Karachi opens street library on Quaid-e-Azam Day

Book stalls in the street library in Karachi on Dec 25, 2019. (AN Photo)
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Updated 25 December 2019

Karachi opens street library on Quaid-e-Azam Day

  • Library will foster love of reading, officials say
  • Authors welcome the initiative to address a decline in the city’s reading culture

KARACHI: Authorities in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi on Wednesday inaugurated the country’s first street library in a bid to foster love of reading and project a soft image of the city.
The seaside metropolis was home to worst violence until recently.
“This street library will promote the culture of reading,” Sindh Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali said during inauguration ceremony on the occasion of 144th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Similar libraries will be established in other major cities of the province as well, he added.

Readers standing near the wooden book shelves in the street library in Karachi on Dec 25, 2019. (AN Photo)

Last week, the Karachi Commissioner’s Office decorated the wall surrounding the Metropole building with portraits of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, his sister Fatima Jinnah, celebrated poet Allama Iqbal, and the first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and named it as commissioner corner. Between the portraits, wooden bookshelves were installed for establishing the first street library.
“The idea behind this first street library of Pakistan is to promote the habit of book reading, which is very essential for any society,” Commissioner Iftikhar Shalwani told Arab News.
“We are also working on upgrading public libraries in different districts of the city. One of those will be named as the city’s central library,” Shalwani said, explaining that the bookshelves have yet to be filled and that the symbolic library will operate on the “take a book and leave a book” basis.

Karachi authorities have decorated the wall surrounding the Metropole building with portraits of figures crucial to Pakistan's history. Photo taken in Karachi on Dec. 25, 2019. (AN photo)

Writers and bibliophiles have welcomed the initiative.
“Any efforts for reviving the culture of book reading should be appreciated,” said Sahar Ansari, a renowned poet and member of the commissioner’s library committee.
“Although promoting book reading in this era of the Internet is a difficult task, sincere and well thought efforts never fail,” he said.
He recalled the city’s rich culture of book reading and “aik ana” (one penny) libraries in the past, which worked on the principle of affordable reading whereby a book could be borrowed for a penny.
“The city had many public and private libraries where thousands would throng to read books on history, literature, science and other subjects of their interest,” Ansari said, adding that personal libraries used to be considered “a status symbol.”

Readers standing near the book stalls in the street library in Karachi on Dec 25, 2019. (AN Photo)

Nowadays, however, although the website of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation lists 41 libraries in the city, only a few remain fully functional. “The libraries of different (foreign) consulates in Karachi would attract a good number of readers,” Ansari said, but security measures often discourage readers from visiting.
Among those who keep the culture of letters alive, he said, are sellers at Regal Chowk, Frere Hall, and next to Baitul Mukarram Mosque, who every Sunday offer old books.
Journalist and writer Ghazi Salahuddin, who used to host a book show on a Pakistani news channel, also appreciated the street library initiative, but offered a caveat.
“Quality and newer titles should be added to the library to make it more attractive to the readers,” he said.

Azan ton helps Pakistan beat India by eight wickets in Under-19 Asia Cup

Updated 11 December 2023

Azan ton helps Pakistan beat India by eight wickets in Under-19 Asia Cup

  • Azan Awais was star of the match as his unbeaten 105 ensured Pakistan remain in control 
  • The Pakistan pace attack delivered well, with Mohammad Zeeshan picking up four wickets 

DUBAI: Pakistan on Sunday defeated India by eight wickets in the fifth game of the ongoing Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Under-19 Asia Cup in Dubai, with Azan Awais guiding his side to victory with an unbeaten century. 

Pakistan won the toss and elected to field first. Pakistan U19 cruised to the 260-run target with much ease, doing so in 47 overs and eight wickets in the bag. Despite losing opening batter Shamyl Hussain cheaply in just the fifth over, Pakistan remained in control of the chase. 

A 110-run partnership between Shahzaib Khan and Azan Awais ensured that Pakistan dominated the Indian bowling after the first wicket fell. The partnership was broken in the 28th over when Shahzaib was caught off Murugan Abhishek’s bowling, after scoring a half-century (63). 

Azan was the star of the match as his superb century (105 not out) ensured that Pakistan remain in a commanding position throughout the chase. For his extraordinary batting display, he was awarded player of the match. 

“The post-win celebrations and cherishing the moment with fans,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on X, sharing scenes from the match’s venue. 

Pakistan captain Saad Baig, replacing Shahzaib at the crease, scored an unbeaten 68. Azan and Saad put up an undefeated partnership of 125 runs to see Pakistan through. 

Earlier in the game, Indian opening batter Adarsh Singh hit 62 runs to recoup the momentum for his side, following the loss of two wickets inside the first 12 overs. 

A 93-run stand between captain Uday Saharan (60) and Singh helped restore control in the innings. 

However, when Singh fell to left-arm spinner Arafat Minhas in the 32nd over, the innings once again faltered. Pressure mounted on the Indian batting as successive wickets fell. A quick half-century by Sachin Dhas took India to a respectable total as they finished at 259-9 in 50 overs. 

The Pakistan pace attack delivered well, with right-arm quick Mohammad Zeeshan picking up four wickets. His fellow fast bowlers Amir Hassan and Ubaid Shah returned with two each as well. 

Pakistan will now face Afghanistan on December 12 at the same venue. 

UN agency warns of Afghans dying in harsh winter without proper shelter after leaving Pakistan

Updated 35 min 33 sec ago

UN agency warns of Afghans dying in harsh winter without proper shelter after leaving Pakistan

  • Almost half a million Afghans have left Pakistan since early October, when Islamabad ordered illegal foreigners to leave 
  • The majority of them are from neighboring Afghanistan, though Islamabad insists policy doesn’t target specific nationality 

KABUL: The UN refugee agency has warned that Afghans could die in harsh winter conditions if they don’t get adequate shelter once they cross the border from Pakistan. 

Almost half a million Afghans have left Pakistan since early October, when the Islamabad government announced it would arrest and deport foreigners it said were in the country illegally. The overwhelming majority of them are from neighboring Afghanistan, though Islamabad insists the policy doesn’t target a specific nationality. 

The forced returns are piling pressure on Afghanistan and aid agencies, which are providing the bulk of essential services like health care. Freezing temperatures are setting in and conditions at the border remain dire. 

“Many Afghan returnees are vulnerable, including women and children, who could lose their lives in a harsh winter if left without adequate shelter,” the UN refugee agency said in a report published Friday. “People arriving at the border are exhausted and require urgent assistance as well as psychosocial support.” 

Families told the agency they were worried that colder winter temperatures in certain areas, particularly mountainous regions, may prevent them from returning home right away. 

“Many are arriving with illness, for example bronchitis, as a result of the cold weather and the difficult journey from Pakistan,” the agency said in a message to The Associated Press on Sunday. “They may not have all their belongings, including clothing, and therefore be unable to protect themselves from the elements.” 

It said that among those returning to Afghanistan are families who have never lived in the country. They have been living in Pakistan for one or more generations and may not have homes or extended family to return to. 

Cash to pay rent is needed, while families with some existing social networks could stay with family or friends. Others may return to homes needing repair. The agency said it will provide tents to such households. 

“For those who have nowhere to go, with limited means, they may stay in camps, established near the border,” the refugee agency said. 

A Taliban committee said it is distributing food, water, SIM cards, clothing and cash at two key border crossings: Torkham and Spin Boldak. Families are also learning about Afghanistan, the Islamic system, temporary living arrangements, registration and relocation, the committee said Sunday. 

But extreme temperatures and limited access to clean water and sanitation have led to a surge in infectious diseases and malnutrition. 

UN Women said there are additional challenges for Afghan women and girls leaving Pakistan as they have to deal with Taliban restrictions that could affect their mobility and access to information and services if they don’t have a male relative. It expressed similar concerns after October’s deadly earthquakes in Afghanistan’s west. 

The agency said around 80 percent of Afghans returning through Torkham and Spin Boldak are women and children. 

In its latest report, also published Friday, it said many women have lived through “distressing experiences” in Pakistan including being the victims of illegal detention, witnessing their spouse or family members be arrested, or being separated from relatives and returning to Afghanistan alone. 

Women told UN agencies they were “compelled” to hand their possessions over in exchange for transportation, leave all their belongings behind or saw their income taken by Pakistani authorities. 

The crackdown is hugely controversial and has drawn condemnation from rights groups, the Taliban, aid agencies and the UN 

At this Karachi restaurant, foodies love to savor chapli kebabs hot off the skillet

Updated 11 December 2023

At this Karachi restaurant, foodies love to savor chapli kebabs hot off the skillet

  • Chapli kebabs are a Pashtun staple, prepared at restaurants and homes in Afghanistan, Pakistan
  • Chapli kebabs are mutton or beef patties that are fried in a generous amount of ghee or fat

KARACHI: Abdul Wahid drops a round mixture of minced meat, maize flour, and spices into a pot sizzling with hot ghee in front of him. A couple of minutes pass before his assistant flips the finished kebabs onto a plate while a waiter attends to eager customers lining up for their takeout orders at a busy restaurant in Karachi. 

This is the scene one observes almost every night during the winter season at A-One restaurant in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi. Located in the bustling city’s Shah Faisal Colony area, it offers chapli kebabs, a popular staple cooked at roadside stands, sit-down restaurants and homes particularly in northwestern Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Chapli kebabs are meat patties fried with a generous helping of animal fat or oil. The kebabs are mostly made from beef and mutton and are a mix of white cumin, carom seeds, dried coriander, pomegranate seeds, salt, green chilies, and tomatoes. Though the restaurant serves several popular food items such as chicken karahi dish, biryani and fish, A-One in Karachi has gained renown for its chapli kebabs over the years. 

“It [A-One] is famous for chapli kebab, which is our primary specialty,” Wahid told Arab News, noting that over the years, additional cuisines were later introduced to the menu. 

A-One occupies a large space now but the restaurant used to be a small shop in the ‘80s when it started. 

“Our Mr. Hajji Gohar Rahman, he started with a small shop,” Gul Muhammad Khan, the restaurant’s manager, told Arab News. “First of all, [the biggest success factor] is Allah’s Grace, then his honesty, and then his hard work gave us an entire complex of Peshawari chapli kebabs.” 

The first chef of the restaurant, 95-year-old Saeed Khan, brought the popular original chapli kebab recipe from Pakistan’s northwestern Peshawar city, said Khan. 

“This is our original recipe; it’s Peshawari,” he added. 

Abdul Wahid, the current chef, said what separates A-One’s chapli kebabs from the ones offered at other eateries, is that they are made from high-quality meat. 

“We use the meat of the leg only,” Wahid told Arab News. “We use high-quality, hygienic meat, which is why the quality that we started with hasn’t changed.” 

Despite being a dish traditionally associated with Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun community, people of various ethnicities savor chapli kebabs at the restaurant, praising its authentic taste.

“People from every community eat,” Gul Muhammad Khan, the manager, told Arab News. 

“Their friends bring them here specifically to introduce them to a new taste, and those who eat, really enjoy it.” 

Zahid Jamal, a frequent customer, selected the venue to celebrate his daughter Safiya’s birthday this weekend. 

“Today is my daughter Safiya’s birthday, so we thought about going out for dinner,” Jamal told Arab News. “We decided to go to A-One as its chapli kebabs are very famous. So, we came here and enjoyed our meal. It was very good.” 

Another regular customer, Aimen Azam, said she regularly sends an uncooked blend of kebabs to her brother in Dubai. 

“Last month, I sent some uncooked chapli kebabs to my brother in Dubai,” Azam told Arab News. “I sent him about 6kg in uncooked form last month, and he had it with his friends there.” 

Hundreds of Pakistani doctors, paramedics in Karachi march for ceasefire in Gaza

Updated 55 min 12 sec ago

Hundreds of Pakistani doctors, paramedics in Karachi march for ceasefire in Gaza

  • Hundreds of lawyers, paramedics march from Karachi’s National Stadium signal to Liaquat National Hospital
  • March attended by members of Pakistani medical associations, interim Sindh health minister, Jamaat-e-Islami leaders

KARACHI: Hundreds of Pakistani doctors and paramedics marched in the southern port city of Karachi on Sunday to protest against Israel’s war in Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire amid the deteriorating human rights situation in Palestine.

The march took place in Pakistan’s commercial hub as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid increasing Israeli hostilities in Gaza. On Sunday afternoon, the Gaza health ministry said almost 18,000 Palestinians had now been killed by the Israeli military since Oct. 7.

Pakistani journalists, rights activists and celebrities have been consistently calling for an end to Israeli bombardment in Gaza and demanding an immediate ceasefire. On Sunday evening, a large number of doctors and paramedics took out a “White Coat March” from Karachi’s National Stadium signal to Liaquat National Hospital, calling for an end to Israel’s “war crimes.”

The event, which was organized by the Karachi Medical Forum, was attended by Interim Sindh Health Minister Saad Khalid Niaz, leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami religious party, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), and members of the Palestine Foundation in the country.

“Today in Karachi, thousands of doctors marched, demanding immediate end to human rights violations, bombing of civilian areas— particularly hospitals,” PIMA wrote on social media platform X.

Hundreds of doctors can be seen in several video clips on social media platforms, marching as they held up placards that read: “Where are human rights? Where is the Geneva Convention?”

Several other placards read: “Doctors, unite for Gaza.”

In a statement, the JI said its Karachi leader Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman appreciated Pakistani doctors for highlighting Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

“He [Rehman] said that by all means, Israel is an illegitimate, terrorist state whereas Hamas is fighting for the liberation of her homeland,” the statement added.

On Sunday, Pakistan’s Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said Israel’s “purposeful” targeting of Palestinians in Gaza violated all standards of human rights and was a breach of international law.

His statement came as the world marked International Human Rights Day. Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Punjab chief minister kicks off cleanliness drive in Lahore to combat smog

Updated 10 December 2023

Punjab chief minister kicks off cleanliness drive in Lahore to combat smog

  • Lahore, considered Pakistan’s cultural capital, has been blanketed in thick haze since onset of winters
  • Punjab chief minister deploys four teams with one hundred members each to clear roads off dust

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi kicked off a cleanliness drive in smog-hit Lahore on Sunday, in a bid to clear the dust off the roads as thick haze hangs heavy in the provincial capital of Punjab.

Lahore, a city that houses over 11 million residents, has been blanketed in thick haze that partially blocks the sun and shrouds streets with fog at night. The problem is aggravated during the winter season, as temperature inversion prevents a layer of warm air from rising and traps pollutants closer to the ground.

Heavy smog has forced authorities in Punjab to announce several measures, including lockdowns, school closures, changing business hours for markets, and cracking down on smoke-emitting vehicles and industries since November.

Thousands of people in Lahore, children in particular, have suffered from respiratory issues due to the smog since the onset of winter.

“Taking another step to combat smog in Lahore,” Naqvi wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“A cleanliness drive has started today, deploying four teams with 100 members each to clear the roads from dust.”


The caretaker chief minister said the initiative was aimed at improving Lahore’s air quality “without impacting traffic flow.”

The state-run Radio Pakistan said in a post that the campaign encourages citizens’ participation and emphasizes the responsibility of the community in “fostering a cleaner and greener Lahore.”

“By combining targeted actions with a commitment to minimal disruption, the government aims to set a precedent for effective and responsible governance in environmental management,” Radio Pakistan said.

Lahore topped the world’s most polluted city index several times in November, consistently having an air quality index (AQI) above 300, according to Swiss group IQAir.

The AQI is a standardized tool measuring air pollutants, serving as a crucial barometer for public health. An AQI between 101 and 200 is considered ‘unhealthy’, particularly for sensitive groups while an AQI between 201 and 300 is said to be ‘very unhealthy’ and above 300 is ‘hazardous.’