The Express Tribune Editorial 19 September 2019

Kashmir in EU Parliament

 

Pakistan is building up nicely to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly at which Prime Minister Imran Khan will raise the Kashmir issue on the 27th of this month, besides holding a one-on-one meeting with world leaders, including President Trump. After Pakistan’s successful diplomatic lobbying at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where 58 countries supported Pakistan’s stance on occupied Kashmir, the longstanding dispute has now reverberated in the European Union Parliament as well — after a gap of 12 years. During a debate on Sept 17, Members of the European Parliament came up with sharp rebuke of the Indian clampdown in occupied Kashmir, and called upon India and Pakistan to engage in direct talks to ensure a peaceful resolution of the conflict that has the potential to escalate into a nuclear showdown.
EU Minister Tytti Tuppurainen — speaking on behalf of European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini — described talks as the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue to avoid instability and insecurity in the region, and made it clear that the EU’s position on the longstanding dispute remains unchanged. The minister said the EU would continue to closely monitor the situation, while demanding that freedom of movement and means of communication in the besieged territory should be fully restored as well as access to all essential services. There were other members who were extremely vocal against the illegal Indian action in Kashmir, with some calling for using all possible means to mount pressure on New Delhi to ease the military curfew.
The incumbent government’s efforts to internationalise India’s illegal annexation of Kashmir on August 5 and the barbarism that continues there ever since are commendable. The PM and his team are leaving no stone unturned to keep the issue burning bright.

 

 

National vs international

 

With the 17th IAAF World Athletic Championships around the corner, Arshad Nadeem is the only local athlete that the Athletics Federation of Pakistan can afford to send. If the Federation’s president is to be believed, Nadeem, who won the bronze medal in the javelin throw at the 2018 Asian Games, has the best chances of winning at such a level. A few days ago, former Pakistani cricketers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Malik tweeted an apology to Pakistani boxer Muhammad Waseem for not being given a celebratory welcome on his return from the UAE after his 82-second knockout win over Conrado Tanamor at the Rotunda Rumble, which marked his seventh knockout. Similarly, in 2017, the winner of the Australian Bodybuilding Championship, Atif Anwar, only received national recognition after his story went viral on social media. Again in 2015, Salman Ahmed, who clinched the Mr Musclemania title in Las Vegas, was unable to afford an entourage of managers, coaches, promoters for the event. The list goes on and on and on.
Not only does Pakistan have a history of disregarding local talent, it seems that sports in general have been left in shambles. Local industries, which once showed signs of flourishing, have shriveled up while the face of anything international is kept presentable. Sports at the grass-roots level remains alive only through the sheer passion and determination of individual athletes that invest their life saving into it. From the already filtered funds that the local sports industry receives, most of it is concentrated on international cricket, primarily because of economic benefit and international acclaim. Much like the grounds, local cricket has also dried up. Colonial idealism and Western romanticism have become so ingrained within our society that we leap at first chance of international or foreign recognition rather than our own. It is time that we as a country started to introspect and turn our focus at the ground level towards improving our local budding talent and industries by strengthening systems that promote national recognition. That is the true spirit of nationalism.

 

 

Shocking beyond belief

 

In recent years, cases of sexual abuse are occurring in different parts of the country with sickening regularity. The remains of three minor boys were recovered on Sept 17 in Chunian tehsil of Kasur district, Punjab. The police suspect that the boys were killed after being subjected to sexual assault. Three children, aged between eight and 12 years, had been missing since June. Another eight-year-old boy, Faizan, disappeared on the night of Sept 16. Mohammad Imran, 12, went missing on June 3. Ali Husnain, nine, and Suleman Akram, eight, went missing on Aug 8 and Aug 17, respectively. Locals say a fifth child is also missing. One of the bodies has been identified as that of Faizan. The remains are believed to be of Ali and Suleman. A police official said Faizan was strangled after he was subjected to assault. He, however, added that they were awaiting final reports from the Punjab Forensic Science Agency. On Sept 18 in Chunian, people took to the streets to protest against the killings and suspected sexual assault of the four boys. Protesters also gathered outside the local police station and raised slogans against the alleged inaction of the police. So far no one has been arrested in connection with the murders. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has taken notice of the incident. Locals suspect that an organised gang of criminals is behind the murders.
Several horrific incidents have occurred in Kasur district in recent years. In Jan 2018, six-year-old Zainab Ansari was raped and killed. Her killer, Imran Ali, was hanged on October 17, 2018. Before Zainab, he had raped and killed six other minor girls also. In 2015, a village in Kasur district had attracted international attention when a pornography ring was busted.
Ironically, the government’s Zainab Alert Bill has been pending with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights for months. The bill prescribes deterrent punishment for rape. The government needs to act to stem the growing tide of sexual abuse and murder. Experts should explore the issue keeping in view all of its aspects. The law’s delay is destroying many lives and families.
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