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Fleeting moments

July 21, 2020

Exodus to cities

Opinion

July 21, 2020

The movement of people from backward areas to main cities has increased at an alarming level. As a result, large cities are expanding haphazardly and turning unmanageable, especially in terms of civic amenities.

Were people in the backward areas provided with basic facilities to earn their livelihood, educate their children, and get medical care, they won’t have to leave their hearth and home where they were born and brought up.

People from the Seraiki belt move to larger cities in search of employment. District Dera Ghazi Khan being less developed, many of its young men are found doing odd jobs in mega cities. Artisans of various types and construction labourers from backward areas are found aplenty in main cities.

It’s no revelation that a wide class disparity exists in our society. The poverty line is creeping upwards with time. But in affluent residential areas the situation is entirely different. Were a foreigner to visit any of the wealthy suburbs of any major city, the only question he would likely ask: Where is poverty. Poverty afflicts the less (or un)developed areas of the country. Drive deep into any of the far-flung areas of D G Khan and you would find many walking bare feet with their bellies, eyes, and cheeks sunken.

Vast tracts of land in the district lie barren because of scarcity of water. The only source of water for lands unirrigated by canals is the seasonal rainfall on the Sulieman Mountain Range. The torrential rains on the mountains result in flooding the waterways known in the area as hill torrents. In the absence of small dams, this natural source of water cannot be stored to irrigate parched lands throughout the year.

When huge land mass remains unproductive, the people have no choice but to move to bigger cities in search of livelihood. A vibrant nation would have never allowed such large areas to remain unused. For instance, on the sandy tracts along both sides of the road from Pul Qambar town to Taunsa – CM Usman Buzdar’s home tehsil, industrial zones could have been established with incentives given to entrepreneurs. Not only the lands could have been profitably used, commercial and industrial activities could have generated employment opportunities for the locals.

Seraiki poetry is well known. People find it touching and melancholic. But alongside the local poetry, imparting of vocational education is most important.

During the 1970s, many from D G Khan and surrounding districts went to the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia to find employment. Some of them returned loaded with money but instead of investing in industrial ventures, they spent lavishly on building large houses. Some brought Saudi investment to construct big mosques with madressahs attached to them to impart religious education. As a result, religious education is common in the district but modern and vocational education enabling one to earn livelihood not so. Quite a few in D G Khan appear in Saudi Thobes (white cloak) and Ghutras (headgear). They converse in Seraiki and pride themselves in being addressed as Hajis. The elderly among them are chosen to settle family feuds. Life in the sleepy district goes on.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]