Thar Drought; Calling a Dead Nation to Life

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Thar Drought; Calling a Dead Nation to Life

In the dark stretches of the mounds of the dead, the cold winter nights are no more festive, the colors of laser lights are not reaching the dark of the darkest houses on this land, in many of which only alamplightis hanging from the roofs of huts, veiling the ugliness of the face of life, the pale, shriveled, famished and ashen faces who are waiting for the Angel of Death to end the nightmare of life.

The dim lamplight is making it unrecognizable for apasserby to see and witness the fainting souls lying down somewhere in the corners of the straw-roofed houses and cry out at the straw that broke the camel’s back, maybe because the next station is very far and there is no one who traversed the path since a long time.

A twelve years old sister, sitting at the side of the bed of her brother, who is just five, is narrating to him a story in her book about a great personality of the history of Islam, i.e., the Caliph Umar RadiAllahuTalaAnho who used to visit thedoorsteps of the people to inquire their problems and needs. She says to her brother who is waiting for his death that he does not need to worry because Umar would be on his way for a round of the city. “He will bring a sack of food for you. He will give us some gold coins that will be enough for your medicine, for our bread and for the clay toys we both longed to have.”

There is some noise outside the hut; she says, “Wait! Let me see if it’s Umar”. She looks outside; there was a funeral procession, and she comes back. Her brother asks her, “Did someonecome with all the thingsyou were promising me?” She replies, “Nothing new outside; it’s just another procession to the cemetery.”  And she continued the tale from where she stopped.

The next morning when she woke up, her brother was not in the corner of the room; she looked outside, her mother and two old ladies of the neighbourhood were sitting and crying around him. While she was standing at the door, trying to guess why they were crying around him, a convoy of some brandnew vehicles stopped there, and dozens of people emerged suddenly. A few of them were with some instruments (cameras) in their hands, while another few were in some uniform, trying to cover a white dressed lively person. From another vehicle, some people disembarked with sacks of food and she hurriedly came nearer to her brother shouting,”See! Umar has come!” But her brother didnot open his eyes to see the Umaron his door step. Perhaps death had embraced him to relieve him of pain and hunger.

Maybe the Umar of today was too late. Maybe he has forgotten to cry in the nights for fear of his responsibilities for which he might be questioned, or maybe there is nolamb or a human dying on the coast of the Nile because of hunger for which he might be held responsible. Maybe the Umar of today is sleeping in a cozy room of his palace because his people are having a comfortable nap in their beds, after enjoying surplus food in their dinner.

Thistale is not a new one in the culturally rich valley of the mounds of sand. It happens every next year, with the ardour supporters of a major political party ruling them and taking the decisions of their fate. If once it is in the form of a drought, the next year it is because of floods, as both drought and floods are natural phenomenahappening with the people of Pakistan to test andtry their resistance.

During the Year of the Ashes(drought and famines), SayyedunaUmar IbnAl Khattab’s stomach would make rumbling sounds; he forbade himself from eating ghee (oil), and so he would eat olive oil. And he would poke his stomach with his finger and say, “Rumble as much as you want, for indeed, I will feed you nothing other than this until the situation of the people improves.”

Talking about the Thar Famine is making me ask myself, “Is it really a natural disaster?” Is it possible that Allah SubhanawaTala is seeing an innocent dying of hunger and doing nothing to save him?Is it really possible that the One who loves his creation so much and His creation is counting his last breaths waiting for rain to come and waiting for food to be on the table?Surely Allah would never do that unless He had delegated the responsibility upon the sensibility of mankind.Therefore it cannot be simply put away as a natural disaster because if we go back in times, we come to know that drought is not the only cause of famine but some personal negligence has made us face the current situation. The drought of 2004-2005 and the drought of 2009-2010 ended with heavyrainfall and floods, is it not an indicator that we must get sincere with humanity now and give up our personal interests for the sake of the betterment of the people of Pakistan?

If we take an example from The Holy Quran, The Prophet Yousuf (Joseph) Alaihe-Ssalam had planned well for an extreme drought of seven years and thus saved his people from dying of hunger. If our political leadership develops a will to fight these so-called natural disasters, they can have countless options to use to rectify the lethal effects of the natural disasters, giving just one example to show that if we had learnt a lesson from past famines and floods, we would have built some dams or reservoirs to collect the water of the rains and useit in the times of drought. The canal system needs improvement; yes, the canal system that the British government had developed, while since that time, wehave not been able to improve further or to proliferate. This actually is the criminal negligence of the Planning and Development Department also, and both the central and the Provincial Governments are held responsible for such kinds of disasters causing deaths. The deplorable food insecurity is an alarm that is not being entertained in this country until it is buzzed in some of the major television news channels’ headlines with a noticeable death toll. The appalling National Nutrition Survey of 2011 (Source) was also an alarm that failed to wake up the responsible.

Yes, there is a very big need of the people of Pakistan to have festive nights at the cost of billions of rupees to enjoy the bounties and to show the world that we are a happy, culturally rich, developed and progressed nation; to show the world that there is no one in the stretches of this land who needs to be spent upon to save his life; to show the world that we can make really good world-records because we are the most competitive nation enjoying peace of mind and the best offacilities.

We, the people, too, never think ofourselves responsible, because it is not you but the Government which you select to rule, and it is only the natural calamities that are imitating us and the results of our sins that are killing us of hunger unnoticed. Our duty is just to criticize others, just to wait for help from the heavens and just to bully each other on the difference of political, religious, and ethnic views. And we have been very much dutiful.

Note:  Please do not go for the facts and figures because it will disturb your sleep.

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is a Quaid-e-Azam University Graduate and tweets at @zjaral.

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