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Cruel and unsafe
Sir: This is about the Karachi city government’s campaign for eliminating pie dogs. The cruel manner in which the authorities have decided to go about it has been entirely ignored by the local press. The dogs are being fed poisoned meat and sweetmeats in every town and union council by leaving the stuff in the streets they frequent. This not only poses a threat to pet dogs and cats who might happen to venture out of their homes, but also to garbage pickers and beggars who often have to compete with the animals for leftover food.
Moreover, it is an absolutely inhumane way of getting rid of pie dogs. It is also ineffective. Local governments in Pakistan have been trying for the past 50 yeas to eliminate these dogs. None of their methods have worked. Even the city government acknowledges this.
Why cannot the government try a method that has been successful in countries like India – a animal birth control programme for street dogs. In India street dogs are captured, surgically neutered, vaccinated against rabies and released in the very area they were caught from. The purpose is to have a smaller, healthier, more stable street dog population. The World Health Organisation now recognises that slaughter often produces only a short-term effect. Even the top catching rates (up to 24 percent of dog population per year) fail to have a significant impact; because where dogs are removed others soon migrate into the area to fill the ecological niche.
Sir: If the purpose of launching the Urban Transport Scheme was to spare the city some of the smoke emitted by rickety old buses and to provide the citizens a more comfortable ride, none of the objectives have been achieved.
For one thing the UTS has so few buses that they are almost always crowded and travelling by them often involves a long wait.
While some of the transporters have now started air-conditioned buses, there is hardly any cooling. This is partly due to the large number of passengers and partly because there are no curtains to block the sun. The fare collectors blame it on the transporters and the transporters on the city government, which they claim, refuses to allow curtains.
The city government’s sponsorship of the UTS scheme has resulted in tax and duty exemptions for the transporters but they seem to be paying little attention to commuters’ convenience.
Also, should not the drivers and conductors have some uniform so that one can tell them apart from others.
Abdul Aziz Khan
Sir: LK Advani, leaders of the opposition in India’s Lok Sabha and former deputy prime minister, it seems would still be heading his BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) had he not visited Pakistan and said some the things he said.
So was inviting Mr Advani to Pakistan a move calculated to alienate a staunch leader of the political right from his constituency and undermine his career?
Dr Ghayur Ayub
Sir: Many an apple that pleases the eye hides a worm. Many an enticing budget speech hides twists and gimmicks.
Private sector wages
Sir: In the budget placed before the National Assembly for the next financial year the government has promised substantial pays and pensions raises for government servants. What about others?
Omar Ayub Khan, the minister of state for finance, said the objective was to provide some relief to the salaried people. But the relief does not extend to corporate employees, leave alone those in the informal sector.
It is sometimes argued that private-sector workers are free to negotiate their wages and prices for their services in a free market. Nothing could be further from truth. Trade unions are all but extinct and they are not guaranteed old-age pensions or medical cover. Very few employers pay for a transport facility and performance incentives are so rare as to be statistically irrelevant.
When will the government start thinking of all citizens — not just its employees — as its responsibility? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights — to which Pakistan is a signatory — says: “You have the right to have good food, clothing, shelter, medical care and pension when you are sick or too old to work...”
Death of a teacher
Sir: Dr Saleem Chaudhry, the Dawood College of Engineering and Technology principal, who was murdered on March 25, was a great educationist who almost single-handed fought the corrupt political unions in our educational institutions.
I found him extremely patriotic and always worried about the future of education in Pakistan. He was a contented man. He could have made millions but chose an austere life. He was also a man of great courage, endurance and character — a true hero.
M Azam Abbas Khan
The best and the worst
Sir: Kamran Shafi, as usual, is right all the way. Very well put, sir! Hats off to you for an excellent description of the very worst in contemporary Pakistani society.
Sir: Finally we are getting signals of some flexibility on Kashmir from India. We are also getting indications of what a peaceful solution of the Kashmir issue might be. Independence and re-drawing of borders seems out of the question. So will it come down to local self-government within the two countries already administering the divided Kashmir?
This is a very crucial time. Those having a stake in the conflict will do their best (worst?) to sabotage this process. The determination of Indian and Pakistani leadership will be tested hard. We need a leadership on both sides that will not be swayed by slogans.
Sir: Muhammad Qasim, goalkeeper of the national hockey team, is under treatment in United States. On June 8, I saw a message on Geo TV saying how the citizens can donate towards his treatment. What are the Pakistan Hockey Federation and the Pakistan Sports Board doing in this regard?
An Urdu daily reported that Saadat Ullah Khan, the Punjab Police inspector general, had gracefully returned to the Punjab government the entire Rs 10 million made available for a life-saving liver-transplant his wife needed.
Why cannot the government, which willingly provided funds for the treatment of the IG’s wife, raise money for a national hero? He should not need anybody’s charity. He deserves better.
Muhammad Waseem Elahi