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Daily Times Editorial 12 September 2020

Motorway gang rape and fallout


As if the horrific gang rape incident on the motorway the other night was not bad enough, Lahore’s police chief chose to set a new low for himself, his department as well as the country in the immediate aftermath by effectively laying the blame for the savage attack on the victim herself. The disgust and outrage that has swept all social places, especially the online world, is not just understandable but very justified as well. It must take a special kind of talent to be this desensitised and blind to the fact that it is the pathetic breakdown of his own institution that has made the whole country so unsafe for women and children to begin with.
Not just common Pakistanis but opposition parties as well, especially PML-N, have now called for the scalp of the Lahore CCPO. Yet while that decision to send him packing has to be taken at the level of the provincial chief executive, especially if such an order descends from even higher up, there can be no denying that people who cannot sympathise or empathise with victims of the most despicable attacks cannot and must not be given the responsibility of ensuring our safety and security. One can only imagine how much worse the ordeal of the poor victim must have become, who was dragged and gang raped in front of her little children, when she got to know of the views of the city’s top police officer.
Now, even if as per the prime minister’s instructions the police force is able to somehow get its act together and find the culprits and the courts hand them fitting punishments there is still little if any comfort the victim and her family can take from the execution and exercise of the law. Eventually, no matter how this matter is investigated or what angle lawmakers look at it from, everybody will reach the same conclusion that such crimes are rampant because the perpetrators know of the very low chance of ever getting caught or convicted. That is precisely why police chiefs should, instead of heaping blame on victims, make efforts to sort out their departments. All in all, what was already a sad day because of the sick mentality of certain individuals and the harm they brought to a mother and her family was made even worse because of another kind of disagreeable mindset that is enjoyed by one of the most senior police officers in the city. There is an urgent need for some relevant authority to introduce some sort of sanity to this situation.



Safety of miners

It’s been a number of days since the unfortunate Mohmand marble mine collapse which killed at least 22 people yet nobody can tell just where this matter is going. Tragic as all the deaths are, it was still hoped that this disaster would trigger some sort of thought process somewhere that would introduce some reforms in the mining sector. The main problems lies with mine owners and their mindset of refusing to modernise, which holds the industry hostage to age old methods and practices. And that is the singular reason behind so many accidents in mines which result in needless deaths of workers.
It is interesting to note that even some senior ministers of the PTI government have come out in the open with their demand for improving working condition in these death traps. Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhary, especially, has called for enactment and enforcement of proper labour laws. How can it be that we claim to have a charter of an Islamic welfare state, that too one modeled on the holy state of Medina, and it has taken such a huge tragedy to remind just one sitting minister of the importance of proper labour laws? For, had such laws existed and had the legal system been powerful enough to enforce them, then owners of mines where workers die completely unnecessary deaths due to easily avoidable accidents would never hear the end of it.
Unfortunately it seems that it is going to be business as usual now that a little time has passed since the incident. The Mohmand accident was not the only one of its kind. Clearly this is a trend staring every figure in power especially within the industry in the face yet nobody has bothered to even so much as take note of it. Yet sooner or later this sector, and others like it, would have no choice but to embrace 21st century technology and methodology. Therefore it is in the interest of everybody, especially the poor workers that meet their deaths in these mines, to look into these issues and solve them in the shortest possible time.
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