Pakistanis can’t help feeling a little sad this Eid. Pakistan’s saddest Eids before the one we’re marking today were the ones that followed the earthquake of October 2005 and the Bhola Cyclone of November 1970 in what was then East Pakistan. Again, this year, Eidul Fitr is a very grim affair indeed for far too many of us. There are millions of families which have no homes in which to mark the event. Some are based in refugee camps, others live under the open sky along roadsides. There is still no certainty that more people will not be displaced in the coming days. And, as disease strikes, it is impossible to say what the final death toll of this disaster is going to be. Political parties have decided that their members will spend Eid with the flood victims. TV hosts will be doing the same. But this will bring little solace to those who have lost everything and are left to wonder how they will ever rebuild their devastated lives.
However, the calamity is not the only reason why this Eid is a sad day. We find ourselves facing so many crises that it is hard to shake our minds clear of them, even as Eid meals to mark the end of fasting are consumed and people embrace each other. In many prayers, a hope will be expressed for some return to stability and normalcy in the country. Sadly, there appears to be no sign of this happening soon. The struggles and the tension between the executive and the judiciary continue and may grow more acrimonious. Meanwhile, there is no brake on inflation and everywhere people are more desperate than ever before as they seek jobs. For far too many of them, simply getting a decent meal to eat is getting harder by the day. But, for all these sorrows, Eid always brings its joys as well. The pleasures of the event add some specks of colour to an otherwise grim scene. The willingness with which people have cut down on extravagant expenses in order to give to flood victims and to others in need is also encouraging. It is this spirit which marks our nation, and allows us to forget our misfortunes, at least for a time. We can only hope that by the time Eidul Fitr comes around a year from now, they will have been significantly diminished and the Eid moon will burn a little brighter in the evening sky.