The Chief Minister of Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah, who once asked, “how is the government supposed to know about every death in the dessert?” He seems to have finally decided to rectify the gap in his information. On Monday, the CM announced the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the causes the numerous deaths of children in the Thar dessert. After weeks of treating the tragedy with the most callous insensitivity, a mature step by the CM would surely have been appreciated; however this is more of the same hapless Qaim Ali Shah.

While announcing the formation of a probe that will determine the causes of the deaths, the CM was simultaneously telling the audience how he has solved the, still unknown, problem. If the CM is waxing lyrical about his work in the health sector, then does he really need to create a probe to find out what is wrong? The contradiction seems to escape Qaim Ali Shah’s grasp. The government would have gotten the benefit of doubt had it been even fractionally responsible. Why does the CM need to form a JC again when a JC under Justice (retd) Ghulam Sarwar Korai and retired District & Sessions Judge Arjun Ram performed the same function in 2014? Deaths in Thar due to malnutrition are becoming a seasonal event, what new information is the CM hoping to get? More importantly, why has the 2014 report not been released? What about the probe by PPP leader Manzoor Hussain, or the 2014 Sindh Assembly sanctioned probe? None of these probes have led to accountability, and sadly, none have led policies to prevent this tragedy from happening again.

In a matter of press conference, Qaim Ali Shah went from apathetic leader to concerned minister. The transformation is fake and duplicitous. The PPP government has tried it’s best to dismiss the awkward Thar question whenever it comes up, the ‘judicial commission’ is just a roundabout way of doing that; an eyewash for the public until the matter is forgotten, just like the countless before it.