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Tale of the living dead
Sir: I just finished reading the story of a married Pakistani woman who had to sell her kidney at the age of 28.
According to bbcurdu.com, Nazirian Bibi had to knock off a debt of over Rs 200,000. Three other members of her family also followed suit to pool in the required amount and get rid of their liabilities.
With five children to look after, Nazirian Bibi does not have enough even to feed her family. What is worse is the fact that she gets tired as soon as she undertakes any physical activity.
Such stories of poverty-stricken women are not new in Pakistan. But even their frequency can neither reduce their tragedy nor make them less harrowing. I, for one, get extremely perturbed about them. Our statistics-chewing rulers mention macro-economic indicators at the drop of their hat. May I ask them where the underprivileged stand in their all-is-well scenario?
The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening by the day. We, on the one hand, have those who roll in millions, and, on the other hand, those who sell their kidneys (read: lives) in a bid to survive and keep their children from starvation.
Sir: I was surprised to read Riaz Khan’s rather inappropriately titled letter, “No great fan of Altaf Hussain” (Daily Times, November 17).
Never before have I seen a letter in your newspaper that whitewashes the truth so completely. For Mr Khan alleges that Mr Hussain anchored his statement in hard facts (even though he fails to list them for the benefit of readers), and accuses the MQM leader of being a seasoned politician (consolidating my faith in the notion that every goon is qualified to get that slot in Pakistan).
But since Mr Khan is interested in ‘facts’, let me furnish him with a handful of them: Altaf Hussain exploited one military dictator after another; he destroyed Pakistan’s most cosmopolitan city; unleashed his reign of terror in Karachi; and got an unenviable reputation among people of being a consummate rapist, kidnapper and murderer.
Today his party has once again been co-opted by another military dictator. The ‘Great Leader’ himself remains at large, living a lavish life in London thanks to the handsome donations he gets from people that he continues to fool even today.
Anyone who has heard him speak would vouch for it: Mr Hussain reeks of insincerity and demagoguery. It is rather funny that he went to India to talk about human rights and democracy even with such an unflattering political record.
Imran Khan stands much taller than the MQM leader. I have never been a great fan of his politics, either, but at least he represented Pakistan as a national leader with dignity. Besides, he is a man of honesty and integrity — something we cannot say about many people in this country.
Before I sign off, however, I must also take on Mr Riaz Khan for making his last comment. I believe this whole line of thinking is quite pathetic. We are not standing at the edge of an apocalypse in Pakistan. Our country will continue to exist, whether General Musharraf decides to stay or go.
But it is indeed strange to hear an ex-pat sitting in Texas talk about what is good for ‘us’. I say to him: look for last hopes in Texas; we are doing just fine in our country.
YASSER LATIF HAMDANI
The hole in our soul
Sir: This is in response to Abrar Samson’s letter, “Domestic help — there but for the grace of God go we” (Daily Times, November 18).
Mr Samson brought an important social issue under discussion, painting a clear picture of how the privileged sections of our society treat domestic servants.
The privileged people have created a culture where maidservants are insulted for everything they do. They hardly get appreciated for their work. And even while they diligently perform their duties, housewives, with nothing better to do except for making telephone calls or watching television, keep using harsh words with them.
As if that is not bad enough, even kids in “honourable families” are allowed to misbehave with the maidservants, who are often subjected to physical torture and mental torment. When these servants are pregnant or lactating mothers, they do not get any special relief from work and are constantly dishonoured.
Another misery they face is their children’s treatment at the hands of their “masters”. Young girls are required to take care of babies, especially when privileged women go out for shopping.
Interestingly, when these people go to the western countries, they have to manage all the work for themselves. It is not easy to afford domestic servants abroad. But when they are back, they do not bring with them the necessary sense to appreciate the dignity of work, and start humiliating their “minions” again.