The Express Tribune Editorial 28 August 2019

Game of musical chairs


Our politicians seem to possess an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar ‘designated’ former mayor Mustafa Kamal as ‘Project Director Garbage on a voluntary basis’ on Aug 26 in view of the worsening unsanitary conditions in the city. In less than 24 hours he announced ‘suspending’ the Pak Sarzameen Party chief from the position. A few days ago, Sindh Chief Minister Abdullah Shah had announced that the standing rain and sewerage water in Karachi would be cleared in 48 hours. In the provincial assembly, the former minister for local bodies blames others for the unhygienic conditions in Karachi. Things on the ground go on worsening, however. The whole thing appears to be an ending game of musical chairs. The residents of the city feel tormented and amused at the same time.
Indifference and endurance are locked in a silent battle. Those running the affairs of state seem to have become masters of masterly inaction. We can learn a lesson or two from the recent history of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. How continued governmental indifference there caused heavy damage to human life and property. An inquiry report squarely blamed the government’s indifference for the damage caused to human life, property and civic infrastructure in the wake of the storm. Much before the storm struck New Orleans the concerned quarters had been warning of the impending disaster. The hurricane killed thousands, destroyed a large number of buildings and rendered thousands of people homeless. There is much in it for us to wake us from our blissful slumber. But lessons of history are for those who are willing to learn. The stupid common man has an infinite capacity for enduring suffering. Where birds go to die? Where donkeys are found dead? One can easily find answers to these uncomfortable questions. Only if one has the curiosity to ask questions. But in the prevailing atmosphere of indifference, it would be like asking people to see as far as two miles with two eyes if they can see up to one mile with one eye.


Kashmir: burning volcano


Prime Minister Imran Khan is very right in his assessment that Narendra Modi, his Indian counterpart, has committed a “historic blunder” by revoking the special autonomy of occupied Kashmir and, in doing so, he “has opened the way to Kashmir’s freedom”. The unrelenting resistance of the Kashmiri men, women and children — despite a strict curfew — is a testimony to Imran’s belief which he passed on to New Delhi in the form of a caution. Unarmed and famished Kashmiri civilians continue to defy the heavy restrictions and come out on the streets in protest, unfazed by the hundreds of thousands of Indian troops that are fanned across Jammu and Kashmir to ensure the lockdown of the occupied state that has entered 23rd day today. The Indian troops are armed to the teeth, but have no answer to the steely determination of the Kashmiris who are fighting on and on even though they carry no weapons, except for the small pieces of rocks and stones to scare away their brute opponent. The continued Indian atrocities — denial of access to food, water and medicines; choking of the communication channels; imprisonment of hundreds of innocent civilians; and detention of almost the whole of resistance leadership — are only adding to the daredevilry of the never-say-die Kashmiris and enflaming their love for freedom and their hatred of the occupation forces.
And as the valiant struggle of the Kashmiris continues undeterred, Prime Minister Imran assured them that they are not alone in their fight for the right to self-determination, and reiterated that he will himself act as Kashmir’s ambassador. In a televised address to the nation on Monday, the PM shared his government’s policy and stance as regards the prevailing Kashmir situation, while detailing all his efforts for peace with India that finally came to an abrupt halt with its annexation of the disputed territory on August 5 that runs in contravention of the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council. He also shed light on the fascist Hindu ideology that led to the assassination of Mahatama Gandhi soon after the Partition — the ideology that started gaining ground in India after the death of former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and consolidated its hold on the reins of power in the times of Prime Minister Modi who is spearheading the RSS/BJP dream of Hindutva being pursued for a long long time.
In wars, there are no winners or losers, there are only survivors. While the PM did convey the very fact in his address to the nation, he also made it loud and clear that the whole Pakistani nation stood ready to go any stretch for the cause of Kashmir. “Till my last breath I will go [to help the Kashmiris realise their dream of freedom],” declared the PM. He also sounded upset by the slumbering world conscience, but told the gallant Kashmiris “whether the world stands with them or not, Pakistan will.” Still, he once again drew the attention of the world powers towards the plight of millions of Kashmiris living under brutal Indian occupation, abuse and violence. Days back too, the PM had urged the world to make efforts to prevent “an impending genocide of Kashmiris” in the occupied territory.
And in line with his pledge to raise the Kashmir issue the world over, the PM had a telephone talk with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman soon after his address to the nation to apprise him of the situation prevailing in the India-occupied region. As the Ambassador of Kashmir, the PM is required to embark on a whirlwind diplomacy to win friends for Kashmiris in the world. The world must now understand that Kashmir is a burning volcano that can erupt anytime.


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