- To build a nation you have to start from the streets
The march of history is inexorable, the role of the historical forces that created Pakistan 71 years ago is the consciousness of nationhood, a cohesiveness as a people and a pride in owning one’s own history and where it stands today and how the world views its historical landscape and culture. Since its inception, Pakistan has seen political tumults, wars with neighbouring countries, a burgeoning population and dire poverty; democracy is a byword, governments have come and gone, vested interests and horrendous corruption have gnawed this nation into near extinction, human rights is just a phrase, but the spirit of the people is alive and rises again to look for a new awakening. With every political dispensation there is waiting, to see if it is the promised one, if not another chapter of corruption and misgovernance corrodes and then is forced out. The land waits, the people wait and now maybe will be the new beginning for which all have waited.
Imran Khan sahib, one of the greatest cricket legends of the world of sports, has waited twenty years to begin a much needed phase of his life. He has a fine cool perception, a great quality of address, of doing the right thing at the right time, an unerring instinct for the highest standards of human excellence and behaviour, and a deep patriotism and belief in a nation he calls his own. His passion and dedication is evident. He can deliver and beat the odds if he keeps party politics underfoot. He is a loner, he has no burden of a decadent feudal legacy backing him – the bane of this society – nor a suppurating business which has always denuded the nation – the wages of sin! He is pristine, a leader of the people, evident in the hospitals he has set up. One can hope that he will do great things in world politics, social justice, education and bring in economic prosperity.
The one aspect of this country he has to address which is always overlooked by every government is the lowest and the most unfortunate segment of society, the beggars, the shanty dwellers, the malnourished and mutilated children and the unfortunate transvestites that swarm every road and street of the country, especially the cities of Lahore and Karachi which are infested with the greatest sufferers who beat at car doors supplicating for a few pennies. These are the forgotten of the nation, and this is why this desperate plea to a leader who has promised so much in his coming.
Khan Sahib, this is a request to let this be your priority to help the disabled the shunned and the malnourished who beg at all corners of roads to survive. They survive on the few rupees they earn but most are brutally ignored and shunned. I personally dread stopping at the traffic signals – a few hundred rupees fumbled out does not alleviate their suffering, children with hollowed faces flutter against the windows, a man without legs on small ragged wooden boards weaving in and out of the traffic, women with starving babies begging. The agony is unending, the enormity of pain and guilt unendurable. They are human beings, disabled, deprived and abandoned by destiny and fellow humans. With a deep sense of guilt some pittance is doled out to scarred waiting hands maybe to alleviate one’s own conscience or to thank Providence for one’s own circumstance, but for a while the sunshine is blotted out and the day darkens but only for a while and then the lights change and the moment is forgotten till the next crossing.
I am a personal witness to how young men and women are breaking the yoke of feudalism in villages and moving out to get jobs in cities. That too will continue as the human mind will aspire for betterment and personal dignity
Years ago writing for the News, I wrote an article for the paper called “The Children of the Footpath.” I got a very good response from the foreign media, but unfortunately with a bit of running around chasing national programmes and seeking out so called political figures with high aspirations, I was shooed out and my articles were just journalistic and a momentary read. I am venturing to hope because Khan Sahib you are not just a politician but an inspirational leader who has taken on established norms and maybe will redress the menace of street begging and the mutilation of small children.
The need of the hour is a collective responsibility and on the spot redressal through small schemes for shelters for the homeless, the shanty dwellers, immediate help and treatment for those in need, long term state protection for the disabled on the streets and stringent laws for child exploitation, maybe even lower level jobs with good wages for the unemployed to live with relative dignity. The Almighty has blessed you with this platform and maybe you will strengthen it to help the downtrodden of our society.
To build a nation you have to start from the streets, the redressal of the forgotten and deprived will not be a burden on the national exchequer. Dams will be built and education is taking its stride. I am a personal witness to how young men and women are breaking the yoke of feudalism in villages and moving out to get jobs in cities. That too will continue as the human mind will aspire for betterment and personal dignity always. It is the terrible state of street beggars that you have to tackle and must look into, for a few individuals with a conscience cannot do so alone.
If you do give them some attention, you will earn the undying gratitude of people who feel; not the callous socialites who plunder only to preen and treat these unfortunates like road vermin. The fate of the corrupt so called elites is in front of the nation.
Khan Sahib, this is a plea that only you can redress and so stay blessed.