A letter from the aggrieved and the endangered
March 18, 2020
Post Covid-19 Pakistan
April 5, 2020

Kheaban e Jabal – 1 of 4
A mountain of contradictions.

Tariq Bin Ziyad neither conquered nor resided on this Kheaban e Jabal. The name “Jabal” may have a romantic linkage with the rock that dominates the entrance to the Mediterranean Peninsula and its conquest by Tariq Bin Ziyad in 711 AD. But that is where the similarity ends.

It is the story of an imaginary residential locality. Any similarity to the mountain located at the intersection of Gizri Boulevard and Kheaban e Shamshir of DHA Karachi is entirely incidental. It is in fact the story of every town and community of Pakistan. It is the story of how some mountains or “Jabals” stands out, in sharp contrast, for their prominent elevation, elite inhabitants, palatial residences and insensitive wastages. It is the story of the best and the worst of Pakistan.
It is the story of broad roads, well carpeted, neatly marked and plenty of zebra crossings. All necessary but skewed essentials. It is the story of how the state spends a hugely disproportionate amount of the tax payers’ money to pamper a few dozen rich and influential residents of a locality.
It is a story of how a society pampers its rich and punishes its poor.

 

 

Kheaban e Jabal – 2 of 4
A mountain of too much for too few and too little for too many

Kheaban e Jabals reveal some of the most conspicuous contradictions of our society. It is here that rich and the callous, water their street plants and wash their roads wiith fresh (meetha) water every day. Of course this task is not performed by the residents themselves, but by their numerous employees. At yet other locations, not too far away, the entire families, including old women and children wait for hours to collect a bucket or two, just enough to survive for another day.  

 

 

Kheaban e Jabal – Part 3 of 4

A mountain of chaperoned Labradors, lonely stray dogs and prowling cats.

 

Dogs are known by the masters they keep. A loving master will walk his dog. A rich master will hire a person to do this. Twice a day, the subcontracted walkers and (in some cases motor cyclists) are seen on and around the Jabal with a dog at one end and a sad looking leash holding sub-contractor at the other.

Then there are the unwanted strays. They feed and breed at ‘Katchra kundis’ but sprawl on fancy footpaths. The Sindh government loves this category of dogs and has already ‘spent’ some 5 million Rupees in numerous news paper ads asking citizens to report stray dogs at a specially created ‘Dogs Complaint Cell’. Fortunately for the stray dogs, no one ever picks up this advertised phone number (021099211398).

Supported by plenty of fresh water, the outer walls of most houses, are lined with well manicured plants. In their desire to appear sparkling, many street lights and outer boundary walls remain lighted even during the day time. But the next door empty plot exposes the thin artificial veneer of civility. Here it is back to the Standard Operating procedure – dumped garbage and prowling cats.

 

Kheaban e Jabal – 4 of 4

The mountain where brooms are their only asset.

 

Invisible to the people behind the raised walls and the ivory gates, the streets of Kheaban e Jabal are cleaned by aliens so as to preserve the sanitation and sanity of its elite residents.

No one has ever cared to find who these orange clad, broom carrying creatures really are.  These are taken for granted. No one has ever bothered to find who they are, where do they come from, who is their employer, who pays them, how much is their monthly salary, where do they live and how do they survive a life that was loaded with stuff similar to corona, from the day they were born.

It is high time to uncover the lives of this untouchable, unspeakable, unsocialable, unmentionable species.  They are Homo Sapiens and they are exactly as human in every manner of biology, emotions, pain, happiness, desires and dreams as all those whose streets they clean every day. They perform cleaning and sanitation function of and for the Cantonment Board Clifton. The Cantonment Board has however subcontracted this task to contractors. The contractors receive a huge amount of money (Rs.5 crore per month) but they pay only a paltry sum of Rs.12200 pm to each of their 900 or so janitors. These janitors receive no medical leave, social security, EOBI or safety protective gear. It must be remembered that the minimum Federal wage is Rs,17500. Thus the Clifton Cantonment Board whose responsibility it is to ensure minimum wages, acting illegally, immorally and criminally, pays much less than the legal wages to its 900 or so janitors.

The pittance is akin to modern-day slavery. They are the most exploited untouchable, and abused citizens of Pakistan. They show the ugly face of not just the Cantonment Board Clifton but also of all of us, who by remaining silent have connived in this crime and immorality.

Why must the state indulge and insist on pampering the rich and punishing the poor.

Break your silence.   Raise your voice. Write to CBC and to press. Highlight this injustice. Write to Federal Government and to members of Parliament.