Tiff between federal, Punjab govts hurts Zakat recipients

15,000 low-income households awaiting financial support for nine months

Qaiser Shirazi November 15, 2022


The continuous political rift between the federation and Punjab governments has prevented 15,000 low-income families in the Rawalpindi region from receiving the financial support of zakat funds for the past nine months.

The provision of monthly financial assistance to widows and orphans has been discontinued in addition to the stoppage of the monthly education scholarships for deserving children of low-income families.

Free medical care, operations, dialysis, and free medications for 5,000 beneficiaries have been suspended in 10 large hospitals in the garrison city. Whereas treatment for 100 leprosy-affected households and 400 blind and impoverished families has also been discontinued.

Meanwhile, due to non-payment of dowry funds, the weddings of girls of hundreds of impoverished families have also stopped and the destitute families have greatly suffered while waiting for free financial and medical treatment for the last nine months.

The federation has not paid the grant of the Zakat Fund since the change of government, despite the passage of nine months from March to date.

Every year, the federation distributes the zakat funds from the zakat money collected by the four provinces, including Punjab. However, since the change of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government this year, the coalition government has yet to issue any zakat fund grant to the province.

The federation reportedly received letters from Punjab demanding the release of the Zakat fund, but the funds could not be issued. All of the zakat beneficiaries have been deprived of zakat for the last nine months because the Punjab government failed to release the amount due to the non-availability of this fund.

Every day, members of deserving families visit the office of the Zakat department but return home empty-handed due to the unavailability of funds.

In Punjab, there are 0.45 million Zakat recipients; nevertheless, none of these impoverished households receives any financial assistance.

The Zakat Council was unable to provide free treatment and medicines in the form of relief checks to the hospitals around the area due to a lack of funding. This has led to challenges for the patients receiving free dialysis from the Zakat Fund at certain institutions, jeopardising the lives of chronically ill patients.

Zakat beneficiaries including Hajira, a widow, and Muhammad Ismail, an elderly person, said, "We are apolitical but the federation and the Punjab governments are having a political conflict.

To redress our problems, the federation should immediately release the Zakat Fund to the province so that our children may continue their education and our relatives can receive free medical care.”

Taking to The Express Tribune, Firdous Bibi said that her daughter was getting married and she had been visiting the office for a dowry grant for six months and now that the paperwork was complete she was told that there were no funds.

“Why aren't funds for the poor being released?” she questioned. Another Zakar beneficiary, Fazal Satti, said, “Who will be held accountable if a poor patient dies due to lack of dialysis and operation services?”


Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2022..


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