By Halima Khan
Suitable boy or even suitable girl is a rather funny concept that our society revolves peoples’ lives around. This rather bizarre situation is made rather amusing when the definition of suitable is explored. However who is doing all this defining is merely annoying. You and I whine about reaping fields of sorrow we sow ourselves for ourselves. Making life difficult and making survival competitive is what we seem to be occupying our mortality with. There is not anything more pressing to do, after all.
Is he educated? Is he employed? Is he independent? Is he ‘shareef’? What all these questions mean is irrelevant, just as irrelevant as most of these questions themselves are. We waste so much time and energy on irrelevance and un-necessities in matters of marriage that the important, the life depending important matters take a backseat.
Courtesy Aman Ittehad
We ask all citizens to sign up on a petition seeking peace for Pakistan, the region and all its people.
Let us through this petition state clearly that we want justice. We deserve democratic governance. And call for accountability.
Let us challenge the old ways
Let us call for change and demand equal opportunity,
Let us respect and involve all citizens,
Let us celebrate diversity, pluralism and peace.
If you want the State to provide for and respond to your needs
If you want the State to ensure justice and the rule of law
If you want the State to provide opportunities to all and prioritize development
Sign on to show that you care and that you are willing to look beyond despair
Sign on to demand a State that nurtures you, its citizen
A State that ensures all its citizens a life of dignity
A State that lives in peace and enables you to do so
A State that keeps your children safe
Safe from terror, from exploitation and insecurities,
Safe from violence
Let us forge a new relationship
Trust must be rebuilt, between peoples and institutions
Citizen and State must now coincide.
Together let us regenerate promise and potential.
Let hope and unity intertwine
Speak out now!
Speak out for your future and your people
The time has come, together we must rise.
Are You Ready?
By Halima Khan
The tools of the information age which were once welcomed as a great step forward for mankind are now progressively more so being turned into weapons in the “war on terror.” For instance, the G8 countries in recent times approved to integrate biometric passports based on microchips or databases that predetermine physical characteristics such as facial dimensions, fingerprints, iris patterns and voice patterns. More than a few governments are operational in attaining, developing, and linking databases of personal information. Subsequently they will build up on data mining software to verify “signatures” of terrorist movement. It is argued that these intricate information systems engage artificial constructions of the “terrorist” which are too complex for any single human being to comprehend, yet too reducing to serve as a dependable basis for suspicion. Additionally, sanctioning high technology to categorize suspects complicates the matter of liability and responsibility for what is already being practiced in a relatively low-tech approach: the detention, deportation, and even torture of suspects presumed guilty of terrorist association.
By Halima Khan
A two-edged Sword is how it was and how it still is; technology is a blessing that turns into a nuisance without much warning. The War on Terror has been an ongoing activity since a fateful September 11. It has been waged in areas some experts pronounced as the hub of terrorism. Technology is an unparalleled weapon. However not only for the good side; it is available on both sides. This is where this whole War on Terror business gets tricky. And messy too!
In September 2005 I visited Pakistan. On Friday 2 September I landed in Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore. Although it was only 6 am it was already very hot. The sun seems to be nearer to the ground in Pakistan than it is here in England. I had been very nervous at the thought of going there even though I had been invited. I had heard all the stories of how dangerous it is there. Actually, as soon as I arrived any worries just disappeared. Not at any time did I feel nervous or afraid. All the people I met were friendly and happy to talk to anyone from another country. Everywhere I went there were people who asked if they could have their photograph taken with me. Children ran up when I was in the Shalimar Gardens and held my hand while we were photographed. In fact it was the boys who were the shy ones. At times it was a little too hot for me but I enjoyed my stay very much. I travelled around Lahore, then to Rawalpindi and Islamabad. I visited the Faisal Mosque there. Then I went to Murree. The climate there is similar to England and it is very clean and pleasant. It is one of my most favourite places in Pakistan. I didn’t get to see much because I got a stomach problem and had to stay in my room for a few days. When I see the news nowadays and see reports of bombings in places where I have been and walked or eaten I feel very sad. I hope that the troubles are soon over as I want to visit again some time. One of the best days of my whole visit was when I went with some friends to the Khewra Salt Mines. The weather was perfect and I enjoyed myself very much. The mines are near Pind Dadan Khan in the district of Jhelum. It is also 260 kilometres from Lahore and 160 kilometres from Islamabad. I had been staying in Faisalabad. This used to be called Lyallpur and was named after Sir Charles James Lyall who was the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab. It has an agricultural college and a lot of industry, the cotton industry being one of them.The journey to the Salt Mine took about three hours through very pleasant countryside. After leaving the motorway we drove through small villages before arriving at Khewra. We saw the ICI soda ash factory which takes a large proportion of the yearly production of salt from the Khewra Salt Mine. If anyone is interested in reading more about ICI in Khewra look at this link: http://www.icipakistan.com/sodaash.html On the way we could see where the road started to turn white from the salt in the air. The air was so clean and fresh. At the salt mine there is a tourist resort where there is accommodation for visitors to stay. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khewra_Salt_Mines On the Wikipedia site there is some more information. After buying our tickets we took the small electric train into the mine. I thought I would be nervous going into what looked like a black hole but I was not at all. It was a pleasant journey because I was with friends and it was the first visit for all of us. The passage was lit and we could see the different colours of salt in the walls. When we arrived at the mine there was a big chamber which opened out from the tunnel. It was lit up everywhere, a lot of lights are behind walls that had been built of salt bricks which showed the different shades of salt. We had a guide who took us round and explained the history of the mine. It was discovered in the days of Alexander the Great by his soldiers. It has been mined since 326 BC changing hands regularly depending on who ruled the area. There is the building of a mosque and a working post office in the mine. In a large open area there is a cafe where hot and cold drinks, snacks and ice cream can be bought. There are different chambers with solid blocks of salt that have been hewn out showing the different shades of salt from pure white to rose coloured. Then there are paved areas made from salt bricks with lights underneath which give a magical effect. One part of the mine which was very interesting was when we went over a bridge and stood on a wooden structure where we could look down into a very deep pond filled with the clearest water. It is possible to look down seemingly for ever seeing the different levels and shades of salt. We were perfectly safe but I felt as if I was standing on the top of a mountain looking down. It was a strange sensation. Unfortunately, because of the feeling of danger I forgot to take photographs of this. Our guide told us that in the mine there is a clinic for asthma patients, they stay there for two weeks and in that time their asthma is cured from the salt air. There are 19 levels of tunnels in the mine and we were in the seventh down from the top. They mine 325 thousand tons of salt per year most of which goes to ICI. In the gift shop there are lamps, vases and ash trays made of salt. There is also an industry in the making of items from salt which are then exported all over the world. I bought a salt lamp as a souvenir. You can see on the photographs how pleasant it looks in Pakistan. I know there are problems at the moment there and people think it is a very dangerous place. I can only say that I enjoyed my stay very much and I never felt unsafe at any time. I have visited twice now and am looking forward to going again at some time. On the way back to Faisalabad in the evening we stopped by the Jhelum river and watched the birds collecting before they migrate for the winter.
By Halima Khan
Water is necessary for human survival and development while water is a scarce good. Conclusively lack of water hinders development and also dignified life. This assessment is obvious from global trends, as well as from Pakistan’s national and local struggles for better access to water.
According to figures available by the United Nations and other international organizations, 1.1bn people are devoid of sufficient access to water, and 2.4bn people have to live with no sufficient sanitation. In keeping to current trends the projection is that about 3bn people of a population of 8.5bn will experience water shortage by 2025. 83% of them will belong to developing countries, more often than not in rural areas where even today now and then only 20% of the population have contact with sufficient water supply. This definite lack of water is contrasting to the academic conclusion that there is enough ground water in all regions of the world to certify plenty of water supplies for all people. Only 6% of global freshwater is used by households, while 20% is utilized industry and another 70% by agriculture. The finale drawn from these framework conditions is that water shortage and the unequal distribution of water are global problems rather than regional problems that need international solutions.