30 June, 2011

Federal Ombudsperson stresses for child friendly laws

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Musarrat Hilali, federal ombudsperson for protection against harassment of women has urged on Wednesday that “justice for all children needs to be ensured through child friendly laws, rules and regulations, implementation procedures and mechanisms promulgated by the government.”

28 June, 2011

Friends of Book gather at NLA

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - With the expansion of electronic media especially internet, people have parted away from books – which wise men described as ‘a man’s best friend’. And to see book-lovers gathered under one roof, and leafing through the pages of books, was certainly a pleasant scene witnessed on Monday morning at National Language Authority (NLA) of Islamabad.

To bring friends of books together, NLA organized a unique event titled ‘100 Books, 100 Guests’ which was a well-attended event. Students, scholars, literati and writers of the city gathered round at NLA to find their favourite books, because the books were available at a modest price to quench the thirst of knowledge lovers.

26 June, 2011

National Conference on Child Rights as Human Rights

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD - Basic right of education has been recognized by Pakistani leadership under Article 25 (A) of the Constitution which states that education has been made free and compulsory to all children of the age of five to sixteen years, said Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan. She was speaking at ‘National Conference on Child Rights as Human Rights - Post 18th Amendment Scenario’ on Saturday in Islamabad. “There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children” said the Speaker quoting Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General) and she added that “every time a child is deprived the right to education, this trust is breached.”

100 Books, 100 Guests

National Language Authority (NLA), Islamabad is organizing a special and unique event entitled as "100-Books and 100-Guests" on Monday, 27 June, at 11am at the NLA premises.

According to newly-appointed NLA Chairman, Dr. Anwaar Ahmad, the objective of this event is to encourage habit of book-reading in our society and offer a 50 per cent special discount to all the friends of books.

25 June, 2011

World Drug Report 2011 launched in Islamabad

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Ahead of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched World Drug Report 2011 on 23 June at United Nations Headquarters.

In Islamabad, the Report was launched on Friday by Iftikhar Ahmed, Secretary Ministry of Narcotics Control; Major General Syed Shakeel Hussain, Director General Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and H. E. Rauf Engin Soysal, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Assistance to Pakistan. The report named opiates such as heroin as the most damaging of the illegal drugs because heroin users receive more treatment for their problems than other drug users. Afghanistan grows the bulk of the world's opium poppies. Global opium production was 7,853 million tonnes (mt) in 2009 - Afghanistan produced just under 7,000 mt of this.

Iftikhar Ahmed called Pakistan - “a victim country” as “Afghan opium production has resulted in negative social, health and economic consequences for the country.”

21 June, 2011

'Media has a key role in combating corruption'

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Media can play a key role in combating corruption in a society which is infested with this demonic illness; however media should act professionally to present factual information to the people. This was the crux of the five-day training workshop on ‘Combating Corruption and Misuse of Public Funds’ held in Islamabad.

18 June, 2011

Weapon-free society, culture advocated

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD - “It is not the weapon but the sophistication of weapon which threaten the human beings and makes the militant stronger” commented Brig (R) Muhammad Saad at a seminar on ‘Proliferation of Small Arms and their Impact on Internal Security Dynamics’ held in Islamabad on Friday.

The speakers called for strict check on proliferation of small arms and prohibition of gun violence by restricting use of arms to promote a weapon-free culture in society.

16 June, 2011

Preparing future women journalists of Pakistan

Published in Pakistan Observer (16 June 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad – In order to polish the new generation women journalists, Women Media Centre (WMC) Pakistan in collaboration with SZABIST University arranged a practical training workshop in Islamabad. Senior journalists and cameraman were at hand to share their professional experiences and media ethics with the future women journalists of Pakistan at a five-day Television course on “Combating Corruption and Misuse of Public Funds” supported by National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

15 June, 2011

“Flight of Imagination” - Inspiring Miniature art exhibition

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – Solo art exhibition titled “Flight of Imagination” by a brilliant artist Samreen Asif opened here at the newly-built art gallery of COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Samreen’s elegant miniature artworks explain her journey as she explored the ways that could lead to knowledge, pursuit and preservation of traditional miniature art. “After ceaseless struggle, I thought to create novel style of my own, portraying various art schools such as Kangra, Pahari and Persia” she said while talking to Pakistan Observer. 21 art pieces of Samreen have been put on display at the exhibition which will continue till 17 June.

13 June, 2011

End to Child Labour – still a dream

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - On World Day against Child Labour, few chotus (child labours) in Pakistan are aware of the importance of this day as they strive to earn their own and family’s bread. It is a fact that several million Pakistani children work for extremely long hours in exchange for little pay at the risk of maltreatment. Instead of being in school, these children are left at mercy of a cruel world where they continue to struggle hard as child labours.

Despite government recognition of laws against child labour and empty-pledges made by politicians to end child labour in the country, these children - our future - is being crushed by the unkind society.

One such child labour, Siddique Nawaz, 11, working for the last 4 years is not alone in his profession but has little or no hope for the fulfilment of his dreams to become a police officer. When asked about his dream Siddique told this scribe: “If I am able to continue my education I will join the police force and will severely punish the drug addicts.” No wonder why Siddique is so dismayed by the people who use and trade in drugs. To the fate of irony, Siddique’s father, himself a drug addict, is one of the causes for Siddique becoming a child labour.

Narrating his sorrowful story, Siddique continues that it was her mother’s dream that he could get a good education but the fact remains that if her children would not work she cannot live an honourable life without begging or compromising with the society.
Siddique’s painful practical life began when he was only 7 years old and was deployed with his cousin to wash parked cars at Sunday Bazaar in Aabpara. After 2 years of experience he was able to earn Rs. 200 plus per week when misfortune hit him and underground mafia (that controlled the area) began demanding 50 per cent of his earnings which forced him to leave the place and find a job elsewhere. One bright Sunday, Siddique met one of his old car customers who offered him a job at his clothes shop and since then he considers himself a lucky one to get a job of Rs. 4000 per month.

Like Siddique there are several thousand children living miserable lives by working 10-14 hours a day and earning as little as Rs. 10 per day in the glamorous cities such as Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.
Most children work in auto-mechanical shops while several others work as car washer and cleaner. Others can be seen mending flat tyres, selling flowers at traffic signals, or selling fruit and vegetables in markets or working as house-maids.
Child rights activists have long urged the government to compile new statistical data on child labourers as there has not been a National Child Labour Survey since 1996 which had found that 3.3 million of the 40 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Pakistan were “economically active on a full-time basis”. Coalition against Child Labour Pakistan (CACLP) report claims that there were 21 million children employed as labourers across the country.

ILO 2011 report has warned that an appallingly high number of children are still caught in hazardous work - some 115 million of the world’s 215 million child labourers.
A recent report on ‘State of Pakistan’s Children 2010’ released by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) revealed that “the trend of child labour is decreasing globally but unfortunately in Pakistan there has been an increase in child labour.”

Children working as labour are denied education, which is now a recognized right for every child between the ages of six and 14. The plight of our child-labour demands urgent action by both the government and society to end the exploitation of young children and secure the future of our next generation.

12 June, 2011

Lok Mela – recognizing the less publicized artists of Pakistan

Sana Jamal

Islamabad: Art and music has incredible power to inspire and cheer up people as well as convey peace. This saying remains true for the culture festival in Islamabad, known as ‘Lok Mela’ which is considered as a breath of fresh air for the citizens of the twin cities in these times of confusion in the society due to ongoing tensions.
Lok Mela is an annual folk festival organized by Lok Virsa where a number of artisans, folk artists and rural musicians from all over Pakistan participate and display their creative work.

Apart from offering entertainment to the people, the 10-day festival is an excellent opportunity for the less publicized artists to showcase their artistic ability to a larger audience.
Saleem Mughal is one such artist from Gujranwala who has put on display his marvellous miniature wood architectural pieces. “This artwork is rare Pakistan and I have been working in this field since 1970s while imparting the artwork to students at my hometown” he enlightened.
The pavilions of Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Sindh, Gilgit Baltistan (G-B) and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) are truly window to Pakistan’s cultural diversity as it offers the native folk music, traditional household items and cuisine of the respective region. The vibrant Lok Mela can be rightly termed as ‘mini Pakistan' due to the rich cultural variety of each pavilion.

Tehseen is another unrecognized artist of Pakistan who excels in the field of calligraphy on leather, a rare artwork. “My exquisite style of art is marker-dot or edgeless painting technique which is highly appreciated by the visitors” he informed.
Sindhi folk dance was a main attraction of the festival while Sindhi traditional household items such as hand-fans and pots were highly appreciated by the visitors.

01 June, 2011

Pakistani poets share their feelings for Japanese victims

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: To express solidarity with tsunami-hit Japanese people and to pay rich tribute to the Haiku master of Japan, Pakistani poets gathered in Islamabad today at ‘Haiku Mushaira’.
Iftikhar Arif, chairman of Pakistan Academy of Letters presided over the ‘Haiku Mushaira-Issa Evening’ which was organized by the Embassy of Japan in cooperation with Pakistan Haiku Society, National Art Gallery, National University of Modern Languages (NUML) and National University of Science and Technology.

Kobayashi Issa was one of Japan's most prolific poets who left over twenty thousand one-breath poems called Haiku. Rafique Sandelvi, Pakistan's first M. Phil in Haiku shed light on Issa’s life. “Kobayashi Issa is simply known as Issa, a pen name meaning ‘cup of tea’. To the surprise of many Pakistanis, the Haiku master also suffered financial as well as social crisis.

12 renowned Pakistani Haiku poets and 4 amateurs recited two Urdu translations of the original Haiku poems composed by Issa and three of their own compositions dedicated to the Japanese vistims. A Pakistani poet reflected the feelings of Pakistanis through his haiku poem for the Japanese victims of tsunami in these words: “while Japanese are in trouble, all Pakistanis share the grief of the Japanese people.”
Among the participants were Sultan Sikandar, Sarfaraz Zahid, Khaliq-ur-rehman, Prof. Shahab Safdar, Ghazanfar Hashmi, Manzar Naqvi, Naseem Ishaq, Ali Muhammad Farshi and Ali Akbar Abaad. While Sajjal Afzal, Sundus Munawar, Ali Muhammad Rathore and Mehreen were the participating students from NUML.
Iftikhar Arif greatly appreciated the contribution of the emerging Pakistani Haiku poets.