Stories about rehabilitation

Understanding encroachment and why its end will be a breath of fresh air for Karachi

The city of Karachi is left with a handful of neighbourhoods where encroachment is not an issue yet, namely the Defence Housing Authority, Malir Cantt and few other housing societies. Rest of the city is plagued with encroachments involving roadside restaurants, car showrooms, push cart vendors, illegal settlements and so on. Sometimes hard decisions need to be taken in order to address an issue that was hard to approach earlier. People will be displaced, businesses will be shutdown and many will go jobless but in the longer run, malpractices and violations will come down significantly. Rule of law can only ...

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Hero versus Pakistan’s villains

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality”― Arthur Schopenhauer. This is the story of Hero, a donkey that remains in critical condition after violent abuse. Every time I think our morality and apathy has hit rock bottom, I am proven wrong by another heinous incident that brutally violates norms of human decency and shreds any form of animal welfare. The more animal welfare is highlighted and the more awareness we all raise, ...

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It took me 15 long years to quit smoking, and today, it’s been 16 months since my last drag

They say that the most important, most difficult and the greatest fight to fight in life is the fight with one’s own self. It could be anything; your internal struggle with something like a bad habit or your struggle with the way you react to situations. It could be your struggle with addiction to substances like alcohol, drugs, nicotine, food, sugar, or an addiction to a person who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. I am writing this for all those people, including my friends, who are fighting a similar fight in their lives, and I will ...

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How the misinterpreted youth of Pakistan are fading away into oblivion

Addiction is a mental disease that is defined by science as the formulation of dependency on a substance or activity. It can manifest itself into any human being, driving them towards disengagement from reality and secluding them into an abyss of excessive compulsive behaviour. Addiction can either be chemical or non-chemical. Chemical addiction may include almost anything from the consumption of caffeine by means of morning and evening tea/coffee, to injectable fluids such as heroine, morphine, methamphetamine and other psychotropic drugs. Non-chemical addiction, on the other hand, is referred to behavioural addictions such as gambling, risk-taking, watching television, playing games, excessive shopping and even love. These examples do not even begin to compartmentalise ...

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In Pakistan, mental illness is diagnosed by a legal expert not a doctor

Every psych unit in the world teems with patients who confess a desire to do the morally unthinkable, or legally dubious. What separates them from the garden-variety criminal is their lack of control over their own thoughts and behaviours. Imdad Ali, a 50-year-old citizen convicted of murdering a cleric many years ago, is a known schizophrenic. His condition has been verified by a government psychiatrist, Dr Tahir Feroze, among others – who, reportedly, has also demanded pardon for Mr Ali on medical grounds. Schizophrenia is a condition characterised by hallucinations, illogical thoughts, and bizarre or even aggressive behaviour. The sub-type of ‘paranoid ...

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Pakistan’s silent drug war taking another hit

Border skirmishes between India and Pakistan have left numerous civilians dead; the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) have been the worst in a decade. And media outlets on both sides of the border are revelling in front pages and headlines about the clashes. But there is another conflict that continues along one of Pakistan’s borders, and it has impacted about 6.7 million Pakistanis in 2013 alone. Yet, it continues to be neglected from the front pages. I met one of its victims when I was 15-years-old. The tiny form of an old man, curled into a ball, like a discarded shoe, ...

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Do you need a ‘reason’ to be depressed?

‘An unemployed man, tired of the financial crises, hangs himself to death.’ ‘A woman takes her own life before killing her children due to conflicts and problems at home’. ‘A jilted lover shoots himself in front of the girl he wants to marry.’ The lack of awareness about mood disturbances, including depression, are obvious by the kind of media coverage of the incidents of suicide, which often broadly and superficially look at the obvious external stressors and fail to highlight it as a mental health issue that can affect even those who apparently may not have any external social or/and financial stressors. The recent ...

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Facing disabilities: Until we do something about it, no one will

Having a disability does not necessarily make you worse off; it simply means you have to do things differently. However, it is sad to say, our society is plagued with ignorance when it comes to meeting the needs of mentally or physically challenged people. A blind eye is turned towards the needs of these people and because of this ignorance we do not realise the fact that most of the public places lack the basic necessities, such as ramps, integral for the physically challenged. Apart from this, very few schools exist for children with developmental delays. In a social setup like this, it is ...

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Polio: Can Imran Khan help defeat the ugly villain in Pakistan’s story of survival?

On October 24, 2013 when I saw polio teams entering my colony – Musharraf Colony in Hayatabad – it was the first time I knew what they had come for. They had come to save lives. I ran home to tell my mother to get my little sister vaccinated. Polio – the villain It was only the night before that I had been peeping into one of the community halls where the elderly, adults and children from the colony had gathered because we were told that some goras (foreigners) were coming to deliver a talk. I had seen one of these lectures before but this time ...

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An alcoholic’s partner

The tangy smell of his breath dissolved the boundaries between good and evil for her. Together, the two of them had no need to be conscious of each other’s presence. What smelt good, what looked better – everything becomes meaningless, almost non-existent. It didn’t take her much time to discover alcohol’s uncanny bliss. This discovery, however, didn’t present itself like an immaculately packed gift. It grew on her, silently and gently, till she realised its advantages. There could be nothing more vulnerable than an alcoholic, she had understood that. All the moral babble she had heard so far about the fiery wrath of ...

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