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Pakistan's Blind Newspaper Hawker Nearly Loses Job as Online Boom Hits Print

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Last Updated: March 03, 2021, 17:48 IST

Representative image

Representative image

Essa used to beg on the streets in 1985 when a friend suggested him to sell newspapers for a living. He recalls in 1985 President Zia ul Haq announced beggars would be imprisoned in Pakistan so he started delivering newspapers.

70-year-old Muhammad Essa, a newspaper hawker in Pakistan is struggling to make ends meet as sale of newspaper has gone down with the rise of e-papers amid the global pandemic. Essa, born with visual impairment and is now blind, has being walking the same 2.5-mile-long route to the city’s newspaper market from his village of Qari Saur for the last 35 years carrying a polythene bag of newspapers in one hand and a walking stick in another and sellinghundreds of newspapers on the streets of Mastung city in the northwest of Balochistan province. Unfortunately, he finds it difficult to sell even a dozen today in the age of digital news and social media.

Talking to Arab News he asks when everybody is now on social media and their phone and who would buy paper from him now. He recalls how earlier he would earn more than Rs 1500 a day but now he even struggles to sell 22 newspapers which only makes Rs 240.

The news site shared a video of Essa on March 2 on Twitter in which the old man says he turned jobless in the pandemic as newspaper markets were closed. Watch the complete video here:

https://twitter.com/arabnewspk/status/1366645724369272836

Essa used to beg on the streets in 1985 when a friend suggested him to sell newspapers for a living. He recalls in 1985 President Zia ul Haq announced beggars would be imprisoned in Pakistan so he started delivering newspapers. “A friend suggested I start delivering newspapers in Mastung city rather than sitting around waiting for others to help me, so I started selling daily tabloids,” he says.

A local stationery shop owner at Mustang’s newspaper market, Abdul Haskeem told Arab News, he would find Essa early morning at 6.30 am standing outside his shop before he lifts the shutters. He adds Essa would walk from dawn to 3pm around the city selling newspapers which he feels his not an easy job for an elderly blind man. He noted how people in Mustang are woken by the voice of Essa as he calls out the name of the newspaper he’s holding.

Essa shares that he is the oldest of four siblings and he has educated his younger siblings and his son but today he can’t even feed himself because of the fall in newspaperreadership.

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first published:March 03, 2021, 17:48 IST
last updated:March 03, 2021, 17:48 IST