Living in an Indifferent Soceity

Posted on January 16, 2007
Filed Under >Darwaish, Economy & Development, Society
18 Comments
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By Darwaish

If you are living in Lahore, Karachi or any big city of Pakistan, you must have seen the beggar children with a broken arm or amputated legs or a bleeding organ at every traffic Pakistan Povertysignal. During last 3-4 years, the number of such children and adults in every big city has increased alarmingly. They knock at the car windows and people generally give them money immediately just to avoid looking at them because they are in such a bad shape.

I have seen people just lying on a side of roads with both their legs and arms amputated and somehow they drag themselves around and we, the people from passing by cars, throw some coins at them. There are variety of cases, from severe burns to bleeding organs. I have even seen one young guy near Barkat Market, Lahore (near that famous fresh juice shop) with part of his skull fractured and I could actually see some part of his brain.

Sadly, everybody knows that organized gangs are behind these horrific crimes who have successfully established this highly profitable business. Yet we are least bothered about it. The level of indifference that exists in our society today which allows us to ignore this extreme height of human misery, to me, is the most striking aspect. The ease with which we have accepted this as a part of something ‘usual’ is equally shocking. This should have been considered crime against humanity; but it is now seen as ‘sad but routine.’

I have personally seen children of age 7-8 years and young men who were perfectly alright and then suddenly after a few weeks I saw them at traffic signals with their legs and arms amputated. It breaks my heart to see all this happening in front of our eyes and we are unable to prevent it. Last week, I decided to take photographs of such beggars around the Kalima Chowk area so that I could post them on ATP or elsewhere, hoping that someone would see them and decide to do atleast something about this issue. So I picked out one of the beggars and just when I was about to click, he looked at me and there was so much pain and suffering in his eyes that I couldn’t click the camera button. I felt like I was making fun of him and treating him like a caged animal which we show our kids in a zoo.

When I was a kid, I was taught never to give out money to beggars because they are professionals and blah blah. As I grew up and developed some sense of economics, I realized that until our society keeps on failing to fulfill its responsibility towards its less fortunate members, by not giving them money we only add to their suffering and make life more miserable for them. I once read somewhere that throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered the most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph. Today’s Pakistan represents people in all three categories.

If over a million people in a country like Lebanon can peacefully demonstrate for their rights, why can’t we here in Pakistan? But sometimes when we try to do, we are treated like the young man in the Adil Bhai’s earlier post.

I wonder, therefore, are we really living in a dead society?

18 responses to “Living in an Indifferent Soceity”

  1. Wasiq Ali says:

    How much of the indifference is a result of de-politicization resulting from decades of military rule and militarization of Pakistani society?

    In most societies, political debate focuses on issues such as distributive justice, social welfare, poverty etc. For example, in the U.S., the Republicans claim lower taxes and higher economic growth is the key to improvement in people’s lives. The Democrats say the state should provide for basic services.

    In Pakistan, the state is totally militarized. The politicians are supposed to toe the military’s line. The only “politics” is about who is in, who is out. In other words, we only have power politics and non-political social work, which does not help genuine debate about issues.

  2. PatExpat says:

    From Christian Science Monitor,
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1221/p01s04-wosc.htm l

    [quote post=”525″]Pakistan’s military government is preventing aid groups from helping more than 80,000 people – many of them acutely malnourished children – who have been displaced by a widening civil war in remote southern Balochistan, say international aid workers and diplomats.

    UNICEF and Pakistan provincial health officials, who surveyed the area in July and August, report that 59,000 of those suffering are women and children and that 28 percent of the children under 5 were “acutely malnourished.” Six percent of the children were so underfed that they would die without immediate medical attention.

    “I would say this now qualifies as a ‘crimes against humanity’ situation,” says one foreign observer who has interviewed delegates from the region.

    For six months, aid agencies and diplomats have been pressing Pakistan authorities to permit them to distribute aid packages, which include emergency rations, tents, and medicine. The UN won’t deliver aid without permission from the host nation, says Robert van Dijk, the top UNICEF officer for Pakistan.

    “We have tried everything to get our aid there,” says Mr. van Dijk. “I even know of aid groups that tried to deliver relief without permits, but they got turned back on the road.”

    Meanwhile, reports from the region indicate the situation has grown even more wretched with the onset of winter.

    Pakistani authorities have dismissed the UNICEF report as overblown, saying the majority of people in Balochistan were already dirt-poor and nomadic, and that most of those displaced by fighting returned home after an important rebel leader was killed in August.

    “This report is untrue,” said Maj. Gen. Shaukut Sultan, a spokesman for the military. “Almost all of those people have gone back.”

    “When we went back there recently, we found the same numbers of people,” he says, “and even worse conditions – among the worst I’ve ever seen.”[/quote]

    But hey thats not our problems. We have to celebrate Basant.

  3. Samdani says:

    Good question, what can we do. The real solution is providing employment so that the benefits of a real job ae better than this. In some way our tolerance may also contibute to the problem. But my worry is that by forcing police to take stronger action, even if we did, I am not sur eteh life of these kids will actually improve. Tough one.

  4. Rehan says:

    So my question is, how can I help? Let’s say I decide to make this single issue my life’s mission. What should I do? Any advice?

  5. hakim says:

    Whatever you said is very true and very sad.

    ‘I once read somewhere that throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered the most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.’

    I believe you are referring to the English philosopher Edmund Burke and his famous line, ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ However, I like your version of it in this instance.

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