When urban planning meets disaster management and mental health

Harvard SAI Karachi confMy article published in The News on Sunday today, about the Contemporary South Asian City Conference in Karachi last month co-sponsored by Harvard South Asia Institute and Aman Foundation, with Pakistan Urban Forum - by all accounts a most dynamic and exciting event. I spoke to two Harvard professors in Cambridge MA after their return from Karachi.

By Beena Sarwar

Rahul Mehrotra is no stranger to Karachi. From his base in Mumbai, he built Amin Hashwani’s house in Karachi some years ago, a project for which he visited the city several times. “By the time we did the interiors though, we couldn’t get visas,” he added, when we spoke in Cambridge recently. Continue reading

Parveen Rehman. Keep the Torch Alight

Parveen: A 'selfie' she took in Stockholm, 2008. Photo: courtesy Arif Pervaiz.

Parveen Rehman: A ‘selfie’ in Stockholm, 2008. Photo: courtesy Arif Pervaiz.

The cold-blooded murder of Parveen Rehman on March 13 this year came as no great surprise –  in the lawless concrete jungle that is Karachi, one always expects the worst. That doesn’t mitigate the shock and  immense grief at the gunning down of the gentlest of human beings, someone who had devoted her life to helping the poor, empowering the under-privileged. Below, my article on Parveen in Economic and Political Weekly, India, written on March 19, 2013. Also see the these beatuiful tributes by K. B. Abro (with audio), Zameen Kha Gayi Asmaan Kaise Kaise; Zubeida Mustafa, Rest in peace little sister; and Masuma Hasan, Parween Rahman: the legend lives on Continue reading

“Karachi Battles” – Haris Gazdar in EPW, 2011

Karachi. Photo: Muhammad Arshad/IPS

Karachi. Photo: Muhammad Arshad/IPS


As Karachi once again reels under uncertainty, fear and economic shut-down, it may be worthwhile to re-visit this 2011 article by Haris Gazdar in EPW, “Karachi Battles”… Excerpt:
“The big picture still favours an accord between the PPP (and ANP) and the MQM. The PPP cannot allow the military to use Karachi to undermine its rule not just in Sindh but nationally. The MQM should know that a “neutral” army operation means a crackdown on the MQM, sooner rather than later. The ANP might also be aware that its hard-won position in its home region would collapse if the jihadists regain initiative with the break-up of the secular coalition. All three should know that the most powerful militant wing belongs to the military itself, which must not be tempted into seeing an opportunity where none exists.” Read the full article here: Karachi battles – Haris Gazdar in EPW Sept 2011

Commemorating Jan 8, 1953: 2013 events, Jan 6 and 8, by DSF and NSF

2012 Jan 8-NSF Demands Day

Re-blogged from Dr M. Sarwar:

As we remember Jan 8, 1953 Demands Day and those who gave their lives for the cause of students’ rights, it is good to see that progressive young people in Pakistan are organising and work for students’ rights, with the revival of Democratic Students Federation and the National Students Federation. In keeping with the rallying cry of the original movement – ‘Student Unity’ – activists of DSF and NSF must put up a united front, and attend and support each others’ events even if they don’t merge into one organisation. Demands should include lifting the ongoing ban on student unions. Below, information about several events being organised this year, some on Jan 6in different cities of Sindh and Punjab by DSF, and NSF event on Jan 8:

Continue reading

Petition for Peace and De-weaponisation of Karachi sent to CJP

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Just received this via email today – the text of a petition for Peace and  De-weaponisation of Karachi that has been sent to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Naeem Sadiq who sent the email says that anyone who agrees with its contents and wants to be a co-petitioner, is welcome to copy/amend the petition text (minus the petitioners) and add their own name and signature (there can be more than one signatory), designation or profession, postal address and phone number (NIC optional), and  mail the petition directly to the SC at the address provided. Interestingly, the MQM last year introduced a bill seeking this aim as well. See Dilawar Asghar’s article critiquing the move at this link, pointing out that the long term solution lies in ensuring the “supremacy of the law. If the law is implemented, without any distinction and applicable to everyone, regardless of their status or affiliation that would be the first step.” Here’s the citizen’s petition: Continue reading

Malala’s plight is “related to the potential for world peace”

Vigil for Malala, Charlestown, Boston

My report on the vigil for Malala Yousufzai in Charlestown, Boston, last Sunday, an event that local families are holding on a weekly basis to show their support for her and for the right of children, especially girls, worldwide to get an education. Please also see the I am Malala campaign initiated by the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, aiming to get every child in the world to school. Continue reading

Forum for Secular Pakistan: lecture on “Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Political Career and Vision” by Dr Ajeet Jawed

Invitation from Javed Ahmed Qazi Secretary General, Forum for Secular Pakistan:

Forum for Secular Pakistan has organised a lecture on “Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Political Career and Vision”  by  renowned Indian research scholar, Dr Ajeet Jawed, on Saturday 30th June, 2012, at 4:30 PM, at Jinnah Medical and Dental College, Shaheed-e-Millat Road, Karachi. You are cordially invited to have your input in the interactive session with the author of the book “Secular and Nationalist Jinnah”, a book which had raised a lot of debate especially in India. Continue reading

WAF statement on May 22 killings in Karachi

A young man, bleeding apparently due to gunshot wounds, runs for his life after “unknown assailants” opened fire at a rally in Karachi on May 22, 2012. Photo: Faysal Mujeeb/Whitestar

The violence in Karachi on May 22, 2012 that killed 11 people reminded many people of the firing that claimed nearly fifty lives on May 12, 2007 (about which I wrote ‘Eyewitness Karachi‘, originally published in The News on Sunday). Below, a statement from Women’s Action Forum (WAF) about the recent bloodshed:

Women’s Action Forum Hyderabad, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad is appalled that a peaceful demonstration against the division of Sindh on May 22, 2012 was violently attacked, resulting in the tragic death of at least 11 people, including two friends and comrades. We strongly condemn the use of force under any circumstances and particularly when it is used to subdue the democratic rights of the people to express their sentiments and political positions. Continue reading

Karachi launches campaign against TTP

KARACHI – An awareness campaign against atrocities by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has begun in Karachi, denouncing its inhumane and un-Islamic acts and declaring the militant group “fitna” (a sower of chaos and sedition). Posters and handbills denouncing suicide attacks and the slaughter of civilians by TTP miscreants have been plastered onto walls throughout the city – by Zia Ur Rehman in Karachi launches campaign against TTP

A Karachi resident reads a poster March 20 denouncing the acts of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as inhumane and un-Islamic. An awareness campaign has been launched by the Karachi-based Anjuman-e-Muhibban Pakistan against TTP violence in Karachi. [Zia Ur Rehman]

Thrilled to be named ‘Best Blog from a Journalist’ at the Pakistan Blog Awards 2011

Thrilled to receive the Best Blog from a Journalist at the Second Annual Pakistan Blog Awards 2011. Thanks to all those who voted and helped make it possible :) Congratulations to all the other winners. Note: There are many other blogs from Pakistan that could have been in the running but didn’t nominate themselves. One expects there will be more and more competition as the Blog Awards become better known and more established.

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