Has Thar been so grossly neglected only because it is in Sindh and not in Punjab?

Published: April 6, 2016

The prime minister has talked about utilising the resources of Thar countless times but he has never taken any effective measures to resolve the destitute conditions of the people of Thar. PHOTO: AFP

The death toll in Thar is escalating by the day and while the Sindh government awaits some form of divine intervention, children in Thar are starving to death. There have been a million editorials and op-eds about how the children of Thar are suffering. Political leaders have addressed this issue, yet the issue prevails. Is this because the people dying are uneducated nomads living in a supposedly unimportant land of a purportedly unimportant province?

How do you think the scenario would have played out if Thar was situated in Punjab? Punjab, where the grass is green and people don’t die of thirst or famine. I am sure the entire nation would have been all ears then. Why wouldn’t they be? After all, a calamity would have hit an important land of an important province where important people were losing their lives.

We keep saying ‘all lives are equal’, which is quite ironic when in one province people are dying because of lack of food and medication while in the other, people are moaning about the shortcomings of the new Metro service.

The Sindh government is a mishmash of unreliable leaders and forgotten strategies. The chief minister has vowed to help the victims of Thar a gazillion times yet the victims continue to suffer. Other members of both, provincial and national assemblies have followed suit. Many leading members of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have given brainless statements regarding this sensitive issue.  Even today, while the infants of Thar continue to live in this agony, our PPP leaders are busy protesting over General Musharraf’s departure. Yes, of course we know where our priorities lie.

The Sharif brothers, on the other hand, are only concerned with Thar’s coal, not its people. The prime minister has talked about utilising the resources of Thar countless times, but has never taken any effective measures to resolve the destitute conditions of the people of Thar. Is this because the issue prevails in Sindh and not in Punjab? Has the prime minster forgotten that Sindh too is a part of Pakistan? Or is he only concerned about Punjab?

If the same situation had occurred in Punjab, the prime minister and chief minister of Punjab would have visited the area instantaneously and called for immediate actions to resolve the issue. The Punjab government would have vowed to end the crisis and, unlike the Sindh government, it would have kept its promise. Every MPA and MNA would have worked towards finding a solution, instead of holding purposeless press conferences; they would have put an immediate halt to the calamity.

The leaders of Punjab and the members of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz wouldn’t have made any insensitive comments regarding the issue. The entire nation would have come together to save the lives in Thar of Punjab. Only a few would have lost their lives and others would have been provided proper aid before it was too late. A crisis would have been averted and many would have been saved.

But because Thar is, unfortunately, in Sindh and the prime minister does not recognise the calamity in Thar as a national issue, the people of Thar will continue to die for countless years to follow. When will Mr Nawaz Sharif understand that he is the prime minister of Pakistan and not the prime minister of Punjab?

I mean just compare the development rate between all four provinces of the country. Punjab will lead the polls, the second in line will be Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and then when the dust finally settles you will see Sindh and Balochistan peak their heads out in hope of some reprieve.

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There is no denying it. And if you don’t believe me, visit the rural areas of each these provinces – that should be enough to confirm what I have said.

We, in Sindh, expect a lot from the man who has been voted to lead our nation, especially now when our provincial government has proven itself a dead loss. Hundreds of women and children have lost their lives. I urge the entire nation to take notice of the victims of Thar and plead the authorities to not let them die.

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Sahir Palijo

Sahir Palijo

The author is an under-grad pursuing a degree of Business Administration. He loves to write his thoughts and is a movie freak. He tweets at @The_Sahir (twitter.com/the_sahir)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ali Khan

    Very trueRecommend

  • Parvez

    ……and when its time to vote the people of Thar will vote for the PPP-Z.Recommend

  • Mustafa

    blame this largest political party that has been ruling this province for so long and has only taken away from it and not given to it…Recommend

  • Sust Larka

    Its been neglected because thieves of PPP rule Sindh!Recommend

  • Ravian

    Punjab has nearly 60 per cent of Pakistan’s population, so naturally most resources go to Punjab. However, Sindh cannot put its blame on Punjab as PPP remained in power for very long and did not care to do anything for Sindh. PPP grabbed government in Sindh again, thanks to interior Sindh, but has done. Things will change in Sindh once they stop giving votes to PPP landlords. Compared to that, KP is making huge progress within the limited resources that it has and is almost at par with Punjab.Recommend

  • Aqib Ali Shah

    Sad, but true.Recommend

  • Jungshaheen

    Most of you are missing the actual point. The blog is nowhere blaming it on Punjabis or Pakhtuns, but on Sindh Government and the PM who needs to realize he is not the PM of Punjab, but the PM of Pakistan. The PM needs to realize this is a national issue and not a provincial one.Recommend

  • someone

    The PM forgets he is the PM of Pakistan not only PUNJAB otherwise STEP DOWN pleaseRecommend

  • Hamza

    Vote for PPP, reap the benefits, Thats all I can say. Stop blaming Punjab or others Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Because it is predominantly Hindu.Recommend

  • Faraz Akbar

    Calm down sister. No need to get angry. Recommend

  • Jungshaheen

    Thanks to the PM for giving Sindh the Metrobus and the Karachi Lahore Motorway.
    Having proper transit system is far more important than saving the lives of infants. I understand.Recommend

  • Jungshaheen

    Then if the PM didn’t create Thar he must also not be concerned about Thar’s coal. Thar’s coal must also be Sindh government’s to use, but because Thar is a part of Pakistan the resources will be used for every Pakistani’s betterment. Recommend

  • Humza

    I have never said the lives of children are less important than mass transport. That seems to be your position . I would say health care, education, infrastructure and security are all important despite Pakistan being a developing nation. I am just pointing out that more work is going on in every sphere in Sindh under a Federal PM from another province. For the last 15 years we have had leaders from Sindh rule at the centre and provincially who gave Sindh and the rest of the nation little and all you can say is you understand that Metrobus is more important than lives ! Go figure. I can clearly see who is thinking nationally from the attention given to projects throughout the country. Your doublespeak shows your bias.Recommend

  • Bibloo

    When it comes to the Land of Five Sewers, the Punjabis
    get agitated. Only angels live there. Without referring to
    Khadim e Ala, CM Showbiz Sharif, [China’s middleman in
    Pak, businesswise,] The Punjabis can do no wrong.
    Never mind Model Town Massacre, savage annihilation of
    Christians in Joseph Colony, 200 dead, Wagah Border Blast,
    90 dead, Gujranwala/Faisalabad Shia Genocide, approx.174
    Shias blown to pieces. Nobody is keeping track of how many
    Ahmadis have been dispatched. The number is in the thousands.
    Beat, torture, hang and burn a Christian couple. Plus countless
    more. Punjab is the birthplace of extremism, religious fanaticsm
    and a safe haven for all kinds of bottom feeders, from everywhere.
    Never mind the deals made with extremists/religious fanatics to
    “please leave Punjab alone, you can destroy the rest of Pak.”
    The Federal money, more than 57% is shunted to Punjab, by the
    alleged PM, Nawaz, [$4.5 billion in off shore] to his little brother
    in Punjab.
    Ooops! Forgot the savage murders of Christian in Gulshan e Iqbal.
    Nothing new, now,….. is there? Normal for Good old Punjab.
    Get a life.Recommend

  • Humza

    Again you score no points putting words in my mouth. No one should die unnecessarily anywhere in Pakistan be it from poverty, disease, terror, accidents or natural disasters. That holds true for Thar as it does for Bannu or anywhere else there is need. Yet we have had natural disasters repeatedly for decades from earthquakes to floods and we have had over two decades of instability and terrorism. What is reassuring is that efforts and awareness is being made to deal with these challenges on many fronts and violence is being brought under control. All indices point to a market improvement on all fronts. More should be done everywhere. It’s easy to point fingers but when I finally see steps towards addressing security, sanitation, economic infrastructure, health care , education and mass transit for working class and poorer segments of society, I see every reason to be hopeful. Every citizen in Pakistan has a responsibility to the well being of fellow citizens and nothing justifies infants dying in the Thar desert for the last 68 years since independence.Recommend

  • Fahad Javed

    I suggest then that you convince people around you to vote for someone different in the next election.Recommend

  • Usman Alvi

    Don’t blame punjabis for all your problems and wisely choose your leaders, the truth is you as sindhis as a people have plummeted into this mess by electing pppp decades after decades, no matter their performance.. if showbiz sharif was your cm and not that crippling hag shah, things would be different. stop laying blame.Recommend

  • Usman Alvi

    why dont you help them, instead of being a ‘pakistani patriot’ be a ‘sindhi patriot’ first.Recommend