Daily Times Editorial 3 October 2019

Chunian case and children safety concerns


At last the Punjab police have arrested the alleged paedophile-cum-serial killer of the children of Chunian, utilising modern crime combating techniques. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar himself announced the arrest of the alleged serial killer of four minor boys in Kasur district. The arrest was made possible after geo-fencing of 1,649 mobile phones and DNA tests of 1,543 samples. This all might have cost millions to the Punjab government but considering the gravity of the crime and the level of public anger it was all worth it. The police could have prevented the loss of some precious lives had it taken the first incident of child kidnapping back in June seriously. Later, more children went missing in August and September. Instead of waging war on the disappearance of children, the police delayed the investigation until the number rose to four and meanwhile the remains of the missing children started being discovered. At the height of tensions, the prime minister himself intervened and removed the top police officials of the district for their negligence in the matter.
The suspect in the case has a history of crime. An auto rickshaw driver for many years, he would lure children on the street and rape him. He was convicted of raping a five-year-old child in 2011. After completing the term, once out of jail, the suspect again took to his usual spree until he was arrested with the help of DNA sample testing.
Now, when the suspect has been arrested, the burden of getting him convicted falls on the prosecution department. If found guilty, the paedophile deserves the severest punishment. This world just should not have such people roaming on the streets anymore. A fair and quick trial will help soothe the wounds of deceased children’s families. The government plans to try the case in an anti-terrorism court. The case, however, should offer some lessons to law-enforcement agencies and the public at large about the security and safety of children.
The first and the foremost duty falls on parents and families to be vigilant about their children’s safety. Children should not be allowed to interact with strangers and that they should be inculcated with confidence on how to deal with suspicious strangers or even acquaintances demonstrating inappropriate moves. Schools should educate the children about how to raise the alarm when they are touched inappropriately. Most of such vile souls are known to victims. Families should be encouraged to file such cases to police. At the end, it is the police and justice system which will have to make examples out of paedophiles. *


No support to doctors’ strike


In the civilised world, a strike by doctors is considered about as abhorrent as police torture on people exercising their democratic right to protest on roads. We saw both distasteful acts on a single day in Peshawar when doctors announced a strike against the Regional and District Health Authorities Act and come to the streets, while the police resorted to a barbarian baton charge and left many doctors to be treated by their own colleagues. The best solution to the ongoing strike by doctors of the Grand Health Alliance against the imposition of the Act is for doctors to go back to their respective duties and the government to take action against police officials responsible for the violent reaction. Many doctors have also been detained. They are treating only those patients that require emergency treatment while outpatient departments, operating theaters and diagnostic departments of public hospitals across the province have been closed by GHA. They refuse to call off the strike unless the Act is withdrawn and Prime Minister’s Task Force on Health Chairman Professor Nausherwan Barki, Health Minister Hisham Inamullah Khan and superintendent of Police Zahoor Afridi are removed. On the other hand, provincial minister Shaukat Yousufzai has refused to buckle under pressure and hints at sacking the protesting doctors and bringing in replacements within days. In the war of egos of doctors and the government, the end-sufferer is the public, which has been left at the mercy of expensive private hospitals.
The government can ease the tensions by releasing the doctors and inviting the doctors for dialogue. Side by side, doctors should call off strike and resume work. The government should amend the Act, which, doctors say will privatise hospitals and put their jobs at risk. On the matter of privatisation of hospitals, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council has gone to strike multiple times. Earlier, they were away from duty in May last on the proposed formation of regional and district health authorities. Then their demand was the removal of the provincial health minister for allegedly misbehaving with a senior doctor. Before that, they struck in April last. Their counterparts in Punjab have also made their name in the strike sector. Provoked by the enforcement of the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Ordinance, 2019, they went on strike earlier this month. After finding no support from their senior doctors and civil society, they went back to work. The same course should be adopted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. *

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