Uncoverings Of The Flood : Balochistan Govt’s Inaction : Are We Nurturing The Deprivation In Balochis?


As posted on LUBP :

“Balochistan has a history of bearing the brunt of feudalism, the chameleionic political scenario and  the extreme natural calamities of flooding and drought, both which blow the remaing normalcy of life there into smithereens.
Latterly, Southern Pakistan has been hit by a wave of torrential rains that have affected the lives of about 50,000 in parts of the province and yet dismayingly the response of the Provincial Government has been nothing more than apathetic :

Tens of thousands of people have been left marooned, countless killed and numerous missing and others rendered homeless as almost six districts of Eastern Balochistan have been struck by wild onrush rains and most villages, towns and districts have either submerged into the flood water or been completely bashed out by them but the people in these zones are yet to be approached by rescue teams or vacated to safer places.

 

Hundreds of people are either stranded, trapped or living under open skies with no access to relief or even the basic necessities of food that they need for survival. These local people have contested the claims of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of dispatching relief or food supplies to them, refuting them while waiting for the Federal Government to announce any substantial financial assistance for them, those who lost their lives or those who lost their entire belongings, food stock, household goods and valuables in flash floods.

Most of the province has been cut-off from the rest of the country as a result of the explicit damage and destruction of its communication system and the vehicular transport system which links it with the cities around and other human settlements has been suspended or immobilized.

There is also a marked threat of outbreak of epidemics in the flood affected regions as there is a lack of food, clean water and medication leave alone substantial medicine and medical staff which are even unapproachable for easily-treatable cases of snake-bites that have been reported from villages but could not be treated as the rescue teams have not arrived or are short of medical articles such as snake-bite serum.

 

The Wazirabad village of Bakhtiarabad in Lehri Tehsil is the worst-affected area and such is the situation there that dead bodies are decaying for nothing is available for neither the funeral nor the people to bury them.

 
 
Over 57,000 people have been affected in Sibi, Lehri, Barkhan.The floods have damaged 90% of the houses, over 50% livestock and agriculture.
And according to the district agriculture and revenue departments these floods have broken the past records of 1978.

 

“In Tambo Tehsil of Nasirabad, more than 30,000 people have been made homeless while crops have been completely washed-out in the canal-irrigated area.

Around 0.2 million people had been affected by floods in six districts of Balochistan where rescue and relief work had been slow and inadequate. Roads, power transmission lines and railway tracks have been destroyed in the district.

Despite the massive destruction, relief work had not started in Tambo tehsil.”

This cataclysm was and is a testing time for both the Balochistan Government and other governmental organs which constitute the body of the provincial government and it is discernible now that there has been a miscarriage from the provincial government’s side in fulfilling their responsibilities.

The Balochistan Health Directorate has failed to discharge medicines to the flood-hit areas and even the districts where emergency has been declared, which has led to some deaths.

The Provincial Government’s response to this cataclysmic inundation has been slow, impassive and lackadaisical.

July to September, are the defined monsoon months of Pakistan and Balochistan has a history of ruinous floods which occurred numerous times including in 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s. One of the main tasks of the management, administration and government are to plan, co-ordinate, manage and ensure the implementation of their decisions.

When it is a well-known fact that the province is at a constant threat of floods in the Monsoon season, why did not the provincial government pre-plan a strategy before the rains to prevent the huge damage that has been inflicted now?

  

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) had already been predicting strong rainstorms around Pakistan before the floods and still is issuing statements that show the rains are expected to continue along the border areas of western Pakistan.

Now that the officials of the provincial government are reiterating about their involvement in the efforts to help the people but state that the deluge is hindering their completion, why hadn’t they formulated a programme for the prevention of flood damage before-hand?

 

The transport authorities should have prepared alternative routes for the people and the rescue teams to use in case of the areas which were bound to be affected and the transport system there to be washed away too.

Three years before, another flood had occurred, during the reign of President Musharraf and  the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had revealed that of the 80,000 homes destroyed in the disaster, nearly 60,000 were in Balochistan alone, where some 15 districts were badly or severely affected and the loss was estimated at Rs.10 bn.

At that time, the Musharraf Government was censured and denounced for its listless reaction to the disaster and yet today, under a democratically-elected government: the people of Balochistan face the same stagnant situations that they had previously faced.

 

The response to flooding in the region hasn’t kept pace with the severity of the humanitarian emergency.

The Provincial Government should have devised a plan before Monsoon in coordination with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and The Pakistan Meteorological Department to asses the nature of the rains, the threats they posed to the province and an aerial survey should have been conducted in search of higher areas in Balochistan where camps could have been established and the people could have been moved there with their belongings.

Now that the rains have swept the province, both the Provincial and Federal Government should work-out a project or course of action for the immediate rehabilitation of the people on an emergency basis with huge relief supplies of medicines, goods, blankets, tents, food and other facilities that the Balochis direly need.

Balochistan may make up 48% of the total land of Pakistan but its clustered population has the most surging feeling of deprivation and alienation whose roots aren’t a puzzle to trace considering the policy response to their pleas and predicaments which is nothing more than lip-service or cold and half-hearted efforts such as of today when the region has been shook by a crisis.

We must realize that that the sense of divestiture, virtual separation, disparity and deprivation that the Balochis have today and which many believe are being exploited by foreign elements, has been nurtured by our very own ignorance and misinterpretations of their dilemmas, needs and aspirations.

 

As Benazir Bhutto herself wrote in ‘Daughter of the East’ about East Pakistan:

“From revenues of more than thirty-one billion rupees from East Pakistan’s exports, the minority in West Pakistan had built roads, schools, universities and hospitals for themselves, but had developed little in the East. The army, the largest employer in our poor country, drew 90% of its forces from West Pakistan. 80% of the government jobs were filled by people from the West. No wonder they felt excluded and exploited.”

Although there are differences in Balochistan and East Pakistan, the last line of her writing fits perfectly into the picture of Balochistan today.

 

About 46% of the gas in our country is obtained from Sui in Balochistan. Majority of Pakistanis talk about developing the resources in Balochistan (Thar, Reko Diq etc) and letting the country benefit from them, but have we wondered or ever thought of developing Balochistan itself and equipping the Balochis educationally, politically and socially?

‘Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan’ is indeed a laudable step by the Government but it needs to be implemented. We need to grant them their basic rights and shun being lax in responding to their calls in times of help.

The population of Balochistan forms only 5% to 7% of Pakistan’s total population and it feasible enough to deliver its people the right to education, shelter and all other basic necessities that they rightfully deserve and the Government needs to prioritize the strive for removing the deep-seated feelings of resentment and making the Balochis realize that they are not children of a lesser God but as much vital for Pakistan’s future and as much part of the flesh and soul of this country as those in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

– Hafsa Khawaja

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Mineral and Energy Resources : The Key To A New Pakistan?


As posted on ‘Let Us Build Pakistan’ :

“Recently, it surfaced that significant deposits of natural gas reserves in the heart of Kohat city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were discovered by the state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL).

As published in Dawn News:

”According to a statement issued by the company on Friday, the discovery was made during exploration of Shekhan well-1 which produced 15 million cubic feet of gas (MMCFD) through 32/64 inch choke size at wellhead flowing at a remarkable pressure of 2,500psi. ”

Last year, (OGDCL) had uncovered new reserves of oil and gas in Hyderabad. At least 15.4 cubic feet gas and 165 barrel oil per day can be produced from the well.

It is no hidden fact that Pakistan is a region blessed munificently by nature with a plentitude of natural resources proving British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s quote of calling India (United India which once Pakistan was part of) as ‘the brightest jewel in Her Majesty’s Crown’.

The province of Balochistan is enviably rich in this regard, many surveys have identified the geological conditions for the existence of antinomy and gold in the Punjgore and Kharan district but the larger focus this post will direct towards are the new zones and districts where such minerals have been found, projects promulgated for them and their utilization.

Reko Diq, a small town in Chagai District, Balochistan, in the view of development expert Syed Fazl-e-Haider, contains under its sands some 12.3 million tons of copper and 20.9 million ounces of gold. The copper-gold deposits at there are believed to be even bigger than those of Sarcheshmeh in Iran and Escondida in Chile.

But the Reko Diq copper and gold mine contracts awarded to foreign investors have come under threat in recent months as the provincial government has threatened to cancel the mining rights awarded to a consortium led by the Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation and the Chilean mining company Antofagasta. The Prime Minister has personally intervened in this issue and it is hoped that he would convince the provincial government of the vital importance of foreign firms in exploring and developing these resources for no local firm has the huge amount such as $3 Billion required for the process.

And the launching of the ‘Reko Dik Copper-gold project’ is expected to produce 0.3 million tons of copper annually through indigenous physical and human capabilities.

The Thar coal field containing 175 billion tons of good quality lignite, can be used for power generation and gasification.

The Duddar lead-zinc deposits in Balochistan being developed by Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) have come into production to produce 100,000 tons of zinc concentrates and 33,000 tons of lead concentrates for export.

Two visionary leaders of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto had deep-rooted interest and plans for the development of the natural resources of Pakistan.

As a Minister of Fuel, Power and Natural Resources, ZAB signed a path breaking agreement for exploration of oil and gas with   Russia in 1960.  He set up a Gas and Mineral Development Corporation in 1961 and Pakistan’s first refinery in  1962 at Karachi.
While his daughter Benazir Bhutto had began the Saindak-Copper and Gold Project while successfully achieving and announcing the country’s first National Mineral Development Policy in 1995 :
 NATIONAL MINERAL POLICY

Unfortunately, it could not be fully implemented at the provincial level owing to a host of reasons like delays in setting up the Mineral Investment Facilitation Authority and the ever-changing political situation.

As the Geological Survey conducted in Pakistan states:

“The country’s more than 6,00,000 sq.kms of outcrops area demonstrates varied geological potential for metallic / non-metallic mineral deposits.“

 

In the recent past, exploration by government agencies as well as by multinational and international mining companies presents ample evidence of the occurrences of sizeable minerals deposits which could be developed and utilized using an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework which the National Mineral Policy of 1995 clearly provides.

Currently about 52 minerals are under exploitation although on small scale. The major production is of coal, rock salt and other industrial and construction minerals. The current contribution of mineral sector to the GDB is about 0.5% and likely to increase considerably on the development and commercial exploitation of Saindak & Reco Diq copper deposits, Duddar Zinc lead, Thar coal and Gemstone deposits.

Mining for these minerals and inviting corporations and companies, both national and international to develop these resources, will certainly be a welcome step in paving the way for generating revenue that can be invested in healthcare and education or used in any other way, beneficial for the well-being of the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan has accepted Chinese assistance to conduct a comprehensive scientific geological survey of Pakistan, which will be helpful in exploring oil, gas and mineral reserves. According to a newspaper, the Defence Ministry has supported the proposal to involve Chinese Geological Survey (CGS) for geosciences co-operation.

According to Pakistan’s High Commission to Kaula Lumpur, data released by Pakistan’s Board of Investment indicated that the biggest Malaysian investment was made in financial sector with US$ 194.33 million followed by Oil and Gas Exploration US$ 14.26 million.

As a developing country and with a growing population, one of the most important resources of Pakistan after its mineral wealth is its human resources. Exploration, mining and utilisation of these abundant minerals may require a huge amount of captial but human labour is paramount for these three stage so carrying out these tasks would also contribute in increasing employment for the people of the areas where they are being conducted thus reducing a percent of unemployment rate.

The stumbling blocks that lay as the constraints with the mineral sector and are expected of the Government to remove are financial restraints, lack of technical knowledge, institutional mismanagement, lack of experts and low priority given to mineral extraction.

The financial difficulties can be solved by handing over exploration and extraction projects to foreign companies or by negotiating joint ventures between them and local companies.

Just as Pakistan’s President has reiterated on various international levels of the country’s demand and requirement for ‘Trade not aid’, it is tantamount that Pakistan’s allies and countries with which it shares strong relations such as the economic giant China or UAE are called for to help Pakistan by providing more of technological assistance or technological aid which will resolve the proposed perplexity of lack of technical assistance.

Institutional mismanagement can be avoided by ensuring the appointment of deft and adroit officers with the appropriate knowledge and experience on merit, who should be checked to insure that the set goals are being met in one of the many organizations formed for propounding facile solutions for the advancement of the mineral sector such as ;

1. Geological Survey of Pakistan – Founded in the year 1947 for the investigation and mapping of mineral deposits.

2. Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation –Established in the year 1974 for the exploration and marketing of all minerals.

3. Resource Development Corporation –Organized also in 1974 to investigate and develop copper mines at Saindak.

4. Gemstone Corporation of Pakistan – Created in 1979 to develop gemstone resources.

While experts of this field can be hired to aid the work of the aforementioned organizations.
Pakistan’s non-metallic and metallic resources are bountiful and even 5% of them are extracted and developed, Pakistan’s economy can take a leap in growth  : METALLIC AND NON-METALLIC RESOURCES IN PAKISTAN

Putting Pakistan’s anticipated deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, limestone, rock-salt, chromite, marble, China-clay, celestite, gypsum, magnesite, sulphur, bauxite, gold, oil, gas and coal (all non-metallic, metallic and energy resources) to use by exploiting and extracting them can help to purge the country out of many a crisis and become the sound base for many industries and the availability of minerals will lessen the burden of imports and improve the balance of payment position.

Plus, this PPP Government already has the advantage of a Mineral Policy which may have been made 15 years ago but is excellent in every regard to be followed even today, (though it should be revised and updated in accordance with the new layer of information and requirements that have emerged), for it touches upon all aspects related to the exploration, extraction and development of the resources and presents a complete strategy and plan for the purpose of the development of the Mineral Sector.

With such a capacity for growth in this sector, it is disappointing that its contribution to the GDP is about 0.5%.

Pakistan can undoubtedly use its capacity it for the betterment of the economy and development of the country itself. It is of time, that the Government not only realizes the potential in and resources of Balochistan and other provinces but also steps forward to utilize and develop them for the existence of these resources are equal to none if not developed but if they are, they will be the key to a new era in the history of Pakistan.

Hafsa Khawaja

The Angraizi Complex


Aamna Haider Isani had written an article for Instep by the title:  ‘A New Body Language For Cricket!’. In it, she mentioned the joy of watching a win for Pakistan but something she wrote triggered the engine of my mind to run and the muscles in my fingers to be exercised. Such were the two lines:

“The only slight shudder one feels is when Pakistan wins and Afridi has to talk to the commentator on how the “boys played well”‘ and “All credit goes to Umar Gul for sticking to Urdu” and from here I begin another blog post : The English or Angraizi Complex.

With a society immersed in denialism, dogmatism and their thorny roots that prickle when someone thinks out of the box – and that too, in a country marred by terrorism, corruption, unstable Governments with even exacerbated situations of political tensions, social confusions and economic strains, since the commencement of the War on Terror : the Pakistani mind-set is labyrinthine.

Although its been more than six decades since Pakistan’s liberation from the yoke of imperialism, yet the colonial-inculcated sense of inferiority in the natives of this land relating to their culture, language, customs, physical characteristics et al lingers tenaciously here.

The best manifestation being that speaking English in the country is the yard-stick to measure the education, personality, back-ground, caliber for many; the ultimate crown of sophistication.

And so, it’s considered a reason to shake your head from side to side, in an expression of shame lest Angraizi does not flow ‘fur fur’ on your tongue.

One fails to understand this, why do the Pakistani people stress incredibly upon learning English for our players or any other famous person from this land? Yes, this language is a global and important communicative tool to interact with and put one’s message across almost all around the world but everyone knows, its not for this reason that such emphasis is pressed on English here.

Our players do not go to the cricket grounds to speak Shakespearean English but to play and win. So what if Younas  spoke at a rate of 20 words per 5 seconds? So what if Afridi repeats the same words?

Are their accents and pronounciations larger than their achievements?

Indeed, celebrities and such popular persons are considered ‘public property’ and their lives are scrutinized but dismissing his flair and blazing performance for a mere language which he can’t speak fluently as it is neither his mother tongue nor his job to perfect it ? Those are petty thoughts.

The task of giving this country moments of joy is cumbersome in these times, but people like Afridi and our team make them possible through this sport. Then why does their fluency in this language matter?

Just because a language is global, it does not define or measure talent, class or stature.

Top football stars like Messi and David Villa, tennis champions like Nadal and many players in both football or cricket teams do not speak English. Many sporting stars of the world of today are proud to speak their language even if they know English or often speak English in their natural accents that are even difficult to comprehend, but neither does it disconcert their fans nor does it faze them.

Then why do we, impose this complex of the English language upon ourselves? Or feel dishonored when our cricket players utter broken English?

What loss of glory or ignominy  does it bring us? At a time when a variety of terrorists are the perceived face of this country, is the inability to talk in fine English, really the most of Pakistan’s worries? 

The success of India is often pondered upon by many Pakistanis but little do they realize that one of the basic reasons that the country is blooming today, both culturally and economically is their attitude. Apart from their hardwork and what has contributed to their economic success – most Indians seem to deal with their heritage, culture and history with three P’s : by taking pride in them, preserving them and promoting them.

Whilst in Pakistan, the culture and heritage is dealt with deal with three S’s : feeling shame in associating it with one’s self, shunning it and attempting to separating it from the course of life.

[Bear in mind, I do not mean the foul aspects of Pakistani culture and traditions. ]

Then why burst into flames of anger at other nations who scorn at our culture or country when Pakistanis themselves, fail to ‘recognize’ and embrace their own heritage, culture, roots, language, identity and past ? For if one himself does not respect them, why expect others to?

Hindi today, is in the top 4 most spoken languages of the world and Urdu? Pakistanis, the inheritors of this beautiful language which comprises Turkish, Arabic, Persian and Hindi itself, still hesitate to confabulate in it.

It is strikingly hypocritical, how a local who speaks in ‘broken’ English is met by pityful sighs and an eyeful of eyerolls but when a gora speaks ridiculously-incorrect Urdu, it is viewed to be ‘fascinating and cute’. Sad, to laugh and embarass one’s own while he tries to grasp a component of another culture but to be captivated by another when he tries to grasp our culture.

Culture and language are inextricably entwined or weaved into each other and spurning one’s language is tantamount to disgracing one’s own culture: a major social agency that forms any individual’s identity.

The capacity of this unfounded feeling of inferiority is the touch-stone of a failed people.

I do not condemn the usage of the English language or knowledge of it, but to treat it as some gauge-meter for many an significant things is a plain farce.

Deplorably, this concept is being furthered by many educational institutions and the institution of a family in Pakistan. Elite private schools prefer English as the sole medium of communication, rather some even handle the use of Urdu with strict handling [ Students are reportedly liable to punishment for conversing in Urdu in some of them ]

Families and parents are often seen to place the teaching of English as a priority for their little children while they crawl to reach the stage of learning, instead of Urdu. Its not a rare scene, to see some children in Pakistan with fluent English but terribly poor Urdu.

The abasement of Urdu and the ensurance of its protection, was also what was included in the list of interests of our people [ That later became Pakistanis ] in the pre-partition era and in the championing of the ideology of Pakistan.

To go by history books, it was one of what their identity comprised thus, there is less doubt, that Urdu language was integrant in Pakistan’s emergence.

When the British Imperialists came to the Sub-continent, they tried to foist the ways of their civilization (especially the language) on the people of the region, considering it far more superior than the culture of the people whose land they ruled. It may have inflamed the people of that time to revolt and rebel, but surely it is evident, that the imperialist-instilled constituents of their superiority as a people and all that their race represents and the state of being subaltern of all the natives and what is linked to them – are still obstinately self-retained in our minds; now be that the Gori-Chamri complex or this, Angraizi Complex.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Shandur Polo Festival and Swat’s Aman Mela


Shandur Polo Tournament  is an annual festival arranged every July at the Shandur Pass in the northern areas of Pakistan where rival teams from Chitral and Gilgit play. This area has hosted this game since the past 800 years.  Playing polo on the Shandur Top is popularly known as ‘Playing Polo On The Roof Of The World’ for it is reported to be as the highest polo ground in the world, where the Hindukush, Pamir and Karakoram ranges meet.

Its history dates back to the 1920s when the ruler of Moskuj, the Hindukush highland between Chitral and Gilgit, was told by his Mir, or king, to promote integration within his realm through a polo tournament between the best players. It is also said that :

“Historically the game goes back many centuries when the local Mehtars , Mirs and Rajas were patrons of polo and it was played, not only for pleasure, but for celebratory and commemorative occasions. The Mehtar of Chitral would send a message to his relatives the Rajas of Ghizar , Yasin and Ishkuman and word would travel far down the valleys to Punial Gilgit and Chilas where the challenge would be taken up. But despite being dubbed ‘the game of kings’, in the Northern Areas, it is not an elitist sport, often played in village square on sorry nags or even on bicycles.”

The world famous Shandur pass is about 3738 meter an above sea level and lies midway between Chitral and Gilgit.

The festival begins on the 7th of July with the feet of the traditional dancers thumping to the beat of the drummers which is the formal signification of the opening of the Tournament in a colour-splashed ceremony.

Then starts a polo match between Laspur Team, which is a village near Shandur in Chitral, and the Ghizer Team from Gilgit. During the course of the tournament A, B, C and D teams of Chitral and Gilgit battle it out on the polo field. Each team has six members with 2-4 reserve players incase of injury etc. The match duration is usually one hour. It is divided into two halves, with a 10 minutes interval.

During intervals the locals enthrall the audiences with traditional and cultural performances. The game decided in favor of the team scoring nine goals. The final is held on 9th July. There are no umpires and there are no holds barred. There are no rules!

The absence of rules not only casts dashes of thrill, excitement and unpredictability to the course of the game but often results into the players or horses getting injured, due to the ferocity and rigourness of it all.

There are no hotels so the people who come to visit camp out in the tented villages while bazaars are organized near them to showcase and sell local handicrafts.

Apart from the Tournament, Shandur is wrapped in an exotic atmosphere. Nestled in the bosom of the grandeur of nature which has lavished it with spectacular scenery of looming mountains, green plains and a huge crystalline azure clear lake laying comfortably stretched-out behind the back of the used polo ground, creating the ambiance of feel of replete tranquility and serenity, thrusting people into a seemingly another portal of the world away from the hustle-bustle of cities. Shandur in a single word, is exquisite.
The Tournament also provides the visitors an insight into the lives of the people of the region, their indwelling lifestyle, heritage, culture and customs.

Hindukush Trails, an Offical Sponsor of the event has mentioned that each year the following events are scheduled.

  • Traditional dancing & singing and sitar music
  • Para Gliding
  • Rafting in the Shandur Lake
  • Wild mountain polo , horse races and at times Buz Kashi
  • Traditional tug of war

Shandur Polo Festival is all set to begin from the 7TH to the 9TH of July. This year, 2010, it has been dedicated to the Martrys of Uniform of the successful operations conducted against terrorism in Pakistan.

On the other hand, in Swat a festival which is first in its history is happening :

The ‘Aman Mela’ is a 20-day long national peace festival started in Swat on June 29th to celebrate the return of normalcy in the valley.

It has been set up in the same Grassy Ground where last year thousands of Taliban militants had assembled to hear Sufi Muhammad of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM ) declare all institutions of the country un-Islamic and even democracy as unacceptably ‘un-Islamic’, where he also reasserted with audacity, his goal of bringing ‘their’ Shariat Rule all over Pakistan. This was the address that prompted the Government to decide an Operation in Swat against the militants.

Today, the festival which is being held by the Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority (PRRSA) in collaboration with the Pakistan Army,  it is the site of rejoicing people, music and dance scenes, circus and all those activities that they were never allowed to carry out .

The fair will continue till July 18. Over 1,000 shops have been set up by industrialists and traders for tourists and the local population.

A photo exhibition, car rally, paragliding competitions were held on the first day of the festival.

According to a post on the Express Tribune:

The purpose of the event is to bring back the tourists to the Swat following an end to the Taliban control as a result of the military operation last year. It is also aimed at erasing the bitter memories of the people and removing fear of the militants from their hearts.

The site was beautifully illuminated and decorated with welcoming banners, buntings and fluttering Pakistan flag.

The Pakistan Army had put on display the pictures of the valley representing its newfound life, under the title “Swat smiles again.” People streamed into the Grassy Ground in the evening with everyone wearing a toothy smile.”

Since Pakistan’s involvement in the ‘War on Terror’, it has been under the glare of the international media which has best0wed upon it the unpleasant label of ‘World’s Most Dangerous Country’; but what miffs the people of Pakistan is the one-sided coverage that is given to the country.

While every single beheading in Swat was shown by all leading foreign channels, understandbly so keeping in view Pakistan’s role in the WoT, none bothered to show the Aman Mela which was held in celebration of the cleansing of terrorists from the place.

All that the UK’s Telegraph could report about the marvellous Shandur Polo was a flasity terming it as a ‘Brutal Pakistani Polo Festival ‘ which was cancelled. How could such a credible site report such a canard that Polo Festival as cancelled when it was completed as planned and the Team of Shandur were declared champions?

This report caused vexation in many Pakistanis for it ruffled their feathers, passing off the stupendous event as ‘brutal’. In what way, is the Festival brutal? Why is every event or person in relevance to Pakistan deemed or told as barbaric?
Just because the sport is not played on the lines of the rules in the West, it certainly can not be characterized as brutal. Must it be for those who fail to possess the regal qualities of endurance and vigour as that of the participating Pakistanis players of our festival as surely Polo at Shandur is not just for ordinary polo players but it is a Game of Kings which are crowned every year at it.

The international media certainly needs to shed its fabric of bias and give equal coverage to both shades of events in Pakistan.

– Hafsa Khawaja