The tragic incident of a school van fire and death of 16 children and a teacher in Gujarat, is a clear case of criminal negligence but reoccurrence of such incidents has become common. The nation heard mass condemnation in the media, announcement of inquiry and pledge of taking stern actions against the culprits. Promises of compensation by the government, which are never paid! Then complete silence until the next incident! This is what that has been and, perhaps, will continue to happen in this country.I feel like I am watching a 1920’s black and white film ‘Safety Last,’ in which different characters are seen performing dangerous stunts. We witnessed various tragic accidents like Ojhri Camp tragedy in Rawalpindi, Baldia Town factory fire in Karachi, Bund Road factory fire in Lahore, LDA plaza blaze incident, frequent air crashes, numerous CNG cylinders explosion in the public transport vehicles and routine road accidents. All these tragic incidents speak volumes of the general concerns and awareness of safety standards and declining value of the human life in our country. Whether it is a public or a private activity of any kind, ignoring the safety standard has become a common practice and it seems to have become somewhat our character. Unfortunately, we have prioritised ad-hocism and personal convenience and benefit as the top priority while safety comes last.In Pakistan everything is misused, a motorcycle was invented to carry only two passengers, but we have seen even five members of a family perched on these two wheels, an unsafe drive anyway. LPG cylinders are made for domestic cooking, but we have managed to fit them into moving vehicles and put many lives at risk. Fork lifters are designed to lift and carry goods, escalators or ladders should be preferred while climbing on to a stage to address a public rally but fork lift was used causing damage to a political leader. Before raising the slogan of ‘change’, we should never forget that change first happens in the mindset of a people before it can take hold in the country. All the developed nations in the world have reached this state by adhering to discipline and some golden principles and recognising the worth and sanctity of human life.In fact, the death toll due to these tragic accidents is far more than resulted in the terrorist activities across the country. So ignoring safety standards is an act more inhumane and crueler than the terrorism that we readily and repeatedly condemn every day. Now, it’s time to go beyond condemning the unfortunate incidents and ordering only inquiry afterwards. The principle of ‘safety first’ should be incorporated into our lives at individual and national level. All the legislation, governmental and individual acts should be guided and subordinated to this basic principle. By ensuring this, we can prevent other dangerous and tragic incidents like the one of Gujrat children van fire in future.MOHSIN RAZA MALIK, Lahore, May 26.