Meet Dungi, a street donkey employed to carry around the load of society waste on itself from the neighbourhood streets. I met this fellow a week ago in intense weather conditions of heavy showers across the city of Lahore. Dungi had slipped its feet in the rainy weather, and because of the heavy load it was carrying, it was unable to stand up back in proper position. It kept retrying this repeatedly and this made it impossible for me to look at the ongoing scenario in a desensitized manner. I rushed towards the donkey and saw his keeper Mohsin, as he told his name, whom I immediately instructed to initially unstrap the poor animal first to allow it to stand firmly on its legs. I, along with my friends explained to him that this is cruelty for them, the same way if someone forces you to carry a whole bag of bricks on your back, without allowing you to speak.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1890 has notable laws and policies regarding the mistreatment of animals, the penalties assigned relevant to this, ranging from the over-loading of animals, inciting them to fight, to killing them with unnecessary cruelty.
This act is not in the constitution of any European or American country, but our very own homeland, Pakistan. It seems surprising at first glance to read an extract such as this from our constitution considering the fact that the way these poor fellows are treated in Pakistan, one wonders whether the rights of these living beings actually exist in our nation. However, this act has been here for centuries, in pre-Pakistan era during the British Colonial Rule but depressingly, it has not been paid much heed to, especially after the independence of Pakistan.
The more grotesque part of it is that many people believe that giving importance to such problems is not significant and it is not a part of the culture that we follow. Despite the fact that these hypocritical locals of the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan very well know that the Quran highlights the rights of animals, the penalty for their mistreatment in many of its verses to specifically avoid this issue. Furthermore, it lays out specific instructions on how to slaughter animals in a way that spares them pain and provides us with meat free of blood and pathogens. Our government is slaughtering animals by shooting them with guns and strychnine poisoning. Reaching this point, what right do we have to call Pakistan an Islamic Republic, unless we mend our ways?
There’s a new dog-fighting trend emerging these days which is originally borrowed from the West (which the west condemns itself too). People with their varieties of hounds, German Shepherds and whatnot gather together, and incite their dogs to fight the tournament. Once a dog has lost a fight, it cannot qualify in any tournament in Pakistan ever again. Bets are placed on the winning parties and this way, people earn cash and entertainment both – only at the cost of these poor animals being forced to mercilessly fight with their opponents. The news report video below gives a clearer image of the dog-fighting scenario in the nation:
There are countless stray or homeless animals throughout our country, particularly from the canine and feline population, which seem to live the most catastrophic lives, often dying either by being hit by a car or from mere starvation. And never has this been ever taken into consideration. Just wonder once, when was the last time you witnessed an inquiry being carried out for the mistreatment of an animal? The answer would be never, of course. Our country fails to provide its own citizens a safe shelter, a humanly treatment, which keeps the mistreatment of animals completely out of the question.
On World Animal Day on 5 October, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani spoke of the religious duty of ours to be concerned for the well-being of animals. He still however failed to shed any light on the animal rights violations that occur in Pakistan. When a supreme entity such as the Prime Minister fails to acknowledge that there even is the existence of a problem, how would anyone ever reach its solution?
However, to every bad thing there’s always an opposing force existent. The Animal Care Association of Pakistan, Pakistan Animal Welfare Society and Edhi Animal Shelter are names of such forces that are working zealously in the country so that the issue of animal rights finally gets the attention that it actually deserves. Numerous vets are emerging in different corners of the country that provide a good service for people’s vets. These points show a ray of positivity in this dark tunnel of cruelty.
Hence, one can only hope for our constitutional laws to be taken seriously one day, with the help of media spreading some awareness of this issue, the methodology of dealing with such issues in the foreign world and how they could be taken as a role model in this plus finally the general public to realize that the rights of animals are not a secondary issue, but as important as the rights of us human beings.