Stories about poverty

Private healthcare in Pakistan – costly, unregulated and predatory

The former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar was not wrong when he said, “Only the rich have access to healthcare facilities in Pakistan.” Of the innumerable crises Pakistan is facing today, healthcare is probably one of the most serious ones. The right to healthcare is a basic human right of every citizen, enshrined in United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12 of 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Pakistan is a signatory to both. Yet, it has all but abdicated its responsibility in providing basic, let alone quality, healthcare to its citizens. There ...

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Can demonetisation help address Pakistan’s FATF concerns?

While many in Pakistan celebrated after hearing the news that Pakistan had survived ‘Indian lobbying’ attempts to get Pakistan onto the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) black-list, it would be foolish to think that a position on the grey-list is something to be proud of. FATF’s primary duty is to be a global watchdog which curbs money laundering and terror financing, and while Pakistan has assured the task force that the nation will achieve the set targets, the likelihood of this happening still remains circumspect, especially given the wide array of problems the nation is already facing. Undoubtedly, the pace of ‘progress’ is far below ...

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What can Pakistan learn from this year’s Economics Nobel Prize winners?

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Michael Kremer of Harvard University won this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics. Congratulations to all three Nobel laureates. In their ground-breaking research, the three transformed the way developmental issues are studied, showing what works and what doesn’t. Their adoption of the experimental approach and particularly the use of random control trials, used mostly by biologists, in developmental economics is considered ground-breaking. Experiments open the door to understanding and knowledge, and rather than assuming what would work or wouldn’t, their approach looked at experimental data to come to a ...

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The man who understood poverty: Akhtar Hameed Khan

When Akhtar Hameed Khan announced that he would be resigning from the bureaucracy in order to become a labourer and a locksmith, it isn’t hard to imagine why his family was deeply concerned. After all, he had been born into relative prosperity, had joined the coveted Indian Civil Service (ICS), studied history and literature at Cambridge, and had the intelligentsia of the time as his family, both by birth and through marriage. But it was his time as a revenue collector in East Bengal that made Akhtar Hameed Khan pause and reflect upon his life and world around him. It ...

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The anvil of the East

In the cold hard stare of those shanty towns, You hear the busy bikes bustling around, You hear the hearty children humming to the sounds, You see the posh Prado that does not belong, You see the glock pointed, “Sir, go along”. You might even hear screams, Hair pulling, a lover’s affair, Shoes flying, such a disgrace, beware! You see the sewage water going down the drain, You see brown earth, roads nowhere in sight. You see the cows mooing with anorexic bodies, You see the baby wiggling its nose to escape the flies, You see the boys laughing in their four-inch paradise, You see the rest dying, day and night. You see ...

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A father’s gift on Eid

“Sahil, can I play with your goat?” Feroza asked nervously. “You can’t touch my goat,” Sahil’s face paled with anger. Feroza’s eyes were suddenly watery with tears. She bustled away, embarrassed. Sahil always treated her disdainfully, as if she were something unclean. He never let her close to his things. He always told her she was ugly and poor and that when he grew up, he wouldn’t let her live in his house. When Feroza was back in her room, she thought that if she had a goat of her own, she wouldn’t have had to ask Sahil. But Abba (father) had clearly told ...

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The dream that could never be – part 3: A wolf at every turn

She had woken up sweating heavily, vividly remembering his foul ragged breath on her neck and the abnormally large splinter just a step behind her. The next day, her baji had sent her to clean her late father-in-law’s old study in the formerly off-limits part of the house. The place was covered under ages of dirt and was teemed with insects. Samreena had been extremely scared to even step foot there until she found that golden brooch. “Samreena! Kiya halaat hain uper? Neechay aa kay batao jaldi. So gayi ho kiya?” (Samreena! What is the situation up there? Quickly come downstairs and ...

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Hear a mother’s heart

The sky was bathed in the flaming yellow rays of the sun. It was a bright sunny morning in Lahore. Shahbaz’s rickshaw broke down again in the middle of the road. The traffic broke into wild outbursts of car horns, and angry people growled and grumbled at him for disrupting the traffic flow. Shahbaz’s rickshaw was old now and rank with problems. If it stopped working one day, he wouldn’t even make as little money as he did now. The thought made him anxious. How would he provide for his wife and son if that happened? ‘I wish I could buy a ...

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A dark conversation in the city of lights: “If you don’t listen to your parents, you’ll end up like this (transgender)”

Wandering across the city of lights without a clue about your destination has a certain edge to it. When it comes to digging up possible stories hidden somewhere within this metropolitan, the best possible course of action is always to take a walk in this crowded coastal expanse. Carrying the burden of writer’s block, I decided to journey through this city in search of inspiration.   It took a significant part of the day for my restlessness to triumph over my determination, and with a sense of certain defeat, I paused for a cigarette at the nearest cabin I could ...

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Why do Pakistanis think Asad Umar’s claim of 10 million jobs is impossible and impractical?

While outlining the 100-day agenda shared by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) recently, Asad Umar spoke about the possibility of creating 10 million jobs in five years.  He mentioned promoting tourism and announcing new destinations in an attempt to produce thousands of employment opportunities for the youth. He also mentioned making an extra effort to attract investors in Pakistan and creating an economic link with China through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Ultimately, enhanced investments and exports would create a bulk of jobs for the unemployed youth of Pakistan. Hue and cry, sarcasm and ridicule poured in over his statement, with the consensus ...

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