SUICIDES by young men and women have been periodically reported from Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). Authentic figures are not available in the absence of scientific surveys and forensic facilities, which allows ‘honour’ killings to be masked as suicide. Nevertheless, the suicide rate in this region is, arguably, higher than the average in Pakistan (8.9 per 100,000).
THE world could not have been more unequal in contemporary history than what it is today. It has always been unequal but the present trend set in when the Cold War ended with the fall of the USSR giving neoliberal forces a free rein. With the countervailing force of the socialist bloc withdrawn and respectability granted to elitism and the exercise of unabashed corporate power, inequality became rampant. Not that inequities did not exist before. But today, inequality and its discontents are unparalleled.
RECENTLY, I had a deeply satisfying experience that gave me hope for our children. I attended five lectures as an observer in a five-week course for teachers’ assistants sponsored by the Pakistan Montessori Association, Karachi. This ‘return to school’ exercise reinforced my faith in the future of our children who alone can save Pakistan.
The lectures prompted some soul-searching. I could understand how we are failing our children and thus our country. It was William Wordsworth who wrote “The Child is father of the Man” in a poem. But state and society are destroying the spirit of our citizens of tomorrow.
حال ہی میں مجھے ایک بے حد اطمینان بخش تجربہ ہوا جس سے بچوں کے حوالے سے مجھے امید ملی۔ میں نے پاکستان مونٹیسری ایسوسی ایشن کراچی کے تعاون سے پانچ ہفتے کے ایک کورس میں بطور مبصر پانچ لیکچرز میں شرکت کی۔ ’اسکول واپسی‘کی اس مشق نے ہمارےبچے کے مستقبل پر میرا اعتقاد مضبوط کردیا کیونکہ صرف بچے ہی پاکستان کو بچا سکتے ہیں۔
SEX crimes and child abuse are reported to be on the rise in Pakistan. So are mental illnesses and the reach of the media. This is not a coincidence for the correlation between them has been widely recognised the world over. The fact that has however not been generally understood, in Pakistan at least, is that many of these evils have always existed but are now being reported more extensively, unethically and unprofessionally with a lot of bias. Since the reportage is generally flawed it can be quite disturbing for a young view/listener/reader.
One may ask what has mental health got to do with it especially in children? There was a time when adults were very careful about what they spoke before children. Parents actually exercised ‘censorship’ on images whether in print or projected electronically. The simple reason for this caution was that a child’s mind is sensitive to all that it is exposed to till quite an age. How it behaves in life is to a great extent determined by childhood experiences. For instance, it is well-known that many of those who commit sex crimes have suffered sex abuse themselves in childhood, have experienced violence or have witnessed it. Add to this list the youth and adolescents who are exposed to pornography habitually.
LYARI and Boston. A world separates them. But they have a common
connection. Coach Emad. That was the young man of 24 with a passion for
football. He passed away in May 2018 leaving his family shattered. He
died “of suicide”. That is how his mother, Atia Naqvi, a psychologist,
Mental illness is on the rise in our society, she tells me. It can
lead to suicide. Yet we do not want to talk about it because of the
double stigma. Mental illness is “disgraceful” but suicide is worse.
THE road that takes you to the Khatoon-e-Pakistan School, Karachi, is
a steep one. It has been an equally uphill drive for Shehzad Roy’s
Zindagi Trust to transform the institution it adopted in 2015.
The school was in a shambles a few years ago like all peela schools I
have visited. They have huge buildings and expansive playgrounds
testifying to the vision of their founders from the early years of
Pakistan. But lacking maintenance and good governance, they have fallen
ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds worldwide. It has also been reported that the incidence of suicide has been on the rise in Pakistan. WHO put the figure at an estimated 13,337 for all ages in 2012. It would certainly be higher today.
Only recently, this paper reported three students killed themselves in Chitral after receiving their examination results, while another survived. The Human Rights Programme’s chairman reported that 40 to 45 people commit suicide in Chitral (population 447,362) every year. Continue reading No hope is suicide→
WHEN you start to despair — and we have too many occasions for that — go get the light of hope from someone who holds the candle. So I went to see Dr Ruth Pfau, who has been an inspiration for many, especially the most stigmatised of segments — her leprosy patients.
Even in her poor state of health in her hospital bed, Dr Pfau continues to be the candle of hope she has epitomised. She was hospitalised recently but is now in her own apartment in her neat and prim clinic. Of course, she is happy to be back home, she told me.
As I held her hand I could feel the “enrichment flow from her into me” to use her words. That is the role she has been playing since she arrived as a young woman of 31 in Karachi from Germany in 1960 and made Pakistan her home. It was chance that took her to the Lepers’ Colony behind the commercial offices on McLeod Road (now I.I. Chundrigar Road). The squalor and subhuman conditions did not deter her. Within three years, she had set up a proper leprosy clinic, now an eight-storey hospital on Shahrah-i-Liaquat, and the hub of 157 leprosy centres all over the country. There followed an arduous journey of over five decades devoted to “serving the unserved”. At no stage has her commitment slackened. Continue reading Candle of hope→
WE seem to be living in an age when countries are constantly being measured, classified and ranked. The trend was set by the United Nations Development Programme 25 years ago when the Human Development Index was introduced. Many others followed suit as new technologies were developed for gathering and collating data from diverse sources that made the compilation of such indices feasible.
Today, virtually no area of national life has been left without being probed. We have international rankings on education, disease, poverty, corruption, press freedom, gender empowerment, religious freedom, and even happiness. Only recently, the Global Peace Index 2016 (GPI) — a relatively new area to be measured — was released which warns us how wars are taking us down the path of self-destruction. Continue reading Measuring peace→