In a country where an estimated 58 percent of the population is malnourished, the sheer gluttony that has become the hallmark of Ramazan is way beyond belief - be this ‘belief’ religious or otherwise.

At a time when the UN World Food Programme is appealing for at least $40 million to enable it to continue - just until the end of this year after which more money will be needed - assisting malnourished and internally displaced people through projects in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, it appears that every single person with the financial ability to do so, is going all out to stuff themselves to the gunnels the very second the sun goes down with many of these selfish people then - once an unnecessarily ‘rich’ iftari has had a little time to settle - continuing to pack in food which they certainly do not need, on and off and all night long until it is time for a strengthening sehri to see them through the day - a day which those who can simply sleep away - until iftari time comes round again.

In this, the holy month of Ramazan when fasting from dawn to dusk is, for those who are able, a religious requirement, food and drink are promoted around the clock with, thanks to the unholy practice of overcharging, purveyors of the same raking in astronomical profits which would, even if they take the next 11 months off, be more than enough to support their lifestyles until Ramazan comes around once more.

Expensive iftari dinners are in fashion more than ever before and huge gatherings of people, a shockingly high percentage of them visibly overweight if not downright obese, push and shove and elbow ‘competitors’ out of the way in a sickening rush to pile their plates high with the incredibly greasy, oily or sugar packed - sometimes all three at once - offerings without which no iftari is complete, swilling the ‘gunk’ down with gallon upon gallon of sugar filled, chemical-laden, soft drinks, while they think and plan and drool over the fast approaching Eid feasts to come.

With the end of the holy month of fasting now in sight, those who are able to throng shopping malls, bazaars and anywhere else that goods are offered for sale, on a crazed hunt for fancy clothes, glittery bags and shoes, for electronic and computerised forms of ‘Eidi’ they really do not need and, of course, for all manner of extravagances, even new cars, that they can well do without and very few, if any at all, spare even as much as a split seconds thought, let alone charity, on the other 58 percent - their countrymen, women and children, who are so desperately in need. And, to top it all, those indulging in this despicable feasting and spending frenzy, consider that they are fulfilling their religious obligations in this grossly selfish way.

There are, thankfully, a number of charitable organisations and hardworking NGO’s, who, struggle as they do for enough financial donations to keep them going, try their level best to help the ever-growing number of underprivileged, malnourished and otherwise suffering people of what is an increasingly divided nation. A nation in which ‘helping yourself’ long since replaced any concept of helping brothers and sisters in need.

What kind of Eid, for example, the in excess of one million displaced people of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa going to have in the horrendous conditions of hastily thrown together camps and why are they displaced at all?

The answers to these two questions are that every day of their existence is miserable now and Eid will be just another day in hell for them. A hell they are in because they have been forced out of their ancestral homes, have lost their lands and all they possess, including their livelihoods and many lives too, as a direct result of the ‘operations’ aimed, so we are told, at safeguarding the entire nation from the predations of those who would destroy the illusion of cohesive national unity once and for all which is, all things considered, something the ‘lucky’ 42 percent are doing anyway and doing it without giving a damn at the cost those they perceive as ‘others’ have - and continue - to pay.

The heartrending suffering of internal refugees; of the struggling to survive people in the interior of Sindh; of the, as a result of murder and mayhem, Hazara population in Balochistan; of the Baloch tribes in general; of the landless haris, bonded and child labour throughout the length and breadth of this increasingly fragile country - fragile on the socio-cultural and economic fronts amongst others - apparently means nothing at all to the vast majority of those who could, if they so desired and if they took Islamic principles as seriously as they like to portray, do much to alleviate what should be a completely unacceptable horror in a country which, despite humanity being relegated to the dusty annals of history, so boastfully likes to be called the ‘land of the pure’.

The writer has authored a book titled “The Gun Tree:  One Woman’s War”

and lives in Bhurban.