What else than ‘yet another U-turn’ shall we call it? Prime Minister Imran Khan has cleared corrupt individuals — those that were left off the hook by NAB on entering into a plea-bargain deal — for appointment as directors of public and private companies. The same Imran Khan who, as opposition leader, never spared an opportunity to lash out at the ‘shameful’ provision of the accountability law that gives a clean-chit to a corrupt official if he agrees to return to the exchequer a small percentage of the public wealth he had looted. Umpteen times has Khan been quoted as calling the plea-bargain clause of the law a slap in the face of transparency, honesty and justice, and demanding that the graft watchdog be disbanded for ‘patronising corruption’.
Last week, the PTI-led federal government promulgated a presidential ordinance to amend various sections of the Companies Act, 2017. One of these is section 172 that had barred officials and businessmen having clinched plea-bargain deals from becoming directors of public or private companies. The promulgation came only a week before the National Assembly was to go into a three-day session. The Companies Act, 2017 — that had replaced the Companies Ordinance, 1984 — had been enacted by the previous government, led by the PML-N. The new act carried Section 172 that lays out disqualification conditions for a person to hold the office of a director of a company for a period of up to five years beginning from the date of the order.
As the PTI government amended the Companies Act, 2017 through the presidential ordinance last week, it also deleted the sub-section M of Section 172 that reads: “the person has entered a plea bargain arrangement with NAB or any other regulatory body”. Thus, all those who had clinched a plea-bargain deal with NAB are now fit again to head any public or private company — courtesy the PTI.
Monsoon and dengue
It looks somewhat incongruous to talk of dengue fever at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is raging. No health issue can be ignored however smaller it is in comparison with the deadly coronavirus. Dengue appears to be less harmful but harmful undoubtedly it is. It is in the fitness of things that the District Health Authority (DHA) of Rawalpindi has started making preparations to tackle dengue in view of the approaching monsoon rains. A survey conducted by the authority shows that 64 suspected patients of dengue have been reported in seven tehsils of Rawalpindi district during the month of Ramazan. A relevant report presented to the commissioner says DHA teams visited houses and commercial outlets, and found dengue larvae at 61 places.
The DHA plans to launch fumigation drives in residential and commercial areas before the start of the rainy season to prevent the breeding of dengue mosquitoes. Attention will be focused on under-construction buildings and tyre repair shops where water accumulates. It will be ensured that water does not accumulate at these and other such places. All hotspots where dengue larvae are likely to flourish will be paid special attention during the fumigation campaigns. An awareness campaign will be launched to educate people about preventive measures to protect from dengue. People will also be sensitised on the importance of cleanliness and personal hygiene.
Dengue first appeared in Pakistan in a big way more than a decade ago, and every year a large number of people in various parts of the country suffer from this fever. Over the years, preventive steps have worked well to reduce the incidence of the disease. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, our health authorities have developed complacency in dealing with dengue. There is no room for complacency on other issues of public health even when faced with the bigger health issue of the deadly coronavirus. Nothing should be taken lightly. A small spark could cause a big fire.