Stories about rural

General Elections 2018: Please, don’t be “that” voter!

Brace yourself fellow Pakistanis, for tall claims, big promises, loud slogans and a lot of attention will be given to you as we approach the General Elections 2018. For five years, politicians of various parties have argued, misbehaved and abused each other on national TV to win your vote. Make sure you value that vote! Without further ado, let me be clear where I stand with my vote; it is for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). However, the rant ahead is not an attempt to be PTI’s advocate. I am more concerned about what you vote for rather than whom you vote ...

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Women empowerment in rural Balochistan: Applause is louder and real when men and women clap together as equals

In December 2017, I paid a visit to the Kech District in Balochistan, during which I had a very stimulating interaction with members of the community organisations formed by the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP). However, the biggest surprise for me undeniably was to see the social mobilisation of local women, as they participated in the meetings alongside the male members of their village. Such a high rate of female participation in these meetings was a shock, to say the least, particularly given the conservative nature of the province of Balochistan. Decision-making here is a domain solely belonging to its men, ...

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Want to marry your cousin? Think again!

Cousin marriages have been very common in the subcontinent and this may be one reason why quite a large number of people in our rural areas are so unhealthy. I personally know two families whose members are the products of many generations of inbreeding. In one family – distant relatives of mine – many children are deaf and consequently unable to talk. The head of the family reacted with amazement when told that his children and grand-children suffered from various birth defects because of cousin marriages in his household. In fact, many doctors advised him to stop arranging marriages of his ...

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Why does Pakistan need 3G?

The Supreme Court’s intervention in the availability of 3G technology in Pakistan should be received with a welcoming reaction, as the country is in dire need for high-speed mobile (portable) broadband connectivity. Over the past few months, more than 160 countries have launched 3G services and the number of active 3G subscriptions surpassed one billion. Even in a small and poor country like Kiribati – situated in the middle of the Pacific with hardly any resources and considered to be one of the least developed countries of the world – 3G systems are being introduced to the public. Countries from Australia ...

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Treats from the street: Delicious and affordable

Traditional street snacks are a significant part of Pakistani culture. Originating from rural areas, they have also earned popularity in big cities over the years. Not only are they affordable but very delicious too, with a tinge of the typically rural taste. Despite the advent of international fast food chains, the desi roadside snack hawkers continue to run a thriving business; serving eager customers on the streets, at signal stops and outside schools. Most of these snacks are made out of locally grown fruits, vegetables and kernels; thanks to the year round crops of our country. The cooking methods employed use little or no oil ...

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Who can answer the silent questions of a young Hari boy?

My Eids are always spent in my village located in interior Sindh. Last Eid, I spent the whole night playing cricket, feasting on Karhai at a highway eatery coupled with the occasional smoke. I sat with my paternal cousins, waiting for another round of tea till four in the night. That is when the ‘haris’ woke up to start another day of their daily toil. The peasant’s life – what miserable existence! Generation after generation, cycle after cycle, season after season; the tiller of the soil, the reaper of mother earth’s countless benedictions, clothed in nothing more than rags, an axe in ...

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The not-so-desperate housewives

Steve Jobs is dead. There was a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, will be released against the freedom of over a thousand Palestinians. There are a huge bunch of protesters that have occupied Wall Street. The Yemeni president is back. 28 people are dead in Baghdad. Thismakes the total Iraq body count well over ten thousand in less than ten years. And somewhere in Pennsylvania, a paralyzed man high-fived just using his thoughts. None of these possibly world-changing events matter to the average Pakistani housewife. Call it what you may, but most ...

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Video Blog: Forgotten floods – daily travel, daily trouble

Earlier this week I was in Kasur to produce a news feature on the flood affected areas. In order to get to the village Mastikhey, which is one of the last border villages, we ended up walking in fields which were submerged by knee to thigh length water. On our way back, the villagers gave me a ride on a buffalo cart where I learned just a little about the hardships the villagers face on a daily basis. Pakistan’s 2011 floods continue, but who is paying ...

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Rural education: Eight reforms we need now

Educational institutions are the breeding ground for any civilization. Illiteracy is the mother of all evil and ignorance leads to exploitation of the weak, and injustice in the society. The pertinent question: Why is the current breed of politicians so ignorant about the pitiful state of government-run schools? The simple answer: They know that their presence in the assemblies and their luxurious lifestyle is only possible because of the illiterate masses who vote for them. Education, especially in state-run institutions, has deteriorated. I belong to a very remote part of Sindh and have had the opportunity to observe the devastation of society personally. I have ...

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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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