The Express Tribune Editorial 17 May 2021

Prepared for climate change?


A non-profit says in its latest report that 43% cities in the world have not yet prepared plans to tackle the effects of climate change, thus exposing around 400 million people to the hazards of flash floods, surface floods, heatwaves, threats from rising sea levels, etc, and all this is being caused by increasing global warming as a consequence of reckless use of fossil fuel. Since most emission takes place in cities, they are largely threatened by emission-induced climate change.
The organisation has drawn its conclusion after analysing data from governments and companies in more than 800 cities around the world. The report has not named the cities though, general experience and the ground realities existing in Third World countries are sufficient to indicate that most of the cities, included in the study, should be in these countries. The reasons are obvious. In most of these cities, measures to combat climate change are a distant dream considering the fact that they do not have even proper roads, water supply, public transport, dependable electricity supply and other civic facilities. In these poorly-planned cities, there are potholes in place of roads and people have been left to fend for themselves in case of increasing intensity of heatwaves and floods. This is in spite of the fact that more and more people are moving from villages to urban areas. The report says governments in these countries are yet to prepare mass evacuation plans for cities if the weather derangement throws up the need for such an eventuality. By now climate change and weather derangement have become undeniable bitter realities.
Drawing attention to the fact that climate change is also causing droughts, sometimes year after year in a row, and global warming is resulting in an unstoppable rise in the sea level, the report says the need to put in place plans to protect the vulnerable population from the ravages of disturbed climate conditions has become more urgent than ever before.



Despite truce


The attack on a mosque near Kabul on Friday, a long weekend due to Eidul Fitr, sends a reminder of the long road ahead for peace in Afghanistan. The Taliban, who are normally considered among the usual suspect in such attacks, had declared a three-day Eid truce with the Afghan government. That truce was in effect when the attack took place. The Taliban vehemently denied any role in the attack, which is very much believable. This is because the attack bore all the hallmarks of Daesh, or rather, the primary one — it served no military purpose and was only intended to cause pain and suffering to innocent civilians. While the Taliban have killed civilians in the past, they have attempted to use some kind of military justification — however weak — for their targets, and have even admitted to ‘accidentally’ attacking the wrong target. For Daesh, there is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ target.
To their credit, the Afghan government did not go for the knee-jerk approach in blaming the Taliban. In their hearts, even they know that the Taliban are rebranding themselves as freedom fighters, while Daesh continues to proudly wear the tag of butchers. But the government’s reaction may also have to do with its pointless finger-pointing from days earlier. The fact is that the mosque attack was not even the worst thing to happen in Kabul, let alone Afghanistan, in the past week. On May 11, over 80 schoolgirls were murdered and 150 injured in the Afghan capital by at least three bombs outside the school. The victims were predominantly poor, Hazara, and Shia. All three of those make them targets for Daesh.
Let us also not forget that Daesh has rarely been one to make allies. In its short history around the Middle East and Central Asia, the group has gained infamy for its tendency to make war with everybody — local governments, foreign troops, opposition militias, other terrorist groups, religious and ethnic minorities, and yes, even children. The group is a rare example of one that fits every single definition of terrorist. This dark fact could actually be an ice breaker for Afghan peace talks. Perhaps the Taliban and the government in Kabul can prove their commitment to peace by extending the truce and joining hands to take out Daesh.



Remembering Lady with the Lamp


Nurses are the hospitality of hospitals. At a time when the caring sisters have become an indispensable part of the medical profession, they are leaving Pakistan in large numbers for countries where they are offered better salaries and incentives. Pakistan is already facing a shortage of 1.3 million nurses. The present trend of nurses preferring to work in foreign countries needs to be reversed considering the already poor nurse-patient ratio in the country. At present, this ratio is 1: 50 while the Pakistan Nursing Council has prescribed a ratio of 1:10 in generalised areas and 2:3 in specialised areas.
There are several reasons for the increasing shortage of nurses in the country. Some of these are low pay, long working hours, lack of respect, risky work environment and ironical societal attitude towards the noble profession. All this acts as disincentives to joining the profession. This is why we see male nurses working in hospitals in conservative societies. Nurses are risking their life in serving patients of coronavirus, but they are not being paid adequate compensation and incentives. Nurses attending to those suffering from Covid-19 live in hospitals round the clock. In some cases, they have not been provided with personal safety equipment. Nurses, who are also called angels of mercy, are reportedly being meted out step-motherly treatment by the authorities; it should not come as a surprise if they are leaving the country for better opportunities. Nurses are care and compassion personified. Their smile works wonders with patients.
At a recent event held to mark the birth anniversary of the founder of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale, experts and authorities acknowledged the issues facing nurses in the country and pledged to take corrective measures. Only time will tell whether the promise gets translated into practical steps. Unfortunately, sometimes we witness the police subjecting female nurses to rough treatment when they demand their due rights. Florence Nightingale attended to wounded soldiers and thus preached compassion. We should not let down the Lady with the Lamp.

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