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Pensioner’s suicide

Published Oct 30, 2016 01:24am


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ONE can only imagine what it would take for an elderly man to commit suicide. The recent case of one such individual, who had been making the rounds of Karachi’s Civic Centre to obtain pension that he had reportedly not been paid for 13 months, leaves one reeling with anger. His family says he had been making repeated trips to collect what was his due, and the staff that he spoke to made fun of him and his efforts to collect his pension. The resulting depression, according to his family, led him to take the extreme step of jumping off the building, and not the lack of payment. The explanations given by KMC, where the man worked all his life and from where he expected his pension, and by Karachi’s deputy mayor, somehow do not ring true. They claim that pension cheques worth Rs740m “have been readied” and will be disbursed once the Sindh government releases the funds.

Whatever amount may be ready, the fact of the matter is that if the pensioner had to suffer humiliation at the hands of KMC employees while visiting the office to ask for updates on his dues, then it just shows the level of dehumanisation that prevails in that organisation. Pensioners are one of the most vulnerable members of our society, and the sad part is that many governments, federal and provincial, balance their accounts on the backs of these aged people. Pensions are amongst the first payments to be blocked in the event of shortage of funds. The callousness that this category of citizens must suffer for each cheque is enough to break one’s heart. For pensioners, that cheque means the world because it is their own money, and gives them a sense of worth and independence. Karachi’s deputy mayor should do all in his power to determine whether or not the retired KMC worker faced humiliation, and ensure that others are not made to suffer similarly in the future.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2016

Comments (7) Closed

Kau Oct 30, 2016 06:42am

Shame,just shame. Poor family

nks Oct 30, 2016 06:53am

It's really sad. I've a relative who paid about 5 percent of the amount in bribe to get his rightful pension. Even the sweepers of KMC complain that about Rs. 2000 is deducted from their salary every month and distributed among the officers and staff. Strict action is required against them.

Asma Tanoli Oct 30, 2016 11:30am

Its a pity. The government has taken some half-hearted steps but the pensioners have to face several difficulties. One of these is that they have to produce a live certificate every six months attested by a gazetted officer. It is not easy to find gazetted class one officers in far off places. Instead, the bank manager where one draws the pension should be allowed to verify if the pensioner approaches him.

Callous and inhuman Oct 30, 2016 12:56pm

Another example of such gross injustice is Pakistan Steel, where the employees retiring since April 2013 are not being paid their gratuity fund as well as provident fund dues (amount of own as well as government's contribution). Shameful as it is, its Board of Directors in its last meeting enhanced their attendance fee from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000.

A couple of weeks ago, widows of 138 retired employees who had passed away since retirement were paid the gratuity dues amidst stentorian claims by Mr. Muhammad Zubair, Minister for Privatization, that the payments were made on humanitarian grounds. In any civilized country, this would have been cause for SHAME for the government, but here in PAKISTAN, this was projected as if something very extraordinary had been done.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan has been very vocal recently about there being a lot of injustice in the country. Let us see if he can order for justice to be done in case of the retired employees of Pakistan Steel.

pakistan zindabaad Oct 30, 2016 07:53pm

Bilawal Zardari, Chairman PPP, should clarify his party's position on the plight of PAKISTAN STEEL, its serving employees as well as those who have been retiring from service since April 2013 and remain deprived of their gratuity and provident fund dues.

This editorial on the plight of retired employees is not only timely but is also a sad commentary on the government's failure as regards its responsibility towards the people, particularly the weaker segments of society.

PPP had assumed power at the center in May 2008. PAKISTAN STEEL was at its financial best with more than Rs. 20 billion of liquid as well as non-liquid assets. Within just four months of PPP rule, PAKISTAN STEEL had become a basket case. It has not been able to recover ever since. Under the remaining 4 years and 8 months of PPP's remaining rule, PAKISTAN STEEL continued to suffer badly till PML-N took over in June 2013 and started driving the proverbial last nail in the entity's coffin box. PPP remains a spectator.

AdHawk Oct 31, 2016 02:13am

This 'dehumanization' is really our defining credo. When national security concerns reign supreme the human concerns are just an inconvenience.

illawarrior Oct 31, 2016 07:36am

If there is a shortage of funds, the first payments to be blocked should be those who are not doing their job to ensure sufficient funds are available ie management and/or politicians.