Giving voice to the voiceless

By Lubna Jaffar Ali Misumi
Fri, 09, 23

Is it really fair to place such a heavy ’price’ on their ‘priceless’ unconditional love?

Giving voice to the voiceless


Once upon a time, we used positive adjectives like sweet, adorable, and loyal when we talked about animals, didn’t we? Well, not anymore! Now, we use words like, ‘item’, ‘luxury’, and ‘non-essential’ for describing them. More than a year ago, the Federal Board of Revenue issued one statutory regulatory order (SRO) applying 50 percent regulatory duty on the import of cat and dog food. If it wasn’t enough, they were further ‘pleased’ to apply sales tax at the rate of 25 percent on import and local supply of four-pawed food in another notification lately. To put it simply, whenever the government authorities have to impose a ban on the import of luxury and non-essential items or slap a higher rate of duty or tax; (in this case both) one ‘item’ which never slips their mind is our cherished four-legged family. These innocent pups and kittens are right away categorized as ‘luxury items’ and ‘non-essential’. Animal lovers not only treat their pets as an essential part of their family but they are, in fact, more attached to them than to even some of their family members as the pets give them unconditional love. Is it really fair to place such a heavy ’price’ on their ‘priceless’ unconditional love?

It is often questioned whether we should be spending our ‘hard-earned’ scarce ‘foreign’ resources on pets or strays when a multitude of families struggle to put food on the table and are starving in the country. The simple answer is no one should be starving. Every living creature on the planet has a right to live. And they have to eat to live. All are Allah’s creatures and each one of us must contribute their share to help those who are in distress. It is not only humans who praise Almighty Allah for the countless blessings that we have but these animals are also conscious of Allah and they praise Him as well. We Muslims are obliged to provide food, water and shelter to any sick, hungry animal that we may across.

Giving voice to the voiceless

While clothes, toys, shampoos, and other grooming products for pets may be seen as indulgences; at least the food products, especially the ‘special food’ items, should get a waiver and get struck off the luxury and non-essential list. There are advocates for home-cooked pet food being the best. There is no denying this fact. The home-cooked food for carnivorous pets may be the healthiest option but it certainly isn’t the cheapest option keeping in view the prevailing cost of poultry and meat in the market. Long gone are the days, when the floofs were owned by affluent people only. These floofs have now found their way into almost every stratum of society. Having a pet or rescuing an animal and taking care of it is not a luxury, it is a mutually beneficial relationship where the pet and the owner both stand to gain from one another.

Studies have well established that pets, in general, improve our health and well-being by eliminating negative feelings and developing in us positive traits.

In Japan, pets are called by their ‘full names’ when they visit a veterinary hospital. The surname of the owner family is added to the pet’s first name. For instance, when my 10-year-old Japanese cat Mickie goes to his vet he is called out as Mickie Misumi. His vaccination and health cards also bear this name. Human names for pets are also gaining popularity. It all depicts how pets are becoming part of the family.

We should also not forget about those sick strays or sick pets that can only be fed special food due to the incurable and chronic ailments they have. As no alternative is available in the local market, a pet owner or a caretaker has to rely on imported food just to keep them alive and healthy. It is lamentable that no local substitutes are available for feeding these sick animals who suffer from heart, kidney, liver ailments, mouth ulcers, gum inflammation, etc. Thousands of seriously sick strays are out on the road uncared for and in dire need of special food. This piece is an earnest appeal to FBR to rationalize the tariff structure and recognize the genuine need of these suffering voiceless beings.

Giving voice to the voiceless

Many of us, whether we own a pet or not, feed the neighborhood street cats and dogs regularly and would much appreciate some kind of relaxation given to the food products so that we can do more to help these tiny paws. Their paws may be little but their love is big. How big can our hearts be for them?

Social media is playing its role adequately in showing the plight of these silent sufferers on various platforms; however, the mainstream media needs to do more. Often, we hear the newsreaders blaring out how the elite ruling classes’ cats and dogs are getting expensive imported food while the poor are not even provided with one roti.

Highlighting the callousness of rulers is one thing, but any message that scoffs at the innocent voiceless creatures as worthless is deplorable. It is high time mainstream media starts highlighting the efforts of ordinary citizens and animal rescue services like ARTS Animal Hospital and many others who are shouldering the responsibility and creating awareness for these voiceless and neglected creatures.

Can the authorities please stop labeling them ‘luxury and non-essential’ and start treating them as a ‘necessity’ for the good of society and make their meals a tad cheaper by rationalizing the duty and tax rates? The authorities must also support small and medium entrepreneurs by giving incentives for setting up plants for the local production of these items. It will not only contribute towards economic development but this diversification will also, at the end of the day, lead to the export of these pet-related goods roping in bucks for our dollar-starved economy.