Responsible manufacturers claim that they are committed to providing consumers products of the highest quality and standards, which could confidently meet the challenges of the WTO regime. However, according to an editorial in The News International, dated 29th December, 2016 (https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/175125-Milky-poison), it seems pure milk is virtually impossible to procure, even as more and more companies selling the product appear in the marketplace with their advertising banners and catchy slogans.

A Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Saqib Nisar, has noted that a large number of milk brands are adulterated with chemicals, urea or cane juice – intended to thicken the liquid or improve its flavour.

In the past, the issue of adulterated loose milk has been placed before courts. The denial of safe milk to children was noted by the court to be a major issue and a commission set up to examine it.

The Punjab Food Authority, which has been active in the past two years in tackling unhygienic food preparation, is to play a part in the inquiry. A study by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), noting that many brands of commercial water as well as other items were found to be contaminated, was put before the bench.

It is no secret that many food items we buy are contaminated. Laws to ensure companies follow codes and accurately declare the ingredients in their products are both inadequate and poorly enforced. In the case of an item such as milk, this affects millions on a daily basis.

As such, urgent measures are required to control and enforce standards to prevent further damage to the health of people, who really have no control over what food products they consume.

However, though some manufacturers, especially the multinational companies do conform to WTO quality and standards, many companies fail to do so. They even fail to comply with the PSQCA quality standards.

The Consumer Protection Law was finally unanimously approved and passed by the Sindh Assembly on 20th February 2015 and then signed by the Sindh Governor, but unfortunately Consumer Courts, that would make the law effective, have still not been set up.

The Consumer Protection Council has repeatedly written to the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court and the Chief Minister to set up Consumer Courts, but so far no action has been taken. As such, consumers are still being cheated by glossy, misleading advertisements with no fear for the manufacturer of being punished.

Sadly, we, the citizens, are to be held responsible for this sorry state of affairs, as we have no concept of respecting the rule of law or for demanding quality and standards, due to which our exports have also suffered. In order to protect yourself and your family from adulterated products, it is always advisable to buy dependable branded products from reliable stores.

To add to our woes, Karachi, which was once known as the City of Lights, has, but over the years, become a neglected city and has turned into a virtual slum -- a lack of proper drainage system, which turns useless during the rains, open manholes, uncollected garbage, broken roads and rubble. Moreover, shortage of clean drinking water, constant power breakdowns, etc., have exposed the shortcomings of the civic agencies, which seem to be on the brink of collapse.

The print and electronic media have consistently shown pictures of snapped electric cables, which have killed innocent citizens, overflowing gutters and flooded and broken roads, traffic jams and overcrowded buses.

Even housing societies like Clifton and DHA, which are under army administration, are in a deplorable condition. Main roads and streets and commercial areas are all full of potholes, overflowing gutters, open manholes and blatant encroachments. And now DHA has proudly announced launch of Creek City, a 1000-apartment complex, in spite of the fact that it has failed to provide adequate civic facilities to its existing phases.

We have witnessed riots in various areas of Karachi due to power breakdowns, water shortages and death and illnesses due to contaminated water. But unfortunately it seems that it is not easy to shame the shameless, as not a single administrator of these agencies has offered an apology or an explanation.

Various administrators and heads of these agencies, who seem to excel in mismanagement, must be using these roads and seeing the pictures.

However, it seems that these officers are totally unmoved to the plight and suffering of the citizens. In any civilised country, immediate cognizance would have been taken to improve the services of these agencies. But in Pakistan, this is of course never done.

A lack of good governance, non-enforcement of the rule of law, corruption, mismanagement, misuse and abuse of authority and bad governance have become our way and part of life. And yet we still lack the moral strength to openly and collectively condemn and punish those responsible for the sorry state of our city.

Due to the total disregard for laws and the failure of the government to enforce the existing laws, our society has become increasingly lawless. Whether it is law and order, food, medicines, traffic or buildings laws, all are violated with impunity and without fear of punishment. Large-scale corruption, abuse of authority, poverty and illiteracy have isolated the citizens from participating in governance.

But in other countries, in spite of these negative factors, the intelligentsia has played its due role and forced governments to introduce changes in governance, so as to improve the quality of life of the citizens.

Unfortunately, our most glaring misfortune is the absence of a responsible intellectual community and a lack of accountability and transparency. In Pakistan, we have a culture of silence and the role of our intelligentsia is limited and restricted to being the armchair critics and writers and none are willing to take a stand on issues of civic importance.

As such, in spite of 70 years of independence, Pakistan is still desperately in need of the rule of law and good governance, without which democracy and prosperity cannot be achieved.

(Email: trust@helplinetrust.org.pk).