Stories about safety

CNG blasts: Too many deaths

Following recent incidents involving CNG cylinders exploding in public transport vehicles in Punjab and Sindh, in which dozens of innocent people lost their lives, the authorities have finally woken up from their slumber. A recommendation has now been presented before the federal government to completely ban the use of CNG cylinders in buses and vans. The ministry of petroleum and natural resources has given a deadline of one week to owners of vehicles that use CNG to ensure that the cylinders that they have installed comply with safety guidelines. Of course, there is also the issue of whether these guidelines ...

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How would a child know Disney from pornography?

Sometime around the start of the new millennium, my sister and I stumbled upon the internet.  We didn’t have a computer at home back then, and my uncle’s ancient Windows 98 OS used to sit temptingly at his wooden desk every time we visited him. Naturally, the world of computers was a fascinating mystery for us. While the adults of the family were more cautious about clicking the wrong buttons on the elusive machine, as kids we had little qualms about that and sleuthed our way around. Lazy summer afternoons were often spent creating “masterpieces” on MS Paint, navigating through ...

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What happened to Elizabeth’s daughter?

I know a 40-year-old woman named Elizabeth who has experienced first hand the reality of life as a minority in Pakistan. Every morning , Elizabeth and her 14-year-old daughter used to walk through the narrow streets of their colony to reach their workplace, a double storey kothi located in a posh area of the city. This was the routine of many women from the little Christian colony located near the ganda nala (dirty stream) in Islamabad. During these morning walks, two 40 years old men started following them in a car. They threatened to kill Elizabeth and her daughter if they didn’t ...

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Police force: Where are they in times of need?

They stand tall and sharp in their starch white uniforms, guns ready in hand, next to the fluorescent orange cones dividing us and them. “Of course, the president must be in town,” I thought as I glared at the ever-ready police officers. It’s funny to see these police officers and rangers come out of nowhere every time the president or prime minister is in town. Not only are they out on the streets, they look clean, vigilant and pose to be doing their jobs well. Clearly, the government has the resources to protect the common man, yet the only time you ...

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If you can’t control rape, legalise prostitution

In 2005, thirteen year old ‘S’ was sodomised by a truck driver. After 5 long years in court, ‘S’ finally saw Mola Dad, his abuser get convicted. The judge has given Mola Dad the maximum punishment.  But for this monstrous act, even the maximum means only three years mprisonment, a Rs45,000 fine and Rs200,000 compensation. So while the victim spent five years striving for justice, the criminal would be free in three years and can resume his life. When “success stories” are like this, what can be said about the countless incidents that never reach the police station? The street I grew up on ...

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Criminal negligence: Needless death at Bahria Town race track

On Sunday, five people died as a speeding car lost control and crashed into a group of spectators. What is extremely unfortunate is the fact that these deaths and injuries were completely avoidable. As details emerge, attention will focus on young reckless drivers. Our roads proliferate with underage drivers who, due to a combination of parental wealth, a grotesque sense of entitlement and teenage hormones, not only break the law, but are often involved in needless accidents. They drive around locally “suped up” cars, with little or no quality control. That however is one side of the coin. This tragedy took ...

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Prado power: Licence to abuse

My friend’s brother, Saad, was driving back home from work on Shahrae Faisal when a car behind him honked frantically to get ahead.  Even though Saad was in the fast lane, he was apparently not fast enough for the Prado on his tail. He took a little time to slow down and moved into the next lane to give the impatient driver some room. Instead of just driving by, or perhaps offering a subtle note of gratitude, which we rarely witness on the road, the Prado sped ahead and swerved sharply in front of him. Four boys, maybe in their late teens ...

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Please don’t hurt me, Mr Policeman!

A couple of days back, I asked a friend if police checks made him feel safer in Karachi, a ‘vibrant’ city to say the least. He said no. While I thought the conversation had ended, a few seconds later he asked: “What sort of a stupid question is that? Have you never been stopped by them?” That got me thinking. The inefficiency and corruption of our police force has in fact turned into a joke – though unfortunately, it’s not a funny one for those at the receiving end: the citizens of Pakistan. Over the next few days, I asked many people ...

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