Stories about poor

Land of confusion: Riddles in the sand

The view from the bunker is perhaps, one of the most worrying sights for the amateur golfer.  The dual impact of a poor stroke and bad luck usually strikes a nerve that will further hinder the player’s already disadvantageous position. Chances are, at least one poor shot will follow. But that’s OK, because even the worst round of golf can be erased by another famed Scottish export. Ah, the golf courses of Islamabad. If there were ever a place in this city to forget poverty, illiteracy and disease, and everyone’s favourite – terrorism – these are the places to be. ...

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30 rules for survival in Pakistan

The mammoth difference between the lifestyles, and opportunities, provided to the so called elite, and the average man living a hand-to-mouth life, in our country, is nothing new to us. If you wish to survive in this country, you have to climb on the bandwagon. And the following instruction will tell you exactly how to do that. Please follow them very carefully. In case anything goes wrong or you are left morally impaired or religiously handicapped, just die. 1.  If you are already filthy, and ridiculously rich, go directly to instruction number nine. 2.  If you do not think you can ever be ...

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A charitable nation we are

I had a very good experience recently which made me realise there is so much good in Pakistan which goes unreported. I was visiting the McDonald’s restaurant on Tariq Road in Karachi and on my way out, I came across a family with four children, the eldest probably around 10. I fell in step with them and the minute we left the restaurant, a crowd of beggars surrounded us. While I brushed them aside, the four children who each carried a Happy Meal box, readily handed them over to the beggars —who were also children. Since I was standing with them, ...

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Working from home: Basic rights denied

Contrary to popular perception, most women work in Pakistan, and often inside the home in the informal economy. Sixty-five per cent of the female workforce works at home, and a 2009 survey estimated their number to be 8.52 million, although activists suggest it may be as high as 12 million. These workers are not protected by formal labour laws and suffer the legal and social disabilities that are typically associated with this form of work – no rights to minimum wage, no social security benefits, inability to organise in unions and lawfully challenge violations of occupational health and safety (OSH) ...

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Can Rahul Gandhi prove his worth?

In Shakespeare’s play, “Henry IV, Part 1” Prince Harry, the son of the king, is shown as a very complex character. His venture into taverns, his company of friends and his acts keep the audience baffled at all times. Sometimes the king himself worries about his son’s future. His subjects are never sure what Hal (Prince Harry) represents or stands for. He acts rebellious but does not reveal his intentions. However, Hal redeems himself on the battlefield by saving his father from the enemy and eventually shrugs off his bad reputation when he demonstrates his ability to govern in ...

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The man who taught me how to give

I was not too surprised when I saw the elderly man on the side of the Islamabad highway. Beggars are a common sight on the road and drivers are used to ignoring them. But as I waited at the traffic signal, I noticed the man stepping onto the road. The light had just turned red and the timer had started. He only had a few seconds to get someone’s attention. Watching him from the car, I assumed he was asking for money, but his movements suggested otherwise. There was no weariness, no weakness in his movements, which is usually associated ...

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Punished for living near Mangla dam

We learn nothing from history. Our incompetence makes sure of it, and the common man bears the burden. The issue of affectees of the ‘Raising of Mangla Dam Project’ is another such case of incompetency and mismanagement, where state institutions have failed to deliver promised and much-touted respite to the people, not because of its low capacity but due to its lack of foresight and poor institutional coordination. Affectees of the ‘Raising of Mangla Dam Project’ have once again been staging protests against the incomplete and delayed process of compensation. Grievances run deeper than that. A high ranking official in the ...

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Protesting peasants don’t make good TV

On April 6, 2009, three tenant farmers were killed in Kulyana Estate of Okara for raising their voice against unequal distribution of farmland and demanding ownership rights to the land they had been tilling for generations. These three were members of Anjuman Mazareen of Punjab (Association of Punjab Peasants). A lot has been reported and commented upon about the likes of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) or the Provincial Management Services Association (PMSA). The AMP, like the latter two, has also been protesting in support of certain demands for some time now. However, the similarities between the three end here. Unlike the ...

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Eighteen years and counting

A watchman at a rural health centre in Chiniot has not been paid his salary for 18 years. All this time he has been arriving at the office at 7 o’clock in the morning and leaving at 11 in the night. The worker and the management have both kept to their ways. (Who’s watching out for the watchman? The Express Tribune, April 17, 2011) The official, identified as Munir Ahmed, has been regularly visiting the accounts department first day of the month, every month, to demand his wages. The cashier has been telling him his cheque is not ready. Every ...

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Me and the vagabond

I befriended a vagabond. I must admit it was not a natural act, but well, I did. One late evening I was going home and saw a beggar, in dirty tatters of cloth, sitting all by himself and crying bitterly. But there was a reason to his tears. The children standing a little further down were hitting him with pebbles and stones that I could see would fall directly on his shaven head. The scene was really upsetting. It was then that I took the step. Inquired from him, about why was he crying and why the children were throwing ...

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