Dr. Nighat Shah’s brief about our trip:
Khairpur at this moment is housing huge bulk of displaced people from Larkana, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, and many smaller villages like thul, ghouspur etc. The registered displaced people are more than 50,000. Around 120 camps are housing people in small clusters. These range from 250-300 people in smaller schools to 5000-8000 in bigger schools.
In all camps, the majority is of children and the statistics are mind boggling! In a camp at Ghari Mori, district Khairpur, housing 280 people, there were 44 men, 67 women and 169 children. Almost all children are sick, ranging from stunted growth, severe malnourishment, diarrhoea and skin problems. Almost all women are anemic, weak, malnourished, perpetually pregnant or breast feeding, and the sad part is that there is no milk but the baby is still latched, always! More than 20-25 percent are pregnant.
Brief review of our activities- Day 1
As a team comprising of a retired pediatrician (working at SOS villages), a local gynecologist / obstetrician, 2 soon to be graduates from AKU and I, a recent Masters in Public Health graduate from Harvard and an instructor in the Dept. of General Surgery, AKU, Karachi, visited displaced peoples camps in District Khairpur.
We left around 7 a.m. for the visit but worked early in the morning to organize the medicines available in boxes so prescription would be faster. The hospitality of our hosts is of tremendous. I had to have two cups of tea in the morning (that is more than I drink in a year :-). They do not let you work until you are well provided for and do not stop asking you to drink up and eat up. Continue Reading
It seems we are finally off on our mission to provide relief to the flood affected region in Sukkur, Sindh. The OffroadPakistan has collected some significant funding for taking 6 trucks of relief good valued at more then Rs. 2.4 Million – four trucks of standardized basic food valued at Rs. 16,80,000, one truck containing a mixture of food hampers acquired from Makro at a cost of Rs. 4,43,585 and the sixth truck laden with tents and water bottles valued at Rs. 6,75,000. We are also trucking 250 1-kg tin cans of read-to-eat biryani generously donated by a friend of ours. We are not taking any medicine, but hope to concentrate on a medical relief later. The cost of trucking is approximately Rs. 25,000 per truck and im sure there shall be incidentals in between for this transportation process
IIt must be remembered that all this is the effort of quite a lot of people and the generous contribution of Pakistanis wanting to help their fellow citizens who are suffering in these devastated areas. We as representatives of OffroadPakistan are headed towards Sukkur hoping to distribute three trucks there while our friends at MotorSports Club of Pakistan shall accompany three trucks with an attempt to approach Jacobabad and hope to disburse it there.
Our plans are that we do plan for a phase 2 of the relief effort which we hope shall be a larger and grander push, this first trip shall serve as a reconnaissance trip for the bigger push in 10-12 days after this.
With so much of confusion in the area we are hoping to do our best, to keep track of our progress I have installed a GPS tracker on my Blackberry which will transmit our location every 60 seconds, it will be a drain on the battery but it shall remain on as long as Mobilink service supports GPRS in the area.
Over the past two days our team of volunteers at Motorsports Club of Pakistan and the OffroadPakistan have been in some intense discussion on what might be the best course of action. We have been busy raising funds locally and commitments have reached to a tune of close to Rs. 2.5 million. The online drive at SARelief has touched $2278 from a few generous donors, as the message spreads im sure this easy PayPal payment option, so close to the Islamic month of Ramadan will most likely get a considerable level of funding for the devastation in Pakistan.
Flood has started to reach Sindh from the last two days, the winding Indus river which curves and twists across Sindh is likely to significantly change the terrain for a long time to come, it is anticipated that with the immense pressure of the water it is definite that the water will overrun the pre charted course of the Indus River and alter its embankments cutting a new course towards the sea spreading its wings wide across the plains of Sindh in its due course.
A few major concerns do remain, the question that lurks in the minds of many, will the barrages hold up. It seems the Sukkur barrage is as of now holding strong, credit can be equated to calculated and unplanned rupture of a few embankments upstream which have helped soften the pressure of the main flood, these leaks will continue to seep the pressure and lessen the impact in sindh, sadly it also does mean more flooding in the affected areas.
The earthquake’s that have hit Pakistan in 2005 and 2008 were regarded as the worst tragedy for the nation. Few have realized that the recent floods have in fact caused more damage then those earthquake’s did. As per latest reports official figures stand at 1600 dead and 12 million left homeless.
The Monsoon rains began two weeks ago and have washed away roads, bridges and communications lines, hampering rescue efforts by aid organizations and the government. The downpours have grounded many aircraft trying to rescue people and ferry aid, including six helicopters manned by US troops on secondment from Afghanistan.
Currently 30,000 Pakistan Army troops are busy in rescue and relief efforts. Where as the Earthquake of 2005 and 2008 and the IDP crisis were devastating, unlike the Flooding they were contained within a geographic area. Flooding has been reported from Kyhber-Pakthunkwa all they way down to Southern Punjab and Sindh. There is only so much the government and the armed forces can do in the face of such a massive disaster and so we as citizens have undertaken the mantle of trying to add our little drop to the ocean
To that end, we have decided to take up relief efforts to the areas of Sindh in an attempt to help bring relief to the suffering. The idea is initially to partner with a team of who is willing to take the relief goods up. We hope to launch such an intiative with Motorsports Club of Pakistan and our very own OffroadPakistan group to some part of Sindh and personally deliver the goods there. To help our international donors we have partnered with SA Relief operating under the aiegus of Paksef a US Tax-deductible 501(c)(3) NGO registered in California to enable our US based well wishers to contribute to the relief via Chipin and Paypal
The online collection is slated to run through out Ramazan to tap into the generous Zakat giving ability of Muslims around the world, ideally this would mean two missions, one from the cash funds collected personally in Karachi while the second mission will utilize the generous contribution from online donations. It is my personal promise that all funds collected will be disbursed off in a total transparent manner as possible, all recipts and travel expenditures will be posted online for the world to see. Like the IDP Relief effort we did in 2009 here, here
Donations can be made directly into Behbood Association Karachiaccount at Standard Chartered in Karachi. A/C#08-2315386-01 [PakRs] Swift Code SCBLPKKXXX or even online on the widget provided above which is processed via Paypal and these online contributions are being collected by PAKISTAN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING FOUNDATION a 501(c)(3) registered California based not-for-profit organization, EIN# 20-2950808. For info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cries of shutting down the Guantanamo prison have been around for some time now. reason being the inhuman conditions at the prison which rather than reforming the prisoners is forcing them to become hardcore terrorists once they are released. Numerous examples could be quoted in this context. Such huge global outcry in this regard had bent Obama to include the closure of this notorious prison in his election manifesto and later order to shut it down for good with detainees shifted and tried in the US.
Keeping in mind the above scenario we do have several Guantanamo like prisons in Sindh, Pakistan especially the Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur central jail, which grace the headlines every now and then for prisoners taking policemen hostage or using other means to register their protest against subhuman treatment i.e. overcrowded jails, barbaric torture, alleged extortion from the prisoners , unhygienic living conditions, jail hospitals lacking requisite facilities, inadequate quality of food, jailers receiving bribe from their relatives, prisoners not being presented before the court when due and lacunas in the provision of legal aid to the deserving prisoners.
The city wears a festive look. Thousands of banners costing millions of rupees have suddenly appeared all over the town. Pictures of ZAB, BB, AtoZ and the three kids. Sponsored by ministers of Sindh Government at the tax payers’ expense, the colourful facade does nothing to lessen the pain, sorrow and militancy that the city experiences each day.
It took 20 years and a world bank loan for Sindh to count its 7480 closed schools. Schools where teachers are paid for their absence and the administration takes its cut. Schools which are homes to cows and goats, and where children never arrive. Schools where children learn Kalashnikov, much before they learn football.
One wonders, how Benazir would have felt , had she been alive on her 57th birthday. Would she have approved the corruption, incompetence and wastage of her fake degree holding Parliamentarians? Or would she have preferred millions of little children sitting in their class rooms on June 21, 2010.
Happy Birthday Benazir .
It was only matter of time before PML(N) would have capitulated to the name Pakhtunkwa. PML(N) knew it, ANP knew it, and the rest of the parties knew it as well; the outcry was all part of the political point scoring. Initially refusing to accept pakhtunkwa was form of point scoring by PML(N), it was making sure that the clear message was being sent to the people for whom it supposedly refused to accept the name in the first place. There was similar outcry when Shahbz Shairf begged Taliban to spare Punjab. The potential audiences got just the right message in these two situation– PML(N) voting base, despite loud protests by some.
All the provinces in Pakistan are not close to being homogeneous, but at the same time they have the name of certain linguistic or ethnic group residing in that province. Balochis are about 55% of Balochistan’s population, but the province is called Balochistan. Sindhish are about 59% of Sindh’s population, but the province is called Sindh. Punjabi are 75% of Punjab’s population–that is if one doesn’t count Seriakis’ as ethnic Punjabis, but the province is called Punjab. The similar is true for pakhtunkwa, Pakhtuns are between 65% to 75% of the province’s population, depending on who you believe, the estimates vary–in this sense people of pakhtunkwa rightly demand their province to be named after Pakhtuns, the majority ethnic group in the province.
I do not know if any of you noticed yesterdays Dawn newspaper [27th March] page 4 – which showed a picture of a 17-year old [underage] Tharparker rape victim. Its possible many may be aware of her, a local political leader from Tharparker had gang raped her on 24th January and since then she has been screaming for justice, this case has become the talk of the town in Interior Sindh but has failed to capture the fascination of the nationwide electronic and print media. Dawn did in some may have tried to help bring attention to the cause but it went a bit overboard, choosing to publish her picture and name sitting in front of Hyderabad Press Club – practically raping her all over again, and now in public – instead of protecting her even more, they go all out publishing her name and picture but did not so much as even bother to publish the name of the political leader who gang raped her in Tharparker
The issue at Dawn seemingly continues to get worse barely a month back I protested Dawn Raping the Rape Victim where they explicitly named the 20-yr old Daweoo rape victim along with some explicit details on how the rape was done, my argument even then was that if the victim had the courage to come forth to the media, they have taken a very bold step choosing to stand up against their perpetrators publicly, it is mostly seen as a last ditch effort to get some justice from an heinously skewed system that protects the powerful, and when they do, newspapers and the electronic media exploit the victim by publishing explicit details and in a way not actually helping bring the perpetrators to justice.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent to live with a Bedouin family soon after his birth; Bedouins were thought to be the pure speaker of Arabic language, while people living in urban center of Mecca were considered too cosmopolitan, and it was felt that language spoken in Mecca was corrupted. It is astonishing how much the ancient Arabs cared about the pureness of their language, and the effort they put into their kids learning the pure form of language.
If we look into the situation of present day Punjabi, it is facing similar sort of problem. The only people who truly speak close to genuinely pure Punjabi are the ones mostly residing in the rural areas of the Province. If you belong to cosmopolitan city of Lahore, it is very likely that either you don’t speak the language at all–even if you do speak it, it is corrupted. The requirement to speaking pure Punjabi is that you should have no education whatsoever. This is because all the education is either in Urdu or English. As literacy increases further, the future of Punjabi becomes doubtful.
The trick to completely wiping out a language, no matter how powerful, is stop any kind of written communication in it; it will slowly die off. This is precisely what’s happening with Punjabi in Punjab. There is no written communication in it whatsoever.
Justice Rukhsana Ahmed is one of the latest set of ten appointees to the Sindh High Court, Jehan Ara, the super-energetic President of P@SHA, wrote a detailed post about the big day she had with Justice Ms. Rukhsana Ahmed in her new chambers.
DailyTimes reports that Waryam Faqir was acquitted of the murder charge of Wali Dad by Additional District and Sessions Judge, Abdul Naeem Memon. It was reported that both the sides (the complainant and the accused) submitted a compromise deed before the court requesting to dispose off the matter in view of out of court settlement arrived at between the parties
It must be recalled that barely 3 months ago the court had ordered the arrest of Varyam Faqir on the muder charge of Wali Dad, an elder of Kashkheli Tribe in April, but during the court hearing, Varyam Faqir managed to run away. It is now that this feudal lord was able to present a compromise document to let him go free.
Thar Coal is one of the 5th largest coal reserve in the world having a total reserve of 850 Tillion cubic fee which can possibly enable us to produce enough electricity to power the entire country of Pakistan with for the next 40-50 years if not more. The reserves are so massive that it dwarfs the oil reserves of 375 billion barrels housed within Saudia Arab & Iran put together.
Geo News investigative team at Band File investigated this issue a few days back, its definitely an eye opener. With the hope that Thar coal does not become something like the Reko Diq mystery
It is as if the news regarding the misuse of Blasphemy Law will never stop. Lala Hassan an activist of the Peoples Resistance movement in Karachi narrated an incident about a woman being wrongly accused of disrespecting the Quran in Sanghar District of Sindh. Considering the ruthlessness of a raging mob, it could be her fortune that the police arrested her before the mob could delivery its judgment which was threatening her with dire circumstances.
According to reports a shopkeeper of the city had made a complaint with the Police that he had gone to recover a loan from the woman while talking she was holding the Holy Quran and refused to give him back his money. According to the complainant the woman put down the Quran with force, but interestingly it he told the media that she first kissed & embraced the holy book & after the talk with him, she then put down the Quran in a forceful manner
As I write this blog post I have been at a loss of words, I was shocked to read at the PKKH website that today [Saturday 27th June] the Sindh Assembly kicked off its session with a minutes silence in honor of Michael Jackson, yes you read that one correct ‘the moonwalking maestro – Jacko’ was honored with a minutes worth of silence, the logic, the rationality behind sending this message from our official public offices truly befuddles the daylights out of me
PKKH: Just when you think our so called ‘elected representatives’ can’t embarrass us anymore, they tend to prove us wrong. The Sindh Assembly this morning held a minute’s silence for Michael Jackson’s sad demise.
This news comes in close proximity to the controversy where the Presidency has allegedly removed the picture of the founding father of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and replaced it with the various Bhutto-Zardari portraits