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Sad sights in Sri Lanka

"The unrest began in Sri Lanka after power blackouts and high prices of food, fuel and medicines gripped the country for months. The worst-ever economic crisis did not erupt suddenly; years of governmental mismanagement left a severe toll on the economy"

Colombo has been my favourite vacation destination for years. When I see the images of riots, chaos and bloodshed on the streets of the serene and scenic country, my heart burns.

For weeks, the public has been vandalizing public properties without any fear to express their resentment against the government’s inability to stem the tide of inflation. The anarchic situation has reached such a point that the Sri Lankan authorities have issued shoot-on-sight orders. The order has the least effects on the rioters and still unrest rules the island.

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The people of Sri Lanka have pulled every political stunt which our part of the world does:

They booed and heckled their prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, on Sunday when he appeared in public since protests erupted across the country. The protest was so severe that he resigned from the office within a day. The irony is that the prime minister, who happened to be the brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, chose his public appearance at one of the holiest Buddhist temples – housing a reputedly 23-centuries-old tree – in Anuradhapura. This hardly soothed the public, and instead they asked the site management to stop ‘thieves’ from visiting the sacred places.

I am not trying to link the heckling of the former Sri Lankan premier with the incident of the Masjid Nabwi in Madina, but I do believe that people in the government should devote their time for the public welfare projects when they come to power. The rituals of heading to Umra soon after assuming power should be given a break. The best time to pay homage to God in the holy land of Saudi Arabia is at the end of the government term.

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The unrest began in Sri Lanka after power blackouts and high prices of food, fuel and medicines gripped the country for months. The worst-ever economic crisis did not erupt suddenly; years of governmental mismanagement left a severe toll on the economy.

Anger is so simmering among the public that they have defied a curfew which thousands of security forces are trying to enforce.

People are taking the law of the land in their own hands. They have blocked the main road to Colombo airport. They check every car going to the airport to see if the passenger is any Rajapaksa loyalist fleeing the island.

Our situation also demands that the rulers exhibit such optics which go along with public wishes. Our whole cabinet has gone to London for a huddle with PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif. Meanwhile, back at home, friend Dr. Farrukh Saleem has painted the situation in a tweet: “The dollar has reached Rs191, the stock exchange is down with an additional 900 points, the central bank is left with $10 billion, financial markets are crashing and investors’ confidence is ebbing.”

Pakistan will never become a Sri Lanka, for we have a robust agriculture economy and a colossal undocumented informal economy, which keeps the country sailing come what may.

Also, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is known for working extra hours to fix issues. His day starts at 4:00am when the whole country is asleep. By the time Pakistan awakes to work, he has given dozens of deadline-oriented tasks to the officials concerned. The good thing is he never forgets deadlines, and he believes in the follow-up of his orders.

Let us discuss Sri Lanka again.

The departure of the prime minister has not helped the government restore law and order. Houses of the ruling elite have been torched. While the island is being torched and burned, the world looks the other way. So far, only statements expressing ‘troubled’ emotions are pouring in.

May God help Sri Lanka!

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