Cruel cor­rup­tion

The Pak Banker - - Front Page - Masood Hasan

Iguess there must be other nations too which ex­hibit the same level of cru­elty to an­i­mals as we do with­out fail but when one das­tardly act is re­peated by an­other in Pak­istan, it be­comes dif­fi­cult to ra­tio­nalise things. The hor­ri­ble way in which over 7,000 Aus­tralian sheep were re­cently butchered on the ut­terly false and self-serv­ing or­ders of the gov­ern­ment of Sindh must jolt this na­tion, par­tic­u­larly its greedy and ut­terly cor­rupt of­fi­cials who are re­gally in­dif­fer­ent to the dam­age they have in­flicted. Our trade re­la­tions with the rightly in­dig­nant Aus­tralians have taken a nose­dive. As usual a blan­ket of lies now cov­ers the crime. As is the hal­lowed tradition here, those who were guilty of mer­ci­less sheep-slaugh­ter and per­sonal prof­i­teer­ing have va­por­ised. Ac­count­abil­ity? You must be jok­ing. What’s 7,000 sheep any­way? Oops sorry, we slaugh­tered them. Didn’t they have an­thrax?

The Pak­istan Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals 1890 – has it not been up­graded? It is al­ready 122 years old – states that ‘if any per­son kills any an­i­mal in an un­nec­es­sar­ily cruel man­ner, he shall be pun­ished....’and yet this law is flouted day and night, with hardly any­one ever ‘brought to book.’ Of the 20,468 sheep im­ported from Aus­tralia, the 7,667 al­legedly suf­fer­ing from an­thrax (a fab­ri­ca­tion) were culled on Sindh gov­ern­ment’s or­ders by slit­ting their throats, stab­bing or club­bing them. Shock­ing video footage aired in Aus­tralia showed many an­i­mals were still alive when they were thrown into trenches. Peo­ple who have seen this are sim­ply hor­ri­fied and are led to won­der what kind of beasts pop­u­late this coun­try called Pak­istan?

A long process es­tab­lished that the sheep were in 100 per­cent good health, as tests at the es­tab­lished and rep­utable Pir­bright In­sti­tute over­seas spe­cial­is­ing in in­fec­tious dis­eases in farm an­i­mals, ver­i­fied. It is now es­tab­lished that un­der­ly­ing po­lit­i­cal/profit-based mo­ti­va­tions of some of­fi­cials and el­e­ments in the me­dia led these peo­ple to gen­er­ate a pub­lic scare. A pub­lic scare was thus cre­ated, en­abling the culling ‘in the pub­lic in­ter­est.’

About 7,000 sheep thus lost their lives in a blood­bath en­acted by the faith­ful. Since then the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment has ex­pressed its hor­ror and con­cern to the high­est level – our prime min­is­ter – who told his coun­ter­part re­cently: ‘I will look into it’. In Pak­s­peak that reads, ‘we will do noth­ing’.

Back here, the buck is pass­ing fu­ri­ously like a hot potato from one of­fi­cial to an­other and one ve­nal depart­ment to the next. I am told this en­tire mat­ter falls within the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Fed­eral Quar­an­tine Depart­ment which had slept through all this. The Na­tional Ve­teri­nary Lab­o­ra­tory should have been in­volved, but be­came mute overnight. The en­tire be­hav­iour and at­ti­tude in Pak­istan was pro­fes­sion­ally in­ex­cus­able and the blood of 7,000 in­no­cent sheep is on their hands. I must con­fess this sounds more like cuckoo-talk. What are we re­ally talk­ing about? No one that trig­gered the whole thing off has so far been charged or ar­rested, and they won’t be.

The Trade De­vel­op­ment Author­ity of Pak­istan (TDAP) rolled their eyes and pro­fessed ig­no­rance. The Min­istry of Com­merce feigned to­tal sur­prise but re­mem­bered enough to pass the buck to the Min­istry of Food Se­cu­rity & Re­search, whose Sec­re­tary Sahib Ba­hadur Al­lah Buksh Lehri said a ‘fresh team of tech­ni­cal ex­perts has been con­sti­tuted.’ Is the first team ex­hausted or tainted or both? Mr Lehri ob­vi­ously won’t an­swer that one. And so this too shall pass. We know the black sheep but no one will be awarded the pu­n­ish­ment they de­serve. It is clear that cor­rup­tion, in­ef­fi­ciency and greed were at the bot­tom of this scan­dal, which will have a grave im­pact on our trade re­la­tions with Aus­tralia and fur­ther dam­age us glob­ally.

My heart goes out to those in­no­cent sheep, who en­dured the long ship jour­ney, and days of wait­ing at ports, fi­nally ar­riv­ing in Killing Coun­try. I can and do be­lieve the wan­ton cru­elty that we must have ex­hib­ited be­cause that is the essence of the peo­ple we are now. Pic­tures and sto­ries of how the large an­i­mals are brought down and killed with great cru­elty abound but we choose to be in­dif­fer­ent. Our na­tional at­ti­tude to an­i­mals is well known. Our visionary so­lu­tion to ra­bies is to shoot stray dogs! Many die of in­juries and pain. Time and again gov­ern­ments have been im­plored to fol­low the sci­en­tific and hu­mane sys­tem adopted else­where in the world, but it’s like talk­ing to a large and stupid rock. There is no an­swer.

Bear and dog fights abound all over the land and gam­bling is ram­pant. The an­i­mals are maimed, griev­ously hurt and die painfully but there is no end to the plight of their kind. Bears, teeth ex­tracted, chained and at­tacked by sav­age and hun­gry dogs? Is this sport? Snakes and mon­goose spec­ta­cles are crowd pullers and even cock-fights draw large crowds. In all these, the ones who suf­fer are the an­i­mals and birds. Hun­dreds of an­guished com­plaints have re­sulted in noth­ing. What kind of de­mented blood-lust is this? En­ter­tain­ment for the masses?

Look at the way we trans­port chick­ens across our cities? Does any­one ever protest? And our zoos should be a blot on our con­science. The Lahore Zoo broke all sale records last Eid but how fare the an­i­mals? Zoos should be abol­ished and an­i­mals put on dis­play in open lands, not con­fined to nar­row, dirty and bro­ken cages. But that won’t hap­pen. For years some of us have writ­ten col­umns, filed re­ports, and ex­horted chief min­is­ters – with no re­sult. We have set a new record this year by is­su­ing 30 hunt­ing per­mits. Our brethren will be ar­riv­ing soon, if not al­ready here, and the killing will start. The Houbara Bus­tard, an en­dan­gered species (don’t the wildlife folks have any shame left?) will reg­is­ter an­other dras­tic fall? An eye­wit­ness ac­count says that when the our brethren arrive in Rahim Yar Khan, it is like the ar­rival of ex­trater­res­tri­als. The night skies are filled with big birds as plane af­ter plane lands. Hun­dreds of our ‘broth­ers’. Thou­sands of grov­el­ling shame­less Pak­ista­nis. No gov­ern­ment has ever had the moral courage to take a prin­ci­pled stand.

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