Heroes needed not beggars

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By Senator Rehman Malik

I received a call in a decent voice pressing upon me to watch an ongoing program on a channel that is against humanity. l switched to the said channel and watched the episode where a father namely Inaam from Phoolnagar near Lahore was shown to have been arrested for selling his 12-year-old daughter Amna for Rs6000 only and his wife for Rs500. I saw the whole episode and was very upset to see this TV channel was openly showing this minor girl, wife and the other three children from close up. The inspector concerned was boasting of the arrest of the culprit and asking the woman and also the man, very direct naked questions. This is yet to be determined if the arrest was made by the SHO himself or it was lead by the TV staff and its legal aspects need to look into properly.

The questions asked from the little girl were like “you know why your father sent you with your mother?

Amna:- Yes my father is forcing my mother to do prostitution.

The accused did a crime and hence he must be punished but it is totally unacceptable to bring the poor daughter and wife live on television. It is sheer violation of human rights and who gave the license to this Police inspector to allow the channel to bring the victims on the TV in this manner as no law permits the accused to be exposed to the media.

Who is going to marry this girl now and under which law the concerned authority allowed the entry of TV Crew during the raid? It looked that the cameraman was doing his duty like a magistrate and giving commitment on behalf of the police and directly committing to give the accused relief if he speaks before the camera as directed by him. The question arises as to what constraints and his needs forced this chokidar with 4 kids to sell out his wife and daughter. The answer is obvious as our state is unable to kill the poverty cancer to the poor people and this has given rise to many social evils including moral crime and an increase in other related criminal activities.

The price hike is at the max today for the past 4 years. There has been an exploding surge in prices of essential commodities from the year 2017 – till today i.e. a sack of 20kg flour is being sold for 808/- today while it was at 680 in 2017, the price of tomatoes per kg was Rs.75 in 2017 while it is being sold at 140 per kg today which is already a shoot-off in its price but during the same govt in 2019, people saw a skyrocketing increase of Rs.400 for 1 kg of tomatoes. Sugar prices surprisingly soared by over fifty percent (50%) since the new govt came to power, which is from Rs53 to Rs80 per kilogram in only the past fourteen months while it was at Rs.47 in 2017. The price of onion per kilo has reached to Rs. 57 from Rs. 50 in 2017. The minimum wage rate for unskilled workers was raised from Rs. 14,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month in 2017 by PMLN govt, while only an increase of Rs.2000 came into effect by the new govt last year at Rs17500.

Now if you see the price of the utilities today and compare it with an average pay of common man, we would know that Rs17500 is insufficient for their survival. Even a small family of four members cannot conveniently run its kitchen and bear day-to-day minimum expenditure with the revised minimum wage of only Rs17,500 as the inflation rate has accelerated up to 13%. In a place like Pakistan where people cannot even afford to have the basic utilities of their life, around 6 million households are living on rent, out of a total of 30 million household.

Even if we roughly calculate all the basic expenses including utility bills, house rents, school fees, grocery and rationing under the basic pay of only 17500k, we would realize that a common person can either pay utility bills, pay rent or they can only pay for the school fee of their children and buy eatables. It’s just not possible to pay for all the things collectively under such a small budget and unfortunately, this is the reason the number of people committing suicides is increasing rapidly in our country.

I have a question that with a sharp price hike what should the common man survive?

Obviously, with this state of affairs, the common man either commits suicide or indulges himself in criminal activities for the survival of his family. It is merely social injustice to a common man and his family in particular and in general to the national pride.

This one family, God knows how many more have suffered from this or are still suffering at the moment whereas the govt is completely unbothered about such issues and has chosen not to pay attention to the voice of victims. The govt, instead of providing social justice to the common people has launched Ehsaas Salani Langer Scheme which is not a healthy national sign.

Mr. PM! Do you really think that the respectable poor people would opt to join Langer schemes only to fill their appetite and that too without their families as no women or the children are going to come to far-flung areas? Isn’t something which seems to be aimed at mocking the miseries of poor people and their families? It exactly looks the same as Nawaz Sharif’s Roti scheme which also was eventually failed.

Mr. PM! You are not giving pride to the common man this way but killing their self-respect instead.

Our present and past govts are now infamous as they have brought this bad name to our country as afar-flung. country whereas I expect you to let the nation rise with self-respect and dignity.

The children growing in a family where the father gets food like a beggar house are not going to become a progressive citizen.

Instead of making them grow in the house of beggars we must bring the following reforms to ensure a better future for themselves and their children as under:

1.   Introduce the concept of a welfare state and give them certain financial support.

2.   Expand the BISP program throughout the country under well regulated SOPs.

3.   Start the self-employment scheme of students & trained them for overseas employment. Follow the model of the self-employment scheme of the Philippines.

4.   Make free education and transport and lunch free for students. Give them a healthy diet for their better mental growth.

5.   Please stop these short term useless programs and come up with solid reforms aimed at poverty elevation.

6.   Please produce the material of heroes and not beggars from the upcoming generation as such sort programs might only benefit some friends in an effort to multiply votes but it destroys the fiber of the proud nation.

Now coming back towards the TV program, my committee members have advised me to look into this program and we will have an in-camera hearing where we would like to hear from the family a better atmosphere to understand more about this growing highly immoral crime.

We will have a public hearing and set the parameters to protect the dignity of our Pakistani common people to put an end to these unethical shows and improvise irresponsible police officials.

In reference to the price hike, I proposed last week to make “Price & quality Control Authority “through enactment with certain punishments and parameters to control the price and quality. It is a known fact that the producers and the retailers further add 20% to 25% profits on top of the already set prices on them without fear of law.

It is disturbing that we are an agricultural country and we claim to be an agrarian-based country yet our state is failing to give its citizen homegrown agriculture products at affordable prices.

I hope the govt and the authorities gradually step towards reforms as proposed above rather than spending the bulk of money on these beggar houses (langers) hurting the self-respect of hungry & needy people. Let us move politics to bring the major reforms to counter the major national challenges.

Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and not necessarily to reflect the views or opinions of my party. The writer is central leader of Pakistan Peoples Party and Chairman of Senate Committee on Interior Affairs.)