The Express Tribune Editorial 25 September 2019

Tensions simmer in ME

 

All eyes are hovering above Iran following the Aramco attack, initially claimed by the Yemeni Houthi militia, on September 14. In light of recent investigations the US was the first to issue explicit statements inculpating Iran on the basis of “Iranian-made weapons” used in the attack. Tehran, however, denies such accusations.
Since the attack, Trump has propelled economic push-down by imposing another round of sanctions on Iran’s central bank and development fund in an attempt to apply “maximum pressure”. To psychologically put the country at edge, Trump has hinted at military action and possible war options. Furthermore, the US has announced the deployment of its forces as well as air defence capabilities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, claiming it to be “defensive in nature”. This bolsters the US-Saudi relationship, in an attempt to collectively tackle the so-called Iran problem. Even though presently the US is not dependent on Gulf oil, further attacks could trigger economic instability around the world, which the US is avoiding at all costs; given past instances. One can also not ignore the fact that the US will now have a physical presence in the wealthiest part of the country.
Iran, on the other hand, seems more resilient than ever, with its Foreign Minister and the Commander of the Revolutionary Guards claiming that any attack on
Iran would mean an “all-out war”. Hope and options for Iran are quickly fading away as recently, the British Prime Minister offered support to the US and Saudi Arabia against Iran. This proves to be a trump move and only a brilliant mastermind can pull off such strategic manoeuvres to cordon Iran off from all fronts. It seems that, unlike his predecessors who would so easily enforce military action, Trump is using all diplomatic means to pressurise Iran to throw in the towel.

 
 

Mother, child mortality

 

This should be a matter of serious concern for policymakers that Balochistan has recorded the highest mother and child mortality rate. The provincial health minister has attributed this to the less developed infrastructure of the region emphasising the need for paying more attention to the issue. Talking to a media outlet the other day, he said the provincial government had declared a nutrition emergency. He said the issue could be tackled only with collective and concrete efforts and urged support for the Provincial Nutrition Programme. He sought support of all government organisations in reaching out to the masses living in poor conditions in far-flung areas of the province. The minister said the WHO, Unicef and the WFP were cooperating with the government of Balochistan in tackling the issue of malnutrition in the province. He urged the Ministry of National Health Services to engage with donors and development partners to invest and mobilise resources to help the provincial health department overcome the issue of mother and child mortality. The minister said considering the significance of nutrition, it tops the agenda of the government. He expressed satisfaction that mothers and children were being provided with best possible nutrition care facilities in seven districts of the province. He said the government was committed to elevating the nutrition status in the province on a long-term basis.
Malnutrition among mothers and children under five is prevalent in most developing countries. Around 165 million children under five years of age suffer from the malady worldwide. Malnutrition is one of the top killers of children. It also causes morbidity and physical and mental stunting. An important cause of the malady is lack of spacing between births. Health facilities in Balochistan are located far away from villages. Medicare facilities should not be more than four kilometres away from human settlements. Most regions in the Third World endowed with rich resources have most misery. It is a paradox.

 
 

Imran-Trump meeting

 

US President Donald Trump repeated on Monday his offer to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue as he met with Prime Minister Imran Khan for the second time in two months.
In the two months between the meetings at the White House and now the UN, however, the situation has changed dramatically, with some initially claiming Trump’s initial offer was a ‘misspeak’ that forced a panicked Indian government to hastily end Indian Occupied Kashmir’s autonomy and initiate a crippling communications blackout that has now lasted for over six weeks.
It is now clear that it wasn’t a misspeak. It is less clear what the US will do to help mitigate Kashmiris’ suffering under the punishing rule of the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who Trump has previously referred to as a “loyal friend of the US” and whose rule of India — where fascist Hindutva enforcers are free to lynch minorities without fear of reprisal — was called “a truly exceptional job for India and all of the Indian people” by the US President just a day ago at the “Howdy, Modi” event in Houston.
Trump also attempted to distance himself from Modi’s sabre-rattling in Texas, claiming, “I heard a very aggressive statement yesterday [that] I didn’t know I was going to hear.”
It was also welcoming that despite some critical words a day earlier from PM Imran about the famously thin-skinned Trump’s role in the failure of Afghan peace talks, Trump actually seemed warm during their public interaction.
He claimed to “trust Pakistan” more than his predecessors, adding, “They didn’t know what they were doing.”
Of Kashmir, Trump said he wants “everybody to be treated well” and “there is always a solution.”
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Premier was blunt in his assessment of Trump’s accomplishments, or lack thereof, in Houston.
“When you’re supposed to meet Narendra Modi, I would have [suggested he be asked] to at least lift the siege,” he told Trump, adding that “It’s a huge humanitarian crisis.”
As Imran said, “We look to the US to put out flames in the world”.

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