Nizar Jan

It is self-evident from the fact that begging is a business in Pakistan. However, nobody can find a single street across the country without any beggars.  It is one of the growing issues giving birth to different main issues like street crime, theft, robbery, suppression of poor, violence and exploitation. Begging itself is simply requesting for donation in a supplicating manner. It is one of the most humiliating and difficult profession to adopt. It needs great courage and tolerance to accept disdain, contempt, insulting remarks and abuses from other fellow beings. Moreover, also it is one of the oldest professions on the earth like prostitution but other nations have taken some serious actions to reduce it whereas in Pakistan this trend of begging can be assumed that the figure is just as daunting, and increasing day by day. Since, every city is full of multicultural beggars. Amongst 210 million citizen of Pakistan 25 million are professional beggars. The majority of beggars are Afghan refugees including many who lost their lambs in war.

There is no blinking at the fact that beggary has always been considered to be a social evil and a curse for society. Streets beggars are a common sight in all out towns and cities, outside mosques and religious gatherings and any every place of rush. It is just due to absence of legal punishment for unnecessary begging. Beggars are found openly begging in every street of the country. It is a sort of business without any investment. Most worryingly, small children are running on the streets, traffic and markets while their fathers are sitting at home just counting the money and using them to fulfill their desires.

They neither think for the future of the children nor their present. And the children themselves are not capable to know what can be better for them. They just do whatever is taught to them. These beggars are properly trained in begging tactics. They are taught where to beg, what to say, and how to say it. However, once upon a time as I was buying fruits and vegetables in a Sabzi Market in Quetta at Saryab, suddenly a boy appeared in front of me with a very innocent face and started saying “Uncle, give me some rupees”. Firstly, I ignored him since I always kept one thing in my mind that these all make the people fool and take money.

Almost three or four times he asked me uncle give me some rupees and I ignored him all of the times. Later, he bowed himself on my feet, I became emotionally blackmailed and at last I gave some rupees to him. Similarly, I am not the only individual who is affected by these beggars rather most of the public are deeply affected. In addition, beggars may sell small items, such as dusters or flowers, in return for money that may have little to do with the value of the item for sale.

And beggars seem to have a passion for their profession. Because of controlling and giving quality education to the beggars in 2004 Punjab minister has opened an organization in the name of Child Protection Bureau. The rescue teams always run across the province wherever they see a child begging, they take him or her to the center of Child protection Bureau where they fully facilitate her or him educationally and financially. According to Chairperson, child protection and welfare Bureau Punjab namely Sarah Ahmed, we bring the children in our center but unfortunately most of the children’s parents come and take their children with an agreement for not letting them to beg again. They leave their city but not their profession, she said during one of her interviews at VOA.

Surprisingly, in our society begging has traditionally been tolerated and even encouraged because people give money to gain religious merits and earn virtue, but we have forgotten that these people are professionals and living idly is the sole purpose of their livesI am pretty lost for words to mention that now there are organized gangs who deploy child beggars in lucrative spots like bus stops, traffic signals and markets and many raids have been conducted against them in the past. As in 2011, the Lahore high court ruled that the government should strictly enforce laws to discourage professional beggary set up homes for the destitute and improve charity disbursements.

But later on the issue was not brought to the table. The idea of enforcing strong laws went in vain, and the enforced laws are never implemented. However, begging is punishable up to three years in Pakistan, but police and lawyers say convictions are rare. Due to ignoring the laws, the figure is daunting. According to the reports of United Nations, around 49 percent of the estimated 180 million population of Pakistan live in poverty.

It is sure that poverty is in high peak in Pakistan but due to unnecessary beggars, one of the best organizations is unable to decline the poverty line in Pakistan. That is none other than Edhi foundation which is proved to be the best social welfare service providers across the world running noncommercial, nonpolitical, and non-communal basis, serving round the clock without any discrimination of color, class and religion.   

In a world of precision, I am left speechless, time and again we have been made fool by these beggars. There are several gangs. Their workers always beg across the country. However, an ILO survey of 198 beggars in Pakistan found most people beg to survive and many reported begging due to a lack of viable economic alternatives, while some beggars were forced to beg for criminal groups.42 For the ILO regional study, researchers surveyed 210, 198, 167, and 200 beggars in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, respectively. In Pakistan, 34% of beggars interviewed were reportedly begging under an organized begging operation in which beggar masters were involved. Comparatively, between 6 and 11% of beggars were found to be begging under organized situations in the other countries. Of the 130 child beggars interviewed, 92% reported they were not allowed to leave the begging operation and they would be punished if they tried. And the reports estimate beggars make anywhere between 100 and 10,000 rupees ($1.15 and $115 US dollars) per day.60 a beggar making 100 rupees per day would make 36,500 rupees, or $421.00, per year. A beggar making 10,000 rupees per day would make 3,650,000 rupees, or $42,123.00, per year. Numerous factors contribute to this variation such as age, disability, talent, time, and especially location.

No, doubt, due to unnecessary beggars some others poor families are not being supported. However, now people can’t trust anybody when they see everybody calls himself a poor and begging in the name of Allah the Almighty. At least, government should take some initiatives like to arrange different workshops, training and skills program so that they can really earn their future living. Job opportunities should be provided to the eligible people who really have skills and training. There should be strict enforcement of law; police should have power to punish those who are responsible for bringing them on streets.

If government implements the laws against the unnecessary beggars, may the poverty will slowly get declined which is at peak. Secondly, Public should discourage this illegal begging instead of encouraging it. There should be awareness program against this begging mafia, so that only deserving people could get aid. Above few points could be achieved through awareness campaign of electronic and social media which has great influence on our lives. Thirdly, when the ban on unnecessary beggars becomes implemented, then later on government should create merit so that poor should come in mainstream politics, administration and so on. Finally, implementation of the laws should be the solution of begging and merit is the least solution of poverty.

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