Romantic fascination and poor friendly service is what had made the rail a symbol of lifeline of the country. It is neither romantically fascinating anymore nor is it able to provide the people with economical way out to reach their destinations.
Both these aspects came under discussion at the launch of Dr. Irfan Ahmed Baig’s new book “DedhSadi Ki Rail” arranged by Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) under its Civic Café` dialogue series.
While the book represents writer’s 40 years experiences of travelling in rails around the country in company of his father who worked for Pakistan Railway at different stages of its evaluation and emergence as a strategic asset of the country, the speakers of the event talked about the deterioration this important poor friendly transportation system has gone through in recent times.
Prof. Yonus Khalid said the book has beautifully captured very minor details of rail, railway tracks and life along the both sides of these tracks. “There definitely is a story that writer wants to tell here which is spread over one hundred and fifty years of Pakistan railways, as it had started on May 13th, 1861, when the first railway line was opened to the public, between Karachi andKotri, with a total distance of 105 miles” he said.
Prominent poet and writer HarisKhaleeqsaid this book rotates around a triangle of writer’s love for his father who served the railway for years, rail itself and most importantly Pakistan. “This is story of history, glory and downfall of this very important institution of the country” said HarisKhaleeq. He appreciated writer’s academic detachment or objectivity which makes it a good research document in addition to being a great literary piece of work.
Prominent writer NajamulSaqib said IrfanBaig’s book not only talks about railways importance in public life but it also traces the history of political movements and country’s development related to the life of rail and railway tracks. He said Derh Sadi ki Rail, can be a good reference document even for Railway officials if they want to know about the reasons of its downfall.
SPO Chief Executive Naseer Memon connected the contents of this book with the development paradigm of the country that focuses on snatching away the assets and opportunities from the poor. Memon left the audience with a question on why poor friendly services like railways were vanishing while number of fancy cars was increasing by the day? ,He said, all over the world State owned enterprises are alleviating poverty, but in our country state enterprises are abrogating poor people’s services.“This book reminds us of the importance of railway being not only an effective and cheap source of transportation but also a beautiful picture of country’s landscape” said Naseer.
Introducing the audience and the program, SPO Chief of Programs Zafar Zeeshan said the Civic Café is a space for all to discuss contemporary issues and developments. The basic idea behind the Civic Café is to strengthen the role of civil society through dialogue, and to provide space for discussion on various topics, building new relationships, and strengthening old ones. The participants of this forum are not to be from one particular group, class or school of thought, rather they hail from different walks of life.