May Day-2016 was observed yesterday across the globe including Pakistan under the theme “Celebrating the international labor movement”. It aims to pay tribute to workers’ sacrifices in achieving economic and social rights all over the world. Seminars were held in different cities to pay tributes to those who laid down their lives in Chicago in 1886 for labor rights. President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government believed in the dignity of labor and is committed to providing workers better working conditions. In their separate messages on the occasion of Labor Day, they said Government is resolved to provide better housing, medical and education facilities to the workforce.

Meanwhile, here are just a few of the countless absorbing, revealing and thought-provoking examples of May Day in the streets of Pakistan: Dragging old cart-pushers in the tight and grubby lanes of Hyderabad. Laboring adolescent car-cleaners at Jinnah Super Market, Islamabad. Sweating little monkey and snake charmers of Lee Market, Karachi. Walking tea and ‘qahva’ vendors of traditional and downtown Quetta. Loading round-the-clock ‘qulis’ at the bustling railway junction, Lahore. Labor hunting laborers of Chowyadgar and Qissa Khawani, Peshawar. Carving, printing and engraving folks of the cottage industry of Pakistan. Walking long for meager livelihood home maids or ‘masis’ of the nation.

As such, fancying the very thought of taking a day off to commemorate May Day, formally and officially practiced at the local, national and international levels, is a very far cry for the dawn-to-dusk laborers of livelihood in the slums and streets of many countries, including Pakistan. While many, if not all, men at the helm of affairs and men of letters merely conceptualize and sermonize May Day for the cause of the laborers, the teeming majority of our laborers, the real laborers, continue to undergo agonizing times and exploitative pressure of laboring long and tedious hours for peanuts of income.

PARVEZ JAMIL,Karachi, May 1.