KARACHI: Singer Jawad Ahmed, who sang for the victims of the Baldia factory fire and has been struggling for the cause of their families since the incident occurred in September 2012, has demanded fresh investigation into the incident — reckoned as the worst fire in the country’s history — and asked the authorities concerned to punish the culprits no matter how they were influential or belonged to any group or party.
“It is a secondary thing whether this case is being tried in a military court or any other court, the affected families want punishment for those who were behind the killing of so many innocent people,” said Ahmed, now a leader of his organisation called International Youth and Workers Movement, while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.
He called for fresh and comprehensive investigations into the incident and said no individual or party found involved in the incident should be spared.
Referring to the controversy surfaced after the joint investigation report (JIT) vis-à-vis the incident, Mr Ahmed said those who had their own axe to grind in the aftermath of the JIT report should not politicise the issue.
“After such a catastrophe, the government should have taken measures to make labour laws more effective but we see no such action on the part of the authorities.”
Mr Ahmed said his organisation would soon launch a movement for the rights of labourers.
He said 95 per cent of Pakistanis were labourers but none of the political parties raised their voice for their rights.
“All politicians do speak about the rights of labourers, but none of them have launched an effective movement to attain those rights. All political parties want to protect the capitalist system to their own advantage,” said Ahmed.
“The minimum wage for a labourer is Rs12,000 a month, I humbly ask our political leaders that can they run their house with such a meagre amount?”
He said the Baldia incident exposed the worst conditions at workplaces and those conditions could only be improved through sustained and sincere efforts.
He said it was time to take practical measures for workers’ rights.
He demanded a reasonable compensation for the families of the factory fire victims and good care of their children. Besides, tens of thousands of other workers facing similar conditions should be taken into consideration and steps be taken to improve their means, he added.
“The government should announce a comprehensive policy aimed at prospering workers; it is all economics, which we have to be taken care of. Better economic conditions will certainly improve security and curb terrorism in our country.”
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2015