Anwer Sumra

Anwer Sumra

A reporter for The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

Is your child’s backpack too heavy?

Recently, my eldest son joined school at the nursery level for formal education. I was surprised at the list of things to collect: books, copies, pencils, sharpeners, lunch box, water bottle, bag, uniform, shoes, socks and other uniform-related articles for him. For me, it was a long process to find the required paraphernalia to enable him for this first phase in his life. I noticed two issues while going through the admission process and collection of required items for my child. I have to pick and drop my son from school daily. In doing so, I found that the weight of ...

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Pre-poll rigging

Of all the words and phrases bandied about in the election season, I find “pre-poll rigging” and “other forms of electoral fraud” the most intriguing. Perhaps it is because I don’t entirely understand what it means. You see there are too many nuances there that I am not aware of. To be honest, pre-poll rigging seems simple enough, at least if entries in most dictionaries are considered. We discover that the term is used routinely in countries where democracy is present, or, for that matter, absent. It is often on the lips of the common man (who is by no means ...

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Lahore’s new bus service

The inhabitants of Lahore have already started to bear externalities of the Metro Bus service – a multi-billion-rupee public project designed to facilitate transport – before it becomes functional. People whose houses and shops have been demolished are crying for their rights. The compensation of the damage is a big issue for the people of Lahore. The Punjab government, in order to put to use the gift of 100 secondhand buses announced by Istanbul mayor Kadar Tobash, started the Metro Bus project in the city to allow commuters a journey of international standards. It allocated Rs10 billion as the budget during ...

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Qazi Hussain Ahmad’s memorable leadership

The sudden demise of two towering personalities, Professor Ghafoor Ahmed and Qazi Hussain Ahmad, are irreparable losses for the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI.) Both figures served on key slots in the party. I pray that the departed souls are bestowed with eternal peace and their followers and families are given enough courage to bear their demise. When I was a college student, I often heard the slogan ‘zalamo Qazi aa raha hai’ (O wicked people, Qazi is coming). It was the early 1990s and Qazi Hussain Ahmad was the Ameer of JI. The suburbs of my city were plagued by an alleged smuggler, ...

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Ramazan bazaars: A hub for personal publicity

I was surprised to see Ramazan bazaars set up across Lahore providing subsidised food items to the poor for the holy month. These bazaars have become popular sites for the publicity of rulers. The canopies in these bazaars are graced with pictures of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. It seems that both the federal as well as Punjab governments are in a publicity competition to attract the maximum number of people at these bazaars. Ads, banners and pamphlets are being used to highlight price differences of kitchen items. This publicity may ultimately eat up a lion’s share of the reserved ...

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July 9, 2012
TOPICS

Ramazan packages: Disguised acts of benevolence to win votes

With the holy month of Ramazan upon us, the federal and Punjab governments have announced subsidy packages for the poor public to facilitate price cuts on edible items as a goodwill gesture. The Punjab government has earmarked Rs4 billion to provide subsidies on kitchen items to the poor during the holy month. In a similar initiative, the federal government has reserved Rs 2.532 billion to extend subsidies on various food items and edible commodities. The prime objective of the packages is to ensure relief to the low-income segment of society. This is an election year and the PPP has thought about the ...

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The corruption rat race

Viewers often consider anchorpersons as a panacea for evil in Pakistani society because they make efforts to malign corrupt politicians and their notorious designs under the umbrella of ‘best interest of the masses’. However, the fiasco of Dr Arsalan Iftikhar has allegedly exposed some senior journalists and anchorpersons as paid persons of property tycoon, Malik Riaz. Now, the question which a common person ponders over is how dirty are journalists? Following the surfacing of the list with their names as beneficiaries of Malik Riaz’s charity, most journalists are making efforts to arrange talk shows with the investor to clear their records. ...

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Ugly realities: Protestors have no rights

Protests are a legitimate mode for citizens to convey their rightful demands to those sitting in the corridors of power. By using a combination of tact and skill the civil and police administrations can help avoid any embarrassment by discharging their basic duties. But time and again we hear of demonstrators facing mistreatment as the administration turns to brute force in quelling the protests. The other day, the Punjab civil secretariat observed an ugly episode when protesters of the Population Welfare Department entered the premises to protest. They misbehaved and as a result, official paraphernalia was damaged. Fortunately, Chief Secretary ...

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How disasters should be dealt with

Modern techniques and equipment cannot avert either natural or man-made disasters but surely use of available resources, comprehensive planning, and effective training to agencies handling calamities can reduce the consequences. Apportioning responsibility for the Bhoja Air crash will be a lengthy process as it requires advanced technology and equipment to ascertain the causes of the incident. Likewise, Pakistan does not have a culture which requires the authorities to share information or findings of such disasters. Examples from history further reinforce this: East Pakistan debacle, Kargil adventure and the July 2010 Airblue crash in which 152 people lost their lives. Now, ...

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Free laptops: Incentive or publicity stunt?

The Punjab government’s initiative of distributing laptops among bright students has invited criticism from all quarters, including Transparency International Pakistan (TIP), which has raised questions about this self-proclaimed transparent process. Initially, the government earmarked Rs2 billion in the annual budget for this scheme and later increased it to Rs3.7 billion. Now, the education department has prepared a PC-I that has projected an amount of Rs4.4 billion for the purchase of 110,000 laptops. The Punjab government inked an agreement with a company for the provision of laptops at the rate of Rs37,700 per unit. The procuring department has now allegedly changed ...

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