On April 15, a newspaper published a picture of a minor girl. She was standing in front of the Press Club carrying a placard. The placard addressing a heart-rending request to the chief minister. The request was in Urdu. Here is a rough essence of the supplication in English: "Venerable Uncle Shahbaz, please lend me your ears just for a moment. I am burning with a passion to be a school student. My dad is dead. I am dying to be a doctor. Please help me to survive in this world honourably." Obviously, the girl's plight is a great tragedy. But the greater tragedy is that the girl's misery is not a solitary phenomenon. The entire country is plagued with millions of such luckless boys and girls. Extreme poverty is eating them round the clock. Fortunately, Pakistan doesn't lack resources. But unfortunately, the resources have been monopolised by a small minority. In Pakistan, affluence is mercilessly partial. It is generous only to a handful of Pakistanis. To the masses it is horribly cruel. What is its standard of favouritism? It is a mystery known only to the Devil. If affluence is extremely generous to a small minority, poverty is extremely generous to the masses. The masses of Pakistan are phenomenally miserable. What sorts of crimes have the masses committed that poverty keeps crushing them non-stop? It is another mystery. Pakistan is essentially a land of mysteries. Just a tiny part of Pakistan is a paradise. The rest of it is a vast hell. The paradise is extremely underpopulated. The hell is horribly overpopulated. The inhabitants of the hell keep soulfully looking through their prison-bars at the inhabitants of the paradise. Their looks keep imploring: "O' paradisers, please allow us to migrate to your abode." The paradisers sharply rebuff: "Stop talking nonsense. We are Destiny's blue-eyed boys. You are Destiny's black-eyed creatures. We can't afford to offend Destiny by letting you pollute our habitat with your presence. Make the best of your worst Destiny by committing suicide." Most of the paradisers send their children to Europe or America for education. Once a paradiser was asked: "Why have you sent your children to America for education when every sort of education is available in the country?" The paradiser replied: "I haven't sent them to America willingly. I have done so under a dire compulsion. Education in Pakistan is so expensive that I can't buy it for my children. I can buy only American education for them." Pakistan is a heaven for private education sellers. Private education is the most prosperous and flourishing industry in the country. The educational industrialists are earning oceanfuls of gold by investing just a handful of lead in the industry. The world economists are wonder-struck. There are millions of unprivileged children who are not allowed even to have a look at schools. The schools are established exclusively for the privileged ones. Unfortunately, the privileged ones are only an insignificant percentage of all the children in the land. However, the unprivileged children have been generously compensated by the society. They are granted full freedom to scavenge garbage heaps day and night. They grow up scavenging. They die scavenging. Stray dogs, cats and crows are their lifelong bosom friends. Unfortunately, the scavenging children don't know that instead of scavenging, they should hold placards suing: "Please rulers, rescue us from our misery." If all the unprivileged children carried placards up and down the country, there would be more placards waving in the air than birds and mosquito's. If the foreign journalists got a wind of the situation, they would be maddeningly curious just to have a glimpse of the affair. In order to save the country from an international infamy, the government would have to seal the national frontiers against the foreign intruders. It doesn't matter at all if a government is apathetic to the misery of the miserable children of its country. We must know that helping the poor is not helping the poor. It is helping ourselves. It is not an act of generosity. It is our moral duty, our moral obligation, our moral responsibility. Is performing one's duty an act of generosity? Is discharging one's obligation an act of generosity? Is fulfilling one's responsibility an act of generosity? He who believes that he deserves a reward for helping the needy is a crude businessman. A philosopher says: "Virtue is its own reward." Help the unprivileged children. When you help, you have a tremendous feeling that you have done something tremendously virtuous. The very feeling is a tremendous reward for what you have done. And what a priceless reward The writer is an academic