Shafaqna Pakistan:With over 630 cases being reported from across the province on average per day, dog-bites became the latest source of contention between the opposition and the treasury benches in the Sindh Assembly on Monday.
The former accused the government of negligence and apathy, while the latter simply refuted the allegations, claiming the figures to be false. Amid the uproar, the house echoed with slogans of “Sharam karo, doob maro [Have some shame, go drown],” and “Sindh se kutee bhagao, Sindh ko bachao [Evict dogs from Sindh, save Sindh].”
Opposition members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who had brought placards inscribed with various slogans and photos of children mauled by dogs, protested in the house when a few Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPAs called the opposition leader, Fridous Shamim Naqvi, a liar.
Naqvi, on a point of order, had raised the issue of the rising number of dog-bite cases and alleged that PPP ministers and members were negligent and remained mum over the issue. Seeking the deputy speaker, Rehana Lghari’s permission, Naqvi drew the attention of the house towards the horrific incident in Larkana, where around six stray dogs mauled a minor boy, who was later shifted to a Karachi hospital in critical condition, without the help of the Sindh government.
“The boy was attacked by dogs, but unfortunately, he did not receive first-aid or treatment from the local health authorities.
They did not even provide an ambulance to the boy’s parents to shift him to Karachi,” said Naqvi, adding that in the last 10 months, around 186,579 people have been attacked by stray dogs in Sindh. Naqvi was quoting statistics of reported cases collected by the health department, which has been updated till October 21. The figure, as of today, is expected to have crossed 200,000.
When The Express Tribune reached out to the provincial director-general for health services, Dr Masood Solangi, for comment about the uptick in the number of cases, he said that the actual number of victims may be double the reported figure. “At least half the victims never show up at hospitals and are treated by quacks, local private doctors or pirs,” he explained.
In the assembly, Naqvi implored the lawmakers to seriously discuss the issue. “This matter is of public importance and all members in this house should be worried, but I am sad to say that the treasury members are silent and don’t utter a sin
gle word about it,” he said. “It looks like the government does not exist. Where are the anti-rabies vaccines and what efforts you have made to deal with the issue?” While he was speaking, however, PPP MPAs kept challenging the statistics and shouting, “Wrong, wrong.” Haleem Adil Shaikh and other MPAs from the PTI ranks also stood up and protested the PPP lawmakers’ remarks. “Our children in all districts of Sindh are under attack by stray dogs and they are not allowing us to talk on this important issue,” said Shaikh, who was holding a placard in his hand. The deputy speaker was, however, unmoved and warned Shaikh and the other PTI members to take their seats or she would adjourn the session. No lawmaker from the treasury or opposition benches heeded Leghari’s
warning and the chaos continued in the house, which compelled the deputy speaker to adjourn the session till today (Tuesday). After this, the PTI MPAs chanted, “Saara budget khagae, bhagae bhagae.” Speaking to the media after the session, opposition leader Naqvi expressed dismay over the government’s attitude and for not allowing him to speak on the important issue. He added that they would continue raising the issue of dog attack incidents in the assembly. “We will expose the government’s policy and its failure to deal with this sensitive issue,” he added.