle for this baby, knowing those blood test results? I'm not sure, perhaps.
When one mentions Kashmir, all that comes to one’s mind are lush green fields, mountains, rivers, and valleys. Derived from Sanskrit, according to folk etymology, the name ‘Kashmir’ actually means desiccated land. ‘Ka’ means water and ‘shimeera’ means desiccate. The mention of water in its name takes me back to my Pakistan Studies class where we discussed Kashmir and its strategic importance. After visiting Kashmir, however, I can now clearly see why India didn’t want us to have this small piece of land that is rightfully ours. Bursting with streams and rivers, the natural beauty seen in Kashmir is unparalleled. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Lower Neelum Valley[/caption] Following certain issues with the organisation we worked for and the treacherous heat wave in Karachi, my friends and I decided to go for a trip to the northern areas. Undecided where we were going to go, we came across some pictures of the Neelum Valley in Azad Kashmir on Facebook, thanks to the travel agents and tour guides that are stepping their game up on social media these days (a big thumbs up to them). Kashmir? Perfect! That’s where we all wanted to go now. After arranging our tickets for Islamabad, a rendezvous pit stop before hitting the northern areas, we all just prepared ourselves for a ride that would keep amazing us as we went on. Having been charmed by Islamabad, we began our long journey by road with a rental car with a local driver (best decision ever, as the roads in Kashmir were a nightmare to drive on).The places we initially decided to stay at were Keran and Kel, the two popular villages and tourist destinations in the Neelum Valley. There were countless check posts and camps set up by the Pakistan Army along River Neelum – the natural border between Pakistan and India which runs right along the Line of Control (LoC) between the two countries – which took a while to get through to. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Our first stop was at a riverside restaurant called Marco Polo[/caption] We made several stops during our ride to Keran, as there were some beautiful scenic views along the way and we obviously had to stop for other reasons as well. If anyone has ever been or crossed River Neelum would know of the beauty that lies there. One instance is the beach that we came across in the middle of the valley. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Beach in the middle of the valley[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] A breathtaking view[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] Upper Neelum[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] A dam being built by the Chinese on River Neelum[/caption] One of the local drivers we later met described the road along River Neelum (and through Neelum Valley) as the most beautiful 100 kilometres in the world, which also happened to be the reason why he chose the job as a seasonal jeep driver. I couldn’t agree with him more. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] The condition of the roads wasn't so great[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] But the surrounding views were surreal[/caption] One slightly annoying factor was the countless interruptions we had to face due to the herds of goats, horses, and cows crossing along the way. Herders would force them aside once a car would come, and if the herd was too big, we would just have to wait and watch them pass. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] A herd we came across on our way to Keran[/caption] A long journey later, we finally made it to Keran. Surrounded by beautiful cottages, lush green fields, and a river flowing right through it, none of us regretted our decision to stay here for a day. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] The view from our cottage in Keran[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] Keran[/caption] Our next destination was Kel, a beautiful village even higher up the Neelum Valley. The quality of the roads at this point had further deteriorated and it was quite a challenging ride up the mountain to Kel. Once we reached Kel, we were in awe of the sheer beauty of this village. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Kel, a beautiful village[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Kel[/caption] We had already decided to stay at Kel for two days which would allow us to further explore this place. The temperatures here were lower, and it was raining when we entered the village. The rain was followed by a strong hail, which was an absolute pleasure to experience. After conversing with the locals, we discovered that there was an even more beautiful village further up the valley, Tao Butt. A shared jeep would take us there in four hours – even though the distance was less than 50 kilometres, the road to Tao Butt was no less than a roller coaster ride. Tao Butt is the last known village in Neelum Valley. We were already amazed by the beauty of Azad Kashmir so far, but Tao Butt made us forget everything we had seen so far. It felt like we were in heaven. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Tao Butt[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Tao Butt[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Tao Butt[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] Tao Butt[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] Tao Butt[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Tao Butt[/caption] I later realised that it was nothing but heavenly beauty, and there is nothing more beautiful than that. There is no other feeling like being this close to nature. All photos: Habib Sajid
The sun was at its zenith and the temperature and humidity were at its peak. Karachi, the city of lights, has been a victim of a severe heat wave which has resulted in the loss of more than a thousand precious lives. Unfortunately, the occurrence of such natural disasters highlights the dire situation of relief and care facilities available to the mass populace of Karachi. They say you can’t take nature head on when it decides to wreak havoc on us. But the least we can do is take preliminary steps to minimise the damage it may cause. Unfortunately, our government has been reactive rather than proactive in such situations. Their lethargic and laid-back attitude just cost us thousands of lives. There are two types of people in our nation – the common man and the assembly member. The former helps the dying common man on the street while the latter sits in air-conditioned rooms, watching the common man burn in the heat. The increase in population – whether it is due to the increasing birth rates or the rural to urban migration – has definitely resulted in the dwindling of the health resources available to the city. The suffering patients admitted in the foul-smelling wards of the hospitals couldn’t thank the deadly heat wave more as it forced the media, politicians, and the public to at least look towards the sufferings of a common man in government hospitals. The heatstroke camps resulted in a multitude of volunteers handing out water and refreshment supplies to the patients. The patients were amazed to see volunteers distributing water and ORS for hydration. The heatstroke turned out to be a menace for some and a blessing for others. Sindh has an estimated amount of Rs47 billion in the annual provincial budget for the maintenance and operation of government-run facilities. These hospitals are a glaring evidence of how the allocated budget coinage never reaches their desired destination. Patient wards are equally deplorable. They reek of putrid smells and the same can be said about the washrooms of the hospitals. The sewer lines are broken with filthy water leaking through these pipes. The allotted air-conditioning quota of the hospitals’ wards never reaches its full capacity. The beds are overused, the fans dusty, the floors muddy and the medicines scarce. I feel this is barbaric. The common man is afraid of falling ill, not because there is no cure to his ailment, but due to the fact that he will have to suffer the filth of the government hospitals. And then arrives the heat wave, which awoken the army, media, and the public to help the people suffering in this heat. As a matter of fact, the aid provided by the mentioned bodies is needed at these care facilities throughout the year and not just when we are faced by a natural disaster or other emergencies. These ailing patients need medicine, their sweaty heads need cold water, their dehydrated bodies need hydration, and their weak shoulders need support. The heat wave, or any natural disaster that befalls us, forces the public to take the situation in their own hands and because of this, patients get the attention they deserve, or at least, a part of it. Let’s not make them believe that the heat wave was a blessing for them, as if someone had finally heard their pleas and cries. More importantly, let’s not make it a one-time aid program which kick starts only during emergencies. Let’s stand with them on a regular basis so that the next time we are not a 1000 deaths too late. Let’s take a stand now so that we do not have to witness more mass graves.
The recent heat wave in Karachi that has claimed over a thousand lives is one more nail in our government’s coffin of negligence and its inability to deal with a crisis. It has also become the norm in the subcontinent to give public officials the opportunity to show just how mind-numbingly dumb they really are. In a recent statement, the Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan has said that the actual responsibility for the heat wave lies with the boogie across the border, India. He claims that coal-powered plants in Rajasthan, India could have contributed to the heat wave. The senator does not quote any scientific research to support his claim, and a quick look at his profile reveals that this is entirely unnecessary as Khan Sahab’s educational background in Law obviously makes him an expert on everything. An official of the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency stated that,
“It will be easy to establish which direction the heat wave came from and where it was headed in the next few days.”According to the official, we have technology available for that. One wonders why this ‘technology’ wasn’t used to predict the heat wave itself, especially after India experienced a similar environmental catastrophe in May that resulted in the death of more than 2,500 people. The Indian heat wave was attributed to changes in the monsoon weather system on which the entire region depends. Would it have been too much to expect that the same thing might have happened here as well? The good senator ignores the fact that his own party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is a huge proponent of electricity from coal-powered stations. An even bigger elephant in the room is the fact that our best friend in the whole wide world (at the moment), China, vastly relies on coal driven power plants. The country has, in fact, been the world largest producer of greenhouse gases since 2006. The emissions blame can, in fact, be laid at many quarters. This includes almost every human being who has benefited in some way from the industrial revolution. But that is not how this game is played. Our environment is at a tipping point. Temperatures have reached record extremes for both high and low temperatures; the sixth great extinction has begun. We are running out of water. We are running out of time. We all share the same water and the same air. Soot from China is carried across the Pacific to the United States. Medical waste from Africa washes up on the shores of the UK. Pakistan is no longer the rural idyll that it used to be. Rapid urbanisation and deforestation has altered our immediate environment for the worse. The only solution to the crisis is for each country, each individual, to work, to salvage what little we still can of the Earth. Preaching aside, government officials need to stop acting like they’re angels spun from light, incorruptible and incapable of mistake. We all know that Karachi’s dance of death was a long one. Couldn’t the last 500, the last 300 or even the last 50 victims have been saved? We must expect more extreme weather events in the future. It won’t matter if the power plants in Rajasthan or Russia or Timbuktu are responsible, because if our government cannot manage a heat wave, threatening other countries with the UN will only be the punch-line in whatever new joke we manage to make of ourselves.
There is a school named The Clifton High School which is not in Karachi but in New Jersey, USA, and Abrar Shahin is a Muslim student of Palestinian descent who recently graduated from this school. Sincere congratulations and best wishes in her subsequent career to the young lady who appears to possess a strong sense of identity since her photograph shows her wearing a hijab, and who is about to present us with what I hope, a healthy debate. In the hormone-charged atmosphere of high schools, where girls dress quite revealingly, it takes conviction to cover your head with a scarf at all times. In her year book, Ms Shahin was seen wearing skinny jeans, ankle-high boots and a cropped white blazer in her yearbook photo, and if you look at her photograph, you will find that she is also meticulously made up with eyeliner, mascara, the works, the cosmetics, as a reporter for NorthJersey.com puts it perfectly,
“Capped with plum-toned lip stick.”It is interesting but not unusual. My children also went to a high school in the US where there were other girls similarly dressed in tight jeans, fully made up, but also wearing a hijab. My own daughter, whose mother did not agree with hijabs, did not wear one, and her jeans and tops were relaxed and not as fitted. I cannot recall her ever wearing make up to high school. So tell me, not because I wish to be judgmental, heaven forbid, but because being human I am tired of some people flaunting a halo in addition to a hijab and I need this outburst, what is the purpose of a hijab? Is it not worn to prevent men paying attention to a woman’s charms? And is that all there is to be modest about in a woman’s body, the hair on her head? Is there not, if one must be obsessed with the subject, the face, the figure, and a lot else that constitutes female charm? I knew someone, my father in fact, who never considered a woman beautiful unless her feet were clean and well kept. And someone else who felt that there was nothing more attractive than a woman who wore a light perfume and nothing more off putting than one who wore something strong ‘like Charlie’ is what he said to be exact. I suppose from some quarters the response will be that this is why women should be (according to them) covered from head to toe – incarcerated. I know a very nice lady. She is covered from head to toe in what she tells me are mostly French chiffons. That, in my book, encapsulates the matter quite neatly. There is nothing more elitist, nothing that contributes more to the ‘great divide’ than such ‘pardah’. Only the rich, the very rich can afford to be quite so ‘religious’ which should make us question if that, after all, is what was intended by the religious requirement of modesty, to question the definition of ‘pardah’. The rest of us who have to earn a living, who have to live with the curse of power load-shedding and who cannot afford fabric that drapes and breathes as well as chiffon either die under such incarcerating conditions (Karachi heat wave) or live a bit less encumbered if modestly, and rely on our own lungs not the abaya to do the breathing. As an aside, please allow me to tell you that the fully incarcerated lady cannot exercise in her driveway as she used to in her pre-incarcerated days because of the chowkidar (security guard), so she must now do so in a gym. Also that she carries a spare set of slippers in her car in case they visit a home where she must sit in the same room as the men. In that case she wears the stodgy pair; otherwise she wears the prettier ones. It is mind-boggling, is it not, how much thought in addition to cash goes into incarceration? I am struck by the sentiment and the utter dedication to the subject of sexuality. But think for a moment. The world has come to a stage now where people eat breakfast on the hoof. While I do not agree with this other extreme of lifestyle, it gives some idea of how busy a world it now is. How much there is to achieve, and how much one has to adapt to get out of this rut we have fallen into. Our country is perilously short of water, power, education, justice, funds, political stability, women and children’s rights, health facilities, nearly everything. And we are stuck, mired, up to our heads in abayas, hijabs, trailing dupattas (the mind boggles in what all these trail in) and nothing but. I am a woman. I dress well, and modestly enough. My son would never, ever treat a woman with disrespect much less hoot and whistle at one. I think this is the real pardah. Sometimes the route to self-respect and dignity is via both sexes, with the aid of nothing more than a bit of decency and common sense. A shroud is not required.
Asthma is a rapidly spreading disease around the world, including Pakistan. The number of Asthma patients in Pakistan has increased to seven million, out of which two million are children. There are 300 million Asthma patients around the world and this figure is predicted to rise to 400 million by 2020, if preventive measures are not taken. Asthma has no permanent cure and the victims have to live with the disease for the rest of their lives. There are many suppositions on asthma but as a patient of this disease myself, I can surely say that many of those assumptions are false. My battle with asthma started way back in 1978. I can still recall the cold Murree night when I felt breathless for the first time. When my condition started deteriorating, the people around me, namely my relatives, were unable to understand my ailment. Unfortunately, my parents were not present at that time. Nevertheless, I was rushed to the hospital and after a long wait, my condition improved. After a few days, we travelled back to Karachi as my parents were distressed by the news of me suffering an asthma attack. My family and friends were extremely sympathetic, even though neither of them had any knowledge of the disease. Moreover, panic was created which made me doubt my health and the idea of ever leading a normal life. Now, after 37 years of living with Asthma, I can say with certainty that if a patient understands their disease, then they can lead a perfectly regular life and participate in all sorts of activities without any hindrance. My experience has taught me that along with knowledge of the disease, one must observe what prompts their ailment, as it varies from person to person. For example, my mother’s asthma is triggered due to high climate temperature, whereas I am allergic to the cold weather. I cannot comment on the global perceptions, but in Pakistan, we have many misconceptions about the disease. People try to eradicate the disease without making the effort to learn about the causes which triggers the asthma attacks in the first place. I experienced various forms of treatment, including the allopathic, homeopathic, acupuncture, spiritual and herbal remedy. Neither of the consultants instructed me to conduct an allergy test, or advised me to avoid certain food items which may trigger the disease. On a daily basis, I have to face many difficulties due to the pollution in city, from the burning garbage to the smoke radiating vehicles, dust and few other reasons. Although the numbers of smoke emitting vehicles may have decreased, as most of the public vehicles are converted to CNG, but other causes still exist which includes the smoke from cigarettes’ which is common in public places and even public transport. In our society, due to lack of awareness on this disease, people get trapped by quacks and their condition worsens. I believe it is the responsibility of medical practitioners to spread knowledge about this disease by the use of mass media. For instance, brochures and pamphlets printed in local languages should be distributed in urban and rural areas of the country. The government should take proper steps for disposing garbage as burning garbage on the streets of the city can only make the condition worse. Moreover, in my view with the mutual consensus of doctors around the world, inhalers are the best therapy for asthma patients. Not only do they provide quick relief, but also prevent the condition from worsening. In our society, fallacies about the use of inhalers also exist. People believe that regular use of inhaler will result in dependency on the instrument, leading to their weight to increase as well. I carry my inhaler with me at all times and have been frequently using it since the last 24 years. As a result, I have not suffered any major asthma attack in this duration. My advice to all the asthma patients is to take an allergy test as soon as they encounter this disease. This will reveal the factors that trigger their asthma. Also, keep your prescribed inhaler with you at all times, use mask while moving on the roads, follow your doctor’s advice and regularly read about global research to keep yourself updated on the changing trends of the remedies and disease management.
The outcome of the visit of our Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, to Karachi has been disappointing. There is an obvious crisis of governance in the province of Sindh where the provincial government and the administration are unable to rule and fulfil their tasks. It has reached a point to where people are dying on the street in droves. Besides, the security situation is far from under control and it needs to be addressed on the basis of the findings given before by the Apex committee and the DG Rangers a couple of days ago. Governance and security issues cannot be tackled successfully if the sources of financing terrorism and the matter of black money are not investigated. The premier’s visit has definitely not been a contribution towards this aim. On the contrary, only measures which have been announced before were discussed and it is open to anybody’s guess as to what will be the fate of those announcements. Neither were any decisive steps announced or taken to tackle the K-Electric problem nor has the corruption problem been addressed, in spite of the provincial finance minister holding K-Electric responsible for the carnage that ensued due to the heat wave and load-shedding. Furthermore, instead of the prime minister’s announced visit to hospitals in order to give support to the victims of the heat wave, he cut his visit short and disappeared after only a few hours, heading as we are told, home, in order to travel to Norway with his family. This highlights the priorities of our rulers. It took 12 days of the heat carnage in Karachi and the death of 1,500 people for our beloved prime minister to come to Karachi. He arrived after having been briefed by the Chief of Army Staff, Raheel Sharif, in detail about what to say and what not to say. That is good news, because it is the army and not the civilian government that is standing behind the Karachi operation, and it is the Rangers who initiated the establishment of heat stroke centres in the city when all the politicians were sitting at home in acclimatised rooms. It was the same DG Rangers’ General Bilal who produced the list of corrupt politicians from the ruling party and the bureaucracy which upset Mr Asif Ali Zardari so much that his real colours were evident when he went into a fit of rage over this list. As a matter of fact, neither the Sindh government administration nor Nawaz Sharif and his government have any pity for the poor people of Pakistan. All they care about is their family and their buddies. Otherwise the prime minister would have at least visited one hospital or announced some help and compensation for the families of the victims. Instead, both sides are indulging in a blame game against K-Electric and the water board. Whatever K-Electric does or does not do is their responsibility as well, do they not realise that? They have given away this particular national asset for a whimper to their buddies in Arabistan only to have pocketed handsome rewards in return. Their own governments are operating with foreign advisors. And now they complain that it doesn’t work. Why would it? This was the nature of the business done at that time. Pakistan is surely in an extremely bad situation; while Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is blaming Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PML-N is blaming PPP, at the end we have to recognise that they are just partners in crime.
I am a resident of IBA Karachi’s boys hostel and I am at an age where I feel most of my memories are yet to be made. The old alumni of this hostel, many of whom have gone on to become CEOs of giant corporations such as Asad Umer, recount their personal anecdotes with remarkable gusto. They always say that the best reverie is hostel life. My personal experience of a hostel is that it is a place which grooms a person with the spirit of brotherhood and instils confidence through experiences of independence. However, the current administration of the IBA Boys Hostel, headed by a professor of IBA, Jami Moiz and Warden Mujahid Ali, are making the hostel nothing short of a living hell. Many complaints against Moiz have been sent to Dr Ishrat Husain, the former State Bank of Pakistan Governor and current Dean and Director of IBA. However, Dr Husain also seems to be a pawn in some inter-institutional bureaucratic game, because no such complain has ever been entertained by him. The hostel has a student-run mess facility, where around 300 students pay around Rs8,000 a month. This amounts up to Rs25 million a year. A mess manager is selected by the management from amongst the students to overlook the management of the hostel but there is no accountancy or auditing in place for this huge monetary operation. Additionally, there is a laundry service where each student has to pay Rs500 in cash. Extracting Rs500 a month from 300 students means that the person running the laundry earns around a hundred thousand per month, after all the associated costs have been accounted for. The person managing the laundry business does not look like someone who earns this much. Rather, this lucrative business is run by none other but the esteemed warden Ali. Another money making opportunity which is easily available is managing the canteen. A student is selected to run the canteen, and it is a known fact that more than Rs50,000 is easily earned through this enterprise. Apart from this, IBA itself allocates a budget of Rs60,0000 per annum to hold various activities at the hostel, and a treasurer is appointed to manage this money. Interestingly, this year, one boy held all three positions – mess manager, canteen manager, and the hostel treasurer. It didn’t come as a surprise when the same boy went for a Europe trip at the end of his tenure as a manager. However, what left the rest of the boys at the hostel in shock was how on earth he coaxed the hostel management to give him not one, not two, but all the three managerial roles. If the management’s decision was based on merit instead of biased management practices, how is possible that only one boy in this 60-year-old institution had the skills to win all three management positions. Moving on from discrepancies in financial matters, the issue of privacy and liberty is a grave matter as well. There are students pursuing their Master’s degree, but even for them, the hostel transforms into a prison as the clock ticks 11pm. The doors are locked for anyone outside the hostel after this time. Restrictive rules do not end here. Privacy is encroached to unthinkable limits. Cameras are placed in all the nooks and corners of the hostel, something along the lines of Big Brother, and students have even been reprimanded on the basis of improper postures. This makes students in their 20s feel like they are back in primary school. We thank God that they haven’t gotten the idea of installing cameras in toilets, who knows how they would react and reprimand students for their improper postures there. I understand I may sound like a child whining. I am embarrassingly aware of my elitist plastic sensibilities but the main objective of this blog is to rid the management of corrupt elements at the IBA Boys Hostel. I also want to point out the mind-set which is leading to the slow and inevitable decay of our educational institutes. The prevalent attitude in our government universities’ officials is pathetic. Rather than acting as individuals who are serving the institute, they act like the owners of the institutes. A few loyal and inspiring faculty members can be found, but they are the exceptions. I am writing this blog as a last resort of getting some attention and a justified reaction from the responsible authorities. Like all Pakistani hostels, our rooms are not air-conditioned. However, during the death invoking heat wave, we could at least take refuge in the common rooms which were air-conditioned during the day. They are turned on at 1pm and switched off around 6pm. Lodgers at the hostel come from all over Pakistan. They are not used to the burning humid heat of Karachi, especially when this year over a 1000 lives have already been claimed by the heat wave, and another heat wave is knocking right at our doors right now. Each month, Rs8,000 is charged as accommodation fee by the institution, which is highly subsidised by the government. During Ramazan, you will find most boys awake till sehri, sweating and cursing the merciless, Moiz. When you ignore, undermine, and undercut your students like this, you shouldn’t wonder why your institute creates extremists. What will the energised youth do when they lose faith in the system itself right from the beginning? The management and the power it yields is so petrifying that I can’t even dare to mention my name, but any IBA Boys Hostel lodger would, hands down, attest to my testimony.
Bin Roye’s premiere was held at Nueplex Cinema yesterday and the entire setup was done up beautifully with motiyas (jasmine) used as a pretty backdrop. It was a star studded night, boasting of celebrities from the star cast of Bin Roye – Mahira Khan, Humayun Saeed and Armeena Khan along with Behroz Sabzwari, Shehroz Sabzwari and Syra Shehroz who were there to support Javed Shaikh. Bushra Ansari, Imran Abbas, and Angelina Malik also dropped by to show support for the cast and the movie. [embed width="620"]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2m7gyq[/embed] Mahira plays the lead role as Saba, while Humayun plays the role of her cousin Irtiza. Javed Shaikh and Zeba Bakhtiar are casted as Mahira’s parents while Armeena is playing Saman, Mahira’s sister. Here are five reasons why I think you should watch Bin Roye: 1. Mahira Khan [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Facebook page[/caption] If you have missed Mahira post-Humsafar, then you’ll surely love this movie. A huge chunk of the movie is focused on Mahira who is projected as an extremely happy and love struck individual. 2. Breath-taking locations and scenic views [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Facebook page[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Facebook page[/caption] From what I have heard, a major part of the movie was shot in Karachi while some of the scenes were also shot in San Francisco. So if you are romantic soul in search of wanderlust, you’d love the movie for the locations and the mesmerising views. 3. Balle Balle is the new London Thumukda [embed width="620"]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2twdft[/embed] Okay, I know this may come off as a bit exaggerated, but the songs were pretty good. Balle balle stole the show for me, While Maula Maula came in second, because Abida Parveen. Enough said! 4. Support #PakistaniCinema Let’s be honest, we all want our entertainment industry to grow and flourish. Since the past two years, Pakistan has witnessed a changing trend in the movie industry. Due to the inception of Khuda Ke Liye, we have been gifted with a new era which will definitely bring the doomed film industry back on its feet. So if you’re not a fan of either of the stars casted, I’d still urge you to go and watch the movie because we should support Pakistani cinema. 5. Upcoming drama series Some of you may already know that Bin Roye is the movie adaptation of Farhat Ishtiaq’s novel, Bin Roye Aansoo. So if you’re an avid reader and prefer books over movies and also end up watching movie adaptations of your favourite books, then you should get yourself a ticket. Also, did I mention that HUM TV is soon going to produce a drama series on the same novel? Yes. You read that right. Apart from the locations, what I loved most about the movie, were the clothes. The designers in charge for the clothes are Sania Maskatiya, Feeha Jamshed, Elan, Deepak Perwani, Jazib Qamar, Labels and Bonanza. There are a few things which you’ll notice while watching the movie. Bin Roye, like any other movie, comes with loopholes and imperfections. So here are five reasons not to watch the Lollywood flick: 1. The storyline was abrupt We all know how difficult it is to do justice to the books, but here we are facing a totally different story. There was a lack of synchronisation in the scenes and everything was abrupt. I like my mango shake and my movies quite blended. 2. The first half of the movie is extremely confusing [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Facebook page[/caption] Everyone will be confused in the first half of the movie. Fifty minutes into the movie and you’d still be watching Mahira going gaga over her cousin, Irtiza, who she’s in love with. 3. No clarity [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Facebook page[/caption] Humayun is no doubt a brilliant actor and I believe he should have been given more screen presence throughout the movie. Also, Humayun goes abroad for two years and it’s still not clear why he actually went there. ‘It’s good for his career’, is all he said in the movie. No other explanation was given as to why he went abroad. Was it a job offer, did you have to go for studies? What exactly did you go there for? 4. Lack of character development A little more detail and focus on the characters would have helped in a proper character development. Supporting casts were also given very few dialogues. Oh and who was the guy who accompanied Irtiza to and back from the airport? Still unknown. 5. First half was slow [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: Facebook page[/caption] The first half of the movie was a little slow. However, the second half of the movie managed to pull up the pace and while some scenes were shot brilliantly, some were hazy. If I had to rate Bin Roye in each department, it would be, Music: Four out of five Eye candy: Four out of five Direction: Three out of five Overall: Three out of five If you are looking to take your family out on Eid, this movie could be one of the options. If you have watched the movie or planning to watch it, do share your feedback. This post originally appeared here.
Wrong No. is a Pakistani film produced by YNH and ARY Films with the story and direction done by Yasir Nawaz. Wrong No. has pretty much been in the social media limelight for quite some time now. And to tell you the truth, I have been very sceptical about it. I thought expectations would run low once we actually get down to watching it, remember Jalaibee? [embed width="620"]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2t266e[/embed] The premiere was held at Nueplex Cinemas last night. The entire star cast was there, except Javed Sheikh, who was busy with another movie’s press conference in Dubai. There are two lead characters in the movie, Sallu (Danish Taimoor ) and Sheheryar (Danish Taimoor). Confused? [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="540"] Photo: Wrong No. Facebook page[/caption] Danish plays a double role and the movie revolves around Sallu’s attempts at escaping from his family business, who are qasais (butchers), in hopes of becoming an actor one day. On the other hand, Sheheryar (who is a Nawab of some fancy place) becomes the scapegoat. Sounds like Bollywood, doesn’t it? Yes, the movie is garnished and cooked in some Bollywood masalas, but overall, it was a fun-filled dose of entertainment. Javed Shaikh (who is a butcher) plays the role of Sallu’s father in the movie. His presence makes the movie worth watching. Every time he comes on screen, I either had a huge smile on my face or a major fit of laughter. Sohai Ali Abro plays the role of Sallu’s (Danish) neighbour who is head over heels in love with him. Janita Asma plays the role of Danish Taimoor’s (Sheheryar’s) employee. Shafqat Cheema is seen as doing what he does best, a villain role. However, his screen presence is comparatively lesser, but he does do justice to whatever on-screen time he had. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Photo: Wrong No. Facebook page[/caption] Nadeem Jafri and Danish Nawaz are also seen in a comical role which will leave you hungry for more of their acting. Instead of talking about the basic storyline (which I already mentioned will remind you of Bollywood, in a good way), I think it would be more appropriate to give you a spoiler free review and stick to what was highlighted most in the movie. As speculated, Wrong No. is a movie which has some really good punch lines with not-so-decent humour. Would you be able to watch it with your family you ask? Depends. The answer is quite relative to your dose of Bollywood consumption. So if have you been watching Bollywood flicks such as Housefull, Garam Masala, and Desi Boys with your family, then you will completely be at ease. Songs? What Songs? You can’t excel at everything and this is where Wrong No. failed to impress me. There were quite a few songs in the movie, six to be specific. They all have some good up-beat music with catchy lines. But only Selfiyaan came close to what I would say was a good (if not the best) song from Wrong No. [embed width="620"]http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2tw9ge[/embed] Lahore. Karachi. Metro. Samsung. Rivo. Repeat! Being a marketer by heart, I love noticing small details. From Cuckoo’s Den in Lahore overlooking the Badshahi Mosque to Karachi’s Baloch Colony flyover, some really famous places were selected for the shoot. And obviously, talking about Lahore, how can we miss the metro? Two words, ‘free publicity’! Samsung and Rivo were spotted as well. I believe they are the sponsors. A blurry Dalda bottle also shared a few seconds of screen time with the stars. Javed Shaikh’s grandson also makes an appearance. Don’t worry, I don’t remember the child’s name either. His lines and dialogue delivery were a standout though. He is around 10-years-old and his acting skills are brilliant. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you watch the movie. The audience was literally in fits of laughter for a good two to three minutes after his on screen performance. The first half of the movie is like a bullet train and the second half starts like a local Shaheen. As the movie starts at such a fast pace, the fact that it slows down in the second half cannot be ignored. However, by the end of second half, things pick up speed and you’ll find yourself enjoying it once again. Most of the punch lines are also used in the first half of the movie. Getting popcorn during the interval would be a good idea. I would also recommend you to not use your brains and do the math, as I was doing in my head and asking questions like “how did he reach Karachi to Lahore in a jiffy” or “how did he know where the kidnappers are hiding?” It’s a comedy fun flick which only requires you to relax, laugh and enjoy. Overall, I believe Wrong No. is totally worth your time and money. Music: Two out of five Eye candy: Four out of five Direction: Four out of five Overall: Four out of five [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="373"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="596"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: Sadiya Azhar[/caption] This post originally appeared here.
In my ancestral home in Lahore, on Eidul Fitr, our table is adorned with Bohemian crystal bowls filled with fruit or chickpea chaat and mithai in kitsch colours, laid out on silver platters. But as in many homes across Pakistan, it is the vermicelli pudding,the seviyan, which is the pièce de résistance on the table. This Eid, why not add other items to your menu for the feast? Present your guests with a saffron-imbued cold drink – Shahi Zafran ka sherbet – upon their arrival. The dollop of fresh cream on top with pistachio dust is a lovely way to do something a little extra special on Eid. After your guests have eaten and enjoyed a few spoonful’s of seviyan (which is a rite of passage on Eid), there is always room for more dessert when the tea trolley comes around. Make a gorgeous date cake for your guests, and serve it alongside a cup of cardamom-fragranced green tea. In my ancestral home, green tea was always served in my paternal grandmother’s red Russian Gardner cups, which her mother-in-law brought back from Afghanistan in the late 1800s. And for those guests who will be coming for lunch or dinner, prepare some Kebab-e-dayg – tender kebabs prepared on a slow flame, in a spicy tomato base, which pairs beautifully with some basmati rice and a kachumbar (salad). And for dessert, enjoy some goeey Date Cake! Yassi sits on her stool in the kitchen, kneading the glossy détrempe for la pâte feuilletée (puff pastry). There is no beurre sec, but Lurpak will do. Her silver and black hair is in short waves and immaculate as always; her pastel kurta is starched. Yassi’s slender, milky fingers are bare as they push the dough back and forth, like a potter with her clay. Her mother’s vintage ring bearing three overlapping leaves in rose, yellow and white gold removed and placed in the porcelain Wedgewood jewellery jar given to her by her daughter-in-law. She looks at the granite counter,
“It would be lovely to have a cup of champagne resting there for small sips while the dough rests,” she thinks.But she is no longer in her Paris kitchen, she is in Karachi. Champagne is now reserved only for special occasions. To her daughter-in-law who visits once a year, every day is a special day in Yassi’s home. Yassi serves her daughter-in-law a date cake between meals. “Oh, you’re on holiday, you must enjoy it,” she tells her, while dropping thick, heavy spoonful’s of double cream on a slice of the cake in her daughter-in-law’s plate. A recipe passed down to Yassi by her own mother, a recipe older than her marriage; even older than her son. A dense, dark, earthy cake moistened with the gooeyness of dates, almost like a steamed pudding. As I said, every day is a special day in Yassi’s home. You can have that cake, and eat it, too. For a gluten-free version, you can use a combination of gluten-free ‘flours’, for the recipe, please refer to the Gluten-Free Goddess’ website here. You will need a 10-inch (25 centimetres) spring form pan and some parchment paper. (If you use a pan with a smaller diameter, the cake may remain raw from the middle and cooked from the sides, so please do use a 10-inch pan). Ingredients: Plump dates with seed – 250 grams (If using stoned dates, you’ll have to adjust/decrease the amount) Boiling water –250 ml Baking soda – 1 tsp Unsalted butter –100 grams (brought to room temperature) Granulated sugar –180 grams Eggs – 2 Flour – 150 grams Baking powder – 2 tsp Method: 1. Preheat your oven to 175C / 350F. 2. Place parchment paper on top of the spring form pan base and trace a circle. Line pan with parchment circle and butter and flour the sides. 3. Deseed your dates by gently tearing them open from top to bottom. 4. Chop dates fine. 5. Bring 250 millilitre of water to a boil (I boil it in my kettle and then measure out 250 millilitres to be exact). 4. Pour into saucepan, when water starts to boil, add baking soda (it will froth). 5. Add chopped dates and stir the mixture for two to three minutes. 6. The date mixture should be on the thick side, not watery. 7. Take off the stove and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. 8. Now prepare the batter. Whip butter with sugar till light and fluffy. 9. Add eggs slowly; they may curdle at first but keep whipping; the mixture will come together and become smooth. 10. Slowly fold in flour and baking powder and keep whipping/mixing. 11. Add in date mixture, with a spoon/spatula and gently stir. 12. Batter will seem slightly thin, but since we’re using a pan with a wide base, don’t worry, the cake will cook through. Remember, this is a moist, pudding-like cake. 13. Pour into spring form pan. 14. Bake for 35 minutes, test to see if the toothpick comes out clean after 30 minutes. I like this cake moist and goeey, please don’t over bake it. Allow cake to rest half an hour before taking out of from pan, or serve by the spoonful’s immediately, like a soft pudding, with double, triple or clotted cream on top. Wishing everyone a lovely Eid with your loved ones. This post originally appeared here. All photos: Shayma Saadat This was Part 3 of our delicious three part Eid Feast Recipe. Part 1 (Shahi Zafran ka sherbet) and Part 2 (Kebab-e-Dayg) can be viewed respectively. Enjoy!
Eid is often considered synonymous to happiness, joy and companionship. Eid helps people reconnect and it works as an excuse for Muslims to celebrate three days with their family and friends. However, this Eid, we should not forget those who have lost so much of their world in the past year that Eid for them is as bland as any other day. For such people, who have experienced real loss and real pain, celebrating Eid is beyond comprehension. And we, who have been fortunate enough to not be struck by tragedy as yet, should partake in their pain and pay tribute to all the lives that have been lost since last Eidul Fitr. If I were to draw a timeline, it would be a morose series of events from July 28th 2014 to July 18th 2015 – a year that has taken so much from us that we don’t even recall the total number of deaths now. Gujranwala Ahmadi killing (July 28, 2014) Last year, Eidul Fitr was accompanied with the blood of three innocent lives (which included two minors) belonging to the Ahmadi community in Gujranwala, who were killed in a house fire which was set by an angry mob due to a social media controversy. As we can see, even the festive air of Eid could not stop people from showcasing their barbarianism. Wagah Border suicide attack (November 2, 2014) Within five months of the Ahmadi killing, another heart-wrenching attack took place at the Wagah Border, Lahore, in the form of a suicide bomb blast, where close to 60 people lost their loves, alongside 110 injured. This attack was the first of its kind – to take place at an Indo-Pak border – and it ran a shockwave in both India and Pakistan; after this incident, security has been increased tenfold at the border. Army Public School, Peshawar attack (December 16, 2014) A little over a month later, Pakistan was hit by another deadly blow, one which haunts people even to this day. Around 140 children were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), after they stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar and targeted innocent school-going children for their bloodlust. The day is dubbed as the Black Day of Pakistan. This attack triggered the government to create and implement the controversial National Action Plan. Shikarpur bombing (January 30, 2015) With the starting of the New Year, we were gifted with another tragedy in the form of the Shikarpur Imambargah attack, which was undertaken by Jundullah – a militant outfit connected with the Islamic State. Around 61 people lost their lives that day, as they were present at the mosque to offer their Friday prayers. The attack led to much hue and cry, but nothing substantial was decided. Unlike the APS attack, perhaps the government did not think it necessary to initiate a similar, aggressive plan for minority rights and security. Peshawar Imambargah attack (February 12, 2015) The Shia minority was attacked again, within a matter of 15 days, at an imambargah in Peshawar. This time, 19 people were brutally killed, and the responsibility for the attack was claimed by the TTP. Again, had an NAP-esque policy been devised when the first attack took place, things could have been different this time. Youhanabad church attack (March 15, 2015) TTP targeted two churches in Lahore’s predominantly Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad, resulting in the deaths of 14 people, with an additional 70 people critically injured. The attack took place during the Sunday Mass and was similar to the attack that took place in 2013 at the All Saints Church in Peshawar. Labourers killed in Balochistan (April 11, 2015) Almost a month later, in an unknown militant attack, 20 labourers were gunned down in Turbat’s Gogdan area in Balochistan for reasons unknown. But did we hear of any concrete plan made to tackle this horrific incident? No, we didn’t. The silence has been deafening. Ismaili bus attack (May 11, 2015) From a third person’s view, it seems like there is a pattern of having a major attack after every month. Forty six people belonging to the Ismaili minority community were killed by eight gunmen in Karachi. While suspects have been captured and the trial for this incident is still underway, little has been done in order to make sure that these attacks are prevented. Mastung bus attack (May 29, 2015) Thirty five people were forced off a bus and kidnapped, allegedly, by members of the United Baloch Army. Nineteen of them were later found dead. If we simply add the number of people killed in just these aforementioned incidents, the total would be a staggering 374 lives; that’s 374 homes which would not be celebrating Eid this year. And right now, I haven’t even counted the number of people killed in one-off terrorist attacks, by natural calamities or within gang-wars. Makes you think twice before you go about making your Eid schedule now, doesn’t it? I am not asking people to not celebrate Eid or to let go of their celebratory plans. But please keep in mind that we live in a war-torn nation, whose people have seen their worst nightmares come true. The least we can do is be a bit empathetic to their emotions and perhaps not celebrate with as much pomp as we normally would.
Having been raised in two Muslim countries, UAE and Pakistan, Eid has always been the festival of the year for me. I won’t lie, but from childhood till date, my favourite Eid has always been Eidul Fitr, in other words, Choti Eid. In Dubai, Eid was all about henna. Trust me, if you know the art of henna painting, cash in on your strengths and rush to Dubai. All the salons will be packed. In a country like UAE, where no one in their right mind can imagine having heaters, on the eve of Eid, you’ll find Arab women drying their henna painted hands and feet with the help of heaters. While I waited for my turn at the salon, my mother would be busy making the dessert of the year,Sheer Khorma. We would wake up on Eid day to my father yelling at my brothers, since they never wake up on time for Eid prayers. Once the prayers were done, we’d start our day with the Sheer Khorma followed by Puri Channa. After getting ready, my father would give me Eidi, which would always be the heftiest amongst all the other Eidis. Our next stop would be at Patchi, a famous chocolatier and the boutique to go for beautifully wrapped chocolates in the most exclusive of all trays. There my father would decide on the route and the number of families we had to visit. This was usually the fun part; hopping from one family friend’s place to the other, as we didn’t have any relatives in Dubai. The highlight of the day was the Eid party at night, because this is when we would get more Eidi for all the relatives. The second day of Eid would be an open house at our hose and the same people we would visit on the first day of Eid would come visit us. However, even though it would be a holiday, all of us would be up early in the morning since Eid in Pakistan would always be the next day. We would start off with the Eid Mubaraks to my paternal side of the family, followed by our maternal side of the family. The third day of Eid would be a downer only because it meant the end of Eid holidays. Eid with family friends had its own highs, yet these celebrations are only time bound. Just like all good things come to an end, Eid with family friends is restricted to a few hours. On the other hand, Eid in Lahore was the real deal. Or Chaand raat definitely was. One of the downers of Eid in Dubai used to be the limited clothes option we had to choose from. This is before the influx of Pakistani designers or Eid exhibitions in Dubai. Hence, all Pakistani families had to resort to either getting their Eid clothes tailored during their summer vacations to Pakistan, or earnestly hope a relative or friend from Pakistan would be coming to Dubai so that your relatives could send in a few joras with them. Another option was to go with what we had and that was buying Indian clothes. Now Indian clothes would definitely be perfect for a wedding, but it’s Eid, and you just want a nice semi-formal outfit, which you could never get from an Indian boutique. And this is why Eid in Lahore was no less than a shopping paradise. Nothing can beat the shopping trips with the cousins in the last week of Ramazan. Chand raat meant being out with cousins, trying to find the right pair of shoes and chooriyan (bangles). All of us would end up at Dupatta Galli in Liberty. The shopping and traffic wars would end with the men complaining about the ordeal they were put through. Herein, the first day of Eid meant a khandaan (family) reunion at my Dadi’s (paternal grandmother) ancestral home. It would start off with channa, puris, hareesas and then sevaiyan. Then came the Eidi, which was followed by all the cousins crafting plans of what all could be done with the Eidi. It’s another thing that no such plan would ever materialise. This would be followed by waiting the entire day for our ancestral cook to churn out the staple lunch feast, be it Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha or a Barsi (death anniversary), the korma, biryani and zarda was the fixed menu. End of story. A fact about Eid in Pakistan is everything would be centered around competition. Every family would like to up the other, be it in the grand feasts they lay out, to how the women dressed or how extravagant they were with the new notes they dished out as Eidi. However, in Dubai, everyone loved decking up and putting out a grand spread but the real fun was in meeting up, laughing about past incidents, playing home videos and reminiscing about all the people who had left Dubai and moved either to their homeland or Canada (somehow everyone just ended up going there). In Dubai, plans of going out and spending your Eidi actually did happen. There were always lunch and movie plans which would happen post-Eid or as we liked to call it, the fourth day of Eid. Eid with family friends had its own charm; it was devoid of any animosity hidden behind fake smiles and forced Eid Mubaraks. There was zero competition which absolutely made Eid a delight, rather than a trial of all sorts. This year, I’ll be celebrating Eid in Karachi for the first time, away from my family, relatives, family friends and most importantly as a married woman. Now that I’m away from all of them, one thing I did realise is, love them or hate them, Eid is only festive and fun only with loved ones around. The upside about Eid as a married girl is the joras galore, Eidi from the husband and the in-laws, but what I’m anxiously waiting for is the Eidi that will come from my parents all the way from Lahore. I know how my mom would have visited every outlet scrutinising every outfit in the quest for the perfect Eid attire and one that would also colour coordinate with the Eidi she’s sending her son-in-law. In this case, I know the Eidi would be over the top, but in all honesty, this Eidi definitely is one where I absolutely feel it’s the thought that counts. Knowing that my mother’s hands packed outfits for me means the world to me. This Eid will be calmer and more relaxed since we don’t have any extended family in Karachi and this makes me ponder over life; I feel it’s come a full circle. In Dubai, Eid was all about friends and the same goes with my Eid in Karachi. On a brighter note, Eid would mean holidays and now I have a third city added to my Eid memoirs.
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Cleanliness and hygiene are probably the least important segments to be taken seriously in our society. Be it our government-run offices, hospitals, parks and privately-owned eateries, grocery stores, and entertainment areas. Due to a lack of awareness and absence of strict law enforcement, businesses are least bothered and easily get away by either bribing the food inspectors or paying off the little monetary penalties that the government impose on them whenever a certain concerned government official decides to do his/her job for a change. The recent raids on Pizza Hut and KFC in Peshawar and Fat burger, Pearl Continental (PC) and Avari in Lahore and the following corrective action taken by the government officials is indeed a welcome sign and deserves appreciation. For once, it seems like some individuals have decided to take to task the people responsible for carrying out unhygienic and unsafe practices which is a criminal offence by all means. Similar raids and stricter actions are required in the city of Karachi as well where there is a mushroom growth of eateries but zero enforcement of hygiene standards. In Sindh, the only sector that has been seen active in this respect is the electronic media which has played its role positively by carrying out surprise raids along with health officials and the concerned area administrators. This is where the discipline of food safety and a proper knowledge of the subject come in. Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This involves a set protocol that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. This also includes a system of checks and balances to ensure safety between the industry and the market and then between the market and the end consumer. When it comes to ‘industry to market’ practices, food safety concerns include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labelling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, as well as the concerned policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. When considering ‘market to end consumer’ practices, the rule of thumb is that the food needs to be safe in the market during the storage phase and the safe delivery and preparation of the food for the end consumer. Food can transmit disease from person to person as well as serve as a growth medium for bacteria that can cause food poisoning. In Pakistan, we quite frequently hear of people suffering from food poisoning after eating at some restaurant. The reasons are quite evident, unsafe and unhygienic storage of food or negligence shown during the preparation. In developed countries, there are sophisticated standards for food preparation, whereas in lesser developed countries like that of ours, the main issue is simply the availability of adequate safe water, which is usually a critical item. In a city like Karachi, where because of criminal negligence shown by the government of Sindh and corruption within the Karachi Water and Sewerage Department, the water tanker mafia rules supreme and provides unhygienic water to homes and businesses 365 days a year. This water is then used by hapless end consumers in the preparation of food resulting in the rising cases of food poisoning and contamination. The five key principles of food hygiene, according to the World Health Organisation are: 1. Avoid contaminating food with pathogens disseminating from people, pets, and pests. 2. Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating the cooked ones. 3. Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the appropriate temperature to kill pathogens. 4. Store food at the proper temperature. 5. Use safe water and raw materials. When it comes to enforcement of food and hygiene safety, up until now, almost all the provincial governments have shown criminal negligence with an exception of a few cases of enforcement that were in the media recently. Otherwise, the poor standard of cleanliness witnessed at government offices is a clear reflection of the state of mind the concerned officers come with. The government will have to work on this crucial issue of food safety and hygiene on war footings and ensure the continuation of law enforcement in this respect with frequent surprise checks and implementation of the strictest penalties for a safe and healthy future for our nation. Sincere efforts are also required to provide the citizens with clean and consumable water, which is the basic necessity of every human.
Recently, the Chief Minister of Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah, along with some of his cabinet members travelled all the way to Dubai to attend a meeting co-chaired by the co-chairman and chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), neither of whom, by the way, hold any office of authority in the government of Sindh or Pakistan, yet are ‘powerful’ enough to have the Sindh government come to them for directions. What were these directions that could only be given in Dubai, only in person and not via a teleconference, letter or a phone call? Well, first off, it is an established fact that Mr Asif Ali Zardari alone is heavier than all (aik Zardari sab pe bhari), so maybe it was cheaper and more convenient for the Sindh cabinet and CM to go to him, than he, the ‘heavy one’ coming to Sindh. Also it was during Eid and, God forbid, if these ‘popular’ leaders were forced to spend Eid amongst the people they ‘love so dearly’. So it makes sense to have a dozen people travel to Dubai instead of two travelling to Sindh to decide Sindh affairs. Any criticism on this particular aspect of the meeting is thus unjustified. As for the agenda of this meeting, recent actions by law enforcement agencies, Rangers to be precise, in Karachi have become a cause of concern for all stakeholders. The higher your stakes in Karachi, more the concern. Ever since the Rangers have hinted upon widening the scope of their operation to ‘economic terrorism’ and that even to parties other than Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), PPP has been a little edgy. When Rangers started arresting government officers who were likely to spill the beans, PPP became defensive, then suddenly offensive and then again defensive. The bhari Zardari’s bhari outburst just before leaving the country, revealed how Rangers had touched a bhari nerve. MQM was already a target and now PPP was a promised next. Corrupt elements within the PPP could have been exposed, tarnishing the party, its leaders, its leaders’ siblings, and their ‘adopted’ brothers. So when some powerful ‘others’ had taken notice of mammoth corruption in Sindh, the ruling party also decided that it is time to take notice of their own. PPP decided to start taking measures against the flourishing culture of corruption in Sindh, or at least look like taking these measures. Anti-corruption and inspection teams were directed to become visible, government officials were asked to act like they were doing all they can against corrupt subordinates. Rumours were leaked of axing some ‘corrupt’ ministers from Shah ji’s cabinet. This meeting was called to decide the fate of these ministers and their departments on the basis of ‘performance’. Basically, it was decided to make some changes and not change anything. No minister was axed, only departments were exchanged. The portfolio of Ministry of Information has been taken from Mr Sharjeel Memon and given to Nisar Khuhro, whose portfolio of Education and literacy department has been given to Mr Mir Hazaar Khan Bijrani whose portfolio for Works and Services has been given to Sharjeel Memon. So if Memon had failed to manage the affairs of information and local governments department owing to corruption or incompetence, he will now be given an opportunity to fail at running Works and Services department. The Works and Services department was previously suffering under Mr Bijrani, so he has now been given a shot at the Education department. The Education department suffered large scale corruption and mismanagement under Khuhro who will now be heading the Ministry of Information. Similar changes have also been made in Sindh’s bureaucracy. The Sindh government also recently decided to take action against corrupt government officials, and give more authority to the anti-corruption establishment. The object of all these measures seems to create the perception of fighting the menace of corruption, instead of taking any real steps in that direction. Mr Zardari is wise, or at least wiser than most in his league, he knows he is not fooling anyone into withdrawing from their stance against PPP and Sindh government's corruption, or from their plans to act against it. But he also knows that he only needs to fool the masses into believing that PPP is sincerely working to eradicate corruption and clean Karachi. If and when actual steps are taken by Rangers or any other, PPP can play their ever green, ever effective ‘victim’ card.
Not long ago, Pakistan, a sport loving nation who looked towards cricket as a uniting force, was down and dejected when they were thrashed by none other than Bangladesh, the team for whom we always took pride in playing an instrumental part in allowing them to become a Test-playing nation. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photo: AFP[/caption] It was heartbreaking really. I never thought such a day would come, but it did. During that time, many thought that a touring Zimbabwe would also be a difficult side to beat, and that the chances of Pakistan playing in the Champion’s Trophy would definitely slip out of our hands, because the only way we would qualify for the league would be by beating Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, and that even on their home ground. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: AFP[/caption] But you can’t just write Pakistan off, not yet. We came out from nowhere during the Sri Lankan tour, and apart from the last five-match ODI series in Sri Lanka, Pakistan dominated each and every single aspect of the ODI series. Even in the second ODI, where Pakistan was beaten narrowly by two wickets, it was the individual brilliance of Kusal Perera that snatched the game completely away from us by scoring 60 odd runs on 20 odd deliveries. Even then, we fought back, and at one stage, we even had a slight advantage when Sri Lanka was down to 156 for five. But we could not stop them since Perera came in and delivered his blitzing innings. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="456"] Photo: AFP[/caption] Our victory may cover up all the problems our team has, but the question remains, what has transformed Pakistan from a demotivated and disgruntled unit into a unit that is unwilling to accept defeat? For me, apart from the fielding and better batting performance, the real answer is the balance in the team. Pakistan under Misbahul Haq’s captaincy always looked like a team short of a batsman or two, and with Shahid Afridi coming in at number seven, we were constantly playing with six batsmen, which put extra pressure on the bowling unit, resulting in total chaos in the ODI format. After the 2011 World Cup, for the first time as far as I can recall, we have six bowlers and a pretty decent batting line -up until number eight and that is due to the fact that the selectors finally turned their attention to young Anwar Ali and, as Ramiz Raja said, a “veteran” Shoaib Malik. I feel they are the two unsung heroes important for the revival of the Pakistani cricket team in the ODI format. Anwar, the man from Karachi, along with Mohammad Rizwan, is a breath of fresh air in the Pakistan team’s fielding department and it’s probably the best since a long time. Anwar probably took two of the best catches in the series and was also a part of the brilliant solo run-out effort in the follow up. He also bowled deathly overs in the fourth ODI and has been instrumental in saving crucial runs for the Pakistani team. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="594"] Photo: AFP[/caption] As a bowler, Anwar’s role was a difficult one, which he completed with utmost honesty and hard work, producing some great results. For a bowler new at international cricket and for someone who does not possess an extremely great set of skills, finishing the series as the joint second highest wicket-taker along with Mohammad Hafeez with an economy rate of under six runs while bowling at the start is a great achievement. His batting in the second ODI with Rizwan once again assured the management, as well as the player’s sitting in the dressing room, that we finally don’t have to worry about our batting order thinning out towards the end as he is more than a decent batsmen coming in at number eight. For the veteran Malik, it’s been a more than happy comeback. For once, he is being reinstated into a team where his batting order is what it should have been all these years. Under Misbah’s captaincy, Malik played 22 innings, out of which 15 he batted at number six and number seven. Malik was never the big hitter you needed at the end of an innings, instead he was the player who can provide you with the platform to finish big. Fortunately, under Azhar Ali’s captaincy, Malik was given a settled role, a role that he seems to like. Batting at number five, Malik is seen flourishing as the man who links the upper order to the lower order in order provide that bit of stability in the batting department. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="595"] Photo: Reuters[/caption] His calmness on the pitch was instrumental for Pakistan in the first ODI victory chase, where he guided the team, first with Hafeez and then with Rizwan. Another reason for his success is the amount of confidence young Azhar showed in his bowling, which eases the pressure on his batting as well. Under Misbah, Malik hardly ever got the chance to bowl, which meant that he had to play as a batsman only, and that too at a position that never synchronised with the kind of player he is. To understand how a batting position can affect a player’s utility, one would have to understand that Virat Kohli won’t have the same kind of effect while batting at number seven as compared to what he produces batting at number three. Similarly, MS Dhoni might not be the same Dhoni batting at number three, as compared to batting on number seven. As far as his bowling is concerned in the series, even though Malik did not pick up a wicket, he was one of the most economical bowlers for Pakistan in the series, where he bowled five overs a match and was not easy to get away with in terms of scoring runs. His fielding has always been a plus point and that too helped Pakistan in their fielding department. All in all, Pakistan finally has a balance in their ODI team, a balance they’ve desperately been looking for. The Champions Trophy qualification is not over and done with yet, but it is up for grabs as Pakistan now holds the initiative, come the September 30th deadline. Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed have gone back to their basic ODI format that Pakistan always had, where we never depended on a specialist to take us forward. It was always two or three all-rounders that set us apart from the rest of cricketing world, the one’s that remain unnoticed, yet contribute to the teams’ success. Even though Hafeez cannot bowl for a year due to the ban, but in Anwar and Malik, Pakistan now has two all-rounders who can bat, bowl and are brilliant fielders, which sets Pakistan off on their rightful journey towards a glorious future in ODI cricket.
After the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar carnage, schools throughout the country were under constant threat. Most vulnerable were the schools of Karachi where there were a few instances of letters, coffins and even bullets thrown in schools in order to intimidate the authorities and school owners and create an environment of fear and paranoia. However, the government did not mobilise its security apparatus to secure the schools and instead relied heavily on the schools to take care of their own security. Instead of withdrawing police from VIP protocols and deputing them in sensitive areas, the provincial government displayed insensitivity by asking the schools to beef up their security by employing the services of private security guards who are by no means a match to the ruthlessness and sophistication of the terror networks operating throughout the country. The city of Karachi is witnessing an unregulated mushroom growth of settlements by individuals and families heading from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Punjab and interior of Sindh to the port city in search of jobs. The government is least concerned regarding proper registration of all such immigrants which is resulting in massive infiltrations by hardened militants. Such elements are easily utilised by terror cells operating in the city and investigations revealed such a nexus after revelations were made by the terrorists who caused the Safoora Goth massacre. Some background interviews with a few prominent school owners revealed that the only measure taken by the Government of Sindh was sharing of contact details of law enforcement agencies which even failed to connect in times of need. The helpline numbers shared by Sindh Rangers were unattended and once again, the owners of private schools were left helpless relying heavily on their underpaid and ill-equipped private security guards. As per a recent news story in the Express Tribune, the provincial government spends Rs220 million monthly for the security of 600 VIPs, including ministers and foreign diplomats. It was also mentioned that over 1,675 police personnel were deployed in VIP zones, whereas only one security personnel was available for 6,000 citizens in the city whose estimated population was beyond 18 million. The sitting government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been in power for more than seven years now and from time to time, the chief minister of Sindh has expressed helplessness in maintaining law and order through the existing police structure citing an acute shortage of policemen in the province as a reason. Yet there are no steps taken by the government in this connection and the only segment of the society that enjoys complete police protocol and protection are the VIPs and all of this remains at the cost of hard earned tax payer’s money. The life of a school going child is much precious than the life of the PPP co-chairman’s sister who enjoys fool-proof security just for being an influential figure in the politics of Sindh and a close relative of the head honcho. The entire cabinet of Syed Qaim Ali Shah, his battery of advisors and the bureaucrats serving in different departments of the Government of Sindh travel in complete security cover while the school going children stay unprotected and vulnerable to all sorts of terrorist attacks. The Sindh High Court (SHC) recently took to task the provincial chief secretary of Sindh for ignoring the court’s order to identify those schools exposed to risks of terror attacks and adopt security measures there. This is indeed a ray of hope towards the resolution of a crucial issue that has been ignored by the government for long. The honourable judges of the SHC are the only authority who can get it done and if all else fails, it shall be the suo motu on part of the court that will eventually mobilise the security apparatus and protect the precious young lives before it gets too late.