No donkey-hiding behind the donkey-hide. By Mohammed Akmal Pasha

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Sheikh Saadi poeticized: ‘cows and donkeys serving as loaders to humans are superior to those men who tease others (gawaan o kharaan e baar ber daar, beh ze aadmiyaan e merdum azaar). So, the donkeys get to an even superior pedestal when they are made to serve human stomach. At macroeconomic level, the alarming export of donkey hides in the recent past is explicitly indicative of extravagant consumption of donkeys in Pakistan. Be it their killing apart, it would be cruel and unnatural though the government has not felt thrilled enough to render it banned in favor of saving animal lives. At microeconomic level, donkeys’ killing to serve the meat-market in Pakistan is even ghastly and heinous. The exports of donkey hides skyrocketed from 4000 per annum in 2010 to 150,000 in 2014. With donkey meat being dished out, the government needs to get sensitized on the issue before it is too late since it is inching towards degeneration of exports of hides of other animals in Pakistan.
China, where it champions in mushrooming ‘lost-cost-low-performance’ products in the market, also ventures into getting donkey hides from Pakistan and step forward for value addition. China is technologically advanced enough, so it knows how the donkey hide with minute artifice can be transformed into a ‘horse-hide’. From so called ‘horse-hide’ several products can be developed, one could be sofa-set that has market value equal to Rs. one million on average. Add to it, donkey hide like the animal is rough-and-tough, is more enduring than other hides of its type. Why donkey hide is an attractive import for Chinese markets? The answer is that the custom duty per hide is negligible, Rs. 1000 and costs some 22 % as regulatory duty. While the hides of cows and buffaloes are charged by square feet in terms of custom duty which add up to manifold. Further, donkey-hide can be purchased for Rs. 1000; while the cow and buffalo hide costs Rs. 5000 on average.
This covers the cost side of the hides of donkey vis-à-vis cow-buffalo hide; and the lucrative Chinese market. What about the meat that unfolds from his hide? The meat is served to humans while it is sold for Rs. 300 in the market, its competitor meat ‘beef’ is sold for Rs. 450. So the difference in cost of donkey and its meat saves butcher around Rs. 18,000 on the average. Why we don’t find its meat in the open market? It market is not the consumer market, it is composed of government messes and other bulk purchasers; who are either innocent or inoculant, better call them cunning. At the same time, this is cruel artifice on the part of Nature that it has not as yet bestowed humans with that shrewdness which could allow them to discern donkey-meat from the meat of calf (young cow), since the both are extremely similar. The stamps are already in pockets of the butchers, only they have to place them on the meat, what else?
A few months ago a bearded Muslim was caught selling donkey meat in Karachi. During his ‘scholarly’ defense, he left no stone unturned in legitimizing the donkey meat as Halaal (jaayez, legitimate in Islam). He debated that things like donkey meat were legitimate under circumstances of emergency (izteraar), for example when starvation was rampant. He substantiated his stance through a premise that since hilaal meat is out of reach for the poor, hence they are in a sense starving without meat, therefore the donkey meat is legitimate.
To conclude, meat-lovers must abstain from hoteling or they ought to visit a restaurant of their belief. Second, consumers must purchase meat from a shop of good repute and re-view the quality and outlook of the meat, though it’s tricky in the hands of artifice of Nature. The government must wake up for the sake of human stomachs if not for the poor donkeys. ‘Reputation, reputation, reputation, I have lost my reputation and what is left is bestial.’ (Shakespeare)

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