Ali Usman

Ali Usman

A Lahore-based reporter who works at The Express Tribune

Pinpointing contradictions of Pakistani democracy

Election fever has topped the charts during the last few weeks. Debates about democracy and its related aspects have been making rounds from streets to classrooms to talk-shows. While most agree that the democratic process is the most appropriate way to govern the country, there are many who raise questions about the credibility of many of the political parties. Analyst and development expert Salman Abid has dealt with these questions in his recently published new book Pakistan Main Jumhooriyat Key Tazadaat (The contradictions of Pakistani democracy). As evident by the name, the book speaks about the contradictions present in Pakistani democracy. It discusses ...

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Why didn’t we cover the Punjab Youth Festival?

I have learnt a lesson in the last few days, thanks to the Punjab Youth Festival. I had somehow started believing that our media actually cared about our success stories. But the festival proved to be a wakeup call for me. I learnt that we can cover, non-stop, politicians’ fight in assemblies, terrorist attacks, bomb blasts, road blockages by doctors and day-long rallies condemning the US or India. TV channels focus on each aspect of such incidents. Newspapers come up with dozens of side-stories for their readers’ interest. All this, however, only happens in the case of covering bad news. While almost ...

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Every 10th person in Pakistan has hepatitis

Over 15,000 dengue patients were reported in Punjab in October last year. A health emergency was declared in all public hospitals and even private health facilities were asked to accommodate dengue patients. Almost everybody in the Health Department had become a dengue-maniac.  This year, around 250 dengue patients have been reported in Punjab so far, with zero casualties. The efforts by the Punjab government seem to have worked. With Rs300 million, a separate programme in the Health Department, titled Prevention and Control Programme of Epidemics in Punjab has been launched to deal with dengue and other epidemics in the province. Government ...

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Shabnam: A bright star of a bygone era

In the 60s, Shabab and Evernew studios were considered the two best film studios in Lollywood. Any director in Lahore would want to shoot his films there. Like many legends of that era, the beautiful Shabnam also spent most of her time shooting at these locations. After 14 years, Shabnam returned to Pakistan last month. Although Shahab no longer exists and Evernew is not what it used to be, Shabnam’s fans were keen to have one more glimpse of her as she visited her colleagues in Lahore. Film technicians who had worked with Shabnam back in the day described her as a ...

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The politics of doctors’ protests

Fifty per cent of the general cadre doctors in Punjab retire while still in the basic pay scale (BPS). The health department, like many other government departments, doesn’t have clearly defined requirements procedure which, once attained, put you into the next pay scale. This is what the doctors call a service structure and are fighting for in Punjab these days. The issue came in to the limelight this time when 691 new doctors were recruited by the Punjab government through the Punjab Public Service Commission. The government had to transfer around 450 doctors to adjust these new doctors which infuriated ...

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Journalism awards and journalists

By several accounts the ceremony for distributing Agahi Awards, Pakistan’s first journalism prizes, at the Pak-China Friendship Centre in Islamabad was a special event. First, because the heads of press clubs from across the country including National Press Club (Islamabad), Multan, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Karachi, Azad Kashmir and Tribal Areas attended it. Second, no top government representative showed up at the event — encouraging organisers to take a major decision. The information minister was invited to the event but the ceremony couldn’t make it to her priority list. An important decision made at the awards ceremony was that in future ...

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Helping Punjab’s medical students

One needs to score at least 82 per cent marks in Intermediate exams and then pass an entry test to gain admission into any public medical college in Punjab. This ensures that those who do eventually study medicine are among the best and brightest in the province. However, the fate of some 950 such intelligent students is hanging in the balance as the Punjab government didn’t take approval from the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) before admitting these students to medical schools. Last year, four new public medical colleges – in Sialkot, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sahiwal and Gujranwala – were ...

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A consensus on water

I was one of some 30 journalists from all parts of Pakistan who recently spent five days together in Swat to discuss water and flood-related issues. Swat was the place where one of the most devastating floods in the country’s history originated last year so it was a befitting venue for a talk on water and flood-related issues. Almost every one of these journalists has covered and witnessed the devastation caused by the floods. The geographical areas that they covered might have been different but the miseries and their scale that the reporters based their stories upon were more or less ...

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The anti-Rahat conspiracy: Pakistan’s persecution mania

Pakistanis seem to suffer from persecution mania. We have a tendency of believing in conspiracy theories rather than facts. As a nation we try to find ways to justify our wrongdoings by making us and others believe that we were trapped in such a way that we were destined to do wrong. The way most people reacted to the arrest and detention of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan at the Delhi Airport on Sunday for carrying undeclared foreign currency in violation of Indian laws is just another example of how, as a nation, we put on tinted glasses while looking at ...

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Long live Lollywood!

Lollywood originates from my hometown of Lahore. My childhood consists of vivid memories of Royal Park – unique as a glittering place – mesmerising me each time and offering escape from reality. However, the place has changed over the years and so has Lollywood. Who is to blame for the decay of Lollywood? The answer, simply, is filmmakers. Many have said that Lollywood needs a lethal injection to die once and for all as it couldn’t revive despite bans on foreign films, tax waivers, special grants and receiving the status of an industry. However, there’s always a flip side to the story. ...

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