Daily Times Editorial 10 August 2019
International silence on Kashmir
Despite the prime minister’s impassioned tweets imploring the world to break its silence on genocide of the Kashmiris in India-held Kashmir, no capital in the world has shared Pakistan’s concerns so far. The tepid response from the international community may embolden the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi to expedite the systematic massacre of the Kashmiris – physically, politically, economically and now demographically. For over a week, Kashmiris in India-held Kashmir have been virtually cut off from the whole world because of restrictions on communication and movement of people. No one really knows what is going on in the part of the world known for centuries as paradise on earth. Recently, the Indian media was abuzz with the chilling story of a Kashmiri surgeon in Saudi Arabia who landed in New Delhi and meant to celebrate Eid with his family in Srinagar but died of a heart attack. His family was informed about the death after three days with the help of social media, civil society and the local administration of occupied Kashmir. The communication blackout has for the time being given a respite to New Delhi but once it is lifted, the reaction of Kashmiris is likely to jolt all of India. Kashmiris have kept their fight alive in the face of a heavily militarised occupation but it seems our government has not done well with the cause. In the aftermath of revocation of the autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir (occupied by India) by the Indian government, we have failed to stir capitals around the world to get due condemnation against the Modi government.
The only visible action, so far taken by Islamabad, is to downgrade diplomatic ties with India and to snap bilateral trade. Ordering the Indian high commissioner to leave Islamabad, however, may close all doors of communication between the two countries. The joint session of parliament has given full mandate to the prime minister to launch an aggressive diplomatic war to shore up international support on the matter. The only options with Pakistan are the Islamic Organisation of Cooperation, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China and European countries, where Kashmiri diaspora has a strong clout. Though India is well placed in the international community, we have no other option but to keep telling the world that the permanent solution to the Kashmir issue is the key to permanent peace in South Asia.
Culling Congo virus
As trade of sacrificial picks up ahead of Eidul Azha, the public at large must be made aware of the lurking danger of tick-borne diseases which, according to vets, are active in the months of rains. The media reports that a boy died in Karachi from Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) vouches for the fact that danger is upon us. The air filled with moisture and humidity offers a perfect atmosphere to the ticks, sticking to cattle, to grow and thrive, which often end up in the outbreak of deadly CCHF. So far, no such awareness campaign by any municipality or government department can be seen to warn the cattle owners to limit their exposure to cattle. In some major cities, desks have been set up to spray tick repellent spray to every cattle head before they are brought to the cattle market.
The deadly virus killed 16 people in Karachi alone last year, of the 40 people in all, who got infected. The news of the death of the six at the hand of the CCHF in the earlier months of the year should have been a wake-up call to the health authorities. The virus must be taken seriously because once human-to-human transmission of the virus gets under way, it spreads like a bush fire. Patients suffering from the CCHF need to be quarantined.
The CCHF is a recent phenomenon. Firs time, it was reported in Crimeain1944 and was named as Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever. In 1956, it surfaced in Congo and this way, it was renamed as Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever. The most vulnerable to ticks attacks are shepherds, cattle farm workers, slaughterhouse officials and vets. The doctors and paramedics treating the CCHF positive patients are also at the great risk of catching the disease in case caution is not practice. The animals particularly susceptible to the CCHF are both domestic and wild animals whereas birds are resistant to infection.
The CCHF is transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals or ticks and then from human to human through blood or body fluids. According to the Aga Khan University Hospital, its symptoms high grade fever, stomach pain, diarrohea, muscle aches, headache, sleeplessness, abdominal pain, jaundice, nose bleed and at the end uncontrolled bleeding.
The government needs to develop diagnosis facilities for tick-borne diseases. Before that, attention ought to be paid to controlling ticks through spraying animals with tick repellent. Plants like Akk and Moringa should be planted around cattle farms for these plants are tick killers. Many rodents and birds prey on ticks also.