Last Updated: March 2006
Pakistan can be a difficult place for minorites. People who have wealth, also have power and wield it indiscriminantly. Landlords often abuse their rights, officials are easily bribed and the Government is powerless to stop it all!
On the banks of the River Indus live three tribes of people. They are the Kihal, Musali and Ode. Most of the day they fish on the river or move from place to place with their culture and livestock. Unfortunately that life is now threatened.
Before 1947, these tribes used to migrate among the common lands (or 'commons') as established by the British. In the chaos that followed that fateful year, the rich claimed the lands for themselves and the Kihal, Musali and Ode have suffered ever since. It's a typical case of the rich winning over the poor. The Government of Pakistan has now classified the tribes as a 'floating population' (i.e. nomadic), which means they have no citizenship in Pakistan. Furthermore, they have no right to vote and are at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords, developers and a contract fishing system that doesn't account for them.
Kihals live on the banks of the River Indus. Like many poor folk, their lives are simple. They fish, burn local wood and earn money by making home appliances or bird cages (tokery). All have their own beliefs but classify themselves as Muslims.
Musali are desert dwellers from the Thal region in Southern Pakistan . After the Thal canal was built they were forcefully moved to urban slums where most now live. Their living depends on making toys and household items from natural products near their homes.
Lastly are the Ode Rajpoot. Originally this community migrated from India. They are a peaceful nomadic people but their origin means they have no property claim in Pakistan.
If these people had citizenship, they'd have a voice. If they had a voice, they could fight and have a chance. DAMAAN is an organization fighting to give them that chance. The NGO organizes awareness festivals and meetings with councilors. They push the Government continuously and are slowly making ground. Indus people need equality and at least the right to live. Nobody could ask for more.
Presently DAMAAN is lobbying for:
- Rights of the Kihals to fish
- Rights of the people to live
- Allotment of lands to the minorities that nobody can intrude on/near the River Indus
- The right of the Minorities children to have an education.
Because these people are not registered as 'citizens' of Pakistan they have no right to an education. Because they have no education, they have no knowledge of their rights or how to gain them. DAMAAN is a crucial organization that works tirelessly for these people and has been a keen vocal supporter of this ride and Education for All since the start. I can understand why.
DAMAAN are currently looking for "sustainable funding for our existing schools and for opening 3-4 schools in the remote areas for children of indigenous riverine and mountain communities." They are seeking donors who are willing to support such schools. If you would like to support DAMAAN, please contact Wasim Wagha at DAMAAN's contact email addresses given below.
Email: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org