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Proud to be a Pakistani ! - Printable Version

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- Pracs - 07-14-2006

<i>Goodman, this is dedicated to you, in spirit that is </i>

<b>" Half a truth is often a great lie. So are selected
facts to suit a particulars motive."</b>

<i><b>Salaries and perks of elected representatives </b> </i>

<i>BABAR AYAZ </i>

ARTICLE (July 10 2006) There has been interesting exchange of e-mail between some friends recently on the issue of salary and perks of our National Assembly members. It originated in North America, which shows the interest Pakistani immigrants still take in
national politics.

Somebody sent an e-mail to a friend who is a retired civil servant now living in Canada. He forwarded this to friends in Pakistan.

All the figures given by the primary mover of the e-mail were way high than what our representatives are getting. According to this gentleman each MNA gets in terms of salary and perks around Rs 32 million per annum. But MNA Chaudry Aitzaz Ahsan, who is one of the
few upright men of the house, hurried to put the record straight.

He explained that all an MNA gets in cash as salary and allowances after deduction is Rs 41,500 per month,which comes to Rs 498,000 per annum and not the fantastic sum of Rs 32 million! He clarified that each MNA has to pay for his accommodation, electricity and phone charges from this package.

However, there are some travelling allowances for the Parliamentarians for commuting between their constituency to Islamabad to attend the sessions and the meetings.

What he forgot to mention (I hope inadvertently) was that each parliamentarian also gets Rs 3,750 daily allowance for the days she/he attends the assembly or the Senate session. The same allowance is also admissible for the number of days they attend meetings of various committees.

Now the National Assembly and Senate have to meet for at least 120 and 100 days respectively, in a year. Add to this around 30 days, which can be claimed for travelling. So roughly a member of the parliament gets another Rs 562,000 annually under the head of daily

This brings the total package to around Rs 1,060,500 per annum and to Rs 88,000 per month. Aitzaz says"And then you require an MNA to entertain constituents, run a household, bring up and educate
kids, meet the costs of his campaign and his office,pay his phone, gas and electricity bills on just this salary" (his figure Rs 41,000). "If I had no income other than the MNA's salary and emoluments which is a total take-home of Rs 41,500 per month... (imagine gas, electricity, fuel, food item bills in at least
two establishments of necessity one at home and one in Islamabad), I would never contest elections to the Assembly. I might have even left politics altogether."

Not surprisingly on salaries and perks both the members of the treasury benches and the opposition share the same view. Media and other members of the civil society consistently lambaste the elected
representatives on this issue. In a country where per capita income is just over four grand this criticism is not strange. There was also criticism of US parliamentarians when they raised their salaries to over $163,000 a year, so we are not the only one.

But I think that the political analysts should keep in mind that if we want to build a democratic system, we would have to strengthen its support system also. If we will not pay our members well then they would be more prone to corruption. To get the right perspective
I visited the web, the mother of all libraries, and found that most of the legislative members in India and Bangladesh are getting almost similar packages.

So there is not much to grudge about. Compared to legislative members of the countries whose democracy we admire, our members are not getting much.

I know some of my friends feel that our members are not doing their job honestly, so why pay them. And that many among them are making a lot of money unofficially. But to create the institutions one has
to create an enabling environment. MQM MNA Kunwar Khalid Younus says "37 to 40 countries' packages,including that of Azad Kashmir, were studied and it was found that all have some kind of pension and
health facilities after retirement for the legislative members, while the parliamentarians in Pakistan have no such facility." He thinks that the parliamentarians should be adequately paid as they "have a 24-hour job."

In many countries the parliamentarians are provided staff for preparing speeches and doing their office work. In Pakistan the Rs 10,000 allowance given to each member, which is included in Rs 41,000 salary package, can only meet the cost of a semi-qualified
personal secretary.

The members have the facility of the pool research staff at the National Assembly and the Senate. Some members who have tried to use them feel that most of the people on the staff are inefficient.

Senator Nisar Memon says that very few people use this facility. He thinks that both the libraries of the Senate and National Assembly should be merged. The Senator is also critical of various non-functional committees of the Parliament which are wasting the
resources provided by the government.

MNA Kunwar Khalid Younus confided that there is a move to set up a joint library and research facilities for the members with the assistance of USAID. But I am told that most members are not using these research facilities. Former Senator Taj Haider laments that
there is no work culture among the members and it is not encouraged.

A simple example he gave in support of his observations is that "the parliamentary lodges have everything for comfort but no office table or computers. When I asked for one," he added, "I was told that it was not in the allocation and then my brother Johar Hussain bought me the office furniture."

The trouble is that we want the democratic institutions to grow in Pakistan and then at the same time grudge the expenses on them. It's almost the same dilemma, which urban the society faces every now and
then when it comes to say eatables, we want them cheap and yet in drawing room discussion we want that the farmers should be compensated adequately.

Many years back a corporate leader told me that if a candidate spends Rs 10 million on elections and most of his time on politics, "he is not doing for the love of the people only? Indeed the world is not that altruistic. The system needs reforms before the 2007 elections.

The problem of funding the election campaigns and paying the people's representatives adequately has been usually ignored in the discussion on democracy.

The result is that most of the political parties give tickets to persons who can afford the expensive election campaign.

That keeps the educated middle class out of the race. What we need is a serious discussion and change in laws of electioneering and representatives' emolument. The present election expenditure limits are flouted in all cases and once elected our representatives are
found indulging in unethical practices.

True, higher emoluments would not weed out corruption. It is also rampant in other democratic societies like India, UK and US. But then democracy is not built in one day and supplanted from above. We have to be patient as democracy may be noisy and dirty, but that's the child each society has to nourish. The problem in Pakistan is that we are impatient to kill democracy in its infancy in favour of autocracy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2006

- Pracs - 05-23-2007

<b>Association of Pakistani Professionals</b>

Association of Pakistani Professionals [AOPP] is an independent group working to ensure the dissemination of accurate information regarding U.S.-Pakistan relations. Our goal is to depict the true image of Pakistan in the U.S. by helping Americans develop a deeper understanding of Pakistan and the South Asian region in general. AOPP works with mainstream western media, think tanks and Pakistani-American students and professionals working in the U.S. AOPP stands for a progressive, democratic and religiously moderate Pakistan. We are working with the American policy makers as well as the print and electronic media to acquaint them with relevant facts about the people of Pakistan including, their social and cultural values and the role of religion in their lives. The goal is to dispel the false impressions about religious extremism and anti-American sentiments in Pakistan. Likewise, AOPP works on identifying and addressing widely held misconceptions of Pakistanis about U.S. policy vis-à-vis Pakistan. Specifically, Pakistanis believe that American policy lacks sincerity towards Pakistan and as a consequence is not sustainable in the long term. AOPP has more then 550 U.S.-based Pakistani professionals working towards this en


- Astute Accountant - 05-30-2007

@ Pracs
Well, I wasn’t a member of the forum at the time, the thread had actually been started n’ now it took almost 2 hours 2 go through it 2 b able 2 depict the whole picture of the story in my mind.
Well, I myself have always felt proud on being a Pakistani. Because feeling ashamed of our present would never put us in a better condition rather the more we take pride in what we actually are (By looking at the positive aspects), the more we feel love for our country n’ the more would we feel the motivation that is needed 2 take Pakistan 2 a higher position in the world. <b>IT IS BETTER 2 LIGHT A SINGLE CANDLE THAN 2 CURSE THE DARKNESS. </b> We are not inferiors than any other country of the world, in any field. Then, why can’t we be proud of it? Don’t the other countries have black sheep? The answer is simply that they have it, too what all they don’t do is that they don’t publicize it n’ even when they publicize their weaknesses there are more n’ more people 2 speak in their own favor. They use their media 2 bring their strengths n’ plus points 2 the attention of the world. And this what, is doing a great job 4 them.
I have heard so many Pakistanis saying “What Pakistan has done 4 us?” But how many of our whole population serves the country in a patriotic way, in their own capacities? May be a very little percentage, which is always honest in his all deeds. The Pakistanis always bad mouth the pollution situation but how many of them peep into their own selves? So many people, whether literate or not, after having a drink or snacks throw the wrappers on the roads by saying that there is already so much garbage on it that 1 from my side would not cause any dishonesty on my behalf. 2 give this was only 1 instance. Almost all of us are dishonest in our social responsibilities, in 1 way or the other. So why not 2 correct ourselves rather than 2 feel ashamed of being a Pakistani.<b> Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. --- John F. Kennedy</b>But yes, at the same time I agree that there is a lot room 4 improvement coz <b>NO 1 IS PERFECT IN THIS IMPERFECT WORLD</b>. It is we the Pakistanis, who have the responsibility 2 build up a strong n’ progressive Pakistan. And make up 4 the weaknesses that it has.
And I strongly appreciate all Ur sincere efforts 4 bringing out the “soft image” n’ “real image” of Pakistan. U R PROUD OF PAKISTAN N’ SO IS, PAKISTAN PROUD OF U n’ all others like u.
I was, I’m n’ I will always remain <b>PROUD 2 B PAKISTNI </b> Inshallah.

- Astute Accountant - 05-30-2007

@ Pracs
By the way, U live in UK but r such a keen advocate of qualities n’ strengths of Pakistan. What is the reason? Or what is it that drives U 2 speak in favor of Pakistan???? I suppose u r a Pakistani living in the UK. Is it like that???
Keep sharing n’ keep working 4 a “better” Pakistan till the last mile coz Pakistan really needs optimistic n’ patriotic people.<b> Well done!!!!!!</b>

- Pracs - 05-31-2007


I am a Pakistani, no matter what I become or where I live, that is who I am and this is who I will be. We may be faced with a lot of challanges, but until we stand up for ourselves and be counted for, nothing will change. Well and for the record my sentiments were the same during the time I was in Pakistan.

The first step towards that is to count our blessings and be proud of who we are, ergo Proud to be a Pakistani.

- Goodman - 06-01-2007

Dear Pracs

The article from the Business recorder is very good. However, I must say that I am not a blind supporter of western style democracies. I believe Western Style demo. is a near enough model which can be adopted with certain other built in controls for a country like ours.

Let me ask a question to everybody... why is it so that the Punjab Govt. who was holding Ladies and Gents marathan last year has now invited Imam Kaaba and one could see Ch. Brothers praying behind Imam in the news. Why is this shift of image? any ideas

- Pracs - 06-01-2007


The Marathon is/was the brain child of the General and his cronies, I don't necessarily disagree with the Marathon it was however, imposed on the masses ,, a different disucssion all together ofcourse.

The Ch.'s have had a seperate tow line from the beginning, some time apparent some times in private and this is their way of 'playing to the masses', I for one have no new found respect for the Punjab Govt. This is a Govt. placing an MNA from the opposition 'City arrest' not allowing him to leave Lahore. They are all making a fool of themselves and transforming a once admired hero into a political icon.

- Schuaeb - 06-02-2007

I don't understand why a person who holds a marathon can't call Imam-e-Kaba, or how can anyone object. Neither I was a supporter of that marathon nor I consider that inviting Imam-e-Kaba a big virute. And, in this particular scenario it seems to be a totally political move, especially the way the event was advertised.

Imposing a city arrest on the MNA may sound a foolish step, however, in the given situation it was necessary to maintain law and order.Do you think nothing would happen if he had gone to Karachi after passing such remarks. I consider it a wise move, especially in such political pressure.

Imran Khan's steps were really audacious, and its very much probable that he ends up in a political leader.

- Pracs - 06-02-2007

I don't think it will end Imran Khan's career, on the other hand its just making him more popular. I am not saying that he is going to be the next PM or any thing, just that he seems to be saying the right thing. In a democracy no one is above public scrutiny or for that matter the law. What he said about the MQM leader is 100% true and we all know it is. Have you heard how these MQM cronies go about ramaping in the streets of Karachi.

- Schuaeb - 06-02-2007

I didn't mean this will end Imran Khan's political career, I meant at the end of this situation he might gain more popularity. To some extent I seconded your opinion. But the problem with him is that he has not got a very strong political party. I don't find any disagreements with his party agenda, however, I do have some objection on his self-obsessed sort of personality.

May 12 incident left very little doubts about MQM in people's mind, and this is for the first time when their leader is being straightly pointed. I was never in favor of MQM because I doubt their patriotism, and after this incidence my least sympathies aren't with them.

Govt. is being accused for patronizing May 12 incident, and there is no emphatic denial from them. However, I think that the things weren't planned like this, the street thugs they were relying upon went a step further and changed the situation into a complete ordeal. In the end, it just added, all the more, to govt's problems, which was already as mentioned by one of us in the real line of fire. However, the city arrest, I will once again say, was not a very bad step.

- ina - 06-02-2007

Pakistan IT Expert Wins Teaching Award


21 December, 2006.
IET helps DALS project win OU Teaching Award
Hassan Sheikh and Will Woods from IET's IT team were members of the 'Developing Associate Lecturers through Student Feedback' (DALS) project which was launched successfully in March 2006 and has just been announced as the winner of an OU Teaching Award 2007.

The DALS system provides OU students with a simple way to provide feedback via a questionnaire that can be used to improve the teaching by their tutors (Associate Lecturers). So far, over 10,000 students on OU courses have been able to use the system.

The response from students has been overwhelmingly positive, both to the process, which is seen as straightforward, and to their tutors. During the pilot, 85% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "overall I was very satisfied with my tutor."

The DALS process also provides tutors with an opportunity to customise the questionnaire to gain feedback on particular aspects of their teaching.

- Pracs - 06-04-2007

<b>Pakistani Student Wins Major British Council Honor
By Raza Mumtaz 'Pakistan Times' Executive Editor/UK Bureau Chief</b>


LONDON (UK) A student from Pakistan has scooped a top prize in a major British Council competition designed to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of international students in the UK.

Thanks to her inspirational story of student life in the UK, Zahra Sohni Khan was a regional winner in the prestigious International Student Awards 2007. Now in its fifth year, the national competition aims to shine the spotlight on international students and their contributions to life in the UK.

According to a FCO release, more than 2,000 students, representing 130 nationalities entered this year's competition - including 86 entries from students from Pakistan studying at universities, colleges of further and higher education, schools and English language institutions across the UK.

Zahra, aged 21, won her place in the final after being named International Student of the Year for the East of England region of the UK.

She joined 11 other regional winners challenging for the overall UK International Student of the Year title at a glittering awards’ ceremony in London, where she was presented with a £1,000 prize and a commemorative trophy.


Hailing from Karachi, Zahra is a natural sciences student at the University of Cambridge, where she has immersed herself in campus life and forged a position as one of the university’s key student organizers.

Zahra has represented the university in debating competitions and held committee positions - from college secretary to entertainments officer - organizing some highly successful cultural events.

She ran for the position of Women of Trinity president and has been a diligent advocate for issues affecting women students at the university, even helping set up a women’s basketball team.

She said "I’ve been privileged to work alongside some of the brightest minds in the world, and being judged on the basis of my work and not my gender has been liberating."

As well as achieving considerable academic success, Zahra has volunteered at a local hospital's rehabilitation unit for people who have suffered strokes.

The International Student Awards is different from other student competitions. Instead of focusing solely on academic achievements, it highlights extra-curricular achievements and community involvement, celebrating the whole international student ‘experience’. To enter, each student was asked to write a personal ‘letter home’ in English, detailing the out-of-class achievements that help make their time in the UK so rewarding.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Lord Neil Kinnock, Chair of the British Council, said “The students stories have been detailed, perceptive, and sometimes very moving, personal accounts. All have been impressive pieces of work, providing thousands of fine examples of how international students engage in an almost endless variety of extra-curricular activities to add value to their education, and to enrich their personal development, their confidence, independence of mind and understanding of humanity." Yu Huai Zhang, from China, was named overall International Student of the Year 2007.

There are currently 279,485 international students studying in higher and further education in UK. More than 7,580 international students entered UK independent schools in 2005-6, while around 600,000 international students come to the UK to learn English every year, on a wide variety of courses.#9679;

- Pracs - 03-24-2008

<b>Pioneering women of pakistan </b>
<i>By Esha Nag, Feature Writer
Published March 23, 2008, 0017</i>


From aspiring to reach the outer limits of space, the ends of the earth and fly some of the most complex fighting machines, Pakistan's women are making their presence felt not just in their country but globally too.

"I have always maintained that no nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. 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."
— Muhammad Ali Jinnah at the Islamia College for women, March 25, 1940

When aviation cadet Saira Amin received the coveted Sword of Honour for best all-round performance at the Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur in 2006, she became the first-ever female aviation cadet in Pakistan's history to have won the award. A year later in April 2007, another young Pakistani, Namira Salim, became the first Pakistani to reach the North Pole. A few months later in January 2008, Salim reached the South Pole, proudly hoisting her country's flag at 90 degrees south.

Both Amin and Salim belong to a new breed of Pakistani women who are not afraid to leave the beaten track. Their courage, skill and determination have generated positive press internationally and today they are role models for a new generation of women who believe that given the right opportunity in Pakistan, women can excel in fields traditionally dominated by men.

If role models play a critical role in empowering others to become the best they can be, if they are people who symbolise what we are seeking and mobilise the best in us, then Pakistan has several dedicated women who fit this criterion.

What is interesting is that most of these women are not in mainstream politics or even enjoy constant international attention like the late Benazir Bhutto. Yet their grit and spunk have made them household names in Pakistan's traditional patriarchal society.

Be it human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir, humanitarian and social worker Bilquis Edhi, filmmaker Sabiha Sumar, journalist Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, artist and textile designer Noorjehan Bilgrami, captain of Pakistan's women's cricket squad Urooj Mumtaz Khan or social worker Mukhtaran Mai, women in Pakistan are leaving their mark in different spheres of life.

Salim, who will also be the first Pakistani to go to space in 2009, has been selected as founder astronaut of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, the world's first space liner. She received her sub-orbital space flight training in the US in 2007, and is one of the 100 founders in the Virgin Galactic Club who will be the first to go on a private space tourism flight next year.

"If we work on our dreams, stay positive and don't give up, then success is inevitable. I am a pragmatic dreamer and always believed that one day I would become an astronaut. I believe in myself and work towards my goals systematically. I think I am a fearless risk taker," says Salim.

Dividing her time between Pakistan, Dubai and Monaco, Salim refers to herself as primarily an artist and a peace activist, rather than an adventurer. "My expeditions to the North and South Pole were not typical Arctic adventures of skiing and trekking. As Pakistan's honourary ambassador of tourism and an artist, I wanted my mission to be all about the universal spirit of peace and goodwill.

I did not just fly by the poles effortlessly," she says. Salim will be receiving the Pakistan Woman of the Year Award in 2008 for not just changing the image of her country internationally, but for inspiring and encouraging women of Pakistan to excel in all fields of life.

For Salim, hoisting the national flag at the North and South Pole were moments of great pride. "I also hoisted my own universal peace flag on both Poles because as a citizen of Pakistan I wanted to send out the message of peace and goodwill to the rest of the world," says Salim, who regards President Pervez Musharraf as a great source of inspiration.

"I think the President is a great supporter of women's empowerment and is a very positive person," she says. Standing tall as the symbol of the abilities of Pakistani women to perform well in any field, Salim intends to offer her services to the ongoing efforts for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the earthquake affected areas of Pakistan and also play a role in promoting the tourism sector. "I intend to empower women in the northern areas of Pakistan by inspiring them to mountain climb under a project initiated by the Alpine Club of Pakistan and the US," says Salim.

For Dubai-based Pakistani social worker and healthcare specialist Sahida Waqar, it was a sense of commitment to her country that led her to set up Saharay, an organisation that works for children's education and women's empowerment in Pakistan. "Although I live in Dubai, my roots are very strong. My mother raised me with the feeling that I must give back something to my country.

"We started out with a small group of friends in Dubai who would raise funds to support schools in Pakistan. Initially we channelled our funds through the Citizens Foundation in Pakistan, but then later we set up Saharay that would work with women and children at the grassroots level." The organisation, registered in Pakistan, has around 14 members in Dubai and five members in Pakistan.

"After the Pakistan earthquake in 2005 we adopted five villages and 240 homes and raised funds to build primary schools for children and healthcare centres for women in these villages. Now they are ready and we will be visiting Pakistan soon to see the development ourselves."

According to Waqar, Pakistan history is dotted with strong women who are continuing to influence and inspire even the present generation. "I have been greatly inspired by Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan. As wife of Pakistan's first Prime Minister, she was the founder of the All Pakistan Women's Association and played a pioneering role in women's empowerment and education."

Like Waqar, Sameena Ahmad, Dubai-based coordinator of The Citizens Foundation (a non-profit organisation set up in 1995 to address the state of education in Pakistan), believes that despite the problems that plague Pakistani society, there are women who have chosen to live and work within it.

"Take for example Noor Jehan Bilgrami, who has worked hard to recreate and rejuvenate the textiles of Sind. She has been instrumental in setting up the Indus Valley School of Art in Karachi, making students aware of our rich art and craft heritage. Then there is Khawar Mumtaz, who has worked in the area of gender and human rights. Mumtaz is also the founder member of the Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre, an NGO in Pakistan dedicated to women's rights."

According to Ahmad, a lot more needs to be done for Pakistani women in the rural areas. "I think people like Bilkis Idhi, one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan, are real role models.

"Or maybe even Mussarrat Misbah, who has set up the Smile Again Foundation to help female victims of acid attack. In rural areas, figures such as Mukhtaran Mai can do a lot to bring about change in society."

Namira Salim, who is also nominated for the Emirates Women of the Year Award in 2008, says "I feel enormously happy and proud when I hear people using my example to accomplish their dreams. I see young girls in Pakistan approaching me with hope in their eyes and I try and encourage them as best as I can." Whether it is Salim's passion, or Saira Amin's determination or Mukhtaran Mai's courage, the future of Pakistan belongs to its women.

As role models, these women are working under tight circumstances to address issues of vital concern, and give voice to their fellow women so that they can change their lives for the better."

- idreesdurrani - 03-26-2008

<font color="navy"></font id="navy"><font size="4"></font id="size4"><font face="Century Gothic">Yet another example of the abundance of talent this nation is bestowed with...


May Allah bless us, our beloved nation and the whole Muslim Ummah.</font id="Century Gothic">

- Pracs - 04-11-2008

Kudos to you Idrees for posting this splendid site