Tuesday, July 26, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed   Pakistan Today   26 July 2011 

The arms trade has contributed to the tragic present, in which it is impossible to exist without adequate arms, against forces in turn armed to the teeth, forces such as the militants that currently infest Pakistan. It is a dire situation, given the manifold other requirements of this society, a ‘bhooki nangi’ society in its entirety. It is part of the greater bhooka nangaMuslim bloc of countries, which stretches from the Middle to the Far East, and includes many of the countries in Africa.

The Second World War resulted in the creation of the United Nations which was given the job of maintaining peace between nations, and to ensure humanitarian conditions for all. The charter of the Security Council, an arm of the United Nations, makes it the responsibility of the Council to formulate plans for the establishment of an arms regulatory system. It also makes the Council responsible for recommending measures, not involving force, to prevent or stop aggression. As a lesser priority the charter grants it the power to take military action against an aggressor.

In an analogy to the head of a banking house granting himself massive unsecured loans, the five 
permanent members of the Security Council the US, the UK, Russia, France and China between them account for almost 90 percent of the world’s total export of arms.  

There is as yet no regulation of this trade. An Arms Trade Treaty is as yet only in the works. Although it is due for major discussion at another negotiating conference in 2012, it is doubtful if it will ever gain sufficient support or possess teeth enough to enable it to be enforced. Pakistan, one of the 24 countries to abstain from voting in favour of its draft resolution has said the resolution ‘does not address the question of existing imbalances which impact negatively on regional security and (which) are caused by the inequitable policies of certain supplying states.’

There is some justification for this stance, underlined by the fact that the USA, one of the ‘certain supplying states,’ if not ‘the’ one, as also the largest exporter of arms, voted against the draft resolution.

Therefore, this massive commerce in equipment capable of killing with more than required thoroughness continues unchecked, as though we are all so many cats with nine lives.

This trade is invariably conducted under the umbrella of peace, and repayment extracted in various ways: by the establishment of military bases in debtor countries, by concessions and access to facilities, airspace and regions that would otherwise be inconveniently out of reach.

Human rights violations have been an invariable result, such as against the Kurds when they were viewed as potential Russian allies, when Saddam in turn was favoured as a Western ally in his capacity as the leader of a country perceived to be a buffer against the Soviet Union. The world powers turned a blind eye then to the genocide committed by Iraq against the Kurds, and to their displacement on a massive scale. Besides, the arming of all parties naturally translated into huge profits for traders in arms.

This scenario is repeated again and again around the world, and is the driving force behind armed militants such as the Taliban.

These militants’ stance on women and gender issues is unforgivable, as are the violent methods they employ to get their views across. Their terrorism is as monstrous as the factors for which they condemn the West and the governments of modern ‘Islamic’ states. What should be considered, however, is their antipathy to the methods employed by world powers where there is a certain rationale behind their chain of thought, however distorted that chain of thought may be.

The Middle East is the most weapon saturated region in the world, and Pakistan the sixth largest importer of arms, while Pakistan’s spending on education and health do not figure as even a distant blip on this radar.

Pakistan possesses a thriving arms industry of its own, equally unchecked, which adequately supplements the arms supplied to this country by its ‘friends’.

Pakistan, this bhooka nanga country, has therefore mortgaged its inheritance for several generations to defend...what? A strip of land, the odd river and some worm eaten boundaries, all eventually as defenceless and mortgaged against various forces as before, if not more so as recent events have proved.

Viewed in these terms, and given the fact that every day brings this country closer to annihilation, it is understandable why the illiterate and ignorant people of Pakistan, driven to the edge by hardship, support persons who use (to their thinking) the sublime arguments of religion against their obvious enemies – enemies such as successive governments that make no move whatsoever to ameliorate their pathetic lot, on the contrary making every shameless effort to steal what little is left to them for their own use.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed    Pakistan Today       19 July 2011

Zulfiqar Mirza
The lights have gone out once again in the city of lights, this time swallowed within the dark cloacal depths of Zulfiqar Mirza’s maw. It grows ever more curious that while Fouzia Wahab, Sherry Rehman, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Shah Mahmood Qureishi – those who crossed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named – ended up in lesser positions (but maybe better ones, so let’s just say: changed), for some reason Zulfiqar Mirza has not yet been slain by a fatal flash of teeth.

To tell the truth, as everyone knows, lights have been out for Karachi for a very long time, and I am not speaking of KESC’s woes.

My parents and I lived near Karachi University once; Gulshan-e-Iqbal was a fledgling suburb at the time, all prickly dunes and gangly hills with University Road a long, deserted thoroughfare. By night when we returned late from dinner at someone’s place, I would sleep in the back seat of the car from the stadium to the NIPA Chowrangi, and there I would wake to the sound of bells, a soft ‘chan chan’ of the anklets on a loaded camel train as it wound its way down the road.

We took midnight walks, and my young nephew was scared by jackals howling from distant hills.

They seem like memories of another planet now. University Road today is as like to Bunder Road as anywhere. By day it resonates to the cacophonous blare of traffic wending its way through a haze of smoke and by night to the clack of automatic weaponry near and around the infamous NIPA Chowrangi...where once I asked a policeman to sit in my car to keep a carload of boys from pestering me as I drove home alone. Can you imagine this happening today?

Only in the last few days, armed men killed six persons near Disco Bakery in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. We laughed at the name when this bakery came into being, yet it became our local source for bread and eggs over the years.

Three persons were killed at Rashid Minhas Road, where a drive-in cinema used to be. It was here that ‘much of Karachi’, if you will excuse the wild claim, saw ‘Beyond the Last Mountain’, that molehill of a movie which, like the ‘Mad Mad Mad Mad World’ with upwards of nineteen well known names, cast every person who was anyone in Karachi somewhere in its scenes.

Both movies managed to leap off the screen, and Karachi today is beyond the last mountain of everyone’s worst nightmare, a mad world where the worst political manoeuvrings of a corrupt government and all its corrupt partners and opponents play out openly on an unabashed scale. Racism, bigotry, lies and twisted moves hold centre stage in this city as in no other.

Karachi is where Mohajirs, the astute and hardworking backbone of a city struggling to remain viable, are led by persons with Jabba-like appetites. It is where persons such as Mirza are able to jeer at them, calling them‘bhookay nangay mohajir’ (hungry, unclothed refugees)...and get away with it.

For a country like Pakistan where even people who hold religion dear tire of the subject because of the way it is touted by those in power, it is ironic that this particular segment of society, the Mohajirs, is jeered at for fleeing penniless from India and seeking refuge in Pakistan. What were the Prophet Muhammad and his companions but Mohajirs, fleeing persecution in Mecca and taking refuge in the welcoming city of Medina? We take our calendar from that event for God’s sake, how can we forget...how can being a Mohajir become a taunt here?

It is because we are unable to transpose history into current scenarios that we make such dreadful mistakes.

It is the Mohajirs who bent their commercial prowess into making Karachi the commercial hub of the country, a hub that refuses to die in spite of every effort of successive persons in power; Karachi which rises like a phoenix from the ashes every time it is bludgeoned to death.

It is certain that the founding ideology of this country considers men like Mirza and those who prop them up beneath contempt, though it does not seem to support the Mohajirs either, reacting to such cheap words in ways detrimental to the county that these people have adopted, which has in spite of the words of said persons beneath contempt, adopted the Mohajirs as its own.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


By:Rabia AhmedPakistan Today 12 July 2011

Dual nationality and elections

The newly formed Election Commission of Pakistan has banned persons holding dual citizenship from contesting elections to parliament in Pakistan.

This reminds one of an earlier ruling in 2002, during General Musharraf’s era, barring persons without a basic college degree from being elected to parliament. Mercifully, this rule was overturned a few years later.

The fact that this pathetically uneducated, ignorant country even considered such a pre-requisite for election, one that no other modern democracy has, is ironic. The President of the USA, for example, must satisfy only three broad criteria. He or she must be: a natural born American citizen, at least thirty five years old, and for the past fourteen years a permanent resident of the United States.

George W Bush
Thus Dubya was eligible for presidential office even had he not possessed a degree, which he does, by George! He has a Bachelors degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School!

Clearly it helps to be rich, and the son of a former president in the US, as in Pakistan. In fact, Pakistanis, being as resourceful as they are, have taken matters a step further: fake degrees are available upon payment in this country, far more readily than clean water, and many persons including parliamentarians possess them, unchecked. The fact that the requirement no longer stands is hardly the point.

Banning things is popular in this country, and there are many other instances such as the ban on the ‘Satanic Verses’, as a result of which, and not due to its literary merit, almost every Pakistani who knew English read the book. Customs officials of the time ignored large cannons in traveller’s luggage, pouncing instead with triumphant ‘Ha’s!’ on copies of the bestseller.

Alcohol, banned in Pakistan, is easily available and much of the country is sloshed in more ways than one. Typically, if caught red handed people such as airline stewardesses cop it, whilst glamorous models do not.

It is as common to hold two citizenships in Pakistan as it is to own two pairs of glasses, even more common than it is to own a fake degree, and who can be blamed for it…for holding dual nationality, that is?

Each day starts with breakfast following a hot and fitful night’s sleep due to interrupted, or no power supply.

In winter breakfast may be cold, since gas in these months is often unavailable.

Getting to work is an exercise if you drive a CNG fueled vehicle as many people do. On three days of the week, CNG is unavailable in the Punjab, while on the other four it takes anything from twenty minutes to an hour before you can get it.

Naturally, as a result public transport neither runs regularly, nor is it cheap.

What used to be timed power outages are now random, as a result of which no home or business is able to function efficiently and countless businesses have folded, unable to function at all.

To escape this chaos and other hellish problems created by those who govern being uninterested in working to provide the basic amenities of life to the governed, people seek the citizenship of another country; there are otherwise few reasons for persons to impose exile on themselves, far from home and family. Persons acquiring another citizenship are feted in much the same fashion as persons returning from Haj, with garlands, and mithai.

Characteristically though it is dual nationality that is being targeted rather than the underlying cause: poor and exorbitantly expensive education, pathetic healthcare, non-existent law and order, corruption, twisted social values, filth, high prices, and a total absence of recourse to justice.

Most persons who leave the country with a dual citizenship under their belt do not return. For those few who do, one would have imagined the government would in fact wish them to utilise their wider experiences in dealing with this country’s problems, if nothing else then in some kind of a think tank.

The news regarding the ban on persons with dual citizenship contesting the election also states that in the absence of a proper mechanism on the part of the Election Commission, the dual citizen status of current lawmakers could not be checked.

Like the fake degrees. Like the book. Like the alcohol. Like the corruption…

We can now look forward to yet more sanctimonious balderdash from those in public office, each extolling his virtue in holding just the one passport.

All the while, of course, another is tucked away under their mattress at home, right above the fake degree.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed    Pakistan Today   28 June 2011

Apparently no one is indispensable to Pakistan, not the Chief of Army Staff, nor the Director General of the ISI. What is becoming increasingly clear certainly is that this government, both federal and provincial, is dispensable. In fact, maybe the whole democratic exercise (or what passes for ‘democratic’ in these parts) should be disposed off where Pakistan is concerned.

PPP’s victory in Kashmir’s elections further proves that people are incapable of intelligent choice even when faced with evidence as glaring as the appalling performance of the PPP across the country. Government by the people (democracy) appears to have failed in Pakistan.

Alternatives to democracy in Pakistan have been restricted to martial law consisting of one witless general following another, with far from happy results. Are there more alternatives, or could something be done to make the existing system work?

In ancient Athens there were two classes of persons who vied for dominance in government, the Oligarchs (the rich, landowning class), and the Democrats (the masses). Things have not changed much in this respect.

Plato was disenchanted with democracy as a philosophy of government because he felt the masses were unable to choose the best way to arrive at a goal, much less the best goal to arrive at. Things have not changed much in this respect either, in some places.

What makes an Oligarchy a bad choice for us is not that it places government in the hands of the rich landowning class per se, but that the rich landowning classes in most places and definitely in Pakistan are a bunch of indolent, self-centred, predatory wolves, making it a poor idea to have them as rulers. The government in such hands would go, well, it would go the way it is going now. As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner’, and it is obvious that all our lambs have been devoured by our wolves who are now fighting over the entrails.

Yet if the rich landowning class were better educated in all the ways that make education truly ‘better’, well-intentioned and adept at governance, they would have everyone’s blessings to make and run a government.

As it is, they are none of the above, and offering governance to a member of the landowning class is unfair both to that person who has too many personal interests to protect, and to the governed. If in addition the lambs he governs are weak and ignorant, as they are, the gate is wide open for a staggering amount of abuse, which there is.

The reality is that we are witnessing a failure in Pakistan not of democracy, but of the wolf in lamb’s clothing (tut tut! all these mixed metaphors...), in other words we have here a failure of an oligarchy disguised as democracy, call it a ‘demogarchy’... this is what has failed.

Democracy, or the rule of the many, is also a dangerous option for a country such as Pakistan where education when available, is appalling, making ‘the many’ too ignorant to sit on any selection panel.

Our budget allocates a minute percentage of GDP to education. While I agree wholeheartedly that more funds should be allocated to education, the question remains: Is it worth being taught what is being taught, with little, none, or even more funds?

What use is it to know the capital of Tanganyika, while being ignorant of one’s own history or religion, as they are so badly taught, even re-written to suit various agendas?

What is required is a decent academic education based on egalitarian principles unlike the current ones which deepen class lines, dividing people of the same country on every front: religious, linguistic, cultural, and academic; Pakistan needs an education that stresses analysis and research in the same language for all, and equally important, a training in politics and governance

In many countries of the world, student parliaments function in schools, even at the primary level. Linked to the rest of the curriculum and following the country’s own government procedures, students elect each other to positions such as prime minister, ministers, speaker, members of parliament, secretaries, opposition members, etc. Those elected then proceed to debate, vote, submit petitions, and move motions, sticking to time, rational content and due process.

No Pakistan student, sadly, has been taught even the value of standing in line, in a queue.

Which students do you suppose would grow up to constitute a better informed citizenry, more capable of making reasoned choices: those fed a diet of distorted facts by rote, encouraged to scorn less privileged peers and trample on their rights, or those thus trained in government and democracy?

The minds and living conditions of the people of Pakistan appear presently to be beyond redemption. The next generation must be trained to higher standards. Not to give them this training implies an interest in keeping them in ignorance, which interest, given the current feudal leadership, there definitely is.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed

Pangrams, and you probably know what these are…are sentences incorporating all the letters of the alphabet, such as ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’.

Very English countryside; you can almost hear the hunt.

There are of course pangrams in languages other than English and some of them are set to specific themes. It is impossible to translate pangrams and keep all the letters of the alphabet intact, so they are somewhat lost in translation. However, here is one originally in Italian set to a xenophobic theme.  Translated it reads: ‘that blameworthy and zealous xenophobe tastes his whiskey and says: hallelujah!’

Si Signore. Maybe this is what Ms Odho was planning to say too, only she never got the chance.

And another, originally in Polish, courtesy possibly the anti marriage lobby which orders people to ‘stop threats, haughtiness and marriages!’

A fruit and vegetable theme from the Russian goes: ‘would a citrus live in the thickets of the south? Yes, but only a fake and shrunken one!

Whereas one from the Hebrew exclaims: ‘A hyena ate some lettuce flavoured carrot, and that’s it?

One gets to hear many Jewish conspiracy theories, but this is the first about a zionist hyena.

Presuming that all these pangrams are appropriate to the culture from which they arise…that xenophobes in Italy actually follow each mouthful of whiskey with a lusty ‘hallelujah!’, that the anti-marriage lobby in Poland gives vent to slogans such as the above, that in Russia only fake and shrunken oranges and lemons survive in the south of the country, and that hyenas in the Promised Land exist on a diet of Romaine flavoured carrots and nothing else…if that is so, what, I wonder would be appropriate pangrams relating to Pakistan?

Given that the Urdu script does not lend itself to accommodating the English alphabet, entire or partial, we have no choice but to come up with pangrams in English, pertinent to the Pakistani scene. Here is one set to a bellicose theme: ‘malignant mullah Johnnies with queer frozen minds yelling appallingly bizarre verdicts into extra loud mikes.’

Which sounds about right. And a political pangram could go like this: ‘the PML-N crowd indulged in extremely flaky, jejune, zany and queer behaviour at the budget session.’

Here’s another one: ‘the People’s Party will execute its quietly dozing grandmother or barter all its values to keep its fitful majority’

And another: ‘MQM ghundas wrest bhatta from the jittery denizens of Karachi under pain of violent execution.’

Then there is: ‘Osama Bin Laden was found snoozing in bed with the execrable ISI and the Pakistan Army, quite in cahoots with our joke of a government.’

Really, this has got to be the most fun column I have ever written, even though it isn’t easy to come up with pangrams, such as, ‘a failed prayer for the juveniles of a quixotic nation: Lab pay aati hai duwa ban kay tamanna meri, zindagi shamma ki soorat ho khudaya meri.’

Do any of the children rattling off this beautiful poem in our schools ever understand what it means?

Attiqa Odho
Things happen in Pakistan, ranging from the awful to the extremely odd. This pangram below is about news that was just plain idiotic: ‘not boozy nor woozy just conveying liquor, Attiqa Odho exits jammed PK flight and resigns from APML.’

Imagine making such a fuss about Attiqa Odho and her bottles of whiskey when there are so many other problems to worry about in this country.

The rest of the news is just as silly, such as Mr. Gilani finally noticing the petrol shortage in the Punjab. He probably hasn’t noticed the CNG shortage as yet, but it will come when the time is right: ‘The PM takes note of crazy petrol shortage, by Jove, and wonders quite how long it’s existed, and why.’

Our PM’s perspicacity is always striking, not to mention our Home Minister’s capacity for mental calculation, such as when he announced that there is a “98 percent chance of Ilyas Kashmiri being dead.”

I’m really intrigued, where does this man get his information from, much less his figures?

‘If there is a 98 percent chance of Ilyas Kashmiri being quite dead, does the 2 percent mean he’s now  alive, exiled, dozing, jubilant or escaped?’

Who knows indeed?


By Rabia Ahmed  Printed Dawn Magazine 3 July 2011

Farah Hussain
morning show hostess
Some women possess that rare and valuable commodity: surplus time.  A number manage to utilise it effectively, but others indulge in what is tantamount to criminal offence, they watch Pakistani morning shows on television.  

It is yet to be clarified what exactly these morning programmes aim to achieve.  Do they wish to contribute to our culture, to our intelligence, sense of humour, general knowledge, understanding, or education? Do they alleviate our boredom, fill the time creatively, or do they even contribute to our dress sense?

I took my life in my hands a few times recently, glued myself to my seat with rubber solution to prevent a fast getaway, and watched some of these morning shows. This article is the result of watching (for as long as I could stomach it) women sporting sun flowers or gardenias behind their ears, dressed in the preferred mode of conifers at Noel: ….a lavish supply of baubles and spangles, a generous dusting of glitter, snow in the shape of patchy white face powder, with a selection of bows and glittering clips perched atop all this, a replacement for the hapless angel on a fully decorated Christmas tree.

Recently was a day of note with reference to illustrating my point about these programmes: three ladies wearing all of the above; in addition each wore a tikka like a chandelier on her forehead. They looked as though they were they all getting married, newly married, or taking part in some overdone bridal couture week. Very artistically, with manicured nails the size of spears, they wiped their eyes of tears shed in sorrow at the death of the talented Moin Akhtar, and delivered themselves of elaborate eulogies extolling the virtues of the deceased. If Mr Akhtar is still regaling viewers with comic skits wherever he is, this is one programme he will have used as a source of inspiration.

There are other shows, and most share a dress code. What is it with women on these shows, and what are they trying to prove? Is it the possibility of cramming the most nonsense into a confined space, both mental and physical? From feet totteringly` shod in stilts to clothing, every thing possible is thrown in, buttons, bows, layers, nips, tucks, laces, frills, colour. They also shared a certain gesture, an incessant hand movement to arrange/flick back their unconvincingly blonde hair.

And then there is the content: is marriage all that interests Pakistani women? There are programmes about relations with in laws, what to wear at weddings, how to dress the hair (for weddings), what kind of henna to apply (at weddings), and songs, dances, and even nauseatingly girly ‘keeklis’ that one can indulge in on that day of days. Often it is a question of killing time between calls from viewers, who are a whole new story altogether.

Delivered in a high piping voice, breathless with excitement:

‘XYZ Baji, mujhe bohauuuth mushkil say yay call milli hai!) (It was really difficult getting this call through!)

(Yes well get on with it then, won’t you? You’re holding others up!)

‘XYZ Baji aaj aap bohauuuth achi lag rahi hain!’ (you’re looking reeeally wonderful today!) or ‘Mujhay aap bohauuuuth achi lagti hain!’ (I like you verrrry much!)

For heavens sake is this a hoax? Or if it’s a genuine call, are you sure you have your gender preferences straight?

Baji simpers and responds saying that she likes the speaker verrry much too, indeed her love encompasses all her viewers who call in so lovingly, and bear so much affection for her in their hearts.

Sighs all around.

Next in number are the women who ask baji to wave to pappoo, chunnu, koki, or pinky on air, referring to their minor children who also love this programme.

Listen, everyone. The situation is dire and Pakistan’s fate hangs in the balance. We need intelligent, responsible citizens, aware of local and international issues to participate constructively in the affairs of this country. This includes men, women and children.

Are our children actually watching these programmes, and enjoying them? Are these women their role models? Small wonder then!

Here are some suggestions to offset the urge to watch these shows as soon as it manifests:

  1. Brush your teeth:  This is an infinitely more sensible occupation, one that takes greater skill, producing more constructive results.
  2. Look out the window and observe those women walking to work down the street: are they spending their time more intelligently, or will you, if you seat yourself in front of a box for an hour listening to a Christmas tree with blonde bimbo aspirations speak?
  3. Blow your brains out with a gun: This is a quicker way to oblivion, and a far less excruciating experience than watching most morning shows on television.


By Rabia Ahmed  Pakistan Today 28 June 2011

We share our bath-pit (it’s not a tub, it’s a pit, in an old house) with Lizzie, a tiny lizard. In this heat it needed water too, so one fine day there it was, and since it’s a very thoughtful, sharing sort of lizard and pulls its legs in when we’re in the pit to make space for us and shifts around obligingly when the pit is cleaned, we...well, we let it stay. Water, after all, is important, and we like to share ours.

Lizzie does not approve of the water brouhaha in this country every year. This whole tussle about ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ and who stole water from whom...‘whatever happened to the common interests of all?’ says Lizzie.

Pakistan’s water dispute with India involves both countries, and is therefore out of the lone hands of either to that extent. What stops this dispute from being resolved when it arises between the provinces of the same country however? Shoddy governance, or the lack of it?

Presently, the river Indus provides most of Pakistan’s water. The country’s per capita availability of water dwindled from what it was in the 1950s to one fourth in 2002, and much further subsequently. Most of this dwindling water is used for agricultural purposes, not always wisely. It is due to inefficient drainage that much of Pakistan’s agricultural land suffers from water logging and salinity. And yet, it appears according to a report compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) in 2011 that Pakistan owes 24% of national GDP, 48% employment and 70% of its exports to agriculture.

Floods in 2010 caused damage worth billions to Pakistan’s agricultural economy. Sadly, we were able to salvage nothing, not even lessons, nor even store some of that flood water. The water came, caused untold tragedy, and went away, leaving the country devastated, once again among the water impoverished nations of the world, once again facing the probability of floods this year, still without any adequate provisions for water storage, drainage, flood defence, or any other contingency planning. Even the report produced by PILDAT was sponsored by the British High Commission.

The distribution of water has always been a source of contention between the provinces of Pakistan. The dispute continues despite the water apportionment accord signed between the provinces in 1991 due to different interpretations of the pact by each signatory. KP feels it does not receive its share of the water, Punjab reckons that as the hub of agriculture it ought to get more, Sindh accuses the Punjab of stealing its share, and Baluchistan says much the same to Sindh.

Clearly we need a bit of lizard logic in this issue.

The fact remains that Punjab is the agricultural centre of the country. Until solutions are found to the issue, the different provinces would do well to remember this, while the Punjab would do well to remember that it is not the only province that requires water.

Also, unless solutions are found to the problem of storage, waters of the Indus will continue to dwindle and soon there will be nothing to quarrel about. Sindh, in fact, should almost rename the Mighty Indus to something that better reflects its sad state within that province: maybe the ‘Iddly Piddly Indus Pond.’

More than the Indus dolphins have suffered due to this sad depletion of water. Entire communities such as fishermen living along and off the river, and ecosystems such as mangrove swamps have also been wiped out.

The responsibility for this situation rests squarely on the shoulders of the successive governments of this country who have failed miserably to bring about consensus and institute updated and more successful methods for water distribution and storage. Existing dams are silted up and largely unusable due to age and poor maintenance, and the building of further dams, even those such as the Kalabagh dam which is ready to go, has been granted little priority and less effort.

PILDATs report recommends a dialogue between all stakeholders; farmers, water experts, and elected representatives, supported by research and accurate information.

Facilitating such dialogue for this most crucial issue ought to be very high on the government’s priority list, right up there with education and health, well over and above defence. The mouthpiece of the government’s priority list, however, proclaims Kashmir to be the nation’s jugular vein, the convenient and hysterical mantra that is produced as a smoke screen for a list that has no national interests in sight.

It is something to be considered: if you employed a cook who did not cook at all, just ate everything in the fridge, would you keep him?

Transfer that to a government which provides no governance whatsoever.

Lizzie finds it all very shocking and agrees emphatically that such governments ought to be turfed out.