Wednesday, November 11, 2015

‘Pneumonia kills 92,000 children in Pakistan every year’

Around 92,000 children die of pneumonia annually in the country and the authorities must focus on eradicating the deadly disease on a priority basis, said renowned child specialists of the country at a news conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday.
“As compared to all other diseases, pneumonia causes the largest number of children deaths in the country every year despite the fact that it is preventable in 90 percent of the cases through vaccination. Even dengue and Naegleria fowleri have not caused more than 100 deaths combined in a year,” one of the specialists said.
The news conference was addressed by Pakistan Pediatric Association Secretary General Dr Ayesha Mehnaz, Dr Jalal Akbar and Dr Saleem Paryani on the eve of World Pneumonia Day, which is observed on November 12 every year around the globe.
Dr Mehnaz termed pneumonia a “public health issue” of Pakistan and said that due to a high mortality rate, pneumonia needed to be declared a health emergency issue and all efforts and resources should be utilised for its eradication.
She said pneumonia was preventable through vaccine and its vaccine was included in the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) and children were freely vaccinated against the disease in the country.
“Unfortunately, the ratio of routine immunisation is only 50 percent, which means that most of the children are left without vaccination against the lethal disease. If a child is once infected, he would hardly survive of the disease,” she added.
Dr Mehnaz urged the parents to get their children vaccinated, and added that malnourishment among children was another issue due which the immune system would not fight against pneumonia.
She urged the media to create awareness among people regarding pneumonia, saying that as diarrhea had been controlled in Pakistan, pneumonia could also be controlled and eradicated through awareness.
Prof Dr Jalal Akbar of the Baqai University Karachi said pneumonia was an inflammation of the lungs and mostly it was caused by bacteria and viruses.

Dr Saleem Paryani said routine immunisation was very important for the health and lives of the children as it prevented them from many lethal diseases like pneumonia.

Thailand: Condition of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers is much worse than expected

Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand, deprived of proper meals in the detention centres.
In keeping with details, a team of International Christian Voice, visits Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand. The ICV teams met with the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Bangkok, and discussed their issues.
The International Christian voice team included, Peter Bhatti, Tanveer Joseph, Sara Joseph, Nitasha Bhatti and Melissa Augusto. During a seven days visit, which started on October 25 till November 3, 2015, the teams heard the problems of the marginalized Pakistani Christians.
The underlying purpose of this visit was to analyze the ground realities of the situation of the Pakistani Christians who are seeking asylum in Thailand. The ICV, visited Pakistani Christian families from home to home, along with several discussion meetings with the affectees. The team says, the situation is much more critical than it was expected.
On October 26, the International Christian Voice team met with a refugee lawyer who works in an asylum access centre. The ICV team discussed with him, the issues of the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in detail. They talked about possible ways in which Pakistani Christians may be able to win asylum. At the same time, the team asked for suggestions for ways in which the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers could be aided.
Followed by this discussion meeting, the ICV team went to the houses of Pakistani Christians asylum seekers in Bangkok. During this time, they met with several Pakistani Christians families.
The following day, the International Christian Voice met with the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers who have been confined in the immigration detention center (IDC). Every member of the team was allowed to meet one detainee at a time. The team had brought food packages for the detainees. The Pakistani Christians detained complained about insufficient food. They said they are given, nothing to eat or drink except boiled rice along with cucumber water. They said that food is their immediate need.

Justice is rare for Christian women raped in Pakistan

Two Muslim men accused of raping Christian sisters in Pakistan were acquitted in October, an all too common outcome for rape trials in the Islamic nation.
The teenage girls from the village of Jaranwala were abducted and raped in November 2014. They recognized their attackers as young Muslim men from the area and reported the assault, according to Morning Star News (MSN).
Seeking punishment for their attackers meant danger for the entire family. Even before trial, they were threatened with death and attackers sprayed their home with gunfire. Now that the trial is over, their father thinks they’re in greater danger, and the girls have been relocated for safety.
“We didn’t get justice,” their father told the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), according to MSN.
Intimidation spread from the family to witnesses as the trail began.
“The case has allegedly been lost due to the unreliability of a key witness who originally, in the face of threats, refused to attend the court, then when instructed to attend by the court changed his original statement,” said BPCA’s Wilson Chowdhry, according to MSN. “Previously a family friend, [he] has been accused of taking a bribe and altering his statement in lieu of this payment.”
This case, as well as the recent gang rape of a deaf-mute Christian woman, illustrates how common rape is in Pakistan and how rarely justice is served. Although all women are potential victims, advocacy groups say religious minorities have been specifically targeted.
William Stark, from International Christian Concern, said minorities, like Christians and Hindus, are especially at risk because they’re “soft targets.”
“It is much harder for them to get any sort of justice,” he said.
Rape is also underreported because of shame, fear, external pressure from the rapist or his family, and a lack of confidence in the justice system. Many women keep silent because victims face opposition, intimidation, and threats if they speak. Even when rape is reported, authorities may choose not to investigate. If a case goes to court, the victims and their families are often threatened and harassed to get them to drop the charges.
“We visited a couple of police stations in Karachi in order to get a case lodged,” Sarah Zaman of the nonprofit advocacy group War Against Rape, told PBS’s Frontline. “Two policemen, at different points in time, told us that this woman is lying.” Zaman said when a victim loses in court the perception is that she lied, and those outcomes “discourage women from coming forward even more.”
Rape is also linked to the problem of forced marriages and conversions in Pakistan. The Movement for Solidarity and Peace estimated as many as 700 Christian women and girls are forcibly converted to Islam and married each year. The practice often involves kidnapping and rape. Once the girl is “married,” the rapist husband has more rights than the girl's family and “retains custody of the woman even if her family tries to pursue legal action,” Stark said.

Pakistan - Senators rally behind Christian girl beaten by teacher

The opposition yesterday walked out from the Senate expressing solidarity with a Christian girl who was allegedly beaten black and blue by her school headmistress for using the single common bathroom of the school.

The lawmakers shouted with slogans of ‘shame, shame’ when PPP Senator Sherry Rehman pointed out that according to some reports, a school headmistress in district Faisalabad, Punjab, beat a Christian girl for using the bathroom saying that was only specified for Muslim students.

The incident is very serious in nature because a Christian couple, some months back, was burnt to ashes in Kot Radha Kishan, district Kasur of Punjab for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.

Former Pakistan ambassador to US Ms Rehman said, “The headmistress not only beat up the student but also locked her in the bathroom.
The girl was asked to clean the area as this was not her right to use it.
” She said that there was a single bathroom in the school.
She condemned the incident and asked for the registration of a case against the school head.

Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani asked the Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq to look into the matter.
He also asked for registration of a case against the school headmistress if the Christian student was beaten up.
However, Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan called for a token workout over the issue.

The second issue on which the opposition mentioned as the main reason for its walkout was the much debated price issue of imported LNG.
PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha, said, “Some media reports suggest that the government has finalized a 15-year deal with Qatar for import of LNG”.
He suspected that there was something fishy in the deal as the opposition had been asking the government to disclose the prices of LNG but the demand was never fulfilled.

Meanwhile, the Senate Cabinet Committee presented its report on the progress on relief work by the government agencies after 26 October earthquake.
The committee in the report suggest immediate appointment of ERRA chairman and Deputy Chairman and “Its scope may be enhanced and re-named as Disaster Risk Reduction Authority (DRRA),” the committee said.
The committee asked for minimum visits of the VVIPs to disaster-hit areas saying local administration utilized most of its energy in hosting these personalities and their staff.
It also recommended an increase in compensation for earthquake victims-Rs 200,000 for partially damaged and Rs 400,000 for fully damaged houses.
During the discussion on the report, Aitzaz gave a funny statement and said, “I am looking for some ‘Siddique Baloch’ in earthquake hit areas so that the PM could dole out billions of funds.
He gave a reference to recent announcement of PM about giving Rs 2.
5 billion package for district Lodhran on the request of PML-N’s former MNA Baloch ahead of the by-election there.

Earlier, Rabbani issued ‘final’ warning to some absent ministers during the question hour session.

“This is the last and final warning,” Rabbani said after coming to know that both minister and state minister of water and power were absent to reply to a number of questions without any intimation.
“I would take action next time,” he said.

In addition to that, the minister in-charge of climate change, which was supposed to submit a detailed report on relief activities in the aftermath of recent earthquake, was also absent that forced Rabbani to adjourn the proceedings for 15 minutes.
This is not the first time that the chairman warned the cabinet members for their absence.

Pakistan - Co-Chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari felicitates Hindus on Diwali

Co-Chairman PPP Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has greeted the Hindus of Pakistan on the occasion of Diwali and called for strengthening interfaith harmony and protecting minorities’ rights.

I wish to extend on my behalf and on behalf of the Pakistan People’s Party heartiest greetings to the Hindus on the occasion of Diwali, he said in his message.

Diwali celebration is also an occasion to reiterate our commitment to promoting interfaith harmony as a means to fight religious apartheid.

Diwali is known as the festival of lights aims at celebrating the triumph of good over evil, he said adding “let us strive in the case of all that is good to defeat the evil”.

On this occasion, I wish to reiterate that the Hindus, indeed all minorities, of Pakistan are equal citizens of the state and entitled to equal rights.

I also wish to reiterate our commitment to respect and uphold the UN Resolution calling for interfaith harmony and the pledges contained in the manifesto of the Party to safeguard the rights of all minorities in accordance with the teachings of the founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the founder of the Party Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.