Showing posts from February, 2006

Lessons from the carnage

Sometimes it feels as if we humans are bent upon destroying the peace and harmony of this planet but then the actions of a few individuals restrains one from concluding that we are doomed. The dismal human rights record and the long history of ethnic and religious riots in South Asia is a sad one. The Gujarat massacre is one of the ugliest episodes of communal riots in this century. The Indian state of Gujarat became a laboratory of the fascist ideology of the Hindu Right, also known as Hindutva. In February 2002, a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was burnt down, and 60 people were charred to death. The Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, without conducting an investigation, was quick to pin the blame on Muslim fundamentalists. A few days later, under a state-sponsored pogrom, supervised by Narendra Modi (Chief Minister of Gujarat), more than 2,000 Muslims were brutally murdered by Hindu fundamentalists. Most of the victims were women who were dragged out of their homes, ga…

Bitter twist to the sugary tale

The worsening sugar crisis in Pakistan has taken a bitter turn. In the recent few weeks, the price of one kilo of sugar has gone up from Rs. 26 to Rs. 45. Not only has there been a massive price hike, it has been found that some leading politicians, who also own sugar mills, were impeding the supply of sugar stocks to the market to multiply their profits. This nexus between the ruling party politicians and the sugar industry has created havoc for the general public. One thing is certain, we have made progress in one sector only — ‘price hikes’. The prices of daily use items such as sugar are touching the sky and the public is bewildered why our government machinery has failed to address this crisis.

Sugar worth $ 35 million was exported during the last three years. Exports cannot be made without the government’s permission. According to the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), a shortage of 1 million tonnes of sugar is likely in the current season. Therefore, this collaboration on…

Nationality on sale!

It takes courageous investigative journalism to unearth crime in Pakistan. A team of our reporters carried out a sting operation to uncover a mafia operating in and around the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) that issues Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs). Due to complaints about fake ID cards in their previous form, the Pakistan government decided to issue computerised NICs. They were wrong in assuming that computerised IDs could not be duplicated. Today, technology has broader, more profound implications for society and the world we live in. Whereas it has made life easier for most honest people, it has also advantaged criminals. In this case, NADRA underestimated the ingenuity of criminal gangs who have gained parallel access to technology and so are able to reproduce near perfect copies of the so-called foolproof NICs. These ID cards are next to impossible to distinguish from the genuine ones. This enables criminals to pass off as responsible members …

The fading tragedy

Despite concerns over security in Pakistan following angry anti-Western protests against the blasphemous cartoons, it is highly commendable that the UN is continuing its relief efforts in the earthquake-affected areas. The commitment of the UN and other aid agencies is laudable, but the international donors’ attitude has been disappointing. The massive October 8 earthquake was the strongest earthquake in the area during the last hundred years and it was by far the most destructive disaster in the region. With more than 87,000 people killed, another 65,000 injured, an estimated three million people left homeless and much of the infrastructure of the affected regions in Azad Kashmir and NWFP destroyed or badly damaged, the huge scale of the relief effort required to cope with the aftermath of the disaster posed a massive logistical problem for the government and relief agencies. Terming it one of the worst natural disasters and one of the most difficult relief operations, UN Emergency R…

Field or battlefield

Aik mai aur aik tu hai, aur hawa mein jaadu hai
aarzoo bekabu hai, samjho saari baat baaki
…right here right now, hai khushi ka samaa
right here right now, hum hain iss pal jahaan

These days we hear this song being played everywhere – be it in a car, restaurant, shop, or home. It is not even a local song -- in fact it is an Indian song from a new Bollywood movie, Bluff Master. We love listening to Indian songs, watch their movies, soap operas and other TV programmes. In fact, many people are showing ‘withdrawal symptoms’ since PEMRA stopped the transmission of Star Plus on cable networks.

The cultural invasion by India is worrying some people. These people are extremely sensitive about the preservation of the culture we consider essentially Pakistani, and constantly complaining how we are losing our culture to the Indians through Indian satellite channels, movies, etc. Their concerns are true to a point: that on one side we are absorbed in their c…