People leave after collecting free bags of flour from a government distribution point in Multan. Image Credit: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Six people, mostly elderly persons and women have lost their lives in mayhem caused during the distribution of free bags of wheat flour in different cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) since Ramadan began.

The Punjab caretaker authorities supported by the federal government had announced Rs53 billion (Dh688 million) Ramadan Package for the low-income households to distribute among them free wheat flour bags. Similarly, around 92 per cent of the population of KP are expected to receive free wheat flour under the Ramadan Package.

It is estimated that about 1.5 million families and 100 million individuals will benefit from the free flour package.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after the reports of mayhem causing deaths during distribution of wheat flour in Muzaffargarh, Charsadda, Faisalabad, Bhakkar, decided to visit the distribution points personally and on Saturday he visited Sargodha’s Company Bagh where one such point has been established.

Prime Minister Sharif who was accompanied by senior aides directed the authorities to continue the free flour distribution till 25th of Ramadan as per the schedule announced by the government.

The prime minister also distributed flour bags among the beneficiaries and inspected the process of flour supply with the officials monitoring the particulars of the people before guiding them to the distribution point.

He also visited the waiting room established to facilitate the beneficiaries of the flour scheme, particularly keeping in view the month of fasting.

A day earlier, he had visited Lahore and Kasur distribution points and reviewed the arrangements.

Pakistan hit hard by inflation

Pakistanis are currently facing a mounting economic challenge of all-time high inflation besides increase in food prices, petrol and electricity tariff going beyond their reach and above all high cost of wheat flour.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data shows that inflation reached an all-time high of 46.65 per cent year-on-year (YoY) for the week ending on March 22, in comparison to the previous week i.e. 45.64pc YoY.

Thus on a week-on-week basis, the short-term inflation has increased by 1.80pc as vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and wheat flour became costlier.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb while addressing a news conference announced that families registered under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) are eligible to get a special package of free flour.

A similar package will soon be announced for the people of Balochistan and Sindh, she further said.

Besides, the unregistered families are also entitled to get free flour after registering themselves on the phone.