Daily Times Editorial 7 November 2019
Electric vehicles on Pakistani roads?
In a major development the federal cabinet has approved the much-awaited national Electric Vehicles (EV) policy eyeing the conversion of 30 per cent of four- and three-wheelers in the country into electric vehicles in the coming years. This policy may result in increase in the prices of vehicles, which have already gone up manifold in recent months, causing the worst ever slowdown in vehicle sales. The EV policy, however, is a blessing in disguise as the local car manufacturing sector has eagerly been awaiting its approval. According to Prime Minister’s Adviser on Environment Amin Aslam, manufacturers have already completed 90 per cent of the work. If this is indeed the case, EVs could be seen on the roads in a matter of months.
The introduction of EV technology is the good news for Pakistan. Not only will this cut the import bill of POL, it will also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases as EVs are regarded as environment friendly. Aslam said that the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in total volume of environmental pollution was 20 per cent in developed countries but in Pakistan it was almost the double. If EVs also grab the public transport sector, it can provide cheap transportation as their cost of running is much lower than that of plying vehicles on petrol, diesel and CNG.
Pakistan has been lagging behind in EVs as India rolled out its first fleet last October, while China has been running electric-driven vehicles for many years. The EV industry, given its assured success, is likely to create new jobs in the country. Similarly, the planned conversion of CNG stations into EV charging stations will offer the easy availability of battery charging facilities to motorists without much investment.
The future lies with EVs and the world is phasing out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles because of its environmental hazards and costly fuel issues. The EV industry, however, has to overcome the costly prices of batteries. Similarly, batteries’ range capacity is still a big issue. A battery must have sufficient energy to reach a charging point.
State of Pakistan’s childre
An alarming high number of children died in Pakistan in 2018, which reflects our lack of empathy towards innocent lives. According to the United Nations report on State of the World’s Children for 2019, a study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), 409,000 under-five-year-old deaths were recorded in Pakistan in 2018. The grim figure reflects government’s and society’s failure to stop or minimise these preventable deaths. Other than deaths, a huge number is malnourished, stunted and underfed. The spike in children’s death is not a Pakistan specific issue. In fact, children under-five in the whole South Asian region are not safe. The report also mentions 882,000 under-five deaths in India and 74,000 in Afghanistan in 2018. Up to 38 per cent of the under-five children in India and Pakistan are stunted, thanks to both countries’ obsession with firearms and spending huge suns on arsenals instead of healthcare and children’s safety. South Asia tops the 2018 malnutrition map of the world, leaving children stunted, wasted or overweight. Unicef consolidated figures mark the entire South Asia region ‘red’ as 49.9 per cent in the region are not growing well.
The chapter dedicated to Pakistan in the study states that of country’s 212.228 million population, at least 87.938 million is under 18 and 27 million under five. In 2018, 5.999 million babies were born. Over the years, under-five mortality rate has gone down, but given the huge population, the number is strikingly high. In 1990, under-five mortality rate per 1,000 live births was 139, 112 in 2000, and 69 in 2018. Despite registering a considerable reduction in mortality rate, more work needs to be done to prevent such deaths. The annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality was 2.7 per cent in 2018.
This is the war we cannot afford to lose. Mortality and malnutrition crises can be defeated by the joint efforts of governments, donors, the private sector, families and businesses. Families should be educated about pre-, and post-pregnancy care. Families should be empowered to demand more nutritious food to curtail the demand of unhealthy intake. The government should ensure adequate supplies of health, water and sanitation, education and social protection to improve nutrition scales for all children. Appetite for a healthy society should never die out. *