Retailers, wholesalers, stockists, mill owners and other market players shouldn’t bother to remain hungry from dawn to dusk in Ramadan, as their false fasts are akin to devil’s hunger. I am not trying to be their God, but when one watches long lines of men and women struggling to buy flour or sugar and then are told to produce National ID card or come tomorrow after hours of waiting, one doesn’t feel like loving these hoarders and profiteers.
Karachi City government and the Punjab Government has set up Ramadan Bazars. They have asked the marketers to setup stalls and sell the Ramadan food items at concession rates. Flour, sugar, ghee, chicken, potato, tomato, onion, dates, banana and apple would also be sold at concessionary rates in Ramazan bazaars, claimed the governments. But as the first day has just passed of Ramadan, people are raising hue and cry as they find very little of value in these bazars and also the major items like flour and sugar are nowhere to be seen.
Federal Government has punctured the efforts of Punjab government and the Karachi City government to provide relief to the people. The governments in NWFP and Balochistan are as insenstivie as they can be. Mian Manzoor Wattoo, a federal minister is protecting the sugar mill owners and now Pakistanis are unable to buy sugar at affordable prices. Take any food item, and the poor common people in Pakistan are unable to afford them.
It is the need of time that the federal government must take immediate actions to ensure provision of quality essential items at officially fixed prices to the people throughout the country during Ramazan-ul-Mubarak while special teams comprising provincial ministers and secretaries must be constituted to monitor prices and Ramazan Package. Ramzan package announced by the government is still a slogan and pipe dream. Cells should be established at the provincial and district level for the monitoring of Ramazan bazaars.
This month of Ramadan arrives to purify souls and replenish them with faith, piety and readiness for the life, thereafter. But hoarders and profiteers only want to replenish their brimming bank accounts. Taking undue advantage of a weak distribution system of subsidised ‘atta’ and sugar, a handful of people have hijacked the efforts of Punjab Government to provide relief to the people. Government cannot defeat these hoarders alone, they need to align the common people with them. They need to empower the people and to raise awareness among them to discourage and fight with the hoarders. But then these hoarders are also sitting in the parliament. What to do then?