News / Asia

    Free Ramadan Meals a Blessing for Many in Pakistan

    Free Ramadan Meals a Blessing for Many in Pakistani
    X
    July 01, 2014 5:47 PM
    After suffering for years from a stagnant economy and inflation on basic items like food, even middle-class Pakistanis are feeling the economic pinch. As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in Pakistan, many people are taking advantage of free iftar dinners sponsored by charities and wealthy individuals. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Ayaz Gul

    After suffering for years from a stagnant economy and inflation on basic items like food, even middle-class Pakistanis are feeling the economic pinch.  As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in Pakistan, many people are taking advantage of free iftar dinners sponsored by charities and wealthy individuals.  
     
    In a low-income neighborhood of the Pakistani capital, free iftar dinners are arranged for needy people throughout the month of Ramadan.
     
    Organizers say rising inflation has led more and more people each year to break their fast at the free meals.

    Mohammad Amir, who works at a tailor shop, says he saves good money by eating for free because his income is not enough to buy food for his entire family.  He says he comes to the dinner for breaking the fast, though it is personally quite embarrassing to sit in an open area and wait for the charity food.
     
    Amir says that although philanthropists are feeding people this way, political leaders are doing little to address rising food prices and unemployment. He says the politicians are fighting with each other and they are unaware whether the public is starving to death or how are they managing their lives.

    Asad Ullah works as a security guard and visits the free food camp every Ramadan. He hopes the money he saves will help him buy new clothes for his children. Ullah says his salary is just around 10,000 rupees ($100) a month and that eating one meal for free saves him 25 percent of his income which helps his family at the end of month meet some urgent needs.  
     
    Organizer Abdul Razak Bhatti says local traders and wealthy people are quietly funding the charity work. He says that he began offering free food during Ramadan five years ago out of his religious devotion. But he says he has now made it a daily practice throughout the year.
     
    “Usually there is one bread earner who has to feed a family of say 10 people," Bhatti said. "So, obviously their basic needs are not met and then there are rising electricity bills, natural gas bills and other such matters that it becomes extremely difficult for the family to live on the fewer resources.”
     
    Tahira Abdullah, an Islamabad-based human rights activist, welcomes the growing tradition of free meals in Ramadan but has her own reservations about it.

    “I feel that it is absolutely shameful that in the so-called Islamic Republic of Pakistan we have this kind of need and such kinds of poverty, rising levels of poverty that we need now lower middle and the poor to go to the philanthropy and charity," she said. "Do you think that those who line up along streets and avenues for free food in the evening every Ramadan have any shred of self-respect and dignity left? Nothing.”
     
    Like previous years, the government is offering a Ramadan relief package that subsidizes the cost of flour, sugar, lentils, milk and other foods. But critics say the savings rarely trickle down to the needy because of rampant corruption.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    July 01, 2014 9:57 PM
    This is shameful negligence on the part of Federal and Provincial Govt to provide relief in the holy month of Ramadan. Main purpose of these Govts to earn them self, transfer outside Pakistan and then enjoy lavish life like Zardari & Co in Dubai. Even UAE LOCALS cannot enjoy so much as Zaradari & Co enjoyed in Dubai.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora