It was a sad scene indeed, this Eid.

Men, women and children dressed in their finest Eid attire, were crowding behind barbed wires and looking wistfully at the sea.

There were large banners proclaiming that it was not safe to swim. Any thought of breaking the law would be quelled by the presence of a posse of policemen.

 Threatened with “dire legal consequences”.
Threatened with “dire legal consequences”.
 A young man looks at the sea from across the barbed wire fence.
A young man looks at the sea from across the barbed wire fence.

These people had come from long distances, spent hours on the road, in the discomfort of ramshackle buses or four to five on a motorbike.

For many, it was the only visit to the sea in a whole year as such luxuries are reserved for an auspicious holiday like Eid.

 This child had come to the beach all the way from Sohrab Goth.
This child had come to the beach all the way from Sohrab Goth.
 Not just the sea, but access to the adjacent park is also not allowed.
Not just the sea, but access to the adjacent park is also not allowed.

It is true that 23 beach goers lost their lives during the holidays in May this year. What should have followed is a thorough analysis of why such a tragedy took place and appropriate steps taken to prevent it from happening in the future.

 Disappointment written large on the face of a visitor.
Disappointment written large on the face of a visitor.
 The “deadly rough sea” that the administration is unable to manage.
The “deadly rough sea” that the administration is unable to manage.

Some obvious solutions come to mind:

  • Stationing more lifeguards.
  • A watchtower.
  • Ropes and flags to indicate dangerous depths.
  • A public address system to regularly remind swimmers of the dangers of going past the safe zone.

But what does the city administration do? It closes down the beach and posts police to enforce a ban on going to the beach.

 The guardians of law blocking access to the sea.
The guardians of law blocking access to the sea.

The beach is normally not used by the well-heeled of Karachi, common people use it and they don’t figure in the scheme of things in this city.

As for the ridiculous logic of closing down the beach due to the danger it poses, the same argument can be applied to traffic: don’t go out since you can get killed in a traffic accident. However, getting out on the road is essential to run the economy, while the simple entertainment of going to the beach is considered “non-essential”.

And where are the political parties that supposedly represent the people?

These parties only protest when they want power but never when the interest of the people is at stake. Why cannot they organise a protest at the beach against such heartless restrictions?

The sad reality is that it is not just the city administration but anyone having social, economic and political power is completely indifferent to helping the under privileged in restoring their rights.

There is the hope that one day, the same people restrained behind barbed wires will break the barriers and take what is rightfully theirs.

Opinion

Rule by law

Rule by law

‘The rule of law’ is being weaponised, taking on whatever meaning that fits the political objectives of those invoking it.

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