Corruption and Lady Health Workers

HOW do you deal with deceit, dishonesty and debasement in your day-to-day life? Sounds like an existential question. Substitute the three D’s with a single word, ‘corruption’, and the question loses its dimensions and sounds almost clichéd.

Inducted into the Urdu lexicon and used ad nauseam in our popular political discourse, the word when deconstructed in a specific context holds a mirror up to ordinary lives made difficult through avarice and misuse of entrusted power. A look at ‘corruption’ through the perspective of Lady Health Workers (LHWs) explains why corruption is termed by the UN on the International Anti-Corruption Day (observed two weeks ago) as one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and a formidable hurdle in the path of “development, peace and security”.

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Workers in FATA

Published in Dawn November 28th, 2016

FOR decades, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) presented an image of its people as fierce, loyal to tribal customs, and living under the harsh colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), 1901. Later, this image was replaced with that of the militants and religious extremists at war with the state and amongst themselves.

Far from the area, we somehow failed to imagine them as ordinary people like ourselves going about life, struggling to earn a livelihood and dreaming of a better tomorrow — but in a war-torn region whilst yearning to be free of the FCR.

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Ship of Sorrows

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2016

FOR millennia, the symbol of the ship epitomised hope and the promise of new horizons. With the discoveries of new lands and the onset of trade, the image of the ship was besmirched with the sufferings of human cargo — the slaves — transported in and out of continents. Then, more recently, emerged the phenomenon of boats full of refugees and immigrants capsizing on Western shores. What remains hidden, or not so visible, in our collective consciousness is the story of ships being broken down across South Asia’s shores, bringing in their wake death and despair to those who dismantle, bit by bit, the decaying, hazardous, mammoth machines.

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Brick and Bondage

Published in Dawn November 1st, 2016

ONE of the many trials and tribulations of workers engaged in brick-making was reflected in the recent news of their children protesting against the closure of three schools, facilitated by an NGO and supported by the Sindh Education Foundation, at the brick kilns in Tando Hyder in Sindh.

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Combating Silicosis

Published in Dawn October 16th, 2016

IT may sound like a strange word for many of us urban dwellers, yet for those involved in the world of hazardous work it raises alarm — silicosis is an incurable lung disease that leads to respiratory failure and death.

Caused by inhaling silica dust while engaged in industrial operations such as mining, quarrying, sandblasting, rock-drilling, road construction and stone masonry, silicosis afflicts tens of millions of workers and kills thousands of people every year worldwide, according to ILO. The silver lining is that the disease is preventable and thus European countries, the US and Canada have reduced its incidence to a minimum. In South Asia, however, including Pakistan, silicosis mortality rate remains very high.

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Islamophobia in America

Published in Dawn September 28th, 2016

THE US elections have stoked excitement and fear among all, in and outside the country. The liberals hate Trump whom they think is dangerous and reckless and backed by uncouth rednecks; they say he would play havoc with civil rights if in power. A white Democrat American said (jokingly) to me that she would seek political asylum in Pakistan if Trump won.

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The Forgotten

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2016

WHILE mainstream America goes through the frenzy of the November elections speculating and forecasting among co-workers, debating and fighting among friends and family, glued to social media, waiting for the first presidential general election debate thousands of Native Americans from all over the country have travelled to and gathered in North Dakota to put up a strong fight for their rights to water and their ancestral land, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

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