Drugged infants on the streets of Pakistan

Published: August 3, 2013

You have clearly identifiable criminals, with the evidence wrapped in a sheet in their arms.

I’ve seen newborns on drugs and so have you. Unfortunately, so has every MPA, MNA, human rights activist, police official, mother and father.

Recently, a woman holding a newborn came to my window to beg. I struck her a deal — Rs5,000 on the spot if she could wake the child up for me. Immediately, she went about trying to wake the baby she was carrying. I waited, knowing all along that the child wouldn’t wake up but desperately hoped he would.

As expected, the child seemed lifeless. She sheepishly said,

“You know, he’s sleeping on a full stomach. He will wake up later.”

Either these women receive special children from the heavens to make their trade easier or it’s exactly what we choose to ignore — babies on sedatives and drugs.

How many of us know infants who sleep throughout the day?

How many of these infants lie still even when awake?

Women out on the streets have conceded, in media reports, to using these means out of desperation. It’s a simple question that needs to be answered: why do these children, found at every traffic light, bazaar and intersection go unnoticed?

This issue has a simple pick-up-and-move-to-jail scenario. You have clearly identifiable criminals, with the evidence wrapped in a sheet in their arms.

Under Pakistan’s law, begging is a crime and punishable by up to three years in prison. However, this law is rarely ever implemented and convictions in this regard are rare. There needs to be a non-bailable arrest warrant issued for any person found carrying a sedated infant. It would be a good experiment to see how many mafias are willing to put their cash cows in lock-up for an entire year.

I have vowed not to spare change to beggars with amputations and small children. We know the tale behind their missing limbs and we know how heavily sedated these children are, but we continue to feed their inhumanity. It strengthens their belief that such torture to children is justified — for it wins sympathy and crisp currency.

A boycott of such beggars should get them to return to the drawing board or to simpler tricks from the past — wearing glasses and carrying a stick. I have had enough of their atrocities being blurred behind the screen of charity; there is only so much a Pakistani can take.

Manahyl Khan

Manahyl Khan

A sub-editor on the Magazine desk of The Express Tribune. She tweets @manahylk (twitter.com/manahylk)

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

  • Ra’ana Kanwal

    well written! quite convincing and brief at the same time. I never knw this fact since I have alot of love for kids so I used to offer them some lil money :/Recommend

  • Umar

    Good read. It’s. It’s a pity how these things pass by our eyes unnoticed.Recommend


    Please do not forget Pakistan is also a beggar in front of IMF.Recommend

  • http://NorthYork It Is (still) Economy Stupid

    Most likely these children are on narcotic. Nalaxone or Narcane antidote for narcotics can wake these kids in 5 seconds. Carry some antidote and offer money to allow you to administer the antidote. All this will do is to proves that the child was on narcotic. Antidote will wear off in short period of time.Recommend

  • Water Bottle

    How is it that no one on ET ever written an article on the heroin problem of Pakistan?

    I watched a documentary lately which showed horrible faces of drug epidemic in Pakistani society.

    It looks to me that Heroin is sold like Pani Poori on the streets of Pakistan and people consume it openly.

  • Dp

    If you’ve vowed not to spare change to people with amputated limbs and small children,hand over two packets of cream biscuits/disposable container of cooked food or noodles/peanut butter sandwiches/bar of soap for washing up/old sweater…Recommend

  • ptr

    Our Judiciary is busy addressing contempt of court cases, our elected leadership is busy building metros or whatever, why would they care about handling this spoiled issue. Plus a lot of so called Respected Public Figures are involved in the cruel begging business. They work in gangs supported by police and political people, the areas are divided among gangs on basis of contracts. This is organized and deep rooted mafia. Only government can do something to eradicate it otherwise you will keep seeing these drugged kids’ drugged right after they came out. :(
    A nice article pointing towards a very sick & sadistic issue.Recommend

  • confused btech student from andhrapradesh,,india

    begging is a crime in pakistan,,,i am totally surprised,,,,,i think it should be implemented in india ,,,bcoz atleast beggers get good food and shelter in jail,,i think it is a very good idea,,,but it should have some exceptions,,,Recommend

  • Khana Kharab

    My good lord, so, to make money we have gone to that extreme where we have started abusing children’s health and shame on government, on us being the members of the society. Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    A good topic. I hope you find success in eradicating this menace. Thinking of the drugged infant is heart-breaking, no matter from which part of the world the images come from.Recommend

  • http://google UF

    Very nicely written article. Unfortunately begging has become an industry in Pakistan so some serious action needs to be taken against beggar mafia so the future of so many innocent children is at stake!Recommend

  • Salman

    Very true!! Very well written. I hope this gets noticed by the masses and something better comes up for these infants. Recommend

  • Indian

    This is rampant in India too – infants are stolen from railway stations by begging mafias who then drug and rent them out on daily rates. Most die within a few months and are thrown in sewers. Absolutely heartbreaking – the weakest sections of our societies bear the heaviest brunt of an absolute lack of law and social services.Recommend

  • muqeet masood

    These are basically the lawmakers who can make law to be implemented. Our all lawmakers so called parliamentarians are from feudal families …and all know that these were before madari, bazaari and bhikari…. Most of our feudals who are now parliamentarians used to be the lowest category of slaves at the time of British rule … they use to wash their dogs ….so why these parliamntarins would stop these begging system… Sorry to say I am Karachi resident, most of the beggar are from South Punjaaab…. they are not only running tis Mafia in Karachi but they have the strong hold in Middle eastern countries… Recommend

  • danny boy

    i boycott too!!…..but wait a minute, its not like i pay any attention to the beggars anyway….Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely written………….more such articles are needed.

  • Salim

    Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the problems we have. What makes me angry is that we are masters at multiplying our problems rather reducing them.Recommend

  • KAY

    All beggars should be sterilized so not to produce more beggars.Recommend

  • mind control


    All beggars should be sterilized so not to produce more beggars.

    And Terrorists and their apologists too.


  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    Good job writer. Keep it up. There was a report about beggars in Lahore which said these children are available on rent. People let out their infants to these begging women for Rs.200 to 300 per day.
    And soon we gonna have a Bullet Train in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Cup

    I always enjoy your pieces !Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    This issue has a simple pick-up-and-move-to-jail scenario

    Because free jail food is a punishment that will deter them from future offenses?

    No, it’s really not that simple. You cannot hold the homeless and the hungry, whose desperate decisions are based on street survival, to the same high moral standard as the rest of us.

    And what is our plan precisely? Stop giving them money? Once enough children and disabled people have starved out on the streets, it’ll send our dreaded Faqir Inc the message to stop making more amputees and drugged babies?

    That is solid, but maybe our plan should include addressing our and our state’s failure to take care of these citizens.

    They don’t usually do these ghastly acts because they think begging with drugged babies is cool. They mostly do it because they’re backed against the wall.Recommend

  • S.A.K

    Upsetting, Tragic !!

  • Asim Shamim

    Very well written article. It has indeed become a norm in our society. In addition to this, I have heard in a TV Program that such off-springs are not their own, they are available for rent.

    They are working as a very strong mafia. The least we can do is to discourage them, make proper use of our alms and donations by not wasting them by fostering those sinnersRecommend

  • Clear

    Thank u for teaching us not to waste charity this monthRecommend

  • http://. Abid P. Khan

    @Muhammad Ishfaq:
    “…… People let out their infants to these begging women for Rs.200 to 300 per day.
    And soon we gonna have a Bullet Train in Pakistan.”

    Oh I am so anxiously waiting for tomorrow. The beggars can then take such trains all the way from Karachi to Peshawar and be back home for dinner. Recommend

  • Rakshinda

    Im sorry but i read “Its simple” quite often this piece. No! its not that simple
    im sure if they’re drugging babies then they are not very happy about it.Yes begging is not allowed in Pakistan but where would the poor, weak and underprivileged go? when your country serves the elite only, this is what happens.
    And dont you forget that our country is a beggar too. IMF is responsible for supporting Pakistan financially from a long time. Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/bohotsaara Sarah B. Haider

    Good topic! Read a very similar story about India too!Recommend

  • Saad

    beggars not be choosersRecommend

  • Sane


    beggars not be choosers

    But people chose them to pay alms (Zakat, Fitra, Sadqa, Kherat etc.). How pity that they support beggar mafia.Recommend