WITH the sacrifice of animals during Eidul Azha in Pakistan, legitimate questions arise about the hides and skins of sacrificial animals ending up in the wrong hands, as well as the post-qurbani clean-up in cities and towns. Given the large number of animals sacrificed — industry figures from last year suggest between 7m and 8m were sacrificed in the country — there is significant income to be generated from hides and skins. People usually donate the hides to mosques, charitable institutions and NGOs. But militants — both of the extremist and political variety — also look to cash in on this bonanza. Goat skins sell for a few hundred rupees and cow hides go for over Rs1,000. Significant money can be made by malevolent actors who snatch sacrificial skins that should be going to the needy. While the situation in Karachi is much better compared to a few years ago, when thugs working for political parties snatched hides at gunpoint, there is no room for complacency. Political administrations in the provinces must ensure that people are free to donate hides and skins to legitimate charities of their choice, and militant outfits must not be allowed to make money from this religious obligation.

Coming to the matter of cleaning cities and towns after the sacrifice, local bodies must go beyond lip service and ensure that offal is picked up in a timely and efficient manner over the Eid days. Left to rot, the waste from the sacrifice attracts stray dogs, kites and crows, while also providing a reservoir for disease. It should also be considered that torrential rainfall has been forecast in some parts over the Eid days; overflowing drains and flooded streets, combined with tons of offal, do not create a pleasing picture in the mind. Therefore, the challenge before the authorities this Eid is two-fold: to clean drains and prevent urban flooding, and to remove offal quickly before a royal mess, and obvious threat to public health, is created.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019

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