IN a refreshing bit of news, eight Pakistani nurses and midwives have been included among the Global-2020 100 Outstanding Women Nurses and Midwives. The list comprises 100 professionals from a total of 43 countries who have been recognised by global agencies including WHO, UNFPA, the International Council of Nursing and International Confederation of Midwives for their contribution to raising healthcare standards across the world. Interestingly, all eight Pakistani nurses acknowledged for their services are graduates of the Aga Khan University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. This list comes at an appropriate time; the services of healthcare workers have never been more significant in a world reeling from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. As front-line fighters against Covid-19, workers in the medical field have been greatly lauded. However, the discourse — at least in Pakistan — has revolved mostly around doctors, and not enough has been said about the nursing profession whose members are equally, if not more, exposed to Covid-19 as they carry out their duties at various public and private hospitals. Though this worldwide list of 100 best nurses comes at the conclusion of a year-long WHO campaign, it is a good effort towards drawing attention towards the significance of the profession itself.
Indeed, the ambit of services nurses provide, from specialised critical care to family planning at homes, is the bedrock of any country’s healthcare system. It is therefore unfortunate that the government has greatly neglected this profession. The Pakistan Nursing Council has failed to function as an autonomous body due to the indifference of successive federal and provincial governments. This is why very few of the approximately 160 nursing schools in the country provide adequate teaching to students, leaving them untrained and unskilled. In fact, the shortage of trained and skilled nursing staff has been one of the major issues faced by tertiary care hospitals treating critical Covid-19 patients. One hopes that the government invests in producing skilled nursing staff, thus improving the quality of healthcare services overall.
AS 2021 begins, there are few signs that New Delhi is willing to change its tried, tested and failed methods in India-held Kashmir. Yet New Delhi’s attempts to militarily subdue the Kashmiris and make them renounce their desire for freedom and dignity are bound to fail; despite the passage of over a year since India revoked the disputed region’s autonomous status, the people of IHK have yet to accept this illegal move. However, the Indian establishment continues to employ brutal methods to crush the Kashmiri spirit, as was witnessed during a dubious recent ‘encounter’.
As per reports, three youths were gunned down by Indian forces on Tuesday after they were cornered inside a home. While the occupied region’s police say two of the victims were “hardcore associates of terrorists”, the families dispute this. Among the victims were two students said to be on their way to Srinagar for tutoring.
Unfortunately, it seems that due process does not matter for much in the held region, as New Delhi’s armed enforcers are free to kill whomever they choose. The incident bears a grim resemblance to an episode that occurred last July, when three labourers were killed. Then also Indian forces had claimed weapons had been found on the victims. However, this lie was recently exposed when an Indian army officer and two others were charged with planting weapons on the bodies.
It appears that the right-wing BJP-led government in New Delhi is aping the tactics the Israelis use against the Palestinians. In occupied Palestine, too, an armed-to-the-teeth military machine uses unrestrained force against a dispossessed population fighting for its rights, often murdering children and women in the process. Yet sadly, some of the most powerful actors on the world stage shield both Israel and India against criticism of such blatant rights abuses, and instead, tout their ‘democratic’ credentials. This hypocrisy must end.