Daily Times Editorial 28 August 2019
Prime minister’s address
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the nation was reassuring but the sad thing is that the people of the area being discussed – India-held Kashmir – may not have heard it because of the communication blackout and curfew there. The address should have dedicated more time to the plight of the Kashmiris since Modi came to power in 2014. The continuous curfew and total ban on communication in the valley may trigger a tragic crisis, but the world is watching the whole saga silently. Reaffirming Pakistan’s longstanding support for eight million people’s indigenous struggle for their fundamental rights and self-determination, the prime minister saw a silver lining in Narendra Modi’s historic blunder: it has provided an opportunity to the Kashmiris to gain freedom from illegal Indian occupation.
The goal can be realised peacefully if Pakistan wins in the diplomatic arena with smart moves. In this context, the prime minister should focus more on the international audience. His address also pointed to a major shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy that there will be just one-point agenda in the near future: Kashmir. He vowed to take up the issue in the coming session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The main highlight of prime minister’s televised address was his appeal to people to come out of their homes and offices every week for half an hour and on coming Friday from noon to 12.30pm to express solidarity with the people of India-occupied Kashmir. The nation is going to show their overwhelming support to the Kashmiris on his call, but the effectiveness of playing the Kashmir card on the domestic turf remains to be seen. Since the annexation of the occupied valley by India earlier this month, the whole nation has been in a charged mood. It expects better from the government.
The Kashmir issue will haunt the Modi government – domestically and internationally. Recently, journalists raised the issue during a Modi-Trump press talk on the sidelines of the G7 summit. Though Modi dubbed it an Indo-Pak bilateral issue, Trump once again offered mediation. Modi, however, should have been grilled more on the humanitarian crisis in the valley brewing in the wake of the imposition of curfew there. Another point that needs to be brought home is the likelihood of nuclear clash between Indian and Pakistan and the initiation of another arms race in South Asia. *
Karachi garbage humour
The heaps of garbage lying unattended in Karachi have been creating political wars and good humour simultaneously. First, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and Pak Sarzameen Party Chairman Mustafa Kamal traded barbs over the bad shape of the city in the wake of rains and remains of sacrificial animals after Ediul Azha. At a charged press talk, Kamal claimed before the city government that he had the ability to purge the city of garbage utilising existing municipal revenues within 90 days. An intriguing turn came within hours of Kamal’s offer when the city mayor issued a letter to the media where he designated him as ‘Project Director Garbage on voluntary basis’ to clean the city.
“I, being Mayor of Karachi, hereby designate Syed Mustafa Kamal as Project Director Garbage on voluntary basis with immediate effect until further order,” read the letter issued by the mayor. The mayor might have issued the letter to taunt his predecessor, but much to his shock, Kamal jumped at the offer to prove himself equal to the task. He declared Akhtar his boss and called the meeting of key officials of the city government at a ground late on Monday. As expected, though, no official turned up at the open meeting, thus giving another opportunity to the ‘garbage director’ to speak to the media.
The appointment of the garbage director has given an opportunity to Federal Shipping Minister Ali Zaidi to remain elusive. The minister had launched a Clean Karachi campaign a few weeks before Eid and after a good photo-op session has not been seen on the streets.
As the Kamal-Akhtar duel is likely to go on in the future to amuse the public, the unattended garbage is not a source of joy by any means. Though the Sindh government has done a lot to flush out rainwater and get rid of the waste, it still remains far short of getting the job done. The provincial government blames the city government for the whole stinking chaos, while the mayor always complains about the shortage of funds and powers. In the tug war, solid waste keeps making the city unpleasant.
Sindh should consider the proposals put up by Kamal that the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board be abolished, resources be devolved to elected representatives at the union committee level and at least five garbage transfer stations be constructed. Meanwhile, the people of Karachi should keep reminding the prime minister about the promised Karachi package. *