Post letters to Letters to the Editor, The Daily Times, 41-N, Industrial Area, Gulberg II, Lahore, Pakistan Phone: 92-42-5878614-19; Fax: 92-42-5878620 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters may be edited for length and clarity
Studying in a death trap?
Sir: The government is yet to take any action to stop classes from being held in the school and college buildings in Islamabad damaged in the devastating October 8 earthquake.
Following the quake, all the important buildings were examined by CDA and a number of them were declared unusable. The structures in the OPF Girls College in F-8 were badly damaged structures but the school administration seems to be unconcerned about the danger this poses to the young students.
Damages in some parts of the college building are so severe that one can see through the cracks that had appeared in the walls and roofs. For one week the school was closed. According to the administration, repairs were going to be carried out. But when the college reopened, we realised that all that had been done was cracks had been painted over or covered with plaster. The concerned authorities should take notice of this. We are even ready to continue our studies in tents but not in this death trap, particularly when aftershocks are still jolting the area.
VERDAY AHMAD KHAN
First wives’ club
Sir: I recently came across an interesting question in a newspaper: Who should be the first lady? It was pointed out that during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s regime Nusrat Bhutto, the prime minister’s wife, was known by this title. However, now Sehba Musharraf, the president’s wife, is called the first lady.
People should not get confused and remember that the wife of the head of the state and not the head of the government is known as the first lady of a country. However, in Pakistan we have always forgotten this rule. During Quaid’s period it was his sister Fatima Jinnah who enjoyed this title much to the chagrin of Ra’na Liaquat Ali Khan. Ayub had a modest housewife and, therefore, took his sophisticated daughter Naseem Aurangzeb on foreign tours. Yahya had no time for the first lady. Bhutto while stepping down from the high office of the presidency and civilian chief martial law administrator took all the pomp and glory of the office with him to the PM office. He carried with him his military secretary, his ADCs, the national flag, the national anthem, which is never played for any prime minister of the world, and the first lady.
Being a good Muslim, Ziaul Haq’s wife hardly ever accompanied him in public. Ditto for Rafiq Tarrar. I hope this will clear the confusion of many.
COL (R) RIAZ JAFRI
Sir: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban the sale and flying of kites, Section 144 has been imposed in Islamabad and other cities for one month. On November 23, the Islamabad Police raided a playground and arrested four “criminals” defying the ban — children whose ages ranged from six to 17 years. They were taken into police custody for 36 hours. During this period their parents and relatives were not allowed to see them. The handcuffed juvenile “criminals” were finally produced before the magistrate on November 26.
The government should reward the brave and efficient law-enforcement personnel for their excellent performance, nabbing “criminals” red-handed.
Sir: On November 21, 1996, Pakistan’s sole Nobel laureate, Dr Abdus Salam, passed away. Nine years later, it seems no one remembers the man who did far more than win a Nobel Prize in 1979.
Dr Abdus Salam was a man who believed in institutions; his efforts for the development of science in third world countries are praiseworthy. Dr Salam was aware of the consequences of a nuclear world. But since in our part of the world, a pacifist is seen as a coward, Dr Salam was dubbed a spy by the standard-bearers of religiosity.
Dr Salam’s contributions to and achievements in science were significant. But only a single line has been reserved for him in our textbooks. This too may be edited out with the passage of time.
Science is the common heritage of mankind, he once said. If we don’t believe this, why don’t we burn the science books authored by ‘infidels’? Why not simply burn our libraries? Do we really need Mongols to do that?
MUHAMMAD ISMAIL KHAN
Sir: According to a news report, “Musharraf is confident of PML’s potential”.
But is he talking about the present PML headed by Chaudhry Shujaat or the party in 2007 when it will be headed by...?
DR GHAYUR AYUB
Rights for all
Sir: The struggle of the people of Gilgit Baltistan for the recognition of their identity hasn’t received much attention and importance. Political and economic discrimination and injustices has given a new dimension to this movement.
Islamabad should revisit the issue of the identity of the people of Gilgit Baltistan before it is too late. In undemocratic systems, movements for rights are usually put down through force. However, this policy only breeds hatred and alienation.
Gilgit Baltistan still does not enjoy the political rights and freedoms given to the people of the four provinces of Pakistan. Pakistan should ensure that all the people living within its geographical territory enjoy equal rights.
Faith in ourselves
Sir: October 8, 2005 will become part of the collective memory of Pakistanis. It will be remembered for the devastation it caused.
Much has been said and written about the quake and its aftermath, and the relief operations. The role of the Pakistan Army has been criticised though some praise has also come its way.
According to the official version, the earliest helicopters of the Pakistan Army aviation wing took off for areas along the LoC, 25 minutes after the earthquake. After four hours the situation was relayed to Rawalpindi but the army was busy with Margalla Towers. No effort was made to reach Muzzafarabad and Balakot.
Foreign organisations reached these areas before the army. Were the people trapped beneath the rubble in far-flung areas less important than the army personnel that were being rescued?
About a week later, the army was present in the affected areas in full force, but unfortunately it did not co-ordinate the relief efforts. How else can one explain the looting, the chaos, the scenes of people fighting over relief goods? Why are children in the affected areas still without warm clothes?
This tragedy has shown us that we don’t need the uniformed people to tell us what to do. We can do it ourselves.
MUHAMMAD ADEEL MANNAN