Pakistani people always stand at the front row when it comes to helping others. They have always stood together with the affectees of natural calamities in Pakistan in their most trying times and have tried their best to reduce the intensity of the victims’ misery with their kindness and openhandedness. Their enthusiasm reaches to its peak especially in the month of Ramazan.
For many years, the people of Karachi used to arrange roadside Iftar Dastarkhwans/ Stalls voluntarily for travelers and needy people during the whole month of Ramazan and it has now become a tradition. There has been tremendous progress witnessed in setting up these stalls for the last four to five years. People belonging to different strata of society set up free Iftar stalls on the roadside to facilitate hundreds of passers- by without any discrimination of cast and creed. The one that belongs to the upper class and the one that belongs to the lower class both enjoy with same Iftar. An estimate suggests that thousands of small and big Iftar Dastarkhwans are set up in every Ramazan in almost all parts of the city. Ultimately, this tradition has become a part of a metropolis culture.
Even deteriorated law and order situation in the city and ever-rising inflation, couldn’t refrain Karachiites from their hospitality. They continue to set up roadside Iftar stalls for the commuters and for the needy. Although price hike disturbed the budget of everyone but nothing could limit their generosity. Temporary roadside tables and mats are set up by charity workers preparing free Iftar for the poor, needy and lonely. These stalls have been set up by the Philanthropists, traders associations, welfare organizations, wealthy people and community-based organizations at almost every major street of the city.
To one’s amusement there’s no shortage of funds for setting up these stalls as people of the metropolis are lionhearted in this regard. One can easily notice such Iftar stalls at I.I. Chandigarh Road, MA Jinnah Road, Shahra-e-Faisal, Shah Waliullah Road, Abul Hassan Isphani Road, University Road, Shahra-e-Quaideen, Tariq Road, Zaibu Nisa Street, Khayaban-e-Shamshir, Main Saba, Gizri, Sea View, Rashid Minhas Road, Saphoora Chowrangi, Malir, Model Colony Hyderi Market, Meena Bazaar Karimabad, Laloo Khait, Five Star Chowrangi, Samama Market and many other areas.
Residents of posh areas also set up Iftar camps outside their residences and it can also been seen outside different Masjids. Even in some markets, shopkeepers collect money and food items from shops on a daily basis and hand them over to committees responsible for setting up the street stalls before Iftar time. Ramazan is a festive season in Pakistan when people make donations, do charities and perform all recommended good deeds to get blessings of Allah Almighty; people even from low and middle-income bracket also make arrangements for Iftar in their particular area during the whole month of Ramazan for needy people. Different volunteers distribute Iftar boxes among commuters and passengers of buses, cars and vehicles.
The concept of street Iftar stalls was originally introduced by the dwellers of Burns Road to help people trapped in massive traffic jams. Burns Road is a famous food street in the southern part of the city. In late 70’s there used to be Iftar arrangements on a small scale by some individuals for travelers and shopkeepers but it was not till 1995 when the residents and shopkeepers of the area had decided to contribute for daily Iftar stalls throughout Ramazan with the increase in traffic. Since then street Iftar stalls have become a Ramadan landmark in Karachi’s Burns Road where hundreds of commuters usually stuck in traffic jams, failing to make it home by the time,
break their fast. The tradition has since moved to eastern and western parts of the Karachi as well. Today, almost every area of metropolis is witnessing hundreds of street Iftar stalls during whole Ramazan. Majority of people who get benefited from the Iftar stall are commuters, laborers, homeless and poor.
These roadside stalls clearly reveal the openheartedness of Karachiites despite skyrocketing prices of basic commodities. This culture of setting stalls for Iftar in the metropolis tell us that there is a lot more to praise about Pakistan rather than talking about its street crimes, pollution, target killings and traffic jams!