One man burned himself in Tunisia and the entire Middle East woke up from a deep slumber. In a little over two months this year, 48 children have died due to negligence in the drought affected Thar – at the gates of our rich mega city Karachi – yet, the PPP government faces no challenge. Benazir Bhutto would have been ashamed of the government formed in her name; she didn't take the bullet for the children of Sindh to be left at the mercy of ruthless PPP feudals. It is the moral duty of every Pakistani to resist such decaying Sindh government through democratic peaceful means. Pakistan has the blood of rebellion running through her veins; let's work together to channel it towards democratic change – before it's too late.

I do not advocate emotionally charged, unreasoned and undemocratic change. In fact, I would like to see this government improve its performance drastically to improve human conditions across Sindh but unfortunately, I suspect, it will only remain a foolish dream. Therefore, I forcefully advocate peaceful political resistance to incompetence, corruption and compromise. While many are criticising the PPP government, especially Bilawal Bhutto, for criminal negligence in Thar – I suggest a more sustained effort to deny the same people control over our fate after the coming elections, whenever they may be.

Blaming Bilawal for this calamity is ludicrous and juxtapositioning the Sindh Festival with the drought in Thar smacks of partisanship but some facts cannot be ignored. First, the drought has been wreaking havoc in Thar and the surrounding districts for many months and yet, in the 21st century, the Chief Minister house seems to have learned about the deaths of so many innocent children unforgivably late.

Second, even after the news has reached the farthest corners of the world, the senior PPP leadership is found wanting and unfazed. Finally, the absence of quick action by charities run by Memons, Gujaratis and other communities of Karachi is alarming. Are the people of Thar being ignored because a sizable population of Thar is non-Muslim? Is it because Tharis, even in their dire poverty have managed to best us in tolerance and progressive human values?

The utterly incompetent officers of the Sindh government should be fired for not raising the alarm at the right time. Bilawal Bhutto, along with the senior members of the PPP, should move to Thar without a moments delay. Bilawal should call it a continuation of Sindh Festival by staying in Thar for a few weeks and inviting national and international friends to donate and help. He should coordinate relief efforts to avoid any more blame and corruption in the area and PPP should counter this tragedy by bolstering the economy of the severely impoverished district by its presence.

We all hear unending talk of precious Thar Coal and how it’s one of the world’s largest coal reserves. Everyone from our nuclear scientist Dr. Samar Mubarakmand to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are seen visiting the area to help exploit this natural bounty, yet the children of Thar are starving right above this wealth. If today, these protectors of our national wealth are dying of hunger than what can be expected in the coming days when the coal rush starts? I shudder to think of their fate.

Interestingly Malik Riaz, a much-maligned businessman from Punjab, has made a difference during the crisis. He has shown the will of Punjab to help Sindh in troubled times by sending almost unending relief columns into the desert. A single businessman is doing what the entire Sindh government machinery has been unable to do.

Honorable Chief Minister of Sindh says ‘we’re underdeveloped and even developed countries have such mishaps.’ Qaim Ali Shah sahib, this is not a mishap, this is a crime against your own people. Thar is our frontline district; it has been our vanguard in all the wars we have been pushed into. It is no less important than Kashmir in many ways, yet shame refuses to visit those who govern us.

Maybe sense will prevail and the neglected Tharis will find help from the government but here in this situation of despair lies a powerful opportunity for the citizens of Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh. Previously, during the 1999 cyclone in Thatta and Badin, Karachiites responded with such valour that even today the people of Keti Bander, Kharo Chan, Jati and Shah Bander remember their kindness. During the floods of 2010, again, the people of Karachi opened their hearts for the flood victims and their generosity still resonates in the hills of Makli and the villages of Dadu.

Today, Sindh beckons her sons and daughters of Karachi to respond again. Let’s not wait for our incompetent rulers to disappoint us further. Let’s gather our will to reach Thar, only a few hours from Karachi, and help our dying children. Today, the increasingly unabashed governing legislators refuse to acknowledge the disaster by stating, “The death of 48 children in a little over two months this year was not something uncommon for the region.” To these unmoved souls we say – death of one child due to hunger is uncommon and needs our utmost attention.

Tharis like Karachiites are incredibly welcoming and tolerant. It is one of the last refuges for people of all colors, castes, religions and creeds in Pakistan. Like Karachi, Thar is a melting pot of many different religions and languages. Let’s not allow a few kilometers separate us from the bearers of Jinnah’s tolerant ideology. Let’s respond and react to this noble call to action. Let’s show Thar our passion and zest to help our children find life and an acceptable future. A few months of our activity will result in further opening of this dark corner of Pakistan.

Let’s get together to visit Thar and shame those who refuse to help our children.



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