DECEMBER 6-12 2015
Kalash Valley has its own superhero
Khelo Kricket prepares the pitch for amateur cricket in Pakistan
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Exposing the brutal organ trade in Pakistan
DECEMBER 6-12 2015
Profile Cover Story
The Rustam of Kalash
Exposing the brutal organ trade in Pakistan
For the residents of Kalash Valley, Rustam Shah is a hero
A great save Khelo Kricket hopes to revive and celebrate local cricket
6 People & Parties: Out and about with beautiful people
40 Reviews: Documentary 42 Tech: Maternal health expert AmmiTips
Magazine Editor: Dilaira Dubash. Senior Subeditor: Ali Haider Habib. Subeditors: Komal Anwar & Manahyl Khan Creative Team: Jamal Khurshid, Essa Malik, Mohsin Alam, Talha Ahmed Khan, Hira Fareed, Maryam Rashid, Eesha Azam, Nabeel Khan and Sanober Ahmed Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi For feedback and submissions: email@example.com 4 Twitter: @ETribuneMag & Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ETribuneMag Printed: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruno, Humaira, Ade Wyss and Elil Wyss with a friend
NescafĂŠ hosts a contemporary art exhibition at Mohatta Palace in Karachi
Sameera Raja and Sherry Rehman
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Asad, Tabish, Fareshteh Aslam and Mikail
PHOTOS COURTESY GOLIN PR
PEOPLE & PARTIES
PEOPLE & PARTIES Momin Ali and Iman
Aden and Rehan
CafĂŠ Barbera hosts a party in Lahore Cybil Chaudhry
Noor and Samra Amir
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Rubea and Mughees
Kinza and Shariq
PHOTOS COURTESY BILAL MUKHTAR EVENTS & PR
Aamina and Foha
PEOPLE & PARTIES
Nayab and Anam Malik
PHOTOS COURTESY BILAL MUKHTAR EVENTS & PR
Rubia and Momina
Mahnoor, Rafia and Nimra Khokar
Mahnoor, Asma and Masooma
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Amer Randhawa, Moniba Javaid, Khadija Shafqt and Shehzeen Abdullah
PEOPLE & PARTIES Amina Sibtain and Maryam Salman
Zafar Khurshid with his wife
The restaurant Nom Nom opens up in Lahore PHOTOS COURTESY VERVE PR
Misha Rehman and Imtisal Zafar
Ahmer Farooq and Alyzeh Gabol
Aamna Taseer and Shehrbano Taseer
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Maria and Sara
Farhana Alvi, Farha Mazhar, Hajra Omer, Omer, Mazhar Rahman and Hammad
PEOPLE & PARTIES Redah, Shammal, Fatima, Umair, Sarah, Nadir, Zain Aziz and Asma
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Juggan Kazim and Faisal Naqvi
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Uzma and Momina
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Mahra, Mohsin and Nooray
Madiha and Shehzil
The Rustam of Kalash
For the residents of Kalash, Rustam Shah is the man of the hour TEXT AND PHOTOS BY HUMA CHOUDHARY DESIGN BY SANOBER AHMED
Rustam Shah has dedicated his life to serving the people of Kalash.
Rustam Shah and Clark Kent, aka Superman, have a lot in common. They both use their abilities to improve the lives of others. Born in a tiny hamlet in Kalash Valley, Shah used the power of altruism to transform the fabric of life in his village and secure a safe future for its residents. Commonly referred to as Luke Rehmat, Shah was destined for greatness. Regardless of his father’s insistence that Shah assist him on the family lands, Shah’s mother moved him to a secondary school in Peshawar where he completed his matriculation and later, higher education. After college, Shah decided to relocate to Islamabad to pursue a bachelor’s degree in governance and organisational sciences. Unfortunately, halfway through his degree, Shah’s sister was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and as the only brother to seven sisters he had to return to the valley and take the reins from his parents. Desperate to complete his education, Shah tried to shift his entire family to Peshawar but was unable to do so due to financial constraints. Disheartened and laden with responsibility, Shah attended college intermittently and eventually, had to drop out. “It was then that I decided to try and change 17 DECEMBER 6-12 2015
PROFILE things for people like myself,” he says. Pakistan’s education system may have evolved in many ways but Shah believes there ought to be a way for students in remote areas to access lectures and take exams online. “Many people are passionate about studying but cannot stay away from their families due to certain difficulties,” he adds. Upon his return to the village, Shah launched a couple of initiatives. The first was a news blog entitled The Kalasha Times which offers information regarding the region’s weather, culture and prominent tourist spots. It served as a makeshift pamphlet for the region and also reported on issues such as health and education. Soon enough, the blog took off and put Shah’s hometown on the national map. “Back in 2013, a wealthy cattleman was murdered here and hundreds of his sheep were stolen,” shares Shah. “Fortunately, as a result of our follow up, the government not only compensated his family for the loss but also gave them jobs.” During the same year, Shah introduced a regional news portal called Ishpata News, a Twitter and Facebook-based news service. “The world is moving towards online media and I wanted people to stay updated
Rustam Shah teaches students at the Kalasha Academy of Computer Sciences.
Rustam Shah launched Ishpata News to help readers stay abreast with what is happening in Kalash.
There are just 4,000 people in all of the 12 villages of Kalash. I was afraid that if we could not help the people, we might become one of those races that existed once upon a time Resident of Kalash Rustam Shah on what is happening in Kalash,” says Shah. “People are now more inclined towards visuals and storytelling. So we began producing documentaries, video clips and photographs.” The overwhelming responses 18 received by his first two initiatives DECEMBER 6-12 2015
purred Shah on. Shortly after, he established his very own non-profit organisation called the Kalash People’s Development Network (KPDN) in the hopes to expedite the changing process. With a hint of pride and nostalgia, Shah shares how KPDN
immediately launched relief efforts when the Kalash Valley was afflicted with floods earlier this year. “Floods are not new to Kalash but the recent ones were catastrophic and took many lives,” he says. “There are just 4,000 people in all of the 12 villages of
Kalash. I was afraid if we do not help the people, we might become one of those races that existed once upon a time.” Over the years, KPDN has incorporated many other progressive projects under its banner of which the Women’s Welfare Development Programme is the most prominent. Under this, Kalasha women are given vocational training and medical assistance. “We have been displaying the products made in vocational centres at exhibitions across Pakistan,” says Shah. “Some of them are sent to the UK and we are currently in talks with a university in Australia too.” Recently, Shah and his team managed to raise funds to purchase ultrasound equipment for
Shah and KPDN are currently involved in negotiations with the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) to issue locals official CNICs. The matter was actually resolved back in February this year but according to officials, the implementation can take up to six months or more the local hospital as well. KPDN also houses the Kalash Health and Development Programme that grants the locals regular access to basic health check-ups by way of medical camps. Other sundry projects include the Forest Conservation and
The Kalash People’s Development Network team distributes clothes and food to earthquake victims.
A 12-day winter sports festival was organised by the Traditional Sports Development Programme.
Development Programme that works to curtail deforestation in the valley. Another one of Shah’s premiere ventures is the Traditional Sports Development Programme which organises a 12-day sports festival during winter every year with the aim of promoting Kalash’s traditional games, such as ghal (snow golf). Other than this, Shah and KPDN are currently involved in negotiations with the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) to issue locals official CNICs. The matter was actually resolved back in February this year but according to officials, the implementation can take up to six months or more. Adding to the variety of KPDN’s undertakings, Shah constructed a small room back in March where the Kalasha Academy of Computer Sciences (KACS) has been set up. Microsoft Word, Excel and other basic computer courses are taught here at bargain prices. “We charge a fee of Rs400,” says Shah. “Women and children are especially encouraged to join KACS.” A trailblazer in every sense of the word, Shah has gone above and beyond to serve the people of Kalash and will continue to do so with his feet firmly on the ground.T Huma Choudhary is an Islamabad-based photographer for The Express Tribune. She tweets @huma_choudhary DECEMBER 6-12 2015
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BY FERYA ILYAS | DESIGN BY MARYAM RASHID
For nearly 18 years Sameer Kiran lived in fear of an impending renal failure. The Karachi-based physician was diagnosed with an incurable congenital renal disease at the age of 24, and an early detection allowed him to arrange for a lifesaving transplant procedure in time. Today, he lives to tell the tale of his battle with the silent disease, not knowing whether his donor was as fortunate.
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Weak enforcement of law and no conviction are keeping the organ market alive in Pakistan
doctors said there was nothing I could do and that I “ My just have to wait and watch until the kidneys fail. And they eventually did in 2011,” says Kiran. Unlike the great majority of renal failure cases in Pakistan, Kiran was
Illegal global organ trade generates profits between $600 million and $1.2 billion per year. SOURCE: 2011 GLOBAL FINANCIAL INTEGRITY REPORT
put on dialysis well before the complete collapse of his kidneys. In the three years that followed, he endured the morbidities of dialysis while searching for a family donor, and came close to death twice. When things started to look bleak, he decided to expand his pool of donors in a desperate attempt to find a match. “Dialysis is a painful process and the outcome is not good either. I was living on a day-to-day basis,” he says. At this point, Kiran says, he was willing to take any measures necessary to secure a kidney as his family was dependent on his income.
Under the Transplantation of Human
Organs and Tissues Act 2010, buying and selling of human organs for transplants is prohibited in Pakistan, and donations from living donors are strictly restricted to blood relatives In his quest for a donor, Kiran learnt about hospitals in Islamabad and Rawalpindi offering complete packages for transplants, including surgery, follow-ups and, intriguingly, an organ in case one is unsuccessful in securing a family donor. Although suspicious about the legality of this all-inclusive package, he decided to approach one such hospital in the capital and further probe the matter. “I knew the hospital was not conducting secret operations in narrow lanes,” says Kiran. It is a prominent building that enjoys main road exposure and has been operational since 30 years, explains Kiran. “They furnish all the legal documents and [the hospital] has never been raided but still, I was reluctant.” It was not until a fellow colleague, who had also been
a mentor, confirmed the above by narrating his personal experience of getting a transplant at the hospital that Kiran finally decided to opt for the procedure. According to the law on transplantation in Pakistan, donation to a non-relative is allowed only if it is voluntary. And that is what the hospital claims to do: finding people willing to give away their vital organs for free to patients they have never met. “When the hospital draws up transplant documents, they ask the vendor to write he gave his organ for free, but of course he/she is paid extra money,” says Kiran. Hospitals charge an additional amount for the organ if they are asked to arrange for one and this amount is offered to the vendor, he explains. “This way all the legalities are followed and the transplant is not deemed illegal,” he concludes. Under the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act 2010, buying and selling of human organs for transplants is prohibited in Pakistan, and donations from living donors are strictly restricted to blood relatives. In case of a donation to a non-relative, the law calls for strict evaluation of the case to determine if it is being done purely for altruistic reasons and no coercion or monetary benefits are involved. But despite the sentence for up to 10 years and a fine for up to one million for anyone involved
Annually 3,400 to 6,800 illegal kidney transplants are performed around the globe. SOURCE: 2011 GLOBAL FINANCIAL INTEGRITY REPORT
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COVER STORY in facilitating an illegal transplant, the business of illegal organ trade has attracted many because of its lucrative nature. As a result, five members of a ring of doctors and clinical staff operating an illegal organ transplant racket were arrested in Lahore in August this year and in October, Islamabad Police unearthed a kidney smuggling gang and arrested two people from the capital’s outskirts. Peshawar was also rife with rumours of organ trade when bodies of kidnapped children started turning up early this year.
Pakistan’s organ bazaar Kiran’s story is just one side of this multifaceted trade that continues to flourish. From the bottom of society, right up to the top, everyone is involved: the poor donors who are willing to donate a kidney in return for some quick cash to either pay of debts or support their family, the brokers who exploit the impoverished into selling their organs, the rich foreign recipients who travel to Pakistan for a transplant, the surgeons who cut through the ethics of the medical profession and retrieve kidneys, and the powers that facilitate and protect this illegal business. Everyone wants a
After the law was passed, there was a time in Lahore when ‘love transplants’ were common; men would meet young women near Ravi river and marry them only to get their organs legally General secretary of the Transplantation Society of Pakistan Dr Mirza Naqi Zafar piece of the pie. Before the law was passed in 2010, Pakistan was the destination for ‘transplant tourism’ with hundreds of renal failure patients from the Middle East and the West travelling to the country for the gift of life. “More than 1,500 foreigners were coming to Pakistan for transplants from all over the world each year. There was no law [prohibiting it back then] and people could get transplants in Lahore, Rawalpindi... basically everywhere,” reveals Dr Mirza Naqi Zafar, general secretary of the Transplantation Society of Pakistan (TSP). In a study conducted by the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) on kidney vendors near Sargodha, it was discovered that they all come from impoverished 264 backgrounds, most of them being bonded labourers. “The DECEMBER 6-12 2015
Of the 106,879 solid organs known to have been transplanted in 95 countries (legally and illegally), about 73,179 (68.5%) were kidneys. And this satisfied just 10% of the global need. SOURCE: WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
The cost of dialysis in Pakistan ranges between Rs150,000 and Rs200,000 per patient per annum. SOURCE: PAKISTAN JOURNAL OF MEDICAL SCIENCES
sellers were promised a certain amount of money to get out of their debt — between Rs0.1 million to Rs0.2 million — but they never got it as the agents siphoned the payment,” adds Dr Zafar. Labour rights activist Syeda Ghulam Fatima, who is the general secretary of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan (BLLF), says the issue first came to her notice in 2006 when a boy, originally from Hyderabad, ran away from a brick kiln in Lahore and came to her. “The boy and his family were visiting Punjab when a kiln owner captured them saying their relative owed him money and that they should work at his kiln to repay the debt. In reality the family was sold by their Sindh kiln owner to the one in Punjab,” Fatima recalls. Desperate for freedom, the family asked for a quicker solution and the kiln owner told them to sell their organs. They agreed and the organ trade gang extracted kidneys of two of the family members when the boy got cold feet and ran away. Fatima petitioned for the boy and his family and over the course of several hearings, found that the son of the Punjab kiln owner was part of the organ trade and all this had been part of their plan. “Landlords and kiln owners realised this was a good way of recovering their money and so they encouraged, coordinated and supported these organ hunters,” says Fatima.
The case didn’t lead to any conviction but Fatima took it as a stepping stone for a campaign against organ trade in Pakistan. Narrating some of the most harrowing stories of victims, Fatima says, “We targeted Hafizabad in Punjab and found out around 5,000 people had sold their kidneys and were still bonded to their owners. In Kasur, a man went to the hospital for a check-up and woke up with one kidney. I know another person who was forced to sell his organs but managed to escape only to join the gang later as a broker.” While the majority of vendors are male, researches show a big number of women are also part of the trade. SIUT’s study in Sargodha also included a number of women who had sold their kidneys for various reasons, including duty to family. “After the law was passed, there was a time in Lahore when ‘love transplants’ were common; men would meet young women near Ravi river and marry them only to get their organs legally,” Dr Zafar shares. Co-founder of Organs Watch — an international organisation monitoring the trade — Lawrence Cohen also says, scholars who study transplantation have pointed out that despite the presence of a black market, many organ transactions are among family relations and community members where duty, love, coercion and money all play a role.
Hold on to that kidney With Pakistan at the centre of the global organ trade in 2007, the government took measures towards curbing it and introduced an ordinance, which was later passed as a law. Dr Zafar, who is also a professor at SIUT, says there was uproar by certain elements when the government was in the process of declaring organ trade illegal. “Those involved in buying and selling of organs tried to get the law upturned by going to the Shariat Court. They said it was un-Islamic to ban organ trade which ‘benefited’ renal failure patients coming from rich Arab countries,” Dr Zafar says. Fortunately, the court declared the trade against the spirit of Islam; the law was passed in both houses without any opposition and blatant buying and selling of organs stopped. Dr Zafar, however, acknowledges clandestine deals are still going on due to weak implementation of the law. “It was a big racket with so many people and so much
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In a study conducted by the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) on kidney vendors near Sargodha, it was discovered that they all come from impoverished backgrounds, most of them being bonded labourers
transplant Once Kiran decided to purchase a kidney for transplant, he underwent a pre-surgery medical examination in Islamabad which involved several tests including an ultrasound and cardiography to determine whether he was fit to receive a kidney. His organs and general fitness was assessed for three days and cost him around Rs80,000. After his medical reports came clear, he was signed up as a recipient. He was told to return to Karachi and wait for a call while the hospital looked for a ‘perfect’ match.“The call can come within 15 days or three months, there is no deadline,” says Kiran. Kiran was informed by the hospital that they had found him a kidney after 28 days. He was asked to take a trip to the capital within next ten days for the transplant procedure. At the hospital Kiran was examined once again but this time it was done as part of the transplant package worth Rs1.6 million. Once the reports came through, Kiran received the transplant. “After the surgery, I stayed at the hospital for eight days where I was closely monitored.There was no complication in my case and everything went fine,” he shares. He was later discharged but asked to remain in the city for post-op check-ups every alternate day.“On the day of my fifth check up, the doctor told me I can return to Karachi and have check-ups there.” 527 DECEMBER 6-12 2015
money involved. The infrastructure and the agents are still there and so they find different ways to continue with their business,” he says, mentioning an instance when a foreigner from east Africa came to Pakistan, sold his kidney and left. “They are so powerful and so wellconnected that they can even bring vendors from abroad,” he notes. The TSP general secretary says the number of transplants have reduced since the law declared it illegal but the sum of money has gone up due to reduction in supply of organs. “The gangs may be organising less transplants but they must be making more money,” he estimates. Fatima also keeps hearing stories of people getting organ donations from outside their family. A close friend of hers recently had an illegal organ transplant in Islamabad for Rs2.5 million.
A deadly trade Since Kiran’s transplant was ‘legal’ on papers, there was no need for secrecy. But most illegal transplants are done under the cover of darkness in shady buildings on the outskirts of cities where vendors and recipients meet their surgeons only under the influence of anaesthesia. “From what we have learnt in the past, vendors are 28 6 incarcerated in one house and recipients are kept in DECEMBER 6-12 2015
another. Both of them are then taken to a different place for the transplant,” says Dr Zafar. People who have been part of illegal transplants visit SIUT for check-ups but never divulge the details of the operation, he adds. “Some don’t give us that information out of fear, but most of the time they don’t have that information,” he says. “If I pay for an illegal transplant, I would not know where I will be taken for the transplant, who will be my surgeon — this information is not available to them,” he explains. Dr Zafar also doubts organ trafficking gangs follow stringent criteria for transplants to ensure a perfect match. “I don’t think they care about tissue typing; they would use any vendor — healthy or not — for the transplant,” he says, sharing the findings of an international study which focused on recipients who travelled to Pakistan for transplants. According to the research, the recipients had post-transplant complications because the organs they received were not healthy. Also, of the 120 vendors SIUT interviewed in Sargodha, Dr Zafar says many of them were medically unfit to donate a kidney. Though Kiran has not had any complication since the transplant, he also does not know how well his body matched that of his ‘donor’. “I don’t know if the match was a 100%, 70% or 50%. It all comes down to putting your trust in the doctors,” he says. According to Dr Zafar, few doctors who do get tissue typing done to find the best match do it perhaps for the recipient’s goodwill. “If the match is good and the recipient is satisfied, he will become an ambassador for their work and bring in more customers,” he speculates. Like many countries worldwide, Cohen says Pakistan faces considerable challenges with regards to the impact of an illegal organs market on poor, indebted farmers, labourers and urban slum-dwellers. As per the Human Organs Transplantation Authority (HOTA) guidelines, doctors must tell recipients and donors about the effects, complications and hazards related to organ removal but when the transplant falls outside the law, the human body is left at the mercy of surgeons whose only concern is money. “The vendors are desperate, poor people. If you offer Rs100,000 to a person who cannot even afford to feed himself, it’s a windfall!” Dr Zafar explains. “The brokers often make prospective vendors meet previous vendors to convince them that quality of life doesn’t change after donation,” he adds. While vendors take the risk for monetary gains, the motivation for recipients is to avoid the regular struggles of being on dialysis and increase the chances of survival, says Dr Zafar. “In the US, chances of five-year survival on dialysis are 35% and 85% with a transplant.”
Human body: A commodity
The global hotspots of organ trade keep changing as new laws are introduced and enforced. However, the trend of organs supplied from the poor to the rich remains the same. Nancy Scheper-Hughes, director of Organs Watch and a renowned expert in organ trafficking, once said the organ trade “follows the modern routes of capital; from south to north, from Third World to First World, from poor to rich.” In early 2000s, India was supplying thousands of organs to foreign recipients but the trade shifted to Pakistan when the Indian government started a crackdown against the organ gangs, says Dr Zafar. Pakistan became a hub for transplant tourism in 2006 and when the government introduced laws prohibited buying and selling of organs in 2010, recipients began to travel to Iraq, Eqypt and Philippines. “The trade is still going on in Philippines and now there are reports coming in from Bangladesh,” he states. “We got to know about Pakistan’s role in the trade when TSP received reports from recipient countries saying their citizens had undergone transplant surgery in Pakistan,” he says. Countries detected this when their dialysis patients began disappearing from organ waiting lists, he explains.
There is an argument against criminalising organ trade which calls for regulating the business through strict guidelines because in the end, both vendor and recipient gain something. As a kidney patient, Kiran says he favours purchase of organs. “There are people who have no family donors. I know cases where mothers refused to donate their kidney to their children. One cannot force anyone to donate,” he says. Such patients should be given this privilege, he explains. But Dr Zafar disagrees. Is prostitution legal, he asks. If today we allow people to sell their kidneys, tomorrow there will be a demand for livers and then some other body part, he argues. “We fight for human dignity even when it is for a person who is in jail for committing a crime,” he adds. “What do we live for? Are we going to commercialise everything? Human life doesn’t revolve around buying and selling; you cannot buy and sell everything.”
T The global g organ o ttrade Seller countries Pakistan India Bangladesh Nepal China Philippines Egypt Colombia Iraq Turkey
Recipient countries USA Australia Canada Japan Oman Saudi Arabia Israel Italy
The end of the road With a huge chunk of the country’s population living below the poverty line, organ trade is likely to continue in secret operation theatres and at known hospitals with strong political connections. Criminals have their ways and work around the loopholes in our system, says Fatima. “Ending poverty, unemployment and forced labour will be the first step towards ending this evil,” she advises. The labour activist believes a single conviction with a severe punishment will put a stop to this. For curbing the international trade, Dr Zafar says there is always a pressure on developing countries to stop people from selling their organs but why can’t the rich countries stop their citizens from coming to us for transplants? “At international forums, head of SIUT, Dr Adeeb Rizvi, asks recipient countries to not send their citizens here and if they do get a transplant, then don’t entertain them when they come back,” he says. The answer to ending this organs market is selfsufficiency through deceased organ donation, stresses Dr Zafar. “The more living and deceased donors you have, the better chances of patients not dying on waiting lists or travelling abroad for a transplant,” he insists. The trend of living donors — family and friends who donate willingly — is already catching up in the US and UK as well as Europe while deceased donation is rising in KSA, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and UAE.T
Ferya Ilyas is a senior subeditor at The Express Tribune. She tweets @ ferya_ilyas DECEMBER 6-12 2015
Khelo Kricket is a good pitch for amateur players looking to score professionally BY HURMAT MAJID | DESIGN BY NABEEL KHAN PHOTOS COURTESY: KHELO KRICKET
There are no statistics to tell you how many cricket fans make up the population in Pakistan, all you need is a match to sense the madness. Cricket is revered on television, played on the streets and is the foundation of many friendships across neighbourhoods. With a country so obsessed with the sport, itâ€™s a wonder there has been little effort to document the passion or encourage competition.
ver the years Pakistan has churned out some world-class players, however, there is little opportunity for budding talent or enthusiasts on the domestic pitch. This is where web portal Khelo Kricket hopes to play a small but significant role by providing a platform to all cricket players regardless of skill level. “I don’t think we realise how much cricket is played in the country, starting at the school level and then going on to universities, corporate firms and amateur teams. There are a few hundred teams within Karachi itself and yet there was no place where these teams could showcase their achievements,” says Hadeel Obaid, the driving force behind the project. The idea came to her by chance during visits to schools for a different project, “I realised there was no system for scorekeeping on a long-term basis. Once a match was played it was forgotten!” she recalls. An avid follower of the sport, Obaid was quick to conceptualise the idea and her next step was to find people willing to support the cause. She immediately found enthusiasm from family and friends and began to formalise the search process by writing emails to
The Khelo Kricket team personally visits each match being played by a registered team and keeps score investing in this venture. I did it simply because to her it was not about making money, it was about reviving cricket and letting the new generation have a taste of the passion earlier generations had for cricket.” Launching from Karachi, Khelo Kricket has a six-person team managing the scores of nearly 246 registered teams with new entries pouring in every day. “The team has done great in the few moths since the operation has been running, especially with the fact that they are all juggling jobs at the same time. They are taking the time out to make it a success,” says Khan. “There are ups and downs everywhere but if people are truly passionate about what they are doing, things eventually fall into place.”
An inter-school match is in progress. corporations she thought might be interested in the idea. “Azam Jalal Khan the head of Digitz Digital Media replied to me a few days later, saying that he would hear me out. It was a successful meeting and he has since been funding the project,” she shares. Khan had his own reasons to back the project. “What really sold the idea to me was Hadeel’s passion for the 38 project; half an hour into the pitch I knew I would not regret DECEMBER 6-12 2015
Score is maintained by the on-ground Khelo Kricket team.
How it works The four types of teams to which the website currently caters to are school, university, corporate and amateur. The Khelo Kricket team personally visits each match being played by a registered team and keeps score. Apart from match scores, the website also keeps individual statistics of each player on record. “It’s like Crickinfo.com but for the amateur player,” says Zohaib Jawad, a member of team Bubbers on the portal. “With individual stats being available, teams can recruit new players easily as they can see concrete evidence of their performance.” Once the match is over, the scores and individual statistics are uploaded on the website which can then be shared across social media. The match highlights are also available in the ‘News’ tab. The website also helps teams find opposing teams of similar skillsets. “The ‘find an opponent’ feature is amazing, as often the greatest problem with being a private team is that you don’t find another team to play against. Now that can be taken care of,” says Tayyab Balagamwala, captain of the Karachi Patriots team. When asked about the future of the portal and what it might evolve into, Hadeel replies, “The project is still in the early stages but as it is one of a kind we have the advantage and can experiment with it. It can evolve into something a lot bigger in due time. But our first step would be to expand to other cities soon.” With no international cricket being played in the country in the past few years, stadiums have been empty and morale has been low. But with a venture like Khelo Kricket, we may soon see stadiums fill up as amateur cricket picks up its pace. T
“I don’t think we realise how muchh cricket is played in the country, starting at the school level and then going on to universities, corporate ﬁrms and amateur teams. There are a few hundred teams within Karachi itself Co-founder Khelo Kricket Hadeel Obaid
Khelo Kricket has 246 registered teams.
Hurmat Majid is a subeditor at The Express Tribune. She tweets @bhandprogramme
Players celebrate a dismissal.
A player hits a sweep shot. The Khelo Kricket website helps teams find opposing teams of similar skill sets.
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Perfect Harmony The remarkable journey of a group of struggling musicians that hits all the right notes BY SARAH MUNIR
Rating: Sarah Munir is a freelance multimedia journalist. She tweets @SarahMunir1
Documenting any aspect of Pakistan or Pakistanis without having it reduced to a narrative about bombs, target killings and extremist ideologies is a challenge most storytellers face regularly. Pakistanis living against a constant backdrop of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks continues to be an unfortunate reality, but very few manage to grasp the nuanced beauty in the stories of those who continue to live and do what they love despite that. Capturing the rich mix of nostalgia, dedication and frustration of a small group of Pakistani classical musicians struggling to survive and find an audience for their craft in a country that has completely shifted axis in the past two decades is perhaps the greatest triumph of Academy Award winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and film-maker Andy Schocken’s new documentary Song of Lahore. The film documents the journey of a group of forgotten violinists, tabla, sitar and flute players from Sachal Studios in Lahore — a small recording haven for neglected artists — to a concert at Lincoln Center in New York in collaboration with Wynton Marsalis’ group. Founded by Izzat Majeed in 2004, Sachal Studios released several classical albums but it was the release of an experimental album combining South Asian melodies with jazz that earned them a spot on the international landscape in 2011. The first half of the documentary contextualises the challenges the musicians are up against at home. It familiarises the viewer with the creeping Shariah that stifled all forms of art in Pakistan in the wake of
Zia’s Islamisation policies, a dying film industry, increasing intolerance and a younger generation that is completely out of sync with the craft of their forefathers. While the historical and cultural backstories are just long enough to put the situation in perspective without getting monotonous, a little more attention could have been paid to introducing and familiarising the viewer with the nuances of classical music, given that some of the instruments and melodies featured in the documentary might be completely foreign to someone who does not belong to this part of the world. The latter half of the film, however, is flawless. The film-makers managed to capture all the right moments; from the moment the group arrives in New York to their rehearsals with Marsalis’ band and ultimately the final performance on the day of the concert. The nervousness of performing on a global platform, the tension and communication barriers as the two vastly different bands try to come together and create something unique and the raw richness of the final product keeps the viewer engaged throughout. At the risk of being a spoiler, the music in the final act is worth a special mention. It is a testimony to how people from different parts of the world, who have nothing in common on a superficial level, can bond over a passion for creating good music. Regardless of whether you are a fan of jazz or classical music, Song of Lahore is bound to leave you with a rhythm in your step and a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart.
Ammi knows best AmmiTips puts basic maternal health care at your fingertips BY SAMAR WARSI
The automated calling system AmmiTips might be the answer to the prayers of thousands of women in Pakistan. In a country which holds the highest maternal and infant mortality rate — as per the 2014 United Nations Population Fund report — AmmiTips aims to make critical maternal healthcare information available to all via cellular service. Tackling one of Pakistan’s greatest challenges, the first-of-its-kind PHOTO COURTESY: programme has been developed by Ammi, PAKATHON TWITTER a Toronto-based team that competed in the Pakathon Global Finals 2015 held at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The team — comprising Amina Zaheer, Mian Mansoor Ahmad, Israa Nasir, Kamil Shafiq and Winnie Sun — emerged victorious and has earned an ongoing mentorship and a chance to be fasttracked into a $10,000 grant by Elastica. According to Kalsoom Lakhani, founder and CEO of Invest2Innovate and a judge at the Pakathon Global Finals, Ammi’s strength lies in using an existing model and tailoring it to meet the requirements of mothers. To access the service one must follow a simple process: call a tollfree number, sign up with help from an interactive voice response system (which will be available in both English and Urdu) and receive weekly text messages or voice calls. To opt into the system, an expectant mother needs to provide her due date so Ammi can figure out how far along she is. Using this information, the service will call the user a few times a week with 1 minute to 2 minute pre-recorded maternal health care tips in the form of voice messages. For example, the message may remind the woman to eat iron rich foods or urge her to get an important vaccine. The service is available for 21 months, starting at pregnancy and ending one year after childbirth. Kamal 42 Shafiq, one of the creators of AmmiTips, says the best Team Ammi takes top place at Pakathon 2015.
DECEMBER 6-12 2015
thing about the service is that it’s affordable for all, costing around 60 Canadian cents or Rs50 in Pakistan. This makes the plan cost-effective and sustainable in the long term, he adds. Shafiq explains the reason why similar services have not reached Pakistan before is because their content is not culturally selective. “Our mission is to eradicate those cultural barriers,” he shares. One of the major reasons behind team Ammi’s success at the Pakathon was their proactive attitude towards the project. In the two weeks between the first pitch and the finals they managed to create the first version of their programme. The team’s dedication and swift action therefore made them an obvious choice for the judges. This year’s local winners were team Green Thumbs, an initiative to raise environmental awareness in Pakistan. Over the last few years, Pakathon has created a meaningful space in which both Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike can think creatively about the problems they are solving. Both Ammi and Green Thumbs illustrate the power of collaboration in creating sustainable solutions for some of Pakistan’s most pressing problems. Ria Lupton, the chapter lead for Pakathon Toronto says that Pakathon is attracting a lot of attention. “There is a focus on collaboration rather than competition right now. People realise that you can go further by working together,” she says. “People always want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and hackathons like this are a good way to give back.” Samar Warsi is an attorney and writer based out of Dallas, Texas. She tweets @Swarsi
Team Ammi: Amina Zaheer, Mian Mansoor Ahmad, Israa Nasir and Kamil Shafiq. PHOTO COURTESY: PAKATHON TWITTER
The Express Tribune Magazine for December 06th 2015