trend
Traffic head turners
Women wardens are happy and confident about the job they are doing
By Naila Inayat
So what if the Indians are boasting of women empowerment through the cheerleaders at IPL, we have our own reasons to brag and that too very significant. The arrival of eight, motorbike-riding women wardens, smartly dressed in grey-blue uniforms in Lahore, is like a milestone in the history of the Pakistan"s traffic police.

Moving hearts
Film shows at a new cultural centre in the city had one message -- to stand up and fight for what we believe in
By Amara Bhatti
South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), a network of media professionals, took a much-needed initiative by facilitating the launch of the Lahore Film and Literary Club (LFLC) last week. The LFLC was established with the most humble of purposes in mind: to revive the spirit and love of culture in modern-day life. The club was launched this week with an impressive cinematic endeavour, "A Festival of Resistance".

MOOD STREET
When aunts discover how children go astray
By Mariam Imran Mian
Have you ever felt like punching someone in the face in a crowd? Or yell obscenities at them, anything at all? I am quite proud to say that during the 17 years and 1 month I have been on this planet, I displayed remarkably high tolerance levels and exercised an amazing amount of self control when dealing with people I wasn"t the biggest fan of. Until yesterday.

Town Talk
Exhibition of Contemporary Furniture,
exclusive hand crafted children furniture and electric accessories by Sadia Rasheed at Ejaz Art Gallery till May 3.

kisan
conference
Determined to be heard
The peasants" rally in Okara demand from the ruling parties to fulfil their promises now that they are in power
By Ammar Ali Jan
April 17th seemed like the festival of the oppressed as tenants from all over Punjab gathered in Okara for a show of strength, the first of its kind since the formation of the new democratic government. Peasants arrived for the Kisan Conference on buses, tractors and on foot carrying red flags and placards inscribed with revolutionary slogans. They seemed determined to be heard after a long, bitter struggle.

More than culinary treat
Right opposite Lahore Gymkhana, a little on the left is a lane where a new food outlet offers an exquisite experience
By Nabila Malick
The seven course meal at the newly opened triple restaurants cum club OPM was a rare treat. The Mediterranean food experience in the beautiful setting is indeed an experience worth having. We were invited by a bunch of women who get together every now and then to catch up on each other"s life and for this they also have a sort of committee system some part of which is spent in these regular lunching out activities. Coming back to the food which is the point here, we started with a beautifully decorated starters tray which had three kinds of dips namely humus, a sun dried tomato dip and an egg plant dip served with pita bread both deep fried and baked.

 


trend

Traffic head turners

Women wardens are happy and confident about the job they are doing

By Naila Inayat

So what if the Indians are boasting of women empowerment through the cheerleaders at IPL, we have our own reasons to brag and that too very significant. The arrival of eight, motorbike-riding women wardens, smartly dressed in grey-blue uniforms in Lahore, is like a milestone in the history of the Pakistan"s traffic police.

Riding their 250cc motorcycles these wardens patrol key areas such as The Mall, Jail Road, Gulberg Main Boulevard and Defence, regulate traffic, help out commuters and yes issue "tickets".

This change has not been brought overnight. It has taken years to change the system. It all began with the Motorway Police that took the first step in ensuring a traffic discipline like never before. Then, last year came the special force of traffic wardens.

"The main focus of the women wardens will be on extending emergency help to commuters. We want the women wardens to be supportive, not to create nuisance for the public," Chief Traffic Officer SSP Ghulam Mehmood Dogar told TNS.

He says these women have got special elite training along with the male wardens at Sihala. The specialised ladies squad and Honda Company from Japan have extended their help in training the wardens about safety travelling features. Other than that, these female wardens have been imparted coaching through ticketing and traffic course for challan.

There is optimism that the presence of women wardens may help improve public behaviour towards the police and introduce greater courtesy on the roads.

But how do these wardens take this optimism? Are they happy with the public behaviour?

Saima, a traffic warden, tells TNS, "people get very excited when they see us on road. Especially women always have a welcoming response. We too enjoy this."

"While patrolling I feel confident. There is some sort of an adventure. I feel on top of this world," says Asifa, a 20 year old girl from the suburbs of Lahore.

When asked about the harassment they may have to face" at work, Saima categorically says, "I don"t think that there is any such thing as "harassment" and even if it is, it only exists in the media."

Asifa has a different approach altogether. She says, "If people stare at girls, it is something that is prevalent in our society. This is not something exclusive to the female wardens. I see so many girls passing by who are subject to such discrimination but we are thankful to God and our families who have always supported us."

For the masses the introduction of the wardens was refreshing. At least it got them rid of the traffic sergeants or the chillar in local vernacular. Where the male wardens made many heads turn, is it now the turn of their female counterparts.

Sadiq Hussain, a commuter, tells TNS, "I have stayed in the UK for a long time but this patrolling female wardens has been somewhat very refreshing and I do believe it will also improve people"s attitude towards the opposite sex."

Sunaina opines, "The male wardens are nice. These young boys talk decently and never have a threatening behaviour. And above all these wardens are very cute."

That"s one side of the story. There are many in our society who like teasing these new patrolling officers such as Zubair who very candidly says, "Last week I purposely broke my motorbike"s light so that the female warden comes up and talks to me. Yes it will cost Rs 100-150 but what the heck!" (he laughs).

With the new government taking charge in Punjab there have been speculations that this traffic system might be revoked. However, SSP Ghulam Mehmood Dogar rejects the rumours saying that there has been a very positive feedback on this system. "In fact very soon the Sindh government would adopt this traffic structure."

 


Moving hearts

Film shows at a new cultural centre in the city had one message -- to stand up and fight for what we believe in

By Amara Bhatti

South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), a network of media professionals, took a much-needed initiative by facilitating the launch of the Lahore Film and Literary Club (LFLC) last week. The LFLC was established with the most humble of purposes in mind: to revive the spirit and love of culture in modern-day life. The club was launched this week with an impressive cinematic endeavour, "A Festival of Resistance".

The purpose of the film section of the club is to introduce a culture of discourse and critique; to allow the members to screen a film and have debates on the issues it brings to surface, says Bushra Sultana, an organizer of LFLC.

This is something relatively new for Lahore; a chance to openly voice and form intelligent opinions. The festival was a surefire way to get the ball rolling on this culture of discourse. All six days saw esteemed members of the civil society enjoying the films, followed by animated discussions on everything from language, history, to human behaviour. Everyday screening of the films was followed by speeches by well-known personalities in the media.

It"s a good thing they launched LFLC with a film festival; films are the most popular medium of entertainment and easily relatable. The Festival of Resistance was a six day event running from 18-23 April at South Asian Media Centre in Shadman. The festival aimed at bringing to light socio-political problems which have plagued the world since the beginning and the complications which arise from such troubles. The theme for the festival was intense but extremely relevant to the times we are living in.

The selections of the films was superb, as each managed to pull at heartstrings while delivering a powerful message. The films chosen were poignant reminders of resistance, rebellion, revolution and their-sometimes-horrific consequences. The link between the films was the overwhelming presence of injustice through all time. The six films came from different countries and were set in different times but their message was singular. They all represented the human spirit and its unrelenting courage in the face of adversity.

The LFLC gave a message to the people which was to stand up and fight for what you believe in, no matter what the price may be. The film club is scheduled every Friday and Saturday at the South Asian Media Centre. Movie watching there is truly an experience as their projector incorporates the latest blu-ray technology. The literary section of the club is set to start soon with an equally memorable launch.

 

MOOD STREET

When aunts discover how children go astray

By Mariam Imran Mian

Have you ever felt like punching someone in the face in a crowd? Or yell obscenities at them, anything at all? I am quite proud to say that during the 17 years and 1 month I have been on this planet, I displayed remarkably high tolerance levels and exercised an amazing amount of self control when dealing with people I wasn"t the biggest fan of. Until yesterday.

Mind you, my record for tolerance levels is still the highest, and all that practice came in handy yesterday while I tried my level best not to spoil the decorum by saying things incongruous with the (holy?) gathering, and saved someone from a lot of humiliation. As disappointed as I was that I had not been given a chance to show off my undiscovered dialectic skills, I kept my mouth shut, biting off half my cheek in the process.

I discovered my capacity for laughter the first time I saw the first 10 minutes of Tom and Jerry. I discovered my capacity for happiness when I got my O Level Result. I have yet to find my capacity to love, and I hope I never find my capacity to grieve. Yesterday, I found my capacity of anger and hate.

I had been invited, with my family, to a milaad organised in order to pray for a prosperous and bright future of a young couple soon to be married. My cousin and I were sitting in the room adjacent to the one where the actual sermon was being delivered, but it was made sure that we absorb every word of it courtesy a huge speaker placed next to us. Making sure we were appropriately dressed in accordance with the affair, my cousin and I had our heads covered. Just as soon as the sermon started, another aunt of ours insisted we move to the room where the speaker was, just so we would listen more attentively. Being the obedient children that we are, unlike the 21st century stereotypes, we quietly got up and moved.

As soon as my cousin entered the room, the lady delivering the sermon looked at her, and haughtily announced on the microphone, in the presence of 60 something people, that my cousin was not fit to attend "her" gathering. Her crime? Wearing clothes with short sleeves. Sarah was instructed to go and wrap a bigger piece of clothing around her to make her suitable enough to attend the gathering.

She stood there in utter shock, which resulted in the lady throwing a piece of cloth at her to cover her half bare arms. The cloth which was previously used to cover tables, now served the purpose of chastising my cousin.

The lady went on to say that it was the parents" fault that children of this generation had gone astray, and started to commit sins like, no not doing drugs or drinking alcohol, but wearing short sleeves! As much as I tried to admire her for her sense of humour, I was proved wrong instantly when I saw no one laughing.

Her lecture continued, as she unveiled the biggest mystery of all, the one that the CIA has been unsuccessful at solving; the reason for suicide bombings. And a lot of other things.

Meanwhile I sat there thinking that whatever happened to the value of live and let live? To the religion of "peace"?

If we, the "enlightened moderates" have people with such rigid and twisted ideas lecture us on religion, what will become of us? Isn"t tolerance one of our religion"s basic principles? Promoting and imposing their ideas will not fulfill the purpose of Islam, leaving each individual to discover for themselves what Islam is will. However the individual chooses to interpret and practice it, is up to them. It"s between him and Allah, these fundamentalists have no authority to intervene. They have made the simplest religion complicated, leaving confusion for this generation and those to come.

This incessant rant of mine was supposed to be directed at a lady in particular, but I drifted off onto a whole different tangent. Nevertheless, I"m glad that I also discovered my capacity to write. Mark the date, please.


Town Talk

Exhibition of Contemporary Furniture,

exclusive hand crafted children furniture and electric accessories by Sadia Rasheed at Ejaz Art Gallery till May 3.

 

Exhibition by PHA at Alhamra, The Mall from May 2-5.

 

Exhibition: "Baaji Naama" by Vidha Saumya at Nairang Gallery opens on April 29 at 6:30pm. It will continue till May 8.

 

International Mystic Music Sufi Festival Lahore,

Day III today at Peerus Cafe at 8pm.

 

APMC Monthly Classical Concert: Bansuri/Vocals on

May 1 at Alhamra Hall III at 6pm.

 

Science of Islam: Colloquium & Exhibition today at Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex at 9:30am. Speakers: Dr. Ejaz Akram, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, Asir Ajmal

 

International Ghouse Azam Conference on Tuesday, April 29

at Aiwan-e-Iqbal Complex from 2pm to 4:30pm.

 

2008 IEEE International Networking and Communications

Conference at LUMS from May 1-4.

 

Ajoka Spring Festival at Alhamra, The Mall

Play Kala Meda Bhes on Monday, April 28 at 7:30pm.

Bala King on Tuesday, April 29 at 7:30pm.

*Bulha on Wednesday April 30 at 7:30pm.

 

kisan

conference

Determined to be heard

The peasants" rally in Okara demand from the ruling parties to fulfil their promises now that they are in power

By Ammar Ali Jan

April 17th seemed like the festival of the oppressed as tenants from all over Punjab gathered in Okara for a show of strength, the first of its kind since the formation of the new democratic government. Peasants arrived for the Kisan Conference on buses, tractors and on foot carrying red flags and placards inscribed with revolutionary slogans. They seemed determined to be heard after a long, bitter struggle.

The struggle of the Anjuman Mazareen Punjab (AMP) started in 2002 when authorities at the military farms decided to replace the sharecropping system with a contractual one. This led to massive resentment amongst the tenants who waged a struggle to defend the land their ancestors had been cultivating for over a hundred years. Many believe that it was the first movement under General Musharraf"s rule that confronted the military. The movement has so far cost the lives of seven peasants while several hundred have been injured resisting the military"s encroachment. The tenants now have complete control over the land and refuse to even share crops with the military personnel.

This year, the Kisan conference was held by the AMP on the peasant"s day to demand complete legal control over the disputed land. The conference did not have a confrontational posture towards the government, but simply reminded the PPP and Muslim League(N) of their promises made during their time in the opposition. There was a sense of victory and jubilation present amongst the peasants who had so far not expected anything positive from the previous government.

The rally passed through various villages before reaching village 15/4L Military Farms where the actual event took place. As the procession moved on, peasants from village after village joined in, singing revolutionary songs and raising slogans such as Malki ya Maut (ownership or death) Hum le kar rahein gey azaadi (we will snatch freedom come what may) and Bhooke mar gaye mein aur tu, loot le gaya GHQ (You and I remained hungry while GHQ looted us). Despite the heat, the participants kept on singing and dancing as they marched towards their destination. By the time the rally reached its destination, there were over five thousand tenants and activists present at the scene.

Speaking on the occasion, general secretary of AMP Mehr Abdul Sattar reminded the elected government of the promises they had made. "We have given numerous sacrifices to stand at this point today. The government should now stop taking orders from Generals and should hold a round of negotiations in order to determine the future course of action," demanded a defiant Abdul Sattar. He announced celebrating peasant"s day every year in Okara.

The chief guest on the occasion was Farooq Tariq, spokesperson for Labour Party Pakistan and General Sectary Kisan Rabta Committee. Farooq explained the heroic history of the tenant"s struggle in Okara and demanded the transfer of ownership rights within two months. Otherwise, he warned, the peasants will direct their struggle towards Islamabad with a long march.

Asif Khan, Chairman of the Liberal Forum, demanded immediate land reforms. His slogan of "All land to the tillers" was an instant hit. Asim Sajjad Akhtar of the People"s Rights Movement stated that the first movement to face the wrath of the military was the AMP struggle, way before the lawyers had taken to the streets. "The AMP was the first organisation to start the fight against the military dictatorship, now every one is against the military dictatorship. Peasants demand restoration of judges and an end to military dictatorship," he said.

The crowd received a further morale booster when Nadeem Ashraf, vice president of AMP, announced AMP"s contacts with co-chairman of PPP Asif Ali Zardari who had asked for all the relevant documents and referred the matter to parliamentary committee. This renewed the hope for a quick settlement of the issue.

One of the most inspiring aspects of this movement has been active participation of women. Hundreds of women were seen at AMP rally with their Thappas, and this was no different. Women have been harassed and beaten by the rangers, but they have constantly remained on the front lines of this battle. Nazli Javed, a women rights activist from Lahore, stated that no movement can succeed without the active participation of women. "History will remember the sacrifices that women have made during this movement."

The meeting ended with a pledge to continue the struggle till its logical conclusion. During the meeting, I was thoroughly impressed by the scale and maturity of the movement, but wondered why such a movement that had endured the worst state oppression was missing from the mainstream discourse. My thoughts were echoed by Chaudhry Shabbir, a tenant who was severely tortured by the rangers during the movement. Shabbir, while talking to this correspondent, said "We read about the issue of judges that the people in bigger cities are taking up. We do not understand that issue much but we do understand our situation. We work all day to supply the basic food necessities to the cities. Our children still have no school to go to while the medical facilities are also next to none. We have faced brutal oppression by our very own army. I do not understand why the misery of the peasants is not raised by those who are upset over the house arrest of some judges."

I told Shabbir that people in the cities do care about this issue but I knew the issue has not been given its rightful due by our media and the reluctance of Shabbir to buy my explanation was understandable. Now that we have a democratic government, it is time that we highlight those issues that are a direct cause of concern for the masses. One hopes that the new government does justice to the peasants of Okara and the media gives the struggle its due importance as it remains too big a movement to be ignored.

 

More than culinary treat

Right opposite Lahore Gymkhana, a little on the left is a lane where a new food outlet offers an exquisite experience

 

By Nabila Malick

The seven course meal at the newly opened triple restaurants cum club OPM was a rare treat. The Mediterranean food experience in the beautiful setting is indeed an experience worth having. We were invited by a bunch of women who get together every now and then to catch up on each other"s life and for this they also have a sort of committee system some part of which is spent in these regular lunching out activities. Coming back to the food which is the point here, we started with a beautifully decorated starters tray which had three kinds of dips namely humus, a sun dried tomato dip and an egg plant dip served with pita bread both deep fried and baked.

Next came the cold almond soup and that is exactly what it was, cold rich almond soup, very refreshing in this weather. Three main courses followed the soup -- first was pawns, second sticky chicken and third fish with tamarind sauce. The winner, however, was the sweet dish in which the chocolate was soft and hot and it melted in the mouth along with the sweet vanilla ice-cream. The ladies in the club were on average 18 inch waist category except for me of course but no one was able to avoid the sweet. They ordered second helpings gulping it down so they won"t themselves know that they are violating the rule and risk losing their carefully maintained waistlines. The lunch ended with the nice cup of mint tea.

For this kind of a unique experience you need to visit OPM"s dining hall. Right opposite Lahore Gymkhana, a little on the left is a lane that is called Anand Road. The road had no major land marks till a few weeks back when a magnificent food club appeared on it just a few yards down The Mall. The road sign which says OPM -- the food club, peeps at you from the trees if you look in that director while crossing the traffic lights going towards Cantonment on The Mall just before Gymkhana. The promise of the signage is fulfilled the moment one enters the gates of this most recent addition to the ever mushrooming food joints in Lahore. In the front yard there is an outdoor sitting arrangement, the layout and the choice of furniture of this cozy little place reminds one of the outdoor cafe"s in Spain.

OPM offers exclusive services to its members which include Dervaish -- the special dining experience. Dervaish is the name of the hall that can easily accommodate up to 30 people and is specially designed to combine the eating out experience with the privacy of home. This facility is only for the private members and the menu and the theme is decided after a meeting to ensure an exclusive and memorable dining experience.

The Black Ball lounge, another private members facility only, is equipped with two pool tables and a well furnished and luxurious sitting corner. Then there is a Cine Club fully equipped with multi media and all. This multi purpose hall can easily be re-arranged to meet the needs for a high level corporate meeting, a birthday party or any kind of exhibition.

Sabahat Khan, the owner, is offering the use of the premises for exhibitions free of cost for the selected first few lucky ones. It is just an introductory offer and will only last a month.

OPM Caf"e is open to all. It has its independent entrance and serves from 12 noon to midnight. It has a bakery of its own and the smell of freshly baked bread, brownies, cookies and cakes with dripping chocolates plays on one"s senses the moment one enters the gates of OPM. The mid eastern delights are not just a culinary treat but a treat for the eyes as well.

This leaves us with the third restaurant under the same roof and that is the Smokin Grill. The grill is also open to all and it offers a wide range of dishes and a menu that keeps growing adding a new, more tantalizing item every time you visit.

The place is tastefully done and carries a huge promise of an exquisite experience.

239 B Anand Road, Upper Mall, Lahore.

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