08
September

The Highs and Lows of Rio 2016

Written By: Omair Alavi

Every four years, the world’s best athletes meet up at the Olympic Games to decide who the best among the rest is; who will come out as winners and who will be relegated to the ‘loser’ camp; whose world record will stay intact and whose will be broken by someone better. This year at Rio 2016, the world saw many new as well as returning heroes who gave their best to come out as winners and end the event at a high.


The Highs
The Opening & Closing Ceremonies. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games are considered as the highlight of what is to come and what has happened at the mega event and the Rio 2016 wasn’t any different. The whole world saw what the Brazilians were capable of and the welcome and farewell they gave to the Olympic Games was nothing short of excellence. Let’s hope that Japan manages to raise the bar high when they host the event at Tokyo in 2020.

 

thehighrio.jpgMichael Phelps (USA). In the history of modern Olympic Games that go way back to 1896, no person has won more medals than the American swimmer Michael Phelps. In his 4 appearances at the Games, he has added 28 medals to his legacy, 23 of which he received while heading the podium at number one. Even before Rio 2016, he was the most decorated Olympian in history and by winning Gold in as many as 5 events including the 200 m butterfly and individual medley and the 4x100 m freestyle relay, 4x200 m freestyle relay and the 4x100 m medley relay.


Usain Bolt (Jamaica). He is fast, he is faster and he is the fastest – that’s Usain Bolt for you who has cemented his status as perhaps the greatest ever sprinter in the history of the game. And that’s not a small feat considering many great athletes have run at the mega event. No one before him has been able to complete the "triple treble" meaning three Gold medals (100 m, 200 m and 4x100 m) at three separate Olympic Games – Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

 

thehighrio1.jpgElaine Thompson, 24 (Jamaica). She came, she ran and she conquered – Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson became the first woman in 28 years to grab the first position in both 100 m and 200 m race – at the same event. Not only did she defeat the two-time defending champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 m event, she also dethroned world champion Daphne Schippers in the 200 m race. She may not have equaled the heroics of her compatriot named Bolt but yes, she did add to Jamaica’s medal tally which is better than many other participating countries,


Mo Farah, 33 (Great Britain). The name’s Farah, Mo Farah and this time around the British athlete became the first man in 40 years to win both 5,000 m and 10,000 m events a feat last achieved by Finland's Lasse Viren in 1976. Farah now has two Olympic distance titles which is not a small achievement considering he fell during the 10,000 m race and nearly had a collision in the shorter event.

 

thehighrio2.jpgThe Lows
The Incident That Never Happened. Brazilian authorities were left dumb founded when it came to their notice that 12-time Olympic medalist American Swimmer Ryan Lochte and his colleagues were robbed at gun point by a man carrying a police badge. The incident not only shocked the locals but also the entire world and some of those who had earlier been reserved about the law and order situation in the country became very vocal. However, a few days later it was revealed that the Americans had lied to the authorities in order to hide their own acts – with the help of surveillance footage; it was found that the Americans broke a soap dispenser in the bathroom of a gas station, damaged the property and even urinated around the premises. The gun point robbery didn’t take place at all!


The Incident That Shouldn’t Have Happened. Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby became a ‘black’ star at the event after he refused to shake hands with Israel's Or Sasson after his first round defeat. Not only did he violate the judo etiquette but also brought a bad name to the games where athletes are supposed to treat each other with respect. The judoka was booed at the mega event and many newspapers advised him to follow the example of Pakistani Tennis Star Aisam-ul-Haq who paired with an Israeli player Amir Hadid more than a decade back and also reached the final of the U.S. Open with his doubles partner Rohan Bopanna in 2010.


And Then There Was Pakistan! Did you know that one year after Pakistan came into existence, the country sent 39 athletes to participate in the London Olympics and while 19 of those players belonged to the hockey team, the others were comprised of boxers, sprinters, wrestlers, cyclists, swimmers and even weight lifters who represented their country with pride. They didn’t win a medal for the first two events but in 1956, they came back with one silver medal in Melbourne 1956 and one Gold (Hockey) and one Bronze (Wrestling) at Rome 1960. In 1964 the hockey players returned with Silver and reclaimed Gold in 1968 that was once again replaced by Silver. A Bronze was what Pakistan ended up with in Montreal 1976 whereas they didn’t participate in Moscow 1980 as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The 1980s brought two medals – one Gold (Hockey in 1983) and one Bronze (Boxing in 1988) while the Men in Green won their last medal in 1992 when they ended up at the podium as the third best Hockey team in the world.


Before Seoul 1988, Pakistan usually finished in the 20s or the 30s in the rankings that now feature more than 200 countries. That was made possible due to their winning a medal be it Gold, Silver or Bronze but for the last 30 years, their rankings dipped to new low – from 46th at Seoul 1988 and 54th in Barcelona 1992, they now stand as the nations who return empty handed and have no chance of winning a medal anytime soon. This is not the Pakistan we know because no matter what, be it summers or winters, kids are playing sports 24x7 and some of them have the capability to become world beaters if they are guided properly by the authorities.

 

thehighrio4.jpgTalking about the authorities, they are the reason why Pakistan has been faring badly at international level. For the better half of the last decade, Pakistan Olympic Association has been operating in the country under two factions. Both factions (two heads) are to be blamed for the debacle because while one man has been at the helm legally since 2004, the other has tried to take over through other means without getting any results. Had one of them been sincere in taking the standard of sports in the country forward, they would have resolved their differences amicably and appointed someone who was acceptable to both. However, they believed that what they were doing was the right thing and that divided the many sports federations and associations operating in the country.


So Pakistan hasn’t won an Olympic medal since 1992 but that doesn’t hurt the authorities like it hurts the followers of the game. There was a time when athletes like Abdul Khaliq, hockey players like Sami Ullah and Boxers like Syed Hussain Shah won medals for Pakistan in events around the world but lamented the absence of an Olympic Gold on their shelf. These were the players who took pride in the fact that they were representing the country and didn’t care about the lack of monetary benefits which seems to be the top priority of today’s sportsmen. Besides Cricket and may be Tennis (that too at international level) no other game in the country gives the players the kind of respect and money they deserve. Most of the athletes go abroad for better training facilities as well as presence of proper dieticians, something that Pakistan lacks. No wonder it came out as the most populous country with no medal this year, just like the last 5 times they have participated in the mega event.


The way Pakistani athletes are treated in the country is nothing short of shameful; who can forget the heated discussion between the late Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah and weightlifter Shuja Uddin Malik who was angry at not being allowed to carry the flag in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Dr. Shah was the Chef de Mission nominated by Pakistan and by carrying the flag, he insulted the athletes but that’s the reality in the country. No wonder sprinter Madiea Ghafoor chose to represent the Netherlands rather than Pakistan, the country from which her parents migrated during the 1980s.


To add insult to injury, the President of Pakistan Olympic Association said in an interview that Pakistan didn’t have a chance to win a medal, before the team left for the Olympic Games. Considering that it was his responsibility to ensure that the country didn’t return empty handed; it was his duty to make sure that the country qualified for most of the sports played in the mega event; he should have been worried about the smallest ever contingent for the game but sadly, he wasn’t. The hockey team which got Pakistan the most number of medals in the Olympic Games failed to qualify for the event; the swimmers failed to advance yet again; the shooters couldn’t post scores good enough to qualify, the judoka was not at all impressive and the athletes fared so bad on the track that they were more of an embarrassment than pride.


Is it the lack of interest in sports other than cricket that is resulting in decline of sports culture in the country? Are the training methods used by Pakistani coaches so obsolete that they damage the athletes instead of helping them? Sadly, the answer is yes to these questions because while the athletes strive for better and better, in Pakistan they are just happy for being at the international arena. The only sport in the country that people follow is cricket and that’s because its equal for the rich and the poor and it makes you rich monetarily if you are good enough. The other sports lack professionalism like cricket and that’s why they treat sports as secondary as it doesn’t give them any monetary benefits. Even if they manage to win a medal at regional level, many like former cyclist Muhammad Ishaq end up riding a rickshaw to make the ends meet (or, two hands).


Pakistan is one of those countries that are immensely talented yet the authorities don’t seem to be on the same page with the athletes. While India and Iran, two of Pakistan’s neighbouring countries take the games seriously, we don’t. Otherwise we can always send the athletes to China where they have better training facilities and above all, where they can learn how to be a world class olympian. We still have four years to prepare ourselves for Tokyo 2020 and prove to the world that we are better than smaller countries like Austria, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Morocco, Moldova, Nigeria, Portugal, Trinidad and Tobago and United Arab Emirates who ended with at least one bronze medal. Let’s hope and pray that sanity prevails in the corridors of power in Pakistan otherwise the world might not even consider us for a wild-card the next time this mega event is around the corner.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
21
October

سِتارہِ سَحر آثار

murawat_ahmed.jpg

مُروّت احمد

(مسقط عمان)

سپہ سالار کے نام۔نَقدِ وَفا، حَرفِ دُعا

ہماری سِپہ کے سالار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
سِتارہِ سَحر آثار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
صَمِیم عَزم کے کُہسار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
اَے مَردِ زِندہ و بیدار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
اَے اُس گھرانے کے فَرزَند، جِس پہ نازاں ہے
نِشانِ حیدرِ کَرّارؓ، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو!
ہمارے طِفل ہوں زخمی، سپاہی یا شہری
سبھی کے مُونس و غمخوار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
کروڑوں ہم وَطَنوں کے دِلوں کی اَے دھڑکن!
بہت ہے تجھ سے ہمیں پیار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
تِرے سبب ہے نہایت بُلند ہِمّت فوج
ٍہے اِس کا اَوج پہ معیار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
سِتم شِعار، وطن دشمنوں کی سَرکوبی
بہت تھا معرکہ دُشوار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
جسے کبھی کوئی باطل گِرا نہیں سکتا
ہے تُو وہ آہنی دیوار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
صَدآفرین کہ تاج اَور تَختِ شاہی سے
نہیں ہے تجھ کو سَروکار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
تُو اِستعارہِ فَتحِ مُبین کہلائے
عَدُو سے بَرسَرِ پیکار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
تِرا یہ خواب ہَو پورا کہ رَشک سے دیکھیں
زمینِ پاک کو اَغیار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو!
ہر ایک لمحہ تُو اللہ کی اماں میں رہے
سلامتی ہو لگاتار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
خصوصی لُطفِ رَسولِ کریمؐ پانے کو
ہَو آپؐ کا تجھے دیدار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو
ترے لئے ہے مُروّت کا دِل سے نذرانہ
کہے ہیں اِس نے جو اَشعار، تُجھ پہ رَحمت ہَو

29
October

Arms Control & Disarmament

Written By: Dr. Tughral Yamin

The concept of arms control and disarmament is as old as warfare. Traditionally it meant disarming and disbanding the armies of the losing states. Sometimes vassal state could retain a token military force, with the obligation to provide military assistance to the dominant state in case of war. In case it was not allowed to have men bearing arms, it would be forced to pay tribute in cash and kind to the dominant state to ensure its own safety and security.

After the First World War, the victorious powers imposed harsh terms to the losing Germans in the Treaty of Versailles (1919). Besides losing large chunks of territory and paying heavy reparations, Germany was also to be disarmed. The Inter Allied Military Control Commission (IAMCC), a military/diplomatic organization oversaw the disarmament process. It worked from 1920 till 1930 and its British, French, Belgian, Italian and Japanese officers inspected German factories and fortresses, searching for military depots, and oversaw destruction of war materiel. By 1923, Germany was effectively disarmed. The German army was reduced to the treaty strength of 100,000 men and hundreds of factories were converted to civilian use. Another significant result of the First World War was the ban on the use of chemical weapons. After the Second World War, both Japan and Germany were not allowed to have their own militaries. However, as the Cold War grew, former enemies – Japan and Germany – were formally inducted into bilateral and multilateral economic and military alliances. While their primary defence against the communist forces was ensured by extending the nuclear umbrella by deploying the US and NATO forces on their territories, they were allowed to establish small military forces. Overseas non-deployment of forces was included into their constitution.

During the Cold War, a whole range of bilateral and multilateral arms control and nuclear non-proliferation treaties were enacted to regulate the use, development and possession of various types of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). These treaties regulated weapons use under the customs of war (Hague Conventions, Geneva Protocol), banned specific types of weapons (Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention), limited weapon research (Partial Test Ban Treaty, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty), limited allowable weapons stockpiles and delivery systems (START I, SORT) and regulated civilian use of weapon pre-cursors (Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention). The arms control treaties also ensured the element of mutual vulnerability among nuclear weapon states (NWS) by limiting the anti-ballistic missile interceptors through the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The spread of nuclear technologies geographically was limited through the Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NWFZs).

The US and erstwhile Soviet Union began signing bilateral agreements limiting their strategic offensive nuclear weapons in the early 1970s. As the Cold War drew to a close in the late 1980s, the pace of negotiations quickened, with the two sides signing treaties limiting intermediate range and long-range weapons. The progress slowed in the 1990s, as US missile defence plans and a range of other policy conflicts intervened in the US-Russian relationship. At the same time, however, the two sides began to cooperate on securing and eliminating Soviet-era nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The US allocates more than $1 billion each year to threat reduction programmes in the former Soviet Union. A new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed after Obama came into power further reducing the number of deployed nuclear warheads.

The US has the lead role in perpetuating the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The architecture of international arms control includes formal treaties, export control coordination and enforcement, UN resolutions, and organizational controls. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the broadest plank of this regime, with all but four nations participating in it. The exceptions are India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acts as the global nuclear watchdog. Other measures, such as sanctions, interdiction efforts, and informal cooperative endeavours, also seek to slow or stop the spread of nuclear materials and weapons. A number of international agreements address non-nuclear weapons. The Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and Open Skies Treaty sought to stabilize the conventional balance in Europe in the waning years of the Cold War. Other arrangements seek to slow the spread of technologies that nations could use to develop advanced conventional weapons. The Chemical Weapons and Biological Weapons Conventions sought to eliminate these types of weapons completely.

After the end of the Cold War, the nature of arms control and disarmament changed in many ways. The US faced increasing problems in enforcing nuclear non-proliferation. In 1998, India and Pakistan came out of the closet to declare their nuclear credentials. Other countries began actively pursuing their nuclear programmes. Alarmed by the nuclearization of South Asia, the US was particularly irked with the nuclear ambitions of Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea. Although the Iraqi nuclear reactor in Osirak had been destroyed by a pre-emptive airstrike by the Israelis on June 7, 1981, a media campaign was launched to prove that Iraq had developed WMDs to destroy Israel at will. The hype became so high pitched that the US abandoned its main effort in Afghanistan in 2002 and attacked Iraq. It bypassed the UN and headed a 'coalition of the willing,' which prominently included the UK but excluded countries like Germany and France, which were derogatorily termed 'Old Europe'. An extremely kinetic approach was adopted to disarm Iraq of its purported arsenal of nuclear weapons. The IAEA weapon inspectors did not find any trace of WMDs after the defeat of Sadam Hussein. Libya was subsequently disarmed through a policy of economic inducements. On December 19, 2003 Gaddafi announced that Libya would voluntarily eliminate all material, equipment and programmes that could lead to internationally proscribed weapons, including weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles. Gaddafi would regret his decision. He had to run for his life as NATO bombed him out of his palace and a crowd of rebels lynched him on the ground. North Korea, however, continues to defy the

US by flaunting its nuclear muscle on the basis of its close relations with China in exchange for economic gains like high speed oil.

Two more cases of arms control and disarmament need special mention. Syria, like Iraq, had its nuclear plan nipped in the bud through an Israeli aerial strike on its Al-Kibar nuclear reactor on September 6, 2007. To counter the Israeli nuclear weapons, Syria had started building chemical weapons in the 1970s. As the civil war spread in Syria in 2012 there were increased press reports of Syrian chemical weapon stocks and how the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps were helping test them. In July 2013, Syria, a non-signatory to CWC accepted that it had chemical weapons. On August 21, 2013 testimony and photographic evidence emerged indicating that the Assad regime had launched a large-scale chemical weapons attack on the town of Ghouta. The US immediately ordered its forces in the region to punish Syria. As naval fleets moved in menacingly to rain Damascus with missiles, the US offered a reprieve, if Syria signed the CWC. Russia, a close ally of Syria, immediately pounced on the offer. On September 14, 2013, the US and Russia announced an agreement that would lead to the elimination of Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles by mid-2014. On October 14, 2013, Syria officially acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention clearing the way for OPCW-UN Joint Mission to destroy Syria's declared chemical weapons manufacturing and mixing equipment.

The next case is that of Iran. During his term of office, former President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad made the acquisition of nuclear technology a rallying cry of his presidency. His alleged statement of wiping Israel off the face of the earth ran the alarm bells. Iran was soon subjected to multiple economic sanctions. From 2006 onward, layers of UN, US and EU sanctions were used to severely limit its oil income and isolate it from the rest of the world. Plans to bring about a regime change did not materialize, and a stuxnet attack on the centrifuges and a planned assassination of its scientists did not stop the nuclear programme. None- theless, the sanctions finally began sapping the patience and the endurance of the common man. The Riyal rapidly lost its value and Hasan Rouhani as the moderate new president decided to reconsider his country's stance on nuclear weapons. The US resumed its policy to engage with the Iranians through the 5+1 (the permanent 5 and Germany) countries. On November 24, 2013, the Geneva interim agreement, officially titled the Joint Plan of Action, was signed in Geneva, Switzerland. It consists of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.

In this emerging milieu, it is important to understand the kind of challenges that Pakistan faces. It has many problems to contend within its legitimate pursuit to build credible nuclear deterrence to ward of an existential threat. It survived a host of economic and military sanctions under the Glen, Symington and Pressler amendments and physical threats to its uranium enrichment facility in Kahuta. After the nuclear tests of 1998, Pakistan was saddled with a fresh dose of economic sanctions.

Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and has built an effective command and control structure, physical security structures and export control regimes. The propaganda, however, never ceases. The current negative themes include Pakistan's intransigence in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on the issue of non-acceptance of the draft Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), its short range missile programme (dubbed as the tactical missiles) and the alleged terrorist threat to its nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan is being denied a criteria-based civil nuclear deal and its civil nuclear power cooperation with China is being questioned. The tone and tenor of this virulent campaign to vilify Pakistan heightens each time there is a need to arm twist it. We need to be cognizant of all these challenges and adopt a policy that is able to safeguard Pakistan’s vital national interests in the long-term.

The writer is a retired Brigadier and PhD. Presently he is Associate Dean Centre of International Peace & Stability (CIPS) at the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
29
October

Finding Balance Parents & Teenagers

Written By: Juggun Kazim

In human's life cycle, adolescence is unquestionably the most critical phase regardless of gender. The teenage years act as transitional stage from childhood to adulthood. In addition to the biological changes, children also undergo emotional changes and their personality is shaped. They also begin to separate more from their parents and become more independent which is normally viewed with concern by parents whereas it is part of a natural process.

To guide children of this age-bracket is important as well as difficult. No matter how aware and educated one is, there seems to be no simple formula to deal with teens. And if not guided properly during this stage, both young boys and girls can end up facing physical or psychological problems. The primary responsibility obviously falls upon parents to keep their children informed and educated on different issues – and answer every question raised by children otherwise they may get incorrect information from wrong sources.

An organisation called EHAD conducts nationwide awareness campaigns urging parents and caretakers to guide children entering into adolescence on vital issues related to their health and ultimate wellbeing. I had a chance to work with them recently in Lahore, and, as a parent and media person, I found out many new things.

A common issue during puberty, and actually in every stage of a child's life, is emotional turmoil – anger, frustration, lack of confidence and personality conflicts. Moreover, a survey shows that a girl perceives changes in the attitude of people at this time, which scares her. This is compounded with the lack of access to correct information about puberty and hygiene, especially in our culture. Horrifically enough, a national report estimates that nearly eight children become victims of sexual abuse in Pakistan daily. While this covers the gamut of violent and nonviolent behaviour perceived, as abuse, here parents and teachers need to play a crucial role in prevention of child sexual abuse.

Few of the problems mentioned by adolescents during EHAD conference were: lack of guidance from parents, wrong information on physical changes from peers, no knowledge about religious obligations after puberty, neatness, lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, lack of decision making power and no guidance about how to handle certain kind of situations.

Since lack of awareness is a contributing factor in all these issues, teachers and parents need to promote discussions and opportunities for children to reflect on their experiences. Parents and teachers need to work together on making children and adults aware of the various dimensions of abuse, life cycle changes and the concerns that adolescents have about and during puberty. All in all, most of the problems of this growing age stem from the state of confusion caused by lack of self awareness and roles, a child needs to adapt in this transitional stage. Change is difficult to handle, be it for a teenager or an adult and problems are compounded by lack of correct information. Google and other such search engines become the source of often blurry and confusing information.

As adolescents gravitate towards their peers as influencers, there is the likelihood that negative habits catch on like a contagion. Parents are in a position to prepare children beforehand for situations in which they would encounter peer pressure and help them tackle those tough situations by acting them out, e.g. what would you do when your friends force you to smoke? The smarter and 'cooler' answer would be to say confidently that “I am a fitness freak or health conscious individual, therefore, I am not into smoking.” This way a child doesn't seem like a 'mama's boy' or girl but still manages to stay out of trouble. Substance abuse and addiction is the nightmare for most parents of adolescents. There are many things a child can be addicted to including tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, food, sleeping, compulsive behaviours, etc. Drug abuse is rapidly growing in Pakistan, especially amongst youth in colleges and universities, with serious social and health implications. An estimated 4.25 million individuals thought to be drug dependent in Pakistan are in dire need of professional treatment.

Adolescents tend to succumb to drug addiction when they feel insecure or feel the need to belong, peer pressure, when they feel confined and want to rebel, for pain avoidance or just as a mean to eliminate boredom. According to a national assessment study on drug abuse in Pakistan, one of ten college students in Pakistan is a drug addict. These are frightening figures for anyone but as a mother of an 8-year-old son, I get heart palpitations.

Infectious diseases are those which can be transmitted from one person to another e.g. HIV and hepatitis. The most common causes of infectious diseases are: sharing of syringes, use of unhygienic scissors and unprotected sex. Our youth's knowledge about such issues is very low, as only 2% of adolescents have comprehensive knowledge about its prevention and causes. Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS among adolescents are also very high as the most frequently mentioned mode of transmission reported by 65.7% adolescents was incorrect. The behaviours conducive to the spread of HIV infection to young people are curiosity about sex and drugs, negative peer pressure, and economic frustration in Pakistan. Report titled 'HIV in Asia and the Pacific,' launched at the 2011 International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP), suggests that a significant proportion of new HIV infections within key populations are among young people under the age of 25.

If parents and caretakers actually spend quality time with their teenagers, they are often in a position to recognise changes in behaviour that result from substance abuse, emotional turmoil or infectious diseases. More importantly, however, they can protect children from addiction or disease by giving them adequate knowledge in the form of light conversation or even healthy debate about the harmful effects of substance abuse. This needs to happen by keeping checks and balances, monitoring their activities, ensuring that they are disabling addiction and engaging them in healthy activities without suffocating or punishing them.

Mothers of course, especially in our culture, are very actively involved in child's day-to-day activities. To be completely honest, in our society, it is considered to be only their job to guide and raise children from infants to functional successful adults. The harsh reality, however, remains that this is not a 'one-person-job.' It is impossible to deny the importance of a father's role in grooming and education of children in growing age. Role of a father for his children becomes even more important in a patriarchal society like Pakistan. Yet why do we find fathers giving least priority to communicate with their children, especially their daughters, other than instructions or punishments? A father emerges as a first role model for his children and therefore must manage time for both his son and daughter, equally and fairly. Researches have proved that children who are not properly guided by their fathers in growing age are more susceptible to depression and more likely to use drugs or demonstrate delinquent behaviour. Such children are also more exposed to violence, negative peer pressure, lack of self-confidence and self-awareness, and plenty of other social evils.

The need for instantaneous gratification that is the hallmark of the current time we live in and of adolescence is visible in addictions, anger, excessive texting, reckless driving, instant rebellious retaliation, and forming multiple romantic relationships. Short attention spans and quick fixes impair academic performance and relationships with family and friends. Poor relationships in turn affect the adolescent at the emotional level and limit their access to accurate information. There is conflict between parents and their child. Communication comes to a complete halt. This ultimately leads to the whole family falling apart at the seams.

Does all this sound even vaguely familiar about your home or someone else's home? The fact to remember, whether it is the mother or the father taking charge of a potentially problematic situation, the key to keep our children healthy, happy and safe is communication! Instead of constant criticism and lectures, we need to learn to talk to our children, and more so, listen to what they are saying, not just through their words but also their actions. Kids don't come with a manual; we just have to create our own manual according to each specific child we produce.

The writer is an actress, an anchor and a model. She can be reached

Twitter @JuggunKazim

Follow Us On Twitter