Two female college students in Jhelum were found to have been playing the dangerous Blue Whale challenge, a game that encourages self-harm and eventual suicide among its victims, after it emerged that they had inflicted injuries on their arms with a blade.
The two girls, who were students of grade 11 and 12 at Government Girls Degree College Pind Dadan Khan in Jhelum, were expelled from the college after the revelation, officials told DawnNews.
Raheela Chandni, the college principal, called the students' parents to explain the situation after tip-off from a third student who discovered that the girls had been playing the game.
The principal told DawnNews that she decided to expel the two girls after talking to their parents so as to "prevent other students of the college from being influenced" by the phenomenon.
One of the two girls had reached level 18 of the game, while the other was playing level 22. Both had made carvings on their arms using a sharp-edged tool.
What is Blue Whale?
The Blue Whale challenge is an online game in which the administrator (also known as the curator) sets challenges and tasks for the player over a 50-day period. Players are encouraged to perform acts of self-harm, such as carving the outline of a blue whale on their arms with a razor and then submitting the photo to the curator as proof, and other activities aimed at psychologically destabilising the target and causing him or her to become increasingly socially isolated.
Some challenges require you to go an entire day without talking to anyone, and others require you to wake up at odd hours and watch disturbing videos sent you by the curator.
While tasks vary from curator to curator, the final task is always the same: suicide. Indeed, the name of the game is said to refer to the tendency of whales to beach themselves for unknown reasons, thus in effect committing suicide.
While there has been anecdotal evidence and rumours that the game has also made its way to Pakistan, there have recently also been reports in the media to that effect.
Dr Imran, a psychiatrist at Peshawar’s Khyber Teaching Hospital, earlier claimed that two young men from Mardan approached him for treatment after suffering depression while attempting to complete the challenge.
They were the lucky ones because, as Dr Khan related, they realised that the game would harm them, so they decided to see a doctor. It is the emotionally vulnerable and socially isolated who are most at risk, and these are the people the game targets.
Pakistan's Mission to the United Nations (UN), responding on Monday to a photograph mix-up made earlier by Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, accused India of hiding behind a picture to divert the world's attention from the situation on the ground in India-held Kashmir (IHK).
One of the photographs shown by Lodhi, however, stirred controversy when observers pointed out it was a picture of a Palestinian girl injured by strikes in Gaza, taken by photographer Heidi Levine in 2014.
Indian media outlets were quick to point out that Lodhi had erred, and the diplomat came under fire on social media for the blunder.
The Indian mission to the UN, exercising its right of reply, lambasted Lodhi for "callously holding a picture of an injured girl", and accused her of seeking to divert attention from "Pakistan's role as the hub of global terrorism".
Lodhi "misled this assembly by displaying this picture to spread falsehoods about India, a fake picture to push a completely false narrative," an Indian diplomat alleged. She went on to share a photograph of an Indian soldier allegedly killed by militants in held Kashmir's Shopian district.
The Pakistani representative claimed the Indian representative had "once again chosen to divert the attention of the international community from the real issue ─ the real issue of human life, of human eyes, of children and infants blinded forever, of women raped and elderly killed every day by the reign of brutality unleashed by occupation forces in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir."
"The real issue is of Security Council resolutions, which India refuses to implement," the Pakistani representative said.
"No matter how many times you repeat a lie, it does not and cannot hide the truth. Raking up debate on pictures has backfired," he maintained.
"India, who kills and tortures innocent Kashmiris, is seeking to hide behind a photograph," he claimed, adding: "Indian state terrorism has been amply documented by successive human rights reports from various international organisations. There are thousands of those pictures for everyone to see."
"India’s diversionary tactics will not change the situation on ground. It is the situation on ground that India has to answer for. It is its war crimes that India has to answer for. It is the call for legality, morality and conscience that it has to answer for," he asserted.
The Pakistani representative went on to accuse Indian leaders of "pursuing a policy of state sponsorship of terrorism, funding and arming terrorist organisations like the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and the Jamaatul Ahrar to launch terror attacks inside Pakistan" as part of its strategy to become "a regional hegemon".
"India is churning out operatives of mayhem from its factories of terror," he said. "Operatives like Commander Jadhav, who are spreading terror and violence across Pakistan. We caught Jadhav red-handed, we will catch others as well and bring them to justice," he said.
Although the photograph shown by Ambassador Lodhi does appear to be an old photograph of a girl in Gaza, the use of pellet guns by Indian forces against Kashmiris has been criticised on the record by rights organisations such as Amnesty International.
Amnesty has called on India to immediately ban the use of shotguns by government forces in suppressing anti-India protests in IHK.
It has also criticised Indian authorities for failing to support those who have been injured and disabled by the weapons.
Amnesty's India chapter head Aakar Patel said earlier this month: "Authorities claim the pellet shotgun is not lethal, but the injuries and deaths caused by this cruel weapon bear testimony to how dangerous, inaccurate and indiscriminate it is. There is no proper way to use pellet-firing shotguns."
Patel said shotguns had caused immense suffering in Kashmir and are not used anywhere else in India.
"This weapon has only been reserved for Kashmiris," he had noted. "It is irresponsible of authorities to continue the use of these shotguns despite being aware of the damage they do."
The group issued a report, ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns’, which profiles 88 people whose eyesight was damaged by metal pellets fired by Indian forces between 2014 and 2017, showcasing what it called the "human cost of the [Indian] government’s heavy-handed crackdown in [India-held] Kashmir". The report includes the stories of 14 female victims who were wounded inside their homes.
"These inherently inaccurate shotguns fire hundreds of metal pellets which spread over a wide area," the report said.
It further said pellets alone have killed at least 14 people in a little more than a year since then.
"Authorities have a duty to maintain public order, but using pellet shotguns is not the solution," Patel said.
"Security forces must address stone-throwing or other violence by protesters by means that allow for better targeting or more control over the harm caused."
To have a parent support the artistic endeavours of their children is nothing short of a blessing in a conformist society like Pakistan's ─ one in which a large majority actively discourages critical thinking, clips freedom of thought and moderates choices in its pursuit of convention.
And that is what the creators of The Grid Club ─ a newly opened community centre ─ aim to counter.
Known as The Grid, the community centre is located in a bustling, hip and happening part of Defence, an area of the Karachi associated with wealth and a liberal demographic ─ pul ke uss par (on the other side of the bridge) as they say. It has a library, an art gallery and a performance venue, where artists, writers, musicians and all liberal arts enthusiasts can band together to create, perform and share.
'The Grid is a madrassah for the left'
"The right has opened so many madrassahs all over the city and they're thriving," Syed Aftab Shah, the man behind The Grid told Images, saying that in Pakistan, creativity and artistic expressions ─ be it in the form of painting, poetry, music ─ are socially regulated, structurally censored and most of the times, systematically killed.
"I saw the need for a safe space where dissent would be welcomed and where people could express themselves without fear of backlash," Shah said. "We at The Grid want it to become a madrassah for the left, a safe haven for those who are religiously in touch with their creative side."
The founders ─ Shah and his childhood buddy Abid Baloch ─ are both millennials in their late 20s, working as professionals in the field of mental health and real estate, respectively. For them, The Grid is a place to help artists hone their talents, learn new skills and coach them in establishing passions as a career.
'A career in the arts is not impractical'
"One of the biggest reasons young men and women abandon art as a career option is because they are told they cannot make money from it or sustain themselves and their families," Shah said.
At The Grid, they vociferously campaign against conventional wisdom that dictates pursuing the arts and music as a profession is impractical and unrealistic.
"The main crux of The Grid is to facilitate the artist community," Shah said. "We want to help artists, the creatives, to establish themselves so they can earn a living from it ─ if money is what is stopping them," he added, saying the space can be used by anyone to launch their work, grow and network, exchange ideas and generate an income.
'We need to look after our musicians, our artists, our youth'
Shah has set up an internship programme at The Grid where he works with high school and university students to help them in their creative pursuits, polish their talents, develop soft skills and become healthy, productive adults.
"The state often says the country's future depends on our youth, that it is Pakistan's strength. But at the same time, it has done little to take care of it," he said, adding the coming generation is deteriorating, with many adolescents and young adults turning to hard drugs, resorting to aggression and expressing pent up emotions in harmful ways.
In that sense, an internship at The Grid aims to provide students a platform for personal and professional growth. Although they have the freedom to design their internship, students must complete the tasks assigned to them.
"On events, interns are asked to wait tables, take orders from patrons and serve them," Shah said. "I want to teach the youth that no job is too small; they must to learn to take orders and deliver, be it cleaning a washroom or performing an administrative duty."
"This is to break a trend, I have seen how bureaucrats, or even the 'normal' people, refer to artists. They speak of them in derogatory ways, which is wrong and also very hypocritical," he said.
"On the one hand, you ask them to sing Mujhe Dushman ke Bachon ko Parhana Hai, and on the other hand, you call them marasi," Shah said. "We need to realise the value of our artists as they are the ones who help us present a positive image of Pakistan."
Starting October, The Grid will also be holding different classes where students can learn a new skill such as classical singing and/or polish the ones they have already acquired, as well as gain beginner's knowledge in various subjects in the liberal arts field such as philosophy and psychology.
Additionally, there will be a cut-off fee so teachers cannot charge a hefty amount. "Art is for everyone, not just a privileged few who can afford it," Shah said.
'We want the artist community to take ownership of The Grid'
The Grid opened for the public over a month ago. A project in its initial stages, the financial burden to run the place has been largely endured by the owners and donors.
"A lot of people told me a place like The Grid is more needed in areas like North Nazimabad, Jauhar, Lyari and others where there is a large creative community without resources and access to such platforms," Shah added. "However, sustaining a place like this in Defence is extremely tough as rent and utility costs are high."
"We want to see if The Grid can sustain itself via crowdfunding and support of the artist community," he added.
"There is no one real owner of The Grid," he added. "We hope the artist community and those benefiting from the space take ownership of The Grid and help in keeping it going," Shah further said.
Currently, The Grid offers a simple menu, offering basic (but yummy!) items such as chicken-filled paratha and doodh-patti. Patrons can also play board games, Foosball, pool and Playstation for a small cost. They also rent out the venue to NGOs as well as for-profit organisations.
"However, our approach to not-for-profit organisations is completely different from collaborations with for-profit corporations," Shah said.
In addition, The Grid also has different paid memberships available with various discounts and benefits, though artists, writers and musicians get the best deal.
"I am discriminatory towards them," Shah added, with a chortle.
'The Grid is an on-going experiment'
No interior designer was hired to decorate The Grid, Shah tells Images. "There is a lot going on on the walls; the art and decoration you see is a self-reflection of all the people who helped us with the creative process."
The tennis player recently made an appearance on popular Indian chat show No Filter Neha, in which she shared fun facts about herself, like her guilty pleasure being an Indian TV soap and that while she is not huge on parties, she was once asked to leave a hotel room because of partying too much.
"I don't drink or smoke or do anything so people would find my parties too boring... But this was an after party for when I had become number one, and there were many people and it was a huge celebration. But then at 5 am they came to us and said we were being too loud and that we should leave. We were like, but we’ve paid for the room. It was 6 am. I became number one in the world, come on, I deserve that kind of a party. But then we left."
Sania also talked quite a bit about her husband Shoaib Malik and revealed that he is as crazy as she is, but many assume him to be the sober one.
"We didn't date that long. He got to know me pretty well. But he's a chupa rustam! I got to know about his wild side much later after we were married and I was like 'Phew'! He may look all sweet and adorable but he can definitely have a crazy time."
The tennis star was also asked to give her cricketer hubby some love advice, to which she said, "He should express more in words. I know he loves me but he should not take me for granted. Sometimes it's nice to show it. We shouldn't think 'oh they know we love them so that's good'. He should let me know that he loves me."
She also gave herself some advice, saying, "I need to be less possessive. I’m not insecure, I am possessive. There is a big difference. I would love to be a better communicator. Shoaib is better at communication and I feel like I sometimes shut myself off, I want to change that."
This isn't the first time Sania's advised on love. The pro player revealed how she is always urging her actor bestie Parineeti Chopra to find love.
"Buddy, let’s just find you a guy. But she’s like nahi, she’s a little choosy I think. So she doesn’t want to be with actors, which she's also said on one of the shows. She doesn’t have that Bollywood mindset. So I just tell her ‘please love!"
The episode was full of laughs and awws. We laughed but we awwed more.
LAHORE: A number of PML-N leaders in Punjab believe that Nawaz Sharif has ‘smartly deprived’ his younger brother of an opportunity to become prime minister in this tenure of the party and at the same time shattered the dreams of his nephew (Hamza) to take up the reins in Punjab.
According to them, Shahabaz has missed or made to miss a “golden opportunity” to succeed his elder brother as there is no guarantee he will make it to Islamabad to don the premier’s cap in 2018 in case the PML-N wins the election as more players from the elder Sharif family may be in the race for the top slot.
Nawaz’s wife Kalsoom may be there if his daughter, Maryam, gets entangled in the accountability process till 2018 election, they say.
“There will certainly be many a slip between cup and lip (prime ministership) for Shahabaz in 2018. He has either failed to convince his elder brother or the latter played smart politics to keep him in Punjab,” a PML-N leader who is close to Shahbaz told Dawn on Friday.
“Perhaps Shahbaz missed the golden chance of becoming premier. Who knows about 2018 election’s outcome and family politics then,” he adds.
Another leader said: “Nawaz played excellent family politics. First he announced Shahbaz his successor. Later a campaign within the PML-N was built that Shahbaz’s absence from Punjab would be disastrous for the party.”
According to him, Shahbaz had tried his best to convince Nawaz not to worry about Punjab and leave it to his son (Hamza). To consolidate his case, Shahbaz managed to send a request to him (Nawaz) from more than 300 PML-N MPAs from Punjab, endorsing father in the centre and son in Punjab.
“Once the decision was conveyed to Shahbaz, he asked his confidant Rana Sanaullah to tell the media that how most party members wanted him in Punjab. It was only a face saving for Shahbaz.”
A federal minister told Dawn that the decision to ‘retain’ Shahbaz had been finalised. “The extended cabinet of Mr Abbasi is a proof of it,” he said, adding the current arrangement suited the leadership as Nawaz Sharif would see matters in the Centre and Shahbaz Sharif in Punjab.
A mere “official” announcement is left from the PML-N about withdrawing Shahbaz from the NA-120 race. Nawaz had announced after his disqualification by the Supreme Court that his younger brother would be prime minister after an interim arrangement of 45 days for which Mr Abbasi was selected.
Some federal ministers including Khawaja Asif and Khurram Dastgir have already confirmed that the party wants Shahbaz in Punjab which is a stronghold of PML-N. “Since Shahbaz has good equation with all MPAs in Punjab and all ongoing development projects are on his finger tips, a larger section of the party is of the view that he should continue delivering in Punjab,” Dastgir told a private TV channel.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said: “The decision that Shahbaz Sharif will continue serving in Punjab is almost certain.”
Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told Dawn on Friday that the parliamentary party headed by Nawaz Sharif was authorised to announce reversal of its earlier decision (to nominate Shahbaz for prime minister’s slot).
Mr Khan however denied any differences in the Sharif brothers saying the crisis had even further united them and Shahbaz would follow his elder brother’s instructions.
محکمہ صحت پنجاب کے کریک ڈاون کے باوجود لاہور میں ینگ ڈاکٹرز ایسوسی ایشن کی ہڑتال پانچویں روز بھی جاری ہے ۔گزشتہ روز صوبائی محکمہ صحت نے ہڑتالی ڈاکٹرز کے خلاف کارروائی کا آغاز کرتے ہوئے 8 ینگ ڈاکٹرز کو فارغ کیا جب کہ سرکاری اسپتالوں کی انتظامیہ کو بھی ہڑتالی اور غیر حاضری ڈاکٹروں کے خلاف سخت ایکشن لینے کی ہدایت کی گئی ہے۔محکمہ صحت کے ایکشن کے باوجودہفتہ کولاہور سمیت پنجاب کے دیگرشہروں میں ینگ ڈاکٹرز کی ہڑتال جاری ہے جس کے باعث مریض شدید پریشانی کا شکار رہیں۔لاہور کے جناح اسپتال میں مریض کا علاج نہ ہونے کے خلاف لواحقین نے احتجاج بھی کیا جب کہ مریض کے لواحقین کی ڈاکٹروں اور اسپتال کے عملے سے تلخ کلامی ہوئی۔مریض کے لواحقین نے ڈاکٹروں کے رویئے کے خلاف پولیس کو اطلاع دی۔