Monday, October 31, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed          Pakistan Today   01 Nov 2011

The records of history   
It needed no second sight to predict how the Gaddafi saga would resonate in Lahore: the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium – ought it to be renamed?

Maybe the new name should be the Dr Rehman Malik Stadium?

Moammar Gaddafi, ignobly dragged along the street and killed, was once a charismatic and dashing figure. Certainly we thought so during the Lahore Islamic Summit of 1974 – remember the throng of students on the streets as Gaddafi’s cavalcade passed? In a gruesome twist, Libyans filed past Gaddafi’s decomposing body to gawk and gloat after he had been shot in the head and abdomen in an execution style assassination by angry countrymen.

So will the memory of the man and the stadium’s old name be shoved under the carpet as usual? It could keep bitter company there with the erstwhile East Pakistan, among others.

‘To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven in the life of our ancestors by the records of history? – Cicero

Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi took over in the 60s in a bloodless coup, and subsequently ruled Libya in an unofficial capacity till his fall in 2011.

A young Moammar Gaddafi

In 1973, the Arab Oil Producing and Exporting Countries’ (OPEC’s) oil embargo obtained fairer returns for the countries’ oil exports, Libya among them. Gaddafi’s government used this revenue to increase the country’s then poor living standards. Healthcare in Libya is free and according to the current CIA Factbook, the average life expectancy of Libyans is 78.65, less by just one year the average life expectancy of Americans. Education is free in Libya, and primary education is mandatory for all citizens. Libya became definitely better off than the
rest of Africa.

But Gaddafi went off after a while, rather like curdled milk. Dissent and opposition were clamped down on by means of censorship, at times with assassinations, and massive charges of corruption were levelled against Gaddafi’s own family.

According to the CIA Factbook once again, Pakistan’s proven reserves of natural gas exceed 840 billion per cubic metre and its proven reserves of crude oil are 313 million bbl (barrels). However, Pakistan’s public debt currently stands at 50.7 percent of GDP, and its inflation last year at 13.9 percent. Our people stand a high risk of major infectious diseases, including food and waterborne diseases.

We spend less than three percent of GDP on education (2009) so the total literacy rate of Pakistan (as defined by those over the age of fifteen and over, who can read and write) is less than 50 percent – around 63 percent for men and 36 percent for women.

Our average life expectancy is almost 12 years below that of Libya’s, and almost a quarter of the population of Pakistan lives below the poverty line.

At no time, it is obvious, have we even approached the achievements of the man who was shot in the streets the other day, and whose body lay mouldering for days without burial.

As for Pakistan, its leaders curdled and decomposed long ago, without any achievements to their credit at any stage.

In this country where the press is relatively free and unfettered, it is an insidious form of censorship when the slate of history is wiped so clean every time it is written on with dirty chalk. Renaming roads and buildings, expunging information from and modifying curricula, stressing glorification rather than analysis and forcing universities to grant blatantly underserved degrees to political figures for blatantly political reasons – it never stops.

The leaders of Pakistan escape with an appalling performance because those ruled by them have never had the opportunity to assess that performance except by the yardstick of their own starvation and deprivation.

For those in a hurry to erase monuments to Gaddafi’s memory it is best to think again. It may be a better idea for hoardings to be erected prominently outside each provincial assembly building, and outside the National Assembly building in Islamabad displaying that chilling photograph of Zine El Abidine of Tunisia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt all together – one deposed and forced to flee the country, another deposed, shot and killed, and the third deposed and brought to court to be tried for his crimes, in a cage.

The photograph needs no caption, except maybe just: Revolution Happens.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed   Pakistan Today   22 October 2011

No reprisal for exploitation

In any field of knowledge, few significant advances have been made on the basis of faith alone. Even religion, that bastion of faith, invites believers to observe creation to increase their faith.

To assert, therefore, that faith can play a lead role in medicine is simplistic, even while the role of faith as an adjunct to mainstream treatment is probable, but remains open to conjecture. This is an argument, however, that owes its existence mainly to education. It also explains why the following of faith healers is composed in the main of less or uneducated persons. Yet, to deny the presence of a fair number of educated persons among those numbers would be naive... far wiser to question the education that leads people to indulge in such practices.

A questionable education is just one of many reasons why people are drawn towards faith healing. In Pakistan at least, mainstream or scientific medicine where available, is poor and hygiene in hospitals is far below the minimum requirement. Resultantly, the risk of say maternal death is over ten times higher than for instance in Denmark, according to UNICEF’s statistics.

Since faith healers claim divine intercession, it means that the doctor himself is invisible and can therefore be invested with powers as required. His tools are above human comprehension, unlike the mundane syringe or knife. A divine doctor is also beyond the human requirements of sterile environment, because he performs in mysterious ways to heal.

The whole process of healing is conducted on some intangible, spiritual plane where diagnoses and results are proportionately vague. To bring faith healing down to the level of shining chrome and tablets would be to shatter its mystique and by extension its power. Or so it is perceived.

In 1999, the American Medical Association published a study which concluded that “prayer may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care" and recommended further studies to prove this. Meanwhile, the charm of faith healing remains in it being impossible to prove either its validity or its authenticity. For the layperson who may be suffering from xyz disease, it promises miraculous cures. Quite simply, it suits both patients, and a system which is too indolent to bring about the changes required for standardised care.

All this time of course, there are the casualties, the horrific death, for example of the innocent ten year old boy from Kasur suffering only from fever. His poor parents took him to a local hospital where his father claims he was not treated. So they took him to a faith healer, who said he was possessed of evil spirits. His cure was exorcism consisting of torturing the child, beating him violently around the face until the poor boy lost his eyesight. He was then taken to hospital where a few days ago, he died.

The faith killer, as he should be called, was initially arrested, but has subsequently been released on bail. It is worth considering how many countries would allow such a person to go free at this stage of an investigation.

A report in The National quotes Qais Aslam, an economic analyst, as saying that very often persons who claim spiritual powers are local landowners who use these supposed powers to enslave people, who then work for them without compensation. This exploitation, says Mr Aslam, is becoming increasingly common.

These ‘spiritual’ persons function without fear of reprisal, and their demands are increasingly diabolical. In Chiniot for instance, a pir asked a follower to bring him one of his wife’s body organs. The man killed his wife and removing her heart presented it to the pir.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the level of humanity of such persons, and yet harder to comprehend the level of inhumanity of a government that ignores such incidents and involves itself solely in brangling among itself.

No matter how you look at it, such occurrences are a crime… whether you look at the men who mislead poverty stricken individuals into such practices or at the fact that they are allowed to do so unchecked. Whether at the so-called spiritual persons who gain sufficient hold over the poor to lead them into a life of slavery or equally or at the people responsible for providing medical care, so mindless of their responsibilities, doing such a poor job, that patients and their desperate families are forced to resort to lethal alternatives.

As with every crime committed on a larger scale, these crimes have their roots in smaller cases, when perfectly average people advise other perfectly average people to drop valid treatment and switch to blowing on things and drinking holy waters and such.

But here I am straying into murky waters, certainly dangerous ones, so here I must end this column right about now.

Monday, October 17, 2011


     By Rabia Ahmed   Pakistan Today    18 October 2011

Apparently, Madame Tussauds wished to wax Moin Akhtar. Let me hasten to clarify that this refers to the Madame Tussauds waxworks museum, not some beauty salon.

Mr Akhtar’s son has turned down the offer. So let me propose another, if lesser, candidate...our newly minted doctor of philosophy, Rehman Malik.

Please Madame Tussauds people, take Rehman Malik...we’d be happy to have him waxed, threaded, dermabraded, whatever; pose him foot realistically jammed in his mouth in the chamber of horrors, where his statue could issue statements at the press of a button, just like the original.

Dr Malik will be eyeing the Nobel Peace Prize now. If you find that absurd on grounds of unsuitability, there are precedents elsewhere:

During Idi Amin’s tenure as President of Uganda, thousands of Ugandans were murdered and thousands more expelled from the country. In spite of this, President Carter opposed economic sanctions against Idi Amin’s government. He was however overruled by the Congress and the sanctions were imposed.

President Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

While economic sanctions as a weapon are questionable, the fact remains that the US has used sanctions repeatedly to topple regimes it labelled ‘repressive’. The US’ self-appointed status as judge, jury and policeman to the world has also been questioned, as well as its view of what constitutes ‘repressive’.

In January 2009, Barack Obama assumed Presidential office and in October the same year he became the Nobel Peace laureate, ‘for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.’

Just recently, this Nobel peace laureate sent troops to Uganda, to assist ‘select partner nation forces.’ He added prudently that the troops would only fight in self defence.

The Council of Foreign Relations documents the present Obama-Biden foreign policy. To pick a few points, the agenda promises domestic security and standing, and a responsible end to the war in Iraq. It also plans to put an end to the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and to insist on the Afghan government reducing its trade in opium.

What has actually happened is at variance with these promises. The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime cautions that Afghanistan’s opium production may rise by more than two thirds this year, and warns that profits from this production could be used to finance terrorist organisations.

Regarding Iraq, Time magazine reported that although Americans in Iraq began 2010 by celebrating their first month without any American combat deaths in that country, a US court that same year dropped charges against Blackwater guards who fired on and killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians, and wounded another 20.

The word ‘responsible’ is obviously applied with a certain bias.

Says Reuters, ‘at least 2,600 civilians, police and soldiers, along with 35 US military personnel, have been killed in violence in Iraq since Washington formally ended combat operations’ in 2010, which supports the BBC’s statement that ‘almost every figure related to the war is disputed, with none more keenly debated than the total number of Iraqi deaths.’

The US has a history of taking selective note of human rights abuses. To the credit of the American public, it pulls up its leaders if and when it perceives an abuse.

So, returning to Pakistan: last month, after claiming that the Government had broken the backbone of target killers in Karachi, Dr Malik offered his views on the bombing of Chaudhry Aslam’s house in Karachi. He said that this was the act of persons who wished to destroy the law and order now established in Karachi, to achieve their own ends.

Where would we be without the burning insight afforded by penetrating statements such as these?

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, targeted killings claimed 748 lives in Karachi in 2010. The HRCP’s report in July 2011 said that during the first six months of 2011 1,138 persons were killed in the city. An English newspaper reported a statement by Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the HRCP, who said that the continuous targeted killings (in Karachi) reflected the government’s inefficiency in handling the situation.

Rehman Malik, the person in charge of the ministry most answerable for this inefficiency was recently awarded an honorary PhD for his “matchless services to the country in the war on terror and particularly in restoring peace to the citizens of Karachi”, this quote from the same newspaper.

Who was the blithering idiot who conferred this degree? In addition to being an absurdity, the act has devalued the degree of anyone else who holds this document from the University of Karachi, the conferring institution.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


By:Rabia Ahmed
                                             Pakistan Today 11 October 2011                     

Adaptation is not imitation

The English left a country where winter ended in July to recommence in August to colonise India... a country where summer ended in December to recommence in January. India was no answer to dreams when the mercury climbed all the way into the forties or more. Luckily, there existed in the subcontinent a strong architectural tradition with a strong identity, ingeniously adapted to the climate.

Since there was no electricity then, homes were equipped with high ceilings, ventilators, verandas, courtyards, all shaded by trees. Pakistan inherited many of these old buildings, buildings of grace and beauty built on the principle of adaptation to the environment.

Not much has changed for Pakistan today in that we still have little or no electricity. Yet, our present architecture is slavishly copied from cooler environments. Our homes have low ceilings, sloping roofs tiled with dark shingles, large glass windows that invite the sun, and there is an unnecessary use of concrete everywhere. It is a manifestation of our overall loss of identity.

Land is being deforested at an alarming rate, resulting in more floods and landslides and a rise in average temperatures. Urban areas which contain fewer trees and more metal and concrete structures are now considerably warmer than rural areas which are greener and where people use materials such as mud to build their homes.

All over the world, mud as a material for construction is attracting interest because mud homes are warmer in winter and cooler in summer. They are cheaper to construct, and while they require more maintenance, this is something that can be minimised with better technology. Unfortunately, mud and earth construction is looked upon with contempt here as material meant only for the poor.

Due to the rising cost of land and materials, individual plots of land are smaller and cannot sustain verandas and courtyards. Ceilings have been lowered by several feet to accommodate air conditioning. In a misguided attempt to make these smaller homes look more spacious, massive windows have replaced smaller ones.

The result is that hot sunlight, manna for the sun starved English but poison for those fighting off heat stroke now pours in through huge panes of glass facing straight into the midday sun. Clearly, what works in England does not work for us. This heat enters the house without first being forced to wipe its feet and cool off in a veranda, and once inside it has no egress, since remember, hot air rises... but ventilators have disappeared altogether.

Our traditional communal life has also been eroded with the disappearance of these architectural features. Houses once looked inward into courtyards, the centre of every home where the family congregated in a private, pleasantly shaded environment. Individuals now spend more time isolated in separate rooms with their electronic screens.

Narrow lanes between homes, protected from the sun by buildings on either side, were an area where children and residents tended to socialise. The absence of these meeting grounds has contributed to the isolation of individuals and families and to the increase of violence in communities where the values of neighbourliness and co-existence have been lost.

Given the power shortage in this country, sponsoring alternative energy ought to be a priority for the government, but this expectation is a lost cause. It is instead up to private enterprise to encourage research and technology in this field. In the long run, this will benefit everyone.

Solar and other renewable energy options and eco friendly and alternative methods of construction that minimise the use of expensive cooling and heating must be adapted to available resources. Information and materials regarding these options should be made available to all involved in building, and schools of architecture and design must stress environmentally friendly methods of construction and provide practical training in the field.

Solar technology is available, but is too expensive for most persons. Instead diesel or gas is being used, which is expensive and wasteful of natural resources, and also releases huge amounts of heat into the environment.

Adaptability, as Gandhi pointed out, must not be confused with imitation. If even a single aspect of society is ignored, changed, destroyed or foolishly implemented, it impacts on the entire structure of society as a whole. A government that frankly does not give a damn, designers that neither innovate nor adapt, and a people that wish to copy slavishly: all these factors have served to destroy an environment that once boasted a proud identity, and a grace and beauty all its own.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


by Rabia Ahmed | InpaperMagzine   DAWN          09 October 2011

This is how you get closest to paradise on earth: Pick a Harry Potter book, any of the seven will do, find a nice squishy sofa, and bag the best side…next to the table and near the lamp. Then get yourself one of those chocolate brownies, add two scoops of ice cream with a generous squeeze of chocolate sauce, and don’t leave out the roasted almonds.

Take the book and ice cream and sink into that sofa. Finally, before you start eating and reading your way to paradise, and because smugness is one of the shortest cuts to Eden and excessive exercise isn’t compatible with this scenario, think of all your acquaintances who deny themselves such pleasures and say ‘tut tut!’

I normally hold up Mira (names have been changed to protect me) as an example for what not to do in almost every case… but Mira simply doesn’t do food, and never reads unless it’s Virginia Woolf, so there’s very little to discuss in her case… some folks are plain beyond redemption. Mind you she does need to know what Woolf herself said. ‘One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.’ And what is a brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce but dining very well?
Woolf also said that she had ‘lost friends, some by death, others by sheer inability to cross the street.’ One might add ‘and by sheer inability to indulge themselves’, so let’s just let Mira go, for there’s always Naila, whose religion is not about fasting, but dieting. She believes that no one who fasts loses weight, leastwise not in her segment of the world. So Naila diets, which meant that when I first met her, she was whip thin on Atkin’s diet.

The world of diets is harsher than the one we live in where we live and eventually die of heart attacks, the plague, or political manoeuvrings. The dieting world on the other hand is peopled by those who fail to live at all because they’re on the Atkins diet, the cabbage soup diet, the Mediterranean Diet, the collagen protein diet, the American Longevity Diet (which probably doesn’t work in Iraq), and the Chasing Freedom Diet (which may have the most followers in Palestine). These are all genuine diets, look them up yourself.

But to return to Naila, she started the Atkins diet by eating mostly asparagus, broccoli and cheddar cheese. That none of these things is freely available in Pakistan suited Naila down to her crimson nail tips, because Naila loves anything so long as you can only get it in Pakistan by making an almighty fuss. Later when the diet called for whole grains, she got around that by calling it stone ground grain bread, and the rest of us simply called it naan.

Farah on the other hand decided to go for what was easily available, and she was on the cabbage soup diet for five whole days.

At the end of that period, her husband moved back with his mother and none of her friends would visit Farah. After a week of running the exhaust fan and keeping the windows open, Mr Farah returned home, and she reverted to her normal binge habits.
I’m not advocating binge eating by any means, but hey, look at it this way: life’s too short to make yourself needlessly miserable. As Erma Bombeck said, ‘Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart’. You thought she’d say the Titanic sank because they were overweight, didn’t you?

Admit it, you’re a masochist too!  Which diet are you on currently?

It’s important to eat well, especially when obesity is so widespread and yes that’s a dreadful pun and sadly someone else said it, not me. But really there’s no need to get carried away. There’s more than our fair share of heartache around and precious little we can do about it. So eat, drink and try to be merry, a bit of comfortable poundage never hurt anyone; just follow these guidelines:

Eat light: as soon as there’s light, start eating.
Eat as much as you want: but don’t always swallow.
Eat well: but never more than you can lift (Miss Piggy)

Seriously though, research shows that after crossing 40 or so, one puts on weight almost regardless of what you do. In fact, being too thin is courting osteoporosis at that age. The trick is not to put on too much. So you should: Eat a balanced diet, a bit less than before, and a bit slower than usual.

Avoid diets and losing huge amounts of weight.
Drink plenty of water.
Do regular and sensible amounts of aerobic and weight bearing exercises several times a week.
And if I may add this: look after your mind as well as your body. Go on, have some of that chocolate ice cream, and read all
about Hogwarts while you do it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


By Rabia Ahmed  Pakistan Today  03 October 2011

Pakistan’s Minister for Information Ms Firdous Ashiq Awan, while addressing a seminar in Lahore last week, was reported as saying that the media ought to project a positive image of the country. “Media persons and politicians are role models for the people,” she pronounced weightily, “and they should promote positive tendencies in society.”

Ms Awan, you go where you ought never to tread. If we, the people, were to take politicians, yourself for example, as role models, most of what we did and said would be expunged with a thick red pencil for the sake of decency. However, let no one say that the media does not listen. I shall search for something to write about positively right away.

There hasn’t been much light to aid my search though. Lahore, the past week has been victim to dreadful loadshedding you see, so …no, let’s make that more positive: Lahore has of late been subject to an admirable degree of power conservation, six to eight hours more than before.

Those lines effectively mask the despair of business owners as customers walk past their dark premises to larger ones equipped with electricity generators. No one could detect in those lines the despondency of the old and sick when they have no light to see by, and no fans to dispel the heat. Is that positive enough for you Ms Awan? That is, what you wanted isn’t some censorship?

Moving on.

Salmaan Taseer’s bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri was awarded the death sentence on Saturday by the 
Rawalpindi Anti-Terrorism court. Emotional, bigoted and dangerously misinformed, Qadri may or may not end his days on the gallows depending on how the situation is used – as it will be. Mr Zardari, an opportunistic genius in his own devious way, may well exercise his power under Article 45 of the Pakistan Constitution to commute the sentence, but he will wait and see which way the wind blows first.
Mumtaz Qadri

Urdu channels imposed a black out of news about the sentence and people have been debating whether this was valid. Apparently, most people in Pakistan support the death sentence pronounced on Qadri. Whether or not this assessment is based on fact, it does appear that the ‘visible’ population which has violently decried the verdict happens to be mainly non-English speaking. They have threatened to produce more assassins like Qadri if he is executed.

A death sentence is not the most convivial option available to a court of law, particularly in a place like Pakistan where miscarriage of justice is the norm. However, Qadri as we know, was witnessed committing this act, and has accepted, even proudly, ownership of his actions and courted arrest. 
There is little chance of miscarriage of justice in apportioning responsibility here.

Qadri assassinated Taseer because in Qadri’s own words, he, Salmaan Taseer blasphemed against the Prophet Mohammad when he condemned the blasphemy laws of Pakistan, and their specific application against a hapless Christian woman. For those who oppose Qadri’s actions, Qadri’s support of this law and his actions are the actual blasphemy. Should we all kill each other, if we use Qadri’s logic?

The judge who pronounced the verdict has people’s fervent prayers for his safety, and their admiration for his bravery. Dealing with Qadri is the easier task. It is much the overarching problem that people hold views such as Qadri’s, and have the support of so many people, including, in Qadri’s case, a large body of supposedly educated lawyers. Following the court’s verdict on Saturday roads were blocked and businesses closed in Lahore. Protestors took to the streets, and vehicles, including ambulances were stuck in traffic for hours.

This is not a story of the assassination of just one man, and the matter will not end with his assassin’s execution or imprisonment. Such incidents will recur. A whole segment of society must be educated in the danger of taking the law into individual hands, committing violence, and in the principles underlying their beliefs. If this ignorant segment of society happens to prefer a certain language, it was the responsibility of the media employing that language to use the opportunity to speak and initiate debate, rather than censor it.

Censorship is never the solution since information has a way of surviving like nothing else in today’s world. When suppressed, news is the more dangerous, since it will always out, along with a great deal of misinformation which eventually makes matters worse.

Bernard Shaw called assassination itself an extreme form of censorship. I myself never held an opinion either way about Salmaan Taseer until Qadri assassinated him for his condemnation of the blasphemy law and its particular application.

Taseer’s death for such a reason makes a martyr of the man, which means Qadri’s brand of censorship failed, as has the news black-out of Qadri’s sentence. We’re all talking about it, in several languages.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


02 October 2011 DAWN
by Rabia Ahmed | InpaperMagzine
Life was carrying on as usual this August in Lahore: no electricity, no gas, flooded streets, until an awful pain at the base of my skull: Meningitis? I did not think of Dengue, maybe because this was Eid, a time for sheer khurma, not mosquitoes. By bedtime, though, the pain was severe with a temperature over 102F.
Fortunately, with a doctor in the house, Dengue was suspected, because Dengue it was. Vomiting and nausea were unpleasant symptoms for the first 72 hours. Blood white cells and platelets were low and falling, an indication, and the palms and soles of my feet became red and itchy.

Treatment is symptomatic: Paracetamol based medication for the pain and fever, plenty of fluid, rest. I was told that Aspirin and Brufen must be avoided.

It is easy to confuse Dengue with Malaria. Both cause fever, shivering, body aches, and extreme tiredness. However diseases do not always follow the textbook. While Dengue is normally supposed to cause severe pain behind the eyes and in the bones and joints (explaining its other name: Break-bone fever) I got only some pain in my legs.

Both Malaria and Dengue are carried by mosquitoes, Malaria by the female Anopheles mosquito which bites after dusk; the Aedes mosquito carries the Dengue virus, and it likes to get its biting done by day. Dengue incubates within 3-15 days.

It is hard to accept that a miniscule thing such as a virus can cause this much discomfort, which makes the local governments’ failure to spray the city against mosquitoes doubly criminal. This year fogging machines were deployed late with allegedly substandard spray, neglecting high risk areas. For an uneducated population like Pakistan’s, inspectors should personally check for stagnant waters, and educate people on eliminating mosquitoes. This is done in many countries including Malaysia.

As it is, stagnant water is located unexpectedly, in desert cooler reservoirs which refill during the rains, in bottles under air conditioner pipes, in flower vases, and trays under indoor plants. All these must be removed/sprayed, except the dogs drinking bowl!

The most effective and early diagnosis of Dengue is by means of an antigen test unavailable in Pakistan. The alternative is a series of Complete Blood Picture tests (CBC) and an IGM antibody test which will show results of current infection only after six or seven days into the illness.

In almost 80 per cent of cases, Dengue is asymptomatic. In the remaining 20 per cent there are some who will suffer a severe form of the illness called Dengue Shock Syndrome which has a 20 per cent mortality rate. Warning signs are vomiting, abdominal pain and a drop in blood pressure. This requires hospitalisation and intravenous support. Another severe form is Dengue haemorrhagic fever. Warning signs are falling blood platelet levels, restlessness, clammy extremities, bleeding spots under the skin, and rashes. These patients may require platelet replacement.
Due to the epidemic proportions of Dengue in Lahore, hospitals ran out of platelet replacement facilities and were not admitting patients unless their platelet count went dangerously low.

The disease can be fatal in extreme cases, particularly in the case of the very young or old, or those with chronic diseases.

Papaya leaves
A wide variety of alternative cures surfaced as they always do: a blend/infusion of papaya leaves to raise the platelet count, apples and lemons, pomegranate juice, and even holy water (water infused with a series of prayers) etc, however none of these have been scientifically proven to fight the virus. Calls to pray for divine intervention were infuriating, since government intervention would have been useful but not achieved.

One is grateful eventually to loving friends and family who go to immense trouble to procure all these cures for sufferers. At the end of the day it is their love and nursing care that really counts in this, as well as in any other illness.