The health epidemic plaguing Thar

The Tharparkar desert in Sindh boasts an area of 22,000 square kilometres and is host to a population of over 1.6 million inhabitants, most of which reside in 2,880 villages which fall under seven talukas or tehsils, namely Mithi, Diplo, Chachro, Islamkot, Nangarparkar, Dahli and Kaloi.  The expanse is divided into 64 union councils. District Tharparkar was separated from district Mirpurkhas in the year 1990 and Mithi was designated as the region’s headquarters. Despite the demarcation, the infrastructure in Thar remains abysmal. Not only does Thar battle yearly droughts and famine, it also struggles with a high infant morality rate, with over 700 ...

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Basic human rights still considered a privilege by the Pakistani state

The 10th of December is celebrated annually as International Human Rights Day to highlight the importance of safeguarding civil liberties across the globe. It was on this day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that sought to protect basic freedoms of the world’s population. Today marks the 71st anniversary of the same. This year’s theme is “youth standing up for human rights” which seeks to highlight the innovative mediums through which today’s youth is raising awareness regarding pressing civil liberty issues.  Human Rights Day – A brief history After World War II, it was apparent ...

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How to empower small businesses in Pakistan

In my recent conversations with the Ministry of Commerce, it was apparent that the government wants to equip 50,000 micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) with an export capacity so that their products can be offered online. I tried to offer sincere recommendations to the government so that they can adopt a methodology to go about this in the most cost-effective and expedited manner. In my first article on the e-commerce policy framework, I highlighted the importance of marketing, payments and logistics which are essential components if the government wants MSMEs to have sustainable exports. In the discussion I had with the ...

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Dining on ashes: Pakistan’s hazardous coal dependent future

This article is the second part in a series about climate change and Pakistan’s carbon footprint. Read the first part here. ~ Earlier this year in August, I came across a newspaper article that read: “The government confirmed on Sun­day successful commercial operations of a two billion dollar 1,320MW coal-fired power plant set up by the China Power Hub Generation Company (CPHGC) under the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) project.” It is mind boggling to see such news at a time where the world is moving towards renewable energy. What makes it worse is that Lahore has been plagued by dangerous smog for the ...

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Pakistan is firmly in the cross-hairs of a deadly pandemic: climate change

This article is part of a series about climate change and Pakistan’s carbon footprint. The second part in this series will discuss how Pakistan’s reliance on coal is impacting the climate. ~ Pakistan is among the few countries that will be most affected if the world does not effectively combat climate change. Although our country ranks 135th on the per capita emissions list, it still falls in the top ten countries most vulnerable to climate change. Natural disasters amplified by climate change seem to loom on Pakistan’s horizon if effective steps are not taken immediately. When I was younger I was very ...

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The plight of Balochistan’s differently abled

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3rd annually. According to a fact sheet issued by the United Nations (UN), differently abled people account for 15 percent of the world’s population and despite 18 million people living with either a physical or intellectual disability in Pakistan, it is not a very inclusive country. Balochistan is no different especially since it is also suffering from dismal conditions with barely any focus on literacy and many living under the poverty line. In such conditions, it is no surprise that differently abled people are marginalised in the province. According to ...

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Shaukat Yousafzai proves why the PTI government is comedy gold

The current government has many detractors. Words like inept and clueless get bandied about all the time. But as this government drives the nation into the ground, and as you get repeatedly pummelled in the face by the nation’s growing economic woes, take solace in the fact that you will more often than not have a smile on your face during your destruction. While the first year or so in office for a new government is usually seen as an opportunity to lay the stage upon which the ruling party will build upon in the coming years, the Pakistan ...

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The Clean Green Pakistan Index: A futile exercise?

Pakistan’s cities are ridiculously congested. They often feature a polluted water supply, over flowing garbage and toxic air pollution. As many environmentalists point out, they are gradually becoming unlivable, which is why many of us have welcomed the recent introduction of the Clean Green Pakistan Index. This index aims to encourage competition among Pakistan’s cities on various indicators like access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation, effective solid waste management and tree plantation. The index was launched in Islamabad this week and Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the example of his home-town Lahore which, in his younger days, was ...

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Sindh’s quick, cheap and ludicrous tribal courts make a mockery of justice

The recent tussle between the judiciary and the government has reignited the debate over two distinct systems of justice for the eminent and the poor. In his book the Animal Farm, George Orwell writes,  “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” wrote George Orwell. That would seem to be somewhat true in light of the recent decisions regarding Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharaf. Nevertheless, there is another oft-forgotten system of justice that runs parallel to the mainstream court system: the tribal elders’ council of justice. However, this alternative mechanism only comes to the fore when ...

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The blasphemy law and Junaid Hafeez’s forgotten plight

Given that Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is currently preoccupied with whether or not General Bajwa should receive an extension, it is possible that a recent letter addressed to him may have slipped through the cracks, passing by his radar undetected. On November 26th, the parents of Junaid Hafeez wrote to Khosa asking him to provide justice to their son who has been in jail since 2013 on blasphemy charges. Belonging to the district of Rajanpur, Punjab, from a young age Hafeez excelled academically and eventually decided to teach English Literature at his alma matter, the Bahauddin Zakariya University in ...

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