The question of a new Chief Justice of Pakistan

The question of a new Chief Justice of Pakistan is referred to a special commission with representatives from judiciary, legislative, and Executive branches

By Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA

An article in today’s Dawn provides glimpse of points of view by PPP and PML-N on the restoration of deposed judges as they try to win the American support. The newspaper claims that these arguments are being made by the representatives of the two political parties in meetings with various US officials. It seems that PPP‘s main point is that independence of judiciary in Pakistan can be achieved without meeting exactly what every lawyer or political leader wants. However, the PML-N’s point of view appears to be that restoration of Chaudhry Iftikhar’s reinstatement as the chief justice is a mandatory requirement for independent judiciary. 

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Sindh: The Sehwan Sharif festival

sehwa-sharif-festival.jpg The greatest party on earth?

By Declan Walsh

(Women dance outside the ‘golden gate’ at the central Shrine of the Sehwan Sharif festival. Around 1 million people attend the three day event that combines partying and prayer to mark the death of the Sufi mystic Lal Shahbaz Qalander, who died 755 years ago. Photograph Declan Walsh.)

Pakistan’s tourism ministry designated 2007 as “Destination Pakistan”, the year when tourists were urged to discover the country’s sights and delights. Their timing couldn’t have been worse. A military ruler clinging to power, al-Qaida fanatics hiding in the mountains, suicide bombings booming across the cities – in 2007, Pakistan has become a byword for peril and turmoil.

But there is another Pakistan, one the majority of its 165 million people are more familiar with. It is the thrusting software entrepreneurs and brash new television stations. It is the kite flyers and partygoers and the strangers who insist you sit for a cup of tea. And it is Sehwan Sharif.

A sleepy town on the Indus river, Sehwan Sharif is on the heroin smuggling route that runs through Sindh from Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea. In summer it is a sauna – stepping from my air-conditioned car last month, the heat carried a five-knuckle wallop.

I joined about 1 million people who come to Sehwan Sharif for three days every year, to mark the death of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, an ancient Sufi mystic. It is one of south Asia’s greatest parties.

A giant, infectious drumbeat fills the night air. Red-clad women spin like dervishes and old men dance like teenagers. Men kiss the railings of the shrine; some burst into tears. A conga line of worshippers pushes into a glittering shrine at the heart of festival. The soft aroma of hashish and cooked bread wafts through the tiny alleyways; old men with watery eyes suck on clay pipes; barefoot families doze on the rooftops.

A million people – it’s enough to give an embassy security officer a heart attack. Yet I’ve rarely felt so secure. Impromptu singing sessions erupt by the roadside. People offer strangers a bed, a meal, or a drag from their joint. Smiles and handshakes are everywhere. Qalandar, a sort of medieval hippy, would have approved. Wandering through this area almost 800 years ago, he preached tolerance between Hindus and Muslims and peace to all men. Legend had it that he could transform himself into a falcon.

One night I met Muhammad Fiaz, a burly bus driver from Gujrat with glitter on his cheeks. He had taken his annual holiday to come and sit at the feet of a pir, or holy man. He brushed off any talk of politics. “Musharraf and his lot are one thing,” he said. “This is entirely another”.

Thursday October 4, 2007

Courtesy: The Guardian

Source – http://www.guardian.co.uk/pakistan/Story/0,,2183119,00.html

Herpes Zoster Vaccine

New Shingles vaccine OK’d

by Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

Courtesy and Thanks: Toronto Sun News, Wednesday, August 22, 2008

Health Canada has approved a vaccine that helps prevent painful shingles outbreaks in older people who had chinkenpox earlier in life. The vaccine, which has been available in United States since about mid- 2006, boosts immunity to the vericella Zoster virus- the bug that causes chickenpox- which lives in latent form in the nervous system of people who have had the disease.

Reactivation occurs later in life in about 15% to 20% of people who had chickenpox, according to Public Health Agency of Canada’s website. The reactivation produces a painful rash that typically lasts a couple of weeks; it’s a condition known by the names shingles, herpes zoster or just zoster. In some cases the pain endures for months and even years after the rash subsides, a condition know as post-herpetic neuralgia. It (shingles) occurs in all age groups but it increases in incidence slowly and the curve starts to increase more rapidly some where around (age) 50,” explained Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital. “And then the increase gets steeper and steeper as you get older  and older.”

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