Pakistan’s hungry children: The struggle to survive

Published: November 7, 2010

Angry Pakistanis protest the rising cost of living.

On a recent visit to the house of my aunt’s friend this week, I realised the severity of helplessness some of us are subjected to as Pakistanis.

Being a university teacher and living in a respectable neighbourhood, I assumed – rather took for granted – that my host lived a comfortable life like many of us do.

However, what I witnessed in reality was far from my initial judgement.

During the visit I couldn’t help but notice that her sons who had just returned from school would not eat lunch; rather they stayed away from the dining room completely. Her two daughters, who were getting ready to go to their school for the late shift, instead had lunch.

To satisfy my curiosity, I asked her younger son about his absence from the table and what I got in reply left me unnerved to say the least.

He said,

We had breakfast. Now it’s my sisters’ turn to eat.

In an attempt to save up, or simply because feeding four children at once was unaffordable, the children took turns for their meals.

This is the reality of the most unexplored population of our city – the working class.

My aunt’s friend’s husband works in the Higher Education Commission; in fact, both husband and wife are extremely cultured and educated people. Yet their financial constraints have forced them to assign meals to their children.

Imagine the courage it takes to do that, while struggling to show a brave face to society and fulfilling all requirements of the ‘expected’ respectable urban life.

This is exactly what the lack of administration and corruption has left the average man with – enough to survive but not enough to live.

This is where we stand after a 15 per cent increase in the inflation rate in the past two months. I wonder how the elasticity rule works on people.

Where does it break? How long do we have to bear the burden of corruption and bad governance? Or, will we also have to resort to joining the queue for a decent meal?


Natasha Raheel

A Karachi-based sports reporter for The Express Tribune.

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