The Express Tribune Editorial 14 September 2019

President’s address to parliament

 

President Dr Arif Alvi struck all the right chords as he addressed a joint sitting of parliament on Thursday at the beginning of the second parliamentary year of the National Assembly under the PTI government. The address covered the government’s performance on the economy, governance, social development, accountability and foreign policy, besides discussing the role of judiciary and the media.

The Presidential address had a special focus on India’s illegal and illegitimate action regarding Kashmir and Pakistan’s efforts to bring it under international limelight. The President raised serious concerns about the plight of the people of occupied Kashmir, who have been braving a complete lockdown for more than 40 days now, and assured the Kashmiri brethren in words that must have a resounding impact the world over: “We were, we are and will always be with the Kashmiris.”

President Alvi drew the world attention towards New Delhi’s unlawful action that is not just violative of its own constitution but the 1972 Simla Agreement between Pakistan and India as well. He also exposed the “fascist Bharatiya Janata Party” whose fundamentalist Hindutva ideology has “threatened peace in the region”, by the revocation of Kashmir’s special status, and subsequent inhumane treatment of the Kashmiris.
The President also praised the PTI government’s vigorous diplomatic offensive whereby Kashmir is being discussed at all international forums. He described it as government’s “huge accomplishment” that the UNSC held a session on the Kashmir issue after more than 50 years, despite India trying its best to prevent that from happening. He also praised China and Turkey for supporting Pakistan’s position on Kashmir and described Prime Minister Imran Khan’s US visit as a success.

The President did not lose his focus despite a roar of protest in the House. “Continue to make noise but also pay attention to [what I am saying],” he said at one point to the protesting members of the opposition, demonstrating the calm he kept all through his address.

 
 

Cannabis and Karachi

 

It is a sign of the increasing angst of living in a big city like Karachi — a city that occupies the fifth place in a list of 10 top unliveable cities in the world. Karachi is the second biggest consumer of cannabis in the world, it has emerged. The sale and consumption of the intoxication-causing weed is illegal in Pakistan, though. According to the ABCD 2018 Cannabis Price Index, Karachi comes second after New York (77.44 metric tonnes) in terms of consuming cannabis, including hashish, at 41.95 metric tonnes. New Delhi takes a close third place at 38.26 metric tonnes. Cannabis is popular in Amsterdam but the city does not even make it in the top 10.
Cannabis has been in use for medicinal and recreational purposes since ancient times in South Asia and other parts of the world. If taken in a moderate quantity, it is good for those suffering from insomnia as it induces sleep. If consumed immoderately, it causes serious dehydration. Like all other intoxicants, the weed’s consumption leads people to behave in strange and unreasonable ways. This is why it is illegal in Pakistan. However, in view of the weed’s use for medicinal purposes, there are government-licensed shops selling it.
Since the 1970s, the consumption of cannabis in Pakistan, especially by the youth, has been on the rise under the influence of Western pop culture. The demand for cannabis has increased because it’s low priced, so even the low-income groups can afford it. Other important cause of the increased consumption of the weed is obviously the growing economic difficulties facing the common people. When one naan (roti) is selling for Rs12 and prices of all basic necessaries are going through the roof and economic opportunities are shrinking, the hard-pressed common people find an easy refuge in cheap intoxicants. The state has a right to turn a blind eye to drug addictions. Admiral Nelson used to say, “Sometimes I have a right to turn a blind eye.” He was blinded in one eye during a battl.

 
 

Honour for Sana Mir

 

Sana Mir has turned out to be a genuine role model for women — not just from Pakistan. The Asia Society has recognised the Pakistan cricketer as an inspiring agent of change working to building a better world — for women and for everyone. The nonpartisan organization, which works to address a range of challenges facing Asia and the rest of the world, has named Mir among Asia Game Changers — a group of inspiring and path-breaking women who are making a transformative impact in Asia and beyond. That Mir has been bracketed with global leaders from varied backgrounds is indeed a significant honour and an international recognition.
Mir will be honoured in New York on October 24, alongside other inspiring global leaders like Japan’s Yuriko Koike, the country’s first female defence minister and first female governor of Tokyo; China’s Jane Jie Sun, the dynamic leader of Ctrip, a travel company worth $25 billion where more than half of the employees are women; and Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi of the UAE, a pioneer in the world of art who has tirelessly promoted greater cultural understanding and exchange in the Middle East and around the world; and others.
A former Pakistan skipper, Mir is the highest wicket-taking off-spinner among international women cricketers. Currently placed at fifth in the ICC Women’s ODI bowling rankings, she is the only Pakistani woman to have occupied the number one spot. Mir led Pakistan to gold medal wins at the Asia Games in 2010 and 2014. She is no stranger to awards either, having been decorated with the Pakistani medal of excellence known as Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, besides winning the People’s Choice Award at the Pakistan Sports Awards. She was recently inducted into the ICC Women’s Committee as one of three representatives of female players. In a country where there is a dispiriting absence of sporting infrastructure and where women’s participation in sports is stigmatised, Mir’s achievement deserves a lot of praise.

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