Voice of the people – Pakistan Observer

Articles and letters may be edited for the purposes of clarity and space.
Pneumonia outbreak

The pneumonia outbreak in Punjab is a very serious health crisis right now. 244 deaths in the month of January across the province and a huge number of new cases being reported every day, the spread of pneumonia is a public health emergency. Children are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Pneumonia outbreaks in the past have been attributed to extreme cold weather conditions. However, the current spread of the disease in Punjab and specifically Lahore is believed to be caused by unhealthy air and smog that is rampant across the province this winter season.

As much as there is a need to save lives and ramp up health provision, general awareness is also very important. Home-bound initial care can increase the chances of recovery man­ifolds. Though pneumonia is a serious, life-taking disease, medical care at the right time and precautions at home are paramount to save the life of a child or a person suffering from pneumonia.
The alarming situation, emphasizes the need for urgent measures, including vaccination drives. Lahore is a hot spot for the disease and that is why healthcare providers increasingly believe that this has to do with smog.
There is no denying the fact that smog has, over the years, af­fected people via respiratory troubles. With the whole prov­ince in the grip of extremely cold temperatures, the adverse ef­fects of smog and pollution have intensified. Pneumonia often attacks babies, infants, and old people. But as a precautionary step, decisions around schools must be reconsidered. An outbreak of this sort is a test of the healthcare infrastructure as well.

Affected people must have access to good healthcare and the provincial health ministry must ensure to set up make-shift arrangements if need be. An uninterrupted sup­ply of drugs needed to cure must also be ensured by the health department as well as the private healthcare sector. The combined energy and effort of the provincial healthcare setup must support people in providing the care they need.

Begging in the Middle East
Arising trend of Pakistanis resorting to begging in the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia, demands urgent action by the government to stop this reprehensible activity. This situation depicts a bad image of Pakistan abroad. The gravity of the situation is evident from the fact that the matter appeared in the discussion of the Senate’s sub-committee of the Committee that deals with Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development abroad.
Unemployment is also a major factor in begging in the country. Not having a means of earning pushes people towards begging. 60% of Pakistan’s youth is unemployed and this is a big number. In addressing the trend of overseas begging, this factor must not be overlooked. To respond to the issue of begging, different federal ministries need to come together to ensure that better checks and restrictions are in place when it comes to verification procedures that lead to the issuance of a valid travel document.

Blocking the CNICs of people found involved in begging in other countries will also help tackle the problem. It is difficult to know beforehand if a person who is otherwise travelling for Umrah will turn to begging alongside. But some mechanism must be developed through which people who wish to report such a case can do so. Apart from better screening and checks, in the long term, creating job opportunities for the unemployed has rightly been pointed out by the Parliamentary committee.
Initiatives like online portals for real-time job opportunities can significantly contribute to alleviating unemployment challenges. Moreover, skills programs that are directly linked to industries that can provide basic employment as a first step must be devised. When people will have a legitimate way of earning, no matter how small, there will be fewer reasons for them to turn to begging.

Sacred places, dirty politics
Extremism among Muslims is once again surfacing unexpectedly, particularly affecting Muslim minorities. Every religion, faith and custom deserves equal respect and we genuinely mean it. In Pakistan, every religion enjoys equality and, as a Muslim, I harbor no hatred towards any other faith. We uphold respect for every religion, appreciate humanity and our Islamic principles prohibit disrespecting any other faith.

Let’s address a specific instance where the historic Babri Mosque once stood for five centuries. Today, in its place, the Ram Mandir stands. It could have been possible for Mr. Modi to rebuild the Babri Mosque there, but he chose not to, seemingly intertwining holy places with his political agenda. I would like to call out those celebrities who were part of this event. If they claim to be secular, where is that secularism when it’s needed the most? Building both the Babri Mosque and the Ram Mandir side by side could have been a demonstration of true secularism. However, Modi’s decision raises questions about his pursuit of greatness.
If one aspires to be called a great and secular leader, then one should genuinely embrace secularism and not merely pretend to uphold it for political gain. Politics has consistently fueled tension between Hindus and Muslims. As I previously emphasized, we, as Muslims, respect every holy place, and our concern lies with exposing the hypocrisy prevalent in those who claim secularism while engaging in divisive politics.
According to Pakistani officials, the construction and consecration of the ‘Ram Temple’ on the site of the demolished Babri Mosque in the Indian city of Ayodhya are alarming. The international community is urged to take notice of the increasing Islamophobia, hate speech and hate crimes in India.

The question remains: why harbour so many grudges? Such actions are reigniting Islamophobia worldwide. For the love of God, do not drag religions and holy places into politics. Let the struggle be for power and let these places remain sacred for worship, free from the stain of disgusting politics.
Larkana Sindh

Box letter
Food wastage
Food wastage is indeed a significant issue in Pakistan, with a staggering amount of food being wasted annually. It is estimated that the country wastes approximately 26% of its food production, resulting in a colossal loss of 19 million metric tonnes per year. This significant figure highlights the urgent need to address the problem. In addition to government initiatives, individuals can also play a vital role in combating food wastage. By adopting practices such as serving appropriate portion sizes, storing leftovers properly and regularly monitoring food expiry dates, we can significantly minimize wastage in our own households. Collective efforts from both the government and citizens are necessary to tackle this issue. Through education campaigns, raising awareness and implementing effective policies, we can hope to reduce food wastage in Pakistan and ensure that this valuable resource is utilized responsibly to meet the nutritional needs of the population.