Islamabad: Begging is flourishing in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad despite operations by police in various areas to curb the menace.
The growing numbers of beggars in the two cities is troubling many residents, who say they are being accosted by beggars at every corner as they go to markets or other public places.
“Whenever you leave your home, you will find beggars in the street, on the road and in the market, using different tactics to compel you to give them money. This causes inconvenience,” said Nosheen, a resident of the satellite town of Rawalpindi.
She said there were many individuals, who deserved charity for genuine reasons but still you get confused whether the person you were giving away money really deserved that or not.
Police official Imran Shah said an anti-beggar squad force had been introduced to deal with begging in Punjab.
“This squad is always available on helpline 15 and people can call to get rid of professional beggars,” he said.
“I think our NGOs should come forward to inculcate self-respect in these wayward souls so that they may start earning livelihood in respectable way instead of [begging] for money,” he suggested.
Nida Waseem, a housewife and mother of four children said beggars annoyed her a lot.
Adeel Shah a general store owner said, “I deal with a number of beggars on a regular basis and give them food at meal times, as I believe we should help them.”
“You cannot get rid of them easily in public places as most of them are rude and thugs,” Saadia Falak, a private schoolteacher, said.
A doctor who identified herself as Hania said she usually has to deal with five to seven beggars daily while travelling from her home to the office.
“But when Eid is round the corner their number also increases. If you don’t fulfil their demands they start cursing you,” she said.
Beggar Nasreen Kallo, a45, said her husband was a drug addict and whatever he earned he spent on drugs.
“I have four kids. How will I feed them if I do not beg?” she asked.
Analysts said the rising number of beggars portrayed a bleak picture for society.
“They can be turned into useful citizens. There are a host of NGOs working on human welfare projects but it is unfortunate they don’t have a proper plan for these beggars,” said Munir Ahmad, a journalist.
When contacted the president of the Pakistan Habib Malek Orakzai (PHIRO) said NGOs needed to come up with plans to improve condition of this segment of society.
“Yes, I do agree that we must do something for them. I will welcome media persons or others to come and sit with us in sorting things out for the betterment of these individuals,” he said.
Tahira Abdullah, a social activist was of the view that it was the responsibility of the government to address this issue.