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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Will India Pakistan Feed Their Hungry with War & Nuclear Weapons?


Poochhna hai ab mujhe yeh Hind-O-Pakistan sey,
Peit bhookon ka bharogey kya jang ke samaan sey?
(I now have to ask this from India and Pakistan, 
Will you feed your hungry with the weapons of war?).
~Kunwer Mahinder Singh Bedi Seher

India and Pakistan, both nuclear nations, have been embroilled in conflict over the territory of Kashmir since 1947. Several times in past 70+ years have they come very close to war.

However, their human life indices tell a very sordid story.

Global Hunger Index for past 13 years has been ranking countries based on four key indicators — undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting. Zero is the best score and a reading above 100 is the worst.
You can see the detailed list here: https://www.globalhungerindex.org/results/.

Out of 119 countries ranked on global hunger index,  the countries ranks in South Asia region in 2019 were as:

  • Sri Lanka- 62
  • Nepal- 72
  • Bangladesh -86
  • India- 103 (was 100 in 2017 and 55 in 2014) (Score= 31.6)
  • Pakistan -106 (Score 32.6)

Together between these countries, there are over 1 billion children and youth whose lives are at stake because of warmongering, which is unnecessary and unwarranted.

Here are some pictures of children from India and Pakistan:

Hunger

Hunger 3

hunger 5

hunger 4

hunger 2

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Can Pakistan be Polio free?


 Published: July 31, 2019 here: Express Tribune Blogs

A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to school children. PHOTO: GETTY

People who know me well know that I often compulsively compare and contrast India and Pakistan by virtue of not just their close proximity, but because I consider both countries as my home.

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India polio free on March 27, 2014, after it had not had a single case since 2009, I was filled with great pride. Knowing that Indiais densely populated, afflicted with poverty and has poor access to healthcare for millions, polio eradication was indeed something to celebrate. But as in every such situation, I naturally wanted to know how long it would take Pakistan to reach this milestone.

As India has put an end to the polio epidemic, its neighbour Pakistan remains one of the three countries in the world that are still trying to eradicate the disease. I thought to myself, four times larger in size than Pakistan and more populated, so if India could do it, why can’t Pakistan?

With fingers crossed, I have kept my eyes on the numbers ever since. Polio cases dropped in Pakistan from over 300 in 2014 to 54 in 2015. This gave me hope. In 2016, polio cases further went down to 20 and then to eight in 2017.

It must be said here that it is remarkable how the entire world of healthcare had come together, spending $16 billion in the global polio drive over the last 31 years, to eradicate a disease that has in the past left many children disabled for life.

So I was certain in my heart of my hearts that Pakistan would get there.

Pak Fights Polio@PakFightsPolio

Hats off to the polio workers who carried on with their duties in the scorching heat of Baluchistan and successfully vaccinated about 33,000 children in District Jhal Magsi to in Pakistan.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

PTI

@PTIofficial

Meet the 25 year old girl, who sets the perfect example of strong will and commitment. Role model for every woman, nothing can stop Shizza Illyas as she goes from door to door on her motorbike to help @Pakfightspolio end polio in Pakistan. 1/2

Embedded video

But it was not meant to be and there are a confluence of factors that have prevented polio eradication from becoming a reality in Pakistan.

Amidst the politicisation of polio vaccines, not just polio workers, but the police officials accompanying them continued to be gunned down. Yet this still has not deterred the brave health workers from taking risks, high up in the mountains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) or in the ghettos in Karachi, from ensuring that children are given proper and timely access to vaccines.

Early this year, rumours made rounds on social media that children were dying as a result of polio vaccines, thus creating a panic among the thousands of households whose children had been administered these vaccines. In retaliation, health centres were set on fire. It was also reported that a man had divorced his wife after he found out that she ensured their family was administered polio vaccines.

A video also surfaced on social media recently, where children were made to pretend to be dead by a man who wished to prove how dangerous polio vaccines are. Given the spread of such misinformation in the digital age, the proliferation and rise of such videos is deeply concerning and could prove to be a serious roadblock.

omar r quraishi

@omar_quraishi

The news that some children fell ill after being administered the polio vaccine in KP yesterday was fake – see it for yourself here – including the man who instructs the boys to feign illness and lie on the hospital bed

This man should be arrested immediately & prosecuted

Embedded video

If all this wasn’t bad enough, just a couple of weeks ago we heard news of fake polio markersbeing sold in Pakistan, which parents were using to mark their children’s finger to make it seem like they have already been given those ‘dangerous’ two drops. This only further compounds the already arduous job of Pakistan’s polio workers.

What also damages the effectiveness of Pakistan’s polio drive is when polio workers are unable to reach certain localities. It has been reported that 37,678 children missed a recent special immunisation drive which was conducted in Bannu, Lakki Marwat and North Waziristan. While many children could not be given polio drops because their parents refused, 11,853 children could not be reached altogether. An inability to get access to these children will only further complicate an already difficult task.

I have never, and will probably never be able to understand the reasons as to why parents choose to ensure that their children are not given polio drops. Why can’t these people understand how detrimental this kind of rumour mongering can be?

Pak Fights Polio@PakFightsPolio

Parental mistrust & refusal to vaccinate drags 8 months old Imtiaz into lifelong pain & paralysis in District Jaffarabad of Baluchistan. His sorrowful father, holding himself responsible, appeals to parents to learn from his example and say yes to vaccination against polio.

Embedded video

The push-back against polio vaccines stems largely from a whole host of myths which have been floating around for years. From people claiming that the drops are being used to sterilise Muslims, to the campaign being part of a ‘western agenda’, to stories that children have died because of polio drops. The only valid criticism I have come across is the one pertaining to the Shakil Afridi case because it did indeed damage the trust of the communities to a great extent. However, very few know that he was part of the hepatitis vaccine campaign, not the polio vaccine. 

The New York Times

@nytimes

Polio vaccination teams are frequently targeted in Pakistan. Islamist militants and hard-line clerics say the vaccination drive is a foreign plot to sterilize Muslim children and a cover for western spies. https://nyti.ms/2XDqREm 

Security officials investigating an attack by gunmen on a polio vaccination team on Thursday that left one woman dead in the town of Chaman, in Pakistan.

Polio Vaccinator Is Shot and Killed in Pakistan

The woman was part of a vaccination campaign. Another worker in her team was injured. A total of three polio workers have been killed this week as unfounded rumors against vaccines spread.

nytimes.com

In contrast to 12 cases in 2018, there have been 47 reported cases of polio in 2019 so far. It is likely that this number will have gone up by the end of the year.

With every case of polio paralysis, the virus spreads to 200 more children in the neighbourhood. As a result, the virus has been found in multiple sewage samples in Karachi, Sindh, Balochistan, K-P and Punjab. Not just limited to Pakistan and Afghanistan, the same strain of polio virus has even been detected in sewage samples in Iran and in the Xinjiang province in China.

It seems that the polio virus is here to stay in Pakistan for much longer than we would want it to.

All the kids afflicted with polio paralysis, if they survive, will grow up to be adults on crutches and in wheelchairs. Many of them may not even be able to afford crutches and will be dragging their stick-thin, polio-afflicted limbs along the ground. Will they be living in abject poverty, dependent on their family, or will they resort to begging on the streets?

What about those hundreds of children who will be affected in the years to come?

As a Pakistani, as a doctor and as a mother, I am pleading with all the parents: please let those two drops help save your children’s future.

ilmana.fasih

Dr Ilmana Fasih

An Indian gynaecologist, married to a Pakistani, Ilmana is a health activist, and m-Health entrepreneur, who writes on social and health issues as a passion. She dreams of a world without borders and wars.

Malala


Andhon ko unka chehra dikha diya hai Malala ney,
Jehad dar-asl kya hai, sikha diya hai Malala ney.

Jahalat sey hai jang, jata diya hai Malala ney,
Taleem  hai farz-e-momin, bata diya hai Malala ney

Soye huwe seenon ko jaga diya hai Malala ney,
 Khoye huwe iman se, mila diya hai Malala ney.

Payam-e-Amn duniya ko, suna diya hai Malala ney,
Her shakhs  ko Malala, bana diya hai Malala ney.

 

The blind have been shown their real face by Malala,
What is true struggle, has been taught to us by Malala.

The real fight is against ignorance, has been asserted by Malala.
Education is an obligatory duty of believers, is reminded, by Malala.

Apathetic hearts have been shaken awake  by Malala.
The lost message of faith  has been rediscovered by Malala.

The message of Peace to the world  has been conveyed by Malala,
Each one of us feels Malala, has been made possible by Malala.

 

 

Humbled these verses have been included in the anthology: Malala: The poems on Malala Yusufzai, released on the first anniversary of her tragic targetting on October 9, 2013.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18405178-malala

I dream of a Polio free Pakistan


In January 2012, India was declared to have not reported a single case of Polio for over a year. Knowing its vast area, huge population, diverse terrain and socio economic disparity, to have achieved this was a mammoth achievement. My joy of the news was terminated, before it began, when I realised how far Pakistan was from this goal, especially after 173 cases being diagnosed in the past year , and a few almost recently. My heart shuddered to question, “How long would this take Pakistan to reach that goal of being Polio free?”

However June 2012 and early July brought forth a new wave of hope, when the UNICEF’s Regional Director, Karin Hulshoff, wrote in a newspaper of her excitement and optimism with which the work of Polio eradication was progressing in Pakistan. According to a report by a scientific group, there were only 22 cases in the past six months as compared to 58 the same time last year. Owing to the introduction of a new bivalent vaccine, there have been better results, with Pakistan approaching the hopeful day of eradication faster. She stressed that now more emphasis should be given to the coverage of missed cases, or those never vaccinated earlier. “Even one child missed is a lost opportunity to eradicate polio from Pakistan forever”. Hence to not miss any case, the program was geared up everywhere and in the FATA too.

The same time was the case of Dr Afridi for spying came to light. It is sad, media also misreported, and many among the common masses still believe that Dr Afridi was associated with Polio campaign, though the truth remains that he was collecting samples for the hepatitis C virus.

The coincidental increase in the activities of Polio campaign to speed up the Polio eradication, and Dr Afridi’s spying mission led many to misunderstand that there was some conspiracy against the tribal region, through Polio vaccination. There could be no two opinions about abusing the trust of the people on health workers for one’s vested interests. It is extremely deplorable. But should one or more such Dr Afridis succeed in putting the health of 240,000 innocent children at risk?

How about the tribal elders instead, recruit their own trusted workers to give the two drops of Polio to their innocent kids and secure not just the future of kids, but also their own reputation as being concerned and caring for the humanity?

However, the ban by the tribal elders for the July16-18 Polio drive was to ask for a total stop of drones. Drones are a tragedy, and are inhuman, especially the loss of innocent lives of children are deplorable, but to use one’s own children as a first line of defence, and deprive them of their right to be safe from a crippling disease, is as unfortunate. I wish the tribal elders who are genuinely concerned about the lives of their common people killed by drones, understood, if their community stays burdened with ill health, they shall be unable to defend themselves either from extremism or any outside aggression, but also get more isolated in the international community.

Can there be no stronger, yet humanitarian ways to protest for stopping of drones, which does not tarnish the image of the tribal men and women?

Shahid Afridi’s inclusion into the Polio campaign is a welcome, and rekindles the hope to see the dream of a Polio free Pakistan come true, sooner than I had feared. Shahid Afridi has stood up for a great service to his own tribal children. He is a true hero and a true humanist; who has roots from the tribal area. In a tweet he remarked:

Afridi vs Polio ‏@AfridivsPolio
#Pakistan is my country and to #SpeakUpAgainstPolioBan is my duty.

At the same time it is hurting to see people of tribal areas being ridiculed ( though rightly so)  internationally for their decision

“Oh yes, I see it, polio vaccines for kids and drone attacks, there is a close relation. CRAZY! #speakupagainstpolioban.”

Or see the decision as illogical:

“Its like cutting your own hand as your protest against a theft, or lashing yourself against the fornication by a foe.”

Another tweep saw how the decision is ultimately going in favour of the aggressors who are being protested against:

They are killing children through drone attacks and these people are trying to make their children crippled for life. It is fulfilment of aggressor’s interests both ways.

Children from the tribal areas are as dear to us as anywhere else in Pakistan. We dream of seeing them Polio free too, and be healthy in every way. We are equally hurt at the drones attacks on the innocent.

I repeat, there can be innumerable stronger ways of protest to make international community notice the aggression and causalities caused by drones, instead of making innocent humanity, whether by killing the health personnel or innocent human beings, or depriving the children of Polio vaccine, a symbol of their protest. This simply leads to tragic loss of credibility and lack of sympathy from the international community. The image of the fellow Pakistanis living in tribal areas, including their elders being tarnished by such decisions hurts, because we know they are as human as any one of us, in Pakistan.

At the same time politicians across the board, remain criminally silent to the issue. Even the kids are not spared now, from being used as  bait for political agendas.

However, I insist I still dream for a Polio free Pakistan from Karachi to FATA.

Please do not play politics with the health of innocent kids !


Published in @ETribune : http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/12865/dont-play-god-with-the-lives-of-innocent-children/

As the rest of the world is sprinting forward, we in Pakistan seem to be walking backwards. One used to get this sense sometimes, but now with passage of time, it comes more often. With the fact that most of the difficult places like India having grappled with a serious health issue like Polio, and are at the turn of calling themselves polio free, we in Pakistan are not just not close to that, but even retreating fast to make sure we get further away from this dream.

The news of North Waziristan deciding to impose Polio drops ban in their area as a protest against the drones, or the boycotting of Polio campaign in Drazinda village while protesting against the load shedding, brings in not just shivers to the health conscious on this globe, but also gives yet another reason for Pakistan to be a focus in the international circles for a ridiculous reason.

They have a right to register their protests against drone’s attacks, or of Dr Afridi’s betrayal or even against load shedding. But how is this justified by turning ones guns against the innocent kids who are in no way directly or indirectly responsible for any of these unfair actions.

How is banning of Polio drops to the kids going to make a difference to the drones? Is it not akin to hitting your own foot with an axe, crippling yourself even more, making your own children, who are the youth of tomorrow, be burdened with more illhealth and handicap? How will this help them stop drone attacks, or generate more electricity or prevent more Dr Afridis being recruited?

How are risking one’s own children to a crippled life, a way of avenging the atrocities of the aggressors?

As said by a twitter friend: “Taliban want to kick US outta Afghanistan/Pakistan but they never know kicking with polio affected legs is quite impossible ‪#PolioBan‬”

No atrocity is large enough to avenge the innocent kids, be they are from any ethnic community or faith or nationality. And to our horror, the Taleban are putting to risk their very own kids.

A tweep justifying the Polio ban remarks: “But people from your profession (referring to Dr Afridi) for betraying the Polio campaign”.

Does one or a few insincere health professionals justify you to make your own children risk being crippled with Polio. Who are you hurting by this? The health professionals or your own kids?

They argue the drones kill more children than from Polio? Yes this is true, and killing of children by drones is criminal like risking the health of innocent children by Polio ban is criminal too. They harm and kill your children, but you in return risk crippling your own children. Is there any commonsense in this logic?
Those who continue and justify drones by all means, will they stop by your threat of Polio ban? Who will it hurt the drones or your own kids?

Or is it because this is the easiest way out, to kick out the unarmed sincere medical personnel, and lash out at unaware innocent children, both of whom will not be able to defend back, this extremely  unfair decision, with equal force.

As a medical professional, I can only scream loud and cry that they have no right to aggressively jeopardise the health of the innocent, at the cost of another aggression.

Which sect of Islam, or which moral value of humanity or which aspect of the hospitality of the large hearted tribals justify for avenging a wrong action with usurping the rights of the meek and the powerless , innocent kids?

Avenging an injustice, by risking the health and crippling your own children for life?
What kind of courage and valour is this?

I am aghast to see that there are educated on Twitter who are justifying‪ the polio vaccination ban, what to talk of those who give it a silent support. ‪

Polio vaccination ‬ campaign should not be used as a shield against drones. It wont help, but be counterproductive. Will it harm the aggressors or the innocent Pakistani kids?

Polio isn’t petty politics for which politicians, civil society, liberals or conservatives, or general public should not speak up. For the health of Pakistani kids, and for the sake of humanity, please speak up.

I beg you all, please speak up against the Polio Vaccination ban.

This appeal was in response to this news :

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-17/asia/world_asia_pakistan-taliban-polio-vaccine_1_polio-vaccines-polio-campaign-drone-strikes

 

Nirala Sawera


Dedicated to the events :  

Pledge for Peace Launch in UTM, Mississauga, ON.  https://www.facebook.com/events/398846800175596/

Aug 14-15, 2012 Pakistanis, Indians, celebrate Independence Day for Peace
https://www.facebook.com/events/185174041611282/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/amankiasha1/#!/events/243690589069619/

Nafrat ki gathri ko mein ney
Phenk diya hai gireh laga ker
Hasrat se ab khol rahi hoon
Yaadon bharey iss thailey ko
Pyaar ki taaza hawa lagaane
Aman ki roshan dhoop dikhane.

Tum bhi aao, kholo apni
Saari gaanthein, saare bull
Tum bhi apne jholey mein se
Bujhe huwe woh deep nikalo
Un yaadon ke, un baaton ke
Un qisson ke, jo itne zyada
Dohratey the jab Nana Dada
Chehre unke damka jaate the
Ankhein unki chamka detey the.

Usee dhamak ki roshni mein tar
Usee chamak ki lau ko lekar
Mein bhi apna deep jalaaoon
Tum bhi apna diya jalaao
Roshan phir se rahon ko ker dein

Taaron se  khwabon ko bher dein.

Apna apna diya jalaa ker
Saare apne dard bhulaker

Mil ker jab sub saath chalenge
Haath me lekar haath chalenge
Dhal jayegi ghurbat ki sham
Ho paayegi khush haali aam.

Lekin saw nahin, hazaar nahin,
Saath her ek ko chalna hogaa.
Sirf mera ya tumhara nahin,
Diya her ek ka jalna hogaa.
Karoron diye jo saath jalenge,
Dil mein nai umang bharenge.
Pher door jab andhera hogaa,

To kya nirala yeh SAWERA hoga.

Ilmana Fasih
June 6, 2012

The story of Siachen


With the tragic news of 150 Pakistani soldiers  buried alive in an avalanche in the Pakistan base camp at Siachen, it brings back to  memory the bitter truths about this conflict.

The glacier:

  • Siachen means ‘the place of wild roses’.
  • Siachen glacier is the great Himalayan watershed that demarcates central Asia from the Indian sub-continent, and that separates Pakistan from China in this region.
  • It is the world’s second longest non-polar glacier, and thus is sometimes referred to as the third pole.
  • It is 70 km long and flows from an altitude of 5750 meters to 3620 meters above sea level.

The conflict:

  • Siachen is known as the world’s highest battlefield between  #India & #Pakistan.  Troops are deployed at elevations of up to 6,700 metres (22,000 feet) at minus 60 degrees C.
  • Siachen conflict began in 1984 when both India and Pakistan, began sending mountaineers, in an attempt to lay their claims over the area. Several skirmishes took place till 2003 when a cease fire was declared.
  • The roots of the conflict over Siachen lie in the non-demarcations on the map northward to the China boundary beyond NJ9842, which is the line’s “dead end” in the India-Pakistan line of control agreement.
  • The 1949 Karachi agreement and the 1972 Simla agreement presumed that it was not feasible for human habitation to survive north of NJ9842.
  • UN officials presumed there would be no dispute between India and Pakistan over such a cold and barren icy wasteland.
  • The contentious area is only 900 square miles (2,300 km2)
  • Indians control the length and  heights of the glacier including the three passes,  while the Pakistanis control the glacial valley. As a result, Pakistanis cannot climb up, and Indians cannot come down.
  • Together, the two nations have about 150 manned outposts along the glacier, with some 3,000 troops each.
  • Over 2,000 Pakistani & 4,000 Indian soldiers have died at Siachen conflict. More soldiers have died or handicapped from frost bites, cold and avalanche i.e. harsh weather than combat.
  • Official annual figures for maintaining these outposts are put at $300 and $200 million for India and Pakistan respectively.

The strategic importance:

No matter what India and Pakistan may claim about its strategic importance, Dr. Stephen Cohen, a well-known and respected Washington-based South Asia analyst, considers,

“Siachen conflict is a fight between two bald men over a comb.”

In his view, “Siachen… is not militarily important… They (Indian and Pakistani armies) are there for purely psychological reasons, testing each other’s ‘will’.”

The talks for demilitarisation of Siachen did take place between India and Pakistan in May 2011, but fialed to reach any agreement.

The truth remains that this stretch of icy wasteland  holds no political or economic importance to the billion and a half residing on both sides of the border.

Instead of being a battle ground, Siachen should be demilitarized, and to evade the unresolved dispute of AGPL ( actual ground position line) the area could be seen as a ‘common ground’  precious enough  to study and conserve  the glacier which is under threat due to the climate change. And the billions of rupees used to maintain its cost should be directed at improvement of the plight of the impoverished peoples on both sides.