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The population ghost

Published Sep 06, 2012 10:19am

-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.

Even if you don’t believe in them, ghosts exist. Or at least one does; the ghost of the population. And nobody is ready to face it. People are either hiding from it or perhaps just avoiding it. It’s true that we only hear what we want to hear, anyone else who is speaking is speaking to himself.

If the government ever goes beyond appearing in courts, they might look here and there. There are judges on one side and coalition parties on the other. If the government slightly topples over because of the judiciary and media, it is faced by new demands from these coalition partners and then has to increase the number of ministers and advisors. Now because of the same coalition, so many new ministries have come to being that it is difficult to name them; some are given hanky names and a minister is installed, whereas the others are just concerned with themselves. They are utilising the people’s money on the people, it’s not like making a few more ministries which will help democracy complete its term would make the sky fall on us. Those in uniform have also been here for over 10 years and appoint ministers to their liking. We are still installing democratically elected leaders, who will wait for another 10 years.

Truth be told, the judiciary, assemblies, newspapers, TVs are still wondering who to promote and who not to promote. All our resources are being used to disrepute one another. Mian sahab is in the government and out of it too. He’s getting thinner everyday by worrying about the poor in his mansion.  The very few resources which are left in Pakistan are being swallowed by the ghost of our population. The increasing population is not a concern for our judges; our leaders, our media and our politicians know nothing about it. Someone is worried about retrieving his money safely, whereas the other is worried about deporting it safely. Someone will not let go until new provinces are created, whereas the other is dreaming about creating a new country. Earlier, the Muslims had dreamed of their own country and increased their population so much that the inevitable result was a separate country.

Just as the population is increasing, our resources are decreasing and problems are escalating. But our leaders, media and opposition members have involved us in such petty issues that even if they do get solved, the expected change will not only be felt by the leaders themselves and those around them. But why are we putting all the blame on the government? We are equally responsible. Without giving it a thought, we are ever increasing our population. The slogan ‘bachay doh hee achay’ doesn’t appear anywhere anymore; it seems that the population welfare institution itself has disappeared.

We take out all our anger caused by poverty, unemployment and load shedding by having more children. Whether we have something to eat or not, we must have a child as he comes with his fate already decided. Most are increasing the population in hopes of a son.

This is also given by God, we didn’t do anything; all we do is thank Him.

Tired of unemployment, we bring them to bazaars in order to sell them. Many pictures are taken and are displayed on our TV channels. Now if he gets a job, or his salary increases, the same man will have a second or even a third marriage. The waderahs keep one wife in the village and two in the city but the poor man is no less. Last years’ floods revealed that around 70-80 per cent women were expecting, and this proved to be a grave problem for social workers. Almost every woman, as frail as she was, had 8-10 children. Visit a camp and you’ll see the woman either taking care of children or cooking food while the husband rests on the charpai complaining about not receiving aid.

What about the kids? They are given by God and he himself will take care of them. The lack of schools is not a problem as long as there are madrassahs. The education, food and shelter is all for free. He’ll get to eat mutton day and night – something which is not afforded by the wealthy these days. Now there are package deals; if you give one son you will get this, if you give two you will get even more benefits, and if you give three you’ll also get to go for hajj. What else does the poor man want?

We don’t consider those in power to be part of this group, but these are people who are always in power, whether it is by adorning the robe of the opposition. One way or the other, they are always in power. They have their whole families including their sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and distant relatives all spread out in the civil service, the army, the newspapers, television, within the assembly or outside the assembly, religious party or a liberal party; their relatives are everywhere and ensure that their work never stops. Sometimes they are sitting near this side of the river and at other times, on the other side. Khan sahab who is dreaming of a new revolution has the same left over pieces in his future virtue of fate yet his slogan is still that of a revolution. Journalists only take notes for show, they publish what has already been told to them.

This is the era of sons; after all they will have to take over the country’s responsibilities one day. This is why we are

seeing pictures of sons and daughters in our newspapers these days. Our population has increased to such an extent that our youngsters are a majority and they will form the vast majority of this year’s vote. This is why everybody is preparing to introduce their youngsters. The majority of our youth who consider Imran Khan as their hero, and prefer showing off over politics, seem to be holding more concerts than rallies – the introduction of music in the middle of a speech has already started. They will get votes by singing and dancing away. After all, only those who are on Facebook can vote for them. Poor Musharraf faced a similar fate – expecting too much after seeing his Facebook page but the reality was far different.

Forget the politicians, even our judge’s sons have steeped into this field; progressing day and night. No one dares to blame them; they’ve been bathed in milk. It doesn’t matter if they became millionaires in one night, its not like they robbed someone. Anyway, in the midst of this game between sons of judges and politicians, our population is increasing. At the moment, we rank 6th in the list of the world’s most populous countries and in the next 20 years, would have surpassed many countries.

Schools, roads, hospitals, jobs, electricity, water and gas are still largely nonexistent in our country. You can well imagine what happens next. We are dealing with shots now; we might have to deal with bombs later.


The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.