Alarming trend


Sadly enough, for millions of people in Pakistan the Islamic holy month of fasting, which is a time of meditation and charity, has come to be associated with hoarding, artificial price hike and inflated costs of basic necessities. The trend is alarming and has been going on for decades now, but the incumbent rulers have yet to take any concrete measures to address the root cause of the price issue.
Since the onset of holy month, the prices of daily food items have skyrocketed. A massive overcharging is not only felt but also witnessed by the people across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and other parts of the country.
This time around, the rising prices of essential commodities have made it difficult for low-income families to observe the month with the same enthusiasm and religious zeal as the previous years. The cost of fruits, vegetables, dates, meat and other food items have risen significantly, putting a strain on the budget of the inflation-stricken households.
As most essential edible items are being sold at prices way higher than those on the official price list because the official machinery is busy in the distribution of free flour among the needy people or preoccupied with the visits of bigwigs to these flour distribution centres. As such, profiteers and hoarders have had a free hand to charge prices as per their sweet will, taking most of the items beyond the purchasing power of the people.
One of the reasons behind the rising prices is the unchecked greed of the middlemen and profiteers who take advantage of the situation and often create artificial shortage to increase the prices further, making it even harder for the common people to afford basic necessities.
Moreover, the lack of government regulation and monitoring of the markets during Ramadan has allowed traders to charge exorbitant prices for goods, without fear of any legal consequences. The government needs to step in and enforce price control measures to ensure that essential commodities remain affordable during the holy month.
It has now become a common practice for the buyers who ask for the official price list and for charging the prices accordingly, but the sellers not only refuse to do so, but most of the time they misbehave with the buyers.
Elderly and vulnerable customers are being routinely roughed up in the markets. Unfair practices are putting them at risk of being unable to afford food. The district administrations and provincial governments should understand how difficult the lives of poor people have become with the price hike.
On the part of the faithful, the issue of prices of can be addressed by promoting a culture of moderation and emphasizing the true spirit of Ramadhan, which teaches us to focus on spiritual growth rather than excessive and expensive consumption.
The government should take strict action against profiteers, enforce price controls and promote a culture of moderation. It is high time that the authorities prioritize the welfare of the common people and take measures to ensure that the holy month of Ramadhan is observed with dignity and ease for all.