Frigid unconcern

The unfeeling bureaucracy displays a frigid unconcern when it comes to dealing with the wretched of the earth

Editorial May 09, 2020

Recently, a poor woman died due to heat and exhaustion after standing in a queue for hours at a NADRA office in Gujranwala to get her fingerprints verified so that she could receive the government aid under the Ehsaas Programme. Sahib Bibi fainted due to heat. She was rushed to the District Headquarter Hospital where she died. There have been reports in the media that people have to wait in long queues at NADRA offices in this hot weather under the open sky. Nor are there measures in place to ensure social distancing to protect people from the contagious coronavirus. Ironically, the financial aid of Rs12,000 is being provided to the vulnerable due to circumstances arising out of the coronavirus pandemic. Government officials did not pay attention to media reports, and the official neglect is resulting in problems for people and even death. It is neglect that perhaps caused the poor woman’s death.

No one needs to be told that summer months, especially May and June, are very hot and dry in Pakistan when temperature soars to 45 degrees Celsius and above. The plight of those made to stand in long lines in such hot and dry conditions with the sun beating down on the head can well be imagined. Moreover, people standing close to one another for long also expose them to the deadly coronavirus disease. However, if we consider that neglect and apathy have long been established as the chief characteristics of the functioning of our corrosive bureaucracy, difficulties confronting the common people do not come as much of a surprise. The unfeeling bureaucracy displays a frigid unconcern when it comes to dealing with the wretched of the earth. Usually, death follows a sort of deluge of official kindness. There is, however, no point in getting wise after the event. The Ehsaas Programme should be saved from being described as a thing meant to serve a good cause but producing bad consequences. 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2020.

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