The Express Tribune Editorial 16 September 2019

The naegleria fowleri scare


Last week saw Karachi’s twelfth fatality this year due to Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection caused by Naegleria Fowleri, a microorganism (amoeba) also referred to as the ‘brain-eating bug’. Naegleria Fowleri infects people when water containing the bug enters the body through the nose. Infection is rare and typically occurs in people who go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places such as lakes and rivers and in those who cleanse their noses with contaminated tap water such as people performing ablution (‘Wuzu’). There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available for the Naegleria Fowleri infection and preventive measures are the only way to avoid it.
The only certain way to prevent a Naegleria Fowleri infection due to swimming is to refrain from water-related activities in warm freshwater. When doing so, however, one must use nose clips, keep one’s head above water, avoid putting one’s head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters, avoid such activities during periods of high water temperature, and avoid digging in or stirring up sediment in shallow water areas. It is also essential to properly chlorinate all water reservoirs including swimming pools to stay safe from the infection. To ensure that water is safe for nasal rinsing during ablution or ‘wuzu’, it is safest to use boiled, sterile or filtered water. If that is not possible, one must disinfect the water using chlorine. Regrettably, however, the Naegleria Fowleri infection is not being given proper attention by the authorities, including the Sindh government. Governmental advice and instructions are especially critical during the current season as the infection usually occurs when it is hot for prolonged periods of time which in turn leads to higher water temperatures and lower water levels. It is crucial, therefore, for the government to work with the media to help the public stay safe from preventable ailments such as the Naegleria Fowleri infection.


End the war in Yemen


In its fifth year, the brutal war in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its middle eastern allies, has managed to achieve nothing but an appalling record of human rights violations. And perhaps for the first time, Riyadh is facing the repercussions of its military adventurism.
Drone strikes set fire to a Saudi Aramco plant in Abqaiq on Saturday. The strikes not only damaged facilities that allow the kingdom to process the vast majority of the crude output but also raised the risk of disrupting global oil supplies. The shock waves from the event panicked Washington DC — a supporter of Riyadh’s undue military campaign in Yemen.
To offset any disruption in supply, the Trump administration announced it would tap into the strategic oil reserves. But the Trump administration could do a lot more to prevent such a situation from occurring again. For starters, the pro-Riyadh administration in Washington could use its influence to convince the oil-rich kingdom to end the war, which has exposed its vulnerabilities. After all, a not so costly drone strike, by a ragtag constellation of militias in Yemen virtually crippled the global oil supplies. That tells us how vulnerable Saudi Arabia and the global oil supplies are. The Houthis, who are backed by the Iranians, have used similar techniques before. With limited financial resources to match Saudi Arabia’s military might, they have resorted to drone strikes for more than a year now. And the recent attack shows their capabilities have improved significantly.
They know where to hit the Saudis and what might hurt the most. With the war settled into a bloody stalemate, and with the militias using unconventional ways to harm Riyadh’s not so sophisticated oil infrastructure, maybe its time for the kingdom and it’s the de facto ruler, Mohammad Bin Salman, to revisit the military campaign in Yemen.


Kashmir and the dire threat


Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again presented Pakistan’s case on Kashmir in an eloquent manner, exposing the guile and subterfuge employed by India to cover up the reign of terror it has let loose in the valley. In a wide-ranging interview with the Doha-based Al Jazeera news channel, Imran spoke with passion and clarity to drive home the point that New Delhi’s actions potentially risk sparking a conflict between the two nuclear-tipped nations. ‘Eight million Muslims in Kashmir are under siege for almost six weeks. And why this can become a flashpoint between India and Pakistan is because what we already know India is trying to do is divert attention from their illegal annexation and their impending genocide on Kashmir,’ he told his interviewer. The PM made it clear that Islamabad would never start a war, calling himself a pacifist and anti-war. He reiterated his belief that wars do not solve any problems.
But he hastened to add that when two nuclear-armed countries fight, there is every possibility that it is going to end up into nuclear war. Given just how the situation is fraught with danger, Imran told the news channel that Islamabad has already approached the United Nations and other international forums, exhorting them to act now because, as he put it, ‘this is a potential disaster that would go way beyond the Indian subcontinent.’ The PM took pains to remind the audience just how his bold and sincere efforts to open dialogue with India were rebuffed by the country’s eastern neighbour. ‘While we were trying to have dialogue…they were trying to bankrupt us economically, so that’s when we pulled back. And that’s when we realised that this government is on an agenda … to push Pakistan to disaster,’ Imran said and went on to declare that there is no question of talking to the Indian government right now after they revoked article 370 of their own constitution and annexed Kashmir illegally. One couldn’t agree more with the PM on this since the stubborn Indian govt is not even ready to lift the stifling curfew from the valley, which has rendered it as the world’s largest open-air prison.

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