Voice of the People

69

Articles and letters may be edited for the purposes of clarity and space. They are published in good faith with a view to enlightening all the stakeholders. However, the contents of these writings may not necessarily match the views of the newspaper.

Toxic air, a silent killer

WHO estimates show that nine out of 10 people around the world breathe in air that exceeds the limits of pollutants set in its guidelines. Most of all, low- and middle-income countries such as Pakistan suffer the most as a result of what can only be described as toxic air. The WHO also estimates that around seven million people die every year due to air pollution worldwide.

In Pakistan every winter this air pollution emerges as a major challenge though that does not mean it doesn’t pose a threat in other seasons. In nearly all cities and even in towns and villages coughing and wheezing has become a regular occurrence especially among the elderly and children. Just breathing in the air in our cities is equivalent to being a heavy smoker. This is a serious issue. And the fact is that those in power know this.

The federal and provincial governments in Pakistan must make efforts to reduce people’s exposure to air pollution. We can start by introducing a coal-friendly energy policy and a transport policy that does not depend on cars but on sustainable public transport systems. Regulation is crucial to ending the smog blanket across cities such as Lahore.

Since Pakistan does not lack sunshine and winds, renewable energy sources can be a good alternative for air-polluting sources of energy. Poor air quality is a silent killer. Combating it does not win elections. But it does save lives. And that is what our government and other govts in developing world must prioritize.

MUNAWAR SIDDIQUI

Lahore

Christmas

for Christ

Christmas is a time for reflection and a time to share one’s joys and sorrows. It is the time to reach out and touch the life of another person with love and warmth.

It is the time to share love and friendship, care and concern. Christmas, which means ‘Feast day of Christ’, is a Christian holiday that honours the birth of Jesus Christ whom Christians believe is Son of God. The season of preparing for Christmas is called ‘Advent’ and begins on a Sunday four weeks before Christmas. The Christmas season ends on 6 January.

6 January is the day when the three wise men (Magi) visited Jesus at his stable in Bethlehem and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. As Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the story of how this happened is told in parts of the Holy Bible known as the gospels. There are four gospels telling the life of Jesus Christ. The gospel of St. Luke tells us the most about his birth and the gospel of St. Matthew tells another part of the story. The gospel of St. John tells us that Jesus Christ came from God to bring His Word or message to all people.

JUBEL D’CRUZ

Mumbai, India

They are differently abled, not disabled

 

International Day of Disabled Persons is celebrated on 3rd December worldwide. This day is all about promoting the rights and abilities of disabled people. I believe “they are not disabled; they are just differently abled”. International Disability Day is not concerned exclusively with either mental or physical disabilities but rather encompasses all known disabilities, from Autism to Down Syndrome to Multiple Sclerosis.

In addition, not all disabilities are visible; they appear in different shapes and forms, for example, people with a mental health disorder, chronic pain and fatigue, none of which are visible at first glance. According to the World Health Organisation, around 15% of the world’s population is considered to have some form of disability.

Our responsibility is to know their rights because when we secure the rights of persons with disabilities, we move our world closer to upholding humanity’s core values and principles. We should raise awareness about the benefits of integrating persons with disabilities into every aspect of social life, from economics to politics. We should facilitate them in every aspect, but unfortunately, we are unaware of their problems to facilitate them; most often, in moments of crisis.

People in vulnerable situations such as persons with disabilities are the most excluded and left behind. In line with the central premise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind”, it is crucial for governments, public and private sectors to collaboratively find innovative solutions for and with persons with disabilities to make the world a more accessible and equitable place because they are born to shine, and persons with disabilities should not be excluded from the general education system based on disability.

HADIA FARHAN

Karachi