The Express Tribune Editorial 14 November 2019

Remorseless monster


Once he was supposed to protect children. But he turned out to be a monster. The arrest of the habitual paedophile 45-year-old Sohail Ayaz strengthens the conviction that we are living in an age when firemen start fires instead of putting them out. This maniac has a long nasty history of sexually abusing children. He was recently arrested in Islamabad and confessed to raping 30 children in different places of the country and uploading the videos of the assaults to the dark web.
Police investigations have revealed that he is a convicted paedophile deported from the UK and Italy. He was sentenced to four years in prison in the UK and for six months in Italy. The police said Ayaz was convicted of sexually assaulting minors in the UK. He was arrested in London in 2009 after thousands of child porn images were discovered in his home. He was deported from Italy where he was part of a Romanian child pornography ring. The police said Ayaz was a chartered accountant and an expert on the dark web. At present he was earning Rs300,000 a month for providing consultancy service to a K-P government department. This salary proved insufficient to this greedy monster for he was also engaged in the child sex trade. This remorseless sex maniac is full of vices. His parents and wife have severed relations with him because of his activities.
The police said around two weeks ago Ayaz abducted an 11-year-old boy at a tea stall in Islamabad where the boy worked. He took the boy to his home where he drugged him and raped him for four days. He also filmed the assault. When the boy returned home he could not speak about his ordeal for 15 days. After much persuasion by the family, the boy disclosed what had happened to him. Ayaz’s neighbours told the police that they saw him bringing children to his home several times. Such men pose a grave danger to society.


Finding toilets

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has announced an interesting health initiative under which a cell phone app will help direct users to public toilets across the province. News reports have quoted a provincial water and sanitation services official as saying that the app will be launched on November 19 and will be particularly helpful for tourists. Also, while many in Pakistan are quick to mock India for its low toilet usage numbers, the numbers here, though not as abysmal, are still a cause for concern. The United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef estimated last year that 22 million Pakistanis still regularly relieve themselves in the open, and less than half of the rural population has any access to toilets.
Unicef also estimates that the lack of toilets costs Pakistan up to $2.5 billion per year through increased healthcare costs and lost productivity. Around 53,000 Pakistani children are estimated to die each year of diarrhoea alone, primarily because of consuming polluted water from streams which are often ‘used’ in lieu of toilets, according to UN data. Meanwhile, typhoid, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis also kill thousands, while those who do not die often have lifelong ailments. The high stunting rate for children — 44% according to the UN — can partly be attributed to this.
Among the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s healthcare-related election promises, Prime Minister Imran Khan has previously vowed to “eradicate the deficit of toilets in the country by 2023”, an ambitious target, but certainly achievable. In the meantime, directing people to the nearest facility is a start, but we would also hope that the government improves the pitiful condition of many of these existing toilets while taking care not to cut corners in the construction of new ones. A warning of sorts came a few days ago in India, where two children were killed when the substandard wall of a public toilet collapsed on the stalls they were using.


Exit control list


The Exit Control List has over the years served as a tool for political victimisation, mostly being used by the government of the day against the parties opposing it. As cited by none other than former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar, there are even instances of people being barred from flying abroad over petty domestic issues and people languishing on this black list for years and years. Nisar, during his time at the helm, did introduce a policy pertaining to placement of names on the ECL and removal from it, cutting off the role of even the respective minister and the secretary in the whole exercise to rid it of political clout and control.
However, the way Nawaz Sharif’s request for being taken off the ECL is being handled by the incumbent government shows that no such policy exists in effect today. The government blew hot and cold on whether or not to allow the former PM to travel abroad for medical treatment. At a public gathering in Gilgit-Baltistan some two weeks back, PM Imran Khan reiterated, with his customary vim and vigour, his long-maintained stance that he would not let the looters leave the country under a deal. Just days later, the PM was trying to convince all that Nawaz was genuinely ill, implying that his name deserved to be taken off the ECL. The impression of a deal that this change of heart created drew a backlash from the public, forcing the PM back to his initial stance.
The government was now in search of a proper justification for public consumption like a strongly-worded medical report that the ailing former PM be sent abroad forthwith or clear-cut recommendations from NAB. But with neither available, the matter landed in the cabinet which proposed travel permission for Nawaz against surety bonds valuing Rs7 billion. Not ready to give even a semblance of the Nawaz’s exit happening under a kind of plea-bargain, the PML-N rejected the proposal. A subsequent review by a sub-committee of the cabinet made no changes to the offer, in essence. Thus the deadlock till the time of this writing.
The best and the easiest way out for the government from this war of political narratives is to side with principles.

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