The Express tribune Editorial 10 June 2021

Another acid attack


Over the years, thousands of individuals, a vast majority of them being young women, have fallen victim to acid attacks in Pakistan. Acid attack is a barbaric and heinous crime that leaves victims with physical and psychological scars for a lifetime. Victims are, ironically, also shunned by society as the physical scars seldom fully heal.
Recently, a 27-year-old female domestic help was attacked with acid in Lahore by a young man who was reportedly incensed by the girl’s refusal to marry him. The injured girl has been admitted to a hospital, and her family has lodged a report with the police. The girl’s brother says that the attacker had been harassing his sister for a long time and he never contacted the family about his marriage proposal. The girl told the police that the man, upon refusal of his proposal, threatened her that “I will not leave you worth anything”. On the fateful day, while she was on the way to work he stopped her and told her that he would drop her to her workplace. Following her refusal he poured acid on her face. She suffered burn injuries to her face, neck and hands. The attacker is still at large.
From 2007 to 2018, according to a non-governmental organisation, at least 1,186 cases of acid attacks were reported in the country in which 1,485 persons fell victim. The NGO claimed that such cases registered a drastic drop since 2014. In order to curb the cruel crime, parliament enacted a law which prescribes 14 years in jail as minimum punishment for the crime and the maximum punishment of life imprisonment. In 2017, another law was passed which entitles victims to free of charge treatment. The two legislations also made access to acid difficult. In spite of these laws having been in place, the persistence of the cruel crime shows that acid can still be procured easily. What is needed is to entirely block the access to acid.



Cricket series rights


Few things matter more to the Pakistani people than cricket. The federal cabinet is desperately hoping that the Kashmir issue is one of them. The cabinet rejected a proposal by PTV to buy broadcasting rights for the upcoming Pakistan tour of England from an Indian company. The decision means that, barring some last-minute deal making, it will be almost impossible to watch the series. The loss of the series will also cost PTV a significant amount of potential ad revenue.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry made it clear the cabinet’s decision was entirely based on India’s refusal to revert its 2019 withdrawal of special status for Occupied Kashmir. However, Fawad sounded less than enthused by the decision. He did say that Pakistan would continue exploring other options, including a rights purchase from English authorities or other foreign broadcasters, but admitted that this was an uphill task since the Indian company had a lock on broadcast rights for Asia. He also noted that along with PTV, the PCB would also lose money because of the decision.
The situation has pitted Pakistanis against each other. Cricket fans have noted that the decision is not about to make New Delhi rethink its Kashmir policy and only deprives an entertainment-starved nation of its favourite TV addiction. Supporters of the decision say Pakistan’s Kashmir policy vis-à-vis trade with India must be absolute. While cricket fans may see the sport as a life-or-death issue, many people have pointed out that Pakistan refused to buy food items — literal life-supporting products — from India under the same policy.
Our take is that it exposes how PTV has relied on buying rights at the last minute instead of doing prep-work and buying Pakistan-specific rights well in advance. The policy makes sense for less popular sports as advertiser and viewer interest needs to be gauged, but with cricket, returns are guaranteed. Lack of foresight has cost the broadcaster, and more importantly, sports fans across the country.



Violence against Muslims


That hatred against Islam and its followers in the West has assumed terroristic proportions is not debatable. While countries like Germany, France, the UK and the US have long been reporting hate-based crimes against Muslims, those that are considered no-crime zones — like Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Canada — are now not safe for Muslims. At a time when the horrific, heart-wrenching memories of the Christchurch massacre had yet to fade from the senses, the premeditated killing of four members of a family of Pakistani origin in Canada has added to the concerns of Muslims the world over.
The family loved to walk — and socialise. They would walk almost every evening. But their outing on the previous Sunday turned out to be their last. While this Canadian-Pakistani family of five was waiting to cross a street in the London neighbourhood of Ontario in Canada, a truck driver, 20, intentionally ran over them just because they were Muslims. Nine-year-old Faez Afzaal is the only survivor of this act of Islamophobia, though with serious, non-life threatening injuries. Faez lost his whole family — his father Syed Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; his sister Yumnah Afzaal , 15; and his 74-year-old grandmother.
True that Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, has acknowledged it to be a “terrorist” act and made it loud and clear that “Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities”. It’s appreciable that the local police have no hesitation in describing the incident as a “planned, premeditated act motivated by hate” and that the mayor has called it an “act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims. Pretty timely as well is the UN secretary general’s reaction that carries a call for all to “stand united against Islamophobia and all forms of hatred, now more than ever”.
However, all this has failed to stop the rising trend of Islamophobic attacks in the Western world. It’s now time to take some concrete action. There is now need for the world to adopt laws binding on the global population, apart from devising social mechanisms, to stop this growing violence against the followers of Islam. The Muslim Ummah too needs to take serious steps to bring the issue on the top of the world agenda.

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