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Against ‘Security Theatre (FreePakistan Newsletter # 144)

CONTENTS:

December 2012

0 Against ‘security theatre’
By Nadir Hassan
0 HumorWise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Lawless breeding lawlessness
0 Basic social services to all

 



CONTENTS:

December 2012

0 Against ‘security theatre’
By Nadir Hassan
0 HumorWise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Lawless breeding lawlessness
0 Basic social services to all

 

FreePakistan Newsletter # 144
[December, 2012]
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CONTENTS:

0 Against ‘security theatre’
By Nadir Hassan
0 HumorWise
0 Letters to FreePakistan
0 Issue of the month: Lawless breeding lawlessness
0 Basic social services to all
=======================================================================

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Against ‘security theatre’
By Nadir Hassan

[The writer is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad. The article first appeared in The Express Tribune on November 22, 2012.]

Every time the government justifies its actions on the grounds of national security, watch out: you are facing a looming threat and the likely perpetrator is the government itself. When the spectre of terrorism — a very real and terrifying phenomenon — is raised, we have little choice but to acquiesce to the demands of the police state. ‘Security theatre’, which is to actual security what Twenty20 is to Test cricket — a mere shadow of the real thing — exists only to make us feel that the government is doing something to protect us.

The government’s recent go-to tactic of shutting off cell phone service on important religious occasions, when the threat of militant attacks is higher, is the perfect illustration of security as an illusion. Sure, this makes it harder for terrorists to communicate with one another but this is a problem which can easily be overcome by those who are determined enough. The people it truly affects is every other Pakistani who may not have any alternative means of communication. These are the people caught in accidents who need to call for help, those who just want to go about their everyday business without being unduly hindered by the state. The same applies to the motorcycle bans. Militants can easily get their hands on another form of transportation; others who ride motorcycles aren’t going to be able to obtain a different form of vehicular transport on one day’s notice.

The problem with ‘security theatre’, apart from the ridiculous burden it places on citizens, is that it can never truly backfire on the government. If there is no terrorist attack when these restrictions are in place then, look, the government’s actions worked. If we do suffer an attack, then that is taken as solid proof that even more needs to do be done. Thus, the security state keeps expanding, greedily gorging on our freedom to peacefully get about our day. Think of how quickly we’ve accepted being hounded at airports and harassed at checkpoints.

That there is no meaningful check on the power of the state to constantly take away what should be our rights is entirely due to us not having any rights in the first place. The Constitution may guarantee us plenty of rights but then it immediately negates those rights by carving out caveats, like for the maintenance of public order. Any human right that can be so easily snuffed out by vague terms is no human right at all.

With the Constitution giving the government cover for its actions, the only hope is in having an active, as opposed to activist, judiciary that defines nebulous terms like ‘public order’ and ‘national security’ in the strictest manner possible. Even then, the rights of all citizens are not equally applied. The Sindh High Court, for example, found the motorcycle ban unjustified but has had nothing to say on the cell phone ban. The Balochistan High Court had no problem with the motorcycle ban and so residents of Quetta were left without their bikes while those in Karachi could ride merrily. If we are to have any clarity on exactly how far the government can go in denying us basic rights, it may require a judgment from the Supreme Court.

Till then, our only play is to make as much noise as possible about every government intrusion into our lives. A state that gets acquiesce of the citizens it is meant to serve will only end up tightening the noose. A population that is fearful and complies with the actions of its government is not one that will be getting its freedom any time soon. [Courtesy The Express Tribune]
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HumorWise

LETHARGIC AND LANGUID GOVERNMENT
[Hashim Abro, Islamabad]

All and sundry just sit and gripe that the incumbent Sindh government is one of the most lethargic governments ever. The truth is that we have never seen a more appalling cabinet and to add to this our bureaucrats, technocrats and other employees including police officers, fire fighters, social workers, accountants, computer programmers and human resource specialists everyone has performed miserably in the last four and a half year. Every time some is asked what they have done on TV the same old story of either General Musharraf or the martyr’s of PPP take precedence. This government has proved itself to be the most inefficient in the history of Sindh province, and that is no mean task!

All players in the provincial government have a high life style supported by their corruption, but they give back poor service or no service, no one is found in their offices, absenteeism, attention to personal business rather than the government posts that they enjoy, is a norm. Unless you are related to someone, or some political group your chances of getting a job or any work done, be it legitimate, are slim to none. Adages about power and corruption exist for a reason. As they say, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This has contributed to the harsh and arrogant attitude of the government, both, politician and bureaucracy, in the province.

The Bureaucracy and technocracy in the province has utterly frustrated the few people in the government who want to get things done quickly. There seems to be no lack of red tape to hinder any development work in the province. Most of the work that is done is what can please a coalition partner. Unlike in the private sector, there is no evaluation of performance or lack of it, the less performing have no need to worry about losing their jobs, neither are the poor performers coached to improve their performance nor are they fired. No wonder everyone in Pakistan wants a government job, no work and more money and extra graft to make you rich quickly!

This growing trend of underperformance has caught fire in our ranks and the young generation has come up with new and innovated ways of avoiding work. What kind of future are we promising to our younger generation, that has been brought up on mother’s praying for a government job for their children, so that they can get more money and have to do no work. We as a nation are clock watchers? We have forgotten all our religious teachings. All I can say is let’s pray for this country and the people. [The Nation]

ET TU?
[Dr Pervez Iqbal Khan, Peshawar]

Turkey’s friendship is very dear to all of us, but it should not be at the expense of the poor people of Pakistan. [The News]

Gender bias?
[Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

It is certainly strange that we associate storms with female names. [Daily Times]

OUR PHDS OR PAPER TIGERS?
[Air Cdre (Retd) Azfar A. Khan, Rawalpindi]

PAKISTAN has around 8,000 PhDs in various disciplines. But they seem to have contributed nothing for the progress of the country. Instead of focusing on the daunting problems being faced by our agricultural or industrial sectors and utilising their doctorate degrees to solve these problems, they are busy in wasteful pursuits, and as such, waste their time and energy. A glimpse of their achievements could be gleaned from the following: During our No1 Air-War course in the 1990s, when the participants of the course were taken to an agricultural research institute of the country to see their achievements, one of the researchers apprised us about his “innovation” that pertained to reclaiming the inner white portion of a watermelon that is left with the crust inside after consuming its red portion, making it edible with a sweetened taste.

One wished that the researchers had focused their energies on some worthwhile innovation in the agricultural field which would have spoken volumes about their knowledge and expertise. They could have increased the productivity of our cash crops, brought some revolutionary innovations in reclaiming our lands from water and salinity or found out ways and means for protecting our crops from pests/plant pathogens peculiar to our environment, etc. As far as our PhDs in the industrial field are concerned, they can divert their research towards designing and manufacturing cheaper solar cells with enhanced gain, manufacturing cheap incinerators for generation of electricity through burning of solid waste of various cities of the country, thinking of new breakthroughs in the auto industry, etc.

Whatever may be the reason, the fact is that we aren’t making any use of our PhDs in the agricultural and industrial fields. One more thing: producing only PhDs isn’t enough. We have to groom people in the lower tiers of different sectors as well who should be able to implement the ideas of these PhDs otherwise they would be of no use to the country. [Dawn]

LAVISH PROTOCOL
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

The PM Raja Pervez Ashraf was shown reviewing a guard of honour parade on arrival at the Vientiane airport, capital of Laos, where he has gone to attend the 9th ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting). However, what caught my attention was that his wife, the ‘First Lady’ was also walking along him during the parade. I am not very sure, but is it a practice for the wives of visiting dignitaries to also review the parade along with their husbands? Would the wife even stand along her husband on the saluting dais to receive the General Salute and from where the visiting dignitary starts walking along with the ‘sword holding’ guard commander and two scouts in front to review the guard of honour parade? Could someone more knowledgeable about such protocol comment upon it please? [The Nation]

AMAZING RESILIENCE
[Bahre Kamal, Peshawar]

If mobile phones and motorbikes are the cause of bomb blasts and other acts of terrorism, we might as well ban them permanently. After all, we have been surviving without gas and electricity too. [The News]

THE INVINCIBLE MR REHMAN MALIK
[Dr Irfan Zafar, Islamabad]

The way Interior Minister Rehman Malik is tackling the security situation in the country, the day is not far off when we will hear from the honourable minister that because of security reasons, the Friday prayers will be held on Saturday! [Daily Times]
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Letters to FreePakistan


BOTCOTT THE CORRUPT
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

Shakeel Anjum’s investigative reporting (City News Nov. 3rd) on Corruption in Corruption Free Department - NH&M Police - made some startling disclosures. Allegedly the head of the department is having 10 luxury and other expensive vehicles in his and his family’s use! Some of the Ex-IGs, serving bureaucrats, some other retired officers are still retaining expensive vehicles, some two of them along with their drivers and most drawing the fuel for the vehicles on the department’s account. One is really amazed at the moral courage (read moral turpitude & deprivation) of such officers in using such cars so brazenly, in front of their present or ex subordinates, their family friends and relations, and above all their own grown up children! How can they ever face them?! They must have nerves of steel, for, no ordinary mortal can live with a conduct so unbecoming so openly and so shamelessly. I think, the only way to teach them a lesson is to have their social boycott. They should be shunned like lepers and let to brew in their own stinking stew for the rest of their lives.

THE DURAND LINE CONFLICT
[Ahmad Kamal Khattak, Islamabad]

There has been some gossip in the newspapers about fencing the Durand Line. Loyalty for Pakistan is one thing but we should not forget that durand line was a british conspiricy to divide the afghans or specifically the pashtuns. By dividing them in their territories implied that they could not move within their territory which is nothing more than a conspiracy. Amir Abdur Rehman signed only the english copy which was incomprehensible for him.

The technical and legal point which everyone in pakistan should be aware of that whatever the understanding was at the time of signing, it was only meant for one hundred years which have passed now. In order to divide the people further on, the agreement needs a ratification from both the governements of afghanistan and pakistan. I don't understand how some people in the meanwhile consider it international border and talk of fencing it.

The current trouble we are going through both in afghanistan and Pakistan is partly because of this reason alone that the pashtun tribes living on both sides are alienated by the authorities in both the countries. They have a natural right to move back and forth and if anyone in either pakistan or afghanistan tries to forefeit it would face a disastor.

THE PRONOUNCED SUICIDE
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

The following is reproduced from On Line “Pakistan Today” Saturday, 20 Oct 2012 2:01 am

QUOTE: ISLAMABAD - Senator Faisal Raza Aabdi on Friday said he would commit suicide if the Supreme Judicial Council did not take action against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Abidi said he would kill himself outside the Chief Justice’s house on November 9 in protest and his murder case should be registered against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his body should be placed outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan and should not to be removed until the people get justice from Iftikhar Chaudhry. “Nobody from Pakistan People’s Party should participate in my funeral,” he added. UNQUOTE.

oooooooooooooooops it is November 9th today. Hope the Senator has not kept his word?!

DEFINING NATIONAL INTEREST
[Sher Gondal, Mandi Bahauddin]

Gen Kayani is a government servant and his statement that no individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining ultimate national interest should be construed as statement of President Asif Ali Zardari who is supreme commander of Pakistan Armed Forces. This was said by Lt Gen (r) Faiz Ali Chishti, the president Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society (PESS) while talking to ex-servicemen of Mandi Bahauddin on telephone. He said situation in the country was tense and for this present government is fully responsible. He said every government servant is responsible to perform tasks assigned to him by his superiors. However, before embarking upon the task it is necessary for the subordinate to offer his opinion confidentially and not through media.

When referring to retired generals allegedly involved in corruption cases he said nature of duty at the time of alleged offence is the main factor for their trial. If the generals at time of offence were serving in civil institutions then they are liable to be tried in civil courts and if they were performing military duties then they were liable to be proceeded against in military courts. He further said their bosses were equally partner in crime for failing to exercise supervision over them as such justice demands that they also be taken to account. Talking about terrorism in the country, he said this menace would never end unless western border was completely sealed and persons crossing the border were fired at. He held responsible CMs of each province for deteriorating condition of law and order in their respective provinces and stressed upon transparent accountability of heads of the institutions that had turned redundant.

He said all culprits playing with destiny of the nation including General Yahya should be tried under relevant law to avoid further disintegration of the county. Selective accountability would not serve any purpose, He said contents of statements of COAS and CJ SC had depicted true picture of fragile circumstances prevailing in the country but their statements would be futile if not followed by action. He said PESS was not in favor of granting extension in service to servants when they complete their service. However, citizens have right to ask reasons from authority granting such extension since the person who is granted extension is not at fault.

LAWLESSNESS OF LAW MAKERS
[Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Rawalpindi]

A bridegroom lost his life in Muzzafargrah due to the indiscriminate aerial firing by his friends and relations celebrating his wedding. Isn’t there a ban against such firing on joyous occasions? But such lawlessness is bound to happen when the law makers themselves flout the law. Was anyone convicted for the brazen firing by dozens of Kalashnikovs and pistols on the occasion of the younger Gilanis winning their elections at Multan? No, not to my knowledge. Was anyone hauled up for a similar open display of lethal arms in a show of power by a political alliance at Hyderabad in a recent political rally there? None that I have heard of. Was Watoo’s brand new luxurious Prado hauled up for being driven without the number plate in Faisalabad a few days ago? No, on the contrary he was escorted by the Police in a VVIP protocol style! Has any action been taken against CM Raisani for ramming his Audi with a Dubai number plate into a small car with an ordinary family in it in Islamabad a few days ago? No. Who cares for the higher judiciary’s orders to impound cars without number plates (Watoo’s) or with the foreign number plates (Raisani’s Audi)

If the lawmakers themselves make the mockery of the law how could someone expect the Muzaffargarh Police to enforce the ban on the aerial firing that turned a happy wedding into a mourning funeral?
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Issue of the month: Lawless breeding lawlessness

HEINOUS CRIMES PREVENTION
[Engr M. Akram Niazi, Rawalpindi]

Notorious thugs eliminated by the British during early nineteenth century used to kill thousands every year by using silk cloth as a weapon. Crime rate in heavily armed FATA before the ongoing terrorism was insignificant as compared to the settled districts, and shameful crimes like gang rapes were not heard of. I quote low crime rate of my home district Mianwali with abundant legal and illegal firearms for self-defence for the comparison with major cities where the most powerful and resourceful authorities live and rule the country.

Many high-ranking authorities have robbed the nation with impunity in terms of billions of rupees without using any gun. So, it is not the weapon but the outlaws that commit crime. Very logical slogan of NRA of the USA: If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have the guns! I humbly appeal to the federal and provincial authorities to kindly do not waste time, money and effort in deweaponization and repeated verification of arms licenses to harass and disarm the law-abiding citizens at this stage, and devote all the available resources to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the outlaws. [The Frontier Post]

LAWLESSNESS IN SINDH
[Hashim Abro, Islamabad]

Unfortunately, my hometown Larkao and other cities in the upper Sindh districts are experiencing increased levels of violence. Everyday dozens of men and women are viciously murdered in those areas. In the past people used to believe “If you have money, then, do visit Larkano” but now due to lawlessness they have started believing, “ If you have money, then, better to Leave Larkano”. This much lawlessness has increased in this, once proverbially, peaceful districts of Indus valley. The Sindh police have long argued that they are severely challenged in several inner-city communities, including Larkano, because of poor road conditions. It is a known fact that more or less or all cities and towns in the upper and lower Sindh districts do not have “ patrollable” infrastructure for the police and other law enforcement agencies.

The provincial government must resume its upgrading of infrastructure programmes in the troubled districts of the upper Sindh including Larkano, if the law enforcement agencies are to effectively police the area. It is necessary for that wherever work is in progress must be completed, because it is going to continue to represent a nightmare to the police, until we can provide ‘patrollable’ infrastructure,” to the Sindh police in various cities. [Pakistan Observer]

KARACHI’S LAW AND ORDER
[Lt-Cmdr (Rtd) Riaz Akbar, Wah Cantt]

This refers to Karachi’s law and order situation. The search operation should not be discontinued as law-enforcement agencies cannot perform their tasks efficiently if they are not fully empowered. There must not be any political interference from any quarter. Every person living in Karachi considers himself unsafe. Lawlessness has hindered economic growth. Law-enforcement agencies must also be deployed at every traffic signal in order to protect citizens from cellphone snatching incidents. This trend needs to be arrested forthwith. I hope that Sindh government will look into these aspects very seriously without further loss of time. [Dawn]

TAKING THE LAW INTO YOUR OWN HANDS
[Masood Khan, Jubail]

We, who live abroad, take everything that happens in Pakistan in a different context then the people who are residing there. Our neighbors and friends, from other countries, question us about the conditions in Pakistan. Most newspapers report crimes anyhow, but the kinds of issues that are written in newspapers and broadcast from Pakistan are reprehensible.It was so depressing to hear that a couple was arrested for dousing their 15-year old daughter with acid, the unfortunate girl later died in the hospital, a husband has been arrested for defacing and badly injuring his wife with a blade, a Jirga (local elders court in rural areas) ordered publicly beating of a boy and girl with shoes, all these atrocities are being meted out in the name of some kind of distorted family honor.

Then another sad news came from Lahore where a mob attacked a girls school and set fire to it, the school Principal and several teachers have been arrested and are in police custody as their bail applications have been rejected by a local court (means they are quite vulnerable as are being kept with petty criminals) their crime; a teacher got a few pages of homework mixed up changing the context, which was taken by local religious leaders as blasphemy, what kind of jungle are we living in? Yesterday, when the students and teachers visited their burnt out school, they wept at the destruction havocked in the name of religion. This school was imparting education to a widespread segment of society for last several years.

What is all this; why are people resorting to violence on such issues? In my opinion, in the last few decades, Pakistan has witnessed a rampant increase in religious extremism, and hatred is the only food on which religious extremism survives, therefore blasphemy and family honor are the two outlets to fan this hatred and give our country and society in the hands of extremists. Someone needs to review whether the influence of semi-educated religious teachers and leaders is playing any role in inciting hatred and violence towards vulnerable segments of the society. Perhaps educationists and sociologists should come forward and analyze the reasons for such crimes, otherwise, we are fast moving towards jungle rule. [The Nation]

A COLLAPSED SYSTEM
[Asghar Mahmood, Islamabad]

There is no doubt that the country is in the grip of complete lawlessness. All government entities, including hospitals and educational institutions, are suffering from this malaise. Government school compounds and playgrounds are being used for wedding parties and students are sent away on forced leave. According to media reports, this is happening mostly in Punjab where Shahbaz Sharif’s government wants to educate every child.

This does not happen in civilised societies. In government-run hospitals, medicine is not available due to budgetary constraints, emergency departments are closed on flimsy grounds, threatening the lives of suffering patients and the doctors — our messiahs — have been on strike for the last 32 days in Quetta. Private schools and hospitals are fleecing the public without any check. Who cares for life in Pakistan? In government offices, for the welfare of the general public, no work is being done. The senior bureaucracy is busy making self-serving policies. During the last couple of years, hundreds of costly plots have been doled out to favourite bureaucrats in Islamabad. Merit is being flouted in the matter of promotions and postings. People have lost faith in the civil service of the country.

There is no respect for the rule of law — verdicts by the higher judiciary are being disregarded by the executive. Secretaries and senior officers do not attend any meetings of the parliamentary committee and public accounts committee to explain their position regarding the utilisation of public funds. Precious lives are being lost in Karachi every day. Law enforcement agencies, including the police, are helpless against these killing sprees and exploits of the extortion mafia. In Islamabad, the most protected and fortified place in the country, police posts are being attacked and officials are being killed. Pakistan Airlines and the railways are financially in a mess. Mismanagement is the name of the game. Is not this the collapse of the system? Altaf Hussain, the leader of the MQM, has urged the people to form committees to protect life and property in Karachi during Muharram. This is a good idea but, remember, when vigilantes come, the people’s revolution will not be very far behind. [Daily Times]

KARACHI LAW AND ORDER
[Zahid Soomro, Karachi]

Every now and then the Sindh government functionaries issue statements, promising the people of Karachi, especially the traders, a bhatta- and crime-free city. But what actually happens is that they issue orders to beef up security in the affected areas, which hardly improves the overall security situation. It is not that our law-enforcement agencies aren’t capable of dealing with criminals. I have full confidence in the ability of the law-enforcement authorities because when they want, they do ensure peace in the city. Take, for example, the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha.

The people of Karachi celebrated Eid-ul-Azha in a peaceful environment largely due to effective deployment of Rangers and no untoward incident was reported during the three days of Eid. The IG Police and DG Rangers should play their role and provide security to the people of Karachi. [Pakistan Observer]

TOTAL CHAOS
[Muhammad Wasif Khan, Karachi]

The “city of lights” is drowned in the darkness of fear and chaos due to target killings of the innocent its citizens. This brings the anarchic situation in the city which seems almost uncontrollable to our security forces. It also raises a question mark on the government and its strategies which it has made. Our hopeless police as usual plays hide and seek with the criminals and the law breakers. Even when the pillion riding is banned, they roam freely on the streets, equipped with weapons without considering it as a crime. That is why apart from this voracious killing, snatching is also very common. Peace is a desire of every living being. But it looks dreary for the Karachiites May Allah make Karachi a happy place! [Pakistan Today]

PUBLIC SAFETY & POLICE FAILURE
[Muhammed Jamil Ather, Karachi]

Saturday, December 30, 1899 - Currently one of the major issues of our country is our safety. It has degraded over the years, and now it’s down to policemen committing crimes. Illegal possession of firearms, kidnapping, snatching, murder, drug trafficking, etc., are rampant all over the country. This happens mainly due to bribery, corruption, lack of surveillance and negligence on the part of the law enforcement agents. There are more than a hundred of such cases all over the country. Many village people have started to look after the security of their villages themselves instead of depending on the police.

Our police must be neutral. But in many cases, we see the opposition’s processions are attacked, whereas those of the ruling party are not. They often harass and punish innocent people instead of the real culprits because their names are the same. If law enforcers want to earn the trust of the citizens, they must work hard to ensure people’s safety. [Pakistan Observer]
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Basic social services to all

It is for the people, especially for the think-tanks and NGOs, and no doubt for media also, that the big issue for the next election should be the provision of basic social services (water supply, sanitation, public transport, roads, paved streets, street lights, libraries, parks or playgrounds, and noise and pollution free environment) to all the citizens in Pakistan not only ensured in the constitution but binding on the next government also. If achieved, that will be a great step forward towards the unification of the ordinary and elite Pakistans. Is there any political party ready to take up this at the top of its agenda? [Editor]

GIVE US OUR GARDEN BACK
[Asad Siddiqi, Lahore]

At the Upper Mall Lahore, between the Alhamra Arts Centre and the Governor House, lies an island of green, a retreat for weary citizens seeking a brief respite from the clamour and congestion of the city’s ever-increasing traffic. This garden has been here for decades, and dates back to pre-partition days. However, a few months ago, the people who used to visit the garden for early morning walks, afternoon breaks or evening strolls on a regular basis received a rude shock when they found its gates locked and entry to the garden barred. A public garden has been privatized, usurped and taken away from the people in a thoroughly undemocratic fashion.

And what alternative use has this public asset been put to? It now functions as an open-air marriage “garden.” Each evening, hordes of decked-up people descend on this venue, as harsh, grating noises in the name of music rob the neighbourhood of its peace of mind. Vehicles within the garden’s perimeter destroy the grass and plants. In the early morning, kites, crows and vultures feast on the remnants of the previous evening’s fare, littered all over the garden. It is not understood why a priceless historical landmark is being destroyed and public amenities withdrawn for commercial interests of a few. [The News]

CLOSURE OF A LIBRARY: A PLEA
[A. Q. Baloch, Lasbella]

This refers to the closure of Government Model Town Library in Lahore. A notice displayed on the library noticeboard says that the library will remain closed in November on account of annual checking and cataloguing of books. This library is famous for its calm and comfortable study environment. CSS aspirants, mostly belonging to different areas of the country, prefer to reside near some library so that they can easily prepare for the competitive examinations.

The closure for one month of the library directly affects studies of these students. This will waste their precious time. November is very crucial for tough study of CSS examinations. Other libraries in the city are very far and take about one to two hours to reach. Changing of hostel to reside near those libraries is a wastage of time. The authorities should keep the library open, at least its study section, to save the crucial time of study. [Dawn]

OF PUBLIC PARKS AND PAVEMENTS
[Hashim Abro, Islamabad]

It is an historical fact that Public Parks and Pavements always deserved a special place in the city and urban planning of Indus valley civilization- more or less all cities and towns used to have public parks and pavements even before the partition of the subcontinent. But nowadays, barring a few outstanding examples, for the most part, parks and pavements in Sindh cities and towns are a joke!

Pavements, wherever present, are rarely more than three-four feet in width. Pedestrians have to contend with broken tiles, cables being laid, open pits without any barriers around them, hawkers encroaching on the pavements to sell their ware, people talking at random on their mobile phones, rustic and rude people who have the temerity to honk when they’re riding two wheelers and cycles on a pedestrian pavement! Garbage dumped on pavements everywhere.

It is, indeed, the easiest thing in the world to blame the “Government”. But what about the people they govern, the officers they hire including the local government, district administration etc.? It is not out of place to call such breed of officers as uncaring and boorish. They are unconcerned about the quality of life in their cities and towns and vulnerability of the citizens.

Our provincial rulers are doing fabulous work on rallies and self-projection but doing nothing to raise civic engagement and awareness within cities. Why this apathy? You know the reasons – garbage dumps, litter, drying plants, vandals who deface trees, a public who couldn’t care less and several such issues.

Is there anyone in power to arouse moral conscience of our present provincial rulers and planers so that they focus on public parks and pavements in different cities of province as the native planners of Sindh including the Muslims, Hindus, Parsis etc. used to pay their head and heart to beautify the cities with parks and pavements in the past? [Pakistan Observer]

LIBRARIES IN PAKISTAN: AN INSIDER’S VIEW
[Jawed Ahmed Khursheed, Karachi]

Muhammed Zubair is a devoted, unconventional and above all a hospitable chief librarian of Bedil Library, Sharfabad, Karachi, whom I meet daily and find an opportunity to pay heed to his personal experiences as a chief librarian of a specialised library of literature comprising more than 100,000 books and files of hundreds of literary magazines dating back to the 19th century.

He once says that there are many reasons involved not to flourish a culture among people to visit libraries in Pakistan since it came into being. Many scholars and poets were determined to establish a library and they made tremendous efforts to cater books as much as they could from every nook and cranny of Pakistan and abroad. Zafeerul Hasan was an example of his own who established a library widely known as Bedil Library which is now beginning to expand by leaps and bound.

There were many libraries established in Pakistan and closed due to insufficient financial resources let alone employing skilled staff to a library. A library along with librarian must employ an indexer, cataloguer and classifier. A few libraries in Pakistan are equipped with these skilled staffers. Now in Pakistan, a librarian has to do many works for which he is not employed such as he has to index, catalogue and classify. In a nutshell, he is overworked. This has resulted in making a library an uninteresting place to visit as he is not aware of the new and scientific trends of making a library a place to visit considering the demands of the readers in a changing world.

In this regard, titles—that are published in the developed countries—contain its classification and catalogue number making the work of a librarian a bit easier to index a book to place its right place. Otherwise, a librarian has to spend his ample time in reading a title to know its genre and subject in order to catalogue, classify and index it. Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore, is the only publisher in Pakistan whose titles contain this information, easing the work of a librarian.

There are many known publishers of Pakistan whose published works are errorless and commendable and they can print such information on their titles as sometime a librarian is unable to ascertain which catalogue number to assign due to un-indicative of its subject. If the publishers in Pakistan prefer to add such information, this will meet the internationally recognised standard of publication. [Pakistan Today]
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Edited and prepared by
Khalil Ahmad

Email: khalilkf@yahoo.com khalil@asinstitute.org

[FreePakistan Newsletter, among other things, is a compilation of views and news taken from the national newspapers’ print and online editions. It is not possible to mention the source of every piece of news or view made use of herein; but as a matter of policy, where possible the source is mentioned with due thanks. However, no opinion expressed here should necessarily be taken as reflecting the view of Free Pakistan Newsletter.]
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