Summers bring the joys
of relaxation to most teenagers but to the football crazy boys of Lahore it's
time to play. The steady rise in the popularity of football in the last three
to four years has led to the formation of many different 'underground'
football teams. These teams basically consist of a group of
friends who love playing football and enjoy the sport. They get together
whenever they get time and do what they love doing -- play football. Usually,
they give their group a name and then they become a proper team. The name
makes it sound more important and makes sure that people take them more
seriously than just a bunch of guys playing football. The zeal and spirit of
the player involved is exemplary.
When I ask some of
these players how it all started, none of them have a clear answer. "We
just started playing for fun against friends and gave our teams names,"
says Ghias who plays for a team called 'Defense United Football Club'.
Every summer at least
three to four major football competitions are held. All you have to do to
organise a football match or make a team is make a post on one of the
football societies on Orkut and there will be tons of pleas from people
willing to sign up. A very popular community is 'Lahore Football' which deals
with all the major football events happening in Lahore. It has all the
information that a young player willing to play football in Lahore might need
from the football competitions taking place to the formation of a new
As it is too hot to
play football during the afternoons most matches take place either in the
early morning hours around 5am or at night in stadiums which have flood
lights. If it's a football competition then all the teams have to give an
entry fee. Out of this fee the organisers (which are usually another team)
pay for the grounds and some times refreshments after the match or during the
half time. Occasionally, the winners and the runners-up get prize money.
Some of the more
dedicated teams hold regular practice session. One such team is 'F.C
Killers'. They are a devoted team which consist of seven players who play
regularly. To others it's just a once in a time thing. The captain of the
team Sachel Ghani makes sure that there are regular practice sessions.
"It's extremely important to have regular practices because it improves
the co-ordination of the players and their stamina," says this 15 year
old teenager who seems to know what he is talking about. They usually hold
their practice early in the morning because "it is easier to get hold of
grounds then" and "the fee is slightly less".
minor practice sessions and football tournaments may seem like a piece of
many adults out there, for a group of teenager boys just willing to have fun
it's a very organised activity. It is not an easy task making sure that there
will be eleven players showing up for the match at the required time. Lots of
factors have to be taken into account; a time that suits all players is
number one on everyone's list.
They might not be as
dedicated to their studies but waking up at 5 in the morning for practice is
definitely not a problem for any of these players. Most of the parents are
extremely supportive of this too. "For starters it's a very healthy
activity, a lot better than sitting around watching T.V all day or playing
FIFA on the play station," the parents say. Moreover, they seem to think
that the 'dedication' of their children is enough to gain their approval
although none of them seem keen to make football the priority. To the parents
it is simply a healthy hobby. Obviously, it is not their fault that they
think this way. We owe this to the lack of opportunities of excelling in this
The one major setback
for these football teams and players is the lack of professional help. The
only people enthusiastic about football are the players who play the game
with literally no support. Companies are extremely reluctant to sponsor the
competitions let alone the teams. There are no football academies to polish
the skills and raw talent of the young players. Without the availability of
proper coaches they won't be able to get very far. Their only inspirations
are famous football players like Ronaldinho, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard,
Cristaino Ronaldo, Dider Drogba, Ricardo Kaka and Lionel Messi.
Even with all the
interest, enthusiasm and talent the future of football for Pakistan is not
bright. The main reason for this seems to be the underdeveloped standards of
football in this country. The sight of these young players and talent is very
inspiring yet sad because they will soon be forced to give up due to the lack
of resources and opportunities to pursue professional football.
The unanimous opinion
of all these players is that at this stage football cannot be pursued as
serious professional career in Pakistan because its standard is absolutely
hopeless. They have the talent and the skills needed to play football at a
professional level but no one to correct their mistakes and polish those
skills. Their talents are going to waste and even though the rise in football
at this level has started a movement they are not going to get very far
without professional help.
The rapidly decreasing water level is a concern of authorities and citizens alike
By Zaheer Ahmed
water table in Lahore city is decreasing at an alarming speed -- a problem
that requires special attention of the concerned department. If not tackled
in time, it might lead to a drought like situation in the near future.
population of Lahore city is increasing rapidly and the consumption of water,
being the lifeline, has also increased manifold. Though the problem concerns
each and every citizen alike, the worst
victims are the residents of slums.(katchi abadis) or those living on the top
floors of multi-storey buildings.
water supply situation in the city's slums is grim because water available in
these areas is not fit for human consumption. But people have to consume it
anyhow," says President Pakistan Katchi Abadis Alliance, Zahid Anjum
while talking to TNS.
to a survey conducted in 1985, he says 54 localities out of the 122 in the
metropolis were formally declared katchi abadis. These areas lack civic
amenities like clean drinking water. Wasa is supplying water to 75 per cent
katchi abadis but there is no smooth water supply. "Residents have no
option but to install water pumps at their homes for more water. This puts
financial burden on a poor man who has to pay for extra electricity used for
the purpose. Those who cannot afford water pumps have to live with reduced
water supply," he adds.
this reason, he continues, water-borne diseases like hepatitis are spreading
rampantly in slums. The city district government has installed filtration
plants in posh areas where people can afford to install personal water filter
systems themselves. On the other hand, they are no where to be seen where
they are needed, says Zahid.
is no Wasa's water supply system in our locality and my husband, employee of
Pakistan Rangers, has to fetch clean drinking water from water filtration
plant from Rangers Colony," says Shamim Bibi, resident of Altaf Colony
(a slum area) near Pakistan Rangers Headquarters in Lahore. She tells TNS
that her children are too young to fetch water from this filtration plant.
Shamim's husband is now posted in Fort Abbas but his family lives in this
rented house. "When my husband visits home once in a month, he stocks
clean drinking water in gallons which is enough for 15 to 20 days," she
adds. "The water table in Altaf Colony, however, is not very low. The
real problem is that the water is brackish and not fit for drinking,"
living in flats are also not satisfied with the performance of Wasa. "I
live on the 4th floor of Wapda flats at China Chowk where water supply is not
smooth," says Mohsin, a resident of the flats while talking to TNS.
"A water pump of Wasa department has been out of order for the last one
and a half months and the department concerned has not checked it. Due to
this fault, water pressure is not sufficient enough to reach heights,"
he says. "Sometimes, I have to wait for hours to see water bucket fill
slowly if I want to take shower," Mohsin says. Similar is the plight of
people living in flats at Rasool Park near Ichhra,Talla flats in Model Town
and flats in other areas.
level of water table in Lahore city is going down by five and a half feet per
year. The basic reasons behind this shortage is the wastage of water, asserts
a Wasa official while talking to TNS. "There are 400 water pumps in the
city which are supplying fresh and clean water to the citizens round the
clock while more pumps are being installed according to the requirements of
different areas," he claims. He suggests that drinking water should not
be used for washing or cleaning purposes.
official adds that rampant development and consequent shrinking of green
belts and open places are the major reasons behind this rapid decrease in
water level. As most of the city is now concrete topped, the land does not
get re-charged.which is a natural system for the improvement of water table.
Due to this reason, the water table level in the areas with more open spaces
is better than that of city, he adds.
Young Leader's Conference organised by School of Leadership at Pearl
Continental Hotel today. For further information see website; http://ylc.sol.edu.pk
Discourses and short story by Bano Qudsia at Model Town Library Auditorium on
Thursday at 6pm.
monthly classical concert
Alhamra Hall III at The Mall today at 6 pm.
grand dance party on Saturday, July 7
farm in Lahore only for couples and girls. For passes
Kabir at 0300 9409270 and Zara at 0322 8403224
Along Kaafi on July 3
Alhamra, Gaddafi Stadium at 6pm. Kaafi Bulleh Shaah
explained and discussed on the occasion.
Night at Peeru's Cafe
fusion of Jazz and tabla on Sundays at 9pm for free.
Puppet Show for Children at Alhamra, The Mall at 11am. Ticket for Rs 5/10.
Fruit prices have seen an increase of 18 to 32 per cent this year, which has been an all time high. Will the government do something to check the prices?
By Mehwish Nizami
heat coupled with frequent power breakdowns mark the summers in Lahore. But
there is a happy side to the summer as well -- it brings the maximum variety
of fruits at one time. Fruits of Pakistan are known for their quality all
around the world. There are about 30 different types of fruits that are
abundantly grown in Sindh, Swat, Peshawar and Multan region. Citrus fruits,
dates, mango, guavas, apple, banana, apricot, grapes, almonds, peach, plum
and pomegranate are the main fruits of Pakistan. One fails to understand why
they are being sold at such high prices.
year the fruit prices have remained an all time high, preventing many people
from having fruits. "I cannot buy fruits in fair quantity as I used to
before. Now the prices have gone so high that even half a kilogram of fruit
has become unaffordable," says an employee of a private company.
Actually, people from all income levels are nagging about the prices. The
current year has seen a raise of 18 to 32 per cent which is the highest ever
fruits were sold at double the price from last year. Normally, there is
increase of two to three per cent in the fruit prices every year. There are
many factors responsible for this increase in prices of fruits. Ibrahim
Mughal, Chairman of Agri Forum Pakistan holds 'post harvest loss'
predominantly responsible for inflated fruit prices. Post harvest processes
include the integrated functions of harvesting, cleaning, grading, cooling,
storing, packaging, transporting and marketing. Primarily, poor
pre-harvesting measures and adoption of poor production techniques are
responsible for post harvest loss. He says out of total production, we face a
loss of 30 to 35 per cent (or higher) every year
which amounts to a huge loss or wastage of fruits. According to him,
illiterate farmers and lack of technology and equipment/instruments reaching
them, are the key factors. "Low shelf-life, improper storage and grading
of fruits are contributing to post harvest loss to a great extent," he
government has formed Punjab Agri Marketing Company (PAMCO) which aims at
attracting private sector investments in dairy, horticulture, poultry,
livestock, fisheries and floriculture sectors. Keeping the present scenario
in mind, the organisation has failed to fulfill its objectives. Ibrahim
declares this "a futile and useless exercise" of the government
that is pulverising the process that needs enormous attention. Mansoor
Arifeen, Chief Executive PAMCO, on the other hand, claims the company is
trying its best to overcome this problem and it will of course take some
Chairman of Agri Forum Pakistan says, "Usually it is the middleman who
is held guilty when the prices go up. He buys the supply from one place and
sells it at another place. The blame cannot be put on one person. The real
problem lies in the lack of facilities that can help increase the shelf-life
of fruits and other perishable commodities. We are ready to invest if someone
takes an initiative in establishing utilities such as cold storage,
refrigerated transportation that will overcome the post harvest loss,"
these measures are going to prove beneficial in the long run, there is an
instant need to jot down short term plans which include a strict notice of
middleman mafia. Abdul Raheem, an MBA student who is a fruit vendor at his
father's shop, mentions reasons such as increased government taxes and
transportation charges responsible for fruits being sold at high prices.
Fruits are not readily available in the market (mandi) after they are picked.
This is due to stocking. Middlemen buy fruits from the growers at very low
prices and stock them until the demand goes up. This affects the quality of
fruits and much of it goes waste. The prices also go up consequently.
"We are not allowed to check fruits while buying them from mandi. They
sell rotten fruits with the fresh ones which bring a great loss to the vendor
as it cannot be sold to the customer," says Mohammad Iqbal who sells
fruits beside College Road, Township.
Price Control Committee headed by Khwaja Tahir Zia has formed a price list of
fruits, vegetables and meat. The list is being violated by the vendors which
has caused the committee to take an immediate and fierce action against them.
"The price list is denied by many fruit sellers," says Abdul
Raheem. "The authorities give low prices on purpose and they are not
familiar with the varieties of fruits that are available in the market,"
says Afzal who grows guavas in Sheikhupura and has no concern with the prices
at which fruits are available to the consumers. "My job is to grow
fruits and sell them before they rot," he says. Farmers are selling
fruits at the same prices as last year. They are not equipped with new and
modern technologies and they lack knowledge too. Ibrahim Mughal suggests that
in order to preserve the production, farmers should be trained. He says the
government should abolish organisations such as PAMCO and form a committee
including farmers, consumers, middlemen, government officials and quality
control members as its stakeholder. In this way, everyone included in the
process from the grower to the consumer will benefit and there will be
transparency in the system as well.
of all the efforts made and initiatives taken by concerned authorities, the
problem remains intact. Lack of technology prevailed earlier along with
unaware farmers. The grower is not given his due share and the retailers have
the same story to tell. The government brags about its achievements but such
inflation was never witnessed before. The production of fruits for the year
2005-2006 was Rs 7.147 million tonnes while for the year 2004-2005 was Rs
6.633 million tonnes.
easier to play a blame game and much harder to pursue actions that will be
beneficial for people at large. The government needs to take action to
address this problem so that the prices are controlled and common people can
also taste nature's blessings that are called fruits.
Passing by the Durand
Road in Lahore, I am shocked to see corporation trucks taking away everything
being sold on rehris as vendors stood blank faced, watching their sole source
of income being taken away.
encroachments is a regular exercise carried out by the Municipal Corporation
in this city
for years now. They banish vendors that obstruct movements on the roads,
footpaths and on all road intersections whenever and wherever there is a VIP
movement. All this operation is to smoothen the traffic flow, lessen chances
of accidents and remove security hazards, and of course all this is a very
Bashir Ahmed, a fruit
vendor who has been in this profession for the past 18 years says, "I
have no option other than to sell fruits. I am doing it to earn bread for my
children. If the government picks up my stall I borrow money from someone,
buy more fruit and put up a stall again. The government does not give us
employment if we are unemployed. Its officials take away our wares on charges
of encroachment but do not provide us alternatives so that we have a proper
place to sell our fruits."
Another vendor Fareed
says, "Encroachments are only increasing
as the cost of living goes up day by day. I have to fulfill the needs
of my children. I find no other way to earn my living. If things remain the
same people will deviate from norms." According to him, encroachments
are not only small stalls or shops, there are public gatherings where
government officials also speak and block the traffic. "Then why are we
poor people blamed? I believe it is sufficient that we are earning an honest
living, we are doing something for our bread and butter but it looks as if
the government wants us to leave this and get down to begging."
Amjad Jaan, who has
been selling fruits for 16 years, says: "I have a fractured leg. I
cannot do anything else now. I am 62, how can I find another job for myself.
This is my only source of income. I have to feed and take care of my family
and have to survive. I have nowhere to go other than sell fruits."
Ahmed Chaudhry, Gulberg Town Nazim says the fruit vendors have to take a step
along with us to make the roads clean. We are ready to provide them proper
places where they can sell their fruits but this will not work if the other
side is not ready to cooperate. These fruit vendors want to sell fruits in
front of a plaza or big shopping complex as their sale is in those areas.
"We want their
cooperation. We also want to make Pakistan a better place to live in. We do
not want them to become unemployed. We are ready to do anything for them. We
are really concerned about their families but it is their job to understand
that rehris are a hazard in many ways," he adds.
SSP Waseem Ahmed Khan,
Chief Traffic Officer Lahore says these vendors are a real cause of road
blockage. There are around 15,000-20,000 rehris in Lahore. When people stop
in the middle of the road it causes traffic jam which eventually results in
accidents. This certainly is a major issue of the vendors.
The fruit vendors
cannot be forcibly asked to leave their places. They cannot see their
children dying of hunger. The government is trying to make Pakistan a clean
country but we should not forget these poor people who earn their livelihood
by selling their wares on rehris. The SSP says, "They will be provided
with a proper area where they can sell their fruits without any fear of
crackdown. Things will start getting better and these vendors will not be
left unemployed if they cooperate. But in my opinion there should be a
specific area that can be allotted to them for the business."
This may not work as
these fruit vendors serve a great number of office-going people who prefer to
take fruits for their lunch. These fruit vendors stand outside the offices in
the scorching heat and even in extremely cold weather. So the solution to
this problem can be that they do not permanently park their stall at one
place but keep on moving so that there is no problem in traffic flow. This
may mean losing many customers and for people a certain vendor who offers
things at a certain point.