Terror in New Zealand
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, has killed more than 50 Muslims including six Pakistanis offering Friday prayers in Christchurch. Ironically, the gruesome event was live steamed on Facebook and shared on various other social media platforms, including You Tube.
This attack exposed lack of policing on these platforms and their inefficiency to respond quickly in real time causing scores of fatalities. The lethal killer had a history of extremism and anti-Muslim sentiments but was never kept under observation by police or intelligence agencies of the area.
The most shocking thing is the late response of police. The question arises; when all were watching the attack live, why did police fail to respond quickly? On the other hand, Rashid Naeem confronted the killer and lost his life.
This attack also exposes the vulnerable condition of Muslims around the globe: their lives are taken like cattle all over the world. From Kashmir, India, Rohingya, Palestine, to New Zealand - it seems there is no solace to be found anywhere in the world. Why is that so?
It is time for think tanks and flag-bearers of peace to uproot hatred from their midst. Had this happened in a developing country, resolutions would have been tabled in United Nations for its declaration as a terrorist state.
The pre-massacre hate manifesto and post-attack live stream on Facebook remained unchecked by online monitors. If China could muzzle internet’s hydra-headed monster, the other countries, with more sophisticated technologies, could do it better. But, they will not because it would chip off a chunk of their profits.
Karl Marx, in his writings, encourages us to look at core value of capitalist system: accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets! “When violence is mixed with politics, it becomes terrorism,” wrote Verinder Grover in the Encyclopaedia of International Terrorism. Yet, the perpetrator was charged with murder only, not terrorism. It is time to define terrorism and control online content to make it safer for gullible minds.
We are hearing that the government is moving ahead with the much delayed 8th National Finance Commission Award. If the process is indeed underway, I believe it needs to review failures of the previous award completed in 2015. Besides missing a number of targets, three major agenda items remained unfulfilled during the five-year period.
A major failure was the collection of taxes, which remained below the target. Unlike the target of 15 per cent tax to GDP ratio by terminal year of the award (2014-15) and one per cent increase from then onward, the actual achievement during the five-year period was 11 percent.
The award had envisaged that both the centre and provinces would tap the potential of tax collection in these sectors. However, the total agricultural income tax collection during the award period was recorded at only Rs1.6 billion. On the other hand, a mere Rs4 billion was collected under property tax.
Maintenance of fiscal discipline was another major failing of the previous award. Both the centre and provinces had pledged to develop a mechanism to maintain fiscal discipline. However, in reality, the total expenditure of provinces (against revenue) witnessed an average negative growth of 16 percent during the five-year period.
Similarly, the total expenditure of the federal government recorded an average negative growth of 13 percent by the end of the award period.
The present government needs to keep in view the failures of the previous award before deciding on a future course of action.
Journalists should unite
It is time to unite the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and other associations for journalists. There is no doubt that journalists across the country are suffering; there is no job security and most people do not make enough money to support their families. It is unfortunate that despite such a sorry state of affairs, there is no organised body for journalists that could take up their issues and lobby for them. Each organisation or association is busy pursuing its own interest, instead of looking out for the entire collective. There is so much fragmentation that these journalists’ bodies have not even met to consult on a shared strategy, even though the media has been facing a crisis for several years now. A few weeks ago, these groups announced a unification plan in the jam-packed hall of Lahore Press Club’s General Council and announced to hold elections on March 3. Voting was to be held on the Lahore Press Club’s member lists. Unfortunately, all these pledges went nowhere as no concrete step was taken to materialise these plans. How do we move forward? How can we strengthen the fourth pillar of the state? This is a question everyone should think about.
Karachi University is well-known educational institute and so it is unfortunate when one learns that its basic facilities are not up to the mark. Students face great difficulties as there is no formal pick-and-drop service nor any formal collection spot. The aim of this service is to provide commuting facilities to students, especially those who belong to middle class families.
There are 42,000 students enrolled in KU and only 28 buses are available. How many of those 42,000 students avail this service? Most students have to arrange their own transport.
Just imagine, KU with 52 departments and 28 overloaded buses. Students can be seen hanging out from the doors. This is unsafe. The same is true for the rickshaw service inside KU. Students of various departments have to travel across the campus for their classes. This service is charging Rs40 as fare from students. Students believe that this additional fare is unfair and want to get rid of it. I hope the authorities will look into this matter and take action and provide to good transport for students.
If there has been one big political disappointment in India in the recent past, it has been the rise and fall of Aam Admi Party and its legendary leaders. AAP was supported and quoted even in international media as a party with difference, high morality and monumental expectations.
The party has failed miserably in achieving all major electoral promises, in fights and controversies with relentless intra and inter-party clashes have weakened its support base among ordinary voters as well as political analysts.
The party head always seems confused about taking major decisions and has neither any direction nor plans.
CM Kejriwal can read the writing on the wall and foresee a mass electoral defeat without collective support and seat-sharing with other parties. An individual who was so vocal regarding the monumental corruption of Congress is today hesitating to decide whether or not to go with that same party in the forthcoming election is an absolute shame! The only success and focus of the party and its leaders have been in participating in spicy television debates with no credibility or accountability towards its voters. What a shame.
The Friday Times, Plot No 52-53, N-Block, Main Guru Mangat Road, Gulberg II, Lahore, Pakistan. 042.35779186; Fax: 042.35779186, email: email@example.com
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