Mounting violence, political crisis prompting Pakistanis to stock up on food

March 11th, 2009 - 7:09 pm ICT by ANI  

Lahore, Mar.11 (ANI): People across Pakistan are stocking up on essential items, including food in anticipation of the political crisis in the country taking a turn for the worse in the coming days.
In Lahore, a large banner, offering facilities to freeze home-cooked food and store it for months, or even years, flutters across a busy street.
Azizuddin Ahmed, 50, an electrician, was quoted by the website irinnews.org as saying: Frankly, everyone thinks things will get very bad soon and we should stock up on food items. If that happens, and there are shortages and violence, it may not be a bad idea to do what they suggest and freeze some cooked food.
Ahmed and his wife, Sabiha Bibi have been attempting to buy some grocery items for their family of eight, including six children, but have been thwarted by a strike which has paralyzed many cities across the Punjab.
Political unrest as a result of growing conflict between the ruling PPP and the opposition has led to violence over the past 10 days, with vehicles set alight, tyres burnt and angry protests in the streets.
Governors Rule is now in force in the Punjab after the elected chief minister of the province, Shahbaz Sharif, was ousted following a controversial court ruling. His supporters have reacted with fury.
Earlier this month seven people were killed in a high-profile attack on a visiting Sri Lankan cricket team.
Violence also continues in the North West Frontier Province, where the shrine of a revered mystic poet, Rahman Baba, was torn apart by bombs in Peshawar, after militants issued warnings that women could not visit the site. In other towns, shops selling music or film have been attacked, local media reported.
The violence has triggered growing alarm among ordinary citizens.
I am stocking up on atta (wheat flour) and cooking oil, as everyone says there may be shortages if things get much worse, Anwar Hameed, a trader in a Lahore market, was quoted by the website, as saying.
Evidence of the growing uncertainty among people has been visible in major cities, with people buying in bulk in case there is crisis ahead.
The fear has been particularly acute in Islamabad, where protesters from across the country are due to converge in a few days time.
Its OK if you can afford to buy food for weeks or days. I buy what I can as I earn Rs.400 or 500 a day, labourer Aslam Masih, was quoted, as saying.
When markets shut down and there is violence, no one comes out of their homes - and that means we get no work… When we dont work, our families dont eat. Its as simple as that, he added.
Several have lost their jobs due to the crisis.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani has promised things will be back to normal soon, but few are convinced.
In the media, a major political upheaval is being anticipated. (ANI)

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