Month: February 2012

Oh yes, wow but why?

Awaam Mehwish Mushtaq Some in Pakistan have termed it as historic, few are happy that it has brought some positive attention to the country; some remain indifferent while others have been infuriated. While Oscar winner  Sharmeen Obaid  Chinoy basks in post Oscar glory, her documentary ‘saving face’ that follows the work of Dr. Muhammad Jawad, a British Pakistani surgeon assisting acid attack victims in Pakistan has ignited a heated feminist debate, musings into development pornography, a  delving into the nature of pre-conceived notions the west has about Pakistan and of everything negative  about the country becoming a cause célèbre for the westerners, so much so that attention has been derailed from the actual  contents of the documentary itself. The struggle of acid attack survivors and the highly commendable work of Dr. Jawad, have been left somewhere far behind amidst the impetuous arguments. If a picture is worth a thousand words than definitely a movie is worth even more as has been proven by the current buzz. Photo: Reuters/File

Water: Going with the flow

The Economist To fix the country’s long-term problems, action needs to start now     Arid debates FOR MILLIONS SUFFERING the misery of the past two years’ floods it must seem the cruellest of jokes, but Pakistan is one of the world’s most arid countries. Average annual rainfall is less than 240mm, and the total availability of water per person has fallen from about 5,000 cubic metres in the 1950s to about 1,100 now, just above the 1,000 cubic-metre-per-head definition of “water-scarce”. A shortage of water is a more serious peril than any of the others mentioned in this report. Combined with continued fast growth in its population, it is the true existential threat to Pakistan.

Sharmeen Obaid wins Oscar for film on acid attack victims

Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy accept the Oscar for the Best Documentary Short Subject for their film “Saving Face” at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California. – Reuters ISLAMABAD: Pakistani filmmaker and first-time Oscar nominee Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won an Academy Award on Monday for her documentary about acid attack victims, a first for a Pakistani director.

Violence: Dripping with blood

The Economist Too many disagreements in Pakistan are fatal   ON DECEMBER 29TH Syed Baqir Shah, a police surgeon, was gunned down in Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan. A few days later the police said that some 50 suspects had been arrested but there had been no “major breakthrough”. Few were surprised. Among the prime suspects were the police themselves and the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary outfit that in theory reports to the provincial government but takes orders from the army.

Poverty: Always with us

The Economist Natural catastrophes have shown up the depth of poverty in Pakistan   After the flood THREE TIMES IN recent years Pakistan has suffered from cataclysmic disasters. The earthquake that struck Kashmir in October 2005 killed over 70,000 people and made 3m homeless. In 2010 the Indus river spilled over its banks, flooding one-fifth of the country and affecting 20m people. More than 1,700 people lost their lives. The following year unusually heavy rains—one monsoon’s-worth in a day—brought renewed flooding in Sindh and Balochistan. Of the inundated area, 35% had also been flooded the year before. Over 5m people were affected.

A taste of Hunny

The Economist A small start on the big problem of illiteracy THE HUNNY SCHOOL, a private institution occupying two cramped buildings in Rawalpindi’s back streets, seems a happy place. The boys and girls packed into its little classrooms look pleased to be there. Some look much older than their classmates. They have a lot of catching up to do. Many were street children whose parents could not afford to send them to school. A future of illiteracy and perhaps crime and drugs beckoned.

The economy: Lights off

The Economist Shortages of electricity and credit are bad for growth KAMRAN, A TAILOR in Rawalpindi, is enjoying a little boom. He and his staff—two men perched on a platform above the counter in his tiny shop—have increased production fivefold this year, to five or six suits a day. They charge 300 rupees (about $3.30) each, with the customers supplying the material. The secret of their success is simple. They have access to credit, in the form of a 15,000-rupee loan from Tameer Bank, a microcredit lender, and, thanks to that, to a reliable supply of electricity. They have invested the money in a battery that enables them to keep sewing through the power cuts that bedevil Rawalpindi, and indeed most of Pakistan, for much of the day and night.