Begging on the streets of Pakistan…need and exploitation

Some beggars really need help (Farouk Naeem / AFP)

Begging is widespread in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and other major cities, such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta, although living conditions in these cities have improved recently, especially in the capital compared to the rest of the remote areas, but the government does not takes no step to completely eliminate the phenomenon or to confront it.
There are various traditional and modern ways and forms of begging and obtaining money from citizens, especially the more affluent, and money is not the only desired goal, but also food from restaurants, especially those located along main roads.
Muhammad (age 12) and his mother, who are from the Nowshahreh region of northwestern Pakistan, go to different restaurants in the Jitun One district of the capital Islamabad and ask people to buy them food and bread or offer to help them in exchange for money. under the pretext that he is one of those affected. Zelzal, although his father has been working for an entrepreneur in the capital for years, and receives a good salary.
“The living situation at home is not good, even though my father is working, so we have to beg and collect money to buy food,” Muhammad told “New Arab,” as he stood far from his mother.
About how to dispose of the large quantities of food he collects with his mother, Muhammed says: “We sell bread to our neighbors at half the price, and they gladly take it from us. As for food, we take what we need from it, and give the rest to neighbors or other poor people The most important thing for us is to have food for the family, and some money to pay the rent, electricity and other needs.”
As for his mother, she says: “The bad situation in our family forced us to go around and collect food and money. The needs of our family, which includes five children, of whom Ahmed is the eldest, are many, and every woman from my years (44 years old) would like to leave the house not for work, but for collecting food and money from people?
The main problem of Ahmed’s mother, who belongs to the Pashtun tribe, which normally does not allow women to leave the house, even to bring basic necessities, is that her husband is a drug addict, and she spends everything she earns from work with the entrepreneur on bringing drugs and feeding herself. , while he kept his wife with her five children without food or clothing, forcing her to beg on the street.


A beggar in Karachi (Amir Qureshi/AFP)

Likewise, the child Safdar Khan, whose family lives in the Haripur region (northwest), wanders around restaurants with a jug and cups of green tea in his hands and asks customers to buy green tea from him, and when no one buys from him, he begs and asks help. This is one of the traditional ways of begging in the way of trying to sell something that cannot be bought, so that people will sympathize with him and give him some money.
The child, Safdar Khan, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “My father died of tuberculosis, and my mother cannot work, because my uncles do not allow her to leave the house, so she prepares a pot of green tea for me, so I go out in the morning and wander around until evening, and eat breakfast and lunch wherever possible.” My food is provided by restaurants or people who help me even if they don’t buy green tea from me.”
Azizullah, who owns a well-known restaurant in Quetta’s JT district and serves food 24 hours a day, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “Many drug addicts come to that place and take money under the pretext that some beggars may need money, especially after the recent floods, and there are also many who engage in begging as a profession that earns money in that way.

Thousands of Pakistanis live in tents due to floods (Muhammad Ugurlu/Anatolia)


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For his part, social activist Muhammad Amer Khan told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, “Most beggars are not in need, and behind this phenomenon are gangs who collect children from villages and rural areas and bring them to cities to use them in collecting money, part of which you give them as a daily wage and take the rest. The police and security guards are also involved in the phenomenon, who take their share from the gangs, but the government is silent about everything that happens, and the phenomenon also leads to numerous social problems, including theft and immoral acts which especially apply to women and children, and helping addicts is an encouragement for them, and it is a mistake to cooperate with them.”
In general, the population of Pakistan, especially in the northwestern regions, has been facing acts of violence by gunmen on the main streets for some time now. Residents organized protests asking the authorities to resolve the security situation. Recently, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif stated that security risks have increased in the northwest of the country, especially in the Swat Valley. He blamed the local government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (northwest), led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, which is currently opposed to the government, noting that “the central government will do its best to establish security in the northwest of the country, but the first responsibility lies with the local government.”

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