By Amar Guriro
KARACHI: At a time when all the commerce in Karachi is facing a shutdown and there is an acute shortage of basic necessities in the city like food and fuel, no one is finding the going tougher than the street-children of Karachi.
“I have not had a single bite to eat since yesterday morning as I was unable to find anything,” said nineteen-year-old Sajid, whose sustenance comes from the charity given at the shrines and different hotels of Karachi. Sajid was born in Multan. He has four sisters and three brothers. His father was a drug addict who regularly beat his wife and children compelling Sajid to run away from home. He first went to Sukkur but soon found himself living on the streets of Karachi, the commerce capital of Pakistan.
According to the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), there are 25,000 homeless children living on the streets of Karachi.
“These children are either orphans and have no one to look after them or they have fled from their homes because of unbearable living conditions,” SPARC regional manager Akhtar Baloch told Daily Times.
He said these children live near shrines, religious places, and areas with a large number of food shops as they rely on charity. Since most of the hotels have been closed for the last four days and there has been no one visiting the shrines, the street children have been hit hard.
“I hangout with my friends on a small off-street of Burns Road, the food street of Karachi. There are six hotels there where hundreds of the people dine daily and some of them buy us food which last us the whole day,” said Sajid.
Sajid was also unaware of what really happened that caused Karachi to become deserted all of a sudden. He has been moving from place to place looking for some activity (and food), but has had little luck yet.
“After finding the bazaars and shops closed, we (Sajid and his friends) moved to where the big tower [Empress Market tower] is located, but strangely it was as deserted as the rest of the city,” said Sajid.
The Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, where in normal days you can get food round-the-clock, also proved a disappointment for Sajid and his friends and they have been forced to look in the garbage for edible items.