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Eradication of polio
After years of disappointment on the polio front, at last there is some hope for its eradication in Pakistan. A senior UNICEF official has said that the polio programme in Pakistan is back on track. With this news, there are renewed expectations that the crippling disease could finally be eradicated in the country by the end of 2023.
The poliovirus mainly targets children aged under five by entering their nervous system and causing paralysis that in some cases may even lead to death. Once infected, the child is nearly incurable and the vaccination is effective only before the virus attacks. For Pakistan, protecting children from this disease is of utmost importance as the country’s teeming population adds millions of newborn babies into its tally.
The government needs to tackle this on a war-footing, regardless of how hopeful UNICEF sounds. We need to be able to reach each and every child in the country. Not doing so puts all children at risk. The administration of the polio vaccine is a lifesaving exercise and the disease itself is fairly preventable. This is a major challenge that only the government and state institutions can surmount.
Attacks on polio teams and their guards have hampered the efforts to eliminate the virus completely. Some parts of Pakistan are particularly vulnerable to such attacks but still the courage of polio teams and their guards is commendable. The national immunization programme that has been running successfully for many years now has produced marvellous results but still falls short of a polio-free Pakistan.
This year the efforts have to be even more ambitious as the country has experienced droughts and floods on an unprecedented scale, displacing millions of people across the provinces of Pakistan. Natural calamities are also compounded by acts of violence that put millions of children at risk of missing the vaccines. In the absence of basic health facilities that have been swept away, it becomes even more challenging to reach every child in the country. Slackness on the part of the government in immunization facilities may revert this situation.
QAZI JAMSHED SIDDIQUI
If we try to ask ourselves a question, why our political and economic system is that much different from that of western democracies? The very nature of politics is that it arises from and reflects societal realities and aspects of common man’s life. The oriental societies are unlike western ones and thus their politics are different in nature and phenomenology.
Now we can ask another question which is odd enough to comprehend that why our system is so diametrically opposite and so unlike that of other regional neighbour states which ironically got independence in the same decade in which we got and despite the facts and realities that the South Asian people share same culture, history and social life. There are some factors which make our politics as atypical and at odd with that of regional neighbours.
Though we can sum up all the structural flaws and characteristics of our political system in this short piece but there are some of the factors which are nearly responsible for all paradox. The 1st factor is that in all our institutional umbrella, the one powerful military establishment controls over all-encompassing political and economic system. The rule of this sector of power lasted decades and willy-nilly continues its influence even in present day political system.
If we compare regional political systems of other states, nearly all of them except Afghanistan have their epic and glorious history of democracy. The second factor is that the nature of social class of the ruling elite and politicians which have their tight grip on every power sector ranging from military, bureaucracy, judiciary and corporate conglomerations.
HAMZA ABDUR RAB
Knowing your culture
The arrival of December heralds the beginning of cultural day celebrations in schools, colleges and universities. What is more commendable is that the students demonstrate Sindhi culture as well as other cultures like Punjabi, Balochi, Pashtun, Kashmiri and various cultures. Living in a diverse culture as a Pakistani is a true blessing that many people are unaware of. But the big question is whether music and stage shows are the only means of promoting culture. No! Unfortunately, today’s definition of culture is limited to dances, musical concerts and stage performances. Culture is more than that!
It is reflected not only in music but also in artefacts, people, heritage, paintings, scripts, language, and, most importantly, in people’s attitudes. While we must not forget our historical background, it is also necessary to discover, learn and share our culture with others. This can be accomplished in various ways, and the list is endless.
For example, you could set up stalls to display traditional handmade artefacts, jewellery, clothing and goods. Schools and other institutions should organise field trips to cultural heritage sites so students can better understand different cultures. Furthermore, institutions should organise fun activities to teach students how to make handicrafts such as crochets, traditional embroidery and mirror work, etc. Dialogue and sports activities can be a healthier options. Who can also resist more nutritious and more delightful ethnic foods?
More and more can be done if people stay true to their culture, and why not? We have also been learning about our culture through these aspects which should continue. Unfortunately, our government does not support people who create artefacts and rely on their daily earnings for a living. Keeping in mind our country’s great skilled people, the government should establish special funds for them every month so that they can continue to bring life to our richly diverse culture.