The Net result
Ranking of internet services by regulator gives some direction to often clueless subscribers
By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
Mubeen Raza, 23, a postgraduate student based in Lahore, is not sure about which internet service to subscribe. He talked to almost all the major internet service providers and was equally attracted by the offers made by their sales representatives.

persecution
Dead or alive
By Alefia T. Hussain
Aasia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, may be freed. We are optimistic. But even if Bibi is released will her life be secure? What about her family? Who will protect them from further victimisation? In the absence of government-sector and very limited private sector-supported mechanisms to shelter them, these questions must be sorted out immediately.

Acquitted but not free
Ordeal of an 80-year-old blasphemy accused, three years after his acquittal by the court
By Waqar Gillani
"I cannot meet you in public. You will have to pick me and take me to a safe place," an old though not dejected voice said while talking to me on the phone. As soon as I reached the agreed-upon meeting place later that afternoon, I called him again.

A risky trip
Passenger chairlifts may have made river crossing easy in district Abbottabad, but it comes with ample hazards
By Moeed Ur Rehman Abbasi
Recently, a locally-made iron chairlift stopped at a height of almost 6000 feet above the River Haroo due to power failure. The lift was carrying seven schoolchildren and one teacher who cried and shouted with fear. The standby generator was not working due to non-availability of the fuel. After no less than 30 minutes, the lift managed to reach the other side of the hill in village Guree in District Abbottabad. Luckily, no one was injured, but fear and agony was written all over the children’s faces.

 

 

"If I’m killed…"

By Amir Mir

"You can name Musharraf my assassin if I am killed." These were the words Benazir Bhutto had uttered twice during a one-on-one, off-the-record conversation with me, hardly a few weeks before her tragic assassination. I met her on November 13, 2007 at the residence of Senator Latif Khosa, a few hours before she had been placed under house arrest by the Punjab government to stop her from leading a long march to Islamabad against the Musharraf regime.

Talking about attempt on her life in Karachi on October 18, 2007 after her return from exile, Benazir Bhutto said she knew quite well even before returning home that such a cowardly attempt would be made on her life. "And let me tell you that the Karachi suicide bombings could not have been possible without Musharraf’s blessing."

Almost a month after returning home and barely escaping a horrifying suicide attack on her cavalcade the same night in Karachi, Bhutto had reached Lahore and was staying at Senator Latif Khosa’s residence in the Defence area. My meeting with Bhutto actually took place after a dinner, which was attended by a few senior Pakistani journalists, including myself.

In one corner of the room, there were two armchairs in which we two settled down… Then she said… "I actually want to share some important information with you, but you must promise that you will never quote me as your source." I agreed and Bhutto began, "Do you know who was involved in the suicide attack on my welcome procession on October 18?’ I replied, "Those whom you have mentioned in your letter to General Musharraf." She had another question for me, "Do you know for whom these people work?" I replied, "For Musharraf." She probed further, "So what does this mean?"

It was now my turn to ask questions. "Do you doubt General Musharraf’s intentions?" She said: "Off the record, I would say I do not doubt his intentions. I am sure of his involvement and my assumption is based on reliable information." I was taken aback. I asked her, "If this is true, why don’t you make it public?" She said, "I can’t do that because of the reconciliatory milieu. The general did not want me to return to Pakistan before the elections, and he is furious that I have come home before the polls as it could disturb his gameplan."

Bhutto then told me that a couple of weeks before her arrival, Musharraf had sent her this message, "The law and order situation in Pakistan is awry. Also, the religious fanatics and jehadis are outraged because of your anti-jehadi statements that were lapped up by the Pakistani media, especially in the aftermath of the Lal Masjid episode. So you are advised not to come to Pakistan before the 2008 general elections."

Then she added, "But I conveyed to him in clear terms that whatever the circumstances, I would definitely come to Pakistan to lead my party in the polls. In return, I was given yet another warning: "The government is concerned about your security since we have credible intelligence information that several extremists groups and individuals are planning to kill you." She said that she had pointed out that if the agencies had prior information of the murder plans, they were, of course, in a position to arrest the planners as well. Her rebuttal had fetched her no reply from Musharraf or his administration.

"I have come to know, following investigations by my own sources, that the suicide attack on my welcome procession in Karachi, on October 18, 2007, was masterminded by some highly-placed officials in the Pakistani security and intelligence establishment. My enemies in the establishment had first engaged a jehadi leader linked to al-Qaeda, Qari Saifullah Akhtar (the ameer of the Pakistan chapter of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami, who had been involved in a failed coup attempt against Benazir Bhutto’s government in 1995). He, in turn, hired one Maulvi Abdul Rehman Otho alias Abdul Rehman Sindhi, a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militant from the Dadu district of Sindh, to carry out the Karachi suicide attacks."

Bhutto said that according to credible sources Abdul Rehman Sindhi (who was reportedly arrested in June 2004 from Khuda Ki Basti area in Kotri near the Hyderabad district of Sindh province for his involvement in the February 2002 suicide car bombing outside the US Cultural Centre building in Karachi) was mysteriously released by the Pakistani authorities shortly before her return home, citing lack of evidence to proceed against him.

I could not help saying, "How could Qari Saifullah Akhtar be a suspect when he himself is behind bars for his alleged involvement in masterminding the twin suicide attacks on Musharraf in Rawalpindi, way back in December 2003? As far as I know, Qari is still in jail." Bhutto muttered, "I also thought so. But his release has already been confirmed by those close to the Musharraf administration. I subsequently conveyed to some of Musharraf’s key people, through my close aides, that various events such as the strange release of a dreaded jehadi like Qari Saifullah Akhtar have convinced me that any attack on me would not be possible without the consent of those in power."

I asked her, "Whether I could report a few bits of the information you have shared with me." She smiled and said, "The reason I wanted to see you alone was to pass on some news which you can report. It is related to the October 18, 2007 terrorist attack. You should, however, countercheck whatever information I provide, and if you find any discrepancies, please let me know."

She continued, "Actually, while I was still in London during the second week of October [2007], I had been informed by my sources in the [Pakistani] intelligence that there was every chance of someone trying to kill me; and that the blame would then be shifted to the jehadis. I had also been informed that some retired and serving army and intelligence officers had tasked some jehadi elements with my assassination."

Bhutto continued, "When I probed deeper, I was amazed to find that the handlers had paid 30 million rupees to their agent Abdul Rehman Sindhi so that he could arrange suicide bombers to target my procession in Karachi. My sources say Sindhi had once worked for the former chief operational commander of al-Qaeda, Abu Zubaidah, who was arrested from Faisalabad in March 2002. I was surprised to learn that a man with such strong connections with al-Qaeda was simply set free by the security agencies because they claimed that they did not have enough proof to proceed against him. I had written a letter to Musharraf before coming to Pakistan, after I had received information from the Karzai government in Afghanistan, about the plans for my assassination. I passed on this information to him and had also furnished the names of some of the people who were directly involved in the planning."

When I tried to find out the names of the people involved, Bhutto only said she had put down their names in her letter to Musharraf, besides naming them in the FIR lodged with the Karachi police after the October 18 suicide attacks, stating that those mentioned in the letter need to be investigated. According to her, most of those who had planned and carried out the Karachi bombings were affiliated with the ISI. These included a close aide of General Pervez Musharraf — the director general of the IB, Brigadier (retd) Ejaz Hussain Shah who was earlier the provincial chief of the ISI, Punjab. "That Ejaz Shah has close contacts with jehadi elements is not a hidden fact," said Bhutto.

"It is a reality that [Sheikh Ahmed] Omar Saeed, who is the prime accused in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, was acting as an agent of the ISI and his handler was none other than Ejaz Shah himself. And it was the same Shah who had, as home secretary of Punjab, provided asylum to Omar Saeed for many days before he had finally surrendered."

Bhutto said that the classified information that had been given to her by the Karzai government also contained the names and addresses of some of the people who had been involved in the Karachi suicide attack and that she had forwarded it to Musharraf, although she later came to know that the Karzai government had already shared the same information with the Pakistani authorities. "The most tragic part of the whole episode is that no action was taken in spite of having every minute bit of information about the October 18 assassination bid."

Bhutto added, "It was only after the Karachi attack that I realised what a blunder I had committed by writing to Pervez Musharraf and naming his stooges alone. It did not occur to me at that time that I was in a way signing my own death warrant by not naming my number one enemy as one of my possible assassins. It later dawned upon me that Musharraf could have exploited my letter to his advantage."

"What does that mean?" I asked. "While writing that letter to General Musharraf, it never occurred to me that I was actually giving a clean chit to my worst enemy — a mistake that could bear serious consequences for me," she replied after a pause. Bhutto then said that while realising her blunder after the Karachi attack, she had already written yet another letter to someone important, naming her would-be assassins.

I had a volley of questions for her. Had she named Musharraf in that letter; and if yes, why would he hurt her when she was trying to negotiate with him; and to whom was the letter addressed. She smiled and said, "Mind one thing, Amir Sahib. All those in the establishment who stand to lose power and influence in the post-election [2008] setup are after me, including the general. I cannot give you any more details at the moment. You can, however, name Musharraf as my assassin if I am killed."

I said, "God forbid, but as far as we know, General Musharraf had given the Americans a guarantee for your protection in Pakistan." She replied, "No, the general hasn’t given any such assurance to anyone. And he can be more vindictive than you can imagine. Even otherwise, a popular politician should never trust a military dictator."

And the reason for Musharraf’s animosity against her? "I have almost made him shed his military uniform, which was like a second skin to him," she said. (Musharraf had to quit as the Chief of Army Staff on November 28, 2007, almost two weeks after my Lahore meeting with Bhutto.) "Now that I have staged a comeback, the general is between a rock and a hard place. He is under tremendous pressure to quit the presidency, shed his military uniform, and go home."

"Does that mean that the US wants to get rid of Musharraf now?" She responded, "Any such thing would be possible only if the people of Pakistan want it to happen. The general has a fair idea that the people are still siding with Benazir and her People’s Party. That’s why he detests me and wants me to get out of his way, for I am the biggest hurdle for him."

I had more questions, "If you are so convinced that Musharraf could go to any extent and that the Karachi attack would not have been possible without his consent, have you made any move to protect yourself? Will you ever make this public?" She replied, "When it’s time, you will know more about it. For now, as I told you earlier, you can name Musharraf as my assassin in case I am murdered."

"I hope no such thing ever happens, but even if it does, and I do name Musharraf as your assassin, what difference is it going to make? In my personal opinion, you should go public about these facts so that if he does have any such plans he’ll get defensive and might not proceed with them," I advised.

Bhutto responded, "I believe he would get on the offensive if I made any such move, and would create even more problems for the party leadership, especially with regard to my participation in the forthcoming general elections. But this doesn’t mean I won’t do anything and let him get away with whatever he wants. I have already taken into confidence some important people in the right quarters. I have kept them informed of all these developments as well as my fears, so that my opponents understand that even if they are able to kill me, they could always be investigated, just as the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination was investigated by the United Nations."

It was long after her death that I understood what she had meant when she had hinted at being in touch with the ‘right quarters’. She had sent an email to Wolf Blitzer of the CNN, which was dated October 26, 2007, a few days after the Karachi bombings targeting her welcome procession. Bhutto was eventually killed, her email was made public, but no action could be taken against her assassin because he himself was supervising the investigations.

Above are excerps from Amir Mir’s latest book ‘The Bhutto Murder Trail: From Waziristan to GHQ’, published by Tranquebar Press, New Delhi, India.

 

The Net result

Ranking of internet services by regulator gives some direction to often clueless subscribers

By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Mubeen Raza, 23, a postgraduate student based in Lahore, is not sure about which internet service to subscribe. He talked to almost all the major internet service providers and was equally attracted by the offers made by their sales representatives.

Before making a final decision, he talked to his friends and colleagues and surprisingly every one came up with a unique and different suggestion. Most of them were dissatisfied with the service they were availing and mulling over jumping to another.

"The biggest complaint filed by internet users is about the download/upload speed of service and connectivity," says Mubeen while talking to TNS. "What’s the benefit of subscribing to a service which charges half the rate of its competitor but takes double or triple the time to download the same amount of data?" he questions.

Mubeen, who owns a mobile wireless internet service device, was once even tempted to throw it out of the window when he found out it was not working in an area hardly a couple of kilometers away from his house.

A large number of internet users are not familiar with the technicalities involved. "People can easily gauge the quality of a particular cell phone service, but they are not able to rate an internet service," says Babar Ali, a Master in Information Technology (MIT) and a network engineer in an Internet Service Provider (ISP) based in Islamabad. "Internet customers do not even know their needs and often subscribe to services that do not suit them."

Ali says the number of internet users is not increasing fast as the growth rate of fixed telephony is lower as compared to the growth of cell phone services. Therefore, the existing ISPs are left with the only option to lure in subscribers by reducing prices — something which comes at the cost of quality. He says consumers switch over to another service just for cheaper rates. "I know a customer who subscribed to a costly 2MB connection while his needs were extremely limited. He should have subscribed to a much cheaper service in the first place."

While the growth of conventional internet service is slow in Pakistan, the growth of broadband has been quite encouraging over the last five years. It can simply be defined as high-speed access to internet which supplies more than double the speed offered by conventional dialup connections. Besides, broadband service is generally availed without disrupting telephone line.

Atif Saleem, 35, a disgruntled internet user and a customs clearing agent based in Lahore, tells TNS that ISP staff is never ready to take responsibility for bad service. "You call them and they would say the whole problem is at your end." They would advise the complainant to restart the computer and modem again and again and move the wireless device to another place and so on, he complains.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the telecom sector regulator in the country, has offered a solution to the problem. The authority has ranked broadband service providers on the basis of four parameters i.e. service availability, service retainability, roundtrip time and bandwidth as per the methodology.

Talking to TNS, PTA Director Khurram Mehran says the broadband service providers’ Quality of Service (QoS) survey provides an insight into the comparative performance of top broadband companies in the country. Such information helps the consumers choose a better option and also provides an opportunity to the operators to improve their services and gain consumers’ confidence.

Mehran says, "The PTA licensees have to provide QoS as per benchmarks and in the coverage area required under respective license conditions. If, however, the QoS are found short of the benchmarks, action against the licensee is taken as per the regulatory act.

The survey was based on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and methodology already prepared by PTA, Mehran says, adding these rankings were made public through media so that consumer may know about quality of services of a particular operator. "The quality/speed of internet/DSL is one of the leading issues and surveys are being conducted after regular intervals to overcome the problem."

 

persecution

Dead or alive

By Alefia T. Hussain

Aasia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, may be freed. We are optimistic. But even if Bibi is released will her life be secure? What about her family? Who will protect them from further victimisation? In the absence of government-sector and very limited private sector-supported mechanisms to shelter them, these questions must be sorted out immediately.

Our country’s past record reflects that victims face threats while in prison, under trial and upon release. Those charged have been killed at all these stages. Even after being cleared by courts, s/he lives with a constant fear of being attacked by angry mullahs and mobs and discriminated against in social life — mainly because the society refuses to accept the court verdicts. Therefore, if freed, the victim is forced to live an obscure life, away from home and village.

"Anyone accused of blasphemy faces threats to life on release from jail because Muslims have been convinced of their duty to kill every blasphemer. The only accused who can stay at home or in village or return to it are those who are not arrested but whose names are cleared by the village/locality elders," says I.A Rehman, Director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

He adds, "The family of a blasphemy accused suffers more than the family of a man convicted of a heinous crime. The family’s social life is restricted; children suffer taunts at school and in bazaar."

And Aasia Bibi’s family has not been spared. Recently, while meeting BBC discretely, her husband said "they move constantly, trying to stay one step ahead of the anonymous callers who have been menacing them… I’m hiding my kids here and there. I don’t allow them to go out. Anyone can harm them…" He refuses to name the persons targeting them.

In another reported news story, he says, "Even if my wife does come out [of jail], she could be killed."

"Suffering," iterates Ali Dayan Hasan, Researcher Human Rights Watch, "is compounded by the fact that the overwhelming majority of those charged are very poor and disadvantaged to begin with."

There is a long list of cases where the accused continues to be victimised after being released from jail. Take Anwar Masih, a daily wage earner from Shahdara, Lahore. He was charged under 295-B for allegedly passing derogatory remarks on Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). The Lahore High Court acquitted him on December 24, 2004. In November 2007, he lost the job when his employer was threatened for employing a "blasphemer". Later, Anwar Masih went into hiding.

Then there are Gulsher Masih and his daughter 19-year-old Sohan; George Masih; Naveed Masih; Walayat Masih and Mushtaq Masih; Rubina; Munir Masih and his wife Ruqiyya Bibi… the list goes on. They all had to go into hiding after being freed by court.

Activist Nadeem Anthony observes that in some cases the entire community has had to bear the brunt. It’s socially boycotted. Trading and any other forms of exchanges are discontinued.

Human rights activist Peter Jacob says, "Physical annihilation, fear of social discrimination and violence are known consequences which drive people out of their homes and settlements."

Safe shelter or rehabilitation facilities to ensure safety of the suspect or accused or convict are practically non-existent in Pakistan. He says, "There is no special arrangement. Even the institutions assigned to protect citizens (courts /police) do not perform their jobs. With the exception of a couple of non-government organisations, that too with limited resource, no other body in the country offers protection to such persons."

In rare cases the victims flee the country, like in the case of Dr Muhammad Younus Sheikh who moved to Europe to secure his life. "The most widely-favoured way is to seek asylum abroad. The resource-less try to lose themselves somewhere away from their homes," confirms Rehman, adding: "There are no mechanisms or shelters in place for blasphemy accused in Pakistan. The government offers no rehabilitation services."

He opines the government will hardly ever offer blasphemy accused "VIP protection". Nevertheless, he suggests, what could help is "extra-frequent patrolling in the neighborhood. In the final analysis, swift conviction of people who harass and attack blasphemy accused will make some difference."

"The best course, of course," says Ali Dayan Hasan, "would be to repeal the blasphemy law." But a further deterrent, he agrees with Rehman, would be to charge those who make false accusations and hold them accountable under the law. "This would send a message that vigilante justice and incitement to criminality and persecution will not enjoy tolerance from the state. As things stand, while victims face persecution and legal discrimination, mobs that incite violence against them and engage in criminality using blasphemy as an excuse are pandered to by the state."

Jacob stresses on the need of rehabilitation services and facilities for the blasphemy accused. "Protection of the victims can be ensured by: a complete control over hate speech and hate mongering usually spewed out by extremist organisations; civil administration and police’s vigilance and efficient working; improving the law and implementation; and social education, starting with the government taking a stand on the abusive nature of laws and an early resolve."

Meanwhile in the absence of safe protection for the blasphemy victims, one wonders, where would women like Zaibunissa be safe. She was charged with desecrating the Quran on the complaint of the Khateeb of Jamia Shahi Masjid Qila in Rawat near Islamabad on October 26, 1996. Thereafter, during 14 long years, she moved from Adiala Jail to Central Jail in Lahore and ultimately ended up at the Mental Hospital, Lahore. On June 21 this year, the Lahore High Court released her after finding no evidence against her.

"She was spotted by a female social worker," says defence lawyer Aftab Ahmed Bajwa, "who told me Zaibunissa had been in confinement since 1996 and not been tried in a court because of her mental condition. I agreed to fight her case purely on humanitarian grounds."

As Bajwa studied the case he discovered, "Shockingly, Zaibunissa was schizophrenic and not even named in the FIR. Nobody, not even her relatives, pursued her case." She was handed over to her family, and today people are clueless about her whereabouts. Is she safe? It’s mind blowing.

The writer can be contacted at

[email protected]

Acquitted but not free

Ordeal of an 80-year-old blasphemy accused, three years after his acquittal by the court

By Waqar Gillani

"I cannot meet you in public. You will have to pick me and take me to a safe place," an old though not dejected voice said while talking to me on the phone. As soon as I reached the agreed-upon meeting place later that afternoon, I called him again.

Following further instructions, I found the store in front of which a shalwar kameez-clad old man in his early 80s was waiting for me. His head and face were covered with a shawl. No, the person I was meeting was no official or agent of any secret agency. He was only a blasphemy-accused who was acquitted of the blasphemy charge by the Sessions Court three years ago.

The stigma of blasphemy sticks in a society where anybody can be easily accused. After a case is lodged, the accusers as well as the people in general can go to any limit to take the law into their hands to "punish" the accused. The accused is denied all rights to live freely or breathe in fresh air as the infuriated and emotionally charged majority will not forgive the person.

On a sunny morning in 2007, the accused (who refused to disclose his identity because of fear) was taking a bath in the morning when his adopted son Riaz, who lived in the same house, came out of the house shouting that something was burning in the house. A few people rushed into the room where the accused was taking a shower.

Suddenly, people saw a burning copy of the Holy Quran, which, the adopted son alleged, was burnt by the accused as he belonged to the Christian minority. Riaz again ran out, called local clerics and tried to beat the accused. The police were called and a case was lodged against the accused under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code. Soon the accused was in the jail.

The accused, a wealthy and respected businessman living in a reasonably posh locality, languished in jail for almost a month until he was granted bail by the court. During this episode, his wife died in a hospital as she was unable to speak due to the trauma she had undergone.

The entire move was a successful attempt by the accuser to grab the accused’s sprawling house valued at around Rs12 million at that time.

After the bail, he could not meet his wife who had "embraced" Islam. According to the adopted son, who lodged the case against the accused, she converted to Islam the day her husband was accused of blasphemy.

"I was stranger in my own house. I could not enter my house. I could not see my wife. I don’t know how she died and where is she buried," the scared, sad old man tells TNS while sipping black tea in a restaurant.

"I always said Pakistan is my father as a father welcomes all his children. Similarly Pakistan welcomed all refugees when this country was created," he recalls, adding, "I am unfortunate as I was not with my spouse at the time when she needed me."

"Today I am a shattered man. In the last three years, since the acquittal, I have had no company, no social life. I am scared," he said in a painful tone. "I want help."

Civil society groups have been protesting against the "discriminatory" blasphemy laws and their misuse since their enforcement during General Ziaul Haq’s regime. Ever since 1986, according to the reported data, majority of these cases, more than 70 percent, are registered in Punjab while Sindh is the second with a share of around 25 per cent of the total registered cases. The number of cases reported in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are very few. It is astonishing to find out that the number of cases registered from 1947 to 1986 was only six, and none of them were about using derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) or Islam.

In 2004, the government made it mandatory that investigation should be conducted by a high-ranking officer before lodging an FIR. However, police officials admit that they register most of the cases due to pressure from the society.

[email protected]

 

A risky trip

Passenger chairlifts may have made river crossing easy in district Abbottabad, but it comes with ample hazards

By Moeed Ur Rehman Abbasi

Recently, a locally-made iron chairlift stopped at a height of almost 6000 feet above the River Haroo due to power failure. The lift was carrying seven schoolchildren and one teacher who cried and shouted with fear. The standby generator was not working due to non-availability of the fuel. After no less than 30 minutes, the lift managed to reach the other side of the hill in village Guree in District Abbottabad. Luckily, no one was injured, but fear and agony was written all over the children’s faces.

The local villagers say these lifts have cut short distances between villages on both sides of River Haroo. But, these locally-made iron rope passenger lifts throughout the Galiyats in District Abbottabad have become a serious threat to the lives of public.

The lifts are vital to the locals. Since the floods washed away the bridges, the lifts help them get to the other side of the river. Technical experts fear that second-hand iron rope and material/equipment used to build the lifts have already run their course and can be hazardous.

"Mechanical parts, including pulleys, engine and iron rope, have a fixed life. After some time these must be overhauled," says engineer Mohammad Musharaf of Civil Aviation Authority. "The expired iron rope which grips the passenger cabin of the lift should not be installed without proper inspection and certification by the concerned government agency."

A local villager complains, "Owners of these lifts are playing with the lives of innocent villagers for the last few years and minting money — without any check. Despite some serious accidents, no concerned authority has ever intervened. Owners have a free hand. Operators of these lifts are untrained."

Interestingly, owners live in a state of denial: "I have purchased the best quality equipment and installed the chairlift through recognized engineers. My lift is perfect," claims Raja, owner of Rahi village lift.

Seven locally-manufactured lifts take passengers from Lora to Gurri Lora, Rahi, Nagri Totial, Taroor, Machana, Palasi, Butti, Noorpur and Dunna. These lifts charge Rs10 per passenger per trip for crossing River Haroo.

"It is a blessing for us as in the past we used to go from one village to another after crossing River Haroo which was not easy," says Adeel Abbasi of Rahi Illagel. "We know there is a serious risk to our lives, but we have no other option. We used to cover the distance in four hours, but now it takes only a minute and Rs10 to cross the river."

caption

Chairlift cuts short a 4-hour journey to a minute.

 

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