By Zafar Iqbal
A jobless Pakistani citizen has offered his ‘eye for sale’ to feed his poor family.
The Pakistan government has declined to reinstate his job where he claims he was sacked illegally, forcing him to take an unusual act of selling one of his eyes. Raja Iftikhar, 57, a resident of remote village located in Sudhanoti District of Pakistani controlled Azad Kashmir region left his house to meet the Prime Minister in the southern Mirpur city in Pakistani Kashmir.
Mirpur is one of the richest cities of the country, being the hometown of one million prosperous expatriate Pakistani-Kashmiris settled in the UK. It is also called as ‘Mini England’ as it controls one-third of total liquid assets held by overseas Pakistanis.
Raja was unable to meet the premier who was out from the town due to his already planned executive appointments in other cities.
“Yet nobody bothered to help me when I was wondering on the streets of this wealthy town where over 371,000 people live,” Raja says.
Except an artist who donated the poster to the poor man considering that it may attract the attention of the people or government
“Now I want to sale one of my eyes to nourish myself and my children because I don’t have any permanent source of income after the slaughter of my employment,” says the poster written in Urdu language.
The placard also explains the summary of the details of the circumstances which led to this extraordinary offer.
“I have been protesting in the streets but not body bothered to help me, so I returned home as I can’t walk on the roads without proper food”, Raja says.
Raja’s two-day protest in Pakistan’s wealthiest city went unnoticed by the public and government as well.
In Pakistan this is first of its kind, where a person has offered a priceless organ such as an eye. That said, in the past, media has reported the cases of poor people who offer and sell their organs, such as kidneys, because of utter destitution and severe financial problem.
A father of six children this former government worker was terminated from a public sector department where he served for over 15 years.
“My unkind employer and careless government even did not acknowledge my great sacrifice which I made for them by performing my job honestly,” Raja says.
According to Raja, he lost three of his fingers of left hand working on a drill machine to dismantle rocks in the construction of a road where he was working as mechanic.
All of his six children were enrolled in schools in the past, however, administrations of their schools expelled them from the classes because these unfortunate students could not afford books and uniforms, which are compulsory for every student to have in the learning hours.
“I miss my school where I was studying four subjects,” says his twelve-year old son, Suhail, recalling the memories of school life where, according to him his teacher was ‘good’ but ‘punished him many times because he did not have notebooks of few subjects’.
The boy says that he wants to help his father and siblings, but he is too young. “I don’t think so anybody can give me job because they will think I am very weak for the work.”
His elder sister Shabana says that this is fasting month of Ramadan when in our neighbor fellow Muslims are eating verity of foods. “However, we have to sleep without food occasionally.”
His father appealed to the government to reinstate his job so that he ‘at least can afford food for his children’.
“I know that I was forced to leave my job without any legal reason. Though, I can’t prove this in the courts because who will pay the fee of solicitors?” notes Raja.
Pakistan, where Raja’s family struggles with sheer deprivation and social injustice celebrated its 65th Independence Day this week. And like rest of the Muslim across the world its Muslims population is preparing the festival of Eid-ul-Fiter to enjoy the happy end of Ramadan, traditionally famous for generous deeds among followers of Islam, mainly concentrating the help to the downtrodden people.
On the other hand, mounting unemployment caused by dormant businesses struck by the enormous energy crisis, unfavorable law and order situations and growing inflation have badly affected a large majority of population. Numbers of people living below the poverty line have increased with alarming pace.
Global Finance magazine – a New York based international publication ranks Pakistan at 50 numbers amongst total 182 countries in its poverty index “The Poorest Countries in the World”.
The Pakistan government with the help of international aid agencies is working a mega project for poverty alleviation by reaching and helping those families who cannot afford decent life.
The government says it has completed its nationwide poverty survey and identified more than five million families eligible for receiving an assistance of Rs 1,000($10) per month-probably a peanut amount in response of rising price- hike in the country.
Sadly, the name of Raja is not in the list of recipients of the government aid, which surely validate the accusations of the critics who believe that the welfare funds are being poured among the pockets of sympathizers of ruling Pakistan Propels Party (PPP), which came in the power four years ago with the promise to provide ‘food, clothe and home’ to every citizen. Nevertheless painful stories of the victims of poverty and bad governance demonstrate that there is a long journey to provide a decent livelihood to the citizens of this country.