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Roving Periscope: “Indians lands on the Moon, but Pak kids die in the open gutter”

Roving Periscope: “Indians lands on the Moon, but Pak kids die in the open gutter”

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: As the massive anti-Pakistan protests, total strike, and demand for merger with India in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) entered the sixth day, a leading politician lamented in Islamabad that while Indian satellites were landing on the Moon, the Karachi children were dying in gutters.

Syed Mustafa Kamal, a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, said the country is falling behind while archrival India is conducting Moon missions.

“While the world celebrates achievements like India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission landing on the Moon, we witness heartbreaking incidents like children dying after falling into open gutters in Karachi, the financial capital of the nation. This has become a recurring tragedy every third day,” Kamal said in parliament.

His remarks were widely circulated on social media, shedding light on the two contrasting development trajectories in the two countries.
Kamal, who is the leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan party, emphasized Karachi’s pivotal role in generating revenue for the Islamist nation. “Despite being the main revenue contributor, Karachi faces acute shortages of essentials like fresh water. Rampant corruption, exemplified by the tanker mafias, exacerbates the situation, depriving residents of their rightful resources.”

He highlighted the education crisis in Sindh, revealing shocking statistics of “ghost” schools and millions of children out of school. He urged the government to address these fundamental issues plaguing Karachi and the broader region of Sindh to foster genuine progress and prosperity.

“In Sindh alone, there are 48,000 schools, but 11,000 of them are ‘ghost schools’,” Kamal said, adding that seven million children in the province did not go to schools.

Amid these challenges, Pakistan is also facing economic hurdles, including high inflation of over 28 percent and mounting debt. Delays in implementing vital economic reform programs, such as the International Monetary Fund Extended Fund Facility, have also exacerbated the country’s economic woes, leading to dwindling foreign reserves and currency depreciation.

Besides economic crisis and financial problems, Pakistan is facing separatist movements in Baluchistan where Baloch terrorists have been attacking the Pakistani Army and Chinese personnel deployed at the controversial Gwadar Port, as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the USD 62 billion white elephant that has failed to deliver even after nearly a decade in works.

In PoK, three persons, including a police officer, were killed and over 100 others, mostly policemen, were injured in violent clashes between security forces and protesters since Saturday last week.

The protest in PoK is being led by the traders’ body, the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee (JAAC), which demanded the provision of electricity based on the cost of hydropower generation in the region, subsidized wheat flour, and removing the privileges enjoyed by the elite class.

“Deeply concerned” by the unexpected protests, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday approved PKR 23 billion for immediate release to the PoK after negotiations between protesters and the regional government failed.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari urged all stakeholders to exercise restraint and use dialogue and mutual consultation to resolve their issues.

To prevent hostile elements from exploiting the situation, political parties, state institutions, and the people of the region should act responsibly, he said, stressing that the demands of the people in PoK should be addressed according to the law.

Amid ongoing protests in PoK, India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar reiterated India’s stand on merging the illegally occupied region. “One day we will end the illegal occupation of the PoK and PoK will join with India.”

“These days, a lot of things are going on in PoK. You must have seen some incidents happening there. Now, (the) Modi government, we are very clear on this… We are very clear that PoK is a part of India. It was always part of India, it will be part of India,” Dr. Jaishankar said during a media interaction in Mumbai.

“Today certain ferments are happening in PoK…the analyses of it are very complex but I do not doubt in my mind that someone living in PoK is comparing their situation with someone living in J&K and saying how people there are progressing nowadays. They know the sense of being under occupation or being discriminated badly…it (PoK) has always been India and it will always be India…till Article 370 was invoked, there wasn’t much discussion about PoK,” Jaishankar said.

Stressing that the Modi government intended to end the illegal occupation of PoK one day, the EAM also accused the Opposition of thinking in the opposite direction.


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