Friday January 27, 2023

People are talking about —

September 26, 2022

— how a group of Karachi University students from the Department of Visual Studies have come up with a design to build low-cost, sustainable, movable houses and according to them, these innovative, affordable houses could prevent the displacement of people in the event of floods in future. People say the government should test these lightweight, extremely low-budget houses which are made up of bamboo, reed, reusable plastic and used tyres and then build them because one house will only cost between Rs50,000 and Rs100,000.

— the announcement by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that it will not take up corruption cases that involve an amount of less than Rs500 million. People say this means that any case of graft taken, or received, that is even a rupee less than this amount will not be considered as corruption and the persons involved will be able to go scot free, with the knowledge that any amount more than this sum can be received or given twice!

— the arbitrary decision taken by the Sindh government to deduct a certain percentage from the salary of government servants for flood relief and how it has caught the employees by surprise. People say donations should be on a voluntary basis and this deduction does not make any sense as most of the poor government employees have suffered during the rains and floods and they themselves are waiting for help to rebuild their damaged houses and resettle their families.

— the suggestion about making numerous lakes at the foothills of the Sulaiman range and filling them up with hill torrents to increase the ground water table in millions of acres of dry virgin land. People say it will be like storing water to be used when we need it and it will be a thousand times cheaper than building a dam, while avoiding the kind of devastation that we have seen this year. Dams are fine, but liable to break.

— how the residents of Khairpur Nathanshah were told not to leave as there was little chances of flooding, assured by political leaders that they would be present to protect them, yet an alert was issued late at night, telling them to leave. People say villagers rushed to save their lives; the transport mafia took advantage of the panic and increased fares, while officials who had made tall claims were sound asleep, so who should be held responsible for the whole mess?

— the fact that researchers have already made the connection between climate change and how it destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization 4,000 years ago. People say that today, according to experts, Pakistan is facing an existential crisis emanating from rapid climate change, so it must bring global and South nations together to ask for debt relief, while the international community must jointly assist countries facing climate catastrophes so as to place the world’s well-being ahead of fossil fuels and profit.

— the sad fact that torture is yet to be criminalized in Pakistan as there is no mention of it in the PPC or the CrPC and though the Police Order 2002, under which the Punjab Police functions, does stipulate penalties against police officers who inflict ‘violence or torture’ upon anyone in their custody, there is no definition of torture, which is a critical omission. People say lawmakers must step up to make torture unacceptable, with severe repercussions for those who resort to it. — I.H.