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The Express Tribune Editorial 28 April 2020

For the fear of uprising

It looks as if Burhan Wani’s funeral four years back and the ensuing ‘Kashmir Intifada’ still give New Delhi the creeps. Wani, a young freedom fighter, was martyred on July 8, 2016 and the uprising did not die down for as long as eight months. That is why the Indian authorities are now refusing to turn over the bodies of freedom fighters and possibly even innocent bystanders martyred by security forces in Occupied Kashmir, and burying them secretly.
A bombshell report by Kashmir Media Service says that instead of handing over the bodies to their families for mourning and burial, Indian authorities “have started quietly burying the bodies of local youth at faraway places in unmarked graves, under the supervision of a magistrate in order to avoid massive participation of the locals in the funerals of the martyrs”. While 14 Kashmiris have been martyred by the Indian occupation forces over the last five days, the KSM report identifies at least four young men whose bodies have been buried secretly. All four are said to have been martyred on April 22 in an incident in Shopian district, and buried in a government-managed graveyard the same day.
The world has seen the massive turnouts at funeral processions for countless young men, like Wani. Reverberating with thunderous anti-India slogans, these funerals demonstrated enduring passion for freedom. Pretty clearly, the Indian authorities are afraid that funerals of the martyred youth could further incite anti-India sentiments, which may erupt into another 2016-like uprising against India in Occupied Kashmir. And in a bid to avoid protests against their oppressive policies and the killing of innocents, they have chosen to stop letting victims mourn their dead. More virulent, of course, is the question of whether or not India is even allowing proper funeral rites to be performed for the victims.
There is much that could be said here, but we must hold back and just hope that it is untrue. India may not have respect for the living, but there is a certain universality about respect for the dead. It is part of the humanity that binds us all. We hope that, at least here, the Indian authorities managed to do the bare minimum expected of another human being.


Exit Sana Mir

A glittering career comes to an end. Sana Mir, a former captain of Pakistan’s women cricket team, hanged up her boots last Saturday after a successful career spanning 15 years during which she played 226 international matches — 120 ODIs and 106 T20s. She led Pakistan in 137 games, including those played as part of two ODI World Cups and five T20 World Cups. Mir has been a part of great success stories for women’s cricket. She led Pakistan to two Asiad golds in 2010 and 2014. The former skipper remains the highest wicket-taking off-spinner among international women cricketers. She is the only Pakistani woman to have occupied the number one spot, in the year 2018. The 36-year-old is among a very few women cricketers to have taken 100 wickets and scored 1,000 runs in ODIs.
Mir is no stranger to awards either, having been decorated with the Pakistani medal of excellence known as Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, besides winning the People’s Choice Award at the Pakistan Sports Awards. A genuine role model for women, Mir was also recognised by the Asia Society last year as an inspiring agent of change working to building a better world. She was honoured alongside other inspiring global leaders Yuriko Koike, Japan’s first female defence minister; China’s Jane Jie Sun, the leader of a $25 billion worth of travel company where women form half the workforce; and Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi of the UAE, a pioneer in the world of art who has tirelessly promoted greater cultural understanding and exchange in the Middle East and around the world.
As described by the PCB chief executive, Mir has been “the face of Pakistan women’s cricket for many years and a real source of inspiration for the young generation of women cricketers”. In a country where there is absence of proper sporting infrastructure and where women’s participation in sports is stigmatised, Mir’s achievement deserves a lot of praise.


Coronavirus waste

Safe disposal of hazardous hospital waste has never received the kind of attention that it deserves, in Pakistan. The same sclerotic attitude towards the disposal of the highly infectious waste being generated at isolation and quarantine centres established for coronavirus patients is being witnessed in the country. Medical and environmental experts have expressed grave concern over the careless disposal of such hazardous waste in view of the fact that that the coronavirus is highly infectious and spreads fast.
The issue is one of the major fears raised by experts and activists during a virtual conference organised on the occasion of the International Earth Day by the Central Standing Committee on Environment of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and industry. Environmentalists present on the occasion said that in developed countries, there is a special system for the disposal of hazardous hospital waste. Unfortunately in Pakistan, even the disposal of the highly hazardous waste related to the coronavirus is being carried out under the routine municipal system of disposing ordinary garbage. They claimed that safe disposal of the coronavirus waste was not part of the SOPs adopted by the federal and provincial governments with regard to the treatment and control of the virus. Expressing fears that the absence of such protocols would be disastrous for human health and environment, these experts stressed the need for putting in place a monitoring system to assess the environmental impact of the conditions obtaining due to the pandemic. They said such assessment would help in proper resumption of activities after the lifting of the lockdown.
The failure to safely dispose of the toxic waste containing the deadly virus would undo all the efforts aimed at ensuring preventive measures. The lockdown being enforced at heavy economic cost will come to naught if there is no safe disposal of coronavirus-related hospital waste. The issue calls for haste.
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