The younger generation prefers reading English literature and takes more interest in internationally bestselling books. Books written in Urdu are read now mostly by middle-aged people and the older generations, said Adeel Haq, a publisher taking part in the National Book Festival.
Organised by the National Book Foundation (NBF), the four-day festival concluded on Monday at the Pak-China Friendship Centre.
“I have participated in expos in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad every year and during the last decade, I have observed that young people, especially students, have stopped reading books in Urdu. They know more about the books published in different countries and they ask for them as well,” he said.
Mr Haq added that he used to deal mostly in Urdu books in the past, but now knows more about books in English due to the changing demand.
He said new writers who write in Urdu now do not find fame as the older generations want to read the books written by Qudrat Ullah Shahab, Bano Qudsia, Asfaq Ahmed and other established writers.
“Most of the over 130 stalls at the festival have English books. Parents now want short stories in English for their children,” Mr Haq said.
He suggested that the government should not charge fee from stalls at book festivals because expos are held to promote book reading culture, where books are sold at discounted rates.
Another publisher, Subah Sadiq, who had come from Jhelum, said the impression that book reading is declining due to the internet is not true.
“Those who claim they do not find time to read due to the internet did not have the habit of reading before the internet as well. We have now started using social media for the promotion of books,” he said.
He added that more books are sold at expos in Lahore and Karachi, perhaps because Islamabad is a smaller city.
Adeel Haq says he used to deal mostly in Urdu books but now knows more about books in English due to the changing demand
Observing the low rates of reported rapes in Pakistan, a recent Dawneditorial rightly points towards the gross “inadequacies of investigators and prosecutors…” as a key contributor to this issue.
The role of medical examiners holds immense importance in investigations for rape, since their report can often make or break the case.
Despite this, the investigational techniques utilised by our medicolegal system tend to rely upon crude, insensitive, and often brutal methods.
Newsreels of crime scenes being mobbed by curious onlookers, rescue volunteers, and reporters, the place being hosed down and precious evidence washed away or trampled on, is nothing new to us.
Our methods are unprofessional, to say the least, in sharp contrast to the meticulous, and methodical approaches being adopted by investigators that impress us on TV shows like CSI Miami.
Advancements in forensic investigations have come a long way but have yet to reach our shores.
Lack of career opportunities
The domain of the medical examiner unfortunately does not present a very rosy picture either. Medical forensic is an orphan specialisation in this country with the brightest minds choosing more lucrative fields.
The forensic departments in medical colleges exist due to requirements laid down by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, the governing body for undergraduate medical education in Pakistan.
While the subject is taught in all medical colleges as a compulsory course, it is treated by students as no more than a necessary irritant to be endured, rather than a discipline to be learnt and understood, since very few people want to make a career out of it.
This is not surprising since the only employment that forensic specialists get in Pakistan are in understaffed, under budgeted police surgeon offices in casualty departments of government hospitals.
The medicolegal officers are the underpaid, unrespected and entirely unacknowledged foot soldiers of our medicolegal system that is known more for its failings rather than its accomplishments.
The necessary close linkage with the law enforcement system also exposes this cadre to corruption that is rife in our police force.
Hence we have very few people in this field, out of whom many are there due to a lack of alternatives rather than out of choice.
This dismal state of affairs translates into limited progress in the field, the result of which is the suffering endured by the hapless victims seeking justice.
A prime example of this was highlighted by a recent Dawnarticlelamenting the use of the archaic and useless two-finger test used to establish ‘consent’ in a sexual assault case.
This legal requirement for a two-finger test to determine the veracity of the complaint of a rape victim resides within the dusty archives of law books, as a relic of the medieval precedence on which British law of that time was often structured, and is not in practice in any modern legal system across the world.
Yet, the legal and judicial system of this country seeks the results of this humiliating and unnecessary examination, to be conducted on a victim who summons enough courage to seek justice from a system not renowned for its sensitivity.
Not only is this test regarded as scientifically invalid, it does nothing but to doubly curse the woman.
After getting brutally violated once by the perpetrator of the crime, her recourse for justice lies in submitting to what amounts to nothing less than the most dehumanising and humiliating invasion of a woman’s privacy.
And this is done at the hands of a medical practitioner, a messiah whose hands are supposed to heal.
The Dawn editorial rightly applauds the Peshawar High Court’s decision to make it mandatory to include DNA evidence in rape investigations.
Whereas DNA forensic has been an established field across the world for years, enabling accurate linking of cells found at the site of the crime to the person they belong to, this technology has been introduced in Pakistan primarily to deal with cases of terrorism and has been very useful in identifying both victims and perpetrators.
Public sector hospitals can access these specialised labs to investigate rape investigations. However, the presence of a facility does not mean it will be used optimally.
Even though specimen collection using rape kits is no rocket science, and any trained person can do so, the lack of availability of trained staff often results in the loss of the window of opportunity to collect appropriate samples.
Due to the social taboo associated with rape and the psychological trauma, the victims may understandably present themselves to the investigation officer late.
Once this narrow window of opportunity is lost, there will be no second chance at collecting appropriate DNA samples.
Even if the samples are collected and preserved within the designated time frame, lack of appropriate transportation to the labs presents another challenge.
The samples sitting on the dashboard of a van on a hot summer afternoon, while the driver stops for lunch and namaz on the way from Karachi to Hyderabad, where the DNA lab is located for the province of Sindh, is not the recommended way to handle these delicate specimens.
Another challenge is the costs involved in the examination. While the service lies within the public sector domain, there is a cost attached to every procedure.
The lack of budgetary allocations precludes free availability of this investigation.
While the test ought to be provided for free to the victims, the cost which typically amounts to Rs20,000 is generally passed on to the victims’ families.
This may serve as a further deterrent for low income families who may still want to seek justice but find themselves in a bind because of their economic situation.
With so little faith in the legal system, many may understandably choose to forgo this added expense.
Failing education system
Perhaps even worse than ignorance and poor training is apathy of those who matter: the medical practitioners.
While our medical system may train our students in the modern methods of medical care, there is hardly any attempt to inculcate within them the values of empathy, compassion and caring, all part of the largely ignored multidimensional field of bioethics.
Our students are not trained in communication skills, which form an essential part of a physicians’ work, particularly for a medicolegal officer who deals with highly sensitive cases including rape and attempted suicide, to mention a few.
Most of our medical colleges either entirely ignore teaching bioethics, and even when it is included in the curriculum, according to a study conducted by one of the authors, the students believed that there was a disconnect between what was being taught and what they experienced in real life.
Another study has also previously indicated that a vast majority of the medical students expressed concern that instead of strengthening their moral values during medical schooling, the realities of the work environment may actually lead to erosion of their preexisting values.
In such a situation, easy availability and accessibility of advanced investigational techniques may not be enough.
Dealing with rape victims requires compassionate practitioners, equipped not only with advanced forensic knowledge and skills, and access to technology, but also armed with appropriate bioethics training with a focus on enhancing professionalism and communication skills.
A humane and ethical professional will make the best use of whatever technology is available and will provide the victim with the best chance at justice.
Stepping out of your ‘Comfort Zone’ is the real challenge. Little did I know what this sentence meant until I myself stepped out of my comfort zone and took challenges in my life.
So I was a super happy BBA grad, like every other girl in my university, ready to take the next big step in life.
Thanks to Allah, I got my first job before my convocation and started to plan my life ahead.
It was a decent job in Sales department, with good package and a car for commuting within Karachi as traveling and maintaining clientele was part of my job description.
With uncountable perks, best work environment, healthy opportunities and ample growth, I took the job. However, what came next, turned my life upside down.
My reporting branch was situated at Korangi Industrial Area, near Jinnah Medical and Pakistan Steel Mills.
My day at work started from 9am, where I’d drive to work daily and return around 7ish pm.
I did not have the slightest clue that the experience I was going to gain from this organization or in this specific role, will change me a person. And so my way of thinking regarding a lot of little things including my perception changed.
I had always been a pampered child of my family. Too protected, too polished. Not going to far flung areas of Karachi because of the usual ‘halaat kharab hein’ or ‘garmi bohot hai’ or ‘Tyre puncture hogaya tou?’ etc.
So as soon as my rotation ended, I was asked to report to Branch 1 at Korangi, which by the way I’d be referring to as ‘my happy place’ throughout this article.
First day, I was on my way to ‘my happy place’, with closer on full volume and shades in place. As I reached Brooks chowrangi, I realized I had something on my face. Something huge. Maybe near my eyes. Maybe on my forehead. The first thing I did after reaching my office was rush to the restroom and check if my “no makeup look” was on point. And the hell it was! I was confused, blank and totally lost.
If my makeup was fine, if my forehead did not have any huge black spot, then what was it? Why were some eyes glued to me throughout my journey? Why were they following me as I drove past each one of them? Looking as if they were trying to tell me something. Say something. Or maybe give a signal?
I pushed these thoughts away and chose to continue working. Little did I know the horror show is yet to start!
Next day, worse.
The eyes pierced through me. The abysmal bus conductor standing near Imtiaz’s bus stop, or a bike rider on Shawn Chowrangi’s signal, had their skin piercing sharp looks and their bee-like huge eyes stuck on me as I passed by them. Chills running down my spine, I did what I did best, imagined my Mehran as a Ferrari and drove as fast as I could, to reach my happy place.
Same like the previous day, I rushed to the restroom, hoping to find SOMETHING on my face just to justify those stares. But no, nothing..
As soon as I was turning around to continue with my daily routine, my eyes fell on my shiny gold pendant that I wore everyday to work. Suddenly my father’s reminder popped up in my head.
He had given me heads up a few days back and had asked me to avoid using my phone when I enter Korangi area and to avoid wearing or carrying anything super valuable as mugging was a very common practice in this locality.
And this is it! I got it! Mystery solved!
So all those desperate looks were after my little gold pendant! Wow. Ta-daa! Problem solved.
Well, I was stupid enough to think that leaving my pendant on my dressing table before coming to work, would leave all the evil stares somewhere far away from me too.
And yet again, they followed me. Each stare, with a tiny sharp smile, at times a short quick wink was all that I witnessed every morning. I felt exposed, and that’s it! Mom’s voice rushed in my mind “Sarpey dupatta le lia karo, drive kartey huye”
Oh yes Sana, how can you be so stupid! One piece of cloth on your head, and you’re good to go. Nobody will stop you, nobody will wink smile or even look at you. Problem solved, right? WRONG!
Dupatta didn’t work. Well, if covering myself didn’t work, maybe covering the car would work?
Next day, Sana’s covered – check, car covered with shades on each window – check, no necklace or gold pendant – check and lastly, EYES LOOKING AT YOU AND MOUTH GIVING YOU SMILES WITH GUTKA COMING OUT OF THE WHITE-TURNED-BLACK TEETH? CHECK!
And that’s when I sat back and realized. Its not us, girls. It’s the society.
Not everyone is the same, agreed. But we cannot deny how easy it is for a man in Karachi to look at you without blinking his eyes and smile/wink or even bite his lips alongside. However, all a girl can do is look down, elsewhere or just pretend she didn’t meet any eyes whatsoever.
It was hard for me to adjust with this environment. Environment which, neither me nor my family or my company could change. Because this? This runs in their blood.
I thought of asking the usual “tumharey ghar me maa behen nahi hein kia?” to the culprits, but is it worth it? Its not. This mentality can only be changed through education, because with education comes respect.
So whoever is out there, driving on the roads getting all the worlds attention, from a hawker in kameez shalwaar, or a paanwala passing a wink, or a bus driver not letting you over take and smiling from his rear view mirror, well trust me, that’s ALL they can do.
And you? You can learn to be indifferent about it and make a little prayer for these people who have taken “deikh magar pyaar sey” too literally that yes someday, they will change and we girls, will get our share of respect.
Let the games begin.
Sana – who still drives to her happy place every day, with confidence x100.
“Is Bosnia dangerous? Isn’t there like a war going on there?” Our Bosnian guide frustratingly recounts the questions he is frequently asked when travelling overseas.
“Sarajevo is only known for three things abroad: triggering the First World War, 1984 Olympics, and the war (Bosnian War, 1992-1995),” he tells us.
“We need another Olympic games to balance things out,” he humorously says.
Sarajevo is an increasingly vibrant place again with a growing number of tourists each year. Rich in history and natural beauty, the country is relatively cheap to travel across by European standards.
Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, bears all the marks of the country’s turbulent history and blends together white Ottoman-style mosques, Serbian Orthodox and Catholic Croat churches, Austro-Hungarian 19th century architecture, Communist-era apartment blocks and modern shopping malls. A bit of Vienna, a bit of Istanbul, a bit of central Europe – and totally Sarajevan.
Sarajevo is made up of two words, ‘saray’ and ‘evo’: ‘saray’ comes from the Turkish word for palace and ‘evo’ is believed to be a Slavic derivative of the Turkish word ‘ova’ or ‘ovasi’ meaning field or valley.
The city is built inside a valley and is surrounded by the Dinaric Alps mountain range with green hills and beautiful houses with red roofs and white walls, minarets, church towers, forts, mansions and graveyards donned across it.
Walking through the streets of Sarajevo’s old town with its wooden-built Ottoman-style bazaar and smell of kebab and grilled meat being cooked, I can see that Sarajevans, despite the rise of huge shopping complexes, still retain a love for the traditional markets. Families, couples, friends and colleagues alongside tourists relax in tea houses, smoking nargila (water pipe).
Bars, pubs and nightclubs are blended in throughout the city; a tall woman wearing a hijab walks alongside her uncovered blonde-haired sister who is wearing a dress. The city still embraces its multicultural heritage, although as our guide, who has a Serbian father and a Bosniak mother, tells us – it’s not like it used to be. “Mixed marriages used to be very common in this city,” he recalls.
Bosnia was a part of Yugoslavia, which encompassed present day Macedonia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro.
In 1991, 49.2% of the population identified as Bosniak (Muslim), 29.8% as Serbs (Orthodox Christians), 10.7% as Yugoslavs, 6.6% Croats (Catholics) and 3.6% as others (including Jews and Roma).
The war drastically changed the demographics of the entire region. Today, Sarajevo’s population is 80.7% Bosniak, 3.7% Serb, 4.9% Croat and 10% others.
Sarajevo’s streets are littered with reminders of the war and a sense of macabre is undeniably present throughout the city. One typical mini memorial I kept coming across is the red roses of Sarajevo. Every other street has a section of the pavement that looks damaged, but upon getting closer, I realised that the damaged pavement is painted red and forms a rose-like shape.
A Sarajevan explained to me that “these damaged parts of the pavement are where artillery landed and killed someone during the war. Rather than forgetting our past, we want to remember each and every individual tragedy, each life lost. We painted a red rose as a sign of love and peace. Because this is not an official memorial, the roses sometimes disappear. If the government decides to redevelop the street, people get angry about it.”
Cemeteries play an important role within Sarajevan culture; the city has integrated graveyard space into its everyday social life. I went to a few graveyards and saw people having picnics. A local explained to me that “Bosnian Muslims have always had a very open attitude to death. It’s a part of life. Why hide away from it? Why shouldn’t graveyards also be public parks?”
Sarajevans love life. Huge developments across the city, which not only include new shopping centres but also restoration of historic sites, opening of galleries and museums, give a clear impression of a place moving on.
Hikers and trekkers will be in heaven in Sarajevo; I walked up a steep hill and reached the yellow fortress, where I saw many young and old relaxing and enjoying the stunning views of the city at sunset.
There is no shortage of places to visit, hills to hike or adventures to be had in the city. Getting lost is not an issue; the locals are warm and friendly and are willing to help you find your way. I should warn you that food portions are large here; a little salad is a mini feast. But if Sarajevo doesn’t win you over, surely Mostar will.
A two and a half hour drive from Sarajevo to Mostar has to be among the most beautiful and stunning rides of my life. Green and lush valleys, snow-peaked mountain tops, clear river, mini mosques and churches in tiny villages – it could be the description of paradise itself.
Once you enter Mostar, the city does not disappoint with its old stone streets, vibrant market place and tasty food. Undoubtedly, the main attraction is Stari Most, a 16th-century Ottoman bridge which is aesthetically pleasing but difficult to walk across. Also known as the Old Bridge, it was destroyed during the Croat–Bosniak War 427 years after it was built. It was finally rebuilt in 2004. It is a hump-back bridge; it goes up, stabilises in the middle, before going down again.
Locals look amused as tourists struggle to cross the bridge and some even hold onto the railings while crossing. It took repeated attempts before I could confidently cross it.
One local man climbed to the ledge of the bridge. As a crowd gathered, he worked them up, and when enough people had gathered, he jumped off the bridge and landed safely into the crystal-clear waters below.
From Mostar, it is easy to travel to anywhere in southern Bosnia. There are numerous towns, villages, cities, historical sites and nature reserves to visit.
A must-see is the Kravice Falls, 40 minutes away by car. The beautiful waterfalls are an ideal spot to go for a swim, take photographs, relax and eat Cevapi or grilled kebab in bread. Even on a hot day, being close to the water will keep you cool as you listen to the sounds of crashing water.
Coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina is an unforgettable experience. For many, the word ‘Europe’ conjures up images of Paris, London or Berlin, but the so-called ‘other Europe’ is as important to the identity of modern Europe.
Despite its troubled past, the importance of Bosnia – especially at a time when reductionist identity politics is sweeping the Old Continent – is about demonstrating the multiethnic and multifaceted of Europe’s past, present and future.
Beyond the history and political lessons that can be learnt in Bosnia, it is also a cool place to enjoy good food, great sights and warm people. The place is really opening up to tourists and it deserves to be on your travel checklist.
All photos by the writer.
Usman Butt is London-based freelance multimedia journalist and media researcher who has written for The Huffington Post, Muftah, and others. He has also researched and produced documentaries and television features for The Community Channel (UK), the BBC, and a variety of television production companies. He enjoys travelling and plans to visit every continent before turning boring. As Blaise Pascal once wrote, “All our dignity lies in thought…Let us labor, then, to think well.” This is the philosophy he lives by.
Javed Miandad ran towards Imran Khan, grabbed him by his arm and pulled him for a hug. “Only Miandad can do that to Khan sahab”, said my dad.
The hug was iconic; not because even in absolute ecstasy of winning the World Cup no one else actually had the guts to hug Imran Khan, let alone have the audacity to pull him by his arm. It was momentous because the glory, the jubilation, the tears, the triumph, the prostrations and everything that Pakistan cricket was experiencing that day, in fact, everything that it had in the previous decade had its centre of gravity in these two individuals.
During the 80’s, Pakistanis got accustomed to the ways of this extraordinary duo. They moulded and inspired an entire generation of cricketers, oozing confidence and giving birth to absolute match winners.
We saw Imran lift the trophy and bow out of cricket with all the grace and glamour the sport offered at the time.
However, even with the abundance of skill Imran left behind, few could have envisioned that Pakistan cricket had already peaked. Scattered moments of sublime brilliance were to be surrounded by dark times that lay ahead.
Out of the men Imran skippered, nine went on and became Test captains. Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Saleem Malik, Waqar Younis, Ramiz Raja, Aamir Sohail, Saeed Anwar, Moin Khan and Inzamam ul Haq, all got a shot. Many had multiple stints. Often, at the expense of their teammates, and usually through an unpleasant transfer of power.
Pakistan cricket saw arguably its most talented generation go down the rabbit hole and lose its path to corruption and politics. The next two decades saw court cases, life bans, drug bans, match fixing, spot fixing, back stabbing teammates, gun shots fired on an international team, a dead coach under suspicious circumstances and finally, national captain and two ace fast bowlers were jailed abroad.
2010 brought 35-year-old Misbah-ul-Haq, the most un-Pakistani cricketer and an even more unlikely national captain, a complete antithesis of Imran Khan and his prodigies.
His first assignment as captain was a series against South Africa. Dubai International Cricket stadium was hosting its first Test match as team Misbah laid foundations to their fortress.
South Africa set a 451 run fourth inning target for Pakistan, who were bundled for 248 in the first innings. With four sessions to go, a Pakistan loss seemed inevitable.
Then, Mis|You (Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan) came together and provided what would be a template for Pakistan cricket for the next seven years. They refused to lose. Misbah batted 225 minutes and Younis Khan for 344 minutes. Both remained not out.
Younis, the man of the match, was making a come back after a one and a half year altercation (ban, retirement, fine, no one was quite sure, including Younis himself) with the administration and teammates.
Finally, Younis had a captain who gave him the liberty and respect he demanded, and a man Younis could respect and admire in return.
Mis|You went onto score 3,213 runs in partnership at an average of 68,36 – the highest by any Pakistani pair in Test history. They got a century stand 15 times, that puts them sixth in the all time list and makes them the only Pakistanis in the top 20.
Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar lead with twenty 100+ partnerships. But Mis|You were more than twice as likely to get a century partnership than the Indian legends.
2017, Roseau Dominca, it was the final Test against West Indies with the series on the line, with history on the line. With how Misbah was going to be remembered by many, especially by countrymen who disagree with his ways.
Day 2, Pakistan is 209/3 in 96 overs a friend messaged saying “Do we even want to win this? 1 of 51 balls!” Pakistan’s run-rate was 2.17 and Misbah’s strike rate 1,96. I did not reply to the message, I did not have an answer. At two runs an hour, nobody can.
My generation was raised with Imran’s style of play; we go weak in the knees for tare away fast bowlers and aggressive batsmen. We crave the flare and flamboyance the Pakistani teams have been associated with. Thus for many in Pakistan, Misbah’s gameplay has never hit the right chords.
Day 5, West Indies is 76/5 chasing 304 on a crumbling pitch. Amir is bowling and has one wide slip, gully and cover point. He has more men saving runs than he has men in catching positions. This ought to be a joke that a lot of Pakistanis don’t see the funny side of. A little later Ramiz Raja comments that this is a field someone would set with the scorecard at 300/3 on Day 2.
I get more messages asking why isn’t Misbah attacking? Again, I have no answer. I never truly have, but Misbah’s Test match results say, it has hardly ever mattered.
Roston Chase and the West Indian tail fight bravely and take the game to the wire.
I get another message from a friend. “Is there a chance or will Chase become Jimmy Adams?” Pakistan fumbles chances and close decisions go against them, 17-year-old wounds seem fresh again.
Second last over of the day and the same friend messages “Mis|You have clean intentions, maybe there will be a miracle.”
I am praying, so are millions of Pakistanis. But this prayer is not just for our country’s win; it is for the two men who have served Pakistan cricket more selflessly than anyone in a very long time.
10 men fit the frame around the bat as Yasir Shah wins the game. There are celebrations; Misbah hugs his teammates one by one, and then its time to hug Younis. It is the camaraderie of many years, one of highs and lows. And the hug is longer than any other that evening.
It reminded me of Javed and Imran at the MCG in 1992. In Pakistan, no one before, or since, had retired in such style, in any style.
The two duos belong to different eras and cannot truly be compared.
But if Imran and Javed instilled flash and fortitude in Pakistan cricket, Misbah and Younis showed the path of resilience and resolve.
While Imran and Javed were cocky and combative, Misbah and Younis were cool, calm and collected.
Misbah ended up with almost twice more wins than Imran as captain, and Younis with more hundreds than Javed and Imran combined.
In total, Mis|You have 50 Test wins, 26 of them in away tests and 15 of them outside Asia.
Their numbers are staggering, but it is not what defines them, it is not their legacy. To judge what MIS|YOU have done for Pakistan cricket through numbers is like gauging a Rolls Royce by its speed.
A V12 with 500 horses can go fast at will, but it’s the RR suspension that goes over ditches like it is on water. Only those who understand its beauty can appreciate the comfort, class and grace of its ride.
And if anyone doubts the power behind these engines, Misbah holds the record of the maximum number of sixes hit by any Pakistani batsman ever, 81. And Younis is number two with 70 sixes. No one else even touches 60.
But how do you weigh the respect that Mis|You earned back for Pakistan on English soil?
How do you measure the worth of dignity and honour they brought for Pakistan cricket?
They showed that a bunch of corrupt and divided match winners can win the odd game or two on their own, but it takes a well-knit team to become the world’s number one. When unity, faith and discipline meets hard work, it can create its own magic.
How can you quantify integrity? Especially in a place where it has been so scarce!
How can Mis|You ever be replaced?
I have the answer to that.
Who do you think would be able to replace Misbah and Younis? Are you a cricketing enthusiast, player, or trainer? Share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shaan Agha grew up in a home with sports as its religion and “The Cricketer” subscription of black and white pages as holy script.