THIS is with reference to the editorial ‘Ending tobacco use’ (Dec 14). One would completely agree with the fact that the scale of smoking is on the rise in Pakistan despite all efforts related to tobacco control over the last two decades.
Every year in May around the world ‘No Tobacco Day’ is commemorated, and a lot of noise is made. One major missing link is the lack of research on tobacco use and its control. Since the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in 2014, no major survey on the number of smokers, quit attempts in a year, new smokers, etc., has not been conducted in Pakistan. This leaves us in the dark about the severity of the problem. All scary figures, from how many die of smoking in a year to how many young initiate this habit daily, are old and vary from dataset to dataset.
The other missing link is that Pakistan has completely ignored the concept of tobacco harm reduction. Several countries have employed tobacco harm reduction to reduce smoking prevalence. It will be in Pakistan’s interest to review tobacco control policies. Besides, smoking cessation services should be made available in Pakistan to help adult smokers quit.
COST OF DEPENDENCE: The increasing overdependence on China is one of the major factors in the destruction of national economy. Chinese companies are given priority over local firms in various projects. Besides, markets are full of Chinese goods and the local products are nowhere to be seen. China is, indeed, our friend, but that does not mean that we should rely on it at the expense of the local industry. The government should promote trade balance and encourage people to use local products.
REPAIR WORK NEEDED: The Grand Trunk (GT) Road is in a dilapidated condition with no proper maintenance. It is littered with potholes and huge uncarpeted portions. Besides, lengthy stretches of the road do not have proper lighting arrangements or direction markers, causing not only damage to the vehicles, but also endangering passengers’ lives. The relevant authorities should not neglect it any further.
QUESTION OF LEGITIMACY: The ongoing tussle between the government and opposition to justify themselves as ‘the best option’ is completely out of touch with the realities that concern the ordinary citizens. Constitutionally, there is no superior force than the citizens to give the legitimate right to a party to rule. Democracy is believed to be dead when things are done behind the scenes.
THE RIGHT FOCUS: The recent outburst by the prime minister during the recent question-answer session on live television was a bit surprising. Ironically, just a day after the event, the government’s accountability czar resigned which somewhat compromised the narrative of strict accountability. And then came the Transparency International report. During his election campaign, the premier had promised to hold question-answer sessions in parliament. I guess such an approach will yield better results than a session on live television.
Ejaz Ahmad Magoon
London, United Kingdom
Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022