Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
As surely as there are camels’ backs and straws to break them, moments arrive when citizens say they’ve had enough, when they rise up against political leaders who do not speak for them and whose moral fecklessness imperils lives. We may be witness to such a moment now with the protests by American teenagers sickened — and terrified — by the latest mass murder at the hands of someone with easy access to a weapon fit for a battlefield, not a school.
These kids have had enough. They’ve had enough of empty expressions of sympathy in the wake of the sort of atrocities they’ve grown up with, like last week’s mass shooting that took 17 lives at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Enough of the ritualistic mouthing of thoughts and prayers for the victims. Enough of living in fear that they could be next in the cross hairs of a well-armed deranged killer, even with all the active shooter drills and lockdowns they’ve gone through. Enough of craven politicians who kneel before the National Rifle Association and its cynically fundamentalist approach to the Second Amendment.
They are asking in what kind of country are children sent off to school with bulletproof book bags strapped to their backs — capable, one manufacturer, Bullet Blocker, says, of “stopping a .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, 9mm, .45 caliber hollow point ammunition and more.”
“I was born 13 months after Columbine,” a 12th grader named Faith Ward said on Monday, referring to the school massacre in Littleton, Colo., in 1999, the dawn of the modern wave of school shootings. Ms. Ward spoke to a television reporter at an anti-gun demonstration outside her school in Plantation, Fla. “This is all I have ever known,” she said, “this culture of being gunned down for no reason, and this culture of people saying, ‘Oh, let’s send thoughts and prayers’ for three days, and then moving on. And I’m tired of it.”
So are we all.
It is too soon to tell if this righteous anger augurs a sustained youth movement for gun sanity, going beyond the occasional protest. We hope it does. It’s time, once again, for America to listen to its children. Who among us have more at stake than they?
Sensible young people have it in their power to make their senseless elders take heed — and act. We saw it happen during the Vietnam War half a century ago. Young people, initially reviled by establishment forces as unwashed, longhaired traitors, energized an antiwar movement that swept the country and, even if it took years, ultimately ended America’s misguided adventure in Southeast Asia. To be effective, any movement needs a realistic program, not mere emotion. Otherwise, it risks coming and going in a flash with little to show for itself. A tighter federal system of background checks is a start, to better monitor would-be gun buyers with mental illness, for example, or histories of gun violence. Such a program should also include reinstating a nationwide ban on assault weapons — a state measure died in the Florida Legislature Tuesday — and ending an absurd prohibition against using federal public health funds to study gun violence.
Even President Trump, who told an N.R.A. convention last April that “you have a true friend and champion in the White House,” has signaled he might be willing to improve the system. The Washington Post reported that after Mr. Trump saw the coverage of the student protesters, he asked Mar-a-Lago guests whether he should do more about gun control. On Tuesday, he ordered that regulations be written to ban bump stocks, devices that can make an automatic weapon out of a semiautomatic. Beyond that, though, it’s hard to tell if he means business when he says he’s open to more thorough background checks. Steadfastness is not a Trump hallmark.
However, if young people channeling this angry moment remain steadfast, they might not only force his hand but also stiffen the resolve of other elected officials and candidates. Horrific school shootings aside, they are vulnerable every day to gun mayhem at a stomach-churning rate. The journal Pediatrics reported last June that gunfire, each week, kills an average of 25 children ages 17 and under. A 2016 study in The American Journal of Medicine calculated that among two dozen of the world’s wealthiest nations, this country alone accounted for 91 percent of firearms deaths among children 14 and under. What the young protesters are saying now is: Put down the guns. We’re your children.
How can anyone not heed their pained voices?
By Igor Bobic
After what seems like a never-ending stream of deadly mass shootings, many gun reform proponents fear that Americans have become too desensitized to bloodshed to demand action to end gun violence. This time may be different, in part because of the unusual visibility of some school shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida.
A number of teenagers who survived last week’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people died, have been outspoken in their calls for stricter gun legislation. They’ve appeared on cable news shows to plead with lawmakers to take action to address gun violence. They’ve used social media platforms like Twitter to rebut lawmakers’ arguments on gun control in real time. And one group is organizing a nationwide march next month to demand that politicians make ending gun violence a priority.
But their outspokenness has drawn criticism from some conservatives, who have sought to discredit arguments in favor of gun control by targeting the students themselves.
Student survivors are really tools of a left-wing conspiracy
Former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) suggested on Tuesday that left-wing organizations ― like the one run by billionaire and liberal activist George Soros, a favorite boogeyman of the right ― were using the students who survived the Parkland shooting to advance their gun reform cause.
“Their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda,” Kingston said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“Do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?” added the conservative activist, who is also the CNN contributor.
Angry student survivors quickly responded to Kingston’s remarks, rejecting the notion they aren’t able to speak and think on their own.
“I think it’s very despicable that he would even have the audacity to say that,” student survivor Brandon Abzug said. “Especially in the wake of a tragedy, we really show who we truly are. Just because we’re young we can’t make a difference is not right.”
An aide to Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison (R) on Tuesday dismissed a pair of outspoken Parkland students as attention-seeking “actors.”
“Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen,” the unnamed aide told Tampa Bay Times reporter Alex Leary.
Survivors are biased because some are related to FBI agents
Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday “liked” two posts on Twitter pushing conspiracy theories about one student survivor and his father, a former FBI agent.
“Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who Works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office Which botched tracking down the Man behind the Valentine day massacre? Just wondering. Just connecting some dots,” read one of the tweets by Graham Ledger, the host of a talk show on far-right cable news channel OANN.
Ledger’s tweet linked to a Gateway Pundit article alleging that 17-year-old David Hogg, a Parkland student who has advocated for gun control in the wake of the shooting, was coached on what to say by his father, a retired FBI agent. Gateway Pundit is known for pushing unhinged conspiracy theories and hoaxes about just about everything.
Another tweet Trump Jr. “liked” included a link titled, “VIDEO: Outspoken Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor is Son of FBI Agent; MSM Helps Prop Up Incompetent Bureau.” The purported connection is that Hogg was a tool of the FBI, which President Donald Trump and his supporters have been waging a war against amid the ongoing Russia investigation.
Student survivors can’t credibly opine on shootings
Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly pondered whether the media ought to be interviewing Parkland students because they are in an “emotional state.”
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, meanwhile, questioned whether the survivors of a mass shooting had any special insight on the issue of gun violence, and that they were merely being used by the left.
“What, pray tell, did these students do to earn their claim to expertise?” Shapiro wrote in National Review. “They were present during a mass shooting, and they have the right point of view, according to the Left. There’s a reason that producers at CNN are eager to put junior Cameron Kasky in front of the cameras: He says things like ‘You’re either with us or against us.’ It seems a stretch to think that if Kasky were instead advocating for more armed school security, CNN would be breaking into its primetime lineup to air his views.”
Shinjini Ghosh “Asma’s death is not only a loss to Pakistan but to all those who love democracy, who love peace, human rights and inclusion,” said feminist activist Kamla Bhasin at a gathering organised by several organisations and individuals in memory of Pakistani lawyer, feminist and human rights activist Asma Jehangir. At the memorial service organised at the India Habitat Centre on Thursday, Ms. Jehangir’s friends and colleagues came together and spoke about the “vocal critic” who consistently raised her voice against the “ruling elite”. Dare establishments “We are here not just to pay our condolences but to carry forward her legacy. She taught us the meaning of bonding between different nations despite the differences. She has often said that no dictator can survive for long. I think there is a lot to learn from that statement of hers. If we have to carry forward her legacy we have to challenge our own ruling establishments in India” said human rights lawyer Indira Jaising. Ms. Jehangir, who passed away on February 11 after suffering a cardiac arrest, had been co-founders of multiple South Asia-level people’s platforms and was formerly the UN Special Rapporteur on extra judicial killings and freedom of religion. Tapan Bose, co-chairperson of Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, said, “She was a tremendous vocal critic and always stood in the front row to protest against the oppression of the military and the ruling elite. Two days before her death, on a chilly wintry night in Islamabad, she stood with the Pashtun agitators and said I know how the military has been usurping your rights. We must continue the legacy of this courageous indomitable crusader of human rights.” Fought patriarchy Speaking about the funeral service at Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium, lawyer Mariam Farooqui said that Ms. Jehangir fought patriarchy even through her death as the funeral service saw a large number of men, women and children coming together to offer their prayers. Amid couplet recitals by Urdu poet Gauhar Raza and others, the packed amphitheatre also resolved, in unison, to carry forward Ms. Jehangir’s legacy by continuing the struggle for human rights across borders and the battle against the divisive patriarchal communal forces. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/continuing-the-legacy-of-an-indomitable-rights-crusader/article22769709.ece
The U.N. children's agency in a report released Tuesday singled out Pakistan as the riskiest country for newborns, saying that out of every 1,000 children born in Pakistan, 46 die at birth.
"It's abysmal," said Dr. Ghazna Khalid, a leading obstetrician in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province. "We don't need front-line medical doctors. We have plenty of them. We need skilled midwives."
The report, with its dismal figures that show South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa as the worst places for a child to be born, is part of UNICEF's new campaign, launched to raise awareness to bring down neonatal mortality rates. Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF's executive director, said after the report's release that though the world has "more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old."
"Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world's poorest babies," she said.
UNICEF's report said that after Pakistan, the Central African Republic is the next riskiest country for newborns, and Afghanistan is the third.
"Babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance at survival, while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds," it said, noting that "more than 80 percent of all newborn deaths are caused by three preventable and treatable conditions." The three are premature births, complications such as lack of oxygen at birth and neonatal infections, including sepsis and pneumonia. UNICEF says as many as 3 million children could be saved each year with an investment in quality care at delivery. In Pakistan, Dr. Khalid said 80 percent of newborn deaths could be prevented with skilled birth attendants. "I feel that no matter what tools we send, or how much money you spend, unless you improve the quality and the skill of midwives," babies in Pakistan will continue to die, she said.
"We have midwives in government hospitals who cannot deliver a baby," she added. "We don't need more doctors we need more skilled midwives."
UNICEF also appealed on properly training midwives and allowing better "access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition." Khalid, who has conducted extensive research into mother and child health and has written international papers on the subject, said that lack of funding, corruption and misplaced government priorities all contribute to insufficient investments in the training of midwives.
"Every year, 2.6 million newborns around the world do not survive their first month of life," said Fore. "One million of them die the day they are born."
Monday, February 19, 2018
#ParklandStudents - Young people ask ‘am I next?’ at demonstration against Washington inaction in the wake of Florida attack
Students stage White House protest as Trump gives nod to background bill
Parent and educators joined the gathering, where protesters held their arms crossed at their chests. Two activists covered themselves with an American flag while another held a sign asking: “Am I next?”
“It’s really important to express our anger and the importance of finally trying to make a change and having gun control in America,” said Ella Fesler, a 16-year-old high school student from Alexandria, Virginia. She added: “Every day when I say ‘bye’ to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again.”
Meanwhile the White House said Donald Trump was supporting an effort to improve background checks on gun buyers.
The US president has been criticised for his tepid response to the shooting and his past vigorous backing of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“The president spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Senator Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background check legislation,” Sanders said. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”
Students, teachers and politicians have urged Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress to act following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, to prevent a future tragedy.
David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at the school, told NBC’s Meet the Press: “You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you.”
The bipartisan Cornyn-Murphy bill, announced last November after the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs in Cornyn’s home state of Texas, falls well short of what many activists want, but offers Congress a chance to say it is not doing nothing. It seeks to ensure that federal and state authorities accurately report relevant information, including criminal history, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (Nics), the Texas Tribune reported.
Murphy is one of the most outspoken members of the Senate on gun control. His home state is Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown in 2012. Michael Hammond of the lobby group Gun Owners of America told the Guardian he believed it would be a “huge mistake” if the Trump administration threw its weight behind the legislation, called the Fix Nics Act. “We feel that Bonnie and Clyde are basically already in the Nics system, and the incremental names that would be attend as a result of this $625m bribe pot are names that probably shouldn’t be in there,” Hammond said.
Hammond said it was not yet clear what agreement the administration had made with Cornyn on “cleaning up” the background check system.
“Saying ‘revisions to the Fix Nics bill might be needed’ suggests to us that Cornyn didn’t completely sell him on it. To the extent that the president would consider Fix Nics that would be to us very disappointing. Over the next couple of days, our members are going to be contacting the White House in fairly large numbers to let him know what the exactly problems with this bill are, problems that weren’t necessarily communicated to Trump by Cornyn.” He added: “Fix Nics is a huge mistake and it would be a massive political mistake if Republicans are the party that finally delivered on gun control after Obama had failed for eight years.” Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the Parkland school shooting, appeared in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom on Monday for a brief procedural hearing. He nodded once or twice to acknowledge his public defenders, but otherwise stared down and said nothing.
Trump has a history of shifting his positions in response to events or advice. Before he entered the political fray in earnest, he expressed support for a ban on assault weapons and “a slightly longer waiting period” to purchase a gun.
But during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump ran as an unabashedly pro-gun candidate, warning the NRA: “The only way to save our second amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump.” Trump has since overturned a Barack Obama-era regulation restricting certain people from buying guns. Critics said this made it easier for people with mental illness to access to weapons, increasing the threat to themselves or others.
After last year’s massacre in Las Vegas, the president said he was potentially open to banning bump stocks, an accessory used to more rapidly fire rounds, but there has been no notable action by the White House since. The Guardian reported on Sunday that Slide Fire Solutions, a bump stock manufacturer, was offering 10% off in a Presidents’ Day sale with the coupon code “Maga” – a reference to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America great again”.
Trump also provoked anger over the weekend by conflating the issue of gun violence with the special counsel’s investigation into his Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He wrote on Twitter that the FBI missed “many signals” about the Florida gunman, claiming that the agency was spending “too much time” trying to prove Russian collusion.
Trump met injured victims and first responders from the Parkland shooting on Friday night. He spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida but did not play his customary golf, according to a pooled press report. However, the president returned to the golf course on Monday. The driver of an official van carrying journalists nearby was detained during a security screening for what he said was a personal firearm found in his baggage, a pool report said.
Abbasi says Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has opined that a ban now will invite a crisis similar to the one in November. Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reversed his decision to take stern action against Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF) fearing that any such move could trigger a political crisis, a media report said on Monday. Pakistan has come under intense pressure to rein in terror groups after United States President Donald Trump accused the country of harbouring terrorists and suspended nearly $2 billion in security assistance to it. The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. He fears a crisis At a meeting, Mr. Abbasi said both the outfits “should be banned but Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was of the view that if these organisations were banned at this point, the government would be facing a similar crisis which it faced in November,” The News reported, citing two different sources who attended the meeting last month. In November, a sit-in by supporters of Islamist organisation Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi in Faizabad had paralysed the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. In the meeting, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua apprised him of the possible repercussions of the upcoming Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) meeting that could decide placing Pakistan on the watch list of countries that financially aid terrorism, the paper said. After their input, Mr. Abbasi constituted a three-member committee, comprising Iqbal, Ismail and Attorney General Ishtar Ausaf, to finalise the decision of taking a strict action against the JuD and FIF, it said. The committee decided to resolve the issue through a presidential ordinance bringing an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 enabling the law to freeze all the assets of the organisations banned by the United Nations Security Council. The paper quoted General Ausaf as saying that still a notification by the Interior Ministry was required to formally ban both the organisations. Assets freezed, but no cases Following the February 9 presidential ordinance, the federal government formally ordered the freezing of all the assets of JUD and FIF across the country without placing them in Schedule I of Anti-Terrorism law, the paper said. Early this month, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had said that on the Interior Ministry’s directions, Saeed and his charities have been banned to operate in Pakistan and the government has already started taking over all the facilities, offices, schools, dispensaries and seminaries that belong to the JuD and FIF. The law explicitly defines placement of any organisation into the banned list that is not enabling the police to take any legal action against both the organisations. “Although, the federal government has decided to freeze the assets of JUD and FIF through the law, it does not empower the provincial police to register cases against their activists, so we’ve taken over their assets but not registered cases against their activists,” the paper quoted a senior officer police officer as saying. Citing sources, it said a formal notification of placement of JuD and FIF in Schedule I was still awaited. Without the said notification, both the organisations will not be formally admitted as a defunct organisation at the federal and provincial levels. Banned groups’ list not updated The sources claimed that in the same pretext the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has refused to update its list of banned organisations on its website. A high-level meeting, headed by Nacta chief Ehsan Ghani on February 15 deliberated the above-mentioned notification of the Interior Ministry and also pointed out the same flaw in the notification issued by the government, the paper added. http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistan-pm-reluctant-to-take-stern-action-against-jud-report/article22798551.ece?homepage=true
The authorities in Islamabad need to live up to their claims regarding equal treatment of Pakistani citizens regardless of their geographic location inside the country. The fact of the matter is that their approach towards many Pakistanis, in hitherto marginalised territories like Gilgit-Baltistan, remains no better than that of the colonial masters whose control over our state institutions ended several decades ago. Several political activists, led by the iconic Baba Jan, who had raised voice for those displaced in the Attabad lake fiasco, remain incarcerated on charges of terrorism. That our law enforcement apparatus can charge GB residents with terrorism for exercising civil liberties that the rest of us, in mainland Pakistan, take for granted should be a moment of shame for those representing the Pakistani public in Islamabad. Incidentally, Pakistan’s greatest champion for human rights who left us last week, Asma Jahangir, had condemned the authorities for Baba Jan’s incarceration and sought a fair and speedy trial for GB’s political prisoners.
Instead of trying to address the grievances of the region, the authorities continue with their undemocratic practices. The latest example is the arrest of the president of Gilgit Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court Advocate Ehsan Ali. He was held for re-sharing a photo from recent Iranian protests on social media. The photo showing a woman protester sitting on the platform meant for prayer leaders in a mosque had become a symbol of defiance of ordinary Iranians against the clerical regime. There was hardly anything derogatory about the photo but Ali reportedly still took it off from his social media profile and also apologised for re-sharing it. He was still arrested and remains behind bars. Meanwhile, protests have been held against his arrest in GB as well as in major cities across the country. The protesters, including a large body of students from GB, have sought an end to our double standards vis-a-vis the region. The authorities in Islamabad will do well to listen to these youngsters of GB for this lopsided relationship of Islamabad with the region and its people needs to end.
The case against Advocate Ali needs to be annulled and he must be released immediately. The occasion should also be used to reflect on the undemocratic impulses in the recently passed controversial legislation on electronic crimes. The legislation should be reviewed for any curtailments it places on Pakistani citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties. For there simply cannot be any room for such policing of cyber space in a democratic dispensation.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Monday threatened Defence Minister Dastagir with 'contempt of parliament' proceedings after the minister outright refused to provide details of the ‘unilateral decision’ to send Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia for deployment.
The chairman said he 'rejected' Dastagir's briefing to the upper house after the minister said he could not divulge "operational details" of the deployment.
"Why don't we proceed against you and the prime minister over contempt of parliament?" Rabbani asked Dastagir after the minister revealed that it was Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who green-lighted the deployment.
The Senate chairman censured Dastagir for not taking the house into confidence even though both the defence minister and premier had knowledge of the decision for several months. "The parliament found out [about the deployment] through a press release," Rabbani said. "The executive has itself rubbed parliament's nose in the dirt." But the defence minister argued that despite the decision, Pakistan remains "neutral" — in line with a unanimous resolution passed by a joint sitting of parliament in 2015 stating that Pakistan will not become party to any war in the Middle East or any Arab state.
Disclosing the size of the deployment for the first time since the decision was announced, Dastagir said a total of 1,000 Pakistani troops are being sent to the Kingdom on a training mission. He said 1,600 Pakistani soldiers are already stationed in Saudi Arabia.
The defence minister attempted to assure Senate that the troops will not be deployed outside the Kingdom's territory, but Chairman Rabbani expressed a lack of confidence in the assurance, saying this information was already known. "The House is not satisfied with your response," he told Dastagir, while Senator Farhatullah Babar stressed that "all concerns remain despite the defence minister's statement". "Has a decision been taken to deploy troops at the border of [the southern Saudi province of] Sharura," he asked.
The Senate chairman told the defence minister that he could not hide any information from parliament, and even offered him the option of briefing the Senate on the issue in detail in an in-camera session.
"[But] don't give us a lollipop... we are not children," Rabbani told him.
However, the defence minister turned down the offer, stressing that he could not divulge operational details of the mission. "Don't ask where in Saudi Arabia the troops will be deployed," he further said. 'Deepening defence relationship'
In a statement issued after the Senate briefing, the defence minister gave a rundown of Pakistan-Saudi relations, seemingly in an attempt to justify the troops deployment.
Military cooperation between Pakistan and KSA dates back nearly five decades, the minister recalled, adding that Pakistani troops' training of Saudi forces is governed by the '1982 bilateral Pak-Saudi Protocol on the Deputation of Pakistan Armed Forces Personnel and Military Training'.
The statement revealed that nearly 10,000 Saudi armed forces personnel have been trained in various training academies and institutions in Pakistan. "The assistance being rendered to Saudi Arabia is a continuation of the ongoing support and is within the confines of joint parliamentary resolution of April 2015 [that called for neutrality]." The defence minister clarified that the Pakistani contingent comprising more than 1,000 troops of all ranks will be dispatched to the Kingdom on the training and advisory mission "shortly".
He recalled that a contingent of Saudi armed forces had participated in the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23 last year, "which manifests the deepening defence relationship between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".
On Thursday, the army had said it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia for deployment under a bilateral security pact. The announcement came after Saudi Ambassador Cdr Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki reportedly discussed the “regional security situation” with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. The latter had also recently met Crown Prince Salman and Saudi military commanders during a three-day visit to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has been demanding the deployment of Pakistani troops since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, but Pakistan has been struggling to concede due to the parliamentary resolution asserting the country’s neutrality in the conflict. Last year, Pakistan had sent its famed army chief, retired Gen Raheel Sharif, to lead a Saudi-led coalition of troops contributed by several Muslim countries. Thereafter, it had been speculated that the deployment would take place even if it would not happen as quickly as the Saudis wanted.
Bill decriminalising suicide attempt passed The Senate on Monday also unanimously passed a bill seeking to decriminalise attempted suicide and providing treatment and protection to those who try to end their lives. Under Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), both suicide and attempted suicide are currently considered criminal offences, with the latter punishable either by a jail term of up to a year, or a fine, or both.
The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2017, moved by Senator Karim Khawaja and already cleared by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, proposes that the survivors of suicide attempts should be provided treatment and not awarded punishment as they try to commit suicide because of chemical changes in their brain which is nothing but a disease.
The state should treat those who seek to take their own lives like a mother, the bill argues.
"A person attempts suicide only in a state of extreme frustration," it says, demanding that the state safeguard the victims of mental illnesses and depression. The Senate had in October last year deferred the same bill, with Chairman Raza Rabbani ruling that a decision was not possible without a definitive view of the Council of Islamic Ideology. Chairman of the Senate standing committee Rehman Malik had then informed the house that according to the CII, there were no clear directions in the religion about the fate of survivors of suicide attempts.
The criminalisation of suicidal behaviour is one of the main reasons that people do not seek help for the psychological problem that may have precipitated the act.