One morning, we went to a Halwa Puri shop to have breakfast. Gossips, laughter’s, smiles were the ingredients of that old friends small get-together party. In the mean while when we were having fun, my eyes stopped at an old-man person sitting on a footpath nearby completely lost somewhere. For unknown reasons, I was trying to read him, he was looking nervous as if he lacks something. I have seen so many people in my life, but never tried to notice someone that closely but I don’t know, why this old-man was catching my attention. He was quiet with his hands over his head deeply lost in something.
Talha ask that person if he need something, suddenly I spoke to my friend sitting beside me. My friend got up his seat and asked “Baba Ji Purian Khayen ge?,”, old-man nodded saying Paisay Nahi hain. We somehow managed to get him breakfast that morning but that incident never got off my head.
That day for the first time in life, I met a person who was probably extremely hungry but didn’t have enough money to get something, still with high self restraint and self respect, did not even ask anyone to get him something to eat but thinking deeply, probably waiting for some fairy to get him the food. He was one out of 170 million people who live around us.
Every face has a story to uncover, sometimes very pathetic stories that you want to cry. Many like that old Baba Ji move around, sit around us, but we are unable to uncover them. In my 21 years of life, I have attended hundreds of weddings, and in those hundreds of weddings, I saw thousands of people wasting food, the food which could be sun-shine for someone like Baba Ji. We live in such a society which is based on living standards for the people with money in their pockets, ignoring many others who live for food to eradicate their hunger and sometimes die because of same hunger.
We get aids from different countries to get rid of hunger, but so often I wonder where does all the aids goes?, instead of decreasing, hunger and poverty is increasing with every sunrise. The World Bank has pledged 1.4 billion dollars in air and Asian Development Bank has already released 500 million dollars as the first tranche. And the U.S. has pledged to arrange, through the World Food Program (WFP) and other U.N. agencies, approximately 11,000 metric tonnes of wheat for over 1.6 million Pakistanis, but the interesting thing is that, we still have about 38 percent children population who are either underweight or malnourished and around 36.2 percent people who living below the poverty line. Primary enrollment of 5-9 years old children in Pakistan is the lowest in the region. Pakistan like many developing countries has been facing food shortages.
Food inflation soared beyond the control of government on one hand and food items went far beyond the access and affordability of common person. Price hike during Ramadan has ignited social unrest in country but government response is more focused on complying the donors demands rather than looking into the problem holistically.
Hunger is one important cause that is provoking crimes in our society. President Asif Ali Zardari unveiled 450 million dollars fund to support the poor in the form of Benazir Income Support program, but I am afraid to write 60 million Pakistani’s are facing food insecurity. According to the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute, levels of hunger in Pakistan are “alarming”. Instead of working on most important domestic problem, our government is expecting funds to wage a war against terrorism.
A society free of hunger will be a society free of crime. My body shakes at times when I think that a representative of a mazdoor in parliament is living a luxurious life while that mazdoor still lives below poverty line. Probably our leaders are unaware of the fact that Someday in God’s court they will have to face the reckoning of every person who slept hungry…
Published Here : Express Tribune