Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pakistan Happenings:The plight of Displaced Women, Beachgoers and Minorities.

As August makes its announcements many issues stand tall in Pakistan. Foremost is the plight and hunger of the internally displaced  women and children of Waziristan and FATA. As daily Dawn reports many women , second wives and those who are not registered with the NADRA registration authority go hungry and destitute along with their children  as they cannot receive food rations supplied to the IDPs.
The outdated customs in far flung remote areas of FATA and KPK have made lives of women and children miserable. As this news highlights two women married to a bedridden 70 year old man with twelve children to feed are not registered with NADRA and so cannot recieve food. As their husband is pld and bedridden he cannot go to the ration distribution points where only men are being given food rations so they are at the mercy of other people who themselves are displaced and dependent on rations. The mismanagement of food distribution system and not allowing international and many national NGOs to help these IDPs is hampering the process of food distribution in these areas.Women and children are suffering enormously.The international and national NGOs should be allowed to help these people. The need is urgent.Educational rehabilitation should also be undertaken for children.
Another program on television also showed the plight of  many people from Waziristan who could not go to Bannu for collection of rations highlighted the need for international NGOs such as World Food Program to help in towns where the government and armed forces cannot supply food rations.
Minorities are also suffering many problems which need to be addressed by the governments both provincial and federal.
the burning of houses with women and children inside in Gujranwala, Punjab ought to be taken up by the Punjab government seriously. The mob violenec should not have been allowed in the first place and if has done so much damage the government should take the police to task for not controlling this incident. Such blatant acts of violence where women, children and innocent members of a community are impudently massacred by a majority community bid very ominous signs for the well being of Pakistan.It is high time that the Punjab government and the federal government woke up from the slumber of impunity and arrogance and addressed this issue. A board should be formed where all past such incidents including the Gojra massacre be investigated and those responsible punished.

The news of Hindu traders being kidnapped and killed in Umerkot is also ominuous. This community also needs protection as they are peaceful citizens in Sindh province. The callous attitude of the Sindh government also speaks volumes of the apathy and neglect towards the issues being faced by the minorities

Eid is a festival of joy and celebration but this was not to be so for 38 persons who drowned on the Karachi Seaview beach. As summer moths of June, July, August and September approach this are
a of the Arabian Sea becomes unusually rough with totally unsafe beaches for people. Previously city governments used to post warnings on the beach and disallow access to the sea. Many deaths were prevented although in the last five years an average of nine to ten deaths was seen. this year so far 38 bodies have been recovered from Karachi beaches out of which 35 from Clifton, Seaview beach only. The responsibility solely lies on the administration of Karachi and the Sindh government. No amount of shifting of responsiblity or excuses can cover the negligence, callousness and indifference that the citizens of Karachi have been witnessing for some time now. Two main factors are responsible. First and foremost is the absence of a responsible ,elected city government that is local government system. Since the Pakistan Peoples Party has come into power in Sindh and when it was in power at the federal level too it made sure that   MQM stays out of power at city level of which it is a major contender in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur. In doing so it has deprived a mega city like Karachi many of its facilities and recreational safety and infrastrucure. There is no sense of responsibility, ownership or well being even in average citizens and tragedies like these happen.This could have been easily prevented. Had a local government been there, the citizens would have put up warnings, made scouting activities to man and guard the beach, help visitors and revellers with safe areas to enjoy in etc. The parking lot attnedents who fleece millions of visitors daily are only there to collect money. They are neither responsible citizens nor have any intersts in public well being or welfare. They are doing their job at a very low level for the Clifton Cantonment Board, which is again a semi autonomous body under the Defence Housing Authority entrusted with collecting taxes, garbage disposal and maintenance of roads, gutters etc. A citizen board which mans it also deals with such issues. There is no ownership of  safety issues as such.
Simple measures like warning signs, roped enclosures for safe areas and more scouts from the Navy or Coast Guards as a preemptive safety measure would have prevented these tragedies to occur.The attitude of the Sindh government towards Karachi shows apathy and irresponsible behavior. Either they do not understand what safety is all about or they do not care for Karachi citizens. The irony is many of the people who drowned were young men from Quetta, Gilgit and Peshawar who probably being  new to the sea could not understand the ferociousness of the waves. Being an old Karachiite and seen this beach for decades I can vouch for the small, ferocious currents that come to these waters at this time and without warning a person is swept away. The currents are small and so fierce that the non-swimmer does not stand a chance to prevent drowning. Even a strong swimmer will survive with difficulty. These beaches should be prohibited to visit during these months. The roadside should be made into a holiday area for the season so that people can enjoy a view only.It is hoped that the Sindh government does not forget this tragedy and does some safe practices next season and also thinks about a local government election.

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