Ah! Media is wild chasing the district Tharparkar for past couple of weeks. There is a mushroom growth of visuals and snaps of typical conical huts of people of Tharparkar, village scenes, mounds of sands , typical get-up and attire of poor Thari women, semi-nude barefoot children on television sets and in newspapers. Tharparkar that was not in sight for centuries had overnight attracted warmth and sympathy from the media, which was nowhere in past; neither their afflictions nor agonies were captured by cameras nor was written on newspaper. These days are very special as media has flooded in Tharparkar, which presented a discovery of Tharparkar as Columbus did discover America.
Media has with a diligent craftsmanship portrayed Poverty, hunger, deprivation of resources for a living and seasonal outbreaks of infectious and viral health disorders in Tharparkar in a heart-clenching presentation as if Tharparkar has for the first time embraced a calamity. A step forward, media has itself presumed to be the My Lord as it has incessantly made efforts to paint Sindh government planned and engineered the entire calamity. It is stressfully conveyed that the catastrophe could be prevented provided that Sindh government had distributed a half or a full bag of wheat among the people of Tharparkar.
However, fact could never be concealed and facts are that migration in between districts as the people of Tharparkar are accustomed to such migration for a limited period under harsh geological conditions such as lack of rains as the land of Desert Tharparkar is solely dependent on nature’s blessing. Rainwater is stored underground, in wells and greenery covers the sand of the Desert upto the last catch from an eye and lack of rain causes the wheel to swing in reverse and that is the moment when the people of Tharparkar leave their shelters for the time being and move to other areas where they could easily find food for them and fodder for their livestock. This fateful anomaly of the people of Tharparkar needs strong and coercive measures for enabling them to acquire the potential of carving out means for the livening on permanent basis and any short term or midterm plan would simply provide them with temporary support. A comprehensive economic plan is needed to cause any change to take a seat in Tharparkar. The key problem of people of Tharparkar is that they seriously lack a potential of buying power due to which they could not procure wheat, rice or other commodities available in abundance in other areas in close vicinity of Tharparkar. People of Tharparkar had also stated this problem of lacking buying powers in interviews they gave to the media.
The above argument is the basic reality in Tharparkar and if still the certain segment of the society believed the catastrophe in Tharparkar could only be prevented by dropping 50 to 100 kg of wheat at their doorsteps would not justify the whole trauma. It is an open secret that the hostile forces played all the tricks to impose this illogical theory to attain their vested political interests and provoke the people of Tharparkar to rise in opposition to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Despite all plots, PPP got its roots spread deep down the earth and has risen as the solo popular political party in Tharparkar. Elections 2013 were a sheer manifest of this popularity in Tharparkar and overtly exposed the sick mentality of those that wanted to create a rift between the people of Tharparkar and the PPP. This sick mentality had taken a start to restrict the victory march of PPP, which gained momentum in Sanghar and then in Khairpur where PPP had comparatively less strength in past but the elections 2013 replicated the dominance of PPP like it has in the rest of the province. Rivals’ anguish was also a natural reaction but this failed to do any magic as the people had parted ways with them for good and sunk into the PPP’s ocean, which catered to their every need for bread and butter and for shelter because it is the party of the people, the workers, the labourers, the pheasants, the women and the youth.
The analysts have to bear a great responsibility prior to penning down their views and opinions about any particular community or group of people and about a particular area and should keep the historical background and geological aspects. To endorse this argument, I would quote what Sindh’s great saint and poet Shah Abdul Lateef Bhitai had said some 3 centuries ago about Tharparkar, famine in Tharparkar and economical incapacity of people of Tharparkar. He attributed lack of rain in as the real cause of drought in Tharparkar and had not held government responsible for that catastrophe.
He prayed to Almighty Allah for showering His blessing on Tharparkar so that they should have plenty of grains to buy at cheaper rates. Shah could have also held government as responsible for the drought in Tharparkar only if government had caused the drought to prevail in Tharparkar as he had criticised Umer Soomro for abducting Marvi. While quoting a few couplets of Shah Abdul Lateef, I do not aim at relieving government of its constitutional obligations of serving the people of Tharparkar because it the obligation of Sindh government to cater to the needs of the people of Tharparkar and it is Sindh government that has been actively engaged in operations for providing relief to the affected people of Tharparkar with complete dedication, honesty and transparency.
As soon as a report was furnished to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah about the drought in Tharparkar, he had briskly convened an emergency meeting followed by a media conference and orderd the authorities concerned to immediately dispatch 20000 bags of wheat for free of cost distribution among the drought-affected people of Tharparkar. He did not announce to sell the wheat at a half the rate but ordered for free distribution. That quantity of wheat amounted to Rs420 million and additionally, released Rs100 million for meeting medical needs of them. He took action against those officials, who took the orders in a lighter way. He had been to Tharparkar for six times and deputed his special coordinator, Taj Haider as in-charge of relief operations.
It is very unfortunate that situation in Tharparkar is being presented in a highly magnified style while rather than encouraging Sindh government for carrying out relief operations at an extended scale, it is placed under severe undue and unnecessary criticism. Attempts are being made to intimidate the volunteers and government institutions engaged in relief works and impediments are created ahead to relief operations, which are further worsening the situation in Tharparkar and the people are getting more affected. It is simply a tough and unrealistic media trial of Sindh government, which is also self-explanatory as the bested political interests have already been exposed. Media had carried reports wherein deaths of children were falsely attributed to deficient nutrition and starvation. However, Pakistan’s leading English newspaper, Dawn and Al-Jazeera TV had carried a UN report that claimed that deaths of children in Tharparkar were not because of starvation but sicknesses. Media also imposed a blackout on Sindh government’s extended relief operations in Tharparkar.
It is pertinent to mention that Sindh government has made all health care facilities in Tharparkar operational of which District Headquarter Civil Hospital in Mithi, all Tehsil level hospitals, 31 basic health units, 18 dispensaries and 49 PPHI health care centres are all operational with capacity to treat 374672 patients. Additionally, 26 male doctors and 7 gynaecologists from PPHI, 11 male doctors and 7 gynaecologists from Sindh health Department, 22 mobile medical teams and 4 provincial dispensaries are working round the clock. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has also approved a grant of Rs 10 million in order to increase working capacity of these health care facilities but all these services are yet not covered by the media. In recent days, Sindh government has stationed 9 paediatricians, 14 gynaecologists, 22 medical officers and 43 paramedics only for Tharparkar while 43 doctors would be stationed in next 10 days in other districts in close vicinity of Tharparkar of which 10 male doctors and 19 lady doctors are for Umerkot, 13 male doctors and 13 lady doctors for Ghotki, 6 male and 7 lady doctors for Sanghar, 8 lady doctors for Khairpur, 6 male and 10 lady doctors for Badin and 10 male and 26 lady doctors are for Thatta.
Further, all drought-hit families have been covered in a survey and wheat stock and other essential goods have been despatched to district and Tehsil headquarters for free distribution among the affected people. Sindh government under short term plan has functionalized 83 reverse osmosis water filtration plants and additional solar-based 760 plants would be installed soon for which a factory has been established in Karachi. In general, a total of 683 reverse osmosis water filtration plants would be for Tharparkar alone. However, these measures being taken under short term plan but in actual, the problems of people of Tharparkar could only be addressed with long term plans for boosting their buying powers so that they could avail all goods and facilities for a standard living with improved infrastructure.
It should also be kept in mind that in the first government of Pakistan People’s party, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had announced for mega projects for Tharparkar and coastal belt of Thatta, which included coal-based power plants and development of Keti Bandar port. However, the government that followed her government had wrapped up those mega projects on sheer grounds of political jealousy. Thus, the people of Sindh province were pushed into prolonged power outages and the people of Tharparkar were deprived of opportunities for encompassing resources for their prosperity. The wrapping up of those mega projects could have changed the fate of Tharparkar but pushed them back to 25 years.
Keeping in view that political jealousy in mind, former President Asif Ali Zardari adopted the policy of reconciliation, which was introduced by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, and suffered a lot due to that policy of reconciliation but accepted it for the sake of the people. Sindh government has once again commenced working on Thar Coal Project and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has already announced to establish the Tharparkar Development Authority so that a network of roads, schools and hospitals could be established in Tharparkar. Airport in Tharparkar has already completed while a plan is in the offing for the establishment of an industrial zone that would be coal-based. Pakistan People’s Party has conceived many plans for exploring mines and minerals and medicinal herbs in Tharparkar. It would not be very far but a matter of next few years that Tharparkar would completely be transformed into a prosperous district of Sindh.
The opponents Pakistan People’s party are in fact afraid of these mega projects and they are now hatching conspiracies against Sindh government so as to deprive the people of Tharparkar of their right to become prosperous. Those portraying affections of people of Tharparkar should support Sindh government but their grudge has exposed their agenda for vested designs.
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