Stories about UNESCO

The deliberate collapse of education in Sindh, courtesy of PPP

The Sindh government budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 witnessed an increase in spending on education, with the Rs208.23 billion allocated for the education sector showing an increase in spending of 14.67% from the outgoing fiscal year. Since the incumbent ruling party in Sindh took the reins of power years ago, budgetary allocations kept increasing every year compared to previous years, while education standards remained stagnant, or rather, deteriorated. For instance, an estimated 52% of children in Sindh are still out of school. Despite billions of rupees being ‘spent’ every year on education by the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) provincial government, ...

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Declared ‘intangible’, the heritage of Kalash is over 3,000 years old – but will it survive the 21st century?

‘Ishpata Inn and Restaurant’, says the sign to a roadside hotel in Bumburet Valley in the Chitral district. Ishpata means welcome in the Kalasha language spoken exclusively by the endangered Kalash people, an ethnic group that has lived in three secluded valleys of these towering mountains for centuries: Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir. There are only around 4,000 Kalash villagers left in Chitral. They are one of the last peoples of western Asia to retain their aboriginal culture and have survived many waves of invaders, refusing to convert to Islam. Their neighbours across the mountains in the north-western region of ...

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The stone crushers of Taxila: Are we ready to lose pieces of our history and heritage?

Taxila valley, which lies just beyond the Margalla Hills bordering Islamabad, is a picturesque, rural place with sleepy villages nestled below its green hills. Located less than an hour’s drive from Islamabad, the area is famous for Khanpur Dam and a series of archaeological remains which were declared as world heritage sites by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) back in 1980. Ideally, Taxila should be preserved as a tourist destination steeped in history, but over the years, stone crushers (a machine used to break down large rocks into smaller rocks, gravel or rock dust) have been ...

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For Pakistani sportswomen, the challenge is much bigger than ‘smooth arms’ or ‘fair skin’

For this year’s World Radio Day, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) picked a theme to encourage women in sports, and ran a worldwide campaign to promote sports culture in women. However, barring the issue of having a limited number of women in sports around the world, Asian women have an added dilemma to face, and that is the demand for women in sports to also look “glamorous”, so as to increase viewers’ interest in women’s sports. There has been a demand for attractive female presenters in sports, giving looks preference over knowledge and interest in the ...

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer the main game in the Middle East; it is now merely an irritant in the Arab backyard

The recently announced deal between Hamas and Al Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, is being lauded as a historic move for the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Through this political reconciliation, Hamas would cede control of Gaza’s borders and allow the rival Palestinian authority to take over the day-to-day running of the territory. A broad Arab coalition is backing the deal, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Hamas expecting substantial help from the Emirati and the Saudis and also getting a green light from America. One positive aspect of the deal is that it will ease ...

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Dr Abdus Salam and all the wrong choices Pakistan made

What does it take to be a genius? The other day this thought struck me. Is it the environment that nurtures the genius or does nature simply endow certain individuals with a special gene? Maybe both propositions have merits of their own, but for the time being, let’s drop the latter. Let’s suppose there are no chosen ones, there are no saviours. The idea of saviours arises when we start to believe in pseudo-science and seek miracles to solve our problems. But mind it, Aladdin’s lamp or magic wands don’t exist in the practical world. The only magic that works is the labour ...

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Unveiling Pakistan, chapter by chapter, page by page

Fear, it’s both a vital gift housed by human nature and an insidious enemy of the human race. On one hand, it whispers warnings and protects us from danger. On the other hand, it has the tendency to dramatise risk, rationalise rumours, glorify assumptions, and conjure terrifying truths in order to fill gaps in knowledge and experience. In this regard, fear often places two hands over our eyes and blinds us from hidden opportunities. It closes the gate on enlightening international relationships, thrilling life experiences and character-building adventures. I recently stared fear in the face and told it to take a ...

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Forget New York or Paris, take a trip to Thatta, Bhambore and Makli

I am glad that the first post I will be writing here will be about one of my trips within Pakistan. Those who aspire to travel spend a lot of time planning trips to foreign lands. But what they don’t know is the fact that the same time can be used to explore the unique worlds that exist within Pakistan. I got such a chance this March, when I joined a small group of travel and photography enthusiasts led by Jibran from Tangerine Media and Sanam from Funverks on a day trip to the out skirts of Thatta. This entailed a ...

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The Yemen I called home

Surrounded by mountains and hills, Sana’a, Yemen, is a strangely beautiful place. It had a distinct culture, one that originated thousands of years ago. It had the Old City, a walled area which is said to be over two thousand years old and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Sana’a – Old City. Photo: Mahwash Badar Old City gate. Photo: Mahwash Badar Yemen also has many other natural sites that have a lot of potential for tourism. It has a number of beaches – woefully forgotten at the moment – and many ...

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MohenjoDaro may not be the same after the Sindh Festival gets done with it!

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Sometimes, those words carry a sense of agony and irony.  Such was the case when I came across a picture depicting the historic mound of MohenjoDaro, surrounded by wooden scaffolding and construction crews. My first reaction was to do a double take. I thought I surely had been mistaken for why would anyone allow such an archaeological wonder to go under the proverbial knife and in such a daring fashion? Upon reading the associated article, I was informed that preparations were afoot to hold the opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival at this heritage site. The festival ...

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