By Naeem Sadiq
In September 2009 I wrote to two Sindh government departments seeking harmless information on matters of education and pollution that should anyway be available to all citizens. I was confident that a formal request under the much trumpeted and much ‘seminar’ed Freedom of Information Act will do the trick. The law requires a response within 21 days. When nothing happened for 4 months, in Jan 2010, I approached the Sindh Ombudsman (as suggested in the law) to ask the concerned departments to do the needful.
After digesting my request for 3 months, the Sindh Ombudsman finally asked the concerned departments (Education and Environmental Protection Agency) to appear and explain why they did not provide the information that had been asked for. I too was asked to appear.
So I spent the 1st of April (like a fool) in the Ombudsman’s office, hoping that the real culprits would make an appearance. Nobody turned up and the helpless Ombudsman gave a new date of April 6, for all parties to appear again.
On 6th April I wasted another day waiting in the Ombudsman’s office, but again neither department put in an appearance.
Clearly I was now being given a taste of my own medicine. The Ombudsman could keep calling. I could keep appearing. The departments violating the freedom of information Act could keep not turning up. Life could keep going on as normal. Continue reading
Filed under Citizens, civil service, Conservation, Democracy, Education, Environment, executive, Law, Pakistan, Rights, Sindh
By Ardeshir Cowasjee Dawn, 06 Dec, 2009
The planet we live on is insignificant in the universal scheme, and parts of it will always be ruled over largely by the ignorant and those who are significant only because of their capability to do immense damage. They heed neither the elements nor the environment.
There is of course the rare bird. Queen Anne of England once asked an honest courtier what the cost would be were she to include London’s Green Park within the precincts of her palace. She was told: ‘A monarchy, Madam, a monarchy.’ We in Pakistan are now fortunate to have a chief justice of our country who can hear and heed trees and who understands the environment. Continue reading
By Ardeshir Cowasjee, Dawn 15 Nov, 2009
Death of a social activist
THE desecration of Gutter Baghicha, a designated parkland for the people of Karachi, has been written about umpteen times over the past couple of years, but no effective action was taken by those concerned.
On Nov 7, 2009, Nisar Baloch, the spearhead of the Gutter Baghicha Bachao Tehreek and a member of Shehri, two NGOs which have been trying for the last two decades to save this lung of the city,was shot through the head by unidentified assailants as he was leaving his house. Continue reading
Now here is something else to be proud about our Republic. We’ve set the all time record for tree planting in the world. My appeal to everyone reading this is to plant atleast 10 trees this year. Remember we have a very bad de-forestation problem in Pakistan and must work on all fronts to leave a Pakistan that is worth having for our children and our children’s children. From the BBC:
A team of volunteers in Pakistan has set a new world record by planting more than half a million trees in one day.
Guinness World Records confirmed that 541,176 trees had been planted in the southern province of Sindh on 15 July.
Some 300 volunteers, working in groups, planted mangrove saplings in the 750 acres of the Indus river delta region. Continue reading
Faisal Kamal Pasha’s report
Rawalpindi: Being a trade route and a way towards their final destination of the conquerors from Central Asia that was the throne of Dehli, Pothohar region bears its historical and strategic importance and that is why the conquerors built forts here in this region to consolidate their positions.
The information displayed at Rawat Fort’s by archaeology department reveals that it was built in early 15th century by Salteen-e-Dehli. However there are some contradictions about the historical background of this fort.
According to some historians, the fort was built by Sultan Masood, son of Sultan Mehmood Ghaznavi in 1036 AD while some other books of history reveal that Sarang Khan, the leader of Gakhar tribes in Pothohar, built the fort. Continue reading
From the NEWS
Shah Allah Ditta caves are located on the route leading towards Khanpur. These caves are next to the shrine and tomb of a Mughal period ‘dervish,’ Shah Allah Ditta. Once you start travelling on Golra Sharif Road, a sharp turn comes for a village named after the saint — Shah Allah Ditta. The narrow road leads towards Margalla Hills on the base of which these caves are located. Old Banyan trees at the roadside marks the entrance to the caves. Continue reading
Taj Building in Nowshera is a case of weak and seriously flawed heritage legislation in NWFP
By Dr Ali Jan
Taj Building is an architectural jewel on the main Grand Trunk Road in Nowshera, NWFP. Built in 1920s, this imposing structure has endured the ravages of time despite lack of any concerted attempts in the past to preserve it. The facade of the three-storey building is highly decorated with floral and vine patterns in intricate stucco. The sweeping round arches and numerous embellished columns represent a charming architectural blend of Roman, Gothic and Oriental. An arched gateway on the side of the building with beautiful jharoka-styled (elevated window balcony) features leads into the main compound. The wooden balconies at the back are also very attractive.
The building was constructed by Khan Bahadur Taj Muhammad Khan OBE MLC of Badrashi Village, Nowshera. He was a famous colonial-era contractor and landlord whose father KB Abdul Hamid Khan had been in the service of the British Empire as well. He was a wealthy man and was particularly fond of racehorses. He used to travel extensively in India and had built several grand mansions for his own comfort. The present National Defence College building in New Delhi, India was also his personal mansion. (See: http://www.ndc.nic.in/history10.asp) Besides this he had also built a residence in Lahore (‘Rose Palace’) which was recently pulled down. His other garden palace at Village Badrashi in Nowshera spreads over several acres.
Khan Bahadur sahib’s son Taj ul Mulk who is a businessman by profession was previously settled in Lahore. He got the custody of the Taj Building and has recently moved to Nowshera. In his absence a court case with the shopkeepers lingered on for many decades which was finally decided in his favour a couple of years ago. Continue reading