Cruelty to animals

Published June 20, 2024

TWO recent incidents illustrate the immense cruelty many in this country subject voiceless animals to. In the first case, a camel’s leg was chopped off in Sindh’s Sanghar district after the poor creature dared to forage in a landlord’s fields. The second occurrence took place in a village near Rawalpindi, where the ears of a donkey were sliced off apparently over a land dispute between two men. The incident occurred several days ago but was reported only recently. In the case of the injured camel, the Sindh government has taken notice and is providing veterinary care to the animal. A prosthetic leg for the creature has been ordered from the UAE, while those allegedly responsible for harming the animal are said to be in custody. A case has also been registered against those suspected of harming the donkey. Sadly, these instances — though admittedly extreme — are only the tip of the iceberg. Across the country animals are treated callously in zoos and circuses for ‘entertainment’, while stray beasts in neighbourhoods are also subjected to cruel treatment.

The first step towards providing a safer environment for the country’s animals involves punishing those who harm them. A colonial-era law exists to prevent cruelty to animals. But this law needs to be updated, with stronger penalties to ensure that those who perpetrate violence against animals are held to account, and are not able to get away after paying a meagre fine. Secondly, society needs to be sensitised to the fact that animals also have a right to life and to live without harassment or violence. This can be done through modules about animal rights in schools and madressahs, while preachers and community elders across the country must emphasise that animals should not be harmed. While even ensuring human rights is a major challenge in Pakistan, society must do all it can to protect voiceless beasts from harm.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2024

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