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The Express Tribune Editorials 16 March 2020

Plastic menace


The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently initiated action against violators of the ban on plastic bags in Islamabad’s rural areas. Plastic bags pose a serious hazard to marine life and the environment as well as to human health due to the fact that plastic can take up to 2,000 years to completely decompose. Plastic bags annually kill about 100,000 sea animals that mistake them for food, pollute our oceans, and block drainage systems which had partially caused the Bangladesh floods twenty years ago. Studies have also shown that meals eaten or heated in plastic bags cause ulcers, asthma, obesity and certain types of cancer. Alarmingly, the oceans are projected to contain more waste plastic than fish by the year 2050.
Concrete steps are essential, therefore, to eliminate the use of plastic bags. Firstly, people must be urged to either decline plastic bags and simply hand-carry items out of stores or take reusable shopping and produce bags with them when they go shopping. It may take a little time for them to get in the habit of doing so — but there is no easier way to cut down on plastic bag use. Secondly, recycling must be encouraged to effectively address the problem. Last month, the Ministry of Climate Change had announced plans to recycle bags seized from ban violators and turn them into more than 1,000 garbage bins and dumpsters which would be placed in the federal capital’s schools, hospitals and other government institutions. This is a great plan and we certainly hope the ministry not only executes it as planned but also expands all anti plastic bag measures countrywide. Thirdly, it is vital that a nationwide media awareness campaign be launched to convey to the public the importance of implementing the above-mentioned measures.
These easy and economical steps can make a world of difference for our planet’s well-being.


Murmurs of discontent


A major political party with roots in the urban centres of the Sindh province has made some serious allegations against the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party-led provincial government, venting its anger at what it perceives as exclusion of urban youth from the public sector jobs.
The discontent expressed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan over distribution of government jobs is not something out of the ordinary. But it’s been a while that the party has come out with all guns blazing. Even though now a shadow of its former domineering self, the MQM-P still commands significant following in Karachi and Hyderabad for its voice to be heard. Urging the premier national anti-graft buster, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), to open an inquiry into all public sector jobs given during the past 10 years by the PPP government, the party warned that if the ‘injustices’ continued, they will provide legitimacy to the demands for a new province in Sindh. MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that the urban areas of Sindh had been facing what he chose to call ‘economic terrorism’ during the over 11-year rule of the PPP as the provincial government had ‘snatched all municipal and service delivery functions to mint money’. While the choice of words appears rather harsh, there may be a kernel of truth in what the angry outburst contains.
Going into some specifics, he alleged that the PPP government had appointed ‘favourite’ officials in the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC), made illegal appointments in the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board by extending its jurisdiction and now posted 73 police officials of Larkana to Karachi. He was particularly livid at the way the provincial government had banned employment in Karachi Metropolitan Corporation as well as the district municipal corporations of East, Central and Korangi — all being controlled by the MQM-P — but government jobs were open for South and Malir DMCs, which are in control of PPP. There was no immediate response from PPP on the charges, but it will be in the fitness of things that the party clears the air on the matter to present its side of the story
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