‘Life Goes on: Women Dead in Karachi Stampede’

Poverty and desperation coupled with private charity being distributed in a chaotic manner led to nearly 20 women and girls being killed in a stampede in Old Karachi on Sept 14. The Dawn aptly headlined its report ‘Crushed by poverty’. See also Shahid Husain’s report in The News ‘Food security is a fundamental human right’.
Free flour was being distributed in a busy neighbourhood when the stampede happened [AFP]
Free flour was being distributed in a busy neighbourhood when the stampede happened [AFP]

Below, temporal’s poem for the women who died, posted in Baithak:
‘Life Goes on: Women Dead in Karachi Stampede’
is nay kiya yeh
nahiN
oos nay kiya yeh
aisa nahiN kerna chahiyay thaa
waisa nahiN kerna chahiyay thaa

the blame game has started
the talking heads are on a roll
their power guests are on a roll
nineteen women – rigor mortis setting in
will be buried shortly
by Edhi, by Chippa
those left behind
will blend in the void
of a thousand sighs
till they stop breathing too

talking heads
call them
danishwars
different faces
say the
same thing
in different words

blaming their opponents
blaming other politicians
blaming past governments
blaming evey one but…..

yes, God loves us
He keeps on testing us

‘Food security is a fundamental human right’

Tuesday, September 15, 2009, The News
By Shahid Husain

‘Karachi

At least 14 women and children were killed in a stampede in Kohri Garden area in Old Karachi to get free flour although ensuring food security is a fundamental human right ensured under Article 14 of Pakistan’s Constitution.

“We express deep grief and deep condemnation over the fact that people are subjected to lose their lives to collect basic necessities of life,” Co-Chairman Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Iqbal Haider told The News.

“The government is duty bound to ensure supply of basic necessities without violating human dignity as guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution and without forcing people to put their life at stake,” he said.

“It’s a most shameful state of affair that everyday people are suffering not only of hunger but losing life or their limbs in their struggle for survival,” he added.

According to 2008 data from the World Food Programme, 77 million Pakistanis – nearly half of the country’s total population – are food insecure, while 95 of Pakistan’s 121 districts face problems such as hunger and malnutrition-related diseases. Last year, a UNICEF report concluded that half of all child deaths in Pakistan can be attributed to poor nutrition.

“Measures taken in Sindh and Punjab to provide subsidised “Atta” (flour) are popular gimmicks. If the government is serious in providing subsidy on essential food items, it should provide ration cards to those who deserve subsidy otherwise you are bound to have long queues and the chaos that inevitably follows,” said Dr. Asad Sayeed, a leading economist associated with Collective for Social Science Research, an independent think tank based in Karachi.

Ironically, it’s the women and children are the most vulnerable sections of the population.

“It is really unfortunate and shameful that we treat people like beggars and have no respect for human rights,” said Anis Haroon, Executive Director, Aurat Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

“The matter of distribution of free ration is not at all organised to cater to the needs of the people. Rather it is meant for publicity of those who want to look good by giving away charity and women and children become most vulnerable in such crowding scenes and stampede,” she said.

“Moreover, women carry the burden of fulfilling the needs of the households in whatever way it is available to them,” she said.

http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=198523

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2 Responses

  1. thanks b:

    the sad part
    when the lights have dimmed
    and the dead are entombed
    and we retire
    to greet another day
    all this sorrow would be past

    we would have our teas
    and cereals or parathas
    and find other issues
    to discuss

    only the orphans
    would never forget

  2. WILL SOMEBODY EDUCATE THE RICH DONORS IN EACH MAHAL (LOCALITY) TO MAKE A LIST OF DESERVING POOR AND HAVE THE ALMS DELIVERED TO THEIR HOMES ? THAT IS HOW WE DO IT IN “KERALA” WHETHER FOR ZAKAT OR THE FITR ZAKAT. IT IS THE DUTY OF A MUSLIM TO FIND OUT THE NEEDY PEOPLE IN HIS MAHAL AND NOT THE OTHER WAY. IN THE PRESENT CASE THE DONOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR INITIATING THE TRAGEDY. OH, WHAT A KIND, GENEROUS MUSLIM HE IS!!! I HANG MY HEAD IN SHAME.

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