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Roadside beggars in Lahore

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By M Umair Khan

Pakistan is a country of more than 200 million people. Out of this number nearly more than a million people are begging on roads to meet their ends. For more than 30 years it has been observed that the number of beggars on the roads/public places is increasing day by day which also includes eunuchs.

These beggars are comprised of families most probably migrants from small towns, villages neighbouring big cities. Lahore one of the most densely populated city of Pakistan is a home to nearly 10 million people. Most of the residents are from outside of the city, who have come and started living and doing their job/business in the metropolitan city. This invited and motivated certain other people who can barely afford to live in this mega city. These people include individuals, families holding poor economic conditions etc. The city does not have to offer anything to them or eventually after repetitive efforts for gaining a job or starting a business these people land on roads with an aim to earn money by begging. Most of the beggars exploit their young children to get sympathy and take money from people. Some of them die in road accidents as beggars can easily be seen on any road, any public area of the city. This deprived community holds a question mark on their face probably some of them do not want to do this but have no other choice for survival and on the other hand some of the people have opted this as easy and a tax free occupation. There are many types of beggar’s i-e orphans, small children, females, handicaps, drug addicts etc.

Some of these beggars work in an organized way, by distributing roads/signals and markets to each other working in shifts. Talking to a few they shared that begging is equivalent to gambling sometimes you get a good return against their suppliant and sometimes it’s totally nothing but as long as government is not going to do anything for their rehabilitation, or not going to utilize the human resource getting wasted on roads we have to do this to feed our kids. Further they also stated that we are not begging on roads by choice but the fate has left us no option. Since the independence of this country it is the state responsibility to take care of the weaker section of the society. State must have to plan something to cope up with emerging crisis of begging. Reasons and root cause must be addressed in order to cater the matter, it is quite evident that merely due to poor economic conditions people come on roads for surviving, and that is subjected to the discretion of public. Specially highlighting young children (boys/girls) who are the new generation of this country and just because of poor decisions of their parents or financial issues they are left on roads for begging, those kids deserve to be in school with proper affection and protection rather than walking miles and miles in the city for food and money. Many political parties after winning the elections even by the vote of these beggars never even thought once about this sect of the society. This is the state responsibility to look after them, provide them with food and shelter, to educate them, but unfortunately increasing number of beggars might going to be an issue for the country if something will not be done for them on war footings. They will keep on increasing and with deprived of basic needs for life, and this could cause a real problem for the people and for the state. Begging becomes the habit of these people eventually as they see no other option for living, such families teach their kids how and when to beg, probably educating them with standard operating procedures of begging, those kids open their eyes learning to beg instead of going to school or getting some basic education. Children are the most vulnerable section of the society as they can easily be molded in any direction, roads side kids begging usually gets involved in criminal activities or gets into drugs which can be seen anywhere in the city. State of Islamic Republic of Pakistan holds the responsibility to take up this matter and do something to convert this part of society into a respectable section. We are wasting rather draining a lot of potential, a lot of resources and lot of brains which can be used in a constructive way for the betterment of the country/society.

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