I am shocked and appalled by some comments made by our prime minister regarding a minority community protesting and demanding basic security. He apparently described the protestors as ‘blackmailers’ for demanding that the PM make a personal visit to condole the families of 11 coalminers who were killed by ISIS terrorists. When I heard the prime minister’s remarks, I could not believe what I had heard. This was the same man who would speak for the rights of the people when he was in opposition. He used to call out the rulers for their absence during tragedy or a crisis. Now, it appears the prime minister has perfected the art of making excuses and disappearing. As a person who voted for the PTI and was willing to give the party a genuine chance to govern and serve the people, I now regret my decision. So far IK’s government has done nothing remarkable – something that a voter can point to and say, “this is why I voted for the Captain.” Now, one feels embarrassed in social settings when politics is being discussed as there is nothing defensible about this ruling order. When the prime minister when to Quetta to finally condole with the protestors, I was disgusted to hear the condescending language he was using while speaking to the families of the workers who had lost their lives. I hope and pray that our country emerges from this dark period in which compassionate leaders are absent.
Two years ago, there was a serious global conversation around climate change. This conversation was launched and pushed by environment activists such as Greta Thunberg. In Pakistan, large demonstrations were held across the country and citizens from all walks of life joined in to express their concern about the lack of national policy that could mitigate the effects of climate change. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversation around climate change has taken a backseat, especially in Pakistan. It was shocking that Pakistan has taken no concrete steps to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels in its energy mix, which is the most basic step any country can take. Instead, we have increased our reliance on coal in power production. This comes at a time when the whole world is moving away from coal, and when there exists global expertise and technical knowledge on the introduction of renewable sources in energy production. I urge our rulers to take the issue of climate change very seriously. We cannot operate on outdated thinking if we wish to come at par with developed countries.
The recent power breakdown across Pakistan is a cause of huge concern for all of us. It is shocking that large parts of the country were deprived of power for many hours. I thought we had overcome the electricity crisis to a great extent, and now it was clear that our system is as weak and vulnerable as ever. The blackout triggered many rumors on social media – that perhaps there had been a military coup, or that a war had broken out. Thankfully, neither of these scenarios came true. I urge our rulers to think about the vulnerabilities in our electric grid and strengthen them as soon as possible.
The coronavirus pandemic is not yet over and people have resumed daily life as if nothing happened. We don’t even know when the vaccine will be made available in Pakistan and who would have access to it and how. There are so many rumors about the efficacy of all vaccines being distributed. The government needs to announce a clear policy regarding the vaccines. It should ensure that Pakistani citizens are not used as laboratory rats for strange and useless vaccines, and that authentic and reliable vaccines are administered to citizens. Many people are anxiously waiting for the vaccine to be made available, but until then, it would be wise not to let one’s guard down.
The double impeachment of Donald Trump is a harsh indictment of his presidency. But what is most shocking is the lengths he was willing to go to keep his hold on power. It is also disturbing that a mass of rioters defaced government buildings. The whole world was shocked about the tragedy that was playing on TV screens. The most painful thing was the shattering realization that nothing is sacred for someone who is lusting for power. The jokes and memes after the mob attack in Washington did not provide much relief; they were a dark reminder that authoritarian bullies are in positions of power all over the world and that they only care about their own vested interests. The ideal of American democracy was shattered the day Donald Trump incited an attack on state property.