MORE than two hundred suicide cases have been reported from Gilgit Baltistan in the last five years. There are approximately 120 men and 105 women who have committed suicide. Keeping the River Gilgit on your right if you exit the city, you enter the district of Ghizer. In this district alone there have been approximately 115 deaths. Less than 40 percent are men, and more than 60 percent are women. In the last forty days there have been more than 17 suicides. As I write these lines, news of another suicide from Yasin, an area in Ghizer reaches me, making the total 18.
CAN the political melodrama being enacted in Pakistan today be called democracy?
Those involved — all political leaders, the media, the anchors and others — believe this is democracy. The events that are portrayed 24/7 on TV, WhatsApp and Facebook are seen as giving the people a voice. How the ‘voice-giving process’ is being conducted is nobody’s business. All we old-timers know is that we cannot call a spade a spade.
IMRAN Khan, our PM until the recent vote of no confidence unseated him, is demanding fresh elections without delay. Yet he is likely to obstruct – should he mislike – the electoral process whensoever it may commence or reject its results:
GIVEN the antics of the rulers who control our destiny, one wonders if change will ever come to this country. At one time, it was believed that change would come with democracy. Now conventional wisdom has it that people get the rulers they deserve. So who will change whom?
MARCH 8 was International Women’s Day and as is now customary the event allows social activists and feminists to focus on ‘gender equality’, the theme for this year. Given the candour of the youth, the discourse now allows for a true debate, which is the essence of democracy and crucial to the empowerment of women.
LAST Monday was International Mother Language Day. In Pakistan some seminars were held but they had no impact on the national discourse. Few in this country consider language a significant element of life. Nor are they interested. The day should have been an occasion for celebrations and some solemn soul-searching to remind us of the many tragic moments in our language and political history. We have wiped them out from our collective memory.
WHILE people are keenly focused on speculative discussion about no confidence motions or fresh elections to overthrow or return the incumbents in greater strength, the incumbents devise and push through an ordinance that facilitates and expands the legalized sphere of coercion and intimidation and suppression and detention to include – if its phrasing is understood and means what it says — not just hapless journalists and soiled rivals but any random suspect.
WHEN Ameena Saiyid organised the first Karachi Literature Festival in 2010 she had hoped it would inspire others to hold their own festivals and thus start a movement. She succeeded to an extent. A number of literature festivals are now being held in the country. Ameena was then the managing director at Oxford University Press (OUP) and had the resources and clout to initiate an undertaking of this nature. She also had Asif Farrukhi by her side to indigenise the festival. Literature from our own languages made the KLF more inclusive.
I AM puzzled by the role/non-role assigned to Nadra in times of Covid-19. At the start of the pandemic in early 2020, the National Command Operation Centre was set up and linked to Nadra to record all Covid-related data. This helped the authorities plan ‘smart lockdowns’ strategically according to the prevalence of cases in various localities.