‘When you cheat, you steal someone’s right to fairness’

Published: September 12, 2010
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Flood victims chase after a relief truck

As our car and truck approached Thatta, one question kept echoing in my mind. Do we really deserve to see our country in such an agony? The answer that repeatedly kept cropping up in my head was “yes”. Both my heart and my mind had come to this conclusion. Regardless of the pain, I wasn’t able to simply ignore the answer. My friends and I were taking relief goods to Thatta to distribute amongst the flood-stricken IDP’s who had settled down in Thatta.

Those who we could not help

After crossing Dhabeji, I witnessed the flood ravaged people camping on both sides of the road waving their hands at the cars passing by. according to the advice that we had been given stopping would be risky. It is better to provide relief goods with proper management rather than inviting a big crowd that may start looting in sheer desperation. There were some obvious local people disguised as IDPs. It reminded me of what Khaled Hosseini wrote in his book The Kite Runner:

“When you cheat, you steal someone’s right to fairness.”

When we entered Gharo we were stopped at a police check post. We were told that the law and order situation was not good and that they have been ordered to stop trucks traveling without private security. We were escorted to Thatta by an armed police mobile. I was pleasantly surprised by the behavior of the  our police who escorted our convoy of four trucks.

An opportunity for the desperate

Our journey was progressing well until the last one of the tyres on our truck went flat. As it was the last truck in the convoy the police van and the rest of the convoy had moved on ahead and we were left stranded. The people camping on either side of the road gathered around us the truck of aid and tried to uncover the canvass. It is only a matter of time before the looting commenced. At that very moment, I heard sirens and saw a Rangers mobile approach us making the majority  of the crowd disperse. Some who remained defiant were removed by force but as gently as it was possible.

Although I completely disagree with the police and the rangers on multiple issues, the way they are handling the IDPs is commendable in my opinion.

The response of the survivor

As soon as they see a truck, even if it is not a relief truck, the survivors assemble around it.  If it is without security they may loot the truck as well. I can sympathise with the IDPs and even the poverty-stricken locals who attacked our truck although I know that they were wrong in doing so. However, considering these people have faced problems for many years, their actions are somewhat understandable. If there was justice with equality, we would perhaps not face such misfortune, high poverty and illiteracy rates.

Chief Justice of Pakistan, are you listening?

My thoughts again went back to the question I had initially asked myself. Do we really deserve to see our country in such agony? Perhaps 63 years were not enough to eradicate poverty and illiteracy but they should be enough to give people basic facilities. Certainly enough to build small dams. If in 63 years we have not managed to straighten out the water management of our country, then how many more years do we still require?

All my surprise comes to an end when I recall the fatalistic attitude I encountered at a fund raising at Tariq Road, Karachi. I asked a man to donate for the flood victims.  He responded, “Allah malik hai”.

His words made me think of the lyrics to a Shehzad Roy song “Bus Allah hi tera Hafiz hai.”

When the people of Pakistan have such an attitude towards all the suffering that surrounds us it makes perfect sense to me when seeking an answer to my question all I can come up with as a reply is that, “Yes, we deserve all this!”

absar.khan

Absar Ahmed Khan

A student of mechanical engineering and avid follower of current affairs. Absar blogs on international relations and life in Pakistan.

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