Recently, news broke that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is to demand an elephant from Sri Lanka and that, too, for free. I couldn’t help but gawk at the headline and read it over to make sure that I hadn’t misread it.
Not even a year after the beautiful elephant Saheli died of neglect at this same zoo, the CDA has the audacity to ask Sri Lanka for another one? It is as incredulous and unapologetic as it sounds.
Saheli died in immense pain due to a wound to the leg after suffering for a month and a half. She was only 22 — a baby when you consider the fact that elephants live between 70 and 114 years of age. Her only fault was that she happened to be in a Pakistani zoo. Saheli wasn’t looked after; we all know it. In fact, news also broke that money for alcohol for the animal had been demanded since 1992. This sum ranged between Rs40,000 to Rs80,000 and it was later confirmed by veterinary doctors that elephants do not consume alcohol.
Yes, you guessed it. The wine was going straight into the filthy mouths of those who were pretending to care for the creature. They were under the influence in more than just the literal sense while an innocent animal — a baby — staggered to its agonising death.
Nobody cared then and nobody cares now. Not one person has been brought to task and nobody has been punished. This is appalling enough, but the demand of another elephant scared the daylights out of me. I can’t help but imagine what the poor animal will suffer if she is brought to Pakistan.
Pakistan is a country where life in any form is taken for granted. While in Dehli, strangers show kindness to stray dogs by making them wear jackets in the cold, in Pakistan, the only purpose of stray dogs is that they make a good target to aim stones at. If you believe that I am generalising and that it is only the uneducated who have no respect for animals, let me tell you about a picture I recently came across.
It appeared on my Facebook timeline a few weeks ago; a dear friend of mine had updated her cover photo and was posing with her brother — all smiles and victory poses — next to a dead dolphin. The creature looked like it had been through hell. It was washed up on the shores of the beach with signs of torture all over its body. Dogs had gnawed at its flesh and large bloody chunks covered its body. Moreover, it appeared that the dolphin had choked on something.
The animal’s pain was moot to the brother and sister and they revelled in the fact that they had stumbled across an animal that many had never seen. Again, I reiterate my point; respect for animals is a notion that is alien in Pakistan. We have no space in our hearts to create love for creatures who are mute; creatures who have no defendant.
While the man in the cart next to your car thrashes his overburdened donkey, all you can do is lazily watch as the animal grimaces with every crack of the whip. Till these animals cannot defend themselves, I beg of all foreign countries to not present us with any more beautiful creatures. Pakistan doesn’t deserve them.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2013.
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