Free lunch

So much for dignity




Yesterday the prime minister opened  asoup kitchen in collaboration with a charity in the capital. The plan is to open 12,000 more such outlets across the country. And the idea is that no one sleeps on an empty stomach and under an open sky. While the intention behind the move is appreciable, the approach to lift people out of poverty is not the right one. China’s model of poverty alleviation that the prime minister is a huge fan of is anything but charity.

The opposition came out strongly, and rightly so, after this development and its spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the PM was providing food to 600 people only after having deprived 2 million people of the food by making them unemployed.

The first causality of a handout is an individual’s dignity. This is also an admission of the fact that many people most of them able bodied and of employable age are out of job, they are destitute to the extent that they cannot afford two square meals in a day for themselves.

The prime minister in the same gathering spoke of people being impatient about the promised change. He said the rot that was set in 70 years would take time. Even the state of Medina was not set up in a single day and that Allah adopted a phased approach while forbidding alcohol and slavery.

Mr prime minister, most among us with rudimentary understanding of the governance knew this already and they were content with incremental improvement and that is the path this nation was already on until you stepped into the picture and called for an overnight overhaul, floated theories of 90 days, told that fish rots at the top, all it needed was 200 honest and competent people (which you had already in mind), shouted from the hilltop that there was nothing that could not be set right within days. And here you are telling the same people what they already knew.  It may be a revelation to you sir, not them.

This country have had langars and shelter programmes in the past that have not done much good except for keeping a few dozen destitute, elderly people in inhuman conditions. Who does not know the abysmal state of darul amans, old houses and mental hospitals in this country?

And the real sustainable change comes through creating jobs and favourable environment for business and investment, investing in tourism and education and health. All the indicators in the aforementioned areas are pointing downward since this government took office. And all it is doing is to offer temporary, unsustainable and undignified ways of providing people with their basic needs. In the hope that one day people shall line up at Pakistani embassies to come to Pakistan for jobs and all where every industry worth its name is closing down rendering hundreds jobless every day. The PM needs a reality check.