"Fifteen cosmetic products, including surma, were found with high levels of lead in Kohat" The Friday Times, Plot No 52-53, N-Block, Main Guru Mangat Road, Gulberg II, Lahore, Pakistan. 042.35779186; Fax: 042.35779186, email: tft@thefridaytimes.com *Letters ...


Karachi’s garbage


The is apropos reports published in your newspaper about the failure of Karachi mayor to meet his garbage cleanup promises. This failure is symptomatic of what ails every taxpayer-owned corporation or institution and the sickening mindset of elected and paid public office holders, who consider public money and state assets “spoils of war” to be plundered by those who hold power.

There is no rocket science involved in collecting garbage because all that is needed are competent skilled workers, logistics and commitment. The failure of the federal, provincial government and corrupt bureaucracy today poses a threat to the health of citizens, their security and every public service organization created for their welfare. Our education, health and other vital service providers have failed, not because there is any dearth of qualified talent in country, but because corruption, politicized recruitments and a lack of accountability hold more sway.

Every public and taxpayer-funded entity in this country has to bear the burden of ghost employees patronized by the political, ethnic and so-called religious parties. Funds allocated for development and hiring competent qualified individuals end up in the pockets of ghost employees. This epidemic, which started in the mid-80s from Karachi, today afflicts every state and public-owned entity in this unfortunate country. These surplus ghost and political recruits have driven organizations like PIA, PSM, PSO, CDA, LDA, CAA etc, which were once efficient and profitable entities to insolvency. Every civil and military government which has held office since 1980 is responsible for the mess that has been created.

It is time that this menace is eliminated and in the words of Quaid-e-Azam while addressing the members of the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that it down with an iron hand.

Malik Tariq Ali,


Korangi crime


My son has been robbed thrice while driving home after sunset in Korangi Industrial Area. The last two robberies happened in the past two weeks. The robbers take advantage of the traffic jam caused by the rain-damaged road between Murtaza Chowrangi and Vita Chowrangi. Needless to say, you don’t see a single cop anywhere along the entire road, despite the rampant mugging. It would, of course, be futile to ask the DIG police or his assistants to post a few cops along the road, as the thirty thousand policemen in Karachi are meant to protect the chief minister and his minions. Yet it should not be so difficult to control the menace. The robbers apparently live in nearby villages in the area, and they sell the stolen cell phones to those worthy and respectable citizens who own mobile phone shops in Korangi and Malir. Such people are deeply shocked when told that it is a crime to buy and sell stolen goods. If the cops can’t catch the robbers, at least they should keep these shops under surveillance and arrest the shopkeepers as well as the sellers of stolen cell phones. But I suppose that is too much to ask, due to the unwritten rule that policemen are not supposed to maintain law and order in Karachi.

Shakir Lakhani,


Angry old man


This is with reference to your editorial of March 10-16, 2017. The remarks given by the author, regarding Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, may be true to some extent, but he has gone slightly over board while belittling and disparaging the PTI chief. There is no denying the fact that what Imran Khan said was wrong and completely undiplomatic. Most of what has been written about Imran may be true but one thing is clear, that he is a patriot, honest, upright and means well for the country, and this too could have been mentioned in the column.

One cannot deny that staging the PSL Final in Lahore was the need of the hour, a great success and a feather in the cap of the author. How nice it would have been had he found the courage to speak of the wrongdoings of the prime minister. The only way to vent his feelings is through the “Ittefaqnama’, which too of late has become mild and lost its bite.

The author is an excellent columnist and his analysis on his TV program is always above par. It is therefore humble advice to him not to mar his reputation, keeping in mind that politicians come and go but readers and columnists remain.

Farooq Dawood,




The heated confrontation between two parliament members depict a dismal and excruciating picture of our so-called democracy. If one doesn’t have authentic answers and valid points, one meanders and is not afraid of calling the other person names and passing obnoxious remarks against their family members. The recent extemporaneous and knee-jerk reaction by myopic politicians of the N-League, Javed Latif, against Murad Saeed must not be ignored. The higher levels of the N-League must look into this matter and take adequate measures. This must be circumscribed otherwise this will lead to a state of anarchy and chaos.

Haider Ali,




The Muslims of India have been facing a new shock in the form of the election results of Uttar Pradesh (UP) state where Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has won. It is a right-wing party, ideologically and organizationally linked with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad. There are lengthy lists of atrocities perpetrated by these established Hindu fundamentalists. On 6 December 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Kar Sevaks (volunteers) demolished the 16th Century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh. The devastation occurred after a political rally at the site turned violent. I remind also of the 2002 Gujarat riots under then chief minister Narendra Modi in which the property of innocent minority Muslims were damaged and hundreds of people were massacred. Unfortunately, the BJP is fulfilling the dream of the Hindutva. For 70 years, the Muslims of India have fought against communalism but it has, nevertheless, grown 70 times over. After all, Uttar Pradesh is the site where the Hindutva pet projects of cow-vigilantism, love jihad, and ghar wapsi have been executed with utmost ferocity. The recent trend of an increase in the domination of religion in politics is a dangerous threat for the so-called secularism of India. I think, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was right when he called for separate electorates and became successful for securing independence for us. The Hindutva movement adheres to the concept of homogenised majority and cultural hegemony. Muslims have been playing a pivotal and key role in the progress and development of the economy of India. They should take such situations as challenges, and positively work towards overcoming them by adopting a way of love, peace and harmony.

Mansoor Ahmed,


Toxic surmas


A study has recently been published as, ‘A Comparative study of heavy metals content in cosmetic products of different countries marketed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan’ in the Arabian Journal of Chemistry Jan 2017 issue. The researchers warn that they tested 15 products and found them to have high levels of heavy metals.

They looked at the level of heavy metals in lipsticks, talc powder, surma, cream and shampoo of different countries marketed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Kohat market. They selected three each of lipsticks, powder, surma, cream and shampoo. Eight elements were tested.

The scientists found two samples contained high levels of lead concentration, four samples with high levels of zinc, whereas most of these cosmetic products contained high levels of iron. Surma had the highest and creams the lowest for lead. They found that this may be due to the spurious nature (fake branded name) of the samples. The data obtained clearly showed that further studies are needed. Acceptable limits of potential contaminants in cosmetics must be enforced. The principle of good manufacturing practice must be followed. Most of the products were Pakistani (highly), Indian (fairly) and brands of some other countries (less) were contaminated with heavy metals.

Elevated levels of lead can easily pass through the placenta for pregnant women putting them at risk. Cadmium is known to be toxic in cosmetics like talcum powder and its toxicity increases in the case of children. Studies on the health effects on Kohl, a highly contaminated eye cosmetic product, showed that children can absorb round about 41% of the ingested lead. These heavy metals bind with the protein of the cell, thus hindering its function and causing the death of the cells which lead to multiple diseases.

Prolonged use of such products containing these elements may pose threat to human health and could curb the beauty of the environment.

Mashal Khattak,


Pindi VIPs


I want to bring people’s attention to an important issue being faced by many people in Rawalpindi. Owing to VVIP/VIP movement, mostly during rush hour, roads around Benazir International Airport have been repeatedly closed. This mostly happens on Rawal Road, Airport Road from Katchehri Chowk to the airport and the link roads emanating from Airport Road. This causes huge traffic blockades and is a continuous source of trouble and uncertainty.

One suggestion is to build an overhead bridge or underpass at Ammar Chowk without any further ado. This bridge/underpass combination could be designed along the lines of the Peshawar Morr Interchange. A second underpass/interchange is badly needed at Katchehri Chowk where traffic is bad. When these structures are built, it will not only make life for the general public easy but would also add to the security of VVIP/VIP movement. The Punjab government has already done enough in this regard and it is requested that this aspect MUST also be paid attention to on an emergent basis.

Naeem Akbar Khan,




Would it be possible for the government to do something about depression and other mental illnesses? Karachi, for example, has only a few places that provide in-patient care: the AKU, Recovery House and another new facility are the ones I know of. Edhi Foundation also provides help. But the incidence of mental health issues is high. People have schizophrenia, borderline personality disorders, postpartum depression. And what is sad is that there is very little understanding about the damage they wreak over time, not just on the person who is suffering but on their family. People need help understanding how to help and support family with mental health issues.

The Pakistan Association of Mental Health runs an excellent clinic which provides free treatment and medication. The Institute of Behavioural Sciences also runs an OPD and in-patient services. There is, however, an acute shortage of mental health practitioners in the country. According to one newspaper’s report there are just 324 with just 25 in Peshawar. The wait times for psychiatrists and psychologists is long. Entire swathes of the population are grappling with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder from the violence, insurgencies, terrorist attacks, and outcome of displacement.

What is worse is that there is no authority that vets mental health practitioners; one so-called psychiatrist at a reputable private hospital turned out to have a fake degree from Axact.

What is happening in the meantime is that people are self-medicating. Fortunately, many pharmacies will not give you sleeping pills. But Xanax, Lexotanil and other ‘downers’ are easily available. In fact, a newspaper reported in 2013, that Pakistanis bought 476 million anti-anxiety tablets in 2012. The media should help report on these issues, but not by calling people ‘retarded’ or deficient or with problems or ‘abnormal’.

Sara K. Bandukwala,


PIA corruption


This is in reference to the interior minister’s press conference about the FIA probing the allegations of massive corruption in PIA and placing its CEO Bernd Hildenbrand on the ECL. If the PCB can crack down on match fixing, why can’t PIA, the CAA and ministry?

The bad choice of a person who joined Lufthansa as an apprentice mechanic, and had no management experience worth mentioning, except working in middle management, within a subsidiary, raises questions about the motives of those who selected him to head PIA. Why does every government, from Musharraf’s to Asif Zardari’s and now Nawaz Sharif’s choose to appoint semi-literate controversial figures and expect them turn around this ailing white elephant?

From the controversial swap of brand new DC-10 with an aging Boeing jumbo, to leasing Russian aircraft for Hajj or Umrah in the 80s or 90s, or Boeing and Airbus thereafter, PIA’s managements and their corporate planning have always paid 60% to 90% more cost than the leasing rate by private airlines and other regional operators. It could only have happened in Pakistan that PIA bought a Boeing 747-300 from Cathay Pacific without engines, for which the airline was paying separately per hour. Which airline would buy a brand new B777 and then choose a blacklisted aircraft seat manufacturer to install seats with defective in-flight entertainment? Should alarm bells not have been raised when in 2005 PIA cancelled the manufacturer-recommended vendors in its network and appointed a single supplier located in a remote part of the UK only to end up with a partial ban from the EU in 2007 because of maintenance and safety issues? Given that there was no accountability, it only encouraged a corrupt political crony to appoint a single supplier for all spare parts based in Dubai as a result of which half the fleet was grounded. All this happened with the approval of the BoD some of whom were also on the CAA governing body and were aware of leasing costs of comparative aircraft operated by private airlines. It is common knowledge that even sensitive recruitments, including those of pilots and engineers, are being made in violation of merit. Nepotism reigns supreme with entire families serving in the airline, compromising flight safety.

I doubt whether any accountability will take place even after the interior minister’s intervention and FIA probe, because it would expose the mafia within the Establishment, bureaucracy, the political elite and their cronies within PIA and CAA, who have destroyed this airline.

G Zaman,