Animal carcasses rotting away in the middle of the street are a common sight in Pakistan. Both the people who hit these animals and those passing by everyday don’t have the basic decency to at least move the poor animal out of the way. Imagine the sheer callousness required to look at death and suffering and feel nothing. Except that there is no need to overextend your imagination here, since the vast majority of us are exactly that type of callous. Animal abuse is rampant in Pakistan, whether it’s lions tortured to death by zookeepers or dogs hung from trees. These incidents aren’t isolated, take a look at the Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation’s (ACF) social media and you will find abused animals needing to be rescued every single day. In fact, just step outside your house and you’ll see children pelting stray dogs with stones, for no reason. The fact that even children are complicit in this abuse and often treat it as a fun activity shows that the rot of cruelty has spread throughout our society.
We have become a dangerous people—a threat, not just to the unfortunate animals of this country but also to each other.
Every layer of society is united in its disdain and mistreatment of animals. Government culling programs that inhumanely and ineffectively poison or shoot stray dogs are lauded by everyone. As the existence of these unfortunate animals is an inconvenience, either their barking is too loud or they’re an eyesore in posh housing enclaves. Painful deaths are meted out to these animals for petty reasons, and it is considered a job well done. Barely anyone, least of all the government, stops to think that there might be a better way to control the stray population, like investing in Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) programmes which have been proven to be successful worldwide. And that is because it wasn’t really ever about that, rather it is a manifestation of our cruelty. It is just another avenue for people to lash out and take out their frustration on the easiest available target. This is a pattern which extends past animal abuse, women, children and religious minorities also routinely fall victim to this. Think of how we hear of a rape, a kidnapping or killing every day, without fail. There is an epidemic of violence and cruelty in this country.
Perhaps all this needless cruelty is a response to the frustration of living in a country like Pakistan. We have been besieged by terrorism, poverty and a whole host of unending problems which make it difficult to survive. I admit that one cannot survive in Pakistan if their heart isn’t hardened a little. Growing up amidst bomb blasts and strife, with an endless parade of tragedies on TV you learn to shut yourself off from the world. If you didn’t become inured to a certain level of misery of and violence you would fall apart.
The fact that even children are complicit in this abuse and often treat it as a fun activity shows that the rot of cruelty has spread throughout our society.
But, we have crossed far past the point of self preservation and lost all respect for life. We do not respect the sanctity of life, human or otherwise. A lifetime of feeling insecure and having to fend for ourselves have left us without a shred of compassion to extend to anyone or anything outside of ourselves. We rise to violence at the slightest provocation. Even our solutions to things are violent in nature. There’s been a horrific rape, then let’s hang the rapist. Someone was caught stealing, then beat them to death. We have become reactionary and short sighted. We refuse to really think and do the work required to solve systemic problems, because people who have been trained to into feeling threatened operate on survival mode, and it is inherently selfish. But we cannot continue this way. Psychological studies have shown that people who abuse or kill animals are deeply disturbed and often go on to hurt human beings too. The proof of this can be seen in Pakistan. We have become a dangerous people—a threat, not just to the unfortunate animals of this country but also to each other. If we continue being cruel and indifferent we will rip each other apart. We need to unlearn this selfish mentality that we have cultivated, and be a little kinder lest we destroy everyone and everything still living in this country.