Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 19th, 2018

Poverty; a Lingering Disease

One will be taken aback by seeing the nomadic and homeless, sleeping at nights in open space of Pole Sokhta in Kabul City. They live in social isolation, without homes or shelter.  Extreme poverty is their share of life. Pole Sokhta is the place for Afghan drug addicts. It is a bitter fact to be admitted that these vagrants are all on drugs. Most of them are of the younger generation who took refuge in neighboring countries due to Afghanistan’s economic problems and during our decades of war. Upon returning to the country soon after the fall of Taliban’s regime and the establishment of a democratic government, they did not have the national support-base to re-settle and prosper.  Presently, they live in poor conditions bereft of very basic facilities of life.
Poverty is at its peak and has affected a large number of people across the country. There are large groups of beggars, of both genders, in Kabul city. Many other folk too, can hardly make ends meet in spite of laboring all day. There are some breadwinners who are hawking minor objects such as plastic bags, socks, sweaters, bracelets, cigarettes, phone cards, etc. from dawn to dusk just to earn a morsel of bread for their families. Meanwhile, there are gangs of workmen who collect early morning with their working tools, waiting to be engaged on a daily-wage. This work force is much larger than is the demand for their labor. Hence, it is beyond doubt that there is a direct connection between poverty and unemployment.
Regarding poverty, some are of the opinion that it is a result of man’s laziness. Other sociologists believe that poverty is a structural defect in society. Perhaps there is a bit of truth in both points of view. In some cases, one’s poverty originates in the fact that one chooses to live in a deprived and secluded areas were job opportunities do not exist. Thus, such a lifestyle will certainly have a negative impact on person’s economic prospects. Generally, the chances of obtaining a job, is more promising if one is better educated. Skills are in demand. So the have-nots are deprived of education, skills and work-opportunities.
Lewis (1961), a famous sociologist, argues that the culture of poverty exists amongst many poor people. According to him, poverty is not the result of one’s disqualification or inability rather it is the result of social and cultural atmosphere in which the poor children get socialized. This passes to the next generation and they will come their expectations of a better life is a dream. Ultimately, they will succumb to poverty and a low morale.
Charles Murray (1984), an American sociologist, extends the hypothesis of culture of poverty. According to him, the case of those who are involved in poverty due to adverse circumstances, such as widows, orphan children or the disabled falls in one category. He talks of a ‘dependency culture’ among the poor who rely on government’s charity rather than going out to work. Murray argues that the affluence of welfare-oriented governments has created a subculture which subdues ambitions and the push towards self-help. Such  welfare policies  has uprooted  the interest in  work-ethics  from some  people. Whether this theory is acceptable or not is for the readers to judge. I am not going to pass judgment on this matter.
Let us examine the condition of some of our youths who suffer badly in Kabul. The odorous smell of Pole Sokhta disturbs passersby. It is nauseating. These vagrants have spoilt the environment and this is the filthiest part of the city.  It is a safe haven for addicts and peddlers of drugs; a breeding place for crime. As a result, at night the vagrants, who are also addicted, wander the city searching for something to eat and it does not matter for them how and where it is obtained. Mostly, they try to steal from the stores or hotels, implore people for money or pick their pockets.
To our chagrin, the government so far has not taken any visible steps in this civic matter. It is the responsibility of the government to help the citizens and do its best to decrease the poverty. In addition, the task of sanitation and cleanliness of cities also belong to government officials and they will have to prevent the citizens in any possible way from polluting the city. Otherwise if this trend further continues, it will certainly threaten people’s lives.
One of the serious challenges in the country which has also turned into an international challenge is the issue of drug. It is said that one million people die per year around the world due to Afghanistan’s drug production and smuggling. Meanwhile, it also draws our people towards addiction. Drug addiction leads to further poverty. There are rumors that Taliban militants are also fed through the income which is earned by drug and that is why they never take action in this matter. Narcotic drugs are forbidden in Islam. Hence, presently taking action against poppy cultivation is the urgent need of the country. It is a menace not only to our country but also to all neighboring countries. In other words, drugs threaten the life of our youths, cause poverty, energize terrorist and lead to the death of millions of people on one way or another. This issue is getting more serious than the issue of terrorism. It is a bitter pill for government to swallow.
This system has always been rampant in Afghanistan that the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Considering the lack of concern of Afghan government officials in this matter, analysts are of the view that this trend will continue for many years and people will not get rid of the triangle of tragedies which are drugs, terrorism and poverty.