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The Express Tribune Editorial 7 May 2020

Ludicrous remarks

The US administration continues its efforts to take the country down from leader of the free world to court jester among the comity of nations, presenting inane theories as national policy. The latest accusation is so outlandish that no US ally or intelligence agency has been able to support it, nor has Secretary Pompeo or President Trump been able to show even a shred of the “enormous evidence” that they claim to have in support of this theory.
The fact of the matter is that three years in, the president still doesn’t know how to govern, because good governance requires being able to acknowledge when you are wrong and to correct mistakes. Trump’s ego makes it impossible for him to admit fault or take responsibility for anything that goes wrong, so he is using the skills he picked up as a D-list celebrity — say something outlandish to change the news cycle. That is why he claimed Barack Obama was foreign-born and later tried to deny ever making the claim. The problem is that now, Trump’s ludicrous remarks automatically become US policy. This is why his nonsense theory supporting anti-malaria drugs as a Covid-19 cure ended up costing billions in wasted time and money, while also costing human lives due to government scientists being forced to try to prove him right. That is why the government had to warn people not to drink bleach.
The fact of the matter is that 72,000 Americans are dead, over 1.2 million infected, and the economy is in tatters due to the incompetence of Trump’s coronavirus response. But since he can’t take responsibility, he has doubled down on the conspiracy theory that the virus originated in a lab in China. There is a fair point to be made about China initially downplaying how dangerous the virus was, but for Trump that legitimate criticism is useless because its source is US intelligence reports in January. If Trump had taken timely action on those reports, the devastation of today would have been preventable.


Water scarcity

Water is life — more so in the times of the coronavirus pandemic when keeping washed and clean is one important precaution to keep the deadly virus at bay. Ironically, water is not available, as per the needs, in a large part of the country. Karachi, despite being the most modern city of the country, has also to struggle for water. The problem of water shortage afflicts Karachi residents throughout the year, but it becomes acute during summer months. With temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius in the second week of Ramazan, many areas in the city are experiencing an acute shortage of water, particularly Nazimabad, Malir and Baldia Town, and Pak Colony. In this hot weather, there are areas in district West where people get water in their home taps after 30-45 days. The prolonged lockdown has, however, also proved a blessing as water supply has improved in several blocks of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, F B Area, Gulshan-e-Iqal and other neighbourhoods. People in scarcity areas are somehow meeting their requirements by purchasing expensive water tankers.
Karachi’s population is 25 million. The city needs around 12,000 million gallons water per day (mgd) but it gets only 550mgd, which is less than half of its needs. Moreover, a considerable amount of water is lost due to leakages in the supply lines and poor maintenance of the supply system. It is a paradox that though in many areas taps at homes are dry for months together, enough water is always available through tankers and in cans. Residents of water-deficit areas find themselves in a double bind. They buy expensive water tanker and, at the same time, pay the water bills of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. They have to pay the Water Board bills for fear of severance of connection. Public representatives say at present consumers receive only 60% of the water being supplied and the remaining 40% is either lost due to leakages or theft. It is not difficult to know where the stolen water or that shown as lost because of leakages goes.
The K-1V water supply scheme is aimed at easing the water shortage, but it has run into problems difficult to surmount. Much of these problems stems from official apathy and mismanagement. The water scarcity is, for the most part, man-made.


Match fixing


It was in October 1994 when Rashid Latif, along with Basit Ali, had blown the whistle on the existence of match-fixing in Pakistan cricket. The duo announced their retirement during an away tour the same year, protesting against certain teammates allegedly bent upon losing. But instead of taking the accused players to task, the cricket board rather found fault with the two whistleblowers. Cricket matches continued to be sold, and with that the pride of the nation too. It was not until May 2002 when a government-constituted judicial commission recommended life bans on veteran Saleem Malik and newcomer Ata-ur-Rehman, and fines on six more, including those who are now revered as cricket legends.
The report of the Justice Qayyum commission was not made public until an Indian magazine leaked its contents — which somewhat disputed whether the identified players were really recommended for bans and fines, and who those players actually were. The wrongdoers found a good opportunity to hide in the confusion between what was official and what was not. Most of the tainted players thus went ahead with their careers without being clearly identified as culprits while Malik and Rehman were scapegoated. A month later, in June 2000 to be exact, then South African skipper Hansie Cronje admitted to accepting money for fixing matches, in what confirmed how rampant the illegal and immoral practice was in the world of cricket. Cronje’s admission also removed any doubts that certain players were being maligned by others out of sheer rivalry and jealousy — as most of those accused at that time used to claim in their defence. By the end of the same year, some Indian players, including ex-captain Azharuddin, were also banned.
Two decades on, Malik wants to make his way back into the profitable world of cricket like many others named in the Justice Qayyum report. Instead of bringing Malik back, the cricket czars must make sure others who sold the pride of Pakistan are also sidelined from any national duty.
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