Floods in 2010. Earthquake in 2005. Pakistan has been severely battered by the elements. Thousands have died and millions have become internally displaced. But even without Nature’s unkind revenge, life in Pakistan is not easy for the teeming masses who toil hard to feed themselves and their families. Poverty is their biggest adversary, and according to one estimate over 40 percent of the country’s 180 million live below the poverty line.
In Pakistan, people with disabilities are generally missing from public places such as shopping malls, restaurants and even universities. But it’s not that the country doesn’t have its share of the disabled; on the contrary, their numbers are estimated to be 16 million. So why are they invisible?
A few years ago, Pakistan’s newspapers and magazines were awash with pictures of shirtless men displaying scars on their torsos indicating they were organ donors. There were villages where practically every male adult claimed to have sold a kidney to earn extra money to repay his debts.
Peace activists in Pakistan and India are attempting desperately to be heard above the din raised by warmongers – elitist by all counts and claiming to be patriotic as well – in the wake of the Mumbai carnage. Jingoism is in the air – be it from so-called nationalists (posing as analysts on television) advocating a nuclear attack for the defense of their country, or the man on the street. Be they from Pakistan or India, they speak of war with great abandon as if it is child’s play. For the electronic media it is a race for sensationalism.