54 million forgotten people!

I took a quick tour of Mall and Edgerton road today to see for myself the aftermath of violence. It was shocking to see more damage than I expected or seen on television. I could immediately identify a number of destroyed/looted shops that I have seen in business forever. It took an hour or so of madness, frustration, criminal mind or whatever you call it to destroy what was built after hard work put in by generations after generations. My father says he has seen a few ‘tahreeks’ (movements) in 60’s against Ayub Khan and then particularly the so called Nizam E Mustafa Tahreek in late 70’s against Bhutto, but never he has seen anything like that.

So everyone is supposedly talking about Mullahs, the inefficient government and that protestors have damaged our image and hit our own people, not to mention the ugly west and so on. Are you sure if every Pakistanis is worried about all this? Or even those cartoons? Funny thing is that majority of those who are protesting violently on streets can’t even pronounce Denmark correctly. Why we suddenly get all charged up and emotional about cartoons but never think about any other issues which are extremely important too? Is it really because we love our Prophet (pbuh) whose teachings most of us do not necessarily apply in our practical lives or there is some other driving force too? Why the same driving force is not there in matters of life and death for 1/3 of our population? Atif has touched a very important subject in his post – The theory of war of socioeconomic classes – which I think has a very strong connection with what happened in Lahore. Perhaps, different segments of our society have become so disconnected with each other that one has forgotten the existence of other. Most of us think that Rickshaw wala, fruit wala, bus driver or the guy selling beautiful balloons outside Dunkin Donuts, the cook or even the maasi who cleans our home are the people who fulfill our definition of poor. But even these people have some kind of flow of income and they are surviving.

What about those 54 million Pakistanis who are living even below poverty line? Yes that constitutes 1/3 of total population of Pakistan (and mind you this is official figure by State Bank of Pakistan). This is where we have become so disconnected and indifferent that most of us don’t even see them around or never notice. They just don’t exist for most of us. And btw, technically people living below poverty line are those who don’t even get enough calories which are MINIMUM requirement for human body to survive (physically). How many people you know who have not eaten anything for a day or two or haven’t seen meat, milk or even fruit for years? They have even forgotten how it tastes. Or may be we have seen a few picking food from garbage but we ignored them and moved on. And how many times we have tried to share some of our good fortune with any of these less fortunate ones? I am afraid the answer is not that encouraging at all.

I can’t imagine if 54 million among us even care much about right and wrong, good and bad, the ethics of civilized society or other blah blah and probably its bullshit for them. If you are born on streets and the primary goal of your miserable life is to find something to eat from trashes all over the city, I am not sure if you would care about any right or wrong, the image of Pakistan or even religion?

I have faith in goodness of people and I believe there are more good people in this world than bad ones. We do care and have a heart but why is that we are willing to put everything on line for cartoons, and rightly so, but not willing to do anything about 54 million fellow human beings who are destined to live a life where there is no hope? Why we always have to wake up after a disastrous earthquake?

4 Comments so far

  1. Naila (unregistered) on February 17th, 2006 @ 5:19 am

    Here is the answer to all our problems.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/16/opinion/edhelene.php


  2. Imran (unregistered) on February 17th, 2006 @ 6:56 pm

    i totally agree with you. but problem is also that all those good people dont realize the power they have to change all this. we just dont know what to do and how?


  3. Ramla A. (unregistered) on February 17th, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

    The answer is not in answers. It is in doing.


  4. jobless but happy (unregistered) on February 20th, 2006 @ 10:32 am

    individually every is doing something in their capacity. Its the collective effort that is needed.
    Ramla: do what for instance?



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