As the country goes increasingly rapidly to the rabid dogs who appear set on tearing us apart at the always fragile seams, it also appears – in equal measure – that there is very little actual humanity left in the humans who are labeled, proudly or otherwise, ‘Pakistani’.
Passing through Barakhau around 9.30 a.m. on an extremely chilly, overcast morning one day last week, it was impossible to miss the upwards of a hundred poor labourers, paint brushes, pick or shovels or whatever tool of trade in hand, desperately waiting to be hired for a day’s honest work so that, at least on that particular day, they could purchase the basic ingredients of something edible for their families, these are often huge, waiting hungrily at home. Their gaunt faces, pleading eyes and ragged clothes punctuated their dire predicament as no work obviously means no pay and no pay equals slow, or depending on how many days or weeks have passed since they were last hired, fast starvation: Quite a high percentage of them looked to be well on their way to the latter already and it was deeply upsetting to bear witness to the following: A humungous 4 x 4 swerved to a screeching halt on the corner – the turn off to Simli in the centre of Barakhau – and out lumbered grossly overweight, overbearing, permed, powdered and otherwise manicured woman, in her ‘middle years’, sporting designer clothes and bag.
The desperate labourers pulled themselves to attention and, politely given how very hungry some of them undoubtedly are, waited in hope of being selected for whatever job was being offered. The men, largely Pathan and Afghan, simply looked at the ground, to show respect for the ‘lady’ who – this is horrific – had the sheer greed to demand the services of two labourers for, seeing that ‘they had nothing better to do’, the day wage of one man as two would get the job done faster!
This, it goes against the grain to refer to the creature as a ‘lady’ but the preferred word is unprintable, person, is a prime example of the selfishness and greed that is the hallmark of at least 95% of Pakistani’s today: A selfishness mirrored by an apology for a government which could not care less for the plight of honest men who, in pride, refuse to go out and beg and who, additionally, prefer honest work to the blatant thievery practiced in each and every government department one can think of.
The plight of day labour, as has been mentioned before in this column, is the same throughout the length and breadth of this self destructive country with it’s shameful society which, on the whole, chooses to, very selectively, see only what it wants to see and is stupidly oblivious to everything – be this starvation, rape, murder by drone attack, by suicide bombers, by assassins and murder and violence by any other name unless, that is, it happens to affect ‘them’ personally when, if they have the means, all hell will be let loose as retribution is demanded.
Pakistan is home to way over 180 million people – this figure rises on a daily basis – but while they may, indeed ‘are’, classified as ‘human beings’, there is so very little actual humanity left in this, the supposed ‘Land of the Pure’ in which ‘purity’ has been relegated to just another meaningless word in the dictionary of life.
The widening division between the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have not’s, has never, at any time in the country’s relatively short history, been as clearly obvious and as fast growing as it is right now and, as the ranks of the ‘have not’s’ far outweighs the shrinking number of ‘have’s, the much spoken off, dreamt of and perhaps even planned for, revolution – yes that word again – inches ever closer and, if it isn’t doing so then it damned well should be!
Too not merely ‘allow’ your fellow man, woman and child, to go hungry, but to, putting it bluntly, starve to death whilst ‘you’ feast as you wish and at will, throwing what ‘you’ don’t fancy or do not have stomach room for, in the bin is a terminal illness which is tolling the ‘division bell’ like never before and someone – including ‘you’ needs to pay attention to its clamour before it explodes, most violently, in ‘your’ face.
Would it be so very difficult to hand over something to eat at the end of the day to workless labourers for example: To give them, without making a song and dance about it, something like just a kilo of rice, some dhal and vegetables to take home for their family to share or – some will refuse out of pride – find some kind of task, sweep a driveway, paint the garage, clean windows or anything else with a ‘work’ label attached for one of them to do at least once a week, preferably more if you can afford it, and to pay them a decent rate for the same?
Is it so very difficult to bring the ‘humanity’ back in to being ‘human’ – not at all as, something else witnessed on the very same day, there is still a little of this precious humanity to be found: A man, not at all a wealthy man, noticed a very sick, street dog, lying in the gutter and in obvious pain. He turned on his heel, went home, collected an old blanket, returned, courageously picked up the dog and took it to the nearest vet in Islamabad for immediate attention. The dog, sadly, had to be put to sleep but that is not the point – the point is that humanity has not, as yet, totally disappeared so get out there, act human for once and help those who cannot help themselves.
The writer has authored two books titled The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War, The Parwan Wind - Dust Motes and lives in Bhurban.