Written By: Asma Ishaq

A fine morning in the city and you expect to see the typical urban kaleidoscope each morning; life carrying on briskly in its various aspects but the best sight to see are the kids and teenagers coming to school with a smile on their face. The most beautiful thing that can be seen vividly in the bright eyes are their dreams. Carrying their bags, paying regards to every teacher who comes across them, they are what usually people would call the future generation and as a matter of fact – the future assets. Their mornings start in the same manner everywhere in the world. It is one of the most beautiful scenes to observe when the children come to school particularly for the teachers it feels almost akin to a blessing. Yes! teachers, whose prime responsibility is generally understood as imparting lessons of their respective subjects. It is understood, maintained and executed in every corner of the world, however, teaching and the impact of teaching should not be limited to the boundaries of a class or that of a school. While a young learner must be facilitated in scoring higher grades, simultaneously he or she should be trained to become a skilled individual for leading a meaningful life.

Teaching is one of the many professions practiced in the society yet the nobility of this profession makes it imperative to be respected as an institution in itself. Teaching should not be considered or practiced as a ‘randomly chosen’ profession. Ask any passionate teacher, and the answer would be, “It is a huge responsibility as it falls in the hands of a teacher whether to shape a young mind as an optimist or a pessimist towards his or her life.” The reasons are obvious because an adept and responsible teacher will definitely work as a tactful surgeon who understands the working of the young minds in order to free them of the social ills and from any form of negativity.

Making one’s students well-versed in a subject is the prime objective of any teacher. The analytical study about classrooms suggests that in every class there sits a group of students comprising the born genius, sharp learners, average and below average learners. Any successful teacher enters the class with an intention to execute the lesson plan that caters to all above students’ learning needs. Another tradition quite common these days is that teachers focus a little more on the ones who strive harder or are weak in retaining the content knowledge. Generally, this is good. However, this is also a fact that very few teachers prepare lesson plans to impart successful human skills and values that are the need of every born genius, sharp learner as well as average and below average learners. It might be a surprise to many but it has been observed that any teenager who struggles against any of his or her challenges of a teenage life does not necessarily fall only in the average or below average category of students, they can be or are to be in the genius category as well.

Unfortunately, schools have clearly laid down guidelines, with less or no stake of teachers, on how to teach students. This practice of excluding teachers from the process has a damaging impact on the society. There are some school systems and passionate teachers but the damage requires a great deal of dedication and determination from them. The students may grow to become engineers, doctors, pilots and soldiers etc. but a teacher first needs to educate them in becoming a leader in their respective environment, a pragmatic decisionmaker, a dynamic thinker and, above all, an inspirational human to the people around.

Teachers are nation builders, guides, instructors and, most importantly, pillars of any society. The vital role of a pillar that a teacher plays in the society is nothing else than to make their students aspire to be an inspiration in every endeavor they embark upon. The features that must be instilled in a student’s grooming include; firstly, they should be trained to have dignity yet with humility. Next, to have a strong character which does not fall victim to any social ill in the society. An important point to remember is that directionless young kids are more prone to the onslaught of any negative challenge that they might face in their lives therefore grooming them to be direction-oriented proves as a great bulwark. The teachers have a critical role in making their students believe that they are capable of achieving anything they want to.

Teaching is called the only Prophetic profession and surely it gives solace to the soul. A teacher’s profession becomes much more rewarding when they see their students emerge as an inspiration to people around them rather than seeing them just being inspired by others. All students have wonderful inspirational young minds having different dreams for their future. The potentials that have been bestowed by the Creator are there, all the faculties are there too, the only other thing required is to have them believe in their ability to do what they want to do and be kind of an inspiration to the rest.
The shoulders of teachers, weighed down by the immense responsibility, feel light when their students grow up as positive and progressive individuals. The happy faces, bright eyes and incandescent smiles are a blessing to any teacher. It is pertinent to mention here that this is both an award and reward for the teacher in itself.

Last but not the least, one magical factor to make the young ones aspire to utilize the given potentials given to them by the Creator and have them believe that He is there to help them achieve every goal in their lives.


The writer is English language and literature teacher at the Army Public School-Faisal, Karachi.

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Written By: Zainab Amir

Why do you feel lonely? Why do you feel distressed? Why do you feel as if you mean nothing to the ones you love? Why do you feel as if you are a useless piece of a lifeless soul? Why do you feel such emotions?

Why? Oh, it is because that is what life is about.
Life is and will be full of obstacles, adversities, fake people, lies, bad grades, and most importantly challenges. We all have and will continue to face them. But if we fail one of them, why do we decide to give up? Why do we end our lives for a challenge that we weren't able to pass?
Life is a precious thing. We all have it so we could live, to share our emotions, our feelings, our thoughts, perspectives, love, to cherish the moments and to appreciate the nature. But if we fail in one aspect of life, does that mean we are going to give up? Does that mean we give up on our dreams? Giving up means killing your hopes and your dreams. Why? Was it that hard? Keep this thing in your mind that there are always going to be hardships in life. All we have to do is to develop that certain maturity in ourselves so we can pass it. If we can't, then try again and again. There will be a certain point where you will get where you're going. And then you will look back and see that you overcame all the obstacles and succeeded. Yes, you did it. You will feel every atom in your body vibrating with joy. That feeling is called happiness.

Now think if there were no challenges, don't you think that would have been boring? Life means to define yourself, to tell the world that you are capable of accomplishing things that you want to. Focus on the bright side. Life is all about telling who you are by giving pure evidence about yourself and you can not define yourself unless you challenge yourself. Prove that yes you are capable of many things.
Every person in this world is different and so are you. You were born to stand out. Everyone is capable of different things, all you got to do is to just prove it. Nothing is impossible.

An individual can do anything, because nothing in this world is impossible and will never be.
Just believe in yourself and keep moving forward.

You are loved. You have a significance in this world. You deserve to be happy.
You matter!


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The Bigger Cause

Published in Blog
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Written By: Alizea Maqsud


I fought in the name of my land, my lord,
Me and my struggles shall not be forgotten,
I left my wife, my family crying,
But if you think about it; aren’t all of us dying?
What I died for was bigger than me,
I shall be rewarded with a key;
A key to my house in the heavens,
You think it’s bad I died at twenty-seven?
Well let me tell you; yes I was in pain
But none of this will be left in vain,
In the end what matters is acceptance,
Acceptence by Allah and your nation,
You’ll be remembered a hero not a coward,
And that my friend is the real power!


Written By: Gauher Aftab

A hundred years from now, historians will look back to this period as a moment when the world slid from the grasp of an established order and changed into something unrecognizable. The spiral into chaos has begun, and a vortex of instability and entrenched conflict threatens the status quo all around the world. One thing history can reliably predict is that all empires decline and recede, all civilizations fall prey to decadence, neglect, and overreach, and that all power, however magnificent, withers away with time.

The current global order is crumbling and the writing is on the wall for anyone to see. The old world’s engine of neo-colonialism and free trade policies self-destructed catastrophically in 2008, and the shortsighted response of Western governments has since de-linked value creation, employment and growth from the illusion of wealth creation or ‘progress’. Let us waste no words on Trump but to say that his government is an early manifestation of the many authoritarian and exploitative regimes set to rise across the Western world. The assets of declining empires shall be divvied up behind closed doors, and the majority will exert its tyranny over lesser subjects till the veneer of civilization is entirely stripped away. As the sun sets on the 30 year reign of a single global superpower, and the nascent multi-polar world has only archaic conventions and toothless institutions to navigate the inevitable conflict. The Chinese dragon stretches its wings much further in South Asia than ever before, and has its sights set on connecting the world. The Russian bear stirs from hibernation, and though still a pale shadow of its former greatness has begun expanding its sphere of influence.

Closer to home, the Middle East bleeds like a gaping wound, with millions of people ready to welcome any ‘savior’, even ISIS, who can make the killing stop. The Al Saud dynasty totters under the weight of its contradictions and hypocrisies, with what could be its final scion to hold power. Their only legacy will be a strain of puritanical nihilism masquerading as Islam, and a Muslim consciousness cauterized along sectarian lines. The seat of Sunni leadership lies vacant, and a contender has yet to step forth.

Another inalienable truth is that periods of decline are always followed by a cycle of rebirth. The vacuum of power creates room for new actors, alliances and narratives that define a new world order. However, the globe does not experience history uniformly, and our part of the world has already been through decades of chaos and destruction. The West may have just opened its eyes, but we are already on to the messy process of rebirth, and unfortunately the form of our future incarnation is terrifying.

Our schools teach sycophancy and exclusion, our pulpits preach hate, employment is akin to servitude, and the corridors of power are a winding maze of nepotism. But it’s worse. The murderers of children are treated like state assets, their patrons are beyond untouchable, and our elected leaders manage to claim their share as both ruler and victim. Our children grow up angry, hating their fellow citizens for crimes of thought and belief, willing to maim and kill rather than die hungry. Far from presenting a unified face in hard times, this dysfunctional family is at risk of having an irreconcilable falling out.

In many ways, this should be Pakistan’s moment to take to the stage of global affairs and stake a claim to being a major world power. The keys to the future of Afghanistan, of the Middle East, of global Sunni leadership, of peace or war amongst the Muslim Ummah, all lie with Pakistan. And believe it or not, the strategic balance of the new world order could one day rest upon a single land route that happens to wind its way through our sovereign territory.

What is in the past can no longer inform or infect our vision for the future. Glory is not a holding pattern, nor is maintaining the status quo an achievement. It is time to put aside the demons and false myths of yesterday, and embrace a new purpose for our nation. The time to dream of a greater Pakistan is not tomorrow, it is today. A final solution for Afghanistan is imminent, and we must consider our role and stake our claim. The Middle East needs a neutral Muslim nation as arbiter, and there is simply no one else. There are millions of people around the world who need a place to call home, and Pakistan defines itself as a nation with ideology, not ethnicity, in mind. To even begin to aspire to such lofty heights, our house needs to be set in order with massive social reconstruction and a shared national direction. The foundation must be rebuilt strong enough to bear the weight of 200 million dreams, as well as lighten the burdens of millions more.

So will we go meekly, silently into the night, or will sages one day tell of the moment in history when we finally came of age? If history is to be believed, we will find out soon enough.


The writer is the author of ‘Paasban – the Guardian’ comic series, and can be reached at

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Written By: Ayesha Farooq

As the day of 23rd March approaches, one’s subconscious begins to render a course of events which are to take place in the coming days; patriotic songs resonating while passing by a marketplace, children gearing up to perform tableaus and speeches in their schools, TV channels airing special transmissions and most importantly one recalls the exuberant parade by Armed Forces of Pakistan, all of this and more, to celebrate the spirit of Pakistan Day.
What happened on this day seventy-seven years ago? What was so substantial that a sound and thorough person like Muhammad Ali Jinnah called it ‘a landmark in the history of India’?1 Why the then governor of Punjab, Sir Henry Craik declared it ‘a very effective riposte to Congress as it torpedoed the Congress claim to speak for India’2 as he reported it to the Viceroy? It was the day when Jinnah enunciated for all to hear an aspiration he had seized for long; the demand of territorial readjustments to group Muslim majority areas into autonomous and sovereign states. He asserted in an incisive manner that no constitutional plan will at all be accepted by Muslims unless it is designed on the aforementioned doctrine.

To this day, the nation commemorates what the Muslims of India celebrated while chanting Quaid-i-Azam Zindabad! seven decades ago when the Two Nation Theory finally got its sense of direction. It seemed implausible until March 23, 1940 that the oppressive rule of Hindus could be put an end to, the Muslims themselves possessed the strength to reject being persecuted and that the world map could be modified marking the emergence of a new nation-state, but the vigour in the voice of Jinnah bound every spell and the long lost Muslim spirits rose from ashes like a phoenix. The enthusiasm with which his speech was received made him say, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Lahore because of the result; otherwise I was worked to death”.3 More often than not today when Pakistan Day is mentioned the focus is merely on the first part of his contemplation; the joy, however, the latter deserves thought as well; what was it that worked him to death?

Travelling through time, back to the years 1935 to 1939, Jinnah was working untiringly despite aggravation of the fatal lung disease that claimed his life a decade later. He wanted to keep it concealed from the public eye because he knew that his own well-being was indispensable to political power thus he kept on putting his best efforts into laying the groundwork for the most important milestone Muslim League was to achieve. He took a keen approach towards his goal focusing on matters vital to ensure long-term accomplishment.

His first and foremost priority from the beginning remained summoning unity among Muslims from all over the sub-continent. Time and again he delivered messages to Muslims in a number of addresses that their strength lies only in staying united. He firmly believed that if Muslims were ever defeated, it would only be by betrayal but no other force could stand in their way. In his profound presidential address at the Lucknow Session in October 1937 he said, “I entreat and implore that every man, woman and child should rally round one common platform and flag of the All-India Muslim League… Organize yourselves, establish your solidarity and complete unity… Create the feeling of esprit de corps, and of comradeship amongst yourselves.”

Role of Students
History remains witness what satiated Jinnah most was looking at active, dynamic and enthusiastic students joining hands with him. His aspirations for reviving the wretched state of Muslims were substantial and the contribution of youthful muscle could do wonders, he realized. Jinnah was a man who repeatedly declined invitations for talks and sessions with a number of people of importance including Jawaharlal Nehru after the year 19374; reason being his wish to conceal his sickness and saving his energy as well. However, it took him less than a minute to give his consent for presiding over the first annual session of All-India Muslim Students’ Federation in December 19375. Later on, speaking to the Muslim University Union in February 1938 he said, “They were gathering the precious stones, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, the scattered energies and talents of the Muslim community and it will eventually be a jewel they will be proud of ”.

Role of Women
Some of the most brilliant Muslim women had been working silently for Pakistan movement making their contributions as per the traditional ethos of staying behind the curtains but the influence of their activities brought no significant change until Jinnah decided to rupture the misunderstood touchstone of culture and emancipate them. In Patna Session of 1938 he founded the first All-India Muslim Women’s Sub-committee from where the serious involvement of women in the Muslim League affairs began. Under his guidelines an intensive campaign among Muslim women was carried out to awaken political consciousness in them. The earnest response of women and the degree to which their activities invigorated the political movement convinced him to say in his speech at Islamia College for Women in March 1940, “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women”.

Desire for autonomy was the essence of the entire movement carried out during the struggle for a separate nation-state. Not one of the sessions and addresses during mid 1930s went without him stressing over the importance of ceasing to look up to others and instead focusing on the underlying power of integrity Muslims themselves possessed but kept sacred for so long they forgot about its existence. With his fine-tuned dynamism he rekindled those spirits giving clear cut instructions to rely on none but one’s self and the Almighty. In his presidential address of the first Sindh Provincial Muslim League Conference in October 1938 he said, “It is no use relying upon anyone else. We must stand on our own inherent strength and build up our own power and forge sanctions behind our decisions… It is no use our blaming others. It is no use our accusing our opponents only; it is no use our expecting our enemies to behave differently”.

Islam and Qur’an
In the years before passing the Pakistan Resolution, Jinnah’s mind focused on Islam and Qur’an more than ever before. It fascinated him how the ritual of fasting brought discipline among people providing necessary strength for action, how the instructions about congregational prayer brought several opportunities within a day for a person to meet, study and understand one’s fellow beings and how the message of love and tolerance towards others prevails in the teachings of the Qur’an. He expressed these sentiments in his speech on Eid day in November 1939 closing with the statement, “In the pursuit of truth and the cultivation of beliefs we should be guided by our rational interpretation of the Qur’an and if our devotion to truth is single-minded, we shall, in our own measure, achieve our goal. In the translation of this truth into practice, however, we shall be content with so much, and so much only, as we can achieve without encroaching on the rights of others, while at the same time not ceasing our efforts always to achieve more”.

Fighting Spirit
Lastly, it was not just his speeches where he drew attention towards the significance of confronting the enemies with pride and valour but he presented examples himself by forthrightly demanding not only Congress but British government at the time to take heed. In his speech on the Finance Bill in the Legislative Assembly in March 1939 he said, “Why do you expect us, I ask the Government, to draw the chestnuts out of the fire on your behalf? Why do you expect us to continue to be subservient on the specious pleas which you put forward before us?’ and then he curtly took Congress aboard continuing, “let me tell you, and I tell both of you that you alone or this organization alone or both combined will never succeed in destroying our souls. You will never be able to destroy that culture which we have inherited, the Islamic culture, and that spirit will live, is going to live and has lived. You may overpower us; you may oppress us; and you can do your worst. But we have come to the conclusion and we have now made a grim resolve that we shall go down, if we have to go down, fighting”.

What is done before lifting the final curtain always has a solid impact on the performance and Jinnah who was dearly called Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader) by his followers, understood it very well. He deliberately touched matters of utmost importance knowing their impact was going to be long lasting. It is about time that not only on an individual level, but on organizational level the same matters are given due value. The fighting spirit must not stay confined to men in uniform, self-reliance must become a goal for all, role of students and women must not only be acknowledged but encouraged on a greater level. We are still at a stage where it is heroic to be recognized if you are a woman, whereas it should be ordinary for every woman to want to play her part and make a difference, institutions should make an effort to inculcate unity disregarding all kinds of bias on a grassroot level and most importantly Islam and Qur’an must be taught in a manner that is comprehensible for the majority leading the basic principles of love and tolerance towards all mankind to triumph, only then we will be able to pay tribute to the tremendous efforts made by our ancestors in order to pass the Pakistan Resolution ultimately altering the course of history, modifying the world map and creating a nation-state.

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1,2,4,5 Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan.

3 Jamal-ud-din Ahmad, Some Recent Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah.


Written By: Maha Waseem (Turkey)

They say there are certain sounds that take you back in time. Memories that indeed transcend time and place. “Lab pe aati hai dua ban ke tamanna meri”, an excerpt from Allama Iqbal’s famous poem; as an 8 year old in Montessori, humming this poem collectively during morning assembly was our daily ritual. I still feel the heaviness in my heart I felt back then, even though my tiny head was indeed too small to comprehend the influx of sacrifices that brought Pakistan into being, today I feel each word deeply etched in my brain. If I keep my eyes shut for too long now, my thoughts almost turn black and white, a little part of me flies back to 1940, a series of events I have pictured in my mind through all the stories and textbooks foretold and over-read. Today I stand on soil that warmly accepts me but I cannot call my own, today I long to be standing on the piece of land that brought me up and instigated in me the bright hues of the past and the future.

Pakistan Day is more than just a holiday signifying the Lahore Resolution of March 23, 1940 or the embarking of Islamic Republic of Pakistan on March 23, 1956, it is an esteemed event of collective experiences that reflect the staunch reality that we were, are and will continue to bleed green. Today, although I deeply long to witness the parade I have been witnessing every year as per tradition, I know the spirit of patriotism will forever persist.

Pakistan Day Parade by the Pakistan Armed Forces is the highlight of the celebration each year, previously held at Constitution Avenue now at Shakarparian Parade Ground in Islamabad. At dawn, special prayers are offered for peace and prosperity followed by the national anthem beautifully sung with the flow of the bright green flag commences the much awaited parade of the year. The line-up includes Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force, Northern Light Infantry, Islamabad Police, female officers of the Armed Forces, nursing services, boys scouts, girl guides and Special Services Group all coming together to remind us of the values and the country we take pride in. The parade is never short of Cobra gunship helicopters and F-16 fighter jets. But most importantly, it is never short of Pakistan and patriotism. With large crowd gathered to witness the parade, there are millions more watching online, myself included this year. The roots of struggle sowed seeds of prosperity Pakistan as a nation will continue to aspire to achieve.

This, coming from the generation that seeks to shoulder and carry all the hopes of the nation and move towards a bright future envisioned, I truly pray I could give back to the country with utmost loyalty. And while I take a deep breath and long to be back home on this fine day, I can’t help but smile at the fact that no matter how much the geographical distance, I will always carry my home within my heart regardless of how far this massive whiff of nostalgia blows me away.


Written By: Saad Qamar Iqbal

visiteuropcities1.jpgIn a recent tour around Europe, I came across the liveliest of its cities in Spain and The Netherlands, the historical heart in Rome and Budapest, while discovering the best of Mother Nature in Switzerland and South France. Food, local culture, native people and language were among the best fascinations alongside the typical touristic attractions, but what stood out was the experience with people from all different cultural backgrounds. Interaction with people gave me an all-new insight into travelling. I made a personal and broad discrimination of the people I met- dividing them into two groups: (i) travelers or backpackers and (ii) tourists. There is no one-sentence definition to each, and only a thorough description of their conduct explains them in the purest sense.

On the outlook, the only point-of-similarity between tourists and travelers was the common destinations- and at times, not even this, for e.g., when traveler decided to go off mainstream places in the pursuit of more adventure. While the most striking differences provided good reasons to laugh upon, for instance, a traveler I met in Barcelona decided to not only learn a few phrases in the local Catalonian language, but also the local dialect and slangs, a tourist I met in Paris expected everyone in city to be fluent in English. Not just the hotel staff and taxi drivers in the lavish Champs-elysees street, but also a local, 80 years old vendor in a Parisian suburb of Evry.


visiteuropcities.jpgThe differences were not restricted to the linguistic scope of the two- but also stretched to their dinning and bedrooms. Backpackers loved to sleep in 8-bed dorm rooms, or camp outside. At a stark contrast, the tourists adhered to their routine of online booking of a 4-star hotel in a city center- or at least near a metro station which connects to all the tourist sights of the city. Coming to food, the former, although at times having to eat at KFC, never loved to brag about it. Tourists wouldn’t feel any hesitation for doing so, young ones also going on to check-in on their Facebook profile. Their love for local cuisine was often a confused one. A tourist I met in a guided tour in Brussels believed to have tasted the “real” Belgian cuisine after tasting only the internationally acclaimed Belgian fries, spaghetti bolognese and hamburgers. Another “traveler” in the group intervened right away to remind about the national “tarte au riz” and tartar sauce.

A look into their cameras and Facebook albums further helps in understanding the overall difference between the two groups of visitors. A random tourist’s photo collection includes several hundred selfies in front of Pisa or Eiffel Tower, a hundred portrait photos against Sacre-coer Church with a variety of poses and pictures of the famous Roman Colosseum taken from thousands of angles. A traveler would feel like John Huba after taking a blurry, below average picture of a random Berlin Street or a Parisian retired man with his typical hat. They have selfies too, but its hard to find one without their backpack on their back or one taken with selfie-stick.


visiteuropcities3.jpgStreet crimes are a bother for many foreign visitors in several cities of Europe. Passport was always my favourite personal item when I traveled- for it helped me bypass borders legally. Tourists might prize their guidebook and city map more than their passport and cameras. They go to each and every destination suggested on any typical tourist guidebook with passion, and hence the special affection. Travelers lose their belongings to thugs and robbers on force in isolated towns and villages, while tourists would lose them to smart pocket-pickers doing their job in the matter of a glance while they change their metro station.

My analysis of the two groups doesn’t term tourists “bad” or travelers any “better”, Both of them are just a different lot, with different set of preferences. They might be travelling in different context or state of life- and a traveler today could be a tourist tomorrow. Financial aspect is an important one, and my interaction with travelers did suggest that only if they had more funds, they would have travelled in a rather “touristic” manner. But then there were rich travelers too-paying a premium amount for the camping place in a striking location just outside Toulouse in France. The bottom line perhaps is to strike a balance between two individualities: to make the most out of travel which can come with a blend of both “traveler” and “tourist” features.


The writer is a visiting student at EDHEC Business School, France.

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Written By: Aimon Tanvir Malghani

Recently, there has been great concern about the rising level of smog prevailing over large areas of the Punjab. Before going into the details of the issue, we need to understand what smog is and what causes it. Generally, smog is a type of air pollution that is caused when smoke combines with fog. The condition is common in urban centers during the winter season, especially in the month of December. Classic smog results from the burning of coal and mixing of sulfur dioxide and smoke. In urban areas, burning of fossil fuels in the engines of vehicles as well as the combustion in industrial zones releases a large amount of pollutant gases in the atmosphere that, under favourable conditions of temperature and humidity, get mixed with the fog to form smog. Hence, basically, smog results from the intervention of human activities and anthropogenic emissions with the natural ecosystems. The phenomenon can be attributed to modernization and industrialization of the human communities and it tends to occur almost every year during a specific time period.

Like every other phenomenon in nature, the conditions for the formation of smog also follow proper clock or timing. It usually does not occur at the start of the season when the temperature has not lowered enough. Plus, the problem of smog was reported earlier in the urban centers only but this time several suburbs and small cities that do not have large industrial settlements, have also encountered the same problem and the problem is no longer at small scale but on a bigger one when people need to wear masks to avoid the contaminated air getting into their lungs. Owing to these extended implications the research institutions, the academia, the government, NGOs and the international organizations have raised concerns over the issue, and have started smog monitoring campaigns in an attempt to identify the causes of this disaster. Although, smog occurs every year, the problem has worsened over the past five years owing to the expansion of cities, overpopulation and increased usage of fossil fuels.


smogoverpak1.jpgComing to the recent episode of smog, the cause cannot be attributed to a single action; rather there are multiple factors involved. Expectedly, and most agreeably, agricultural fires in the state of Punjab (India) are one of the reasons behind the prevailing issue. On October 23, 2016, NASA published an image from Soumi NPP Satellite. The image was taken from the VIRS instrument on the satellite and it showed huge agricultural fires in India and some scattered fires were also shown in Pakistan. The Punjab state grows about one-fifth of India’s wheat. Setting fire to the previous crop’s residue has the benefit of clearing out some pests that may eat the crop, turning the residue to into fertilizing ash. Almost 16% of the crop residue was burnt on the farms in India in 2009 (Jain et Al., 2013). The proportion must have increased manifold by now. The same authors report that agricultural crop residue burning contributes towards the emission of greenhouse gases namely, carbon dioxide, di-nitrogen oxide and methane. Also, many other pollutant gases like carbon monoxide, ammonia, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, and volatile organic compounds are emitted in the process. Oxides of sulfur play a vital role in the formation of smog.

The red dots showing burning of the crop residue in various areas (Image Source: NASA)
Further evidence suggests that on average, there has been high relative humidity during the month of October which provided favourable conditions for the formation of smog over the region. For Lahore, humidity during the month ranged from 34%-92%, giving an average of 63%.

As the subject environmental problem is of trans-boundary nature, wind speeds and directions may also play a crucial role. Experts say that increase in the levels of construction dust, burning of garbage (open burning of waste), factory emissions and motor vehicle exhausts are all contributing factors in the havoc of smog (The Washington Post, November 5). Meteorologists say that this smog is unusual and loaded with toxic air.

Relative humidity (Lahore), October, 2016 (Source: weathersparks.com)
Similar problem has been reported in the Indian capital of New Dehli. Dehli is considered to be one of the most polluted city centers of the world and is normally beset by toxic air, but government data shows that the current levels of smog are higher than the last seventeen years recorded (The Washington Post, November 5). Lahore was also listed along with Dehli amongst the top 10 worst cities for smog in 2014.

Serious implications of smog have been observed during the past few years. It causes major health risks including asthma, lung tissue damage, bronchial infections, various forms of allergies and heart problems. There is no other option left for the general public except wearing masks and glasses to avoid the effects of smog. Smog has caused irritation in the eyes of residents and an increase in respiratory related problems has been observed. The condition is particularly more dangerous for the people who already have some sort of respiratory disorders. Meteorology Department of Pakistan has warned people regarding the seriousness of the issue and advised not to go outside unnecessarily. According to monitoring reports from the Environment Protection Department, the levels of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and sulfur dioxide have risen far above the level of human tolerance and this includes emissions coming from India caused by burning of about 32 million tonnes of crop residue. Smog cover has also contributed in the increase in temperature by acting as a greenhouse and trapping the energy coming from the sun. Fortunately, rains during the second week of November in some areas of Punjab have lowered the severity of the problem to some extent where the smog has been wiped away by rain water.

Air pollution poses serious threats to man and the environment. World Health Organization reports that 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air quality exceeds the safe levels and poses serious hazards to human health. UNICEF reports say that six million deaths around the globe are caused by exposure to air pollution, whether it is indoor or outdoor. Smog has the capacity to dry out the protective membrane of the nose and throat and hence, can interfere with the human immune system, making it more prone to illness.

Low visibility forces the authorities to close the highways and motorways that connect various parts of the country. Transportation becomes limited and the business sector gets paralyzed. Furthermore, smog may also impact the new crops that are being sown and may cause a delay in their sprouting season which will disturb the overall crop cycle of the region.

The above mentioned threats caused by peaking air pollution demand serious commitment on the behalf of people, institutions and the government to understand the impacts of their footprints on the environment and work towards building a healthier environment for the present as well as for the generations to come.


The writer is a student of MS Environmental Science at NUST.

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Written By: Ghazala Ambreen

Power is the biggest support of our economy but it has become a nuisance for us in recent times. The energy crisis is crippling our economy. In Pakistan, electricity is 60 per cent more expensive than India and 40 per cent more than Bangladesh. As compared to population proportion we are facing extreme shortage of energy that is causing a ripple effect of unemployment, increased crime rate and slow investment. The impending energy crisis has a deteriorating effect on the industry. About 0.5 million power looms have been closed, 0.5 million labourers are out of work and circular debt has reached to over 250 to 300 billion rupees.

Pakistan lost seven million dollars due to power outages in the year 2010 alone. Ideally there can be petroleum storage for 45 days but currently we have storage reserve for only 20 days; the reason being one-fourth ratio of demand and supply.

If new reservoirs are not discovered in time, we would face even more acute problems. In the whole world, substitute sources of energy are opted for in case of such a crisis but we did not develop long or short term projects or try to create energy through alternate means.

Socioeconomic issues would aggravate if this issue is not resolved timely. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi confirmed in June 2016 that there is a huge gap between demand and supply of gas. Currently Pakistan is producing 4 billion cubic feet per day while the demand is 8 billion cubic feet per day. If we explore the reasons why this crisis developed, it becomes clear that we started selling hydrocarbon on a high price. On the advice of international financial institutions we started privatizing the important institutions rather than investing in them, promoting the culture of commission and license.

When the CNG business started, owners extorted three hundred times the profit from customers. Under-filling of gas was a common occurrence. Moreover, some industry owners also stole gas. According to a rough estimate, only in KP about 12 per cent gas is stolen and much is unaccounted for. Old pipelines and unplanned growth in distribution network added to the gravity of the issue. As a result our demand rose intensely and energy crisis became intense.

There is a need to explore indigenous resources of hydrocarbon and go for efficient energy conservation. We must install coal powered plants and increase the generation capacity. Solar energy, wind energy and all other forms of renewable energy must be tried.

There is a need to adopt short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies. Use of energy efficient products can go a long way in solving the crisis of energy. Inefficient appliances must be done away with, instead alternate forms of renewable energy as wind and solar energy can be used; billboards and irrigation pumps can use solar light. The outdated transmission lines must be installed anew.

A news report of the Daily News Pakistan edition of May 26, 2015 quoted director of Punjab University’s Centre for Coal Technology Prof. Dr. Shahid Munir as elucidating how Thar coal reserves can generate 100,000 megawatts of electricity, as we have 185 billion tons Lignite coal in Thar. Domestic investment is needed to harness the coal reserves in Pakistan, although we cannot overrule long term harms of coal-based energy projects and the pollution factor.

In Balochistan, nine new blocks of 12000 square feet gas reservoirs have been discovered. They can be exploited to address the problem of energy shortage. In Balochistan, electricity can be produced in coastal areas through air and in Punjab through small canals.

Mistrust of the provinces regarding construction of big dams is also there. A suggestion in this regard is that the federal government may allow provincial governments to start projects to create more than 50 megawatts of electricity. De-regulation of NEPRA can also be looked upon if it is essential.

A member of the energy expert group, Abbas Bilgrami said that there is a lack of integral energy planning. And if at all the policies are devised then unfortunately they are not implemented. He was of the view that we have politicized energy sector and a culture of working on ad hoc basis is prevalent. There is a need to operate this sector by depoliticizing it. We must not allow the third party to intervene. Paver distribution and transmission line losses must be reduced. For this the audit of the energy of the whole sector must be ensured. If the institutions which are WAPDA defaulters, clear the outstanding bills, the crisis can be tackled to a great extent.

Tweleve years ago our hydro resources had a major share in producing electricity but we did not build Kalabagh Dam and other major hydro projects. The capacity of Diamir Bhasha Dam to generate electricity is 4500 megawatt. It took 30 years in its construction and still the work is ongoing. That of Dasu Dam is 5400 megawatts electric power. Ghazi Barotha Project has a potential to generate 1450 megawatts of electricity.

Dr Salman Shah, the former Finance Minister of Pakistan, while commenting on thermal power plants said that it is an economic principle that energy production has to be on a low cost. Such plants produce expensive electricity. He was of the view that rental power plant experimentation was a big failure and in its form we collected the junk of the world. It is crucial that total power policy be revised to fight with snowballing energy problem.


The writer works for Ministry of Information and is the Co-Editor of their magazine.

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Written By: Areesha Latif

"Never think we are weak or feeble, never think you can hide from us or breathe in peace, we will catch you even from the deepest core of the Arabian Sea or highest high of a thumping mountain" these words of a message to terrorists, shook me until echoes of Major Qasim's reverberating voice absorbed into everything in the vicinity. Yes, a Ghazi, Major Qasim of Armoured Corps, Pakistan Army is a living miracle here at Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM) and indeed an epitome of courage and valor. He suffered from a head and upper limb injury in Orakzai agency while fighting against terror, curbing this heinous menace. "I am here to get well for I have to go back as soon as possible and pay my fair share to make this land a peaceful one for you and generations to come," said Major Qasim vigorously. He has been here at AFIRM, since last one year. His doctors said that when he came here to them he had lost his vision, speech and mobility due to severe injuries but with the help of occupational, vocational and other therapies here at AFIRM and of course his own determination and unabashed hopefulness, he is now gradually gaining pace.


 fallenbutnotblog.jpgThis is not the only case of its kind but AFIRM is dealing unremittingly with many such cases and is committed to its numerous services towards the mankind indiscriminatingly. As I walked through the halls of AFIRM for my report work, at the sight of stumps and amputees, panic rolled in and pulled me under for I thought it to be like any other hospital facilitating its patients but my this very vision came trembling down as I further examined the patient-doctor relation as well as the high quality treatments and well maintained departments but above all high spirits lingered in the air. AFIRM was established in 1980, and so it is being upgraded since then. AFIRM serves not only to people in Armed Forces but equally to its civilians as well. For instance it also caters people who are by birth disabled or fell prey roadside accident. The vibrant example of its indiscriminating service is of earthquake, when back in 2005, an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude struck Pakistan. To deal with such mass casualties and death toll was indeed a harsh challenge for our country. AFIRM played a major role in providing earthquake affectees complete treatment that included therapies, amputation and prosthetic limbs.


"I have only lost a leg but my concrete spirits still prevail," glee in Sepoy Noorshad Ali's voice was evident as he wore his prosthetic running blade (sports leg) instead of his prosthetic lower limb. He lost his leg to a LED blast in Mohmand Agency while fighting against terror. AFIRM gave him a running blade that is actually a special sort of prosthetic device as he was a sportsman before and wished to continue even after the injury. It is used instead of prosthetic lower limb by sportsmen like Noorshad to run more easily and play better.


Where as Sepoy Usama Ashraf was admitted to AFIRM only two months ago. He lost a leg to a mine blast in Mohmand Agency in operation Zarb-e-Meezan. There was a stump just below his knee, wrapped and bandaged. His eyes misted as he mentioned how grateful he is to army, this institution and his comrades. He said in gregarious manner that even now after two months of having an amputation he receives a call each day from his friends and unit officers wishing him health and prosperity.


Each word all these young yet so brave custodians of peace and guardians of this motherland said penetrated my heart like a bullet, there was a curious yet a gleaming light in the eyes of each war wounded soldier there, maybe, just maybe of a subtle victory that they had known . What left me utterly astonished was their unfazed spirit and high determination. There were patients with quadratic amputation that means loss of both upper and lower limbs, even the idea of this is spine chilling and torturesome yet they were so full of hope and concrete morales. Their strength knew no bounds. Unruffled by emotional agitation or physical adversity these national heroes deserve our support and recognition for sacrificing their now for our better tomorrow. To this day I realized that the only battle we need to win is the battle within. The battle that either empowers you or enslaves you, the battle is yours and so is the decision.


"A man never quits until its over, Fight and fight for what you think you should fight for until you win the fight, but remember to "fight", said Major Qasim.


Written By: Muhammad Asim Shahzad

It’s the attitude of people which defines the direction as a nation. Everyone carries a gallant role of nation’s development if people endorse their responsibilities towards themselves and their social circle in order to be a positive player. What makes them feel their responsibilities towards nation's development is their attitude.


We have many aspirations from people in our surroundings but never try to take a look on our own attributes. Generally, we keep on finding shortcuts to any problem encountered and never think about its side effects in terms of ethical, social and especially religious norms of our society while keep on blaming others (especially governments and people in our social circle) without having an eye on our own gesture. This is what a root cause why we "Pakistanis" are not treated as a respectable nation in the world. We have many reasons to make ourselves believe as a Proud Pakistani but when we change ourselves and change our attitudes. (I will mention later how we can change our attitudes towards national development)


"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got"

Pakistan is called as a third world country despite of the fact that we have a potential to be the global economic hub. Let's have a look how we are contributing for promoting this image. A clerk level person in many offices (especially in most civil government offices) demands "Money for sweats/tea" (bribe) from almost every outsider want to have meeting with higher officials in any case, and he was appreciated by his seniors. Even its experience of mine that a chief of government department at provincial level ordered his subordinates to take bribe (he said word bribe) even from my father if he stands in front of you. This is the direction he set for his team under his supervision. so what will be their performance with respect to their profession which people of Pakistan assigned them. This is not limited to our government offices but also very common generally in private sector as well as in our society from lower level to higher level.


Let me give 2-3 examples, A person having dairy farm and live stock uses chemical compound injections and pasture in order to increase the milk production as well as to increase the weight of sacrificed animals, further more pumping water from high pressure pumps into the veins of sacrificed animal to further increase its weight despite of knowing the fact that the product coming after using these chemical compounds and these volume/mass increasing techniques are harmful to human health and lost their nutrition. Same is the case for almost every type of food stock.


Similarly a fuel transporter can save stealthily 300-400 litres of fuel out of 16000-18000 litres in between their journey in a single trip while using again a chemical compound in order to increase the volume of fuel temporarily in order to compensate that missing 300-400 litres fuel. This fuel in aftermaths lead to rapid engine distortion of consumer. Whereas mostly fuel station personnel doing the same by calibrating their dispensers to lower limits (as permitted by OGRA in case of CNG) of -2.5% i.e. consumer getting 2.5% less fuel, whilst in some cases fuel dispensers are set on -10% to -15%.


attithekey.jpgSo generally we all are playing our part in promoting this type of shortcut culture, a very common example is "Sifarish" (Killing merit) whenever anyone get a chance to do so (generally). From a police constable to higher government officials, from office clerk higher management official, almost everyone tends to play his part for his short term benefit without caring about its shortcomings on society at national level.


If we keep on moving with these "Der Hoshiyaries", we are destroying ourselves, our national image, and our national glory and forgetting our national heroes who gave their lives to save us, our future. Now we have to show our responsibility as an individual and as a nation as well. So the root-cause of many of our problems is our attitude. It is demand of this time to change our attitudes, work together with national spirit in light of our religious norms in order to be a respectable nation of the world and to encounter internal and external threats. God gifted us a geostrategic location on the globe enrich with almost all natural resources and. What required is to utilize them in a positive manner with a common goal as their is potential to do so.


We have examples in front of us. Japan having limited territory, 80% mountainous and unsuitable for agriculture; but is a second world economy. The country is like an immense floating factory, importing raw materials from all over the globe and exporting manufactured products in every international market. It was attacked by nuclear weapons, but they gain their present status due to their attitude towards national development after WWII. J. M. Juran, an American instructor in Japan warns U.S. officials in 1960'sdespite Americans are their instructors, Japanese will soon left American behind due to their devotion to the country and they did the same.


Switzerland, A small country which is an image of security that made it the strongest world bank. It doesn't grow cocoa but produces world's best chocolates.


Similarly our best friendly nation China starts it modern journey just after Pakistan's Independence and now became an economic superpower and will be the future superpower of the world. China consuming 1/2 of total worlds concrete and 1/3 of world's total steel production on its economic development. So why not Islamic Republic of Pakistan then.....We have all the potential but the difference is attitude. When conduct of people are analyzed from developed countries, it is observed that a majority abide by the following principle of life which is required by each of ourselves as well to divert our attitudes towards national development:


* Ethics

* Integrity

* Responsibility in light of society as well as religion  

* Respect to laws and regulations  

* Respect to other's rights  

* Love for work  

* Effort to save and invest

* Will to be productive  

* Punctuality  

* National Spirit and loyalty

Whilst Attitude of people are moulded by education, culture, religion, and national spirit beyond individual's level. We have to promote them as well at National Level


It's very common to blame governments for any matter nut it's not going to be productive until we change ourselves because government officials are being selected by us. If we are correct, good government will automatically come because governments are similar to the people of any republic.


We are in this state because we want to take advantage over everything and everyone.

We are in this state because we see something done wrong and say "Let it be"

We should have an spirited memory and Attitude. Only then we are able to change our present state and become among world's frontline states.


Written By: Iram Urooj


In the early 90's, women were only viewed as mothers and housewives. They were considered as an under-utilized resource for development. But now, women in Pakistan have progressed in various fields of life such as politics, education, economy, health and many more.In the past, Fatima Jinnah, sister of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was an instrumental figure in the Pakistan Movement. She worked with him passionately for the freedom of Muslims.Then, Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan and the first women elected to head a Muslim country. She played an important role for the progress of country.


 arfakarim.jpgWomen historically have been under-represented in scientific and technical fields. There are multiple reasons for this. They have been given limited educational opportunities, have been restricted by law from many activities and have been excluded from professional societies and publications. Today, we are seeing more participation by women in the technical fields like Arfa Karim, who was the youngest certified Microsoft Professional of Pakistan,



Shirmeen Obaid Chinoy represents Pakistan all over the world through her documentary "Saving Faces". She has been lauded as Pakistan's first Oscar winner. Women can now be seen participating in all kinds of sports from cricket to athletics and even marathon like Naseem Hameed, a Pakistani athlete who became the fastest women in South Asia when she won a gold medal in the 100-meter event of the 11th South Asian Federation Games. Women in Pakistan hold high ranking positions as the CEOs and executives. Recently, the President has appointed Dr Shamshed Akhter as the first female Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. Two lady doctors of the Pakistan Army have also risen to the rank of major generals. The female doctors joined hands with the male doctors in the times of need i.e earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.


No doubt, our nation has so many hardworking ladies who are not only running their houses but also our country's economy. Pakistani women will change current terrible situation of our country through their efficiency and hardwork. No wonder, women plays an important role for the progress of country.


Written By: Shanzeh Iqbal

While I am writing this article the news tells a poor lady in Sakhhar tried to commit suicide with her five daughters due to scarcity of food and miserable financial conditions. This is a strong comment on society where the pets of a rich man eat food which a poor man is deprived of. In Pakistan resource allocation is not correct. Trickledown effect of resources is absent due to which poor is getting poorer.


Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. In 1960 its population was 45.9 million while in 2014 it is 188.8 million. Currently the growth rate of Pakistan is 2.2 percent while the world population is 7 billion but if the same growth rate persists, estimates are that it would reach 14 billion in the next century.


Pakistan had 2.6 percent growth rate in the 1990s and it was the highest among the world. Now it has 2.2 percent and still it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. That is an ardent reason why we have failed to achieve the millennium development goals. Over population leads to an increasing rate of poverty and hunger. Earth resources are getting limited day by day. Overpopulation poses a great risk. So far this grave issue has been neglected by many conventional political parties. It is a great challenge and sooner we realize the importance of tackling with this issue, the better it would be in Pakistan’s interest.


 thedetimpc.jpgWhen the sources of country run short of meeting the needs of the people, the result is overpopulation. Among the reasons responsible for overpopulation include, low per capita income, food shortage, unemployment. Cultural and religious resistance to check the child birth has been potent factors in causing overpopulation in Pakistan. Early marriages, low gab in between the kids, avoidance of birth control methods, lower house hold saving rates, poor economic growth and increasing number of unemployed youth are also some of the factors responsible for this state of affairs. Housing is another big concern. The people are forced to live in the crowded houses. Sanitation problem results because houses are being built at a faster pace. Sewer system problems arise due to this bad sanitation in the newly built houses. The ultimate result causes diseases like heart problems and cancer etc. The lack of housing is forcing the people to cut down trees. Thus the problem of pollution gets more severe owing to rapid deforestation. This leads to dislocation of wildlife. Pollution creates problem of congested traffic on the roads. Over population causes a severe impediment to environment sustainability and leads to deteriorating life standards. The natural resources are also reduced due to increasing consumption and the balance of supply and demand gets greatly suffered. Overpopulation creates air, water and noise pollution problems and leads to a decline in the rate of saving and investment of a country. Overcrowding, depletion of natural sources and environmental deterioration, all are real threats for our future for which serious and concerted efforts at national and individual level are needed.


Higher standards of living, better health technologies and the improved economic conditions of households helped in dropping the death rates in the developed world. Same was true of Pakistan, birth rate declined due to improved vaccination and healthcare facilities, but greater number of people added to manifold problems as rapid growth rates put so many pressures on food security matters, environment hazards, urbanization and poor infrastructure of education, health, less safe drinking water supply, disposal of sewage etc.


A renowned American author, Dan Brown says that, “Cancer is nothing more than a healthy cell that starts replicating out of control” Henry Bergson even went to the extent of saying that “If the self reproduction of man is not rationalized, we shall have war” Although Pakistan is an agricultural land yet the 25 percent land of Pakistan is uncultivable. Huge population is consuming the sources and the future is becoming more alarming. If the same rate of population continues the government’s efforts would also be unable to yield results and it would not be able to give everybody a decent life. It cannot go for generating more resources and improving infrastructure.


 thedetimpc1.jpgThere is a lack of planning. Due to the immense population the NGOs are also unable to work. The output is possible if the civil society works in collaboration with political parties and the local government. The overall low rate of education hinders in bringing any positive feed backs. There is a point raised by some people that if over population is a problem for Pakistan then it should be same in India and Bangladesh. But they are devising modalities to combat this problem. A case study of a lady health worker in Bangla Desh, Tasleema revealed that she went door to door and offered advice, moral support and a range of contraceptives and thus contributed for generating awareness among the rural women to limit the number of kids for their better upbringing. This small step and many of its kind eventually have played an effective role in improving life in Bangla Desh and the growth rate lowered to a considerable extent.


Reproductive Health Services Centers can help creating wakefulness among couples about the difficulties in rearing extended families. It is also suggested that population control must be a part of the manifestos of the political parties along with other priorities. Highly effective family planning programmes must be ensured by the government. Causes of overpopulation must be addressed. There is a need to evolve strategies. Social and economic sectors strategies should be evolved.


If the women are empowered, their access to healthcare is guaranteed and they are educated, sustainable economic growth can be ensured. Also the marriages at an early age must be discouraged. The political will is required to meet this challenge. Effective media campaigns can assist the family planning programmes to help create consciousness among semi educated people to have the advantages of a restricted family. Again the emphasis is on socio-religious aspect. Many people take more kids as a gift of Allah and believe that He would generate sources for them. There is a need to convince them that if they have more kids and a few resources then the rearing would be strictly affected, hence they must get more rational.


A study reveals that “According to statics, Pakistan has one of the most interesting demographics. It has one of the world’s largest youth with 48 per cent of population aged between 15 and 49 while 56 per cent population is aged between 15 and 64.” Effective policies can convert large population into a large economy and a good opportunity and make Pakistan an economic power house of the region. What is needed is better and appropriate management of human resources. However if we are not able to pay proper attention to this great resource then it becomes a burden on the economy of the country. Number of population must be in harmony with the territory. Even it is said that democracy cannot survive in presence of over population and if we wish to live with human dignity and with decency we have to bring a balance.


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