A future on fire
By Dr Sania Chaudhry
On the night of Sunday, September 16, 2012, our car was parked in front of a bakery in the commercial area of phase 1 DHA where my family and I were doing the grocery. As we headed back, we saw a restaurant burst into flames less than 50 yards ahead of us.
Entertainment, education, inspiration
Home to mosquitoes
Draining rain water from parks is a challenge
By Sajid Bas-hir
While the government is sending missions to
private residences to hunt for dengue larvae, it appears oblivious to the
rain water accumulating in the parks which have become perfect breeding
grounds for dengue.
At places, it takes more than three days for the water
to disappear because most grounds in the residential areas are below road
level. There are 1,260 small and big parks in the nine towns of the city.
The post-monsoon season is considered a peak season
for mosquito breeding. This is the time when there is significant increase
in cases of dengue fever and malaria patients. So far, the city hospitals
have received 116 dengue patients this season.
Health experts say that fogging and spray process for
dengue mosquito would not be effective until all the mosquito breeding
sites are eliminated. They say that first the rain water has to be drained
out from all the parks and low-lying areas and then spraying should be
carried out. It normally takes 48 hours for dengue larvae to become an
adult, so the water has to be cleared from the low-lying areas and parks
in less than two days.
Normally, the water accumulated in the parks remains
fresh and clean for three to four days which helps the growth of dengue
larvae and later on malarial mosquito.
of the residents of these areas complain that the officials of Town
Municipal Administrations, Wasa and PHA never bother to visit their
localities during the entire monsoon season due to which the rain water
remains in area parks for months. They say that a number of complaints
have been forwarded to the authorities concerned in this regard but to no
Abdullah Bhatti, a resident of Township, says that
every year after the monsoons, the park in front of his house is converted
into a water pond and stagnating rain water remains there for many months
as the Wasa officials never visit the area despite repeated complaints.
Residents of this area have a history of different diseases because of
filthy rain water.
District Coordination Officer (DCO) Lahore Noor ul
Ameen says he has directed the MD Wasa, PHA and TMAs’ officials to drain
rain water from the city parks in the next few days. “It is not possible
to drain rain water from every low-lying area and ponds but parks can be
drained without delay. A ninety member team has been constituted to carry
out spraying in all the towns of the city. The team would cover one town
daily and PHA, TMA and the district government officials would also
coordinate with them for this,” the DCO says.
MD Wasa Mian Abdullah says that earlier it was
Wasa’s liability to drain out rain water from the parks but now, as all
the parks are under PHA, it would take care
of them in all matters. “The department has not enough funds, especially
to drain out rain water from the city parks. The DCO and DG PHA have been
informed that rain water will be drained out by the PHA authorities from
now on,” he says.
A spokesman for PHA says the Authority is doing its
best to maintain the beauty of the city. “Basically, it was the job of
Wasa to drain out accumulated rain water from the parks but now that they
have asked the DCO Lahore to hand over the sole responsibility of the
parks to PHA, it’s the PHA’s job now. All the town officers of PHA
have already started draining out rain water in their respective area
parks and hope to clear rain water within the next two days.”
It is difficult to maintain plants in parks in the
rainy season as water accumulation badly affects plants. He says that PHA
workers in coordination with district government officers would try their
level best to clear the rain water so that water-borne diseases could be
Amir Butt, coordinator Punjab Urban Resource Centre,
says that mechanical method for rain water drainage is a time and
resource-consuming job. “Rain water collection can be controlled through
proper landscaping of parks,” he says.
By Dr Sania Chaudhry
On the night of Sunday, September 16, 2012,
our car was parked in front of a bakery in the commercial area of phase 1
DHA where my family and I were doing the grocery. As we headed back, we
saw a restaurant burst into flames less than 50 yards ahead of us.
It was impossible to make out how the fire started.
All we could see from our distance was a building lit aflame. The blaze
got thicker and bigger as it engulfed the greater part of the floors
above. Visitors started evacuating the area immediately as cars started to
exit from the choked streets. Grey clouds of smoke and smell of burnt ash
was beginning to spread in the vicinity.
The shock of seeing a building go on fire was a novel
experience for all of us. We prayed that nobody was stuck in the fire or
injured but at this moment there was no way of finding out.
From where we could see the inferno, the business was
going on as usual in the adjacent shops. Little boys were serving orders
of cold drinks, paan and cigarette to clients in cars parked alongside us.
Conversing with one of these young stewards, it was revealed that the same
building had been on fire some months ago; no wonder the neighbourhood
seemed well-rehearsed for this untoward situation. There was little panic
and chaos as would have been expected in a similar situation.
We were informed that the Fire Brigade as well as
Rescue 1122 had been called and that assistance was on the way; soon we
were asked to evacuate the area to make way for emergency assistance unit
When we reached home, we switched on the television to
see if there was any news on the fire incident, hoping there were no
casualties. In about half an hour, one of the local channels telecast
footage of the unfortunate event. Fire-fighting units were actively trying
to control the blaze. However, there was no news of any one hurt or
We went back to revisit the site the next evening and
were surprised to find that business of the restaurant was on as usual.
The burnt fittings of the shop housing the restaurant were all lying in a
heap on the pavement of the parking area. The makeshift arrangement for
cooking had been set up in the small walkway in front of the shop
encroaching upon the car parking for the commercial unit. Even a fire
could not stop the workers from earning their daily bread and butter.
restaurant is in the middle of a festive food service block which comes to
life every evening as customers flock in after a busy day’s work.
Thousands of residents of adjacent areas feast on the gourmet gastronomic
offerings being served both inside as well as in the comfort of their
cars. The structure and design of the commercial area perhaps did not
envisage the evolution of a mini Food Street which is a victim of a
constant parking crunch.
The same restaurant bursting into flames twice in a
short span of time raises a lot of questions regarding the public safety
According to international standards, no commercial
organisation can start operations unless a fire safety certificate is
obtained from authorised fire safety regulating authorities. The minimum
fire safety regulations that need to be met include a tedious detail
envisaging structure, building material, furniture and fittings;
compartmentalisation once there is an outbreak of a fire; the number of
people allowed within the premises with specific fire protection
arrangement; the presence of fire smoke alarms, sprinklers and
extinguishers; carrying out of regular fire safety drills; periodic
certification that all fire safety equipment is in pristine working
conditions along with staff trained to use it.
Do we have any specific fire safety regulations spelt
out for the citizens of our country and, if so, whose responsibility is it
to ensure implementation — the state or the business community? The twin
fire tragedies of the garment factory in Karachi and the shoe factory in
Lahore on 9/11 was just less than a week ago in which 289 and 25 people
perished respectively and more than 250 were injured.
How many more will die before we learn our lessons as
*Play: Chupen tu Pehlan on the ocassion of 105th
birthday of Baghat Singh from September 24-26 at Alhamra Hall No.2, The
Mall. The Play is directed by Malik Aslam.
*International Film Festival at Peeru’s Café: Film
screenings, Pakistani film posters exhibition, laser light & puppet
shows, art & craft bazaar, live performances by: Sain Zahoor, Rafaqat
Ali Khan, Sher Miandad, Mian Miri Qawaals & Dholiyaas. Today is the
last day. Festival and all other activities are free of charge. Shuttle
bus service available from campus bridge.
*Group Exhibition of Paintings at EJaz Art Gallery.
Works of Ismail Gulgee, Sadequin, Colin David, Allah Bux, Abdur Rahman
Chughtai, Jamil Naqsh, Saeed Akhtar, Shemza, Askari Mian Irani and Ahmed
Khan are on exhibit. Today is the last day.
*Lok Rahs Theatre Competition 2012: today is the last
day of multiple Plays by Young Drama Groups
*Education Expo today at Expo Centre Lahore. Books
available on discount other than stalls of universities.
*Photo Walk through the Royal Trail on Saturday, Sept
29 at 05:30 am. Walk to start from Delhi Gate
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
They sit in the stairs of a jam-packed Alhamra
Hall. At one moment they look at the audience, rocking to the tunes of
music played by Laal Band and try to grasp the meaning of what the
vocalist is trying to convey. They are dead sure he is saying something
meaningful which warrants the applause he is getting.
Oblivious of what happens in the outside world, these
workers from a brick kiln in the peripheries of Kasur have made their
first entry in the premises of Alhamra. The day is September 18 and they
are just a few of the around 2,500 brick kiln workers brought here to join
celebrations to mark a historic decision.
Exactly 24 years ago, a Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan
decision came in their favour. By virtue of this decision announced by the
then SC CJ Justice Afzal Zullah, kiln workers were declared victims of
worst form of bonded labour and all means to bind them in a master-slave
relation were declared illegal.
Twenty-four years down the road, things have changed a
bit but results are far from desired, believes Syeda Ghulam Fatima,
secretary general of Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) — a rights
body which organised the event.
The event started with a march towards the SC Lahore
registry where members of civil society, legal fraternity, worker’s
unions and kiln workers pay homage to the apex court for announcing such a
landmark decision. This was followed by a seminar and exhibition of
paintings and photographs depicting the realities of kiln workers’
lives. The music performance by the leftist Laal Band is the latest
activity added to the event.
Fatima laments the fact that despite the law being
absolutely clear, the departments and individuals responsible for
implementing it have themselves been the biggest flouters. Under the law,
a kiln-owner cannot give advance (peshgi) more than two weeks’ wage to a
kiln worker but they are doing that with impunity. Once a kiln worker is
in deep debt he cannot think about moving from the place. This, she says,
is for the reason that a kiln worker’s earnings are not enough to keep
both ends meet and at the same time clear his liabilities, even partially.
Social security cover, a means to offset all this, is
also not available to kiln workers as the owners do not get them
registered with social security and the concerned departments do not move
an inch. The Labour Department tops the list of these inactive
departments. Fatima says if covered by social security department, the
worker gets financial help in cases of illness, death, marriage of
daughter and so on. “What currently happens is that kiln workers extend
loans in times of need to make them dependent on them. Hard to believe but
is a fact that millions of kiln workers do not even have CNICs.”
A participant of the event can have a glimpse into the
life of a kiln worker’s live by simply walking into the art gallery
where 20 paintings, some of them made by workers themselves, and around
400 photographs managed by the organisers are on display. Images of
activists beaten up brutally by police, kiln workers in chains, minors
exposed to smoke in hazardous environs of kilns, families living in
inexplicably bad conditions, protests and rallies launched by rights
bodies etc are nothing less than illustrated history of the movement for
kiln workers’ rights and a pictorial depiction of their existing
Another issue, discussed extensively at the event, was
the lack of implementation of the minimum wage award for kiln workers. The
government regularly announces and revises a rate which is hardly
implemented. The officially announced rate of Rs 517 per 1,000 bricks
produced by a kiln worker could not be announced for years.
“Some kiln owners near Lahore have recently started
paying around Rs 500. But they are doing this once the rate has been
revised upwards to around Rs 657 per 1,000 bricks,” says Meher Safdar
Ali, programme manager at BLLF.
He tells TNS the rate gets lower and lower as you move
away from city centres; there are kilns in Jhang, Chiniot etc which are
paying Rs 250 to Rs 300 per 1,000 bricks. “Just imagine what is left at
their disposal once the owner makes deductions (katoti) to adjust their
Ali firmly believes kiln owners cannot exploit kiln
workers without the support of police. “As soon as a worker raises his
voice, the owners connive with police and get fake criminal cases
registered against them. This works as deterrent against future risings.
When contacted by TNS, Shoaib Khan Niazi, President of
All Pakistan Kiln Owners’ Association, terms the campaign a propaganda
launched by NGOs and their ‘foreign supporters’. “It’s unfair to
label all the owners violators of human rights on the basis of atrocities
committed by a few,” he says.
He holds kiln workers responsible for exposing their minor children to hazards. His point is that they themselves make their whole family work just to increase the number of bricks they produce per day. “The same SC decision which they are celebrating today calls for registration of police case against a person whose minor child is found working at kilns.”
By Rubia Moghees
Children’s films draw their inspiration from
the countless human emotions, creativity and use of animations that
complement the concepts so that they are well understood by the younger
generation. The ambition of such films is to highlight the moral values,
provoke imagination and entertain.
The favourable response that the 4th Lahore
International Children’s Film Festival has evoked in their young
organiser team is the necessary confidence to keep the ball rolling and
work harder to come up with another edition next year.
The brightly lit up and colourfully decorated Ali
Auditorium remained a hub of activity throughout last week despite heavy
downpour on day one and a great number of people came to the morning
shows. However, it was the evening that saw very little turn out mainly
because of the bad condition of Ferozepur Road and the on-going T-20 World
Cup proceedings. “The Art for Free concept should now be discouraged,”
said Ali Hameed who is a graduate from NCA in Film Making and is the
festival programmer at The Little Arts.
“The Little Arts is an arts education organisation
that promotes positive social values through innovative learning
opportunities among children and young people, specially belonging to
low-income backgrounds,” explained Hameed.
Most of the morning shows were booked by schools and
crowd participation was immense. The organisers had invited various
organisations like Idara Taleem-o-Agahi and shelter homes like SOS and
distributed free passes. People are still reluctant to buy tickets. This,
according to Ali Hameed, is a major damper and a let down for many hard
working people behind the programme.
This year the motto of the event is to educate,
entertain and be inspired according to Shoaib Iqbal, Festival Director.
Some of the best films of 2012 were shown in shows lasting an hour made
for and by the children and young people that included a wide range of
short documentaries, animation, fiction and feature films aimed
specifically for the age group 3-17 years.
A total of 86 films including 5 (sixty min) feature
films representing 32 countries and their diversified cultures, customs,
trends and languages were presented during the six day event that had
carefully selected themes based on friendship, tolerance, love, affection
and deeper understanding of relationships. Films from countries like
Finland, Egypt, Germany, Spain, Sweden, USA, Bangladesh, Japan and Russia
made their mark to benefit children across Pakistan.
Wendy, an American lady who had brought her daughter
Eizzah to watch the evening show, was full of praise for the entire effort
put up by The Little Arts. “I feel that my daughter is old enough to
absorb the stories that are very well told and the whole premise looks
inviting with painted murals of animals, lighting, stalls and the bubbles
which manage to captivate the young crowed,” she pointed out.
Time flew for the audience that also included me and
my daughters who were engrossed for one hour till the show came to an end.
Just a Little, was a 9 min Swedish film based on the importance of
self-identity and that one should always be thankful to God for His
creations. Next in line was Lost and Found, an Oscar nominee and a BAFTA
winner UK based film which is a magical tale of loneliness and friendship.
We thoroughly enjoyed looking at the expressions of animals in the 7min
French film Rumours. The noises that the animals made when the rumour
spread got us in fits of laughter. Chinti, an 8min Russian film is all
about a gritty little ant composed entirely of tea leaves in various
colours and textures.
The short duration of most of the films was the only
way of holding the children’s interest as their attention span is very
Moving on to a Pakistani short film Bhaoo, directed by
Shazreh Hameed, which was about the realities of a child’s life or the
life that is given to him by the adults. A child’s fears and wishes were
well-presented in which he escapes from his life into his dreams. We were
not able to see the 90-min Indian Gattu but heard a lot of good things
about it. It won awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and
focused on accepting challenges that nothing is impossible if the desire
is strong. This film along with another UK based Varmints won hearts,
according to the organisers of the event. Short documentaries handling
topics such as poverty, rising to challenges, selfless acts of love and
journey of exploration became favourites with the audience.
“We have been able to reach young people
irrespective of their cast, gender, family background and income status.
The promise at ‘The Little Arts’ media is to provide an equal right to
opportunities of creative expression as we have successfully collaborated
with schools, colleges, universities, organisations and networks who are
also committed to bridge the gap between imparting new ideas and formal
education,” said Shoaib Iqbal.
However, the complaints regarding the choice of movies
for specific age groups should be looked into. “I think they are not age
relevant movies because our children lost interest after a short while,”
said Sameera Maroof, a kindergarten teacher who came with the class for
one of the shows. It was also observed that four and five year olds were
not able to read the sub-titles in English because of the language barrier
and were confused.
This is a new perspective for the future generation to
observe and comprehend the global trends by introducing the creative media
to express and share. “This festival will travel to six cities in
Pakistan including Karachi, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar
and is expected to screen films and engage 80,000 children and young
people,” as promised by Shoaib Iqbal.
By Aamir Tariq Khan
A paradigm shift from Neil Simon’s ‘The
Odd Couple’, B Theatre seems to be on a roll this summer as well. When a
Broadway executed performance lightens the stage at Alhamra, it’s a
pleasure to sit back seeing a Ken Ludwig’s creation in Pakistan. This
five day venture not only attracted a large number of audiences but was a
first rate musical farce directed by Awais Azhar.
The play was an eighty minutes of good laughter and
The play did seem to start at a slower pace but Waleed
A. Zaidi as Saunders ensured to engage the audience with every rant of
his. It’s amazing to see his progress as a versatile actor from his
roles in The Birdcage to his present performance. Omair Farooq as Tito was
as exuberant as the character should have been.
This play was a prime example of how an ensemble cast
works as a team. Every actor reflected that a thorough work had been done
on their characters. Then be it Amel Ghani as Maggie or Fatima as Maria,
accents, postures, modulations and the casual connections were well built
upon with the audience. Even minor performances such as Bellhop’s role
done by Shah Fahad went well with the audience. But the real star of the
play was Sanwal Tariq whose ability to change phases as Max and the tenor
were greatly done. If there was an actor on the stage who seemed
acquainted to the setting, well-versed with the script and had immaculate
timing, it was him.
Credit has to be given to Awais Azhar who didn’t
badger Ludwig’s script, killing the very spirit of the play. It’s very
seldom that one would find directors such as Azhar who would give credit
to the script and not pose it as their own creation. It was interesting to
see Sachal Tahseen, who himself is an A level student, as the assistant
director for the play, the youngest of the lot. He was responsible for the
amazing synchronisation of sound at some of the high points in the play.
The stage had a perfect setting with the effort being
evident from the segregation done on dividing the stage. Here the credit
should be given to Shamms Barry who didn’t compromise on the quality of
the props and Sana Jafri for the costumes. The marketing of the play was
done extremely well and it bore them fruits finally.
All in all, the best way to isolate one’s self from
all the problems in the world was to get immersed into a theatre as great
as this production, only if the air conditioners were functioning
properly. It’s a tragedy however that this dependence on sponsorships
has not allowed the theatre industry to grow. If productions such as this
continue to entertain us in the future, having a ticket is perhaps the
The expectations from this production house are high
and we expect nothing less. Kudos to the whole team of ‘Lend me a