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Getting serious about Thar

The people of Thar continue to suffer. Indeed, some 486 children have died during this year alone; up from the 450 deaths witnessed in 2017. The PPP, of course, has been at the helm in Sindh for the last decade. Yet matters show no signs of improving. Thus the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) has ordered an inquiry to evaluate the status of projects undertaken at the local level to counter infant mortality, chronic malnutrition and water shortages in the area.
Health workers in the field are particularly concerned by the prevalence of malnutrition and lack of awareness when it comes to family planning and what constitutes a balanced diet. Nowhere in Pakistan is it more apparent that poverty is largely hereditary. Meaning that malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished children who have little or no chance of survival. Indeed, doctors on the ground it in Mithi note how it is not uncommon for women to bear 10 children or more.
he PPP’s response thus far looks good; but largely on paper only. Recognising the need for more medical professionals it endeavoured to lure doctors to the area by offering them above government wage rates. Even if this strategy had been successful, it would not have addressed broader problems of infrastructure or lack of electricity. Admittedly, the provincial set-up has arranged for the free distribution of 50kg of wheat for every household in those areas designated “calamity affected”. Yet this was announced as recently as September. And that, too, after the Supreme Court (SC) had issued orders to ensure the realisation of basic nutritional needs. Regrettably, this fails to address sustainable access to food sources. Ditto when it comes to additional rations for pregnant and breast-feeding women. These are short-term emergency measures and should be recognised as such.
It is clear that the PPP government needs help to tackle the dire situation in Tharparkar District. Thus the time has come for Imran Khan to demonstrate that he is, in fact, the Prime Minister of the entire country. For it is inconceivable that Pakistan is home to an area where human suffering is on a par with that of Yemen; a country enduring an internationalised civil war.



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