By Syed Talat Hussain
Eid is an occasion for joy and happiness, a refreshing change from the taxing routine of life, and for making a connection with the pristine principles of sacrifice and sharing that form the cornerstone of Islam and all great religions. However, for millions of Pakistanis this year’s eid is a sad reminder of their financial and social inadequacies. The symbolism of Eid-ul-Azha, sacrificial animals, has been beyond the ordinary people’s reach. The disappointment of countless families for not being able to be part of this symbolism is contrasted sharply with the resourcefulness of the handful who display their expensive purchases (one million a piece in one reported case) with vulgar arrogance. More telling is the growing number of those who flock the homes for alms and their share of the meat: the days are not far in our memory when neighbourhoods used to have limited few who lined up for meat distribution. Now they come in droves. Most of them are not even from around the towns they scout for alms: they are internal immigrants who have been forced out of their villages by poverty and sheer need to survive. They make themselves visible especially during eid days and their numbers are astoundingly large. These are the children of an incompetent and ruthlessly corrupt state and a callous government, whose careless ways have pushed millions below the poverty line. Even respectable middle classes that used to share joys of eid, now sit at home wondering what sorry fate has befallen them. As Muslims we keep the faith that the joys of eid are not lessened by straightened financial circumstances but the reality is that economic hardship matters to everything, even observance of religious obligations. For citizens who are left at the mercy of an oppressive system whose rulers care only about their own welfare there is not much of an eid this year.