The Express Tribune Editorial 10 September 2019

PM Imran’s focus on Karachi


The gravity of the state of uncleanliness in Karachi can be gauged from the fact that Prime Minister Imran Khan has himself taken serious notice of the situation prevailing in the city for long. The Prime Minister has constituted a high-level committee to work out plans to address issues being faced by the residents of the city, saying that “the future of Pakistan is linked with Karachi as its financial hub”. This reiteration of the significance of the metropolis by the Prime Minister shows that he wants to see results. This also shows that the media’s efforts in projecting the neglect of Karachi have started to bear fruit. Those who have been maintaining that not being heard is no reason for silence have been proven right.
The committee will be headed by Law Minister Dr Frogh Naseem of the MQM. Federal Ministers Ali Zaidi and Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar as well as FWO chief Major General Inam Haider Malik will be the members of the committee. The committee has been asked to suggest measures for improvement of public services in the city.
The meeting, presided over by the Prime Minister, deliberated upon issues like cleanliness, sewerage, supply of drinking water and a mass transit system for the city. The PM expressed concern over the problems being faced by the people in Karachi, and assured the residents that the federal government would do its best for the solution of the problems. In the past few days, three petitions have been filed in the Sindh High Court asking it to tell the relevant authorities to improve the fast deteriorating civic situation in the city. Even then the respondents failed to behave like ‘reasonable men’.
The Prime Minister has acted well in time because civic infrastructure and services in Karachi have reached near-total collapse. Most roads have become very difficult to drive on or even walk safely due to gutter overflows. The sewerage system has almost collapsed. The city is dotted with heaps of garbage. The biggest city of the country looks like a big chunk of a slum, and the situation is only deteriorating.



US vs Iran


Is Iran really breaking the uranium enrichment limit set by the 2015 nuclear agreement? Is a ‘secret atomic warehouse’ in Tehran really at work, as alleged by Benjamin Netanyahu? Well, samples collected by IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, from the warehouse have shown traces of uranium, according to two diplomats who follow the watchdog’s inspections work closely. This is what raises suspicion – more so because Tehran has not come out with any explanations sought by the IAEA about the origin of the particles in question. While both the diplomats insist that the traces were of uranium, one of them says the uranium was not enriched to a level anywhere close to what is needed for weapons.
The questionable traces may well be the remnants of activities that predate the nuclear deal reached between Iran and P5+1 together with the EU, but Tehran’s quiet over the matter is likely to stoke tensions with Washington. The deal has been dead, in practical terms, since President Trump pulled out of it May 2018, leading to US sanctions causing cut in Iranian oil sales. The other parties to the deal are, however, reluctant to follow the US, in their bid to keep the country engaged.
If recent statements from the US and Iran are taken on face value, no side wants a military conflict. The return to diplomacy may not be easy, however. The US wants a better nuclear deal that requires Iran to abandon its enrichment programme completely, limit its ballistic missile capabilities, and change its behavior in the Middle East — conditions that Iran is highly unlikely to accept. The US, in the meanwhile, is tightening economic screws on Iran by cutting off its oil exports, in the hope to see it back on the dialogue table. But if Iran refuses to accept the US demands and continues to expand its nuclear programme, the Trump administration will only be left with two options: to accept the growing risk of an Iranian nuclear weapons capability, or to use military force to stop it.




Brutality? What brutality?

It is obvious to most Pakistanis and has been for a long time that our police forces have a serious culture problem. In particular, the most alarming manifestation of this toxic police culture is the brutality with which law enforcers treat citizens, be they suspects or not. But where police authorities should be embarking on some intense soul searching, their higher-ups have instead settled on a different approach. The force, in their eyes, does not have any culture or brutality problem. It merely has an ‘image problem’ – at least that is what it seems, going by one police wing’s recent policy decision.
In recent days, the public has been confronted by three cases of severe police brutality. There is the case of Salahuddin Ayubi, a suspected ATM robber thought to be mentally disabled, who died in police custody in Rahim Yar Khan. The same day reports of Gujjarpura police allegedly torturing another man to death emerged as well. And then there is the case of gardener Amir Masih, who also died after being illegally detained by police in Lahore. These are by no means isolated incidents. Nor are they limited solely to the Punjab police. Look through police history in Pakistan and you will find numerous other deaths in police custody. The only thing new in recent times is that social media has allowed the public to vent their condemnations more visibly.
This happened particularly in response to the Salahuddin case. After a video of him being interrogated by police went viral, Pakistanis on social media minced no words in lambasting our law enforcement authorities and the culture they perpetuate within their ranks. However, instead of taking stock of these justified criticisms, the IG Punjab Office issued a puzzling policy directive. “No officer below the rank of SHO or in-charge of deployed duty will use a cellphone while on duty,” a policy memo stated. With priorities like these, it is no wonder police forces in Pakistan suffer from an image problem in the first place.
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