Isle of dogs: Pakistan fishermen feed islands full of strays

This file photo shows Pakistani fisherman Abdul Aziz giving food to dogs on Dingy Island in Karachi on April 3, 2018. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP)
Updated 24 June 2018

Isle of dogs: Pakistan fishermen feed islands full of strays

KARACHI: More than a dozen decrepit dogs splash into the Arabian Sea as the small wooden boat approaches. They know the fishermen’s mission: bringing food and water for the canine population of one of Karachi’s “dog islands.”
The boat, powered by an old jeep engine, stops when the water is still waist-high, two fishermen jumping from it to wade ashore the low, barren, waste-covered beach, whose only inhabitants are barking their welcome.
The island, known as Dingy or Buddo, is one of dozens populated by dogs that line the shore south of the sprawling port megacity.
Conservative figures estimate the feral dog population of Karachi could number up to 35,000.
With animal rights at their nadir and religious sentiment in the Muslim country partly to blame for a prejudice against dogs, the figures spark a brutal culling each year that sees bodies pile up in the streets, rotting in the sweltering heat as they wait to be bulldozed away.
The islands, despite their lack of food and fresh water, have become a sanctuary, an alternative where estimates suggest hundreds of dogs avoid the cull.
But their survival depends almost entirely on the supplies brought to them by Karachi’s fishermen as they trawl the coast.
“We see them standing at the shore of the island in hope of food from us. So we feel their silent call,” says Abdul Aziz, a 30-year-old fisherman, after feeding the dogs on Dingy Island some pancakes and water left over from their own supplies.
It is not known for sure who first brought dogs to the islands, but fishermen believe they were transported by villagers along the coastal areas seeking to save them from the cull.
Sometimes they scavenge dead fish that float ashore, or smaller animals on the outcrops. In desperation, they have been known to turn on each other for survival, the fishermen say.
With no fresh water source, compelled by thirst, they have also been known to drink the brackish water that forms in pools along the island shores, underscoring the urgency of the fishermen’s mission.
On Dingy Island, the dogs leap around Aziz and his colleague Mohammad Dada, standing on their hind legs and pawing at the pair in the scramble for food and water.
Puppies are overrun by the larger dogs. But the kind fishermen make sure even the smallest get a share.
“A human being is nothing without humanity,” Aziz says, looking at the island, where plastic bags and a syringe lie among the hungry creatures.
“When we feel the pinch of hunger and thirst, they also must be feeling it.”


Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

Updated 09 August 2020

Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

  • Islamabad’s PIMS hospital had less than 10 coronavirus patients before Eid Al-Adha but new patients coming in since
  • Pakistan announced on Thursday it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and infectious disease experts on Thursday warned of a possible surge in coronavirus cases due to a premature lifting of restrictions, as the government announced a day earlier that it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Pakistan shut schools and land borders nearly five months ago, decided to limit domestic and international flights and discouraged large gatherings to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus. But with infections and deaths down nearly 80 percent since their peak as per government records, the government decided on Thursday to lift the lockdowns to help the country return to normalcy.
Pakistan celebrated the Eid Al-Adha religious holiday last week. After the last major Islamic festival, of Eid Al-Fitr, in May, infections rose to their peak in Pakistan.
Dr. Nasim Akhtar, head of infectious diseases at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad, told Arab News the coronavirus ward at her hospital only had five to six patients before Eid, but new patients had once again started coming in.
“Cases registered a sharp increase after Eid Al-Fitr, and this can happen now again with the lifting of the lockdowns,” she said, adding that the government should have waited at least two more weeks to reopen restaurants and other public places.
“This is a bit early, and may worsen the situation again,” Akhtar said.
The World Health Organization has said “extreme vigilance” was needed as countries begin to exit from lockdowns, amid global concerns about a second wave of infections.
Germany earlier reported an acceleration in new coronavirus infections after it took early steps to ease its lockdown. South Korea, another country that had succeeded in limiting virus infections, saw a new outbreak.
“The next week is crucial to see if the infections soar as just one week has passed now since the Eid holidays,” Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, told Arab News.

 

 

Cases could also surge during the Islamic month of Muharram, which begins in late August, he said, and due to independence day celebrations on August 14. Huge crowds come out all over the world, including in Muslim-majority Pakistan, to commemorate the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
“We think that the opening of all these things in a hurry ... probably this will create problems for us,” Sajjad said.
He said infections had risen sharply in the United States and Brazil after the nations lifted restrictions when cases initially declined. Spain reported 1,772 new coronavirus infections on Aug 6, marking the biggest jump since a national lockdown was lifted in June.
University of Health Sciences vice chancellor Javed Akram, however, called the reopening of public places a “wise decision.”
“The government cannot keep the cities and businesses under lockdown forever,” he said. “People should follow health guidelines to fight the virus.”