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

Published: April 6, 2016
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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

  • Dani

    Not true…. Before I say anything yes I’m a Punjabi and no I don’t support N-leauge.

    First of all its a provincial matter and to get this issue resolved you would have to vote in better leaders for Sindh.

    We also have dessert in southern Punjab which was largely neglected for years but as much as I hate the inefficient policies of Punjab’s gov they’ve played few smart moves recently for the betterment of these areas.

    An example of such moves is that there was a time when doctors didn’t wanted to practice in these remote areas hence locals had to travel long distances for their medical needs. But for a few years now Punjab govt introduced a policy stating, doctors in these remote areas will be paid more compared to those in cities and after the implementation of this policy the medical capabilities of such areas have improved alot.

    My point being that Sindh is suffering because Sindhis didn’t vote in better leaders and Pakistan is suffering because Sindh is suffering as Pakistan is much bigger and important than Punjab or any other single province for that matter.

    PEACERecommend

  • Ammar

    You have provided the answer to this situation within your article. I recently visited karachi and was very sad to see the dismal situation of the city. In my opinion Karachi (which was Urban hub of the country)is now at least 10 years behind Lahore in each and every aspect of life e.g Education, Infrastructure, Quality of life etc

    But my Question is, Who is to Blame for this situation??

    Punjabis/Pathans have not elected PPP or MQM. Its the people of SIndh who have elected the people like Zardari and Co. For your kind information, Pakistan has been ruled by Sindhi Rulers the most(You can analyse yourself what they have given to the country except Sindh Card).

    Nothing is 100% but Punjab and KPK people have atleast chosen better people to rule them. so kindly let us know how we can help them??Recommend

  • 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

  • zafar iqbal

    Thar has been so grossly neglected” because of the ruling class of Sindh. Thar is located in Sindh, which is unfortunately ruled by the second greediest politico in Pakistan (the first is in Baluchistan). It is the duty of PPP(P) to improve the lot of Thar.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

  • raj

    It could be true but the other aspect which is an irony for Pakistan and its people is the importance of ethnicity in everyday lives. I think its just that the state is run by Punjabis (Nawaz) and not Sindhis (Bhuttos) is the cause of concern. If Sindh had Nawaz govt, who knows things would have been better. I cannot say the vice versa for Bhuttos bcz PPP leaders are surely corrupt towards their own ethnicity as well (not evident in PML-N govt in case of punjabis).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

  • Gupta

    I heard that One of Allah’s names and attributes is “Razzaq” meaning provider of Rizq (food). Have you ever thought why Allah is ignoring people of Thar?Recommend

  • Khurram

    Typical ignore that PPP has been in rule for the last few years in sind and national level. Exempt them from all ills and start blaming punjab. The conditions will change when you ask your sindhis representative what have you done for us instead of blaming every thing on punjabi samraajRecommend

  • Faraz Akbar

    I can only term this piece as a click-bait article, if you can call it an “article” that is. A hopelessly ill-informed blog. But that’s what you’re gonna get when you let undergrads write articles on important matters. Don’t take it as an insult. I was an undergrad once. And I now realize how naive and childish my thoughts and understanding of the world were when I was 18-22 years old. But don’t give up hope. Just be mindful of the fact that when you have the opportunity to write an article on a news website that is widely read across the country, you should refrain from writing sweeping statements that have the ability to fan the flames of provincialism based on wrong or incomplete information.Recommend

  • S.

    Are you saying this blog is inaccurate and misleading? Are the children of Thar not dying of starvation? Is the PM really putting in all the efforts to help the people of Thar? Are you saying that because the Sindh government is corrupt and useless, the people of Thar should continue to die just because they voted for the wrong people? Also, if only SIndh government and Sindhis should be concerned about Thar then why is the PM concerned about Thar’s coal?
    Thats so mature of you.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Ridiculous article. That being a desert is difficult to manage regardless of where it is. The Thar Conspiracy theory is a product of Indian RAW to create disaffection on the Pakistan side of the border.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Please read the article carefully not just the title. Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    True! But what are patriot Pakistanis like you are doing about Thar? Isn’t Thar part of Pakistan and is it not the responsibility of each Pakistani?Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    We don’t know exactly if Punjab’s population is 60 per cent because there has been no census in Pakistan since 1998. Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    It does not mean if you are Punjabi then you have got to be pro PML-N. Just like the ignorant Pakistanis stereotype Sindhis with PPP, landlords, and Urdu-speakers with MQM.

    Thar issue has become a national plight not just bounded by the provincial boundaries. Pakistanis cry when attacks happen in Lahore, Peshawar etc. but when people are dying in Thar, let’s call it ‘provincial matter’ and blame it entirely on the corrupt PPP.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Yes you will call that as a ‘click-bait’ article, because this author is going to make millions out of “clicks”. Based on your comment I still believe that you are a childish after what you have said here. Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Yes but the article is correct!Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Punjab has always enjoyed lion’s share and development no matter who rules Pakistan, whether they are dictators like Zia, Musharraf, PPP, PML-N or PML-Q.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    PM did not create Thar or ask people to live there. Trying to blame PM or Punjab is completely ridiculous.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Exactly!Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Did you also blame the political parties for killings of Christians in Lahore attack or killings of 143 children in Peshawar? Read Panama Leaks and find out that it is actually politicians and businessmen from Punjab who have looted the country.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Punjab is prosperous ’cause Punjab gulps down large amount of annual budget. So definitely the education, infrastructure and will be better in Punjab.

    I totally agree that PPP has failed to build hospitals, schools, roads, infrastructures in Sindh, as well as creating the jobs for the Sindhi youths.

    However, you’re totally misinforming the readers here by saying that Sindhi rulers have ruled the country most. General Ayoub Khan was not a Sindhi who ruled for 10 years. General Zia ul was not a Sindhi who ruled the country for 11 years. General Musharraf was not a Sindhi who ruled the country for 8 years.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Because it is predominantly Hindu.Recommend

  • Humza

    The current PM has only been in power for hardly a few years now but Musharraf who was from Sind ruled ( even though Muhajir origin) as absolute dictator for nearly a decade and Zardari , also from Sind ruled for five years. How can anyone in their right mind put the blame on Nawaz Sharif who is doing more for Sindh and Karachi in particular than anyone else has in a long time. Security is better in Sindh’s cities, power generation is starting there with projects, a Karachi Lahore motorway is being built and Karachi is getting an urban mass transit system like Metrobus. People need to blame themselves for voting for MQM and PPP in Sind because you can’t blame Punjab for voting for Shahbaz Sharif and then ask why he keeps working to improve Punjab.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

  • S.

    Clearly, you think just because there are new projects being green lit in Pakistan we should ignore the fact that the infants of Thar are dying. After all, we are a developing country and so what if a few of them die, right?Recommend

  • sterry

    Sad truth is that leaders from Sind have never paid heed to their own problems; It’s easy to blame others but I am sure everyone knows what MQM and PPP have done to Thar not to mention Karachi.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    Shameful.
    I don’t really understand , what you want from Punjabis?
    We reap what we sow , the majority of people from Sindh voted for PPP.
    This is the result.
    You can not blame Punjab for your own weakness.
    PPP has been in power for… i cant even remember how many times.
    Did Bhutto care for Thar,did Benazir,did Zardari?
    Under the new amendments , the provinces have been given much more power than before.
    So if you are going to blame anyone , blame your elected leaders.Recommend

  • Sajid jani

    PM is all pakistan Pm not only punjab and Thar in pakistan so Pm responsible for children death.pm remember coal but not remember thari peopleRecommend

  • Alter Ego

    Then i really don’t understand , the point you are trying to make here.

    The moment NS speaks about Sindh , Zardari responds with “Do not interfere in our internal affairs.”

    Do you know why NS and SS work for Punjab(not out of goodness of their hearts) because they know that if they don’t they will be swept aside in the next election by IK or even by PPP.

    PPP unfortunately has no such fear in Sindh.

    You are responsible for the area that voted for you,that is why SS works for Punjab.

    Under the new amendments the provinces have access to resources that they did not have in the past.

    With that being said,please tell me what can Punjab do to save you from your own wretched and corrupt leaders?Recommend

  • Abbassin

    Two points are obvious, the poor children of Thar have been dying of malnutrition and continue to die because of the criminal neglect, firstly of Sindh government and secondly the federal government. However, moving forward instead of using this space, for spewing venom against different ethnicity, we must get together and channel our outrage against the authorities, through a concerted effort of thought and deed. Given the fact that we do not have a long history of democracy and are not used to asking hard questions of our elected representatives, but after two back to back elections, we, the electors, must ask some hard questions of the elected representatives-and if we do not do that and expect that things will get better on their own then sadly we are gravely mistaken. To start with, instead of pointing fingers, let us- the civil society get together and do our part -show our outrage through a campaign of writings, meetings, processions, peaceful protest and demand action-we must remember that in a democracy there is no power bigger than people power.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

  • DevilHunterX

    Dear Blog Writer, Please read the 18th Amendment before pointing fingers. Thanks.Recommend

  • saad sohaib

    This rant makes no sense if you are going to elect corrupt people from PPP again and again.

    Stop whining and cast your vote wisely in future.Recommend