The Express Tribune Editorial 10 October 2019

Imran in China


Prime Minister Imran Khan has completed a generally successful tour of China. One of the more prominent developments has been an explicit statement of support from the Chinese military on the Kashmir issue. A statement on the meetings between Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior officials from the Chinese military noted that the Chinese praised Pakistan’s “principled” and “sane” stance on the disputed territory and India’s aggressive moves in the region.
The Pakistan Army chief also apprised Chinese military leaders of the consequences of the ongoing situation in the India-occupied Kashmir. At the same time, PM Imran Khan and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to the implementation of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to further enhance trade, economic, and investment opportunities between the two countries. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Premier Li also discussed bilateral trade and economic partnership as well as regional security, including the serious human rights and humanitarian situation in the India-occupied Kashmir.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and related projects, along with potential collaboration in railways, steel, oil and gas, industry, and science and technology sectors also came up for discussion. Also, while Kashmir was not mentioned in the first official statements about the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang reiterated that China’s position on Kashmir was “clear and consistent”. He said China calls “on India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues including Kashmir issue and consolidate mutual trust,” which, in the world of diplomacy, is a knock on India for its refusal to hold good-faith talks on the Kashmir issue. But despite the potential economic positives, there were a few stumbles for the premier, most notably his remark on wanting to jail 500 people for corruption, where he also stated his disappointment with the Pakistani justice system.
It does not good look for a prime minister to publicly criticise his own political and legal system on foreign soil.


Murders and muggings

Human beings need economic and physical security and peace of mind and it is the duty of governments to ensure these. Things are, however, not satisfactory in Karachi, the capital of Sindh and Pakistan’s largest city and the country’s financial and industrial hub. In September, 18 people were killed either in targeted killings or while resisting armed robberies, according to the figures released by the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) on Oct 8. The CPLC said 26 cars and 147 motorcycles were hijacked at gunpoint and 163 cars and 2,806 motorcycles stolen in September. There are reports that lately rickshaws too are being stolen. Last month also saw a spike in snatching of mobile phones as 1,737 handsets were taken away by muggers at gunpoint. An incident of kidnapping for ransom and three cases of extortion also were reported during September. This shows how emboldened criminal elements have become lately. On Oct 8, a 30-year-old man was shot dead by robbers riding a motorcycle when he resisted them in Latif Town police limits. The victim worked at a roadside eatery. He was targeted in the wee hours while returning home from work. Early in the morning on Oct 3, a young female university student was shot dead by robbers in Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
Mugging victims say robbers usually intercept vehicles at potholes where automobiles slow down. At present most roads in the city are full of potholes, ditches and large craters. The problem is compounded by gutter overflows. So the rising incidents of vehicle hijacking and mugging should not come as a surprise. Civic conditions in Karachi have long been in a state of neglect. The pathetic state of roads is being blamed on gutter overflows. Government functionaries say gutters are choked because some elements have placed rocks inside them. One fails to understand what is stopping the government from acting against such elements when the former has all the coercive powers at its disposal. The delay in doing the needful remains an irreducible mystery.


Human, all too human


On September 6, 2018, Botham Jean, a black male, was gunned down by his white female neighbour Amber Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She shot Jean in the chest, while he was preparing a bowl of ice-cream, after claiming to have entered the wrong apartment thinking it was hers and mistaking Jean for a burglar. The incident sparked a nationwide controversy and questions arose as to what caused an unarmed black man being shot inside his own apartment in Dallas. The road to Guyger’s trial was somewhat rocky with lawyers claiming to move the case out of Dallas as “media hysteria” had created a biased community against her. Others said she was being sheltered as reports claimed the case was to be moved to a county that was likely to produce a whiter and more conservative jury. Both instances limited the possibility of a fair trial. However what was more egregious was the fact that her defence team claimed that Texas’s so called “castle doctrine” applied to Guyger on grounds that she believed that the vicinity was her “castle” giving her the legitimate right to protect herself. This eventually didn’t hold up.
Guygers emotional persona during the trial — breaking down several times on the witness stand and asking God’s forgiveness while weeping — could have been an attempt at emotional manipulation, which worked in her favour. A black court police officer was seen brushing Guyger’s hair while the victims’ brother and the judge consoled her with hugs. “I forgive you… I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you”, said Jean’s brother. All measures had been taken to defend Guyger. Her 10 year sentence sparked outrage as the community blamed the system for racial discrimination.
The incident shows how ingrained racism and discrimination is in American society. What, one should wonder, would happen if the assailant was a black?

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