The Reality of Begging in Pakistan

April 17, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan

AFP photo

 

By

Nasir Soomro

 

 

“You can’t hold your head high with your hand out,” as the Proverb goes. Although begging is very common in the less developed countries, in the case of Pakistan, it is free, having no restrictions and limits. It has turned into a profession and is not only for the poor, disabled, invalidated and injured people, but is owned as a choice by many who believe that begging is a thriving business. Begging, which is a social curse, is not caused by poverty; rather it reflects a tendency, an attitude and an outlook, which entails the use of disguising tricks to emotionally exploit the public. The aim is to cheat money.

 

Pakistan is already embroiled in myriad of problems despite new laws, no change has been made in Pakistan’s begging business; begging in the street for money does not seem illegal in our country. The right of children, the disabled and disadvantaged begging at all hours of the day and night is a grim scenario, a constant reminder of the millions who live in abject poverty in this nuclear state. What really startles us about this state of affairs is what would be the future of this nation? The future is the girl who knocks on your window convincing you to buy flowers that can buy money for a meal or the future is the little boy who walks around anxiously looking for car windows he can clean in order to save himself from being abused by the his “bosses” running the beggary business. Presently the administration seems unconcerned as the social evil of begging flourishes under their nose. It is ironic that Pakistan is one of the four nuclear armed states, begging being an enjoyable profession in a nuclear Pakistan, a nation rich in natural resources but poor in their management.

 

Instead of having these children focus on their future by providing them with education, love, motivation and support to excel in their lives, they are given flowers and wipers to earn a living for most probably a drug addicted father, at the age of 9 or 13. They are selling dreams and prayers in order to feed their family. Moreover, there are many young men and women who are seen begging as opposed to engaging themselves in fruitful work to earn an honest living.

 

However, what is the future of these not going school children or if talking on the macro perspective, what is the future of this nation? The future of Pakistan is on the streets. The number of children on the streets has nearly tripled over the last few years. Many of these children don’t focus on how to excel in their education and make a successful career. They are more focused on earning enough money to fill their stomachs. Instead of being a doctor, lawyer, teacher or businessman, the children have made their professional careers in begging. Ironically, since the independence of this country we have not given a thought to slum dwellers.

 

Appallingly, beggars fully understand that people of Pakistan, driven by their Islamic values and religious obligations, offer charity with generosity and kindness during the holy month of Ramadan. They also know the public belief system, especially among God fearing wealthy and well to do families, that magnanimous donations and charitable funds given to the poor during Ramzan especially, would enable them to obtain God’s approval. Hence, they flood the marketplaces, busy streets and scuttled squares to get their share of charity. In this context, the Punjab Government took the initiative of helping these children by providing them with incentives for them to reach the same level as other children. However, this initiative was taken in May 2010. Nearly, six months have passed and the kids are still on the street.

 

On a daily basis an alarming upsurge in the number of beggars surfaces in every market and public place. The philanthropists perceive that beggars are poor, while the professional beggars artfully fleece money, using different pretexts and employing unique guises. The beggars usually resort to the emotional exploitation of innocent people by observing the psyche of the latter.

 

We need to come to the forefront and fight for the innocent on the streets. Let’s fight for the future of the children, the future of Pakistan. Let’s stop giving a few rupees to children, rather let’s invest in their future by telling them that beggary is not the solution or step to success. Let’s invest in their future by giving them the right direction and a means to live a better life. We need to hate begging, not the beggars. Their hands that are out for begging are in the hope of a better day, a better life and a better future. Let’s make it happen! And create a better Pakistan.

 

 

 

 

Nasir Soomro

Nasir Soomro is from Pakistan, he is working with the Energy Department, at the Government of Sindh, Pakistan. He is author of the book, ‘Peaks and Perils of Life’ (English Poetry) and is currently working on his semi-autobiographical novel in English.

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