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Pakistan celebrates ‘food festival’ in Karachi amid extreme food shortage, chaos and mismanagement as people gatecrash the event

“Women in the family section were harassed. Tents were dismantled and to deal with it the management switched off all the lights which made the situation worse. Like literally wtf #KarachiEat2023", a Pakistani woman wrote.

As Pakistan is hit by a severe food crisis, along with an economic one, a ‘food festival’ in Karachi turned from fest to chaos in no time. On Sunday, January 8, the concluding day of the ‘Karachi Eat’ festival witnessed chaos, mismanagement, and security failure. 

On the last day of the food festival which started on January 6, several attendees shared their harrowing experiences of how they were groped, bullied, and harassed. The event was reportedly attended by around 2,50,000 lakh people. 

Taking to social media, several attendees shared pictures and videos of the chaotic scenes at the food fest. As seen in videos of the incident, several people are seen scaling the walls, breaking the barricades, forcibly entering the venue, and harassing the attendees compelling the attendees to escape the venue by climbing the walls. 

Pakistani media outlet The Pakistan Daily tweeted a video of the incident and wrote, “Reports of harassment and chaos in this year’s #KarachiEat which saw hundreds of stags gatecrashing the venue leading to the cancellation of music performances and other agenda items. Attendees report a complete security failure at the event.”

One Pakistani Twitter user wrote, “Stags broke the gates and forcefully entered #KarachiEat today. People are saying that they literally had to leave through spaces between walls and jump off them to get out of the chaos. Please ban such events in the city if security can’t be managed.”

In another tweet, she added, “Women in the family section were harassed. Tents were dismantled and to deal with it the management switched off all the lights which made the situation worse. Like literally wtf #KarachiEat2023.”

The chaos reached a point where a singer named Kaifi Khalil performing at the event had to end his performance abruptly, after women were being harassed and treated inappropriately. Taking to Twitter, Khalil informed about what happened at the event. 

Food crisis in Pakistan

It is pertinent to note that a food festival was organized in Karachi at a time when several other cities of Pakistan are facing food shortages and flour is being rationed and guarded by armed guards. 

Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan are among the worst sufferers as tens of thousands spend hours daily to get the subsidized bags of flour that are already short in supply in the market.

Incidents of clashes and stampedes have been reported in markets in many areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan. The situation is so dire that flour-loaded mini trucks and vans are escorted by armed guards to avoid clashes. As these vehicles reach the markets, people gather around these vehicles. 

Prices of wheat and flour have surged dramatically in recent months. Flour in Karachi is being sold from Rs 140 per kilogram to Rs 160 per kilogram. In Islamabad and Peshawar, a 10 kg bag of flour is being sold at Rs 1,500 per kilogram while a 20-kilogram bag of flour is being sold at Rs 2,800. Mill owners in Punjab province have increased the price of flour to Rs 160 per kilogram. 

What led to a food crisis in Pakistan?

There are multiple factors contributing to the food shortage in Pakistan. One such is the scarcity of water. The lack of new dams, cemented canal systems, and other necessary infrastructures to store water lead to the non-availability of water for irrigation resulting in reduced crop production.

It is worth noting that Pakistan’s annual inflation rate increased from 23.8% in November to 24.5% in December 2022. Food prices increased by 35.5%, compared to 31.2% the previous month, with onions (415%), tea (63.8%), wheat (57.3%), eggs (54.4), gram whole (53.2%), and rice (46.6%).

Ukraine Russia war is another factor adding to Pakistan’s food crisis, as Pakistan relies on Russia for its additional wheat supplies which is a staple food for the Pakistani population. As Russia is faced with multiple sanctions from the west, Pakistan has to explore other options to meet its demands. A fragile economy, a disinterested government, and the recent flash floods in Pakistan have led to a crisis in Pakistan. Besides, Pakistan with foreign exchange reserves plunged to an 8-year low of $5.6 billion leaving it under a looming threat of bankruptcy.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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