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A Pakistani old man — File Photo
A Pakistani old man — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: From her looks, frail and old Amna Bibi should have been lying inside the Federal Government Services Hospital in the care of doctors. But she is seen sitting outside the hospital – week after week and year after year.

Amna, 76, is all alone in this world and sits there selling fruit to hospital visitors for sustenance.

Although the old widow has a daughter, she lives with her husband.

“I have been selling fruit in this tent for over 15 years as my three sons died while they were young,” she told this reporter.

“I have no family support and did not want to beg,” insisted Ms Amna, “I am a Pathan and from where we come, we don't beg what may come.”

Telling her story of hard work, she said: “I buy the fruits early in the morning and sell them here.”

The old lady allows every customer to hand-pick fruits, and charges a lower price than other vendors beside her on the road.

Amna is also witty and smart and knows about the financial crunch the country faces and the degenerating affairs of governance.

“There is no regular income. It fluctuates like the price of dollar against rupee. But I do manage to make Rs400 to Rs500,” she claimed.

Amna Bibi is one of hundreds of thousands of senior citizens who still work well beyond their capacity to make their ends meet. To date, there has been no official policy ever introduced by the federal government to address the concerns of the old people in the country.

According to Ms Adeeba Aslam, country director of HelpAge International, a non-governmental organisation working on social protection of the elderly, “people who are more than 60 years of age form seven per cent of the total population of the country. They are numbered over 10.2 million.”

Ms Aslam added: “Almost 52 per cent of this old age population in Pakistan are women while 48 per cent are men.

However, most of the senior citizens who are women are widows.

They have no one to look after their health concerns, food and other economic needs.”

She complained that the federal government has no major programme for the protection of old age people and they either had to beg in the markets or were abandoned by their family members.

“A Senior Citizens’ Protection Bill is still pending with the government since 2007 and we are pushing the government to approve it since the bill has clauses in which government is expected to provide protection (economic, social and health),” claimed the official of the non-governmental body.

However, she said that till the bill is approved, “there exists no strong social protection system for elderly people like Amna Bibi who are left on the mercy of the unfriendly system.”

Comments (11) Closed

Raja Aug 31, 2012 10:21am
No food, no shelter and no money but they are happy because they now have DEMOCRATIC government and they are happy that people responsible for this democratic setup have abundance of food, shelter and money.
KHAN Aug 31, 2012 10:08am
This is the story of majority of our country.They are sincere,hard working and honest.But they are suffering because of OUR CORRUPT,DISHONEST AND SELFISH PEOPLE
Capricorn Aug 31, 2012 11:40am
Government in reality cannot provide services to each one of its citizens. This is also true for many developed nations. You cannot expect your Government to be there whenever things start to go wrong. People have to find a way to help themselves.
muzjee Aug 31, 2012 03:35pm
Heart breaking. The way the population is growing and no state setup to take care of them, I am afraid things are going to get worst. May God help Pakistan.
Ejaz Butt Aug 31, 2012 09:52am
My eyes filled with water to read this article. I feel the pain of these people and will try to help If I can. I request other readers to do a kind act if they can to these frail people to eleviate their pains/problems.
Gerry D'Cunha Aug 31, 2012 01:38pm
God will bless the Western nations of helping and carying for their older/disabled generation,no matter what religion they belong to and are residence of their country.
Saad (DXB) Aug 31, 2012 10:03am
Heart breaking.. A nation which ignores its older, wiser generation can expect nothing from its younger generation
abdul Aug 31, 2012 12:38pm
old school of thoughts.
Cyrus Howell Aug 31, 2012 08:36am
Having many sons is their social security.
Lorraine Sep 01, 2012 03:23pm
Each country is different in their customs. It is Ok to say that a federal government should look after the elderly, however, the reality is, that the money must come from somewhere ie higher taxation. In the west, services are comparatively good in terms of health, education, and aged pensions etc, however the taxation rate, of necessity, is extremely high to pay for these services. How much additional tax are you willing to pay to improve government services?
BEA Aug 31, 2012 02:28pm
Shamefull the Pakistani Goverment should open its eyes and see what is happening to that country shamefull way the elderly are treated.