The two fires, one in Karachi and the other in Lahore, that devoured two factories and with them over 300 workers constitute a damning indictment of all those who run such poorly-built industrial units without the mandatory safety measures in place as well as those who are charged with regularly monitoring them and ensuring that they come up to the standard required of them under the law. Neither, as the story is unveiled, met even the minimum necessary legal criterion. The Karachi garment factory, by far the bigger scene of tragedy where 289 persons have died so far and the toll is feared to rise since the rescue workers have not yet scoured the whole place, had just one entry-and-exit point in use; the Lahore shoe factory, much smaller in size, was built in a housing complex and suffered the same fate of having just one door and was devoid of any ventilators to boot. In both the cases, those who died of suffocation might, when the final tally is in, outnumber those who were burnt to death.Pakistan watchers would find it hard not to reach the conclusion that life here has become cheap, what with terrorist and drones attacks and what with target killers striking at will. And the authorities, lamentably, routinely turn a deaf ear to the wails of the suffering citizenry. If the plague of terrorism continues to wreak havoc on life whenever and wherever the militants want to hit, Karachi, the capital of Sindh and the country’s largest city and only port, has become the battleground of target killers. A lot could be said about containing acts of terrorism, including adequate security measures, but there are forces at work that are beyond the control of the Pakistan government. However, the Karachi mystery rouses a deep sense of shock as well as dismay because the PPP-MQM-ANP coalition, which not only runs the provincial government, but also the federal, fails to act to put a stop to the murderous frenzy.And making the scene bloodier are incidents like the two fires mentioned above caused by the combined greed of certain sneaky entrepreneurs and the corrupt officials who overlook compliance with rules and regulations for the sake of money. The tragedy of such magnitude does call for national mourning, as the MQM has decided to do. But what is needed most is high-level inquiry, condign punishment to the culprits and strict enforcement of the regulations in order to ensure the safety of life and property.