RAMAZAN has changed over the years. Displays of opulence mixed with piety were always there but it seems that Pakistanis today have that much more to spend and showcase. During the holy month, charity queues in the streets are a regular sight. Little attention is paid to the merits of keeping it low key; the giving of charity generates much ceremony instead of taking the form of quiet help dictated by one’s conscience and religious obligations. Chaos in these charity lines is routine, sometimes with consequences as dire as death and injury.
There is no respite from loud expressions of wealth and piety, and it was inevitable that the media which loves passionate scenes has entered the contest to claim its share of spoils generated by this type of Ramazan activity. The television channels in particular appear to relish the melodramatic value of highlighting misery and causing pangs of guilt among the viewers. Ultimately, the appeal for aid to families and individuals in distress does not translate into the desired level of relief, for reportedly, only a small percentage of the money pledged in response to televised appeals materialises. But the channels have little to complain about. They can have the satisfaction of appearing as do-gooders and also do good business to cover the worldly side of things. Indeed they can be content they have sufficiently shaken the more privileged sections into remembering their duties towards fellow human beings or fellow countrymen or fellow Muslims, whatever sells best at the moment. It is a simple formula: fight misery by making the audience feel miserable — permissible in the absence of an ethics code to govern matters of charity. A code could restore some dignity to life in this country during and after Ramazan.