KARACHI - Amanullah, 43, was running out of money to buy new clothes and shoes for his five children on `Eid Al-Fitr, which is a few days away. But thanks to a special `Eid bazaar, he now can draw a smile on the faces of his kids.
Prices of essential commodities have been increased like anything, Amanullah, a junior security officer at a Karachi-based private company, told OnIslam.net.
It was hard for me to buy new clothes and shoes for my children from a normal market.
Prices of conventional `Eid items like clothes, shoes and bangles have soared, making it difficult for both the lower-class and middle-class people afford buying for the festival.
The price hike has propelled many government and non-governmental organizations to set up special `Eid bachat (discount) bazaar `Eid items are being sold at affordable prices.
You can buy things there (`Eid bazaar) at 40 to 60 percent cheaper than normal markets and bazaars, said Amanullah who bought `Eid stuff from a bazaar set by the district government in collaboration with local philanthropists in Landhi, a lower-income bracket suburban town of southern port city of Karachi.
A pair of ordinary shoes that is being sold from Rs 500 (6 dollars) to Rs 700 (8 dollars) in normal bazaars is available from Rs 200 (2.20 dollars) to Rs 300 (3.5 dollars).
Similarly, children's suits or shalwar-kameeez (loose trouser and shirt) are available from Rs 200 to Rs 400 as compared to normal bazaars where prices vary from Rs 600 to Rs 1500.
It is hard for a person like me to buy this costly stuff, said Amanullah, who earns RS 20,000 (320 dollars) per month.
It has only become possible because of these `Eid bazaars.
`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
During `Eid days, families and friends exchange visits to express well wishes and children, wearing new clothes bought especially for `Eid, enjoy going out in parks and open fields.
Gufran Baloch, who came from Malir, an adjacent area, is also able to bring a smile to his family, thanks to the `Eid bazaars.
I believe that only upper middle-class people can shop from Zainab Market, Hyderi or Light House now, Gufran, who works as a store salesman, told OnIslam.net, citing the traditional city markets, which had been famous for cheap shopping till few years ago.
Prices of ordinary items are touching the skies there.
I cannot afford spending thousands of rupees on `Eid shopping, Gufran who managed to buy clothes, shoes and bangles for his two sons, a daughter, and a wife against Rs 2000 (22 dollars) said.
According to the district government, the soaring prices are being met with the help of local philanthropists, who buy `Eid stuff directly from companies and factories and sell it on no profit-no loss basis.
Similar `Eid bazaars have been set in all 18 towns of the city by local administrations in addition to scores of other bazaars arranged by non-governmental organizations.
Almost 34 percent of total 180 million Pakistani population lives below poverty line, according to the World Bank and other international financial institutions.
The government, however, puts the rate at 18 percent.
Pakistan, a close ally of the United States in its so-called war on terror, has conceded a heavy loss of over 70 billion dollars during the past 11 years.
Islamic charities are also establishing `Eid bazaars to draw a smile on the faces of poor Pakistanis during the festival.
Not only in Karachi, but in almost all the cities and towns (across the country), Naimatullah Khan, a former mayor of Karachi and head of Al-Khidmat Foundation, told OnIslam.net.
These discount bazaars have been arranged by local Al-Khidmat administrations.
Al-Khidmat Foundation, the country's largest NGO, has set up 50 discount bazaars in different parts of the metropolis, where clothes-unstitched and stitched shoes and ration are available at discounted prices.
These bazaars, Khan said, have been set up not only with the help of philanthropists but several production companies and factories too are cooperating by offering sales at these bazaars.
These bazaars are not run even on no profit-no loss basis, he said.
Seventy-five percent of the prices are being borne out by Al-Khidmat, philanthropists and the production companies and factories.
Khan said that the aim of the `Eid bazaar is to bring a smile to disadvantaged Pakistanis during the Muslim festival.
We have also introduced special `Eid gift scheme for those who cannot afford buying `Eid related stuff, said Khan, who earned reputation for his financial discipline as mayor of Karachi from 2001 to 2005.
This Eid gift bundle includes clothes, shoes, bangles, henna, flour, oil, tea, vermicelli and other edible commodities.
But this `Eid, gift scheme is not for all. This is meant for extremely poor people only because we do not want those who can afford to even a minor extent, to develop begging habit.
Alamgir Welfare Trust, another Islamic charity, which is famous for medical related assistance and mass Iftars for poor Pakistanis during Ramadan, too has arranged `Eid gifts for the poor and needy.The trust is collecting donations from philanthropists and common citizens ranging from Rs 100 (1.10 dollars) to Rs 10,000 (105 dollars) to provide `Eid gifts to over 50,000 needy people on `Eid Al-Fitr.