The death of nine anti-Polio workers has come as a new low in the life of the Pakistani nation. Almost as if the country had lost its bearings and its society could not even determine its priorities. The Polio virus is a real threat to the future of Pakistani children and adults. While it has been eliminated in the neighbouring countries such as India and Bangladesh, Pakistan has witnessed the resurgence of the virus as well as a disturbing trend of refusals among the parents to vaccinate children. There is a complex set of factors at play. The extremists have unleashed a campaign, which considers the Polio vaccine as part of the ‘Western’ agenda to harm the Muslims of Pakistan. Last year’s CIA-sponsored fake vaccination campaigns to hunt bin Laden did not help this cause either. Polio vaccination was made controversial in the process. But all of this is not an excuse to deny Pakistani children their right to a safe and healthy future.
The United Nations is now worried about the security of its staff and the growing threats to their workers and volunteers who are undertaking door-to-door campaigns to achieve one hundred percent vaccination coverage of all children. The World Health Organisation, as reported in the media, might be winding up its work in the country. This is a moment of reckoning for the Pakistani authorities – its civilian government and the army leadership – which have to ensure that this country does not become hostage to the terror perpetrated by the extremists who have a warped view of the world.
The brutal killing of five people in Karachi and more in Peshawar and Nowshehra is a sad reminder of our crippled law enforcement machinery. The Police remains governed by a confusing legal and administrative arrangement. Whatever reform was initiated under Musharraf has been undone by the civilian governments in the provinces, which are keen to use the Police as an instrument of personal and political aggrandizement. The prosecution services are in shambles and no worthwhile investment has been made into them despite the massive threat of terrorism and worsening law and order across the country.
How can the courts decide on terrorism cases if there is unreliable and incomplete investigation and prosecution of a particular criminal case? Having said that the courts especially at the district level have not demonstrated much efficiency in deciding on terrorism cases. Sometimes they are afraid and on other occasions they face cases, which have little credible evidence for a sentence to be made. (more…)