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TTP plans to attack aid workers
Sir: What a pity that these disgraceful criminals want to assault those workers who are working only for a humane cause! The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has no respect for human life or even for the people suffering due to the floods. Have these criminals already not done enough to add to the misery of Pakistanis?
Brutality beyond imagination — I
Sir: The torture seen in Sialkot is not recent. Although two thieves in Karachi were burnt alive sometime back, this culture of torment has been there for the last 30-40 years. Unfortunately, most intellectuals and the media tried to justify instead of realising the dire consequences of inhuman extra-judicial murders. It was the graphic nature of the video that was noticed by the chief justice and eventually politicians started to realise the brutal nature of the mob mentality or vigilantism. Unfortunately, our religious leadership is as guilty as others because in many cases either they instigated it, or never dealt with it in the way they do with other issues.
This phenomenon is a natural outcome of other brutal activities we conduct on a daily basis: beheadings, bombings, acid throwing, honour killings and so on. A few months ago, a young couple was brutally killed in the Multan area. Both were medical doctors and were serving the poor community there. They were killed mercilessly, and even though the police was informed in advance about the danger because of their being Ahmedis, no action was taken. After the killing, no public condemnation, not a single arrest was made even after 10 months.
We need justice. For that we need to change our mentality, condemn injustice in every form, and give strict punishment for mob and vigilant mentality. No ifs or buts. Every extra-judicial murder and vandalism should get tough punishment, no matter if it is religiously, politically, ethnically, or linguistically motivated. Second, we need to teach the value and importance of human life in our schools. Until and unless you stop perpetuating different ‘values’ for different individuals, you cannot put this genie back into the bottle.
Brutality beyond imagination — II
Sir: This is a genuine plea to accelerate the process of justice for the victims of Sialkot. It can be done by publishing relevant material and refraining from cheap propaganda that leaves us more wounded. It is yet another tragedy befalling yet another innocent common man. Pakistan and its people have become akin to those numb frustrated souls who have succumbed to living in denial and remaining happy. The difference between black and white disappeared long ago, but now even our soul and conscience has been extinguished. And when that happens, nations fall drastically. History is a word to be taken notice of. I request the concerned authorities to punish the culprits. As a lawyer, I will do my part as you should do yours.
The Flood Commission
Sir: The government has dropped the idea of forming a new flood commission. The prime minister and Nawaz Sharif had announced in a joint press conference the formation of a neutral commission to oversee the operation of relief rehabilitation work in the flood-affected areas. Why did the prime minister agree with the PML-N chief in the presence of an already existing National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) and its executing agency National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)? It should be the responsibility of NDMC and NDMA to produce pre-emptive strategies and warnings in time. People have the right to know what NDMA had been doing since its formation in 2005. Moreover, what role has the Flood Control Commission (FFC) played in controlling the floods? Since its establishment, the FFC has cost us Rs 88 billion. What is the use of having such a body that has failed miserably to justify its existence?
ENGR S T HUSSAIN
Lack of common societal goals
Sir: This is with reference to Dr Manzur Ejaz’s article ‘Lack of common societal goals’ (Daily Times, August 25, 2010). People may have conflicting interests, but they should have an unshakeable belief in living together. That is what makes a state. You cannot tell who should stand for what societal goals, but you can insist that the means and ways one employs should not be violent. The second condition, that is equally necessary, is justice, where the collective wisdom of society finds expression. Democracy is the final condition that has to be met: you have to compete with the world in cutting down the cost of defence.
Sir: I want to draw the attention of the concerned authorities towards embezzlement in provision of aid from national and international organisations. The countrymen are mourning their losses but are eager to help; national and international communities are sending millions of dollars to soothe the pain of the flood victims, and many people are volunteering to ensure the transparency of the relief procedure.
But I was flabbergasted when I heard that aid items from the UN had been sold openly in Karachi. One of my relatives saw an individual eating biscuits that had a seal of the UN flood relief programme. I was shocked more when a police official was caught taking away aid from the flood victims. We must help the flood affectees and the government needs to ensure that the aid reaches the deserving people.
S HASSAN NAQVI
Help the flood-hit journalists
Sir: The Pakistani floods are biblical in scale. The sheer number of people affected — 20 million — is greater than the numbers of people affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.
As with other communities, the floods have affected hundreds of journalists across Pakistan, with about 230 displaced after their houses were washed away or badly damaged.
Most of these journalists — particularly those in the suburban districts rather than the major cities — have had to suspend work because of the displacement, or are severely hampered in their work due to lack of support for their rehabilitation.
At a time when the need for information is the greatest, the limitation on the performance and output of the journalists caused by the floods compounds the problem. The dilemma is that unless the journalists themselves are rid of their flood-caused encumbrances, they cannot perform their basic functions professionally and inform the people.
In view of this, it would be an enormously good thing for international organisations, governments and donors to support the most vulnerable of journalists in Pakistan affected by the floods either financially or materially, and to restore the unravelling access to humanitarian information in the dozens of flood affected districts.
The apex body of the journalists, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), has researched and compiled a list of journalists certifiably seriously affected by the floods. Any help should focus on these journalists so that they can get back to their jobs and keep the citizens informed.
India bearing gifts — I
Sir: This is in reference to the article ‘India bearing gifts’ by Zafar Hilaly (Daily Times, August 27, 2010). In India we are fully aware of the tragedy faced by Pakistan, and Pakistan is pleased to accept our condolences for the bereaved. The UN had put out an appeal for 40 utility helicopters. We have 400 utility helicopters at our disposal. But with people like Zafar Hilaly vitiating the atmosphere, I do not think anybody would even extend their hands to help.
I leave off with a wonderful quote by M J Akbar whom Mr Hilaly was criticising: “The idea of India is more beautiful than the Indians themselves and the people of Pakistan are more beautiful than the idea of Pakistan.”
SANJITH K MENON
India bearing gifts — II
Sir: Ambassador Zafar Hilaly should have indicated what the price of his satisfaction was. Would he have written differently had India offered $ 15 million? Or would he have asked for 20?
I also wish people of his age would stop shedding tears over the condition of Indian Muslims. Let the younger people get on with their new lives. His generation and mine ensured the safety and prosperity of the majority populations of Muslims in British India at the cost of the minority populations. Any tears now would be shameful even for a crocodile. No matter how hard-pressed, no Indian Muslim would now wish to migrate to Pakistan. In fact, a number of Muslims from Bangladesh have come into India to find new lives. Not because India is a safe haven from Muslims but because it provides these immigrants more job opportunities than they presently find at home, just as a whole host of Indian Muslims find jobs in the Middle East.
C M NAIM
India bearing gifts — III
Sir: It is truly cynical of Mr Hilaly to question Mr M J Akbar’s intellectual honesty by insinuating that Mr Akbar’s unfavourable opinion about Pakistan is expressed under duress of being a Muslim in India.
He also chose to ignore a rather paddy sum of $ 1.5 million in cash and 7.5 million in goods from China in this context who, according to the latest opinion poll, is Pakistan’s best friend. The New York Times reported this in a recent editorial and exhorted China to step up to the plate, to use baseball jargon.
Meaning of independence
Sir: This is with reference to Dr Irfan Zafar’s letter ‘What independence?’ (Daily Times, August 20, 2010). I am afraid that he has misinterpreted the true meaning of independence. Although I completely agree with the issues pointed out like food adulteration, safety of citizens, amassing wealth in a few hands, etc, I am afraid that the meaning of independence is above these issues and cannot be linked to them. The survivors of the freedom movement of 1947 clearly say that if these issues are the price we are paying for being an independent, sovereign nation then it is worth it and a good bargain. I believe independence meant living as a proud Muslim nation and not a slave to the British.
Today, Pakistan is what it is, an independent nation. Our young generation talks about their own country where they are in a majority. The problems mentioned by Dr Zafar are present in every third world country. These issues are micro and should not be used to interpret independence because independence is a much bigger concept.
Sindh’s flood relief camps
Sir: The flood has rooted out more than 30 percent of the population in 17 districts out of a total 23 districts of Sindh, whereas the ruination because of the flood continues unabated. The Sindh government has set up numerous flood relief camps but, unfortunately, they are in a dilapidated condition because of the large number of affected people and lack of basic amenities and health facilities. As per a press report, a group of female teachers went to a flood relief camp to start classes for children. They were shocked to see that almost all the children were hungry for the last two days. Thousands of people, particularly children, are suffering from various diseases and most of them are dying daily due to acute shortage of medical and other facilities. Incidents of looting these people is another tragedy. It seems that the Sindh government has been overwhelmed by the number of affected people and cannot provide sufficient medical facilities and ensure standardised food. I request the prime minister to intervene in order to save precious lives by providing them all the necessary facilities
MOHAMMAD KHAN SIAL
Sir: This is in reference to Ali K Chishti’s ‘Institutional radicalisation’ (Daily Times, August 25, 2010). Once the monopoly over the societal discourse is handed over to the religious establishment, they would be the ones who would decide the priorities as well. If seen through the maulanas’ eyes, the cardinal social ‘evils’ in Pakistan are obscenity and consumption of alcohol. But issues like rampant corruption, gender/religious discrimination and illiteracy do not appear anywhere on their radar screens and for good reason; most of these social ills are actually patronised by religious organisations. The article is an eye-opener for all Pakistanis, who have gotten used to observing this dreadful cactus. Indeed, a de-radicalisation has to begin.