Thar : The Thirst
By Sabena Siddiqui
Drought has always happened in Thar, Sindh to some extent , this time round it has become worse due to mismanagement .
The media has not felt inclined to cover it to the extent they have pushed it high now . It never made it to the media specially when Zardari was President , now that he is restricted to the province of Sindh by the vote the cat is out of the bag .
The catastrophe could have been controlled if the Sindh government had been proactive , but the Sindh government is renowned to never bother with anything .
This was the month of March , the real hardship lies ahead in the hotter months of May/June when there will be no livelihood or water in sight . The government of Sindh was caught napping as it failed to send a wheat supply before the drought struck . Later the Minister blamed the Chief Minister and accusations went back and forth with no result .
The politicians of Sindh are a rare lot replete in indolence , each time they are let in by the doors of democracy they spend their time accumulating wealth , buying properties abroad and piling luxuries on their families . Not much makes it to the inhabitants of Sindh who have been kept without education and health facilities on purpose .
The people of Sindh can only blame themselves for giving an emotional vote each time even though they can see nothing will be given to them . The feudal system works in such a way that peasants living on a landlords lands will have no choice but to vote for him . The feudals mostly do not care for the welfare of the peasants , in floods they have at times even diverted floodwaters on to villages saving their mansions from damage . The ministers behave like superior brings and change tactics as soon as elected . Most of them hate to get out of their air conditioned homes / offices to inspect the mess in Sindh . The worst arsenic-affected parts of Pakistan lie in the lower Indus basin of Sindh province and peasants actually die from slow poisoning .
Sindh is Pakistan,s third largest province and worst administered , it has a rich 8000 year old civilisation and history . Sindh has had the misfortune of being in the hands of a popular political party that takes the vote for granted . Recently an expensive multi million culture gala was held in Moenjodaro while probably the drought had already started in nearby Thar desert . Celebrities , actors and dancers were called in to celebrate the history of Sindh . Moenjodaro was a well – planned city with all amenities , maybe the elected representatives could learn even from this example . More millions were spent as the festival continued in other cities , only if they had got the wheat in time to Thar,s hapless folk . Again the people of Sindh can only blame themselves for trusting the wrong people .
The government of Sindh woke up from its sweet dreams only when news made it to the media that 100 children had died of malnutrition. It lethargically arranged for wheat supply to be sent to Thar while news kept coming of the toll increasing hourly . In the meantime Pakistan Army reached there with food supplies , medicines and doctors to treat those unwell . The Sindh Chief Minister thought it fit to visit Thar finally , the main highlight of this visit was a sumptous lunch he had amidst the famine .
Photo – shoots took place , more photo shoots happened when the Prime Minister and Bilawal Zardari both visited careful to eat nothing . The photo shoots kept on happening with different dignitaries , after that the officials and their teams vanished .
Right now the Thar situation has gone from bad to worse , drought has progressed on to a famine like situation . Famine in a country which is agricultural and self sufficient in food , exporting wheat and rice abroad . Wheat lies in godowns undistributed , donations are rumored to have been misused . There is an urgent need for helicopters to drop food throughout the stretch of Thar desert as most of it is inaccessible . The present government was not interested in increasing the road network so most of Thar is only approachable on foot .
The governments interest has waned as the cameras have moved elsewhere , Army COD has the only relief centre in the city. Doctors have left and dispensaries lie deserted , wheat has disappeared from stores.
The worst is yet to come as the summer approaches , livestock has started dying off from a mysterious disease . That is bad news as the Tharis survive on their livestock in tough conditions . So both man and animal are wracked with diseases making chances of survival progressively bleak , hope has left Thar . The rumour is that due to shortage of water and rainfall, some of the trees might have turned poisonous, which is leading to the mysterious disease . Usually the nomad survives by migrating but this time there is too much illness to survive the summer months . Again only the army will attend to the problems , the government will return to its party and revel , making gold from people,s misery while the sun shines .
It is a paradox that only the army reaches to attend to natural ( and man made ) disasters while the grandiose speeching leaders almost ‘fiddle while Rome burns ‘ Yet most of the Western influenced media avoids praising the army or highlighting its services . Probably the media and politicians should try exchanging places with the army to feel responsibility .
My heart pains seeing the plight of Sindh especially as my roots are here , why do they keep on making the same mistakes again and again bringing in incompetent and selfish people to rule them . God will help Sindh when the Sindhis want to help themselves !