Stories about constitution

A press club: No fair play, no accountability and no dialogue

The outside world hardly knows about all that goes on at a press club. Many mistake a press club for the press itself and think that it is a place reserved for healthy and constructive dialogue. I thought the same until very recently when the paper I worked for wound up and I started to spend some time at the National Press Club (NPC), Islamabad. Rest assured that what happens here is everything but dialogue, fair play, accountability, equality and all that our media, ostensibly calls for. Let’s start with the dubious case of its membership. Nobody knows when the press ...

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Doctors, where art thou?

Pakistan has a count of ‘athara crore awaam’ (thank you, dear politicians, for continuously repeating this in the television talk shows) while the doctor/patient ratio was a mere 1:1,800 in 2010 – that means a single doctor catered to the medical woes of 1,800 people, and the situation has not seen much improvement ever since. The constitution of Pakistan clearly describes that the state has a responsibility, “To provide basic necessities of life, such as, food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race.” But where does the problem lie? It lies in the fact that ...

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Zaid Hamid: Treason against reason

Two statements have been circulating in my head for the last few days. The first one is by George Orwell: In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act. The second is a piece of poetry by revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz: Nisar teri galiyo pe ae watan kay jahan, Chali hai Rasm kay koi na sarr utha kay chalay. Jo Koi Chahnay Wala Tawaaf ko Niklay, Nazar Jhuka kay Chalay, Jism o Jaan Bacha Kay Chalay. (My salutations to thy sacred streets, O beloved nation! Where a tradition has been invented- that none shall walk with his head held high, If at all one takes ...

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Jinnah had a dream, and we failed him

Hopes were high when Jinnah presided over the Constituent Assembly in 1947 and declared without doubt that freedom of religion was to be respected. It was his wish to lift up the economic and politically deprived Muslims from their backwardness that led to the support of many non-Muslim minority activists as well, notably Christians. In a time where major Muslim political groupings allied themselves with the Indian National Congress, the Christians in their legislation secured Jinnah the desired support the All India Muslim League needed. His close friends and those amongst the founding fathers of Pakistan also belonged to minority ...

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Rinkle Kumari was Hindu last month

For many years, I was convinced that Sindh is the most liberal and secular province. I thought that minorities were more secure here because of the history deeply rooted mysticism. But that was until I became familar with teenager Rinkle Kumari’s tragic tale. One, amongt many, whose story needed to be told. While most of us know Maya Khan and Veena Malik how many of us know Rinkle Kumari of District Ghotki, Sindh? She was picked up from her home and then reportedly forced to convert to Islam just a few days ago. How many of us are even aware of these incidents taking place? Nand ...

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Why divide Punjab?

“Why not create a Seraiki province in Sindh?” This is my cardinal question to all those who want Punjab to be divided. The MQM’s recent call for new provinces to be carved out in Pakistan has irked me a great deal. To explain my sentiment, here’s some background on the province of Punjab.  Many different dialects are spoken in this province, some of which include Majhi, Jhangochi, Pothohari, Saraiki, Jatki, Hindko, Chhachhi, Doabi, and Derewali. The MQM has submitted a bill to the National Assembly calling for Punjab’s division on linguistic basis. What they don’t understand, perhaps, is that Seraiki is a just dialect of ...

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What Turkey has done right

Turkey is turning heads. A few weeks ago the top brass of the entire Turkish army resigned– an act that could have previously brought down whatever democratic government was at the helm- but Prime Minister Erdogan reacted coolly and appointed a new army chief. The present AKP (Justice and Development Party) government has slowly chipped away the power of the deep state. Moreover many have alluded to Turkey’s pluralism and democracy as an example for all Muslim countries to follow. Turkey was also the fastest growing country in the world last year, with a growth rate of just over 9%. ...

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Army man: Move away, please

The common phrase which describes freedom of expression goes something like this:  “Your freedom ends where my nose begins”. Personal space must be respected, but man does not often care for such trivialities. Fortunately, living in a civil land, rules and laws dictate what yours, mine, or anyone else’s freedom is. A few days ago, as I was heading to work, I saw the heavens part and the sun shone down in quite a magical manner. Being in relative proximity to my apartment, I retraced my steps, got my camera and attempted to preserve what I had seen. Parking my car by the ...

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A department in ruin, a history forgotten

Punjab’s department of archaeology, recently devolved from the federation under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, has had no operational legislation since April 8, 2011. As a result, no law to arrest any person caught scribbling, drawing or causing harm to a monument of historical importance exists. Similar is the case with the environment protection department. Field officers and inspectors issuing notices, sealing and fining owners of pollution-causing units, have reverted to Punjab Local Government Ordinance (PLGO) of 2001. The Antiquities Act 1975 and the Environment Pakistan Protection Act 1997 are both redundant. Officers of both departments have drafted legislation to replace ...

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If you can’t handle me eating before sunset, don’t fast

If you are one of the spineless, weak-willed people who cannot handle seeing other people eating and drinking while you fast, you should probably not be fasting. The infirmity of your faith is not my problem, nor anybody else’s, and does not deserve to be protected by the law. Under the Ihtaram Ramazan Ordinance of 1981, two men were arrested in Sargodha on charges of eating in public. Yes, you read that correctly: eating in public – for the month of Ramazan at least – is a crime in Pakistan. To those that support this law, I would like to pose the ...

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