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Blog Published Social Issues

An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record

Coat of Arms of Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Govt. of Pakistan

Ever since Pakistan became a sovereign state, the issue of human rights has been one of grave importance. The partition of India in the second half of 1947 saw one of the worst massacre, as thousands of individuals were slaughtered, made homeless, raped and abused in the process of migrating to the homeland of their choice. Governments on both sides of the newly drawn borders could not do much to prevent this; they were silent spectators to one of history’s most bloody moments.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented in the United Nations General Assembly; Pakistan was among the 48 states that voted for the adoption of the Declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed that year with 48 votes in favor, no votes against it and 8 abstentions. The declaration became an integral part of Pakistan’s constitutions, all three of them, and still is an integral part of the fundamental rights enshrined in, and guaranteed and safeguarded by the current constitution.

Pakistan, however has seen much ups and downs in its political arena. The Constitution, when first suspended by the first coup d’état, saw unlawful arrests, exiling of influential political figures, and unreasonable restrictions being imposed upon the citizens, as the Martial Law administrator General Ayub Khan said that he believed in “Democracy with Discipline” (there wasn’t any democracy, just the innocent civilians being disciplined along military lines). During the era of Gen. Yahya Khan, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh was fighting for its independence and dismemberment of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army committed severe human rights violations, which may be classified as atrocities and war crimes. The army massacred many professors scientists and doctors in the East, and was accused of rape and torturing prisoners to death.

Public  flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime
Public flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime – Human Rights Violation?

After Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted from office in another coup d’état, and General Zia-ul-Haq took over; the country saw its worst nightmare. The Constitution was ridiculously amended and new laws were promulgated in the process of ‘Islamization’. These new laws, aimed at legitimizing Zia regime, provided the administration far-reaching powers to suppress political activities. Public floggings became a common sight, political parties, trade unions, student unions, all were banned; those who dared to question Zia’s legitimacy or actions were tortured to death. The Hudood ordinances, provided for the punishments of victims of rape, and took away the rights of inheritance of women.

After Zia’s era, the Constitution was abrogated twice by Gen Musharraf, however this did not accompany large-scale human rights violation. Musharraf’s attempts to control the judiciary backfired, and the protests eventually lead to Musharraf leaving the country, and the presidency. The situation has improved greatly since. General elections were held in Pakistan in 2008, that saw the coming of a democratic government, which introduced the Constitution 18th Amendment act 2010, which reversed many of Zia-ul-Haq’s changes, and introduced articles, to safeguard the right of education and grant the right to a fair trial.

Islamabad Police beating up a protester
Police Brutality – quite common in Pakistan

Judiciary and the Election Commission in Pakistan are now fiercely independent; this means that the right to a fair trial and right to participate in the country’s government for all Pakistanis are now secure. Much has still to be done; prisoners are still being tortured in jails, child molestation is still taking place in underdeveloped urban areas of Pakistan, according to UNICEF reports.

Sindh Police beating a protester in Karachi
More Police Brutality – you just cannot stand up against injustice

Pakistan, although has a democratic government, there are still incidents of human rights violation by the government. The Pakistani constitution, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of expression, subject to “reasonable restrictions imposed by law in order to protect the glory of Islam…”. This provision is being used as a tool to impose censorship on media and access to Internet. YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing platform is not in Pakistan, just because a few videos insult Islam. This action of censorship, in my humble opinion, is violation of an individual’s freedom of speech, expression, choice and right to information as granted by the universal declaration of human rights and the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and law.

The government has also failed to protect the right of life of its citizens; many people fall victims to target killing and terrorism each day. There have been instances of the law-enforcement agencies doing just that: in June 2011 the paramilitary forces shot dead an individual in a public park accused of armed robbery.

Protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan
The poster says it all – protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan

The situation of human rights abuse is improving in Pakistan, ever since the democratic forces have come to run the country. Pakistan, however has still a long way to go, before it transforms itself from a security state to a welfare state, which safeguards all the rights of its citizens without any discrimination of any kind whatsoever.

Read more about this issue:

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Blog Social Issues Speech

Happy News: Once in a Blue Moon

I love discussions over current political situations and scenarios, read and watch the news (almost) everyday, and have friends and family to discuss the news with. It occurs to me:

Collection of negative news headlines
The most fequently seen headlines!

“Why is the news so negative

Every news-person and journalist I happened to inquire, gave me the response on these lines:

“Negative? This is reality. The world is a bad place. Bad things happen. We’re trying to make the world better by telling people about it the way it is. People murder their families. Kids and teens are kidnapped. Terrorists are trying to kill you; bomb blasts happen everyday. Dozens of people are being shot dead everyday. We’re at war. The politicians, the government, are corrupt; the army, the judiciary and agencies are plotting against you. Incredible car accidents, train wrecks and plane crashes take place on a regular basis and you need to know about them. The world is giving you cancer. Terrible plagues are on their way. Climate change is here, and we’re all going to die.”

breaking-newsWhat is wrong with all this? This is the reality we’re made to believe each time we switch on the T.V., isn’t it?

I love newspapers and TV news, and I’ve mostly seen negativity as a by-product of freedom of the press – freedom to criticize those is power and expose crime, corruption, inaction, inequality and injustices. But in the last few years, something changed. I started finding news, TV news in particular, irritating, painful, disturbing, even traumatic. Repetitive. Torturous. Paranoid. Overkill. I’d turn on Geo and hear an unrelenting charge of corruption, accusations against the government, inflation, instability, murders, deaths, explosions, disasters, tragedies, terrorists and apocalyptic predictions.

Perhaps the world has simply gotten worse in the last decade. Climate change, terrorism, hyperinflation, economic decline, and war have made the news cycle more frightening. But I don’t think viewers take issue with this type of negativity. They understand the state of the world. They watch the news.

This is what is meant by negative:

NewsCastYou see a dry, windy day, the media see climate change. You see a road, the media sees car accidents, traffic jams, and pollution. You see a protest and the media shouts that the government must go. You see a religious festival or public holiday ahead, the media alert us a terrorist attack is imminent. You see an empty street, the media see street crimes, armed robberies and target killings. You see a glass half-full, the media tell you the remaining water in that glass could be contaminated with cyanide by terrorists. You say: “Have a nice day,” the media say: “It started off as a nice day, but it ended in murder, car accidents, a fire, bank robberies, a frightening new trend and arrests. Detailed news after the break.”

If you had a friend who talked like TV news, you’d probably think that friend was an idiot, paranoid, hyper, morbid, manic and clinically depressed.

Television networks, particularly 24-hour news networks, come alive when a war starts. This is no accident. War reporting is one of journalism’s core assignments and, not accidentally, the greatest driver of ratings.

War and its attendant horrors might have forged and woven the very fabric of journalism. Some people say that the popular inverted pyramid reporting style has its roots in war. War reporters, always fearful of having their stories cut off by the telegraph, wrote stories in a hierarchy of carnage where the deaths came first, followed by injuries.

While this theory is disputed, the pyramid style persists and has a led to an obsession with body counts and violence. Stories are more important if more people die, and readers find that news stories trail off without any kind of … conclusion. They’ll show you an accident, but they won’t tell you why it happened or how to prevent it next time.

And the very language of journalism is said to have come from war. A politician will face a “barrage of questions,” bills are “torpedoed” and exciting new books are “explosive.” In Pakistan, the evening news has something related to this: “Today, 15 people were shot dead in different parts of Karachi” being accompanied by images of an ambulance being sent off from the crime scene, the traumatized victim or his/her dead body being moved around in the hospital and finally scenes of crying and wailing women and then men. After the final ‘sensational’ development of the news, the channels would lay claims that they were the first ones to break the news first to you.

The number of dead are reported in this manner: “The explosion claimed 31 lives, which included 24 women and children”. 31 and 24 seen quite high together, a psychological effect intended at creating a sensation, and spark interest (read: horror) among the viewers, to keep them glued to their seats, make them depressed.

EVERYTHING IS FINE!
If everything was fine, would you read the newspaper?

Perhaps people have gotten hooked on negative news the way people got hooked on junk food. And here is perhaps the most popular argument in favor of media negativity. It’s what the people want. But is it really?

Good and happy news are flashed on the TV too, like winning a cricket or hockey match, but isn’t that too short lived, and not given the attention it duly deserves? Would you like to listen to any good news?

If the media are too negative, there is one person who might have the power and the ideas to change it.

That’s you!

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Blog Social Issues Tribute

Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness

"July 4, 1776. When our Declaration of Independence was signed loyal Americans were of one mind to Protect Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
American WW-II Poster repeating these lines.

More than a year after the American Revolutionary War, the second Continental Congress, on 2nd July 1776, unanimously approved for the creation of an independent United States of America; independent of the Great Britain. The congressional committee selected Thomas Jefferson (later to become the 2nd Vice President and the 3rd President of the United States) to author the Declaration of Independence, as an explanation of the reasons for the declaration by the Congress.

The Declaration of Independence of the 13 states of the United States of America was formally adopted by the Congress on 4th July 1776; the day on which America celebrates its independence.

Jefferson was an philosopher, a statesman, and a lawyer. He crafted the Declaration in an excellent manner:

The second section of the Declaration read:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”

Jefferson knew that a person can never be truly happy; greed usually steps in. He therefore wrote “pursuit of Happiness” instead of “Right to be Happy”.

Well, a side thought: If the nation on its independence declared that all men are created equal, then why did it take a century and a civil war for the abolition of slavery and granting equal status and the rights of like, liberty and pursuit of happiness?

Happiness is a choice, really it is! Like Abraham Lincoln said

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be”

Live happy; live long!
Live happy; live long!

The reason: humans are seldom satisfied with what they have, people want more! That ‘want’ is what makes people feel deprived and unhappy!

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi better known as Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India said:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”

So be satisfied with and thankful for what you have, be happy and live happy, for life is short, live it now, live it to the fullest! 🙂

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Blog Published Social Issues Speech

Confessions of a writoholic!

Extract from the Personal Diary of Ahmer Jamil Khan
An extract of the diary I write each.

No matter how much you love to write, there are times when you’re writing, or planning to write and you can’t think of something. Writing is an art of expression, just as speech is. Many people express themselves by their speech, some do that better by writing, but there are some unique cases that can express themselves to the fullest only after speaking what they’ve written; more like a prepared speech.

Some people write, because they have an inner urge to write or they might simply feel like writing; others do it because they have to, either because they’re a student and have to sit for a language exam and are writing on a given topic or a topic of their choice from the options given to them, or because they’re paid to do so, like writing a review, a how-to instruction, news, or any thing of that sorts. For the former, writing in fun, enjoyable and easy, for the latter, it may be either fun, enjoyable and easy or it may be a herculean task, burdened upon them which they must endure with patience.

I consider myself in the first category; I write a diary, a daily journal or log of what happened each day, my feelings, emotions, dreams, desires, wishes, feelings, any and everything that occurred to me whether no matter how pleasant or bitter it may be (I try to curtail and distort the bitter part however, for reasons to be discussed earlier on), I know no one is ever going to read my personal diary, not that any one may or may not be interested in reading, but because to read it they’d need an extraordinarily long password, and my fingerprints! Yes! My personal diary is encrypted in a manner similar to how the any intelligence agency may encrypt, secure and store information pertinent to global or national security. Well, honestly, there is nothing of that sort in my personal diary, really, but its just not that I cannot risk it getting into wrong hands and earning me some embarrassing moments; it is also encrypted so securely because, simply put, I can do it!

Why I write my diary? Well it is just so that I may, in my free time revisit the past joyous moments and re-live all the happiness in my life! Trust me it just works this way! Reading about what I wrote in the vacations on the chilly mountain peak besides the fast flowing river reminds me of the natural beauty, excites my senses and brings me back to those moments, to enjoy life’s most joyous moments once again! I’m a writoholic, addicted to writing! Apart form that I write a blog, you know, the one you’re reading right now!

So how do I come up with things to write? Well, to start off with, I must first confess, my best friend said that “I’m maturer than my age”, well I guess that’s why my thoughts and believes differ from those held by the majority in my age group. I believe in equality of every person, freedoms and fundamental rights, I’m a staunch believer of parliamentary democracy, equal justice under law and rule of law. Not the kind of believes and mindset of a typical 18 year old in Karachi, Pakistan, or perhaps around the world. I’m quite interested in scientific research, researches on human psychology, social interactions, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and so much more. Such thoughts, believes and interests inspire me to write about many things (which do not interest many of my age group).

Then why do I write? Just for the sake of it! Writing is my expression, just as speech is my expression!

How do I get inspired about writing?

Well here it goes:

  1. Daily occurrences: There’s so much happening around us all the time, so many arenas look around: sports, politics, celebrity news, gossip, new developments!
  2. Overheard dialog: If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park, bus, a waiting area or a mall or my school, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not in a gross way or anything, but I’ll just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t happen on purpose — you can’t help but overhear people sometimes. If you happen to overhear a snippet of interesting dialog, jot it down in your writing journal or on your smart phone (like me) as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing.
  3. Google: Stuck for ideas? The old standby, Google, has often helped me out. I’ll just search for the topic I’m writing about and find tons of great resources.
  4. Free writing: One of the best ways to get unstuck if you’re uninspired. Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Don’t edit, don’t pause, don’t think. Just write and let it flow. You’ll end up with a lot of garbage, probably, but it’ll help you get out of your rut and you might just write some really good stuff among all that garbage.
  5. Brainstorms: Similar to free writing, but instead of writing prose you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. Speed and quantity is more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness. One of my favorite ways to get ideas.
  6. Newspapers: The newspapers are a great resource. Not just news, you also get to read opinion of people, their views etc. I prefer the online version where people actually comment under each and every news article.
  7. Exercise: I get my best ideas most often while running. There’s something about the quietness, combined with the increased flow of blood through your brain, combined with being out in the fresh air with nature, that really stimulates the mind.
  8. Religion. Many of you aren’t religious (and many are) but it doesn’t matter much — the great religions in the world have ideas in them that are beautiful and inspiring. I’ve studied some of the writings of not only Islam, but Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology, Raëlism and many cultures with a single god, multiple nature gods, or no gods at all, yes, I studied them all! I can’t say I’m an expert at any of these religions, but I can say that any time I’ve spent reading the ideas of religion have paid off for me in inspiration.

So what do you write about, if you do at all? Write about it in the comments below!

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Blog Published Social Issues

There’s a Special Place in Hell for Spammers!

Spammers will be shot on sight!A little while ago, I logged into my dashboard and found a whole lot of comments caught as spam by my anti-spam software.

This website being my personal blogging platform, doesn’t attract much unknown visitors, those who read my blog are actually people whom I know, or have known due them reading my blog regularly. A sudden burst of spam comments? What is going on? The backup of this website on WordPress.com attracts well over 300 spam comments every day, almost all caught by the anti-spam software there, but an even larger number here, and that too within a shorter time period!

So what really is spam?

Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, especially advertising, indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media. Spamming remains economically viable because advertisers have no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists, and it is difficult to hold senders accountable for their mass mailings. Because the barrier to entry is so low, spammers are numerous, and the volume of unsolicited mail has become very high. In the year 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages was around seven trillion, the figure for this year (2012) is expected to be even higher. The costs, such as lost productivity and fraud, are borne by the public and by Internet service providers, which have been forced to add extra capacity to cope with the deluge. Spamming has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions. A person who creates electronic spam is called a spammer.

And where does this spam come from?

Well, it comes mainly from spammers. These spammers may be an automated bot (a computer program made for this purpose), a company/organization trying to publicize their product(s), themselves or for a financial gain, fraud or a cause (which may in some rare cases be simple and just) or individuals bent upon publicizing their business startup/blog that leads to advertising revenue.

Rank Country Spam vol. %
1 India 13.9
2 Russia 9.0
3 Vietnam 7.9
4 (tie) South Korea 6.0
4 (tie) Finland 6.0
6 China 4.7
7 Brazil 4.5
8 America 3.2

So what’s actually so wrong about spamming?

Spam can be used to spread computer viruses, trojan horses or other malicious software. The objective may be identity theft, or worse (e.g., advance fee fraud). Some spam attempts to capitalize on human greed whilst other attempts to use the victims’ inexperience with computer technology to trick them (e.g., phishing).

Apart from all that, spamming is a type of in-your-face advertisement, filling you e-mail/SMS inbox with useless, meaningless often fraudulent advertisement. This reduces productivity by take up space, both storage space, display space and bandwidth (data transfer space).

Some spam contents are also ethically objectionable and morally wrong. Most common spam these days is about winning lottery, being made a beneficiary by rich business tycoons about to die, discounted travel, cheap Viagra, fake medicines, pornography, online dating and get rich quick schemes.

Legal status

As mentioned earlier, spamming has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions. Many countries, states and territories, with the notable exception of Bulgaria, have illegalized spamming, making it a punishable criminal offence. For the state specific legislations see the Wikipedia article on E-mail spam legislation by country.

In Pakistan, it is prohibited under Section 14 (1) and (2) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance 2007. This law illegalizes and criminalizes spamming, and provides for a fine of up to PKR 50,000.00 (approximately 830 USD at the time the Ordinance was signed), and for repeat offenders a prison sentence of 3 months or a fine of PKR 50,000.00 or both. However I still see spam, lots of it, in almost all of my e-mail inbox and my SMS inbox.

Some questions that pop up in my mind:

  • Why do people comment on “nofollow” blogs? (i.e. blogs that prevent search engines from crawling to their links)
  • Why do people spam when they do realize that spam protecting software will bust their spams?
  • Why on Earth do they just do all this, I mean when they have better options for publicity!

What I’ve decided…

Some time back, I came across a statement on a blog that was somewhat like this: “There’s a special place in hell for spammers”. I am totally in favor and agreement of this statement. Spamming is illegal; breaking the law is like doing a sin, and sinners, figuratively speaking, go to hell, and actually speaking, law breakers go to jail.

I’ve now decided to make up a policy to combat spam, and would, like all other policies, enforce it strictly.

UPDATE: I’ve made up the Spam Policy!

Categories
Blog Published Social Issues Speech Tribute

Time is a Great Teacher, but does it Kill its Pupil?

Time is indeed a great teacher. It has taught many lessons, great and small, to all its eagerly learning pupil. History teaches us many lessons from notable examples, on a great personality’s vision or inspiration or a great tyrant’s mistakes. All these stories have something for us, a lesson or a moral.

All those great people in history were born just as innocent and naïve as any other baby anywhere in the world. They made mistakes and learned from their own and the mistakes of those before them. These lessons that they learnt over time, made them stand out of the masses of millions who lived in their times.

But no one lives forever, and so is with all great personalities. Everyone dies when their time here ends, leaving only their legacy and marks in books of history behind.

Everyone comes in the world and lives their lives and then die. But only those who did something of great importance in the world are remembered. Everyone here, I am sure, knows Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Alfred Noble, Galileo Galilee, Leonardo da Vinci, the Wright Brothers, and many other great personalities who excelled at what they did, but could anyone here name any other person who lived in their times in the same neighborhood, or in the same city as of any on these?

Well, I don’t think so. So, you see my friends, time doesn’t kill its pupil. Its pupil, stay engraved in the pages of history, as those who molded and shaped the world or its future. Mahatma Gandhi is credited for leading the Indian independence movement and Muhammad Ali Jinnah is credited for creating Pakistan. Edison for creating the light bulb, Einstein, Newton, Galileo and Noble for their brilliance and excellence in their fields of work and setting the principals of sciences, da Vinci for his famous paintings and visionary ideas and the Wright brothers for making the first aircraft.

These personalities were pupil of time; they learned over time and then did what made them stand out of the masses in their limited time on Earth, so that when they left the world, they still live on in our memories and the memories of generations to come.

So my friends, time doesn’t kill its pupil, it keeps them alive forever in the hearts of the masses and the pages of history.

Ahmer Jamil Khan

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Blog Shared Social Issues

Belief and the Right to Believe

Did you know, that Belief and the Right to Believe are two separate things? A “Right to Believe” is something entirely different from a “Belief”. Understand the difference!

You, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the constitution and/or law(s) of your country, have the Right to Believe in any/everything you may wish to believe in/about. I, sincerely respect your right.

However, your belief(s) might be quite different form mine, do I respect them? Well, that, my friend, is an entirely different question!

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Blog Published Social Issues

Should tobacco smoking be entirely banned or simply discouraged?

Smoker's questionTobacco smoking has been proven to be injurious to health; it is in fact the single largest preventable cause of death around the world. Tobacco smoke contains drugs and toxic chemicals like nicotine and tar, the former results in addiction, the latter causes long term severe adverse health issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer and death. Other chemical compounds and substances like soot, suspended ash, carbon monoxide etc. have their own adverse effects on health. People who once try smoking, get addicted to it, and with trying to quit comes withdrawal symptoms where a person willing to give up smoking feels helpless and troubled, like a fish out of water.

So why do people smoke, and why they are allowed to smoke, and why should it be banned or discouraged? We will start with why they smoke. Tobacco smoking does not just come in form of cigarette, but also as cigars, pipes, hookah, water pipes (sheeshas) and beerih (rolled up tobacco leaves). Over the years, cigarettes have become something like a “fashion statement” and a sign of coolness of the urban youth,. Cigars are an icon of the elite, a symbol of status and prestige. Water pipes and hookahs have become a must for the night life in cities and urban areas, and the the beerih is a tool for the underprivileged to live off with their frustrations and troubles.

The murderous pair: the killer and its accomplice.
The murderous pair: the killer and its accomplice.

Tobacco smoke kills, so why should it not be banned? Most legal experts (hired, in my opinion, by large multinational tobacco firms) argue that every individual has the fundamental right to choose and a freedom of expression. They may be warned about the consequences of their choice, but the choice to smoke, or not to smoke, must be entirely their own.

As a consequence of this argument, the legal systems in most nations allow any sane adult person to smoke, provided the manufacturers of cigarettes and related tobacco products pint a statutory warning that smoking is injurious to health. It was probably overlooked by the lawmakers that tobacco smoke does not just kill the smoker, but those around him/her as well. Suicide is a crime, drug consumption is a crime, homicide or murder is a crime, but why is not tobacco smoking considered a crime? A smoker, by smoking is slowly killing himself/herself (i.e. suicide), he/she is consuming nicotine and other addictive drugs (drug consumption) and is slowly killing others around him/her (murder or homicide). Why do legal systems adopt a dual policy when it comes to tobacco smoking?

The answer to this may lie in the fact that the tobacco industry is the largest or the second largest (second only to telecom, where it is second) tax paying sector in most countries. The lawmakers and legislators cannot afford to loose a large chunk of the revenue. If a bill or legislation is considered to be against the interests of this industry, large bribes and underhand influences prevent such a bill to be passed or discussed in the law making bodies.

Recent laws do provide some sort of protection to the non-smokers like me. Smoking now in most regions, including Pakistan, is strictly prohibited in public places such as streets, parks, roads, shops, public transports, etc. and sale of tobacco and its related products to those under 18 is a criminal offence prosecutable under law. These laws, however, are not as effective as they were intended to be, and hundreds of thousands of people especially children under 18 still take up smoking each day, and smoking continues to be the single largest preventable cause of death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified smoking as a disease, to allow the smokers to avail their health insurance to pay off for the costs associated with quitting of smoking.

It is now probably a matter of time when the public outcry against smoking reaches new heights, and the law makers realize the facts and decide to out rightly ban and outlaw smoking in any and all forms, and consider it to be suicide, homicide, murder and drug consumption.

This article was written as my answer to the topic “Should tobacco smoking be entirely banned or simply discouraged?” given in my General Paper exam. This article has been slightly modified before being published here. The test was graded 17/20 with a comment stating “Strong ideas!”
I may also mention here, that the above article expresses my personal views about tobacco smoking; and I’m proud to state that I never have and never ever intend to smoke in my whole life!

Ahmer Jamil Khan

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Blog Social Issues

In the name of love

In-the-name-of-LoveLove has many different meanings in many different contexts. But does this broad term encompass vandalism, robbery, arson, murder, terrorism? Many would disagree; many did just all this in the name of love. Someone made a blasphemous video insulting Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.); this ignited the sentiments of the Muslims and resulted in attacks on the US and European Embassies around the Muslim world, which included the murder of the US ambassador to Libya.

Wednesday 19th September 2012: the federal government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan announced Friday 21st September 2012 as Ishq-e-Rasool (S.A.W.W.) Day, a public holiday to enable the people to show their love for Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). The move might not had been entirely religiously motivated; the Islamic fundamentalist political parties in the opposition had issued a call for strike as a protest against the said video.

It was announced by the Interior Ministry that cellular services would be suspended throughout the nation on Friday 21st October 2012, to prevent any undesirable incident. Cellular blackouts are now a common feature under Abdul Rehman Malik’s ministry.

Thursday 20th September 2012: In Islamabad, the federal capital of the Islamic Republic, protesters marching towards the US embassy in the Red Zone’s Diplomatic Enclave scuffled with the police; this evolved into skirmishes between the protesters and the security forces. In hours this escalated into a battle, and the Pakistan Army was called in. Protests also erupted in other cities of Pakistan as well other Muslim countries around the world.

Friday 21st September 2012, the Ishq-e-Rasool (S.A.W.W.) Day: Protests in all major cities began after the Friday prayers; before that an uneasy calm prevailed. The demonstrators and the criminals alike took to the streets and vandalized public and private property: petrol pumps, banks, cinemas, restaurants, shops, and many public places were vandalized, robbed, burnt and many people lost their lives. At many places the protesters and the law enforcement agencies were involved in street gun battles, in which many were injured and some lost their lives. At the end of the day, 189 suspects found themselves in police custody, and 27 were dead.

All in the name of love; love for the person who never cursed even those who tortured and persecuted him, love for the person who was sent as a blessing to humanity, love for the Prophet of the religion which means peace.

Protesting about something which one may consider offensive is one’s right, but protesting in such a way, is that even acceptable? Not at all, as I believe; this believe is shared by all I know. That day, Facebook statuses denouncing such acts flooded every Pakistani’s news feeds. Every sane and literate person hated what was going on outside in the streets.

But why did all this happen? The answer lies in the mentality of the masses, majority of which are illiterate. Literacy rate has been very low here in Pakistan, even when the definition of a literate person is “one who can read and write their own name”, funny, isn’t it? Their mentality has been altered; they have been brainwashed, hatred has been seeded in their minds. What Pakistan needs at this moment is a strong, well-funded educational infrastructure. For only educated and sane people seem to realize that love isn’t what many showed what it meant to them that day.

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Blog Published Social Issues Speech Tribute

Positive Thinking

Following is the text of my speech on Friday, 10th August 2012 before the Assembly of students at St. Michael’s Convent School. The speech was titled ‘Positive Thinking’, was a part of my personal effort to reduce, if not eradicate negativity and negative thinking from my fellow students’ minds.

Respected Deputy Principal, teachers and my fellow students. I am Ahmer Jamil Khan.

I’m here to share a few things with you all…

I think I just heard someone back there say, “abay yaar phir ek lambi speech” (Another long speech). Well, is this the attitude we have to start our day with? Negative thoughts, negative speech, negative actions and all this leads to a negative approach to life.

But why shouldn’t we be so negative? There are problems everywhere, in everyone’s life, getting scolded by our parents, being nagged by our teachers, and there are those nose poking neighbors, friends who are no better than pests, and then she said this to me, he said that to me, life is so unfair for those with a negative attitude…

Some of us have a really very negative approach to life and all the things that come our way, and when someone says something negative, others around them get carried away. People with a negative attitude have reasons to justify their attitude.

But friends, I have learnt, negative attitude to anything can never be justified. If I call anyone up here to tell us what’s wrong with the school, I’m sure many people can come up with some reasons to dislike our school. But did anyone ever realize how fortunate we are to be in this institution, or how fortunate we are to be able to receive good education here, can someone count the blessings they have?

Why do we have to complain about the one thing that we do not have, when there are 9 other things that we do have.

If someone can come up with 10 reasons to dislike our country, there are 90 reasons to love it!

I just checked this morning, 925 million people in the world are undernourished and 6 million children die of starvation each year! We have had a good meal this morning!

Our negative thinking takes up most of our attention, and we do not realize all the good things in life that we are missing out on.

A really good approach I found to tackle this problem, I write a diary every day. I only mention the good things that happened to me each day, and I also mention all the good things I did in the day. By doing this I realized how beautiful life is, how fair things are, and how easily I neglected the blessings I have.

Sometimes life hits us with a brick in the face. When it does, never lose hope, and never curse, but try to appreciate this as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes, try to appreciate the experience gained from that.

We should learn to appreciate our blessings before they are taken away? We should enjoy the things we have in life, instead of regretting over what we do not have, and to do this we need to change our attitude.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “People are only as happy as they want to be.” Really, happiness is a choice, and it’s up to us to choose to be positive or negative.

Life is too short to be unhappy. Let’s change our way of thinking, our attitude and let’s choose to be happy and see the magic.

Thank you all for your time.

Ahmer Jamil Khan