ISLAMABAD - Braving price hike, millions of Muslims are set to celebrate Eidul Azha in Pakistan today (Wednesday).

“The prices of animals are out of our reach. I fear, we have to celebrate Eid without sacrificing an animal,” said Naeem Bangish, a teacher, while talking to this scribe. Naeem is not alone in the line of fire as the majority of the buyers in the cattle market of Islamabad complained the same. The low income groups and salaried classes with the hope of decrease of animals’ prices on last day, were seen conversing with cattle dealers to reduce the prices at Peshawar Road, Sabzi Mandi I-10, Sadpur cattle markets.

A market survey conducted by this scribe on Monday has revealed that this year the prices of sacrificial animals have almost gone double as compare to that of last year and poor families prefer collective 'Qurabani' through sharing cost of an animal. The high prices of animals and low-purchasing power of people have made this religious feature merely a dream for many of the salaried and middle class.

Many of the retired and in-service government and private sector employees are striving hard to perform "Qurbani" this year because the animals are beyond their purchasing power, Dr Hassan Durrani, a resident of Islamabad. He said that he would perform collective ‘Qurbani’ this year keeping in view the high prices of cattle. He said the prices of animals can be brought down if smuggling of cattle is stopped and the government takes strict action against profiteers.   

In Islamabad, a buffalo, cow/ox and lean goat are now being sold between range of Rs 120,000-800,000, Rs 95,000-70,000 and Rs 40,000-30,000 showing almost 50 per cent increase as compared to that of last year. Businessmen dealing in cattle have also brought their stock to Islamabad from other provinces and getting handsome prices due to its location as capital city. "I have brought 15 trucks of cattle from Sargodha to the Islamabad markets and sold all of the animals," Malik Yar Khan, an exporter of Punjab said adding that the prices of cow and ox are higher than buffalos due to the transportation cost as they are being imported them from Sargodha, Sahiwal, Sialkot and Kasur.

He, however, said that sometimes he suffered financial loses when the cattle were not sold during last days of Eidul Azha. Another livestock dealer said he had no choice but to import cattle from Punjab to ensure availability of animals on reasonable rates to people of Islamabad and he discouraged profiteering. Around 70 to 75 per cent of cattle are brought from Punjab on the Eid, he informed. He also underlined the need for tripartite-export agreement between Pakistan, India and Afghanistan to meet people's requirements of beef, milk and sacrificial animals. Meanwhile, CDA Chairman Nadeem Hassan Asif has deputed a team of 25 personnel to dispose of animals waste and offals during the Eid days. According to CDA spokesperson, the chairman directed all the officials to provide quality services, collection and disposal of waste material of animals in the federal capital.

The formations concerned will provide assistance to the Directorate of Sanitation for this operation. The chairman has also directed officers of Environment Wing, Civic Management and Sanitation Directorate to monitor the operation of cleanliness. The CDA spokesperson said at least 29 deep ditches would be dug out at 17 locations in entire city for disposal of offals. The official said the Sanitation Directorate officials would work in three shifts and all the leaves of staff have been cancelled for the services of the masses. On the directives of CDA chairperson, the city has been divided into four zones for effective implementation of the action plan. Zone-I includes F-5, F-6, G-5, G-6, Blue Area, Saidpur Village and Bari Imam. Areas in Zone-II include Faisal Masjid, Sector E-7, F-8, F-7, G-7 and G-8.

Similarly, Zone-III consists of F-10, F-11, Golra Sharif, G-9, G-10, G-11, G-13 While Zone-IV includes H-8, H-9, H-10, H-11, I-8, I-9, I-10, I-11, Highway, Model Village Humak, Shahzad Town, Rawal Town and Margalla Town. The chief inspectors will monitor each zone and two emergency cells have also been established at Sanitation Directorate and at Transport Cell in Fire Headquarters which would be functional round the clock. During the operation, 2500 workers of Sanitation Directorate including cleaners, supervisory staff, contractors and officers will participate in the operation.