Perfect Times
Editorial
Journalism thrives on inefficiency, inadequacy, slander, scandal, corruption, conflict, disasters and war. Everything needs improvement. Reporting on these imperfections in society gives us journalists a sense of purpose. Most of us tend to assume a moral high ground; even if by default. They/we know things are imperfect and the solutions too.

Police, security agenciesí role hailed
By Our Staff
Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Adnan Malik chaired a high level to review the law and order situation in the country during the first quarter of 2011. Secretary Interior Ministry, IGPs from all provinces and heads of FC, FIA and Rangers attended the meeting.

A future written in stars
From Our Special
Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: For almost fifty years, Pakistanís Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO) has been tinkering with telecommunications equipment that even an amateur radio enthusiast could assemble together as a satellite. It seemed as if rocket science had completely evaded the space guys at Suparco. At least thatís what the general public had been made aware of.

Hate material removed from textbooks
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Primary school teachers from across Pakistan were handed out awards yesterday in recognition of their impressive contribution in the public school sector. "Teachers have proved that they have an eye for seeing where the trouble lies, and the courage to deal with it," said the minister for education at the seminar held in the capital to mark the World Teachersí Day.

ABC to work for artistsí benefit
By Our Cultural Reporter
LAHORE: "Any artist, irrespective of age, sex and location, shall be able to benefit from the organisation." This was stated by renowned TV actress and former late night show host Saadia Khan, at the launch of Artists Benefit Community (ABC), a not-for-profit organisation meant to help the artist community work for its own benefits, at a local five-star, Sunday evening.

"I would prefer to be dead than give a deadline"
-- Raja Pervez Ashraf
PT exclusive
Perfect Times: Your ministry is in the news for bridging power-supply gap against all odds. How did this turnaround become possible?
Raja Pervez Ashraf: It was mainly thanks to the vision of the PPP government and its leadership that we could achieve this landmark. Itís also a slap in the face of those who opposed our agreements with Rental Power Plants (RPPs). The same lot condemned Mohtarma for signing deals with Independent Power Producers (IPPs). Why donít they condemn Musharraf government for not adding even a single megawatt to the national grid?

Perfect Times
An economic
 
turnaround? Definitely!
Economic Survey 2010-2011 shows the economy has finally taken off
By Our Commerce Reporter
ISLAMABAD: This yearís economic survey contains quite a few positives and that comes down to a number of factors. Economic indicators of the financial year 2010-2011 can be seen as a big step in the direction of fast-paced economic recovery. Phenomenal success in the war against terror, notable boost in investorsí confidence (both local and foreign), and increased tax returns after the imposition of RGST seem to have made that possible. Add to it uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity to industries over the last more than a year now and a larger than expected cotton and wheat output. International Financial Institutions (IFIs), including the IMF and World Bank, also showed their confidence in the economic reforms implemented by the government over the last financial year. All this came about in the face of an uphill task that was the reconstruction process after massive floods devastated vast tracts of agriculture land and incurred huge financial losses.

Tourists to be kept in high Ďspiritsí
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Following a special meeting of the federal cabinet on the subject of tourism, the secretary Ministry of Tourism Khalid Sehrai held a press briefing. In an unprecedented development, the government has decided to induct Ms Neelofar Bakhtiar as the next minister for tourism. Ms Bakhtiar who is yet to take her oath of office attended the special cabinet meeting and was very much a part of the decision-making process in the run up to this meeting.

Shoaib seeks inspiration from Kabaddi team
By Our Sports Reporter
LAHORE: After 1992 it is the first time that Pakistan is seeing such festivity. And how excited Imran Khan and Javed Miandad look -- 19 years back, this dynamic duo experienced this kind of a fervour as captain and vice captain (respectively) of the winning team. But today as physio and masseur of Afridiís greenshirts they have again worked the magic!

 

Hospital-ity in question
By Our Special
Correspondent
KARACHI: After tremendous improvement in the health sector, the story of a poor patient goes like this: Bashir, 30, a labourer, falls from the scaffold he was working on during the construction of a building and gets his right ulna broken. He screams for help. He does not have to wait for the ambulance for hours to take him to a government hospital where efficient and considerate staff is waiting for him. He is not made to sit on the stinking floor of the corridor to wait for his turn. The doctor on duty is not absent and he is not mistreated by paramedics.

Hanifís next may be about Mohd. Asif or Ashmit Patel
By Our Correspondent
LAHORE: 2011 has been a bumper year for writers and book lovers alike. Things started slow but picked up speed in March when Steven Spielberg somehow got his hands on the second volume of Lifeís Too Short Literary Review (according to sources, Spielberg employs a well read Pakistani cook who sometimes suggests things to read).

artbeat
Every government office has a work of art
It was some 20 years ago, in the early 1990s to be exact, that things started looking good for the art scene in Pakistan. But who would have thought that the year 2011 would mark a near culmination of that process -- that we who are so prone to a negative perception of ourselves shall live to see art progress like this. That Pakistan is participating for the first time ever in the Venice Biennale is only a slight indication of what we have achieved as a society.

 

 

Perfect Times

Editorial

Journalism thrives on inefficiency, inadequacy, slander, scandal, corruption, conflict, disasters and war. Everything needs improvement. Reporting on these imperfections in society gives us journalists a sense of purpose. Most of us tend to assume a moral high ground; even if by default. They/we know things are imperfect and the solutions too.

The beginning of the year 2011 seems to have changed everything. Everything suddenly turns hunky dory. So does that mark the end of journalism? Will the journalists give up and be content with being rendered jobless.

No! There still are possibilities. Perfect stories for Perfect Times; some of them turn out to be perfectly boring but others are wild and interesting.

Read on the latest edition of Perfect Times to get a sense of a country where nothing goes wrong and only a few things go awry. These stories, after a perfect twist, do give a sense of direction.

 

Police, security agenciesí role hailed

By Our Staff

Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Adnan Malik chaired a high level to review the law and order situation in the country during the first quarter of 2011. Secretary Interior Ministry, IGPs from all provinces and heads of FC, FIA and Rangers attended the meeting.

Adnan Malik praised the police and other security agencies for their role in the fight against crime and terror. He told the meeting that crime rate had dropped drastically while eight out of ten most wanted terrorists had also been arrested during the first quarter of 2011. "Intelligence agencies have been working closely with the police and other relevant departments. This collaboration has resulted in nabbing 23 would-be suicide bombers in different parts of the country," he said.

Malik allocated Rs 5 billion to establish 10 new sate of the art forensic laboratories in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa provinces. "We will not compromise on the standard of investigation," he said.

IGPs gave presentations about the law and order situation in their respective provinces. According to sources, crime rate has dropped by 45% in Sindh, 49% in Balochistan, 58% in KP and 85% in Punjab. "Average duty hours for a police official in Punjab is not more than 7 hours a day, we have hired a forensic officer for every police station, we have established ten new police training schools in the provinces while police officials have also been offered on-job training facility" said IGP Punjab while explaining some of the factors responsible for the success of his police against crime.

He informed the committee that during the last four months, 15 countries have sent their police officials to Punjab to get training on the latest trends in the crime investigation. "We have solved 80 percent of the cases on the basis of evidence collected from the crime scene. The Asian Development Bank and World Bank also appreciated the Punjab policeís role in its fight against crime in their latest report, calling it an exemplary model for the rest of world" said the IGP Punjab.

The committee was informed that 80 percent of high profile human Traffickers had been arrested while smuggling of goods has also been controlled to a greater extent at the borders. The role of FC in maintaining law and order situation in Balochistan was also appreciated.

Adnan Malik directed the police departments of Sindh, Balochistan and KP to follow the initiatives of Punjab Police to further improve the law and order situation in their provinces.

 

weekender

Sharif takes up a motorbike, Shujaat gets a tummy tuck, and more

Pakistan has a new prime minister. His name is Yousaf Raza Gilani. The name is the same but the man is different. Gilani (along with Rehman Malik) is now the alumnus of the Altaf Hussain School of Public Speaking in London. A fluent speaker now, he has all the answers and looks towards both sides of the podium.

On BBís 4th death anniversary, President Zardari gave her the good news of Bilawalís grade improvement in Law College with a CGPA of 3.7. He has sold his French chateau in Normandy and bought one in Swat because the close proximity means he escapes controversy when visiting it. Due to the current inflation rate, he has also decreased his fee rate from 10 percent to 7 percent.

Altaf Hussain has returned to Pakistan because the male population in Sindh declined rapidly due to target killings and he was needed to buffer the effect.

Salman Taseer has quit using the vanishing cream that makes him vanish. His daughters have guided him to revert to the ancient turmeric and gram flour.

The ministry of Religious Affairs has been abolished and replaced by the ministry of cooking affairs because unlike religion, the fervour for food is equal and across the board.

Maulvi Fazlur Rehman has updated his premiership dreams after the departure of Anne Patterson. Knowing that US ambassador Cameron Munter appreciates Tikka diplomacy, Fazlur Rehman has been sending Munter pots -- "Tittar battair" -- with cards on them saying "If you make me the Prime Minister, I will add the spices."

The best surprise came when Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain got a tummy tuck in a Gujrati hospital.

Shahbaz Sharif has quit his VIP transport and permanently taken up a

motorbike, like he did during the flood days.

Altaf Hussein and Nawaz Sharif came to visit together. Both sat in a corner and discussed power crisis and hair care products.

Chaudhry Nisar and Haider Abbas Rizvi have stopped discussing other peopleís marriages on screen. Both the leaders have decided that Karachi should be a peaceful heaven on earth now.

Altaf gave Nawaz a smooch on the cheek, just like he gave Mayor Kamal Mustafa in London.

Babar Awan (who gave his Haris Steel Mills case fee as zakaat last Ramzan) came with an envelope which contained a surprise sweeter than imagined -- a doctorate degree under my name from our very own Monticello University. "Can you get me a Matric certificate also?" I requested. "Next year," he promised. And, nowadays, he keeps all his promises.

 

Altaf Hussein and Nawaz Sharif came to visit together. Both sat in a corner and discussed power crisis and hair care products.

Chaudhry Nisar and Haider Abbas Rizvi have stopped discussing other peopleís marriages on screen. Both the leaders have decided that Karachi should be a peaceful heaven on earth now.

Altaf gave Nawaz a smooch on the cheek, just like he gave Mayor Kamal Mustafa in London.

Babar Awan (who gave his Haris Steel Mills case fee as zakaat last Ramzan) came with an envelope which contained a surprise sweeter than imagined -- a doctorate degree under my name from our very own Monticello University. "Can you get me a Matric certificate also?" I requested. "Next year," he promised. And, nowadays, he keeps all his promises.

 

A future written in stars

From Our Special

Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: For almost fifty years, Pakistanís Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO) has been tinkering with telecommunications equipment that even an amateur radio enthusiast could assemble together as a satellite. It seemed as if rocket science had completely evaded the space guys at Suparco. At least thatís what the general public had been made aware of.

However, in 2011, it was revealed through a Wikileaks cable that Suparco along with NESCOM had been working with several scientists and engineers at various public and private universities and scientific organisations to conduct covert research and tests.

The goal had been nothing short of Pakistanís very own Space Odyssey, albeit 10 years later than that envisioned in the namesake movie. The same propellant technology that had made an appearance in the ballistic missiles, namely Shaheen, Gahauri and Hatf had only been the tip of the iceberg. The real deal, as was witnessed by the Pakistani nation and the rest of the world in 2014 was a capability of employing reusable rockets to launch scientific instruments, components and astronauts into near orbits of 300 to 500 km altitude.

In successive launches, it become apparent that Pakistan had started piecing together its own space station, in defiance to the international communityís one that has been orbiting since 1998. The station was named Abdus Salam Space Station for Extra-Terrestrial Exploration (ASSSETE) after the late Pakistani Nobel laureate physicist. By 2022, the ASSSETE had been equipped with sufficient hardware so as to serve as a stepping stone to establishing a base on the moon. The purpose for realizing this monumental endeavor was to develop nuclear fusion, a virtually limitless source of energy which also fuels the Sun, into a workable technology to finally rid the country of its energy woes and subsequently export it to the rest of the world. It had been conceived that this would only be possible in the low gravity environment of the moon which is one-seventh of that on Earth.

Around 2032, Pakistanís moon base, named Aftab Jafar Badar Base (AJaBB) after the Pakistani scientist who unleashed the energy of contained nuclear fusion in 2020, albeit for mere minutes. Yet this had been proof enough that this process could be perfected for functioning indefinitely in a facility if it were on the moon. Initially, the internationally community had been perplexed where the financing for Pakistanís rapidly expanding space program was coming from. Well, in Pakistanís case it seems that Ďall that glitters is goldí after all, and then some. The Reko Diq mine in Baluchistan held gold and copper deposits well over a trillion dollars, and eventually the Pakistani rupee backed by this gold became strong enough to be used in international transactions. And on 14th August 2047, a hundred years after the nationís birth, Pakistan activated the first nuclear fusion reactor that harnessed the power of the Sun on the Earth. would only be possible in the low gravity environment of the moon which is one-seventh of that on Earth.

Around 2032, Pakistanís moon base, named Aftab Jafar Badar Base (AJaBB) after the Pakistani scientist who unleashed the energy of contained nuclear fusion in 2020, albeit for mere minutes. Yet this had been proof enough that this process could be perfected for functioning indefinitely in a facility if it were on the moon.

Initially, the internationally community had been perplexed where the financing for Pakistanís rapidly expanding space program was coming from. Well, in Pakistanís case it seems that Ďall that glitters is goldí after all, and then some.

The Reko Diq mine in Baluchistan held gold and copper deposits well over a trillion dollars, and eventually the Pakistani rupee backed by this gold became strong enough to be used in international transactions. And on 14th August 2047, a hundred years after the nationís birth, Pakistan activated the first nuclear fusion reactor that harnessed the power of the Sun on the Earth.

 

Hate material removed from textbooks

By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Primary school teachers from across Pakistan were handed out awards yesterday in recognition of their impressive contribution in the public school sector. "Teachers have proved that they have an eye for seeing where the trouble lies, and the courage to deal with it," said the minister for education at the seminar held in the capital to mark the World Teachersí Day.

Special awards were granted to teachers for effectively implementing a drastically-revised curriculum in the countryís primary schools. "I am proud to declare the new curriculum, designed by a team of dedicated educationists and experienced teachers, wipes out all hate material, the anti-India and anti-minorities content, from the textbooks," said the minister.

"All emphasis on jihad, war, military heroes and gender discrimination has been removed. Our aim is to nurture a new mindset with focus on peace and harmony. Teaching is altogether a new experience," said a senior teacher present at the seminar.

Experts on education expressed their satisfaction with the reformed curriculum. They agreed by deleting the hate material from primary textbooks the ugliest problem infecting education has been resolved. They commended the teachers for taking bold initiatives in ensuring the success of the revised curriculum. "I am personally very happy with the progress," said renowned educationist based in Islamabad.

It must be pointed out here that the changes made in the primary textbooks are a consequence of the dynamic National Education Policy that keeps in mind modern requirements. The minister emphasized that the implementation of the policy was made possible due to the significant increase in the education budget Ė from the previous allocation of 7 per cent of the national GDP to the 25 per cent in the current fiscal year. A chunk of this allocation has been diverted from the countryís defence budget.

Another significant outcome of this progressive NEP is declaring mother tongue the medium of instruction until primary school.

 

ABC to work for artistsí benefit

By Our Cultural Reporter

LAHORE: "Any artist, irrespective of age, sex and location, shall be able to benefit from the organisation." This was stated by renowned TV actress and former late night show host Saadia Khan, at the launch of Artists Benefit Community (ABC), a not-for-profit organisation meant to help the artist community work for its own benefits, at a local five-star, Sunday evening.

"We are going to have a very strict enrollment criterion," Saadia Khan announced, "whereby every artist will be required to show their 6-month bank statement and make a declaration of their assets."

The launch saw a huge attendance by all the A-list actors, producers and directors from the film and TV industry, not to mention an entire gaggle of fashion models who were hoping to get a finger in the pie.

"I am very excited to be a part of the launch, and I am really looking forward to enroll, too" said a backless sari-clad, gorgeous-looking model Nokhaiz aka Nosy, talking to newsmen on the occasion.

"I can see that thereís someone out there who can feel for us and has taken a practical step to do something for the community," commented Syed Toor, the very successful director of all-time blockbuster movie, Ghoorian, as just as he stepped out of his shining black Prado, to face the media men.

"In all these years since I became associated with the film industry, we were never able to devise a plan whereby the fortunes of the artists could be secured in times of slump and recession. Now, with the launch of ABC, I can see that we are in safe hands!" Toor said.

There was a huge round of applause in the hotel hall.

Later, the guests were served with a sumptuous five-course buffet dinner.

The list of the enrolled artists shall be kept a secret, it was disclosed.

 

 

"I would prefer to be dead than give a deadline"

-- Raja Pervez Ashraf

PT exclusive

Perfect Times: Your ministry is in the news for bridging power-supply gap against all odds. How did this turnaround become possible?

Raja Pervez Ashraf: It was mainly thanks to the vision of the PPP government and its leadership that we could achieve this landmark. Itís also a slap in the face of those who opposed our agreements with Rental Power Plants (RPPs). The same lot condemned Mohtarma for signing deals with Independent Power Producers (IPPs). Why donít they condemn Musharraf government for not adding even a single megawatt to the national grid?

Similarly, our wind and solar energy projects were termed overambitious. But, in the end, they delivered. Licenses were awarded mostly on merit. It was ensured there was sufficient sunlight or wind at places where these plants were to be set up. We cancelled a wind power license when we found the plant was being set up in a basement.

PT: The inauguration of Kalabagh Dam is scheduled for next week. Are you sure the provinces will not oppose the project?

RPA: Itís another feather in our cap. We have succeeded in developing consensus among the provinces. Punjab has always supported the dam. On Sindh, we were fortunate enough to discover another will of Mohtarama in which she had stressed on her successor to build the dam. Balochistan is no more an issue as Maulana Fazlur Rehman has agreed to use his influence there. If we use his services, weíll have to give him electricity distribution rights in the province and restore his diesel export permits. Last but not the least, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has also given a nod. Those who feared inundation because of the dam have learnt how to cope with it during the recent floods.

PT: Foreign investors are rushing to Pakistan to set up heavy industry here. What has promoted countryís image as investorsí heaven?

RPA: Earlier, foreign investors were wary of investing here due to the non-existence of supporting infrastructure. Now they know we have sufficient energy to meet their power needs. To further boost this image, I have ensured all the street lights and those along main roads remain switched on during day hours, throughout the country. This will be a proof that we have so much excess energy that we dispose it off this way.

PT: Can you give a deadline for the start of coal exploration project in Thar district?

RPA: I would prefer to be dead than give a deadline. You very well know this has been a bane for me. Last year, I was approached by the Guinness Book of World Records team for giving so many deadlines, and missing all of them. But if you insist, I can give you a tentative deadline on Thar coal project launch. To be on the safe side, I would prefer not to disclose the month and the year and make only the date public. It will be any date between the 1st and the 7th.

PT: The financial health of electricity distribution companies has improved amazingly. How did this come about?

RPA: We began at home. It took a yearís pleading and an additional ministry to convince Makhdoom Amin Fahim to start paying his electricity bills. Once he agreed, others followed. This helped us clear lots of defaults. Besides, there was a steep fall in land losses caused by electricity theft. For example, in the case of the KESC huge recoveries were possible, thanks to the leaks provided by informers. Despite promises, the corporation did not have to dole out prize money to the informants. This was an additional saving and a valuable contribution to KESCís kitty. The informants were killed or wounded critically by the apprehended thieves before they could make any financial claim. The corporation employees would leak their names to the affectees well in time.

 

Perfect Times

An economic

turnaround? Definitely!

Economic Survey 2010-2011 shows the economy has finally taken off

By Our Commerce Reporter

ISLAMABAD: This yearís economic survey contains quite a few positives and that comes down to a number of factors. Economic indicators of the financial year 2010-2011 can be seen as a big step in the direction of fast-paced economic recovery. Phenomenal success in the war against terror, notable boost in investorsí confidence (both local and foreign), and increased tax returns after the imposition of RGST seem to have made that possible. Add to it uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity to industries over the last more than a year now and a larger than expected cotton and wheat output. International Financial Institutions (IFIs), including the IMF and World Bank, also showed their confidence in the economic reforms implemented by the government over the last financial year. All this came about in the face of an uphill task that was the reconstruction process after massive floods devastated vast tracts of agriculture land and incurred huge financial losses.

Economic figures are ample proof of that: the economy grew by 6.1 percent in the outgoing year, after a growth of 4.2 percent in 2009-10. Almost all sectors of the economy contributed to the upturn. Combination of a bigger fiscal space and controlled spending, debt, and inflationary pressures have significantly increased governmentís ability to spend in order to revive the economy. For instance, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) totaled US $4.8 billion for the period of July to April 2009-10, as compared to US $3.2 billion in the same period of the previous financial year.

This has been possible after adopting a realistic approach in policy to achieve greater fiscal space through mobilising domestic resources, reducing the size of the government, and improving the efficiency of the public sector. Since the global economy has survived the recession and has already taken off, demand for Pakistanís exports has increased by about 50 percent during the outgoing fiscal year, especially in the textile sector. The agriculture sector grew by an estimated 5 percent against a target of 3.8 percent, and previous yearís growth rate of 3 percent. Manufacturing sector registered a 5.4 percent rate of growth. The services sector grew 6.6 percent as compared to 3.6 percent in 2009-10.

Pakistanís economy has achieved impressive gains in restoring macro-economic stability resulting from a determined effort. The fiscal deficit was reduced to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2009/10, from 6.6 percent of GDP in 2008/09. Inflation declined from 25 percent in October 2009 to a recent low of 5.7 percent in October 2010. With these figures, it is understandable to read pre-budget analyses expecting a massive and pro-poor 2011-12 budget.

 

Tourists to be kept in high Ďspiritsí

By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Following a special meeting of the federal cabinet on the subject of tourism, the secretary Ministry of Tourism Khalid Sehrai held a press briefing. In an unprecedented development, the government has decided to induct Ms Neelofar Bakhtiar as the next minister for tourism. Ms Bakhtiar who is yet to take her oath of office attended the special cabinet meeting and was very much a part of the decision-making process in the run up to this meeting.

The members of the cabinet noted with satisfaction that since the country was now free of all terrorist threats, this was a perfect time to launch an ambitious policy that has the potential to attract both local and foreign tourists. The decade of terrorism must give way to a decade of tourism, the cabinet hoped.

Giving a breakup of the new tourism policy, the secretary announced the government means business this time. Given the boom that is already being seen in various parts of Pakistan, the Tourism and Communications ministries will have a close coordination: a road network, tourist trains and regular flights to all attractive destinations will be ensured with immediate effect.

The secretary informed that the new policy seeks advice from famous travel writer Salman Rashid and under his advice the focus will not be Northern areas alone; the deserts in the South, the forests, the rivers and the headworks will be fully exploited. Areas of anthropological interest shall be sold to the world as well as to the local tourist. One-night destinations with bed and breakfast facilities will be developed near all big cities. The private sector will be given a tax holiday to set up new facilities or buy the ineffectual existing ones from the government. Song and dance and other cultural activities will be planned everywhere along with small shops for handicrafts in all regions. Not to forget the arrangement to keep the tourists in high Ďspiritsí.

The PTDC motels will be updated with immediate effect and where required, fishing and boating facilities will be initiated. Replying to a question, he said that these will be run on a public-private partnership basis and the government will get a certain percentage of the revenue. Canal and forest rest-houses will be modernised as well.

To conclude, the secretary said that the government plans to coordinate with other countries in the region so that a tourist from the West could do India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh in one go.

 

Shoaib seeks inspiration from Kabaddi team

By Our Sports Reporter

LAHORE: After 1992 it is the first time that Pakistan is seeing such festivity. And how excited Imran Khan and Javed Miandad look -- 19 years back, this dynamic duo experienced this kind of a fervour as captain and vice captain (respectively) of the winning team. But today as physio and masseur of Afridiís greenshirts they have again worked the magic!

"Who would have thought Asiaís World Cup will stay in Asia," said President Gen (r) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, addressing an awards show organised to celebrate the national sideís success in WC.

Also present among the dignitaries were famous bookmakers of Indo-Pakistan, Ďnon-state actorsí and members of the civil society.

Talking to the people on the occasion, Pakistani captain Shahid Afridi said, "Iím elated at this success and I want to dedicate this cup to my team and not to my mother! Iím not interested in making a Shaukat Khanum; all I want is captaincy at the test level."

The bowler who made it all happen, Younis Khan couldnít believe that everything was happening for real: "When Shahid gave me the ball in the 50th over (after Shoaib Akhterís unpredictable behaviour), I looked at the scorecard with 9 wickets down and India requiring 52 runs of the last six balls, I was nervous as to how could I stop them from making these runsÖ but God willing I kept my foot behind that line and managed to give away just 50 runs with two free hits."

At the event, federal minister for sports Salman Taseer claimed that 2011 has been a phenomenal year for sports. "We won all the major sporting events in the world except cricket and hockey. We lost all the major tournaments but here our team has turned the tide and the credit goes to our boys."

"Our kabadi team that won a gold medal at the Olympics has been an inspiration for us," said Pakistanís aged bowler Shoaib Akhtar. "The kabadi team is the guiding light for all sportsmen in this country," he added.

 

 

Hospital-ity in question

By Our Special

Correspondent

KARACHI: After tremendous improvement in the health sector, the story of a poor patient goes like this: Bashir, 30, a labourer, falls from the scaffold he was working on during the construction of a building and gets his right ulna broken. He screams for help. He does not have to wait for the ambulance for hours to take him to a government hospital where efficient and considerate staff is waiting for him. He is not made to sit on the stinking floor of the corridor to wait for his turn. The doctor on duty is not absent and he is not mistreated by paramedics.

Bashir gets his arm plastered, not by the dispenser assisting the doctor on duty but by a team of surgeons. He is not handed down a long prescription listing expensive medicines and is not required to buy them from a medical store. He is asked to visit the hospital after a week for a check-up. Bashir is poor and belongs to the class of hanging at the lower rung of the ladder, labouring day and night to keep the body-soul link intact.

The health authorities have finally woken up to the plight of the poor and people like Bashi find health facilities at their doorstep. A network of public and private hospitals in every neighbourhood is providing speedy and free-of-cost healthcare facilities to this otherwise overlooked segment of society. This positive U-turn in the health sector is made possible with huge injection of funds which the government has saved during its successful austerity drive.

The Presidency, the Prime Minister House and all the ministries voluntarily cut their expenses and diverted the funds for the health of the poor. There is no more shortage of doctors, medicines and hospitals in the country.

Coming back to the story of Bashir. He returns to the hospital after spending a sore month-- not a fault of doctors but sheer bad luck. Again he is not made to wait for the doctor for a day and a night. While changing the plaster the doctors come to know that his arm is not fixed properly. Toxic infection has taken its toll and the arm has decayed to no-recovery stage. The poor man could not buy the inexpensive life-saving drugs -- a negligence of his own that cost him dearly. However, foreign trained doctors prevent amputation using high-tech innovative surgeries. His arm is not cut and he is not brought on the road begging for bread. Welcome to a healthy 2011.

 

Hanifís next may be about Mohd. Asif or Ashmit Patel

By Our Correspondent

LAHORE: 2011 has been a bumper year for writers and book lovers alike. Things started slow but picked up speed in March when Steven Spielberg somehow got his hands on the second volume of Lifeís Too Short Literary Review (according to sources, Spielberg employs a well read Pakistani cook who sometimes suggests things to read).

Well, it so happened that Mr Spielberg loved Jaffer Khanís story Mein Hoon Chorail, and is now making a movie on it. The business deal (officially undisclosed) is so rich that editor Faiza S Khan, publisher Aysha Raja and Jaffer have all become millionaires and shifted to Bermuda.

Kamila Shamsie got to spend an all-expenses-paid trip to North Korea. She was trying to create her next magnum opus (This Is Where the Wind Falls, published this July) in North Korea and, as in the previous case of Japan, went Google mapping North Korea. As everyone knows, North Korea has no Google map. Shamsie was so outraged that she wrote a public denouncement, which bizarrely denounced not only North Korea but also South Korea, Barack Obama and her ex-Tibetan boyfriend. (What was the connection, most asked!). North Koreaís President Kim Il-sung, however, so loved her bashing of Obama that he arranged for her a free trip to North Korea.

In other news, Zahid Dar finally decided to sell of his old books, which were so many in number that Dar Sahib, to his utter amazement, found himself being able to buy a brand new house.

Mohsin Hamid after writing the influential Moth Smoke and the not-so-good Reluctant Fundamentalist has finally retired. Everyone thought that he had burnt out, but after a long silence the truth has come out and has nothing to do with a lack of creativity. "I always wanted to be a painter," he recently said in a candid interview on television.

Hamidís first exhibition is going to go up sometime next year.

H.M. Naqvi also released his much-talked-about 18Ėyear-old spoken verse collaboration with the American rapper JJ CoolJ called Bong Bong Karachi. Everyone agreed that itís much better than Homeboy. Naqvi plans to release another CD with Arif Lohar.

The biggest surprise of the year, however, was the collaboration between Veena Malik and Mohammad Hanif. Both are extremely tight lipped. Is the book autobiographical in nature? Is it about Mohammad Asif and Ashmit Patel, or who actually killed Zia? Nobody knows anything, except for the fact that Hanif and Malik locked themselves for three months in an apartment which was bare except for two laptops, an ashtray and a piano (Veena likes to sing sometimes!) and churned out a "hallucinatory tale of lust, betrayal and terrorism" according to Hanif, who also says that the book might take another two or three years to get published.

 

artbeat

Every government office has a work of art

It was some 20 years ago, in the early 1990s to be exact, that things started looking good for the art scene in Pakistan. But who would have thought that the year 2011 would mark a near culmination of that process -- that we who are so prone to a negative perception of ourselves shall live to see art progress like this. That Pakistan is participating for the first time ever in the Venice Biennale is only a slight indication of what we have achieved as a society.

The policy of teaching art in all government schools and madrassahs is now fully implemented and an exhibition of child art every now and then proves that soon we shall be the very best. This of course was the first step. Other developments were quick to follow. After Quetta and Peshawar saw a line of privately owned galleries, it was only a matter of time that all small towns created spaces to showcase their art.

The next big thing for us was the revival of art criticism in Urdu publications. After the brilliant reviews by people like Muzaffar Ali Syed and Hanif Ramay in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in literary journals of repute, there came a time when art criticism became the preserve of elite English language journalism. This has been reclaimed by the Urdu journals. The quality of writing has a lot of potential; the best thing being that it will be read by the common people.

In this age of art-appreciation, it is mandatory for every government office to have one or more work of art. By bringing art close to the people, effectively people have come close to art. It is equally heartening to see public sculptures of our national figures -- poets, political leaders, actors -- on the roadsides.

With the showcasing of art in this manner, the level of public tolerance has improved and it now seems unbelievable that there used to be a time when a certain kind of content was castigated by vigilantes.

Along with this revolutionary change in the local art scene, Pakistan now figures prominently on the international scene. Itís been a while that Pakistani artists started winning art prizes but now they are names to reckon with. The National Art Gallery is fully functional by not only holding well-curated shows but in also holding international shows.

Itís 2011 and LUMS has proudly launched a programme on Art Criticism in both English and Urdu.

 

 

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