Lahoris still being fed unhygienic food

* Food outlets continuing to sell adulterated and substandard foodstuffs despite recent Food Dept operation
* Chief food inspector says punished violators still operating due to shortage of employees to follow up on cases

By Afnan Khan (Daily Times)

LAHORE: Adulterated and substandard food is still being sold at various important markets of the city as the District Food Department’s recent operation to shut down food outlets selling hazardous foodstuffs could not make a significant dent on the business, Daily Times learnt on Saturday.

The department was supposed to clear all the major localities, including Gulberg, Model Town, Shadman, Garden Town, Barkat Market, Lakshmi Chowk and Gowalmandi, from adulterated and substandard foodstuffs to ensure the provision of good quality food to citizens ahead of Ramazan.

Some District Food Department officials told Daily Times that the business of most hotels and restaurants depended on iftar parties. They said that such gatherings would increase the demand of eatable items, increasing the chances of having substandard and adulterated food served to consumers.

Operation: “The department has apparently completed its operation against outlets selling substandard food in all the major parts of the city, but the sale of substandard food still continues,” a senior Food Department official told Daily Times. He said that the department officials had only focused on satisfying paperwork instead of booking outlets selling substandard foodstuffs. He said that hotels and restaurants across the city had been operating without following the safety standards laid down by the Food Department.

“You can see people cooking and heating food items on main roads, which has been prohibited by the department because it is an unhygienic way to treat food. Moreover, it is necessary for the chefs to wear hats and gloves, and be very careful about their own hygiene,” he said.

The official said that chefs were also required to keep the kitchens, pots and utensils clean, but most outlets were not following the directions. He held the Food Department officials concerned responsible for the situation, saying that no grand operation on genuine grounds had been launched and violators were usually not issued tickets.

“The takka takk and sirri paey shops in Lakshmi Chowk are operating on the main road, and the food is not covered, which is in violation of the Punjab Pure Food Ordinance, 1960,” he said, adding that similar situations could be witnessed on Wahdat Road and in Gaddafi Stadium area, Moon Market, Mozang and in Liberty Market.

Workforce: Chief Food Inspector Muhammad Ayub told Daily Times that the department had launched a crackdown on food outlets in Lakshmi Chowk and in all upscale localities of the city. However, he said that it was not possible for the food inspectors to proceed with the violation cases regularly because of the shortage of workers in the department, despite the fact that the inspectors had issued tickets to dozens of hotels and restaurants during the ongoing campaign.

Ayqub said that the officials did not have enough powers to completely eliminate illegal businesses, as the culprits simply paid a minute fine in courts and moved their set up to new locations. He denied the allegations that the Food Department officials were corrupt, saying that the department’s godowns could prove their virtues, where a huge quantity of all kinds of seized adulterated and substandard food had been placed.

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One response to “Lahoris still being fed unhygienic food

  1. Raise the issue of Dr. Afia :Make a difference
    Dr. Afia Siddiqui, was arrested along with her three children by a Pakistani intelligence agency in early 2003 and has been missing since then. American and Pakistani intelligence agencies confirmed that she had been arrested in connection with Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organisation run by Osama Bin Laden. However, later both agencies denied that she had been arrested. Dr. Afia’s whereabouts remain unknown but it is suspected that she is being held in an American detention centre.

    CASE DETAILS:

    The press reports claimed that Dr. Afia had been picked-up by Pakistani intelligence agencies while on her way to the airport and initial reports suggested that she was handed over to the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At the time of her arrest she was 30 years and the mother of three sons the oldest of which was four and the youngest only one month.

    A Monthly English magazine of Karachi in a special coverage on Dr. Afia reported that one week after her disappearance, a plain clothed intelligence went to her mother’s house and warned her, “We know that you are connected to higher-ups but do not make an issue out of your daughter’s disappearance.” According to the report the mother was threatened her with ‘dire consequences’ if she made a fuss.

    Whilst Dr. Afia’s whereabouts remain unknown, there are reports of a woman called ‘Prisoner 650’ is being detained in Afghanistan’s Bagram prison and that she has been tortured to the point where she has lost her mind. Britain’s Lord Nazeer Ahmed, (of the House of Lords), asked questions in the House about the condition of Prisoner 650 who, according to him is physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at prison. Lord Nazeer has also submitted that Prisoner 650 has no separate toilet facilities and has to attend to her bathing and movements in full view of the other prisoners.

    Also, on July 6, 2008 a British journalist, Yvonne Ridley, called for help for a Pakistani woman she believes has been held in isolation by the Americans in their Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan, for over four years. “I call her the ‘grey lady’ because she is almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continues to haunt those who heard her,” Ms Ridley said at a press conference.

    Ms Ridley, who went to Pakistan to appeal for help, said the case came to her attention when she read the book, The Enemy Combatant, by a former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg. After being seized in February 2002 in Islamabad, Mr Begg was held in detention centres in Kandahar and Bagram for about a year before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He recounted his experiences in the book after his release in 2005. Mr. Imran Khan, leader of Justice Party (T.I) suspects that prisoner 650 is the Dr. Afia Siddiqui and USA and Pakistani authorities are hiding facts of ‘Prisoner 650’.

    SUGGESTED ACTION:
    Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and request them to investigate immediately. Dr. Afia’s whereabouts must be confirmed and the safety of her children assured. Regardless of whether Dr. Afia is Prisoner 650 or not the fact is that she has been missing, along with her children for five years. The governments of the USA and Pakistan at first confirmed her arrest and then denied it. Both governments have a duty to report any information they might have on the matter.

    SAMPLE LETTER:

    Dear________,

    PAKISTAN/USA: A lady doctor is missing with her three children since five years after her arrest

    Name of victim: Ms. Dr. Afia Siddiqui and her three children
    Block 7, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, Sindh province
    The units of the alleged perpetrators: Intelligence agencies of Pakistan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI-US)

    I am shocked to know that Dr. Afia Siddiqui, a Pakistani citizen has been missing with her three children since April 2003, after her arrest by intelligence agencies of Pakistan. The whereabouts of children is also unknown, which is a serious act of negligence on the part of the government with regard to its responsibility to protect the citizen of the Pakistan.

    According to the information I have received Dr. Afia was picked-up by Pakistani intelligence agencies while on her way to the airport and initial reports suggested that she was handed over to the American FBI. A few days later an American news channel, NBC, reported that Afia had been arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of facilitating money transfers for terror networks of Osama Bin Laden.

    On April 1, 2003, a small news item was published in an Urdu daily with reference to a press conference of then Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat when, in reply to a question regarding the arrest of Dr. Siddiqui, he said she has not been arrested. But in another report the minister for interior said,”You will be astonished to know about the activities of Dr. Afia.” A weekly English magazine in its special coverage on Dr. Afia reported that after one week of the incident, an intelligence agency official, a motor cyclist in plain clothes, came to the house of her mother and warned “We know that you are connected to higher-ups but do not make an issue out of her daughter’s disappearance” and threatened her with dire consequences. After this development the whereabouts of Dr. Afia and her children are yet unknown.

    What is also of grave concern to me is that when she was arrested by Pakistani intelligence authorities she was handed over to American intelligence agencies without being tried in Pakistan, I do not find any rationale in sending her along with her children to other country when there are Pakistani laws to deal with the suspected terrorists. It is known that President Musharraf handed over 600 suspected terrorists to America.

    There are reports that in Afghanistan’s prison of Bagram there is a woman prison known as Prisoner 650 and that she has been severely tortured. It is also widely suspected that Prisoner 650 is Dr. Afia Siddiqui. This prisoner has reportedly lost her mind due to constant rape and ill treatment.

    I remind you that this is the duty of coalition government under Prime Minister Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani to probe cases of those Pakistani suspected terrorists who have been handed over to foreign forces in the name of war on terror. The government should also inform Pakistani citizens about the whereabouts of Dr. Afia Siddiqui and her children. I also demand that government should also ensure the safety of her children.

    Yours sincerely,

    ————-
    PLEASE SEND YOU LETTERS TO:

    1. The Chief
    Allied Joint Force Command
    Head Quarters Brunssum,
    Public Affirs office, P.O. BOX 270
    6440, AG, Brunssem
    THE NETHERLANDS
    Tel. No.: +31 45 526 2409
    Email: pio@jfcbs.nato.intHeadquar
    t

    2. Mr. George W. Bush
    President of the United State of America (USA)
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
    Washington, DC 20500
    USA
    Email: presidents@presidentsusa.net

    3. Mr. Hamid Karzai
    President of Afghanistan
    Gul Khana Palace
    Presidential Palace
    Kabul
    AFGHANISTAN
    Email: president@afghanistangov.org

    6. Mr. Farooq Naik
    Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
    S Block Pakistan Secretariat
    Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 51 920 2628
    E-mail: minister@molaw.gov.pk

    7. Mr. Rehman Malik
    Advisor for Ministry of Interior
    Room No. 404, 4th Floor, R Block,
    Pak Secretariat
    Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 51 920 2624
    Tel: +92 51 921 2026
    E-mail: minister@interior.gov.pk

    Thank you

    Urgent Appeals Programme
    Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org

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