With better education resulting in a government job, Niamat Khan would not have to worry about making a living in these desperate times. But as fate would have it, the 40-year-old shoemaker has no option but to pray for things to get better in the curfew-stricken Gilgit.
Under normal circumstances, he earned enough to support his family. But the ongoing crisis, leading to closure of markets and suspension of regular life, has left him jobless, like countless other daily wagers.
“I am really worried about arranging for my family as life has come to a standstill in the city,” said Khan, during a break in curfew that was imposed on April 3 following a grenade attack on a rally. More than 20 people died in Gilgit and Chilas in the violence that followed.
“I don’t mind polishing shoes. But the problem arises when you aren’t allowed to do even that,” he said, referring to the closure of markets after curfew. Khan belongs to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and, like many others, he came to Gilgit to try his luck for better opportunities.
He would go to his makeshift workplace early morning — a footpath in the city — and worked till evening. “I earned more than Rs300 a day and that was enough for two meals a day for me and my family back in K-P,” he said.
But now the tussle between Sunnis and Shias has deprived him of his livelihood, he said, adding that if he had a proper job, he would not be in this situation. “Even primary level education would help me land up as watchman in some government office,” he lamented.
He said everyone should make sure their children are educated, so that they do not find themselves in a similar situation as his.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2012.