Thursday, November 15, 2012

NATION NEEDS TO CULTIVATE TOLERANCE MORE THAN EVER


It’s time to learn to respect and recognise rights and beliefs of others

MAHTAB BASHIR
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Islamabad

Someone has rightly said that if the foundation of a society is devoid of tolerance, then it is chaos that eventually ensues. The Pakistani society has been, in recent years, presenting a glaring example of such bellicosity, which has emanated from an intolerant social character.

This society is now undoubtedly yearning for peace - be it social peace, cultural peace, or psychological peace. Political dynamism, democratic etiquette, or human rights, whatever we intend to establish in society must be aimed at forming a tolerant society. We need to consider and analyse why we are an intolerant society, segmented into groups, each claiming his individual version of fundamental rights, but denying the same to others. It is a society where neither religious fanatics, nor the liberal fascist have any tolerance for each other. The former does not grant the right to women to dress in jeans, while the latter has no respect for those women who want to wear the veil or hijab.

Some of them, believing in righteously inflicted violence on “sinners”, remain silent on issues such as tribal customs of wani, denial of ancestral property to women, or the unacceptable practice of burying women alive on the orders of Panchayt that continue to exist in this so called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

For a successful democracy the opposition must give enough time and find a cause worthy enough to struggle for dislodging an elected government. Tolerance is essential for smooth progress of democracy. With a society showing zero tolerance, Pakistan like other countries of the world is all set to observe The International Day for Tolerance today (16 November). The occasion is observed with the aim to educate people about the need for tolerance in society.

The International Day for Tolerance tends to remind people they should learn about respecting and recognising the rights and beliefs of others. International Day for Tolerance was started by UNESCO in 1996. The day is celebrated to urge all the heads of states and governments across the world to work for the welfare, freedom, progress of their people by encouraging tolerance, respect and dialogue. The day also underscores the need of coordination between different cultures and civilisations.

On this particular day, UNESCO has mentioned few guidelines, these guidelines includes the work and actions on human rights, diversity in community, religious tolerance, no to violence, creativity at work and ecological diversity.

Many educators use the theme of the day to help students in their studies and classroom lectures on topics like human rights and non-violence. Special training programmes, talks and conferences are organised on this day in offices where the supervisor briefs the employees about importance and need of tolerance.

A few educationists told this scribe on Tuesday that poverty, illiteracy and class difference (disparity) generates frustration among the masses that ignite intolerance among them. They said intolerance in our society has political dynamics and is quite visible within the political parties.

“The very essence of democracy, which is the right of dissent, is absent when it comes to the day to day working of these parties. Resorting to violence has become a common phenomenon to settle political differences, or as a show of power to establish their political hegemony,” said an educationist at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU). He said we accept harassment of our religious minorities such as Ahmedis or Christians and have no remorse that the Father of Nation had assured them of their rights in his speech delivered of 11 August 1947.

Dr Abdul Siraj, chairperson of the department of Mass Communication at AIOU, said it was unfortunate that the word ‘tolerance’ is not as common in public usage as ‘intolerance’. “Everyone is intolerant and impatient because of low economic conditions and living standards. From elders to the young and even among students, the reflection of inflation ultimately produces intolerance and it is an angry youth that leaves a college or a university at the end of an academic year”, said Siraj, adding that the insecurity on the road, highhandedness of the law enforces was bound to induce intolerance among people that coupled with other socio-political factors culminate to terrorism.

Talking to this scribe, a rights activist questioned as why we have descended to such depths of criminal apathy that tragedies of different magnitudes, from individual’s to the nation’s, never invoke feelings of remorse or shame in us.

Published in Pakistan Today
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/11/15/city/islamabad/nation-needs-to-cultivate-tolerance-more-than-ever/?printType=article

DIARY OF A SOCIAL BUTTERFLY

I think so Prince William, (oho Queen ka grandson) he's turned out to be completely beghairat. Look at him. This trashy French magazine takes photos of his wife Kate Middleclass in topless and actually prints them and he can't do a thing about it. Beghairat! If you ask me, he shouldn't look left, he shouldn't look right. He should go straight away and burn down the French embassy in London to punish that French photographer and that dirty French magazine. And if he can't burn down the embassy then at least he should burn some French restaurants and if he can't even burn the French restaurants then he should go to Harrods and burn down the Chanel ka counter and beat up the make-up girls who serve behind it (never mind if they're English or Polish or even God forbid Pakistani - it will serve them right for doing naukri of Frenchies).

And I think so Prince William should also burn tyres and disrupt traffic in front of Selfridges and Harvey Nicholas for stocking Dior, YSL, Givenchy and other French brands. He should also stop anyone driving a Renault or a Citrong and drag them out of their cars and beat them up before setting fire to their cars. He should beat up all the schoolchildren who study French in England and set fire to their text books. He should teach everyone who has anything to do with France, such a lesson, such a lesson that not even their grandchildren will forget.

Mein tau kehti hoon, Prince William should even come to French Beach in Karachi and burn the sea over there also. He should show the French who's who and what's what, no? Everyone will do so much of wah wah of him and have so much respect for him after that. Vaisay, I think so it was totally beghairat of him to sue the magazine in French courts when he could be stroking anger outside. I mean, is he a man or a mouse? And also I'd like to ask why hasn't the British army's top ka General come out and complained to French ka Army Chief kay bhai why you have abused our Sovereignty, haan? I heard with my own ears Janoo saying that one day Prince William will be Sovereign of England and so Kate will be Sovereignty. Printing her nangi photos are obviously violation of British Sovereignty and William kay liye doob marnay ka maqaam hai if you have a ghairatmand perspective on life like us type of the people.

I tau just don't understand these William type fazool chooha types. And look at the French! This is the thanks they give to the English for liberating them from the Germans in World War II? And if you say anything to them aagay say they shrug and say, 'Say la we!' What cheeks!
Courtesy THE FRIDAY TIMES

HAND-KNITTED SWEATERS: A SYMBOL OF LOVE NO MORE INTACT

MAHTAB BASHIR
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
ISLAMABAD

I still remember that warm pink sweater my Grandmother knitted for me when I was a 9th grader. Though, Granny is no more around me, but this colourful sweater with all its warmth definitely is - reminding the affection and love of my Grandmother every winter. Khadija, a 27-year-old student while remembering her beloved Grandmother, said sweater knitting was no more a part of existing fashion because of a number of readymade products available in the market, but all readymade sweaters, cardigans, zippers, pullovers, uppers and jackets could not match the love of handmade product produced with love.

Often considered a mere pastime or hobby, knitting is actually much more than this but, unfortunately, with the usage of top technlogical gadgets hand-knitting also becomes a 'victim' of an onslaught of technology.

Knitting is a form of art. The different techniques used to make knitted pieces are truly extraordinary, let alone that beautiful, warm, fuzzy feeling they give afterwards, both literally and figuratively.

The tradition of knitting was widely practised around ten years ago, when mothers, grandmothers and aunts would do the exercise for their loved ones. Carrying the knitting kits with their assorted pins and needles and beautiful balls of wool, whether they were experts or just did it as a hobby, they used to sit for hours making chequered sweater vests for their husbands, children or grandchildren.

Although not as easily to be found as they once were, there are still ways to get your hands on quality wool. As always, the wool balls are found almost in every main market of the federal capital, while it is much easier to find it at old wool shops in Rawalpindi. They sell wool by ounce, and the colours are bright and delightful - golden yellow, tomato red, bright green, gleaming white - instantly attracting you to them. Home-knit sweaters retain an adorable quality with their fluffiness, making the cute toddler wearing them all the more susceptible to some through cuddling.

The craft has faded over the years due to a lot of reasons, one of them being the scarcity of shops selling wool. Schoolteacher Attia Imdad, who has held on to the forgotten tradition, told this scribe how and when she first learnt knitting, she used to have access to the best wools to make sweaters with. ABC wool was her favourite. She gave some other reasons why, in her opinion, this wonderful form of art might have died down.

She has seen the practice of knitting decline as the generations have passed, especially as women and girls get busier in their day-to-day lives. Working ladies have almost no time to sit back and knit after a hard day of work and suffering through the rough traffic, Attia says.

Of course, we must also take into consideration that we live in a country with mild weather where winter does not stay too long.

Attia said when she used to live in a cooler country, like Zimbabwe, she used to spend most of her time knitting perfect little sweaters for her family members. But now buying the funky, trendy sweaters and jackets from local markets where a wide range of items would probably be one’s first choice. “However, knitting a lovely cardigan for yourself every now and then would not only make others appreciate your hard work, you’ll feel proud of yourself too,” she said smilingly.

Attia also loves experimenting with her wool and designs on every chance she gets, accentuating the hint of affection that makes her gifts ever so admirable to everyone who receives them. “Knitting allows the artist the scope to experiment by striking new designs trying new colour combinations whether it be striped or checked, adding sequins, lace, beads, buttons and ribbons, or anything your fashion sense dictates,” she said.

The craft of knitting is not that difficult to master. You need to learn the technique, which puts your hands in a particular flow. Attia also talked about how knitting doesn’t even need much concentration. “All you need to do is get your hands into a rhythm. I had learned to knit from one of my friends’ mother. When I used to see aunt’s work and the products of her toil, I was intrigued. I then asked her to teach me and thus learned to knit at a very young age and have been doing it ever since,” she explained.

Of course, many women across the country are now among the working force and hardly have any time for even a proper meal throughout the day. But then again, there are mothers, daughters, grandmothers who can spare some time for their loved ones. When you get some free time and have nothing to do, you can always sit down and get knitting.

With chilly winter knocking at the door, why not open the gates and welcome it with some cosy, warm wool and your favourite knitting kit? But only if you have the time for your loved ones. HAPPY WINTER!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PAKISTANIS EASY VICTIMS OF DIABETES DUE TO DIETRY HABITS


MAHTAB BASHIR
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
ISLAMABAD

My mother was tested positive for diabetes, incidentally after a urine test. That was about ten years ago, and since then she, like so many other people with diabetes, became obsessed about her blood sugar level. Her doctor warned her to control it or the consequences could be dire and that she might end up blind, lose a leg, get kidneys failure and so on. Twenty-nine years old Riaz Ahmed, the narrator of this short but sad story, said that since the diagnosis, his entire family had been trying hard not to lose their beloved mother.

“But neither all skills of Surgeons nor the prayers of Saints could survive her. My mother, then 63, began taking pills to maintain her blood sugar level and pricking her finger several times a day to measure her sugar level that, however, could not be controlled. Finally she agreed to add insulin to her medication,” Riaz added. He said they had been doing everything to control her diabetes but they overlooked the importance of keeping a check on her cholesterol level. And in the end, the cholesterol killed her, said Riaz while choking back his tears.

Every year, hundreds of diabetic Pakistanis go abroad in the hope of getting better treatment while the poor stay here and cope with the ailment with limited resources. And then there are others, who suffer because of poverty coupled with illiteracy, lack of health care facilities and awareness.

Besides this, wrong diagnosis and medical negligence also sometime contribute to the rise of diabetes-related mortality rate. This leads the public to not to trust medical professionals. Many patients complain that doctors avoid explaining as to what their ailments are or how they will be treated. For those who can afford it and those who manage to scrape up their savings or use whatever resources they have, opt for going thousands of miles away where they believe they will get the right treatment. In this scenario, the World Diabetes Day is going to be observed today (November 14) all over the world including Pakistan to increase an awareness about the effects of diabetes and its complications amongst the general population and professionals in a range of sectors.

It is also hoped that the increased awareness will lead to more resources to fight the causes of diabetes and help fund research into improved treatment options. The World Diabetes Day raises global awareness of diabetes, its escalating rates around the world and how to prevent the illness in most cases.

Initiated by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and WHO, the day is marked on 14 November to observe the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, was instrumental in the discovery of insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetes patients.

WHO estimates that more than 346 million people worldwide have diabetes. This number is likely to more than double by 2030 without intervention. Almost 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation and its member associations around the world, including the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes UK, Diabetes Australia, the Canadian Diabetes Association, Diabetes South Africa, Diabetes New Zealand and the Diabetic Association of India. These organisations arrange events at international, national and local levels.

Conferences, workshops and seminars are held where health and public policy professionals discuss steps to control the disease. Events are covered in local and national media, including television, newspapers and internet publications to highlight the issue. Diabetes is no longer an unfamiliar disease. It is probably the most talked about ailment in Pakistan. Every year, the number of patients affected with diabetes is increasing. It is a chronic condition that arises when the islets of Langerhans cells of the pancreas fail to produce adequate amounts of insulin, a hormone that regulates the blood sugar level of the body.

Without insulin our body cannot utilise the energy it needs from food. The food that we consume is mostly turned into glucose, a form of sugar, to convert into forms of energy necessary for the body. Insulin enables our muscles and tissues to absorb glucose from the blood. When the body produces very little or no insulin, the sugar cannot be utilized. This can lead to abnormal blood glucose levels. High blood sugar levels can in effect damage the kidneys, the eyes, and the nervous system.

So, no matter how carefully patients try to control their blood sugar, they can never get it perfect - no drugs can substitute for the body’s normal sugar regulation. So while controlling blood sugar can be important, other measures also are needed to prevent blindness, amputations, kidney failure and stroke.

A medical specialist at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that Pakistan would be having 16 million people with diabetes with fourth number in the world. He said the warning symptoms of diabetes were weight loss, increased thirst, increased urination and weakness. He said anybody having these symptoms should get his or her blood sugar level checked.

He said a 30-minutes walk could reduce the occurrence of diabetes by 40 percent in a normal person. He said heart attack and stroke were some of the main complications and with progress of the disease life could become miserable for the patient. “Controlling the blood glucose prevents or at least delays complications. The factors leading to diabetes mellitus were obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, family history and background etc,” he added.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Japanese embassy gears up for cultural extravaganza

By Schezee Zaidi

The Japanese embassy has geared up for a thrilling and exciting cultural extravaganza in Islamabad to mark the 60 years celebration of diplomatic ties between Japan and Pakistan. From music recitals to book launching, film show to photograph exhibition and calendar display, the power of martial arts performance to elusive Ikebana demonstration, the list of cultural events starting on November 6 would carry on till March 2013, introducing vibrant Japanese cultural ensembles in Pakistan.

Talking about the Japanese cultural extravaganza to the media at an informal dinner meeting at his residence, Toshikazu Isomura, counsellor of the Public Affairs Department, Embassy of Japan, said the cultural arena always proves to be a stronger bond between the two countries, and the planned events aim to introduce Japanese culture to Pakistani friends in a vibrant way to bring the two peoples closer.
 
The Japanese cultural potpourri opens on November 6 with a joint musical recital by Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oi and four Japanese musicians to be held at the Turkish embassy. The next is ‘The Spirit of Budo,’ an exhibition elaborating the history of martial arts in Japan, organised in collaboration with the Japan Foundation at the National Art Gallery on November 12.

The screening of Japanese films, ‘Kurosawa Movies,’ will open on November 9 and continue till November 14 at the National Art Gallery. Named after the great Japanese moviemaker, the Kurosawa film fest is a tribute to Akira Kurosawa, known as the most influential and important filmmaker in the history of cinema. Kurosawa directed 30 films in a dynamic career spanning 57 years.

The selected Kurosawa movies for screening include ‘The Hidden Fortress,’ ‘Seven Samurai,’ ‘Yojimbo,’ ‘Red Beard,’ ‘Sanshiro Sugata,’ ‘Sanjuro’ and ‘One Wonderful Sunday’.

The Japanese cultural fiesta also brings a unique book launching. The book titled ‘Surkh Phulon ki Sabj Khushboo’ is a compilation of literary works by Pakistani and Japanese literati. Compiled and edited by Khurram Sohail, the book also presents Urdu literary works of Japanese writers and also the translated works of Japanese literati, also done by Khurram Sohail. The book presents unique vision and views of Pakistani and Japanese literati as they look towards Japan through their literary eyes, touching the linguistic service of Japanese literati in upholding Urdu language and literature in Japan.