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Tragic deaths of polio workers
Sir: The tragic deaths of four lady health workers in Karachi is probably one of the most saddening incidents to happen in this country in recent memory. Yes, we suffered through the tragedy of the Malala episode and now we witness this. Pakistan and its countrymen are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to showing the world the very worst in humanity. These women — and one man, which brings the total to five in all — were only striving to give Pakistan’s children a chance, trying to save them from suffering a disease as debilitating as polio.
Anyone who can shed the blood of humanitarian workers is no less than a monster. The Taliban are monsters most vile. They spare no one, from schoolchildren to compassionate helpers of humanity.
Countering the rise of the right
Sir: The murders of the anti-polio drive staff in Karachi are a matter of grave concern for everyone with a heart in their chest. It is no less than a tragedy that those who dedicated themselves to see the future generations of Pakistan polio-free have become victims of narrow-mindedness. Until recently, such incidents were confined to relatively remote and lesser educated areas of Pakistan but this detestable trend has now manifested itself in the largest Pakistani metropolis. The killings must be condemned and should serve as a wakeup call to all educated, moderate forces in Karachi and beyond. We all know about the ideological tug of war between the right and left in the city; this is a challenge for the forces of moderation. The timing of these incidents is also important. We all know that the country is heading towards elections and Karachi, due to its cultural and economic significance, could well be a battleground for ideological dominance between the rival forces of the right and left.
By looking at the incidents of the recent past we can easily see the rising influence of orthodoxy in a city that has long been dominated by a traditional urban culture mixed with an accommodating version of Islam. Any blend of such a strict form of religion coupled with conservative cultural values would certainly be in direct confrontation with the mainstream, welcoming nature of the city. All one can hope to see is the alliance of the forces of the left to counter the rising influence of the right in gaining ground in the upcoming elections. One hopes that sanity prevails on all sides and the city is made safe again.
MALIK ATIF MAHMOOD MAJOKA
A floating fence
Sir: This is with reference to a report published in The Hindustan Times stating that India would soon erect a ‘floating fence’ anchored by submerged metallic meshes along the disputed Sir Creek border area with Pakistan. Sir Creek is a 96 km strip of water that stands disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. The creek, which opens up into the Arabian Sea, divides the Kutch region of the Indian state of Gujarat from the Sindh province of Pakistan. Reportedly, two Indian agencies, National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) and the Central Public Works Department have started ‘gabion box’ fencing the area, which will consist of all-weather wires and poles. It is important to mention that Sir Creek is a disputed area, thus any unilateral step would infuriate the real claimant of the Creek — Pakistan. Pakistan and India have a history of failed dialogue due to the intransigence of the Indian leadership. India and Pakistan are continuously in talks with regards to the maritime boundary dispute in this area. India’s act of erecting a floating fence in Sir Creek can prove to be counter-productive. It will negate the spirit of confidence building measures and efforts to resolve disputes through dialogue.
The energy catastrophe
Sir: The energy crisis is escalating every day; if we keep consuming our natural resources like we are doing today, we will consume everything in the next 50 to 100 years, natural resources that our earth took millions of years to establish. There is much that can be done for the conservation of our natural resources for future generations; the biodiversity of our earth is exclusively affected by human activity. Despite organising several seminars and UN conferences on the issue, we cannot determine what to do and how to resolve the massive consumption of natural resources throughout the world. Due to its increasing population, Pakistan also faces several social and economic issues within its territory. One of them is the energy crisis. Load shedding, shortage in gas supplies and increasing petrol prices are all too common. With the passage of time, these problems are growing and causing mounting unrest among the citizens.
Pakistan is cited as one of the highest populated countries in the world. Therefore we consume more energy than we ever did in the past. Our energy needs are increasing with ongoing development in various fields such as the agricultural sector and advances in technology, which have given people a more luxurious lifestyle. The standard of living in Pakistan has really improved with people using more electrical and mechanical devices. Our energy production is not sufficient to fulfil our requirements. There are several institutions in Pakistan that are working to overcome the energy crisis but zero improvement can be seen. The government is a failure when it comes to setting up any strategy and bringing in any mega plan to cope with the energy calamity. If this is not handled, one should expect massive hurdles in the further development of Pakistan.
NOOR MUHAMMAD TALPUR
An alternative to the PPP
Sir: The prevailing PPP leadership has provided an opportunity to the PML-F to launch itself in a manner that attracts the masses who feel betrayed by the PPP government since the day the PPP-MQM coalition government tabled the Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance (SPLGO) in the Sindh Assembly and got it passed hurriedly. The arrogant PPP did not pay attention to public resentment nor responded to any political party opposing the bill. In the meantime, Pir Pagara appeared as a guiding voice in Sindh, raising hope for the downtrodden masses of Sindh. His patriotic stand, vision, attitude and dealings with recently erupted political affairs earned for him a leadership role. Thus, the genial Pir Pagara received a consensus to lead all the parties who were struggling against the dual local government system Act in particular and were willing to form a grand alliance against the PPP in Sindh before the upcoming elections.
The huge PML-F public gathering of December 14 speaks volumes for its success. The security of the jalsa was carried out by 7,000 devotees of Pir Sahib. Heavy generators were hired instead of stealing electricity, unlike other political rallies. The ground was thoroughly levelled and divided into portions. Even latrines had been constructed for public use. This giant rally proved successful in sending multiple messages to the government and its allies regarding the rejection of the dual local government system and served as food for thought for the MQM — it was quite an awakening. Pir Sahib has plenty of challenges ahead of him and hence some indispensable questions arise. Will Pir Sahib succeed in creating a substitute to the PPP to provide people with an alternative when it comes time to cast votes? Will he and his allies reach the masses to convince them properly? Will he and his allies be able to convince the common man to pull popular support away from the usual suspects?
It must be remembered that massive public gatherings are not the sole guarantee for acquiring a mandate for the formation of a government. The people have been pushed into the energy crisis and basic needs such as education, healthcare and financial security are not provided to them. Unemployment is rampant and corruption is at its peak. The existing rulers have increased deprivation, multiplied frustration and have allowed lawlessness to flourish — Karachi is a prime example. To add to this misery, Sindh was divided into the dual local government system under the guise of the SPLGA. All of Sindh is eagerly awaiting a true statesman who can bring some glory back to the province. Consequently, Sindhis have cast their eyes upon Pir Pagara.
Pir Sahib has the resources to mobilise Sindh. This is not a hard nut to crack.
NAWAB ALI RAHOO