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Showing posts from January, 2006

Uniformed Pharaohs

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War prohibits ‘violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, taking of hostages and outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.’ The US forces are clearly in violation of these rules in Iraq as there are reports of US troops arresting women to pressure fugitive male relatives into giving themselves up. Such arrests are in breach of international law. On May 12, 2004, The Guardian reported that the US occupation forces had released most of the Iraqi female detainees as the abuse scandal was still unfolding. The daily pointed out that Iraqi female prisoners were kept in solitary confinement up to 23 hours a day, adding that it saw pictures of US soldiers raping Iraqi women or photographing them naked in prison. A freed detainee told a newspaper about her ordeal inside a US prison and how she had been gang-raped b…

Tragic crash

As many as six people were killed and 50 others injured as a Lahore-bound non-stop Express train derailed near Jehlum when six coaches of the train fell into a 15-30 metres deep ravine between Domeli and Bhakrala on Sunday at about 7:20 pm. The accident scene was on a sharp curve in a mountainous area. The ill-fated train was carrying some 600 people. The six coaches of the 108-Down Islamabad Express that fell into the ravine were carrying around 400 passengers. Pakistan Army and relief teams evacuated the stranded passengers and shifted them to hospitals where they were given immediate treatment. Train crashes are not unheard of in this part of the world. Three passenger trains collided near the southern town of Ghotki last July, killing more than 130 people and injuring around 1,000, in the country’s worst train disaster in at least a decade. The crash occurred when a train driver misinterpreted a signal, rammed into another train at a station and a third train then ploughed into th…

Fly away ladies!

Flight PK-623 created a unique aviation record for the national air carrier, PIA, when a woman pilot and her all-woman crew flew a PIA Fokker plane without any assistance from men. Captain Ayesha Rabia Naveed was in command of the flight, which transported 40 passengers from Islamabad to Lahore. The success of the flight has negated the assumption that women are less disposed to excel in male-oriented fields. Gender relations in Pakistan rest on two basic perceptions: that women are subordinate to men, and that a man’s honour resides in the actions of the women of his family. Thus, as in other orthodox Muslim societies, women are responsible for maintaining the family honour. To ensure that they do not dishonour their families, society limits women’s mobility, places restrictions on their behaviour and activities, and permits them only limited contact with the opposite sex. For years the role that a Pakistani woman played as a citizen, a member of the family, or a homemaker has been h…

VIP culture on roads

Governor Punjab, Lieutenant General (Retd.) Khalid Maqbool has strictly instructed the authorities not to stop the traffic or turn off the traffic signals when he is out on the roads, as has become the norm for VIPs’ movement. The governor took this decision when a traffic constable stopped an ambulance so that the governor’s car could pass without any hold up. Governor Khalid Maqbool was appalled at this incident.

On any ordinary day, if you happen to be travelling on the road and suddenly witness a flurry of activity amongst the traffic police, 99.9 percent chances are that a politician or high official’s car is about to pass. All traffic is immediately stopped and traffic signals are shut down so that the traffic constables can let the VIP pass in peace.

Another scenario is when there has been a traffic jam for half an hour or so because some minister is supposed to pass any minute. It does not seem to matter if he gets delayed and turns up on that road after an hour. The other commu…

Indian films: an invasion of Pakistani Cinema or a welcome change?

A debate has been going on for several years that whether the exhibition of Hindi movies should be allowed in the local Pakistani cinemas. Now that Pakistan and India are moving towards a procession of peace, this question dwells in the minds of most Pakistanis. The Indian movie producers have been asking the Pakistani government that their movies should be allowed in the Pakistani cinemas, as it will help stop piracy, and it will also generate revenues for them.

Recently I perused an article about polls held by a newspaper to estimate whether people favour or disapprove the idea of showing Indian films in Cinemas. I came to know after reading the result that most people are convinced that exhibition of Indian films would cause catastrophic repercussions and consequences on our culture and society. I am afraid but I term these views irrational and hypocritical.

Merely half a century ago, the English had enslaved us for a period of more than hundred years. But this has not stopped many…

Desperate times

Winter in northern Pakistan came late but with a vengeance, unleashing three days of rain and snow this week that is adding to the misery of the earthquake survivors. It has resulted in grounding relief flights and causing landslides that cut off road access to many affected areas. The survivors deprived of proper food and a roof over their heads are staring at another grave disaster. They now face the winter’s wrath. This cruel weather is worsening health conditions in remote areas, and weather-related fatalities and illnesses such as pneumonia are on the rise. These illnesses are life-threatening for everyone, but especially children, the elderly and women.

Shelter remains the top priority. Many of the survivors do not have any form of shelter yet. People squeeze under overhangs and any other cover they can find to protect themselves from the rain and snow. Crowds of children and men huddle around wood fires for warmth. Wintertime shelters are desperately needed to avert a feared “se…