This refers to the article titled, “No Government in Sindh” by Kamal Siddiqi dated 20 Feb. 17. Mr Kamal is a seasoned journalist but we are surprised, and taken aback to read the article. Instead of discussing the core issue, terrorism and its causes he has criticised the performance of the Sindh Government merely on his assumptions. Upholding democratic values, we believe in freedom of expression and welcome dissent and opinions that point out the gaps in governance but shouldn’t it all be done on the basis of accurate and correct information.
The writer claims that the Sindh Government was least moved after the Sehwan Sharif tragedy. We would totally disagree with this statement. The CM immediately rushed to Sehwan and declared emergency in all hospitals.
He personally coordinated with the health minister, divisional and district administration to mobilise all the required resources. He ordered the dispatch of ambulances from the hospitals of the nearby towns i.e. Bhan, Dadu, Jamshoro, Nawabshah and Hyderabad to Jamshoro. The Pakistan Army also extended its full cooperation. Edhi and other philanthropist organisations sent their ambulances along with rescue staff. The victims were quickly shifted to hospitals in district Shaheed Benazirabad and Jamshoro. The Government of Sindh left no stone unturned in saving the lives of victims. However, given the magnitude of the tragedy, it takes time to mobilise all resources.
The CM despite non-clearance from the security agency directly rushed to the hospital just after landing at Sehwan at about 1am. He visited each and every injured person of the blast to assess personally their condition, and the quality of their treatment and care. He also talked to the patients, listened to their complaints and assured them of his full support not only to them but their families. This was yet another example of his personal touch and care that is rarely witnessed in this country whenever such tragedies take place. Again ignoring the advice of the security agencies, the CM visited the shrine of Lal Shabaz Qalandar at about 1.45 am. He inspected the entry and exit points, the exact spot of the blast where blood was splattered. He did not do so to score political points but because he values all humanity and has the courage to stand up and speak for these values taught and imbibed in us by our religion, Islam.
Immediately after his vist to the hospital and the shrine, the CM chaired a law and order meeting at Sehwan in which the IG police, Additional IG CTD, Commissioner and DIG Hyderabad, DC and SSP Sehwan were present. He obtained initial inquiry reports from them and then pointed out the security lapses. He ordered the IG to submit to him inquiry report within 12 hours and on the basis of that report he removed the SSP Jamshoro and the SP concerned.
The writer also mentions that there was no hospital in the vicinity. This again is an incorrect statement. There is a 50-bed well equipped taluka hospital, a sufficient facility in terms of size of population of the town. Generally, hospitals at taluka (sub-division) level have more or less the same facilities across Pakistan. In addition, there is a 20-bed trauma centre in Sehwan which is yet to be inaugurated but this centre also provided health facilities to victims of the blast.
Mr Kamal Siddiqi’s statement “many who died were because of lack of immediate medical care” is totally baseless and removed from ground reality. Had he visited Sehwan and talked to the people of the area and witnessed first-hand the medical care and timely shifting of victims to hospitals of nearby districts he would have known that many were saved because the rescue operation that was launched well in timely manner in spite of this horrific tragedy.’
The writer has also taken up the issues of human body parts found from nearby drains at Shrine. It was not a deliberately action. When the suicide bomber blew himself with around seven to eight kilogrammes of explosive, the people closest to the bomber who were participating or witnessing the dhamaal were shreded to pieces and their parts landed as far away as the roof top of the shrine, and across the compound of the dargah. Since the focus was on saving the lives of the victims and clearing the shrine for the devotees, this lapse had occurred. But after this fact came into the knowledge of the district administration, the remains were collected and buried with respect.
Mr Siddiqi says “shame has become Sindh. When one leave Karachi, the writ of the Sindh government comes to an end.” Again, this is his assumption because he has written his article without leaving his air-conditioned room. Had he visited the northern or southern parts of Sindh he would have appreciated the writ of the Sindh government. It is on record that there is not a single kidnapping case in rural and central areas of Sindh for many months now. The government has improved law and order and the crime rate has drastically come down. As far as this blast or extremism is concerned it is a mind set and the whole nation is fighting against it.
The writer says that Karachi is in a shambles. Yes, he is right because reconstruction of roads, flyovers, underpasses, structure for Rapid Bus Transport System have been started on a war footing. Somewhere work has been completed and in most of the areas work is in progress which he has failed to witness.
As far as the performance of the leadership of the CM is concerned on which he has vented his anger, this is his personal judgment to which he has every right as a freelance journalist but he can’t behave as a freelance judge. Had he assessed the CM’s working as a journalist his opinion would have been totally different.
The CM with his hard work and dedication has improved governance. He has paid special focus on development for which he holds frequent meetings and undertake visits most of which are without protocol or with minimum protocol. He has also improved health services and is striving hard to improve things in the education sector.
We do not claim that streams of milk and honey are flowing in Sindh but we would definitely assert that the infrastructure for a better Sindh is being developed in each and every sector. The people of Sindh would respond on the performance of the PPP government in the general election but the writer has already cursed them (people of Sindh) for voting the PPP to power. This shows the writer has written his piece in his personal angst and not as an objective journalist.
Lastly, it is high time to focus on terrorism and try to find an answer to the questions like why the National Action Plan hasn’t been implemented in letter and an spirit. What are the hurdles in its way and how to overcome them?
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2017.
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