The Express Tribune Editorial 24 May 2021

Dying to be heard

 

Another social media viral video and another young life snuffed out. This, unfortunately, is the tale of 19-year-old college student Hamidullah from the Kabal Tehsil of Swat, who became only the latest of young, talented and promising superstars losing life whilst chasing the elusive dream of fame. Hamidullah was shooting a video for the popular video-sharing social network TikTok when a gun that he was using as a prop accidentally discharged a bullet that was lodged in it unbeknownst to the youngster. It did not make matters better when some of his friends, who were helping him shoot the video, narrated that the theme of the fatal content was suicide. The phenomenon of people losing their lives in their bid to take ‘daring’ shots or videos while doing outrageous and highly unsafe acts is nothing new and, in fact, predates TikTok’s creation. They are thus the symptoms of a disease.
The race for garnering an ever-increasing number of likes and becoming social media sensation stems from a larger need to be recognised, to be seen, heard and understood. Many extremely talented artists in Pakistan are understood to have never been provided an opportunity to express their talent just because those in position of authority thought they were not good enough or what they wanted to do was just a waste of time. So many such youngsters turned to the only outlet they know, social media. And some, like Hamidullah, found some validation for it by connecting with like-minded people online. There are others like a simpleton from a Pakistani village who hit national stardom just by cooking with the simple and traditional utensils that he had available.
The true tragedy of the digital revolution is how an unforgiving culture of wanting to be seen and heard is voraciously consuming lives all because we do not give such people the courtesy they deserve in the real world. That is something that banning platforms will never solve.

 

 

So far so good

 

After initial delays, the anti-Covid vaccination drive in Pakistan seems to be moving pretty smoothly, to the extent that whosoever — above the age of 30 — wants to receive the jabs is having no problems. Vaccination centres have been set up across the country, and daily vaccinations in the country are nearing the two hundred thousand mark. The total number of doses administered has exceeded five million. Dr Faisal Sultan, the de facto health minister, says the daily vaccinations have to be raised to five hundred thousand in order to reach the desired results as early as possible and move back to normal business across the country.
Meanwhile, apart from the 30-plus population, the government has allowed walk-in vaccination for all those who are employed or studying abroad, and need to leave the country on a particular schedule. The government has also decided to vaccinate the teachers, especially those who will be conducting examinations, on a priority basis. There are also reports that the authorities are also prepared to vaccinate those intending to perform Hajj with AstraZeneca, one of the four coronavirus vaccines authorised by Saudi Arabia. A vaccination centre has also been set up at the Lahore Press Club to vaccinate journalists who lie among the at-risk population.
The government does deserve to be appreciated for its efforts to procure the vaccine from different sources. The required amount of vaccine is available in the country which is evident from the fact that there is no panic at the vaccination centres across the country, except for a case or two, like in Gujranwala where the Pakistanis employed abroad have complained of the risk of their visas getting expired due to delays. Local authorities must pay attention to such complaints. Overall though, the vaccination process has so far been so good.

 

 

Chaman blast

 

Considering that bomb blasts in Pakistan usually take place on Friday and taking into account that the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan is underway, the blast of an Improvised Explosive Device in Chaman town bordering Afghanistan might be attributed to several causes. The possibility of official neglect too cannot be ruled out as a government statement says that security alert had been issued every week, but this time around no such alert was issued, even though a rally, under the auspices of the Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam-Nazaryati (JUI-N), to express solidarity with Palestinians was held. The blast occurred after the end of the rally in which at least seven people were killed and 17 others wounded. According to officials, the apparent target of the blast was a JUI-N leader, Maulana Abdul Qadir Luni. Fortunately, he escaped with minor injuries.
The US plan to completely end its military presence in Afghanistan by September 11, the continued violence in Afghanistan, its unfriendly attitude towards Pakistan, the presence of Indian espionage operatives in Afghanistan, and the overall regional situation, call for utmost vigilance in areas bordering Afghanistan where there has been an uptick in violence of late, targeting both civilians and armed personnel. On May 4, four FC soldiers had been martyred and six others injured in Zhob when some 20 terrorists based in Afghanistan opened fire at them. A soldier each had been martyred in two similar attacks in the last two months. And on April 22, five people had been killed in a powerful blast in the parking lot of Serena Hotel in Quetta.
India has long been trying to strengthen its presence in Afghanistan and use it for its strategic purposes. Now that India is left almost friendless in the region, Pakistan needs to be more watchful of the developments in Afghanistan. Sri Lanka is no more friends with India as it has given the contract for the construction of a new port to China. The contract had earlier been awarded to India. Nepal has tense relations with India over border issues. Bangladesh’s relations with the latter are also strained due to the BJP win in Assam state elections.

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