Baldia fire lawsuit

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A complex case with several actors, extortionists, and accomplices, the Baldia Factory victims to this day, more than six years later, still seek compensation for damage. In the most recent development, four people affected by the 2012 tragedy have taken up a civil lawsuit against a German textile company that was a client of the factory.

As the complexities of the case further unfold, the international attention garnered for the inferno that ruined hundreds of families, claiming nearly 300 lives is welcomed with utmost anticipation that in the future, foreign companies as well as domestic ones will carefully review the ethics and safety standards of another prior to signing agreements.

Optimists have long been touting about the opportunities that exist in this developing country. However, those opportunities are frequently taken up by people driven by greed and profit, haphazardly establishing businesses and operations without due diligence in establishing safe practices and employing ethical standards.

And, we do not learn. The alarm on safety precautions was raised with the Baldia factory fire six years ago yet there are examples from just this year of establishments neglecting safe practices. Broadly, the two brothers who died as a result of allegedly consuming tainted food at a Karachi restaurant last month is not a first-of-its-kind case in the least.

The restaurant is accused of serving expired meat demonstrating it had no standards. In another example of greed taking over logic and reason in business owners is the Askari Amusement Park accident earlier this year in which a ride broke and killed one girl. The park was opened to the public before safety engineers checked the rides and approved them. It is evident from these examples that human health and safety are of no concern when it comes to imagining the profits involved and maximizing the loot.

While the Baldia fire raised some awareness about basic practices with regards to fire safety, the government needs to enforce standards before allowing companies and businesses to register. Although the Baldia tragedy was arson as per an alleged confession as per arrested suspects, the loss of life could have been mitigated if better fire safety standards and practices had been established, such as the main gate of the factory being opened in an emergency.

The remuneration that is being sought from the German company should not be the first. A historical precedent needs to be set by holding all those accountable who patronize companies with substandard ethics.

Not losing sight that the intentional murders were carried out by arsonists affiliated with a political gang, the company itself bears significant responsibility as well as the government at the time who failed to do away with extortion crimes. The latter should at least facilitate more families in legal recourse for seeking damages and hurriedly, before the statute of limitations passes.

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