"Is your government prepared to look the other way as your employees steal public property and take it home?" The Friday Times, Plot No 52-53, N-Block, Main Guru Mangat Road, Gulberg II, Lahore, Pakistan. 042.35779186; Fax: 042.35779186, email: ...


Renewable energy


The heat of the sun is about equivalent to what is produced if you burn a billion trillion tons of coal an hour. Even though only a fraction of that heat ever reaches the earth, it is still more than enough to power the whole world.

Solar power is a good alternative energy source and has many advantages over fossil fuels. Sunlight is free and does not have to be bought like other fuels. It doesn’t hurt the environment and is a renewable source. This energy is in the form of solar radiation, which makes the production of solar electricity possible. Electricity can be produced directly from photovoltaic, PV, cells. These cells are made from materials which exhibit the “photovoltaic effect” i.e. when sunshine hits the PV cell, the photons of light excite the electrons in the cell and cause them to flow, generating electricity.

Solar energy produces electricity when it is in demand during the day, particularly hot days, when air-conditioners drive up electricity demand. Solar energy produces no emissions. One megawatt hour of solar electricity offsets about 0.75 to 1 ton of CO2.

Solar energy never runs out. Once solar panels have been installed and are working at maximum efficiency there is only a small amount of maintenance required each year to ensure they are in working order.

They are a silent producer of energy. There is absolutely no noise made from photovoltaic panels as they convert sunlight into usable electricity. There are continual advancements in solar panel technology which are increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of production.

Engr Shoaib Shah,



Missing pilgrims


When Hajj affairs are mishandled a number of pilgrims go missing, are confined and some even die. Much of this goes largely unnoticed. The families of these pilgrims have been gravely concerned with the apathy of the authorities towards their plight. It is exacerbated by the lack of cooperation from Saudi officials with their Pakistani counterparts. The briefing of the DG Hajj to the Senate Committee for Religious Affairs about 11 missing Pakistani pilgrims and three others behind bars in Saudi Arabia, substantiates these concerns about the poor state of affairs.

On the list of the people who went missing during the Hajj of 2016, is my 80-year-old father Haji Abdul Ghafoor Khan of Charsadda (CNIC No. 17101-2962811-3 and Passport No. NY4138111). Five months have passed but neither the Saudi nor the Pakistani authorities have been able to give his family any reassuring information. He was detained by the Saudi authorities on August 19, 2016, as a result of an altercation with the Saudi police personnel at Gate No. 20 of Masjid-e-Nabavi (PBUH) in Madina, has since been missing.  The matter was reportedly settled on the spot but Mr Khan was handed over to an unidentified person at the nearby hotel. He has been missing since, which in effect means that the matter was far from resolved. The incident took place on the second day of his arrival in Madina. His family is in a state of mourning.

Mr Khan’s case is not hidden. His story has already been highlighted by some newspapers. A number of his fellow pilgrims have categorically confirmed that he has been detained by Saudi intelligence. I first sought help from the Religious Affairs Ministry. Assurance from Federal Minister Sardar Muhammad Yousaf has proven to be lip service. Contacts with the Pakistan Foreign Office have been useless.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Hajj Directorate in Jeddah, the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and officials of the Consulate General of Pakistan in Jeddah do not bother to pick up the repeated telephonic calls from his family. Numerous letters and emails to the president of Pakistan, prime minister, chief justice, and DG ISI have also been to no avail. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony officials and consulate at Jeddah described it as a normal phenomenon, which just makes a mockery of the tragedy.

On October 13 I wrote a letter to the Saudi ambassador in Islamabad but have yet to hear from him. Requests to Pakistan House, Madina to provide an undertaking to the effect that Mr Khan is not in the custody of the Saudis, are not being acceded to. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has not responded to questions from the Senate regarding the illegal confinement of innocent Pakistani pilgrims by the Saudi intelligence agency. The family’s only hope lies with notice, if taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

It is peculiar that a pilgrim went missing in August 2016 and there is no news five months on. All of this happened in the blessed and peaceful city of Madina in broad daylight. The family needs to know about his fate to put an end to their agony.

Imdad Ullah Khyal

Executive Secretary,

OGRA (Cabinet Division),

Govt. of Pakistan, Islamabad.

Ph. 051-9244-346.

New Malir Housing


It has been over 20 years since the Malir Development Authority (MDA) announced that it was starting Malir Housing Project Scheme No. 1 located on the National Highway aimed primarily for the benefit of low- and middle-income families.

Since the start and till today, the project has been mismanaged. Applicants were told to pay sizable sums of money before the MDA finally allotted plots through computerized balloting. But despite having received this money, the MDA did not start development work on the project even though it claimed this through many advertisements. It repeatedly said it had built the basic facilities of hospitals, schools, colleges, mosques, community centers, parks and markets but none of this happened. It goes without saying that these delays mean that the cost of construction and related expenses have gone up.

We request of the authorities to take notice of this and do something immediately.

The allottees,


Heavy school bags


Carrying, heavy school bags is hazardous for the health of children. Most children who have heavy bags suffer back pain between the ages of nine to 14 and doctors are reporting a rise in spinal abnormalities in pupils. Health experts say that if children carry bags heavier than 12kg, they may be affected. Parents are urged to protect their children and tell teachers to organise their workload so that the students do not have to carry all their textbooks and copies to school each day. Parents and teachers ought to remove unnecessary items from the bags.

Munaj Gul Muhammad,

Turbat, Kech.


Shahzia Sikander

In our edition of January 20-26, we mentioned that artist Imran Qureshi was the first Pakistani to be honoured by the US State Department’s Medal of Arts Award. Mr Qureshi is, in fact, the second Pakistani to receive the prestigious recognition. The first to receive it was Shahzia Sikander, from the then Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, in 2012. The International Medal of Arts is awarded to artists who demonstrate an enduring commitment to the Art in Embassies mission of cultural diplomacy through the visual arts and international cultural exchange. Ms. Sikander was commissioned to create I am also not my own enemy for the new US Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. The painting is a hybrid of Pakistani and American cultures, and as one critic noted, is “essentially optimistic.” As part of its Exchange program, AIE has commissioned Sikander and Pakistani-American artist Hamra Abbas to collaborate on a site-specific project for the newly built embassy in Islamabad. The work will be inspired by both artists’ intimate knowledge of Pakistan and cross-cultural experiences living and working in the United States. Born in Lahore, and now based in New York, Sikander holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the National College of Arts in Lahore, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.

News desk.

Pakistan team


I wish to congratulate the Pakistan team for defeating Australia by six wickets in the second one-day international at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. Pakistan has succeeded in defeating Australia after 12 years and the win was also Pakistan’s first ODI victory at the MCG since 1985. I appreciate all the players for their brilliant performance in the second ODI, especially the opening pair Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan and left-arm spinner Imad Wasim who bowled superbly and Captain Mohammad Hafeez, Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal who put on an impressive game with the bat. It is hoped that the team will perform well in the upcoming matches as well.

Muhammad Bakhtiyar,

Kech, Turbat.

Permanent cure


It was recently decided that a software programme would be developed to register smartphones along with the subscriber identity module (SIM) so that whenever a complaint is received about its loss or theft, that phone is blocked. It appears, though, that the Sindh Police has once again decided not to take any serious steps when it comes to this kind of crime. Instead of catching mobile snatchers, it is more interested in taking cosmetic steps.

Mubashir Mahmood,



Govt headmaster


This letter has been sent to the chief minister of Sindh, Mr Murad Ali Shah and has been reproduced in this space:

I run a non-profit organization, the Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust, which has been working since 2008 in Village Khairo Dero, Taluka Ratodero, District Larkana to create a model of rural development. Thousands of people have benefited from our education, health, shelter, solar, training and loan programs.

In 2012, we began adopting non-functional and poorly functional government schools and we have poured hundreds of thousands of rupees into them, building classrooms, installing drainage, providing furniture and supplies and hiring teachers, supervisors and monitoring staff.

We adopted the Govt Boys High School, Khairo Dero (SEMIS#413030341) in 2014 where attendance was zero. We developed this school’s playground, provided whiteboards and science equipment and built a computer lab and library. We put in place an aggressive community outreach effort to build attendance to 75 students and hired our own teachers because despite being a total of nine in number, government teachers refused to leave their office and enter classrooms.

Over the last two years, we repeatedly requested headmaster Mr Abdul Qadir Bhutto, [HST (BS-16 and Personal ID 10230123) bearing CNIC 43205-4773048-5] to run the school properly and cooperate with our organization to improve school attendance and learning outcomes. He not only refused to cooperate but began creating one hurdle after another in our way. He ordered his staff not to teach even when in school, he ordered lower staff not to clean classrooms or attend to duties and he routinely marks absent staff present and seeks monetary benefit in return. He himself attends school for only a short time every day, has never visited a class in progress and isn’t even able to answer a question about the timetable.

Moreover, we purchased a solar power system for the school worth Rs46,000 through SMC funds which he promptly removed to his house. When he heard we had filed a complaint to the education department, he brought back part of it and locked it in a toilet. To date, fans are missing from that kit and he has also removed doors, windows, bulbs and other material illicitly from the school.

We lodged a series of complaints to the district education office, the education secretary’s office, and the education minister’s office but I have not received a single reply to date and neither has any action been taken against the headmaster or any other staff.

On Jan 21, 2017, I found out that the school library we had built had been torn down and books were lying on the ground in dust. I requested the school sweeper to open the school and upon seeing this, I asked my staff to remove our equipment from the school temporarily for safekeeping. On Jan 23, 2017, when our teachers and supervising staff arrived for duty at the school, Mr Bhutto threw them out of the school and locked the gate from the inside. Students who were deeply offended by this action and wanted to bring their complaint to the Community Center where our offices are, were locked inside classrooms. It is pertinent to note that this headmaster, who is paid about 100,000 rupees a month, always ignored our repeated entreaties to keep the school gate closed for purposes of discipline and security on a daily basis.

Members of the general public reacted with outrage to this gross disrespect shown to employees of our organization and teachers. They arrived in large numbers at the school, demanded answers from the headmaster and asked him to leave their village. He refused. A busload of peaceful protesters then arrived at the district education office in Larkana along with about 50 students from the school whose fathers set them free from classrooms and demanded to see Ms Razia Pathan, the director. She consented to meet a small group of us, heard our complaint and said the matter lay with the secretary which is why there was not much she could do. Despite my repeated demand, the director declined to leave her office and offer members of the public and students even a few words of reassurance.

Mr Chief Minister, I ask you the following questions:

  1. It is your government’s job to run public schools? Since you are unable to, we have stepped in to help. Is this the treatment we deserve in return that your employees disrespect teachers to the extent of grabbing them by the arm and throwing them out?

  2. When members of the public bring a matter of public interest to public officers paid to solve these issues, is this the disdainful  treatment they deserve that they don’t get even to see the officer’s face?

  3. Is your government prepared to look the other way as your employees steal public property and take it home?

  4. Does the PPP’s policy include providing support to public servants such as Mr Bhutto? He is a PPP supporter with backing from an MPA which is why he refuses even to attend when summoned by the secretary’s office.

Speaking on behalf of this entire village of 4,000 people, we demand that Mr Bhutto be dismissed from government service altogether so that he isn’t simply transferred to another school where he will undoubtedly wreak the same havoc on another unassuming community. We also demand he immediately be removed from this post and other school staff be strictly ordered to perform their duties and stop sabotaging the future of our children.

Mr Chief Minister, we are a small grassroots community organization struggling to bring change to the desperate people of rural Sindh. We have never asked for your help in running projects that you should be handling to begin with. But we do ask that where your government’s employees stand in our way, you provide us with protection and assistance to continue our service.

Founder & Managing Trustee Naween A. Mangi,

Khairo Dero.