By: Naveed Iqbal
The news of Pakistan topping the world league of still births creates a sense of indignation. It is yet another sad testament of the country’s health sector.
Here in the UK, stillbirths are the highest amongst most developed countries. Although one can apportion some of these causes to placental problems, infections or congenital abnormalities, but there is still a significant number which cannot be explained.
Sadly, the UK and Pakistan will address this problem quite differently – perhaps somewhat predictably.
In the UK, major investment in research will often follow to investigate the causes of such high mortality rates. This follows its natural progression to policy research and investment in healthcare. Although seasoned critics, politicians and scientific bodies will argue the methodology and implementation, a conclusion and decision will eventually be reached.
Sadly, this course of events will not take place in Pakistan. Any attempt to understand and address this latest health dilemma will not result in political capital for the governing party in Islamabad and thus absolves any form of accountability.
I was able to witness the frustrations of introducing some form of gynecological and obstetric service in a rural village in Pakistan devastated by the floods, last year whilst I was working for an international NGO.
We advertised for an obstetrician and gynecologist with a competitive salary and benefits. The reason for this move stemmed from our concern that an untrained female dai (midwife) was delivering babies without any clinical knowledge. There was no question of her dedication but as a group of health professionals, it would have been clinical negligence to avoid this fissure in our services. After much deliberation, we managed to hire an obstetrician but soon she resigned.
This event was a snapshot of a national crisis in medical care for women. One can appreciate the argument of Pakistan’s economic woes as one of the reasons for lack of investment in health, but we should take note of the success of Cuba; it is a country which has suffered decades of various sanctions, but still continues to deliver healthcare comparable to many developed nations.
This is not a debate about political ideologies but of priorities, investment and accountability. Otherwise we can maintain the status quo and await the next set of incriminating revelations for Pakistan.
A prostitute born and brought up in Karachi’s Napier Road red-light district, Shumaila never heard about HIV and AIDS until recently. Today, she carries condoms but clients refuse to wear them.
‘None of us were aware about the danger of AIDS looming over us for years but now we all know and can avoid it,’ said the tall 29-year-old who lives in a Victorian-style building in the heart of the neighbourhood.
Shumaila is one of the rare ones who are aware about the perils of HIV/AIDS an thus insist upon using condoms. Hundreds of thousands of condoms have been distributed to sex workers in the last two years, which have saved them from being infected with the lethal virus.
Karachi has up to 100,000 female sex workers, according to data gathered by Pakistan Society, a local welfare organisation. ‘This is 20 percent of their overall population in Pakistan.
Lahore comes next with 75,000 sex workers,’ Saleem Azam, head of the charity.
Prostitution may be illegal but it has prospered in Pakistan, where an economic downturn and widening poverty have forced women and men onto the streets to meet the rising cost of living.
Shaheena, 38, is a home-based sex worker. She is a skilled paramedic but seldom finds a permanent job. ‘So I opted to enter this business on the side,’ she said, veiling her face to hide her identity. ‘I have sibblings, cousins, nephews and nieces who don’t know about my second profession. So I don’t want to identify myself to embarass them. ‘But it’s a question of survival as none of my relatives support me with money. They are all too stretched themselves,’ she said.
More than 60 percent of Pakistan’s prostitutes work from homes or ply the streets, while the elite serve wealthy clients from kothikhanas (houses or rooms) in plush neighbourhoods.
A report said 60 percent of female sex workers and 45 percent of their male clients in Karachi and Lahore do not know that condoms can prevent transmission of HIV. Of those that do, few protect themselves. ‘The number of our clients who agree to wear a condom is small. Female condoms are not available, which can save us more effectively,’ said Nasreen, another prostitute in Napier Road. ‘I can’t carry condoms in my purse on the street as we’re vulnerable to the police and could be arrested if they find them,’ said Afshan, 29, who walks the city’s busy streets looking for clients.
The 2006 survey said only 18 percent of sex workers reported always using condoms. Around 96,000 people, or 0.1 percent of the population, live with HIV in Pakistan. The government says only 5,000 people are infected. The disease is spreading among high-risk groups, especially drug users, who mostly inject and use dirty needles, raising fears the virus could spread quickly from addicts to prostitutes. In 2006, Pakistan said HIV/AIDS prevalence among female sex workers was around 0.02 percent, but independent bodies put it much higher. ‘It is at least 15 per cent, ‘said Azam. ‘They are totally at the mercy of their clients. Most of their clients refuse to wear condoms,’ he said.
‘In Pakistan, this business is illegal, thus there is no law to seriously tackle the issue and save precious lives. Yet a way-out is desperately needed on humanitarian grounds.’ Baig said he had identified an HIV-positive sex worker a few months ago and tried to help her with treatment and a new job but she left because her colleagues considered her a blot on their business. ‘Now, no one knows where she is and what she is doing,’ he said.
Hollywood celebrity and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Refugees Angelina Jolie was so overwhelmed by the looks of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani that she strongly recommended him for Hollywood screen but in the same breath said that Gilani, as the leader of his nation, was doing an even better job.
This she narrated while giving her impressions about her visit to Pakistan’s flood-hit areas last week and her meetings with the leaders in Pakistan and the US President’s special envoy for the region Richard Holbrooke after returning home. She undertook the journey to Pakistan on Holbrooke’s suggestion to visit the flood-affected areas. The US president’s envoy narrated the story to Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani the other day when he called on the prime minister here at the PM’s House. “But Richard, I offered her a copy of the holy Quran with English version to make her better understand Islam and provide the same to her adopted Muslim child,” the prime minister replied.
Prime Minister Gilani, while confirming his conversation with the US president’s special representative for Pakistan/Afghanistan to this correspondent, said the actress must be kidding. “If the screen is so charming, why has she stepped out of it and started serving humanity. I am serving my nation and I am happy with it,” he said on Saturday morning.
Ms Angelina, 35, has been cited as one of the world’s most attractive people, as well as one of the world’s “most beautiful” woman, titles for which she has received substantial media attention.
Ms Angelina told Richard Holbrooke that she had heard about the so-called credibility deficit in Pakistan but she was of the firm opinion that the people who had affection for calamity-struck humanity would never pay any heed to such assertions, as they are always forthcoming on such occasions. The people who are reluctant to come forward use such pretexts for staying away, she remarked while discarding the credibility factor.
Richard Holbrooke told the prime minister that his daughter would shortly be visiting Pakistan to work for the flood victims and share their miseries as she was currently engaged in the relief efforts in quake-devastated African state Haiti. He said that floods had inflicted unbelievable damage on the people of Pakistan but the people of this country were determined to live up to the challenge. “I am sure that the signs of the disaster soon will be behind them,” he added.
I am not a fan of Pakistan. The central Pakistan government doesn’t even pretend to control its outlying provinces, but I am not sure if this is a good idea. It would probably just cause more instability along the Indian border. Though putting the whole country under trusteeship would probaby be a good idea, it’s not going to happen. The real probablem is who controls the nukes and the treachery of the isis.
This artificial nation has already lost Bangladesh. Now floods give good reason to dismember the rest Pakistan “is confronted with an existential threat from fanatics, zealots and extremists on the one hand and from the material devastation caused by the history’s worst floods on the other,” Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari stated earlier this week. “The existence of Pakistan” is now at stake, echoed Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The end of Pakistan — its dismemberment into its constituent parts — could be all for the good. Pakistan — a creation of colonial Britain that’s barely a half-century old — is less a country than an acronym whose passing would soon be forgotten. There is no Pakistani nation.
The P in Pakistan stands for Punjab, its most industrialized region whose Indus River people have an ancient civilization. The A stands for Afghania, a backward rural region (since renamed) that could not be more different than the Punjab. The K stands for Kashmir, an agriculturally rich, conflict-riven area cleaved and claimed by India and China as well as Pakistan. S stands for Sindh, another Indus River nation whose history is also as old as civilization itself, and which rivals the Punjab in literacy and economic development. Pakistan’s last three letters — TAN — represent Balochistan, its largest but least populous and poorest province, despite its mineral riches.
Mumbai, Sep.12 (ANI): As ‘Dabbang’ makes an impressive beginning at the box office, its main hero, Salman Khan, has courted an unwanted controversy again by speaking insensitively about the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that had left over 166 people dead and over 300 others injured.
He has invited criticism for allegedly stating during an interview to a Pakistani channel that the 26/11 attacks were hyped up because “elite people” were targeted.
“It was the elite that was targeted this time. Five-star hotels and all. So, they panicked. Then, they got up and spoke about it. My question is why not before. Attacks have happened in trains and small towns too, but no one talked about it so much,” Salman reportedly told Pakistan’s Express 24/7 channel in an interview.
Salman’s reported comments have been described as “anti-national” by parties like the Shiv Sena, and even drawn strong words from Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Chagan Bhujbal. It doesn’t matter whether a big or small person has died. It’s very serious matter for the country when somebody loses his life in a militant attack. We need to work together to root out terrorism, said Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
Bhujbal, however, called the statement “uninformed”, as he remarked: “He is an actor. He does not have the information to make a comment on whether the Pakistani govt was involved or not. People travelling in taxis, constables, waiters, hotel workers, all lost their lives in the attacks.”
The Shiv Sena demanded an apology from Salman Khan for the statement.
“The 26/11 attacks were a war against the nation. Salman should apologise for his remarks. Ambani was not staying at the CST, nor was Tata or Birla staying in Cama Lane,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said referring to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Cama Lane, which were among the places primarily targetted by the terrorists.
The Bharatiya Janata Party also criticised Khan for his unwanted comments.
“26/11 attack was an attack on India. We cannot forget that Indian citizens were killed. This was not a small issue for Salman Khan to comment. This was an attack meticulously planned by Pakistan,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP spokesperson.
Special Prosecutor in 26/11 trial, Ujwal Nikam, described Khan’s statement as naive.
“It appears that without knowing the details of the terror attack, the actor made such statements,” said Nikam, adding, “I shall say these are childish remarks.”
“They (terrorists) don’t make any distinction between rich and poor. It is judicially established that the outcome was a deep routed criminal conspiracy hatched in Pakistan and the targets were deliberately selected to wage war against India,” he added.
Eight of the attacks occurred in south Mumbai at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Orthodox Jewish-owned Nariman House, the Metro Cinema and a lane behind the Times of India building an St. Xavier’s College.
By Sana Saleem
Lahore is often known as the heart of Pakistan; the hub of culture and arts, the centre of education, the city of gardens, with the prominent aspect of the city being its ancient history and its deep-rooted connection to Sufism. Living in a city steeped in heritage and culture, Lahoris are known for their fun-loving spirit. This very spirit was attacked on July 1, when two suicide bombers attacked Data Darbar, shrine of the patron saint of Lahore.
The attack killed 45 people and left more than 175 injured.
This is not the first time a shrine has been attacked, previously the shrines of Rahman Baba and Mian Umer Baba in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also been attacked.
Attacking Data Darbar on a Thursday night was an obvious target – that is the night when the shrine is teeming with worshippers as well as those seeking shelter and food from all walks of life. There is no question that the attack was well-planned – CCTV footage showed scenes of carnage and the bombers just moments before they blew themselves up. The footage showed a security guard chasing after one of the bombers shortly before the bomb went off – body parts and blood splattered everywhere as the survivors fled in all directions.
The most common reactions after the attack are that of denial, with many pointing fingers at foreign involvement. Statements such as “these terrorists can neither be Muslims nor Pakistanis” echoed from the common man to those in authority. Despite a history of intolerance towards Sufism, the notorious TTP has also declined any involvement in the attack claiming they do not attack ‘public places’ Usman, 16, who was identified as the alleged suicide bomber by the authorities, was later reported to be a victim of the attack.
I was asked a similar question : What does the attack on the Ahmedis and on Data Darbar mean? Is this sectarian violence or do terrorists not have a religion? According to The Pakistan Security Report there have been over 249 terrorist attacks across the country, killing around 1182 and leaving over 995 injured. Not a single so-called ‘foreign’ terrorist has been arrested so far, clearly ruling out the possibility of foreign and/or non-muslin suicide bombers at work. As for the possibility of a conspiracy that foreign agencies could be involved, we must understand that the nature of such involvement is opportunistic.
At the end of the day we need to look within ourselves. The attack on the shrine was not just another terror attack; it was an attack on the Sufi saints who have taught us peace, tolerance, spirituality, co-existence and universal brotherhood. It is important we acknowledge that a certain faction of our society continues to harbour hate that can, and has, incite violence. These are not a group of underground terrorists but ordinary citizens who openly declare their disapproval to anything that doesn’t fit within the confines of their strict ideology. One such example can be seen on this forum where a user started a thread suggesting a call for “demolishing ‘centres’ of shirk like Data Darbar and the likes”
The seven-page discussion thread ends with CCTV videos of the attack on the shrine, with one user rightly pointing out, “I have an issue with the title of this thread. ‘Demolish.’ I wonder if it is this type of language that creates confusion and hatred, which leads to suicide attacks, like the one in Lahore on Thursday. Even if those attacks are done by external forces, they leverage internal hatred. Thoughts? [sic]”
Indeed, something that we need to seriously think about. While talking to reporters on the Data Darbar attack Nawaz Sharif repeatedly emphasised that he will not indulge the blame game and refused to point fingers.
I think it is time to point fingers but in the right direction.
Now a days, when receive many emails from our friends about earning extra money in online business. Most of them are just spam and a waste of time. But there are people who make money in internet business. Today we will introduce Salma Jafri, a web entrepreneur, who started online business to support her family. Let’s see her story in her own words.
A casual observation at any Pakistani wedding leaves any curious observer impressed at how well the bride appears in her wedding dress. If anyone has been wondering about the secret behind such elegance on their wedding day, they should consider what bridal gown options the Pakistani bride has.
The Features of a Pakistani Wedding dress
Although appearing simple, the dress is normally laden with customary symbols of the Pakistani way of life. Many of these features could be so minute yet they have tones of cultural relevance. Some people insist on a red wedding lahenga more so on the third day of the wedding although the bride is at liberty to choose other colors. The material normally varies from jamawar to chiffon or silk which could be used either purely or in addition to other materials such as katan and in differing proportions. The gown is embroidered using different designs such as kora, dabka, resham and gotta. Behind Pakistani wedding dresses are great professional designers, karigers. The dress will also have additional features such as neckline sleeves, sequins and beaded flowers.
Pakistani wedding dress Designs
Any Pakistani bride has an avalanche of designs from which they can choose their Pakistani Wedding Dresses While others will op to go for an Artemisia that has a crepe silk top and an embellished strap others may go for a mermaid lengha. This has a sweetheart neckline in addition to having a whole body rapper and a concealable back zip closure. One may also choose a gala lehenga, a long silk shirt with a key hole at the neckline. While the lengha remains the most popular design for many brides, lehenga, artemesia, gharara are providing real competition to grace weddings. Not to be left behind are such traditional fashion styles including lengha choli and chorida pajama all of which provide different color shades and a wide variety of finishing. Most of these designs will appeal to many brides including those who want a feel of the modern touch while still maintaining their traditional roots.
A Guide to the Pricing of Pakistani wedding dress
There are several factors that determine the pricing of the Pakistani wedding gown. The kind of material will drive the price upwards. Silk fabrics are generally cheaper than those made of jamawar and antique fabrics. Furthermore additional features such as sequins, stones or dabkas make it more expensive. The embroidery works will also amplify the price while the karigers from which one orders their dress will also determine its price. Pakistani wedding dresses with dupata will normally cost more since additional work and material will be required in their finishing. However in spite of all differentials in pricing there are bridal gowns for all prices so no need to worry oneself.
Given such broad range of wedding dresses, making a choice can be a very hard task but one should manage with a little help from friends, family and experts. The strict cultural procedures also still sway in many Pakistani weddings so one may a limited scope from which to make a choice. As part of the Pakistani wedding traditions, it is the groom’s family that provides the wedding dress.
By Adnan Rashid
LAHORE: The newly-wed couple, Shoaib and Sania, have reportedly decided not to interact with the media or public in Pakistan till they sell the right to cover their Valima in Sialkot and Lahore to the highest bidding media group.
After arrival in Lahore on Friday at a local hotel, Shoaib threatened to leave the hotel if the management allowed any media person on the floor he was staying on. Shoaib’s friends, who visited the couple on Saturday, claimed they persuaded Shoaib and Sania to talk to the media. However, they added, Shoaib’s mother-in-law, Nasima Mirza, declined the suggestion and wished to sell the media coverage rights of the wedding reception at Sialkot, Valima in Lahore and other activities at the hotel including an interview with the couple. Sources said Shoaib demanded Rs30 to 50 million for the exclusive coverage in Pakistan.
Media persons had to rent rooms in the hotel to avoid any untoward situation with the hotel management.
Throughout the day on Saturday, media persons kept standing in the hotel lobby. Once, even the hotel management asked the media persons to leave the hotel. The hotel management said Shoaib accused them of accepting bribes from the media to give them access to the area where the couple was staying. Security officials snatched the camera of a Geo Television cameraperson when he was trying to shoot the gym where Sania and Shoaib were present.
Police officials claimed that Shoaib was also not cooperating with them and two gunmen were standing outside their rooms. Police said both gunmen had licenced weapons, but they lack training to use them. “Shoaib has not informed us about his Sialkot tour yet,” a police officer said.
It appears the marriage is more like a business contract, as both have barred the media from coverage of their wedding functions. Some believe all this is being done to capture the attention of the advertisement agencies of India and Pakistan, and to exploit the situation for minting money. As Sania had lost her international ranking and Shoaib banned and fined Rs2 million by the Pakistan Cricket Board, they are looking for opportunities to make money one way or the other, some critics commented.
According to sources, Shoaib will leave for Sialkot to participate in his wedding reception at his hometown early on Sunday morning and will come back the same day.
Meanwhile, Shoaib’s brother-in-law, Imran Zafar Malik, told a press conference on Saturday that mediapersons would not be allowed to cover the reception for Shoaib and Sania on Sunday. He said media persons sans cameras would be allowed to enter the reception hall.
This is very shameful for us to see this video. We are sharing this video to discourage this kind of acts in our country. We are a Muslim country and we shouldn’t adopt the western culture as it will destroy our society and moral values.