IT is unfortunate that begging has become an organised profession controlled by mafias and extortion rackets in all cities across the country. Beggars are seen around traffic signals, shops, streets, mosques, restaurants and parking lots of shopping centres.
This makes one wonder why is the number of beggars increasing when the government has introduced several welfare schemes for them.
There are about five to 25 million beggars in Pakistan. Hundreds of beggars, especially women holding infants in laps, can be seen all across Karachi. Many of them pretend to be disabled to gain sympathy and make more money.
The nexus includes pickpockets who are ready to steal, taking away personal belongings of citizens and passing information to their gang leader for coverage. The increase in begging can be attributed to unemployment, retrenchment in the wake of Covid-19, non-payment of daily wage workers and inflation.
Professional beggars earn more than a daily wage worker does, as disclosed by one of the beggars when offered a daily-wage job. Such people, on the one hand, are involved in begging, while, on the other, they utilise shelter homes launched by the government.
The authorities concerned should act against the mafias involved in promoting begging as a lucrative profession. The government needs to address this menace as it causes inconvenience to citizens, increases crime and brings a bad name to the country.
Hasan Adil Malik
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2020