An Independence Day highlight which we conveniently chose to overlook was that the death toll of the mine explosion in Sanjdni reached fifteen. The Sanjdni mine explosion occurred on 13 August at midnight, and after a day long rescue operation, the dead bodies of the workers were retrieved. The miners were working 400 ft deep into the ground and as one can imagine in Pakistan the air ventilation and safety measures were nonexistent. It is interesting to note that the Balochistan mining authorities, much like the rest of the country didn’t even bother to condemn the fact that the contractors to whom they so merrily award contracts couldn’t care less about the safety protocol of the workers. This is, of course, not the first time death has struck the incredibly vulnerable mining community of Pakistan. On April 6, 43 workers lost their lives, following an explosion in the Sorrange coal mine. After which the Pushtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) urged the judiciary to take notice and the Balochistan High Court to take suomoto action.Hardly a month later, on May 5 in the twin mine explosions in Balochistan,more than 23 miners lost their lives. While the news initially aroused a few voices of sympathy, it sank into the national whirlpool of amnesia and indifference. On May 24, the All Pakistan Labour Foundation (APLF) proposed to cancel the licenses of those contractors who ignored necessary safety measures. Moreover the President of the APLF, Sultan Muhammad Khan presented some astonishing facts. More than 50 miners have died in just two months. He further said that there has been virtually no investment towards safety measures by the owners or contractors of the mines. Emergency exits, escape ducts for poisonous gases, and reliable equipment are unheard ofTime and time again inquiry reports have revealed that lax safety measures are responsible for such an abundant loss of life. The mines are given to independent contractors, mostly either MNAs or their friends and then an ingenious process of sub-letting the mine dictates the dispensability of workers. Moreover, the mining laws have not been amended since 1923, when the colonial government penned the Mines Act. Article 9 of the Mines Act states; that all information pertaining to the state of the mine is “confidential” and “shall not be disclosed to any person other than a Magistrate.”However, in even such a blatantly exploitative piece of legislation which the Pakistani government follows to this day, there is a clause: Article 18 that “At every mine, such supply of ambulances or stretchers and of splint, bandages and other medical requirements, as may be prescribed shall be kept ready at hand in a convenient place and in good and serviceable order”.Also, the little amendments that the Pakistani government did manage to make in 1973 by the addition of Article 17 A, 17 B and 18 A called for the provision of canteens, shelters and first aid rooms at mining sites. These propositions, as is obvious, only exist on paper.The plight of the coal miners remains unheard and unanswered in Pakistan and as the bodies keep piling up at the behest of a cruel state apparatus; let us remain cognizant of the fact that their blood is on our handsThe International Labour Organization (ILO) penned the Safety and Health in Mines Convention in 1995. A clause of the act from Article 6-12 deals extensively with the responsibility of the employer and prioritizes the safety of the workers. The implementation of the act remains virtually impossible in Pakistan, considering the shady state of affairs.Despite the constant appeals of trade unions and workers for the implementation of international labour laws and improved safety standards, their appeals fall on deaf ears and are met only with silence from the petty political elite and the mainstream media.When once in a blue moon, the high casualty numbers are in a news bulletin, the political elite, following formal protocol expresses ‘remorse’ and in a split second dives back into the realm of gross politicking.It is astonishing, however, why the civil society has never once spoken against this criminal loss of life. The fact that not a single protest or vigil has been arranged is not only incredibly sad but also utterly disgraceful.The plight of the coal miners remains unheard and unanswered in Pakistan and as the bodies keep piling up at the behest of a cruel state apparatus; let us remain cognizant of the fact that their blood is on our hands.The writer is undergraduate student of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).Published in Daily Times, August 19th 2018.