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The Express Tribune Editorial 16 February 2021

Trump ‘not guilty’

 

Former US President Donald Trump unsurprisingly avoided conviction on the charge of “incitement of insurrection”, not because he was innocent, but because Republican senators chose party over country. In fact, Trump’s defence did not even make a serious effort to dispute the charges against him and instead chose to dispute the legitimacy of the case. They did so ‘successfully’, but only because the fix was in before the case even started. Officially, the Republicans claimed to have voted against conviction due to a technicality — that Trump could not be tried by the Senate after leaving office. This is both false and misleading. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives while he was still president, and the then-Republican-led Senate refused to hear the case until Trump had left office. In addition, the Senate has previously tried a person who was no longer part of the government — former Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. Meanwhile, the official Congressional Research Service also found no legal reason for the Senate to not impeach a former president.
The Republicans hid behind a false technicality to protect the man who remains the face of their party from being convicted of a crime that stops just a step short of treason. Also, remember that Republicans and Democrats alike referred to the Capitol siege as a “terrorist attack”. If Trump was convicted, he could legally be referred to as the leader of a successful “terrorist attack” on the US Capitol — something even Osama Bin Laden failed to do. The face of the Republican Party would officially be a terrorist leader. But just because Trump can’t legally be given that title — yet — it is still clear that he is the politician favoured by a majority of US citizen terrorists. Even today, death threats are being directed at Republicans who broke from their party and chose to impeach or convict in the House and Senate, respectively. On a lesser level, some were admonished by their Republican constituents for saying they voted based on facts rather than party affiliation. These are the people the Republican party is pandering to when they chose Trump over the United States.

 

 

Arsenic content in water

 

Scientific research has established that 40% of all deaths in Pakistan are caused by the consumption of contaminated water. Now a report by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources reveals that 62% of underground water in the Bahawalpur region is unfit for human consumption as it contains arsenic beyond the prescribed limit. The WHO has listed arsenic among the 10 chemicals that pose serious risk to human health. Arsenic causes various types of cancer, kidney failure, lung and heart diseases. It is linked to pregnancy complications and infant mortality, and also arrests mental development.
Now in Bahawalpur, the number of kidney patients has soared to 130,000 per annum and those of hepatitis-C and B have gone up to 60,000. The growing arsenic content in water is mainly due to the falling water table. Experts attribute the increasing contamination of underground water in the region to transfer of the Sutlej River to a neighbouring country under the Indus Waters Treaty. The flow of the river acted as a natural purifier of water and also helped keep the level of underground water from going down. The government has installed 32 water filtration plants in Bahawalpur city but most of them are either dysfunctional or poorly maintained. Area residents claim that people’s representatives elected to legislatures are lukewarm to addressing the significant issue of water contamination.
A former government had promised to construct a Sutlej lake in order to reverse the trend of falling water table so as to make the required amount of water available in the region. But it has remained an empty promise like most promises made by politicians and political parties. Surprisingly, this is in spite of the much-trumpeted project of ‘Saaf Pani’ programme under which people were to be provided with uncontaminated water. Obviously, a lethal combination of corruption, complacency and negligence has produced the present sorry state of affairs. The message is clear: drink costly beverages and protect your health.

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