By Fauzia Chaudhary

April 20, 2009
The number of beggars in the city, Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan has increased to the point that they are now considered a “public nuisance”. The majority of beggars are Afghan refugees. A bunch of them are those who lost limbs during the US attacks on Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. Most beggars come from Afghan refugee camps and other remote areas of the province, including the Swat, Dir, Kohistan, Nowshera, DI Khan districts and the Mohmand, Khyber, North and South Waziristan Agencies.

An NWFP Social Welfare and Women Development Department official seeking anonymity reported that whenever beggars were nabbed, influential people, including ministers, contacted police stations to have them released. He said the public and departments concerned, including police, courts, and ministers, were not cooperating with the department. “Some influential people have professional beggars released from rehabilitation centers,” he added. Police officials claimed that many of the beggars are involved in crimes like drug pushing and theft and the female beggars are usually involved in prostitution. They added that the district and provincial governments have so far failed to solve the problem.

Most people in the city also verified that many child beggars are victim to sexual abuse by fellow beggars, drivers and shopkeepers. Shopkeeper Khanullah Khan said that most female beggars are at times forced into prostituion.

The Daily Times survey found that various contractors also brought groups of beggars to the city from different areas. A district government official said that the provincial government had set up rehabilitation centers to provide education and other facilities to beggars.
“To root out the menace of beggary, both provincial and district governments should set up rehabilitation centers at district levels to impart technical skills to beggars to help them earn their livelihoods.”


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