Dawn Editorial 26th May 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate change ministry is that this is merely the beginning. This wave, set to last until May 30, will be followed by two more in June, intensifying an already dire situation. Temperatures are expected to soar 5°C to 6°C above normal, with the second heatwave occurring from June 7-8 and the third in the last week of the month. Unsustainable environmental practices have contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves. These harsh conditions not only threaten human lives, they also accelerate glacier melt and heighten the risk of forest fires. The government, recognising the gravity of the situation, has taken several measures. Comprehensive guidelines and early warnings have been disseminated, aiming to prevent casualties similar to the catastrophic 2015 heatwave. Public awareness drives are ongoing to educate people about health risks and necessary precautions. Additionally, the NDMA is coordinating with provincial departments to ensure timely responses to natural disasters.

These efforts, while commendable, must be bolstered. The authorities must prioritise expanding green cover through aggressive reforestation, crucial for mitigating the long-term impact of climate change. Boosting urban infrastructure to better withstand extreme heat and ensuring uninterrupted water and electricity supply during peak heat periods are imperative. There is also an urgent need to enhance disaster management capabilities. Developing and promoting the NDMA’s mobile application for real-time alerts and advisories can significantly improve public preparedness. Establishing more cooling centres and enhancing healthcare facilities to treat heat-induced ailments should be expedited. Workers who toil under the open sky must be given due consideration, with water breaks and summer-friendly timings. At the community level, people should avoid unnecessary outdoor activities, especially during peak heat hours. Vulnerable groups like children, the elderly, and those with health conditions need special attention. Simple measures, such as staying hydrated, wearing loose clothing, and keeping homes cool, can prevent heat-related illnesses. Communities should also play a role in preventing forest fires by avoiding the disposal of flammable materials in open areas. Additionally, joint efforts to plant and care for trees can help reduce temperatures. With a collaborative approach, we can mitigate the impact of these extreme weather events.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

ICJ rebuke

MATTERS are not going well for Israel where world opinion regarding its murderous activities in Gaza is concerned.

On Friday, days after the International Criminal Court called for arrest warrants to be issued for the Israeli prime minister and defence minister — as well as three Hamas leaders — the International Court of Justice ordered Tel Aviv to halt its bloodthirsty rampage in Rafah. The Israeli response to the world court has not been surprising, with the Zionist state calling the order “morally repugnant and disgusting”.

Furthermore, Israel has continued its campaign of genocidal violence in Gaza after the court order. While Hamas has called for a cessation of hostilities across Gaza, the South African foreign minister — whose country has been instrumental in the legal campaign against Tel Aviv’s atrocities — while welcoming the ICJ ruling observed that Israel doesn’t “care what the global community says”.

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends, primarily the US and some European states. The Zionist state knows that it can literally get away with murder. Moreover, while ICJ orders are binding, it cannot enforce them. This requires cooperation of the global community, particularly its most powerful members. But the US and some others have defeated every attempt in the UN to censure Israel, which means that Tel Aviv can effectively thumb its nose at their lordships in the ICJ and ICC.

Nearly two decades after the majority of the international community agreed to the ‘responsibility to protect’ principle to shield vulnerable populations across the globe from violence and persecution, it appears that Palestine’s people are not worthy — in the eyes of powerful global actors — of this protection.

While the efforts of South Africa and other states need to be lauded for trying to bring Israel to justice for its ongoing crimes in Gaza, more practical measures are required to stop the slaughter.

For example, all those states that have supported the bid for Palestinian statehood in the UN — over 140 countries — need to back up these symbolic gestures of solidarity with practical steps to stop Israel’s genocidal campaign. One way to do this could be for these states to suspend all commercial links and arms shipments until Israel promises to respect ICJ rulings and UN resolutions.

As mentioned before in these columns, history has witnessed such a successful global movement in the international campaign against South Africa’s apartheid. The OIC and Arab League, as well as friends of Palestine in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia must come together to enforce such a blockade against Israel if they are serious about ending the Gaza nightmare.

Otherwise, finely worded legal treatise, and eloquently drafted resolutions will do little to save Palestinians from the Israeli war machine.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

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