Written by Ch. Faisal Mahmood
As we go to print, the holy month of Ramzaan has set in and the vast majority of Pakistanis have started availing the bounties of God’s mercies by fasting and by sharing their advantages with their disadvantaged neighbors and social service organisations.
Take the city of Karachi. Like all other cities and towns in the country, visitors new to it are struck by the spreads of Aftaari meals on makeshift hospitality tables placed at major crossroads, bus stands and at shopping centres. As the time approaches for breaking the day-long fasts, these offerings are readied for anyone and everyone to avail if he or she happens to be there at the designated time.
Such offerings – and there are many throughout the city – are paid for and presented by individuals, neighborhood groups, shopkeepers, established volunteer organizations etcetera.
Around the same time and earlier, individuals or representatives of groups line up near bus stands and present to the passengers their gifts of packed dates, tetra packed fruit juices or flavored milk or patties or samosaas or Pakoras for them to break their fasts with.
Another deep set cultural practice, specific to this month, is for families to send Iftaari meals to neighbors and to mosques and to labour colonies, thus strengthening the local bonds of mutual fellowship.
This is the month also when the public at large gets to know the many social service voluntary organizations that operate throughout the year on citizens’ financial support to serve the poor and the under-privileged. A vast majority of these organizations are registered and managed on corporate lines. These charity-run institutions range from general hospitals, specialized hospitals, disaster management voluntary organizations, schools, homes for special children and homes for aged citizens. Pointers to the deserving institutions are the many display advertisements sponsored for them by corporate advertisers.
People endowed with financial wellbeing go forth in this month to make donations to them from a prescribed portion of their income called zakaat. Such is the spirit of charity, fellow feeling and mutual belonging among Pakistanis.
This is the real Pakistani; the vast majority of Pakistanis. For his country to be called a haven for terrorists is to conceal the blamers’ own guilt of imposing foreign elements upon it.§