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Ramadan, aka Ramzan, is a month of infinite blessings, forgiveness, giving, and a time of getting close to Allah. For Muslims around the world, it is a time when they are connected by similar traditions and feelings to each other as well as to their Creator through a shared bond that transcends time and space. Ramadan is not only driven by religious practices, but also tradition. It is the time when Muslims gather and indulge in giving back to create a stronger, more equitable society. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin from April 13 and last for a month—till May 13. As the holy month brings forth feelings of giving, the government of Pakistan is working round-the-clock to introduce key initiatives to help its people, especially those who are in need. To that end, some provinces, primarily Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Punjab, have introduced a number of Ramadan relief measures to make it easier for everybody, especially the underprivileged section of society, to observe the holy month.
Let’s find out more about what these initiatives entail and how they will help people during Ramadan.
Provincial Governments Introduce Ramadan Relief Measures
As Ramzan approaches, the governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have introduced special measures to make it easier for people to buy essential food items. Let’s now take a look at what each province has planned in detail.
Ramadan Relief Measures in Punjab
For the province of Punjab, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has announced a special “Ramzan Package” worth PKR 7 billion to assist the people during the holy month of Ramadan. Giving details, the CM has announced that 313 Ramzan bazaars will be set up across the province where a 10-kg flour bag will be available at Rs 300, as the Punjab government will provide around PKR 3.50 billion subsidy for this. The aim of this programme is to set up agriculture fair-price shops that will provide fruits and vegetables at the rates of 2018. Similarly, gram flour, dates, dried chickpeas lentils (chana dal) and other items would also be available at the rates of the year 2018.
To ensure price stability, Sahulat Bazaar Authority has also been established which will provide permanent relief to the consumers from artificial price-hike. All shopkeepers have been advised to follow austerity measures while arranging Ramzan bazaars and to utilize saved money for providing relief to the masses.
Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi district government has registered 162 shopkeepers under ‘Insaaf Sasti Mobile Shops Programme’ who will provide all kinds of vegetables and fruits at cheaper rates.
The local administration has allocated 10 points near the following areas:
- Double Road
- Haidri Chowk
- Committee Chowk
- Dhoke Hassu
- Khayaban-e-Sir Syed
- Chakri Road near Zafar Plaza
- Adiala Road at Jarahi Stop
- Chur Chowk Model Bazaar
- Chungi No. 22
Citizens can buy vegetables and fruits at cheaper prices from these designated points, whereas these points will also be used by the farmers to bring all vegetables and fruits directly to designated points.The local administration has also established ‘trucking points’ for taking wheat, which the flour mill owners will also use to get wheat. In the same vein, ‘Ramazan Sasta Bazaars’ are also being established in Rawalpindi to ensure shopkeepers don’t overburden the public by unjustly increasing prices of essential items.
Similar policies have also been introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
KPK Province Introduces ‘Ramazan Strategy’
As part of KPK’s Ramadan relief measures, a comprehensive Ramzan Strategy has been announced to help the underprivileged people in the province.
At a meeting, chaired by KPK Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, it was decided that 83 sasta bazaars and 52 kissan markets will be set up across KPK to sell essential edible items at rates lower than the markets. These will be established throughout the province, including 17 in Hazara region, 18 in Malakand region, 15 in Peshawar/Mardan region, 14 in southern region and 19 in merged tribal districts, where wheat flour, vegetables, ghee, oil, milk, sugar, chicken, pulses, rice, fruits, dates and other staple items would be sold at prices lower than the market’s.
In addition, to ensure supply of food items isn’t interrupted across and between provinces, measures such as the formation of committees led by related government officials and the police are in the pipeline. In order to avoid hoarding of essential items, which is a common practice during the month of Ramadan, the police will dedicate a special unit for surveillance.
Moreover, as the government had introduced a number of shelter homes for the homeless, Khan has also directed deputy commissioners to make all shelter homes completely functional in their respective districts.
KP’s Security and Traffic Management Plan & Ramazan Marastyal Mobile App
The KP government has proposed for the establishment of a Security and Traffic Management Plan by the relevant district police officers, while a mechanism will be introduced for coordination with the federal government to ensure uninterrupted electric supply to the people during sehri—the beginning of fast—and iftar—the breaking of fast— hours all through Ramazan.
Also, the government has planned to launch a mobile app, Ramzan Marastyal, for a ‘tech-driven approach’ to control prices and resolve people’s complaints regarding any transgressions by shopkeepers. (Note: More updates will be added to the description of this app as details are released.)
These are a number of mobile apps that you can use during Ramadan.
KP officials are also planning to launch a Meals on Wheels programme during Ramadan with the help of the federal government to serve the needy people, while financial assistance would also be provided to them under the Ehssas Programme during the fasting month.
The government is all geared towards making this Ramadan a peaceful time for everyone. As the third wave of covid-19 pandemic gains momentum, it is mandatory for all to follow the government-issued guidelines. Here’s how you can maintain covid-19 SOPs during Ramzan to enjoy the festivities in a safe manner.
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) has issued the guidelines for mosques and imambargahs for Ramadan. According to the details, people will be allowed to offer five prayers and Tarawih inside the mosques and imambargahs in the veranda and not in the prayer hall. Strict restrictions are to be imposed on praying on the roads and footpaths. The government has also said that it will take all measures necessary to ensure strict implementation of the coronavirus SOPs during Ramzan.