IN a bid to make the process of free distribution of wheat flour bags to the deserving people during Ramadan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid a surprise visit to various free flour distribution points in Multan, Bahawalpur and other districts of South Punjab. He directed officials concerned to extend the maximum assistance to elderly people, special persons and women at the centres.
The visit of the Prime Minister assumes significance as it took place in the backdrop of reports that so far six people lost their lives in attempting to get wheat flour from distribution points. The deaths occurring in Bhakkar, Muzaffargarh, Kot Addu, Multan, Faisalabad and Charsadda were caused either by stampede or the long waiting time due to maladministration. These tragic incidents are being used by the political opponents of the government to cast aspersions on the otherwise highly laudable initiative of the Prime Minister as vulnerable segments of the society are getting substantial relief in the holy month. No doubt, the deaths reflected poorly on the administrative arrangements made for free distribution of flour but it is also the responsibility of all members of the civil society to maintain discipline; show respect for elderly people, women and patients; and refrain from fraudulent practices that amount to denying the genuinely deserving people of their rights. We hope that based on their experience of the initial days, district administrations would streamline the process to ensure smooth and hassle-free distribution of wheat flour bags among the poor. Rush and waiting time can be reduced by establishing more distribution points in cities and towns which is a necessity in view of the fact that recipients are observing fast. Bahawalpur Administration did well by establishing a medical centre at the distribution centre to cope with any emergent situation and this can be replicated in other areas.