Famine and drought in Tharparkar
The apathy of the Pakistani ruling elite is responsible for much of the suffering the common man has to go through. Terrorist groups were created, financed and trained in pursuit of ill conceived policies by rulers who did not care to take into account the impact of the decision on society. Economic policies were devised to benefit a few at the expense of the vast majority. Corruption was tolerated for personal benefits ignoring the long term negative consequences for the country. Lack of responsiveness to the common man’s problems in fact characterises the ruling elite, irrespective of the province it belongs to. Hamza Shahbaz has called the famine in Thar as another holocaust, forgetting the numerous incidents of suicides in Punjab on account of poverty.
For weeks the local Sindhi newspapers and private TV channels in the province had underlined the gravity of the drought in Thar which they maintained was turning into a tragic famine. None among the provincial administration or the leadership of the ruling party paid heed to the reports. When the national media finally started underling the extent of the calamity, provincial ministers, Sindh government officials and ruling party leaders criticised it for blowing the issue out of proportion. On his first visit to Thar CM Qaim Ali Shah called the situation normal. The PPP MNA from Thar accused media of exaggerating the drought and famine. For him the high number of deaths reported from his constituency was a “normal matter”. Instead of feeling ashamed for failing to highlight the issue in NA earlier, he quoted the figures of the last three years to prove that there was nothing unusual. PPP leader Khurshid Shah also berated media for portraying the situation as serious. “Such incidents take place every year and there is nothing new about it,” he maintained. The same apathy characterised the statements of the Sindh Advocate General and home minister when they appeared before the SC which duly reprimanded both for their explaining away the deaths instead of taking urgent means to save the children.
The announcement of the visit by prime minister set warning bells ringing. The CM made yet another trip to Thar. Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan took up the issue. This made an otherwise reluctant CM grudgingly concede a few flaws in the way of responding to the crisis. A few government officials were removed from their positions for the time being. A few senior health officials were arrested. The provincial government hopes to restore the officers who are related to important politicians within a few months when the attention of the media and the courts is drawn to other issues. Apathy will again overtake the administration.