Open Letter

Open Letter

To: The most honourable, most respected,

Sain Syed Murad Ali Shah sahib

Dear Sir,

I know that you have far more pressing issues to deal with than to listen to the pleas of a commoner wanting to draw your kind attention to a matter perhaps beneath your exalted self and office. I am also aware that issues that really matter do not move in the land of Sindh until you get a nod from the ‘House of Bilawal,’ or until you have skilfully manoeuvred to push them through its plush corridors.

But whatever the reality or illusion of the ‘House of Bilawal,’ may be, we, the commoners, know that at least technically all powers now  rest in your able hands — from heading the solid waste management department to running the local bodies through your talented provincial minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah. I have heard that he too hardly does anything worth doing until he is asked to do so by those who clearly have what they believe is the inherent right to advise and direct him. Therefore, I am taking a chance with your gracious self to bring to your kind attention what may be a small issue for you, but which is a big one for most commoners who walk on the streets, ride bicycles or motorcycles and see their children playing in the dirt outside their homes.

I realise that in the middle of fighting grand battles for democracy, struggling to keep the name and legacy of the Bhuttos alive, and defending the much maligned and attacked 18th Amendment etc., you might miss the small daily news reports regarding the rising dog bites cases in the land you rule with the blessings of Sindh’s First Family.

Stray dogs, I understand, may not feature in your list of priorities, your to-do agenda; they may not be an issue for those who are the masters of our fate as they travel in their big vehicles, live in their big houses, walk and jog in some walled park or use treadmills in the safety of their home gyms.

Yes, many of them are dog lovers and care more about their pets than about the wretched of Sindh.  Kindness to animals is unarguably commendable. But Sir, their love for dogs and their advocacy for animal rights — like many other good things they enjoy in life — is also being done at our expense. At the expense of commoners, street children, the homeless, daily wage labourers and the like, who are as much in danger from the bites of stray dogs, as they are from street criminals, fast-moving VIP cavalcades and speeding trucks.

Do you know that in 2019, there were around 195,761 dog-bite cases in Sindh, as a result of which several people lost their lives? In 2020, canine-bite cases crossed the 235,000 mark, killing more than two dozen people. And in just the first two months of 2021, dog-bite cases already number several thousand. Many children, who survive the attacks by stray dogs, will carry the scars of their bites all their lives.

But perhaps five and six figure numbers are too minuscule to grab your attention. We know you have bigger numbers to play with, amounting to billions and beyond. We, the commoners, can’t even imagine, let alone count those kinds of figures. Our submission, our prayer is a small one: in as humane a manner as possible, save us from the bites of stray dogs, some of whom may even be rabid.

Is that too much to ask from an illustrious son of Sindh like you? And if, God forbid, even this decision is not your call, then we hope that you can plead our case in the ‘House of Bilawal.’

Yours truly,  

A commoner of Sindh

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