Tag Archives: Mithi

How One Pakistani Town Mastered Religious Tolerance

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Pakistan has become synonymous with terrorism. On most local and international news channels, we hear about minorities getting slaughtered at the hands of extremists; attacks on temples, churches, imambargahs; or the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians in the country.

I reckon you might be pleasantly surprised to know that there is a small town in Tharparkar, a district of the Sindh province where none of this is happening.

Mithi is one of the few towns in Pakistan where Muslims do not form the majority. In this quiet portion of a sprawling desert, both Hindus and Muslims have lived together like brothers since the creation of Pakistan.

In November 2014, when I was selected for a three-week fellowship program in the United States, I met a gentleman from Sindh who was also among my batch. He introduced himself like this:

“I am a Hindu from Sindh, but throughout my life I have lived with Muslims and this is why during Ramazan, we fast along with them; and when it is Muharram, us Hindu boys lead the procession because this is the culture which Sufism has given us.”

I was dumbstruck at the idea of a Hindu fasting in Ramazan or leading a Muharram procession. Was this actually true?

Then, in February this year, I happened to travel to Tharparkar with friends to view the drought-affected areas and launch some projects to overcome the disaster that hits every year. After a 20-hour arduous road and rail journey, I finally reached the quaint little town of Mithi, and here I experienced what I had never expected to see in a Pakistani town.

Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 percent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town where Muslims, out of respect for Hindus, do not slaughter cows; and where Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites, have never organised any marriage ceremonies or celebrations during the month of Muharram.

Not only that, the Hindus of Mithi also happily participate in providing food and drinks for Muslims during Ramazan, and both groups exchange sweets on Eid and Diwali. The crime rate in Mithi is at two percent and never has anyone witnessed any incident of religious intolerance.

Continue reading How One Pakistani Town Mastered Religious Tolerance

Corruption limits educational opportunities for Sindhi Children

Reopening ghost schools a lucrative business in Thar

By Prem Shivani

MITHI: The number of schools in the most-underdeveloped district in Sindh is roughly twice the number of total villages.

According to education department records, there are 4,153 operational schools in 2,484 villages of Tharparkar district.

The schools are ‘operating’ on paper only and are not even remotely related to providing education to children living in these villages. Such schools are used only to embezzle government funds received for their management, Dawn reliably learnt. A couple of years ago, more than 50 per cent ghost schools in the district were got reopened by local influential persons in connivance with officials of the education department.

The schools regularly receive funds, ration for students, stipends and scholarships which the bogus schools management committees — comprising the supposed supervisor, teacher and at times the education district officer and additional district officer — distribute among themselves, according to sources in the education department.

According to regulations of the education department, a primary school has to be opened after every two kilometres. However, since the education officers have a stake in schools funds they have been more than generous in opening as many as 60 bogus schools in a single village, said the sources.

These officials have evaded notice by maintaining fake records for students’ enrolment and semis code.

A school with a semis code receives Rs22,500 per year as school management committee fund, a stipend of Rs250 for every girl student enrolled and the person who opens the school in his locality or village gets the job of a lower staff or a naib qasid. Moreover, funds and wheat, oil and ghee are also given by the World Food Programme and Tawana Pakistan Project for these schools.

According to education department records, there are 61 primary schools for boys and girls and one high school in Vaouridora village in Chhachhro taluka which has a total population of 6,580 people.

Around 3,950 boys and girls — 60 per cent of the population — have been shown enrolled in these schools, also having 182 students who have even studied up to matric. Out of these 62 schools 42 do not even have a building but have been allotted a semi code by education officials.

Meanwhile, 27, 22 and 17 schools have been supposedly functioning in Chhachhro, Diplo and Islamkot towns respectively.

A greater number of schools are operating in several villages of Tharparkar district having a population of less than 5,000 people.

Moreover, 24 schools have been opened in Chelhar, 23 in Karuro, 23 in Charnore, 22 in Thardos, 21 in Kitar, 19 in Kitari, 19 in Sakrio, 17 in Kantio,16 in Udani, 15 in Janjhi,14 in Danbhario,14 in Ranpario, 13 in Jetrar, 12 in Khimejopar, 11 in Pabuhar, 11 in Bhorilo, 10 in Dhaklo, 10 in Jese jo Par,10 in Kaloi, and 9 in Aranro village, state official bogus records.

A senior teacher who worked with the Tawana Pakistan Project confirmed that many schools in Thar maintained bogus records of students’ enrolment.“Wheat and oil obtained for these schools is openly sold in the market of these villages and towns,” he said.

An education official who wished not to be named shed some light on ‘the rationale behind opening several schools in a single village’.

He said that influential persons of various communities used their clout to get as many schools opened as possible because for each school opened in a village, bogus teachers gave a cut of their loot to the school superviser and the influential person who had got the school opened. If a teacher paid Rs1,000 a month to the supervisor then more schools meant more teachers and more money, he explained.

Tharparkar district education officer Abdul Majid Hur said that the matter was being probed thoroughly. He said that he would not hesitate to take a stern decision for putting the educational system in Thar on a sound footing and ensuring that quality education was imparted in schools.

For about two years now, people working in such bogus schools in connivance with the education department have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of stakeholders who are funding these schools.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1023302/reopening-ghost-schools-a-lucrative-business-in-thar

The fading soul of Pakistan’s diversity – By Zeba T.Hashmi

Around the Lahore Central Railway Station, narrow alleys are like a maze, with hotels and restaurants for passengers coming in from across the country. The visitors from Cholistan were staying in one such building. Their common attire said nothing about their significance. The assertiveness is in their eyes spoke of the hardships they face in the middle of the uninhabited deserts. Through the music they make, they bring their world to life with songs of love, mysticism and sad partings.

A group of singers from the Bheel community were my hosts in one of the rundown hotels where they were staying. A few moments after I entered the room and greeted them, there was music all around, the sadness of the room shattered by the elaborate melodies they made from the stringed Yaktara and the colorful Raanti instruments. Such was the beauty I found in that tiny, unfamiliar room that came to life with music and lively stories, in spite of interruptions by the hotel manager who kept asking us to tone it down.

The members of the Hindu Bheel community are mostly landless, and they are known for their melodies and beautiful traditional musical instruments, ornamented by elaborately embroidered bright colored fabrics. They make their stringed instruments with animal hides and wood, hollowed pipes that are magic for the ear. They are known for their distinctive voice quality and the art of story-telling. Their women wear glass bangles all over their arms and wear colorful Cholis and Ghagharas.

Continue reading The fading soul of Pakistan’s diversity – By Zeba T.Hashmi

The wretched of Sindh – by Asghar Soomro

 …. Last year, donors generously funded the relief work but they must have been shocked to see the way it was managed. Donated materials included food and non-food items, which generally did not reach the needy people on merit. A lot of it was openly sold in the markets or distributed among party loyalists. Moreover, in some places, it was dumped without any reason.

For example, in district Dadu, more than 10,000 mineral water bottles, 12,000 blankets, thousands of warm clothes and drinking water tanks have been destroyed by the recent heavy rains in the area. They did not distribute the items among the people, letting them rot away since last year’s floods in the district. This is a criminal act. ….

Read more → Daily Times

They won’t let UN, and others help: a million homeless, threat of epidemics, no clean water, lack of food. they don’t care. UN says they can’t do anything without a request and have been expressing surprise no request is forthcoming.

– No aid needed from world donors for flood victims in Sindh: NDMA

ISLAMABAD, Aug 20 (APP): Chairman,National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Zafar Qadir on Saturday said that the Authority would not be looking for any international assistance for the current floods which hit Sindh province. NDMA was efficiently managing the relief work and facing no difficulties in its operations, he told APP. The Authority has distributed relief items including 12,700 tents, three water purification plants and 23,000 family ration packs, to the flood-affected people in Sindh. The relief goods have been disbursed in the inundated districts of Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan and Mirpur Khas besides the badly damaged Mithi town of Tharparker district, he said. …

Read more → Associated Press of Pakistan

WHY THAR NEGLECTED SINCE PARTITION?

by Dr Ali Akbar Dhakan

Please click here to watch Thar desert and the poor conditions of people
Thar means desert, barren and full of sand and mud heaps and mountains. Its history is very old and unaccountable. It starts from Badin at the Western and Southern side from Mirpur Khas at its Northern side, At its eastern side, it is the Indian territory .The last town at the Eastern Southern side is Nangar Parkar.

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PAKISTAN: A Hindu teenager is told to marry her alleged rapist; police and courts fail to act

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that four men who allegedly assisted in the rape of a young Hindu girl have been granted pre-arrest bail by a session court. Rape is a non-bailable offense in Pakistan and this is against criminal procedure and the law. Attempts by the family to file an FIR and obtain a medical report have been obstructed by local police, who later arrested the victim’s father on a false offense. Meanwhile members of an illegal tribal court have reportedly proposed that the victim marry her rapist and convert to Islam. She has threatened public self immolation if the perpetrators are not arrested and brought to justice by the authorities….

The AHRC received frequent reports of forced marriages of minority girls with Muslim men in areas along the Indian borders that have large Dalit Hindu populations, such as Thar Parker, Nagar Parker, Umer Kot, Mithi and Karoonjhar. The term Dalits are members of a scheduled caste, and due to the position of many as bonded labourers, female Dalits are particularly vulnerable to abuse. It is not unknown for Muslim seminaries to urge the forced conversion of Dalit women.

The AHRC has documented several such cases, including UA-008-2006 and UG-020-2006 and is aware of many more, in which Hindu scheduled caste and Christian women and girls have been abducted by Muslim men and raped. When confronted by the authorities perpetrators are often able to produce a marriage certificate from a seminary confirming the marriage and conversion of the victim. The girls are often taken out of contact with their families entirely, and various cases have been documented in which the courts have condoned such marriages with girls below the age of consent.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-027- 2010

PPP is treating Sindh as PURCHASED SLAVE!

Deteriorating Sindh: PPP regime and our role

by: Zulfiqar Halepoto, Hyderabad, Sindh

I am writing these lines with great disappointment and anger on the state of affairs in Sindh in all sectors of governance and the conduct of present regime and especially the performance of PPP.

I have visited 18 districts of Sindh for a district level consultation to hear the voices of the people on six  issues education, health, food (agriculture, water and environment), housing, and natural resource management). This is an initiative of an international NGO.

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Pakistan’s ideological vacuum

Pakistan’s ideological vacuum
by Dr Manzur Ejaz
Courtesy: Wichaar.com
An independent judiciary seems to be taking root in Pakistan, but it is just one institution of many, and cannot induce societal balance on its own. Furthermore, an isolated institution cannot survive for long unless a more modern and progressive political force takes the reins of the state.

Continue reading Pakistan’s ideological vacuum