by Syed Rizvi
On October 4, people around the world celebrate the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose love for animals earned him the title, ‘Patron Saint of Animals.’ In the remembrance of St. Francis, every year, animals are led to churches for a special ceremony called the “Blessing of the Animals.”
October also is the month in which Mahatma Gandhi was born. Gandhi’s commitment to the betterment for animals is well-recognized and needs no introduction.
Other events like World Animal Day, Farm Animal Day, and World Vegetarian Day also fall during the month of October.
There is little doubt that God’s love for animals is no less than it is for humans. This fact should compel us to revisit our mistreatment of animals that we have been justifying under the false pretense of God’s will.
While the situation in other countries is no better than in Pakistan, India has certainly outpaced Pakistan at least by rewriting and improving the 1890 animal protection law that both countries inherited from their British rulers. Although such a step taken in Pakistan would be welcomed, there is also a need to raise animal awareness among the young people. It is a must in advancing the animal cause, since no animal protection law on the book will have any teeth if it does not give its people a higher moral and ethical ground to stand on. Today it is encouraging to see the emergence of grass-roots organizations like Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (Karachi), Animal Rights in Pakistan (Lahore), Animal Save Movement Pakistan (Multan) and Animal Care Association Pakistan (Islamabad) who through the power of the social media, find themselves connected with global animal-rights movements reaching out to their community, raising its animal-right awareness.
There is no doubt that every enlightened society needs establishment of an animal law.
It is to be noted that in 2012, the Chief Justice of Pakistan I.H. Chaudhry was a recipient of the “Hero to Animals Award,” accorded by an India based animal advocacy group, PETA-India. The award was conferred upon the Chief Justice for banning the manja practice in the Punjab province that saved countless birds from injuries and death, to which the Chief Justice acknowledged by saying that this award to him will inspire many others to come forward. In the past, India and Pakistan have bonded by participating in cultural events and sports. Sharing their concerns for animals adds a new dimension to this binding.
Syed Rizvi is a physicist by profession, and through his group, Engineers and Scientists for Animal Rights, he reaches out to the scientific and technical communities, promoting the animal rights philosophy. Syed lives in Silicon Valley, California.