Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah’s gesture of donating wheat, a staple food for rural dwellers in particular, is laudable. The Tharis have experienced catastrophic circumstances for the better half of a decade. They reside in the world’s only known fertile desert but because of drought, this unique title may be revoked in the future. The drought has had consequences in the areas of food and healthcare. Famine due to low crop harvest and a lack of potable water have been the downfall of the Thari people and every few months, the same headlines resurface alerting one to the plight of Thar residents. Ergo, it was actionable long ago that the Sindh government make provisions for alleviating conditions in Thar and the most direct way to mitigate suffering was to provide basic food commodities to prevent loss of human life.
Due to the drought and famine conditions for years now, the event should be recognised as a major historic catastrophe and textbooks should reflect it as a time when the leaders of Sindh neglected one of their most impoverished districts — evidenced by the Human Development Index. In the hustle and bustle of the province’s economic hub of Karachi, there is minimal awareness about Thar and even less concern about the starvation of its people. Although it is incumbent upon leaders to intervene for the sake of preventing more deaths of humans and precious cattle alike, citizens of Sindh have a moral and social responsibility to spread awareness.
The land of Sindh has housed many secret treasures and enthralling heritages. Tragically, over time, these land treasures, like the Thar desert have been stripped of their special statuses because we were unable to give them their due honour and respect by protecting them. CM Shah and the committee overseeing the needs of Tharis must demonstrate more proactiveness to revitalise the area. Donating bread is a start, but they must plan for providing the proverbial bread and butter, as well as basic healthcare.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2018.
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