The Express Tribune Editorial 21 August 2019

Ill-timed opposition


The opposition parties of Pakistan, while committed to pursuing their anti-government agenda, have once again failed to appreciate and understand the gravity of the regional geo-political situation, especially with reference to the recent developments on the country’s eastern and western borders. A five-hour-long joint meeting of the opposition parties in Islamabad on Monday decided to initiate a protest movement against the PTI government and to lay siege to the federal capital in near future. After presiding over the joint opposition, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who remained chief of the Kashmir Committee for almost 30 years during successive governments, accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of “selling out Kashmir under an international conspiracy”.
Without going into the merits and demerits of the decisions taken at the Monday’s meeting and the pronouncements of Fazlur Rahman, one expected more prudence and maturity from the opposition parties given the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and India which is being feared to generate into a military conflict. Nothing could have added to the joys of the BJP leadership in Delhi than the negative signals emanating from Islamabad about a nation being in disarray and disunited on an issue like Kashmir that has continued to define the country’s national security policy and foreign policy concerns for the last seven decades.
It appears as if the power struggle and personal dislikes override the callings and demands of the national interest and external threats to the country. How serious is the situation due to the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and India could well be appreciated by President Donald Trump’s telephonic conversation with Narendra Modi and Imran Khan on Monday evening. It was the first interaction between Trump and Modi after the BJP government’s August 5 decision about the status of Kashmir, and second with Imran Khan since then. In a tweet after a conversations with both the leaders, Trump said, “Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnership and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!


Water aggression


Water remains the bane of Pakistan – either there is not enough of it or there is far too much.
The Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial disaster management authorities (PDMA) have issued flood alerts after India released water into River Sutlej and Alchi dam. Punjab’s PDMA on Monday issued a flood alert due to rising levels in the Sutlej after India released water, while the K-P and Punjab PDMA chiefs both said that India’s opening of Alchi dam’s outlets without prior notice could cause the Indus to flood.
Pakistan, meanwhile, would do well to take the Indians to court over their callous attitude to water management. According to an Indian government official, interviewed by news agency Reuters, the release of water is a ‘routine exercise’ during the monsoon season and that the poor relations between the two countries has affected information-sharing. The official claims that it is only goodwill on their part that they share information with Pakistan, never mind the legal obligation under the Indus Water Treaty.
Fascism starts from the top, and it would appear that even water management bureaucrats are taking a page from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s book and spitting on the law, never mind the disregard for human rights. Even Pakistan’s Permanent Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Mehr Ali Shah says that India has reneged on key commitments including the annual exchange of flood-related information. India’s release of water had already flooded areas around Kasur and Rajanpur, affecting hundreds of localities and damaging many acres of crops.
More rain is expected in the Indian rivers in the coming days. Pakistan Meteorological Department has issued a flood warning, noting that very heavy rainfall has been observed over the upper and lower catchments of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi during the last 72 hours, meaning that the situation on the Pakistani side could severely worsen as there are already reports of floods in multiple parts of India due to the same rainy spell.


Mob justice


In Karachi, last week a teenage boy, accused of theft, was lynched to death by a mob. In 2016, two young boys were beaten to death in Sialkot while the police urged them on. In Karachi, the boy named Rehan was tied to a metal grill and an enraged group of people beat him mercilessly. The police reached the spot and rushed him to a government hospital where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. Not only was the boy beaten mercilessly, the gory scene was also filmed. In keeping with mob mentality the movie was uploaded on social media. This part of the tragic story fully confirms that the mob acts entirely on impulse. By its very nature, it is incapable of giving a thought to the cause or consequences of its mindless actions. The victim boy’s family staged a protest demonstration demanding action against the killers. So far a few people have been arrested on the charge of killing the boy. The case has been registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
In recent years, we have seen several cases of the mob administering its own brand of rough and ready justice. We hope this is the last such case. The other aspect of the issue is the delays involved in the country’s justice system. It is after people get exasperated with delays in the delivery of justice that they tend to take the law into their hands. It is said that justice delayed is justice denied; but the other aspect of the thing is that justice hurried is justice buried. However, under no circumstances, should mob justice be tolerated. It should be nipped in the bud.
Why do such inhumane incidents keep on occurring in our society? Possibly it is because of the casual attitude of the authorities towards issues affecting us. Unfortunately, urgency is the element which is missing.

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