Archive for May, 2010

KARACHI, May 6: Enraged residents of Pak Colony, facing prolonged outages and resultant disruption in water supply for the past several days, staged a violent protest late on Wednesday night and ransacked a local office of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

The protesters damaged the furniture, fixtures and fittings in the office and also blocked roads and burnt used tyres.

They were chanting slogans against the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) and the water board.

The city was deprived of more than 10 million gallons of water because of an outage at the Gharo pumping station of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board between 5am and 9am on Thursday.

A KWSB press release said that Landhi, Shah Faisal Colony, Karsaz, Shah Faisal Base, Bhens Colony, Gulshani-Iqbal, Mohammad Ali Housing Society, KDA Scheme-1, Jamshed Town and adjoining areas would face water shortage because of the outage.

Meanwhile, Dawn received a number of complaints about outages of extended durations from the residents of Parsi Colony, Soldier Bazaar, Garden East, parts of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, North Karachi, Gadap, Malir, Lyari and some old town areas.

Residents of Defence Phase-V Extension said that they suffered nearly 16 hours of outage on Wednesday because of a theft of some KESC electrical equipment in its substation.

The KESC also reported an incident of theft of its fixtures in a busy Saddar area.

The KESC reduced the incidence of loadshedding to let people watch T20 World Cup cricket match, KESC officials claimed.

However, the power utility could not meet the demand for electricity despite an increase its generation from the Bin Qasim power plant.

On Thursday, the plant generated 900 megawatts. Unit 1 was churned out 170MW, unit 2 produced 70MW, unit 3 generated 165MW, unit 4 generated 95MW, unit 5 produced 220MW and unit 6 generated 180MW.

However, there was still a gap of about 300 megawatts in supply and demand despite continuing supply from the Water and Power Development Authority.

The power crisis persisted while most markets refused to follow the government decision of early markets’ closure.

Loadshedding also affected students appearing in exams and aggravated the water crisis in many areas and especially the residents of apartment buildings got severely affected from the outages.

Courtesy: Daily dawn, Karachi


Read Full Post »

NAWABSHAH, May 6: Seven persons were killed and three others seriously injured when an armed group of Khoso tribesmen opened fire on a paddy shop in Qazi Ahmed on Thursday.

Khair Mohammed Jatoi, Sharif Jatoi, Anwar Jatoi, Mohammed Jatoi and three pedestrians Rustam Kumbhar, Gulzar Kumbhar and Malook Baladi died on the spot while three others including Ashiq Jatoi were injured in the attack.

The injured were taken to the rural health centre of Qazi Ahmed from where one of them was referred to PMC hospital Nawabshah.

Incident spread panic and all shops in Qazi Ahmed were closed. A large number of Jatoi tribesmen opened aerial firing, gathered at the National Highway and blocked the road in protest.

They raised slogans against police and burnt tyres, suspending traffic towards Karachi and upcountry and leaving passengers stranded for hours.

Protesters said the Nawabshah police had failed to provide them security.

They said that they had filed several applications with the police for providing security and establishment of a temporary picket, but police failed to do so.

Sources said that a group of enraged Jatoi tribesmen attacked the village of Ghazi Hassan Khoso after the Qazi Ah med incident and killed a man identified as Qurban Khoso.

A munshi of Qazi Ahmed police told Dawn that there was an old dispute between the two tribesmen and one man of the Jatoi and two of the Khoso tribes were killed in December 2009.

MPA Ghulam Qadir Chandio, president of the PPP Shaheed Benazirabad, and Ziaul Hassan Lanjar, coordinator to MNA Faryal Talpur, reached the highway, held talks with the protesters and assured them of justice after which they dispersed.

When contacted, DPO Pervez Umrani said that eight persons were killed and two injured in the incidents.

He said that a heavy contingent of police and Rangers personnel had been deputed to calm the situation and the highway was also cleared for traffic. He said that FIR would be lodged after funerals.

Hyderabad DIG Tahir Naveed also arrived at the spot and told journalists that an enquiry would be conducted and culprits would be put behind the bars.

He said that strict action would be taken against police officials if found responsible for the incident. He asked the notables of tribes to stop further clashes and help normalise the situation. The situation was tense in the area, however no arrests was made till filing of this report. 

Courtesy: Daily Dawn


Read Full Post »

LAHORE, May 6: ‘Virsa’ will be the first international Punjabi film with cast and crew from India and Pakistan to be released on Friday (today) all over the country.

It was announced at a press conference held at a local hotel on Thursday, jointly addressed by singer Jawad Ahmad, the music director of the film, and a few actors from Pakistan and India.

Directed by Pankaj Batra and produced by Dr Amanuallah Khan, Jawad Ahmed and Vikram Khakar the film is the first collaborative effort in all segments of filmmaking between India and Pakistan. Jawad Ahmad on the occasion said the Censor Board had not cut even a single scene of the film. He said as the film had been declared a local production by the Board, it was exempted from 65 per cent entertainment tax imposed on foreign films. “I convinced the Censor Board as Pakistani side had major share in the investment so it should be declared a local film.”

He said this had set a precedent and now any coproduction having collaboration between Pakistan and a foreign country could be considered a local film. Indian TV’s famous face Kanwal Jeet thanked Lahorites for the warmth they expressed for him and the love he was showered with in Lahore.

Mr Jeet said he always wanted to visit Lahore as his ancestors used to live in Rawalpindi before partition and his father had studied at the Government College, Lahore.

Vikram Khakar, one of the producers of the film, said exchange of artistes and collaborative cinematic ventures could bring close the people on both sides of the border. Actor Numan Ijaz said he really enjoyed while working with Indian actors and the experience of doing a collaborative venture was a great one.

Mehreen Raheel, who is playing the female lead in the film, said it was her maiden film and was also an incredible experience. She said the subject of the film was very strong. The film also marks the launch of Aarya Babbar, son of famous Indian actor Raj Babbar, in Punjabi films. He is playing the male lead role in the film. lahore, may 6: ‘virsa’ will be the first international punjabi film with cast and crew from india and pakistan to be released on friday (to- day) all over the country.

it was announced at a press conference held at a local ho- tel on thursday, jointly ad- dressed by singer jawad ahmad, the music director of the film, and a few actors from pakistan and india. directed by pankaj batra and produced by dr amanuallah khan, jawad ahmed and vikram khakar the film is the first collabora- tive effort in all segments of filmmaking between india and pakistan. jawad ahmad on the occa- sion said the censor board had not cut even a single scene of the film. he said as the film had been declared a local produc- tion by the board, it was ex- empted from 65 per cent en- tertainment tax imposed on foreign films. “i convinced the censor board as pakistani side had major share in the investment so it should be declared a lo- cal film.” he said this had set a precedent and now any co- production having collabora- tion between pakistan and a foreign country could be con- sidered a local film. indian tv’s famous face kanwal jeet thanked lahorites for the warmth they expressed for him and the love he was showered with in lahore.

mr jeet said he al- ways wanted to visit lahore as his ancestors used to live in rawalpindi before partition and his father had studied at the government college, lahore. vikram khakar, one of the producers of the film, said ex- change of artistes and collabo- rative cinematic ventures could bring close the people on both sides of the border.

actor numan ijaz said he really enjoyed while working with indian actors and the ex- perience of doing a collabora- tive venture was a great one. mehreen raheel, who is playing the female lead in the film, said it was her maiden film and was also an incredi- ble experience. she said the subject of the film was very strong. the film also marks the launch of aarya babbar, son of famous indian actor raj babbar, in punjabi films. he is playing the male lead role in the film.

Courtesy: Daily Dawn, Karachi


Read Full Post »

Kanak Mani Dixit

Even though PIA Flight 269 was bound from Kathmandu to Karachi, I was excited to visit the Sindhi Hyderabad. For too long, the Deccan city and capital of Andhra, with its IT glamour, had wrested the limelight from its humbler counterpart. Lo! Even the screen indicating the Pakistani Airbus’s flight-path showed the Deccan Hyderabad, but not the city by the Indus to which I was bound.

From the Karachi airport, ‘Haidarabad’, as it is properly pronounced, is a two-and-a-half-hour drive through the rolling desert along the M9 motorway. The city is reached after descending a plateau and crossing a rivulet – in actuality, the great River Indus in its emaciated present-day avatar. There, a traveller crosses eastward, over a bridge that seems too long for a flow this miniscule, even though it is supposed to be the consolidated flow of all six tributaries upstream. India has tapped the three eastern rivers under the auspices of the Indus River Treaty, and Pakistani Punjab takes copious draughts from the remaining three.

The inhabitants of Sindh seem impelled by the force of history to speak of their great past – the great Indus civilisation and its archaeological remains, the conquests of Iskandar, the rise of the Sindhi language, Buddhism, Sufism and the arrival of Islam. Those were the times when the Indus flowed with strength, and contrasts with a beleaguered present are unavoidable. With the river nearly gone, Sindhis seek to preserve their pride in the Ajrak block-printed shawls that are presented to visitors, and in the vibrant Sindhi press that challenges Urdu as the language of political discourse.

The Sindhi heart does seem to throb for more agency within the Punjab-dominated Pakistani state. News comes on radio and television of the Parliament in Islamabad having adopted the 18th Amendment amidst much jubilation. In ‘Haidarabad’, the Sindhi nationalists had called a closure of the city, refusing to be taken in by what they said was a fraudulent federalism. Said one activist, “All we got was the colonial spelling of ‘Sind’ changed to ‘Sindh’, just as ‘Baluchistan’ became ‘Balochistan’.” If it took six decades to add the ‘h’ and replace the ‘u’, how much longer for real federalism to come about?

Well past midnight, we travelled north along the N5 highway and arrive at Bhitshah, with its shrine of the mystic Shah Abdul Latif. Men and women mill about amidst the chanting of Sufi minstrels; the faithful taken over by sleep lie down amidst the many graves surrounding the mausoleum.
The rule appears to be: The more arid the climate, the more inhospitable the terrain, the higher the level of humanist philosophy. This is probably why the great Sufi saints lived here, nurturing their syncretistic and inclusive faith in this Sindhi-Seraiki-Punjabi strip of territory along the Indus. Wrote Shah Latif in the early 1700s, as if he had been talking of Sindh today, in this translation by the late D H Butani:

Tell me the stories, oh thorn-brush,
Of the mighty merchants of the Indus,
Of the nights and the days of the
prosperous times,
Are you in pain now, oh thorn-brush?
Because they have departed:
In protest, cease to flower.
Oh thorn-brush, how old were you
When the river was in full flood?
The river is littered with mud
And the banks grow only straws
The river has lost its old strength.

Even so, the cultural activists of Sindh hardly seem morose – theirs is an open and self-questioning attitude, with the rigidities of faith seemingly absent. They may be nationalist, but the secular bedrock of Sindhi Sufism seems to preclude chauvinism. Though these activists of ‘Haidarabad’ may seem insular in their nationalist aspirations, they are very aware that they form part of the Southasian mosaic. And it is okay to place transparent gin in mineral water bottles as you decided to let your hair down in public.

If the Subcontinent is to take advantage of its possibilities, some states and provinces will have to play more of a part than others. Sindh is likely to show the way. If it can wrest more agency from the Pakistani state, it will first ensure the advancement of the population within. But thereafter, it will point the way to the kind of Southasia we should be envisioning: a group of nation states whose provinces and states communicate, interact, trade and revive the penumbra of cultures, making us just as we used to be.

But does it make sense to talk about a federal ‘soft border’ Southasia when a fence has been put up to separate Sindh from Rajasthan and Gujarat? The hope is that this fence – and the pillboxes, searchlights and service track – will deteriorate the moment there is a better understanding across borders. For this, the units of Southasia, more than its central establishments, have to have a say.

In the Nagar Parkar desert in eastern Sindh, there is a ‘vulture restaurant’, run by the Dhartee Development Society, an NGO. The ‘restaurant’ provides clean animal carcasses for vultures, which are vulnerable to livestock that have been tainted by the drug Diclofenac, an anti-inflammation and pain-reliever drug. Nagar Parkar lies right by the Indian frontier, a stone’s throw from the India-Pakistan border fence. Rajasthani vultures know enough to overfly and alight at Nagar Parkar, to partake of the delicacies put up by the environmentalists of Sindh. Left to the Sindhis, human denizens would be able to do this too, and sooner than later.

Courtesy: Himal Southasian


Read Full Post »


By Irfan Hussain

FLYING over southern Pakistan in May and June, it feels your plane is crossing a large desert. A few weeks later, the monsoons transform this arid tract into lush farmland. In the spring, the Indus works its magic along the fabled valley, but for most of the year, much of Pakistan is dry and parched.
Water, after the air we breathe, is our most precious commodity. Life cannot be imagined without it, and vast areas of the planet are being stripped of greenery as the flow of rivers declines, and the rains fail. Drought has struck in different continents, and glaciers are melting at a rapid rate. In the subcontinent, we are balanced on a knife-edge as water resources are being depleted while the population soars unchecked.

Acutely aware of our precarious position, a lot of media attention is now focused on this issue. Much of this discussion, however, is ill-informed and emotional. The thrust of the narrative is that somehow, India is stealing our rightful share of the water that is due to us under the Indus Waters Treaty. This accusation is constantly bandied about despite the clear assertion from our officials charged with monitoring river flows into Pakistan that there has been no diversion of our water by India.

Nevertheless, this is a highly emotive issue, and needs to be dispassionately analysed. According to Tariq Hassan, an eminent lawyer: “Water is the most strategic issue facing the subcontinent. If there is a war here in the future, it will be over water.” He makes the point that the treaty itself is inimical to Pakistan’s interest, and should not have been signed by Ayub Khan. However, much (but dwindling) water has flowed down the Indus since the treaty was signed some 50 years ago.

Another take on the issue comes from John Briscoe, a South African expert who has spent three decades in South Asia, and has served as a senior advisor on water issues to the World Bank. In an article titled War or Peace on the Indus?, Briscoe places the matter in a political context:

“Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas important parts of the Pakistani press regularly reported India’s views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar….

“Equally depressing is my repeated experience — most recently at a major international meeting of strategic security institutions in Delhi — that even the most liberal and enlightened of Indian analysts … seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the great vulnerability and legitimate concern of Pakistan (which is obvious and objective to an outsider)…. This is a very uneven playing field. The regional hegemon is the upper riparian and has all the cards in its hands.” Briscoe makes the point that even though India was cleared of any technical violation of the treaty in building Baglihar dam by an interna tional panel of experts its timing of the diversion of the river to fill the dam caused great hardship to farmers in Pakistan. He goes on to argue that as the upper riparian, India can and should do much more to reassure Pakistan that it has no intention of violating the letter or spirit of the treaty. Above all, Briscoe puts the onus on Indian opinion makers to do much more to explain the issues fairly to the Indian public.

What this debate overlooks is the rapid population growth in Pakistan since the treaty was signed in 1960. From some 50 million 50 years ago, the number of Pakistanis has more than tripled to around 175 million today. The result of this unchecked fecundity, as Ahmad Rafay Alam informs us in an article called ‘Going down the drain’ in a national daily, is that water availability per capita per year has declined from 5,000 cubic feet in 1960 to 1,500 cubic feet today. This will naturally decline still further as our numbers increase, while rivers won’t suddenly bring more water, and nor are we likely to be blessed with more rainfall.

Alam writes: “Pakistan’s water resource, the Indus basin, consists of glacial melt, and a far, far second, rainwater. Over 90 per cent of our water resource is employed in irrigation. Less than five per cent is employed for domestic purposes … even less is employed in industrial processes….” The fact is that just as Pakistan faces a future of dwindling water supplies, so does India. And if both countries are to solve their chronic power shortages, they will have to build dams. There is thus a need to develop deeper understanding about common problems and shared solu tions. Given the deep distrust that separates the two countries, it is unlikely that any sane, rational solution will emerge any time soon. Meanwhile the situation will worsen with rising numbers and diminishing water availability. Tensions are bound to rise, and there might well be a media-fuelled clamour to somehow force India to release more water.

When hard times come, it is the sensible thing to tighten one’s belt and prevent waste. Yet in Pakistan, according to Alam, some 40 per cent of irrigation water is either wasted or stolen. Recently, the Punjab government accused the Rangers of stealing water from a canal. Surely the government must move to reduce this leakage. Charging a higher price that reflects the scarcity value of water would help prevent waste. Agriculture is not unusual in many arid regions, so drip irrigation, for instance, is not rocket science.

Another fallacy that needs to be put to rest is that somehow, the water that flows down the Indus into the sea is wasted. The fact is that the comingling of the river and seawater has created a vast ecosystem that is essential for the survival of much marine life. This provides a livelihood to thousands of fishermen. Whenever the flow of the Indus has ceased, seawater has flooded the coast, devastating thousands of acres of farmland.

Farmers in Sindh do not trust Punjab, and regard the Indus as their river, as it was until partition. So we must develop greater understanding between the provinces of Pakistan before we can expect our neighbour to live up to its obligations as the upper riparian. ¦ irfan.husain@gmail.com

Courtesy: Daily Dawn


Read Full Post »

MIRPURKHAS, April 30: The Additional Session Judge II Mirpurkhas, freed 57 bonded labourers, including 28 children and 14 women, after recording their statements here on Friday.
One Dhano Bheel had moved an application in the court of district and sessions judge Mirpurkhas stating that his relatives were detained at the lands of Arif Bhurgari, taluka Kot Ghulam Mohammad, where they were not given share in crop and their movement was also restrained. He sought freedom for the detained bonded labours.

The court ordered police to recover and produce them in the court. Before court orders could be implemented, 57 peasants managed to escape from the custody of the landlord and reached Kot Ghulam Mohammad police station.

The police produced them in the court. Dhano Bheel told journalists that eight peasants were still in the captivity of the landlord as his henchmen had set on fire huts of peasants and kidnapped eight of them.—Correspondent

Courtesy: Daily dawn


Read Full Post »


By Mohammad Hussain Khan

HYDERABAD: As world prepares to celebrate the World Labour Day, millions rather billions lament their lot for not even qualifying to come under the ambit of labour laws.

Sixteen-year-old Tehmina a bangle worker is bed-ridden due to meningitis and facing disability because of the neurosurgery. The surgery has affected her left hand and leg besides slurring speech. Now, she can’t share her pool as do rest of the family, says her mother 53-year-old, Zaibunnisa.

People associated with bangle industry, hotels and working as domestics in homes, schools and private offices have no right to claim benefit as they don’t fall under Labour Laws.

There is no official data to confirm number but it runs in millions in our part of the world.

None have an access to services under labour laws as they are not allowed to form trade union and have no say in labour rights. Labour federations are trying to bring informal workers under the cover of law and once it’s done their exploitation would come to an end.

Informal workers are not organised as majority of them are busy in providing two square meals to their families and recreation or luxuries are far-fetched dreams to them. Mutton is beyond their means, and beef or chicken is a luxury which some enjoy on special occasions.

Tehmina’s condition is apt to make anyone sad as she lies on a cot without a sheet and constantly needs assistance for the slightest movement she intends to make. She needs a lot of money for consultation and medication.

Even the rights of those having access to labour laws are not safeguarded because of capitalist-dominated system where pocket unions kill economically, the working class. The government has fixed Rs6,000 as minimum wages which are not being implemented in majority of cases.

Sky-rocketing inflation is exposing these workers to many types of social ills while health-care and private education are dreams unfit for their eyes and public sector education, too awry, to describe.

Workers can be blamed for their plight as they are too hesitant to file a complaint or get themselves registered with the Workers Welfare Board, said convenor of sub-committee of National Assembly’s standing committee on labour.

Many workers federation are shy to get trade unions registered on the pretext that it lands a labour in trouble.

Secretary General, Khursheed Ahmed of Pakistan Workers Federation said that the government has done nothing in regard to IRA 2008.

“Bangle and domestic workers are most exploited class and they must be covered under law through legislation by government forthwith to check social exploitation”, he said.

The government’s decision to repeal Removal from Service (Special Power) Ordinance 2000 introduced by Pervez Musharraf was hailed by all. However, labourer federations flayed government’s plans to replace IRO 2002 with Industrial Relations Act 2008 without taking them on board. “Its poignant that while dictators always consulted labour leaders democratic government avoid them and thrust their decision on us”, said a noted labour leader, Qamoos Gul Khattak.

The government introduced Industrial Relations Act (IRA) 2008 in place of IRO 2002 for an interim period, promising more suitable amendments by April 2010 through IRA 2010. IRA 2008 would now stand expired and there had been no consultations with the workers federation. Employers and workers’ federation jointly worked out a consensus draft called “Workers Employer Bilateral Council of Pakistan” (Webcop) and submitted to the government, seeking amendments in proposed IRA 2008, including right to trade union in agricultural and informal ones except army and police.

Labour federations say that while the government has done away with some workers-friendly provisions of IRO 2002, it has also inserted some anti-workers clause. They viewed it with concern that while dictator’s name has been expunged and all those amendments are deleted why those harmful for workers’ right are kept intact.

“IRA 2008 is a rehash of 1969’s Labour Ordinance given by Ziaul Haq”, said Khattak, who is secretary general of Muttaheda Labour Federation. He referred to clauses that are done away with like appointment of appellate tribunal and the NIRC by respective chief justices, union’s affiliation with registered federation within two months of elections, punishment to employers, etc.

“When two stakeholders – employer and workers – have signed a consensus document then why the government avoids playing its role of facilitator”, he asked.

Courtesy: Daily Dawn

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »