The month of Ramzan has arrived in all its glory, and summons all those who observe it to practice it with resolve, perseverance and above all, tolerance. Where the last edict has been moralised and proclaimed over and over again in religious sermons and teachings, it seems to lose its meaning in the imposed tenacity of observing this revered month.

Case in point is the controversial public eating ban that is enforced during this period.

Rooted in Zia’s Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance of 1981, the bill, much like it’s promulgator, is embedded in an ideology of discrimination, fascism, xenophobia and … intolerance. Where the Bill itself, like similar ordinances enforced under Zia’s dictatorship, sought to administer a compulsory and regulated façade of an Islamised state –where the religious dogmas of the majority supersede the rights and views of those who don’t practice similar beliefs – it is about time that government recognises the fallacy of that regime and scrapes off the lingering remnants of such discriminatory ethos from contributing to rational legislation. Failing to do so, the state is spending exorbitant resources, time and energy in further inciting and entrenching such politics of difference by extending the amended version of the same bill today, imposing fines and punishments to those who have the audacity to consume food in plain sight. Where such a bill is a totalitarian step in highlighting and penalizing minorities for committing the crime of not giving credence to the existing majority’s belief at the expense of the right to sustain themselves, the state and more conservative elements of society have innocuously imposed a calibration of to what degree those who are fasting should be affronted if they come across someone who doesn’t or is unable to prescribe to the same practices as them.

Putting aside the glaringly obvious illogical problems, like being forced to forego drinking water in such rising temperatures and frequent power outages, taking medication, being too ill too observe fasting or to be forced out of livelihood in closing up eatery business- all for fear for being reprimanded by the imposed morality of a majority that has never deigned similar respect to the beliefs or dignities of the existing minorities; the fact remains that in promoting and indoctrinating such ideas, the state is actively inculcating a culture of moralistic supremacy that continues on long after the Eid moon is sighted.

The government should instead expend its resources on the more rewarding task of encouraging inclusivity, charity and tolerance towards all, the other tenets of Ramzan which ultimately allow for a more equitable and forbearing human condition, one that accords those of different beliefs equal rights and dignity.