Pakistan: Beggars belong “behind bars”

August 18, 2011

Take note, dear readers, of the marvelous social justice of Islam.  The Pakistan Observer is calling for professional beggars in Islamabad and Rawalpindi to be imprisoned.  Meanwhile, Western newspapers tell us that Ramadan is a time of “peace and generosity.”  OK, enjoy Ramadan in jail, beggars!

The Observer also editorializes that the “growing number of beggars, in fact, makes mockery of schemes like Zakat and Ushr system, Pakistan Baitul Maal, Benazir Income Support Programme and Waseela-e-Haq.”  At least that part is a true statement.  With as many purported welfare and zakat programs as Pakistan operates, both officially run by the government and informally conducted by “charitable” organizations, one would expect fewer, not more beggars.

But as we’ve noted before, more zakat = more poverty.

Menace of beggary

A latest report has brought into sharp focus the menace of beggary in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi especially in the context of the holy month of Ramazan, as professional beggars are swarming every nook and corner of the two cities but the police and administration are least bothered to take any action against them.

The report points out that the situation has become so much worrisome that attractive business locations are covertly auctioned allegedly by corrupt elements in police and other concerned departments for large sums of money called ‘Bhatta’ (extortion). Their activities at road-crossings have also become a hazard for smooth flow of traffic and sometime lead to mess and even fatal accidents. Though the report speaks about the twin cities but similar scenes are also common in other towns and cities where professional beggars have made lives of the people miserable. There are also reports that some of these professional beggars are also part of the networks of thieves and dacoits as they gather information about possible victims and targets and either pass on to these networks or indulge in criminal activities themselves. There are two aspects of the problems of beggary — professionals whose only mission is to mint money and many of them earn more than hardworking businessmen; and those who are forced to beg because of abysmal poverty and lack of economic or employment opportunities. As for the first category, the authorities should show no flexibility and send them behind the bars while data of others should be collected and necessary financial assistance provided to them to start their own businesses or receive cash assistance in cases where no family member of the beggar is in a position to do any business. Growing number of beggars, in fact, makes mockery of schemes like Zakat and Ushr system, Pakistan Baitul Maal, Benazir Income Support Programme and Waseela-e-Haq.

See Money Jihad‘s prior coverage here of Karachi’s anti-beggar crackdown.

One comment

  1. Update: Zakat recipients in Brunei are told: getta job!

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