KHYBER: Tribal elders in Bara tehsil of Khyber district have stopped women from visiting the officially designated points for distribution of free flour to save them from what they call humiliation.

The ban on women was imposed by Shalobar Qaumi Council (SQC), a body of tribal elders, in a meeting held in Bara on Sunday. SQC decided to allow only male members of the eligible families to collect free flour, citing tribal customs and traditions as reason for imposition of the ban.

The SQC members said that some women of Bara were maltreated during the flour distribution so they decided to keep them away from such a ‘hectic’ exercise.

They said that as per the procedure, it was not mandatory for women only to collect their share of free flour as any of the male members of the relevant family could do the job.

JI to hold rallies against govt for its failure to ensure provision of flour to people in respectable manner

“It is rather insulting our womenfolk than helping them in the name of provision of free flour as the distribution points are overcrowded with men, pushing their way into the crowd to collect their share of flour bags,” they said. The SQC has, however, made it clear that it will ensure that every deserving woman gets her share of flour bags.

In Landi Kotal tehsil chairman Shah Khalid Shinwari stopped short of announcing a ban on women and rather urged people to keep their female members of families away from the flour distribution points.

So far none of the women in Landi Kotal and Bara were provided with the promised free flour bags. Instead their male relatives were authorised to collect their ‘share’ of free flour.

In Lower Dir, Jamaat-i-Islami has announced to stage protest rallies against the government for its failure to control price hike during Ramazan and ensure respectable distribution of subsidised flour in the district.

The announcement was made by JI district chief Izazul Mulk Afkari after an executive council meeting here on Sunday.

JI district secretary information Shuaib Ahmad said the party expressed its anger that veiled women were being humiliated for a 10-kilogram bag of free flour. He said that mismanagement at every distribution point was observed as poor people queued up for hours just to get a bag of free flour.

JI also demanded of the government to prepare a respectable way of free flour distribution in the district.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz district president Malik Farooq Iqbal asked the district administration to start distribution of free flour at village council level to avoid rush of people.

Taking notice of the public complaints, Deputy Commissioner Iftikhar Ahmad along with other officials visited different distribution points and checked the record and quality of free flour.

Assistant Commissioner Shehzad Khan also paid surprise visits to market and checked the rates of meat, fruits and vegetables.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2023

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