August 16, 2010
Killing pigs in Pakistan
At The Express Tribune we’ve dispatched reporters from our small team to cover the floods that hit Pakistan about two weeks ago. And the strangest of stories are coming in. One that Fawad Ali Shah filed from Khairpur in upper Sindh was that young men were killing pigs.
Not cops. No that lingo doesn’t swing here. Actual pigs. Wild boar actually. The animals are a menace for villagers because they eat crops and destroy stored produce. Fawad, who went to Khairpur from Karachi, hopped a ride with a navy rescue team that went around in a boat. They found some young men who had stayed back in one abandoned village. The women and children and elderly had been sent to safer ground already, thankfully. These boys kept some rations and hung out in the half-submerged village because the flooding had brought the pigs out in the open. Fortunately the men had a place to stay because their houses were built on slightly elevated ground.
These men keep dogs specifically for protection against the pigs. Fawad saw them having a stroll with them on Monday and when he asked, they replied to his amazement that they had deliberately stayed back so that they could catch the pigs once and for all. That, I suppose is the sweetest revenge.
Another great story, from our Express News television channel came from reporter Rehan Hashmi who found an elderly woman who had arrived at one of the relief camps set up in Karachi. She had threatened her family that she would kill herself in Jacobabad. But get this, not because she had lost everything she owned in the flooding. Because she wanted her hookah.
The cameraman got a great shot of the woman with the hookah, which is perhaps better known as the nargile or water pipe, or if you’re an American college student, a huge bong. Yup. Many women in the countryside, small villages and towns are awfully fond of tobacco. In a way, as I’ve seen it, people sit around in the evenings passing around the hookah and chewing the fat.
We also got some terrible, terrible photographs from our guy Athar Khan. He went to one of the relief camps set up on the outskirts of Karachi and caught a woman and two kids fighting over a bag of flour. I cannot tell you just how many photographs of crying, fly-covered babies have flooded us in the newsroom. Some of my sister’s friends returned from distributing relief in Rahimyar Khan. One of them was a young man, who had four packets of biscuits left. He leaned out of the window of the truck to give it and saw one hundred hands outstretched. He was crying as he told the story.
I basically belong to Sukkur in Sindh but have very weak links to my ‘hometown’. When this flooding hit Sindh I told myself every five minutes that I should go there – not just to take medicines and food – but to write about it. Unfortunately, I need to do my duty at the newspaper. It’s my job to work with the reporters and photographers.
Pakistan is never really going to properly recover from this disaster of epic proportions. Our government is so corrupt that everyone is skeptical that the money for rehabilitation will be properly used. There is talk of the government falling. Someone told me that Chaudhry Nisar will be the new prime minister. Someone reminded me that the cyclone of 1971 had a similar effect.
We spoke to a schoolteacher in Sindh who said that because the schools have been turned into relief camps, kids are obviously not going to start the semester on time. He also said that the displaced people were ruining the schools. They were chopping up its furniture for fire.
Some good news trickled in. The Americans flew in two flights of tent material from the USAID warehouse in Italy. The plastic sheeting is the same kind that became popular with the people displaced by the earthquake in 2005. I remember, at that time, we thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happen to a country already at its knees. Not any more.
(For these stories please visit http://tribune.com.pk and go to the Sindh section)