For Liberia – From Pakistan (Establishment of a School in Liberia by Pak Army)

Published in Hilal English Jan 2014

Written By: Maj Fahad Hafeez

Liberia is a country in West Africa; bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north, Côte d'Ivoire to its east and Atlantic Ocean in its south. It is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans. Though it is rich in iron ore, rubber and timber, but approximately 85% of the population lives below the international poverty line. The country's education sector is hampered by inadequate schools and supplies, as well as a lack of qualified teachers.

Liberia is in the process of re-establishing herself to get her out of the post civil war effects. The UN is also supplementing Liberia through a Peace Keeping Mission. Pakistan is front line contributor in peace establishment missions all over the world. In Liberia, almost 2,000 military and police personnel from Pakistan are undertaking the assignment with full motivation, zeal and enthusiasm. To be specific, Pakistani troops have been at the forefront to bring improvements in civil infrastructure and provision of basic facilities to the locals in Liberia.

Recently, Pakistani Contingent's 'Force Quick Reaction Force' (FQRF) renovated GoYe Apostolic Pentecostal Community School which shall accommodate more than 150 students with better schooling facilities. The school is located at Camp Clara in Monrovia. Before this renovation project, the school was lacking basic facilities. School staff comprised of only seven teachers who were previously running the school in a single room. There were no separate classrooms for different classes and students had to sit in a single room. Dearth of furniture, books and stationery was a major worry for the school administration. Moreover, there was no facility of a playground. It was kind of a hodgepodge learning environment.

The renovation task was completed in a short span of time. Now the school has separate classrooms, new furniture, an outdoor playground, and a new nursery classroom. The School has also been facilitated by provision of free medical check-ups to students, organization of sports events and cartoon movie nights.

Reconstruction of Principal's office and seasonal renovations are in process. That efforts by Pakistani Contingent have been well appreciated by the locals as well as UN Mission Staff in Liberia. Ms. Massa Gibson, one of the school's seven teachers, shared her feeling by saying, “I just want to say thank you. This is so important because it will not only help our country but the people of Liberia also. Children now have a decent school and playground; and we hope they will grow up fine.” A 13 years old girl Sangay, who studies in 8th grade and wants to become a doctor, said, “I love the new school, it is so beautiful. I appreciate the Pakistanis for what they have done. The walls are so pretty and we have a place to sit and learn.”

Force Commander of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Major General Leonard M. Ngondi, who is originally from Kenya, inaugurated the new school and acknowledged the efforts of Pakistani Contingent. He emphasized the role of UNMIL in supporting the government of Liberia to fulfill its responsibilities. He said, “Our main purpose here is to enable government and Liberian people to do their work in a better environment. They may be having some problems, but those problems can be addressed.”

Besides renovation and construction of education facilities, Pakistani Contingent is also providing technical, vocational, and educational training as well as essential medical aid and sensitization to locals in Liberia – truly serving the humanity for a noble cause. Pakistan Army has a history of being a peace friendly force and has done much to prove it. The services of Pak Army have been acknowledged by world leaders many times, and the army and people of Pakistan have a proud contribution in promotion of world peace.

The writer is part of Pakistan’s Peacekeeping contingent in Liberia.

The Race to Turn Fair

Published in Hilal English Jan 2014

Written By: Brig (Retd) Simeenber Rehman

Dr sahib I just want to be fair, want a glowing skin, want to look fresh...

These are the words I hear day in and day out from each of my younger patients whether they are boys or girls. The question is why this sudden fad has engulfed our youth for the past few years. We seem to have forgotten that we Pakistanis or Asian are born a brown race by the will and great thoughtfulness of Allah the Almighty. We must also remember the old saying all that glitters is not gold. Our beautiful brown colour protects us from the harsh sun rays, saves us from deadly skin cancers and other diseases.

White skin races are suffering from recurrent skin cancers, early ageing of skin in the form of wrinkles, black spots on the face in the form of freckles and seborreoric keratosis. They may also develop much darker spots known as sun spots or actinic keratosis, these are pre malignant and eventually develop into skin cancers if not treated in time.

This craze to become fair comes from two apparent factors; 1) Social pressures 2) Media. All women looking for brides for their sons, desire for girls who are fair and pretty, and reject nice decent girls, because of the complexion and some minute marks or scars. This racism should be finished. This is against our religion as well as ethically wrong. Criticizing physical attributes of any one means displeasing Allah, because all people are created equal by God. Media adds fuel to this smouldering fire by advertising so called fairness creams that claims to change the complexion within seconds. The so called miracle creams are actually steroid containing products that lightens the colour slightly but have adverse effects in the form of excessive hair growth, pimples and thinning of the skin leading to red faces, brown pigmentation and early wrinkling. In other words early ageing! So how to deal with this situation? The thing to remember is that there are actual substances that can dilute skin colour without causing bad effects, and there are ways and means to cure scars and marks.

Pigmentation can be diluted with applications of different substances made up of fruit acids, plant extracts, vitamin A derivatives, components of vitamin B and amino acids. Fruit acids are probably the oldest forms of skin scrubs and lightening agents. Egyptian women were the pioneers in this field. Juices of sugar cane, grapes, lemon and peach were frequently used, which contain alpha hydroxy acids. The extracts of Pine Bark are also included in the list of lightening agents. These are rediscovered now and mixed into different creams – when applied in proper proportions for some weeks can lead to lightening of the skin tone.

Sun protection is a compulsory feature as sun rays have skin damaging affect and frequent exposure leads to patchy pigmentation. Black hijabs also absorb sun light and may increase pigmentation of the skin. Therefore, by changing the colour of the hijab into a lighter shade will help in protection from the sun along with a sun block application.

The simple way to look after the skin and to look fresh is actually a regime which has to be followed always. Wash regularly with a mild soap – soaps that are frequently advertised on the media usually contain harmful acids that will dry out the skin and abrade it, making it vulnerable to environmental changes. This cause pigmentation, early wrinkling or eczematous changes.

Moisture is important for the body to maintain suppleness of the skin. Therefore, to moisturize the skin after washing is important. There is no need to buy expensive moisturizers as simple creams available in the market are nice and do not harm the skin. Drinking plenty of water, approximately 6-12 glasses a day, will hydrate the skin and reduce early formation of wrinkles. Fruit and vegetables are easy sources of vitamins and antioxidants. The darker the colour of the fruit or vegetables the better it is. Fruits like plums, pomegranate, oranges and black grapes are really good antioxidants. Similarly vegetables like tomatoes, beet root, carrots, spinach, broccoli, green pepper and green chiles are great source of antioxidants. Therefore, should be taken frequently.

Experimentation with different chemicals or plants may lead to excessive pigmentation of the skin. Makeover is not bad for the skin; the rule is to wash off the makeover as soon as possible. The newer foundations contain sun blocks and actually are protective.

The real key to the beauty is a beautiful personality that comes with a clean & honest heart and a smile. It changes everything and makes you beautiful. Stay pretty by not having bad feelings about anybody; forgiveness is the key for a clean heart. Anger, malice and making a sour face spoils the beauty of fairies, too.

The writer is a practicing Dermatologist. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Emerging Technology: Laser Guns

Published in Hilal English Jan 2014

Written By: Sana Nasri

The gadgets that we dreamed of in sci-fi films are becoming a reality. I would like to go take you all back in your memory lane to the famous movies like Star Trek, Star Wars, War of the Worlds, UFO, Planet of the Apes or any movie related to space and aliens. Our first thought would definitely go towards the technology used by the Aliens and Space people. Those were variety of imaginary laser weapons, laser pistols, laser rifles used for destroying the cities and people.

This idea made military minds to turn lasers guns from science fiction into reality for everything. Many big defence companies are taking a fresh look at laser technology. As lasers provides a number of benefits like keeping costs down and ensuring accuracy they need minimal support and maintenance. A LASER is defined as a generator for light waves based on atoms and quantum physical effects. They are often used for sighting, ranging and targeting for guns; in these cases the laser beam is not the source of the weapon's firepower.

The lasing process is all about storing and releasing energy. An energy source injects energy into the lasing medium. The energy excites electrons, which move up to higher energy levels. When the electrons relax, they emit photons. The photons move back and forth between the mirrors, exciting other electrons as they go. This produces powerful, focused light. Laser weapons usually generate brief high-energy pulses. A one megajoule laser pulse delivers roughly the same energy as 200 grams of high explosive, and has the same lethal effect on a target. The primary damage mechanism is mechanical

shear, caused by reaction when the surface of the target is explosively evaporated. There are many different types of lasers used in military weapons. Few are:-

• Solid state Lasers have a lasing medium that is solid crystal, like the ruby laser or the neodymium YAG laser, which emits 1.06 micrometer wavelength.

• Gas Lasers have a lasing medium that is a gas or combination of gases, such as helium-neon laser or carbon dioxide laser, which emits 10.6 micrometer wavelengths (infrared).

• Excimer Lasers or ultraviolet laser have a lasing medium that is a combination of reactive gases, like chlorine or fluorine, and inert gases, like argon or krypton. The argon fluoride laser emits ultraviolet light of 193 nanometer wavelengths.

• Dye Lasers have a lasing medium that is a fluorescent dye. They can be tuned to a variety of wavelengths within a certain range. The Rhoda mine 6G dye laser can be tuned from 570- to 650-nanometer wavelengths.

• Carbon Dioxide Lasers are being explored by the militaries because they're powerful infrared lasers that can be used for cutting metal.

• Chemical Oxygen-Iodine Laser. The energy source for the COIL is a chemical reaction, and the lasing medium is molecular iodine. It is used aboard the Air Force's Airborne Laser.

• Thin Disk Laser. Boeing Company is working on Thin Disk Laser System. It takes a series of commercial solid-state lasers and integrates them to produce one concentrated high-energy beam. It surpassed 30 kilowatts in power and enough to do some serious damage to a battlefield threat.

• Fiber Laser System. Aculight Company worked on Spectral Beam Combining technique to produce a high power laser beam. It works sort of like an inverse prism, with lasers of slightly different wavelengths entering it and coming out as a single beam. It resulted in a compact fiber laser system capable of producing 100 kilowatts of power. Fiber lasers tend to need less power to operate and optical fibers provide nearly perfect quality beams. Rather than using mirrors that can become misaligned, this approach confines the light within the fiber's glass structure. Types of Laser Guns

• Rayguns are a type of fictional directed-energy weapon. They have various alternate names ray gun, death ray, beam gun, blaster, laser gun, phaser, zap gun etc. They are a well-known feature of science fiction.

• Laser Tag is a team or individual sport or recreational activity where players attempt to score points by tagging targets, typically with a hand-held infrared-emitting targeting device. At their core, laser tag systems typically use infrared signaling to track firing of the laser.

• Electro Lasers are electroshock weapons which send current along an electrically conductive laser-induced plasma channel. Electro lasers are recoilless, first firing a low-power diode laser beam to ionize the air, then following it almost instantly with a high-voltage electrical charge that follows the path of the laser to the target.

• Pulse Laser Gun was a DIY project that has a small pulse laser head and generates a kW-pulse of infrared light. It is full metal body and can blast through plastic, razorblade, and even 5mm of Styrofoam. It has a range a 3 meters, and the gun itself is 320mm long and weighs at 2 pounds. It is battery powered, and it is good for about 50 shots.

• Dazzlers. Some lasers are used as non-lethal weapons, such as dazzlers which are designed to temporarily blind or distract people or sensors. We have to brace ourselves for a hi-tech new world with the Laser Close-In Weapon Systems. As lasers will be used as weapons; bringing nearly instant and extremely precise strikes to the battlefield. With deep magazines of laser-ness, they remove the worry of running out of ammunition. Plus lasers can be calibrated to the scale of the threat, ranging from a non-lethal blow through to taking out a missile. Developments are also being made in US Air force like Airborne Laser (Advanced Tactical Laser), the PHaSR and the Active Denial System and Navy equipment as well like Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL), and Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) etc. On same lines Boeing has also been making progress in other sorts of military laser weapons.


Opting for a Societal Strategy to Counter Radicalism

Written By: Abid Latif Sindhu

In animal symbolism Red Robin denotes all the good things from hope to renewal, new beginning and joy. There is a reason to be joyful as now the Red Robins of Waziristan are back. Operation Zarb- e-Azb is bearing fruit and chink after chink the territory is being reliberated from the dark shadows of obscurantism. The permanency to this tranquility depends not solely on kinetics but more so on deep-rooted social engineering and corrections in ideological overturns, through stacking of correct narratives, one after the other. The region of FATA (even so Afghanistan) requires a new dimensional, high definition enlightenment without which the beast of the jungle will not leave and chickens will come home to roost again and again.

Enlightenment is, therefore, the therapy to save the ideology from precipice and its unwanted pitfalls. Generally the enlightenment is of two types, radical and moderate. The moderate enlightenment is an evolutionary process which takes place over a period of time. This part of world now requires the radical enlightenment. This might look like an oxymoron but for pure happiness of the society, there is a need to undertake social engineering at societal level with cultural underpinnings.

A new discourse has to be invented, comfortably ensconced between the pull of philosophy and the drag of history. The intellectual history of Muslim comity is frozen in time, there is much beyond the mere definitions of theists and atheists. Spinoza once said "Man is neither good nor bad morally but merely neutral and morality itself is purely a function of society.” People living at the dissenting fringe of society can be recasted by appreciating the root cause of dissent, rather than demonizing the periphery. The Quakers in 17th century hated slavery, not the slave. The Quaker entrepreneur played a central role in formenting the Industrial Revolution, especially in England and Pennsylvania, thus initiating the radical enlightenment which made the abolition of slavery possible. For any society the basic mortar for cohesion and pure happiness is the prevailing sense of equality. The prejudices and static traditions are the termites which eventually tunnel out the equality by preferences of the influentials. Therefore, the emergence of informal aristocracy is to be seen as the vanguard of inequality quarters.

How then would the society be re-engineered? Remember, the philosophy as the higher thought is not for the majority. It will not enlighten the people enmasse. For masses a systematic re-education is required. The equation of re-educating, de-radicalizing and educating (RDE) has to be established with mathematical dexterity. Re-educating means correcting the ideological aberrations which will result into generic deradicalization and thus the intellectual chasms can be filled with education based on rationality, reason and sublime logic. It is believed by rationalists that men don’t degenerate in society, it is simply because reason has not yet developed sufficiently for them to take advantage of it. In short, the general freedom and equality is linked to general enlightenment. The rules, norms and traditions are for emancipation, not enslaving the people. World is passing through interesting times. As per Fareed Zakaria, world is moving from anger to indifference with three forces: politics, economics and, technology shaping the world. Where then can we fix the concept of enlightenment? It is the new political discourse of the society where the new found principles can have their gestation. In present world both the global north and the global south are facing the inequality.

The West is facing the problem of plenty and East the problem of scarcity. Net result in the words of Thomas Piketty is overwhelming inequality, thus the emergence of folds where the radical thoughts grow casting their diabolic shadow. In Afghanistan same inequality is manifested in a little different hue. Afghan society is deeply tribal in nature. The Afghan cities are the microcosm of the rural Afghanistan. The west and the rest have reaped the failure of their success in Afghanistan by applying an obtuse strategy of fireworks. Due to ground and ideological friction, the foreign troops are almost always the victims of system fatigue. Present day world is a depiction of an array of uni-multipolarity, many powers and one super power. It also seems that due to reasons known to the power to be, the world conflicts or chaos, once stirred, are very difficult to control. Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are the current examples of this international vagary. Why is it so? Alvin Toffler's third wave is now giving birth to the ever increasing influence for the fourth wave, which is the culture. Culture is the destiny of the world. The datafied world is bound to converge again on culture. The phenomenon of globalization is trying to dilute the same but only in a subtle way. The social instability inside Afghanistan is due to the lack of institutions or the malfunctioning of the existing ones. As of now only traditional institution of jirgah and arbitration is effective between different tribes and warlords. The Afghan society is the true depiction of the malfunctioning of these traditional institutions.

The basic responsibility of the state is the redistribution of, primarily, the two sine-qua-nons – sustenance of food and the deliverance of law. Afghan state lacks in both. It behaves as a minimalist one due to lack of the application of the principles of equality and the radical enlightenment. Isomorphic mimicry, that is copying outward forms of developed countries without investing into the people, leads a nation to nowhere. Historically there always were the estates before the state, but that is why the world went under the birth pangs of the Reformation, Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. Estates within the state of Afghanistan is not a territorial issue. It is to be fixed with the wand of rationality and reason. Even the civil society can't do the trick as civil societies are always partial, partisan and self-directed towards its own ideals. The band, tribe and solidarity, based on genetic relatedness, is the social retardation which takes societies backward rather than moving ahead. Tribal laws revolve around an extreme sense of bondage slavery, which when comes in context with other tribes becomes a sort of nepotism based on kingship and reciprocal altruism. All is absolutely against the principle of equality and rule of law.

Prebendalism of sort was the most effective reason for the birth of Taliban, rather than the concept of Afghan Jihad which is over since long. Political correctness of a society as a whole is very important cause without which even modernization will be a phenomenon without development. On the other hand the fulcrum to start the process of enlightenment is the Afghan government, however, weak it is, has to be trusted, as the distrust of any government metastasizes into distrust of everyone. The Federalist Papers is not only documentation of American history, rather it is more or less a document dealing with difficult societal situation through the prism of enlightened reasoning. The political machine of Taliban in Afghanistan is more of a social clique than a military club. The recruitment is done through the precinct captains in rural areas and ward healers in towns and cities.

To address the problem of emergence of obscurantist beasts one after the other, we need to break the cycle of ideological gestation. The entire west is focusing upon the state building of Afghanistan whereas actually there is a need for nation building. Till the time the swap over is not done, the Afghan problem will simmer like a volcano. State is built through tangible institutions like army, police, bureaucracy and ministries etc., whereas nation is built through the intangibles of national identity, corrective ideology, symbols and shared identities. The Third World War would be the war of intangibles. The west and the rest are rather investing in tangibles, thereby winning battles and losing the war. The ideology is the plane where the actual fight has to take place. This can happen not through kinetics but the shining armour of reasoning, logic and enlightenment. Historical amnesia has strangely taken over those nations who, themselves, overcame their dark periods through the application of intangible first, before the sequencing of tangibles. Institutions are very important but these are not the bedrock to raise edifice, the bedrock and ideational plinth is the correct ideology and the sense of identity.

With due apology, to James A.Robin and Daron (authors of Why Nations Fail), nations do not fail due to lack of institutions, rather nations fail when their institutions don’t manifest the lofty principles of equality, liberty, rule of law and respect for human values.

The writer is a freelancer having a military background and regularly contributes for national dailies on issues related to national security, strategy and foreign policy. He is also a Ph.D scholar at National Defence University.
Enlightenment is, therefore, the therapy to save the ideology from precipice and its unwanted pitfalls. Generally the enlightenment is of two types, radical and moderate. The moderate enlightenment is an evolutionary process which takes place over a period of time. This part of world now requires the radical enlightenment. This might look like an oxymoron but for pure happiness of the society, there is a need to undertake social engineering at societal level with cultural underpinnings.



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