The bleating of high-priced goats.

Cows and goats sauntering across main thoroughfares are passé in India but in Islamabad — which, with its wide tree-lined avenues and well-appointed houses, looks more Western than South Asian — this is a sight strictly reserved for the pre-Eid-ul-Zuha days when everyone is busy getting their sacrificial lambs ready for the festival.

Overnight, the bleating of goats becomes the dominant sound in the neighbourhood and butchers the most sought after “professionals”; raking in as much as PKR 2,500 per goat on the first day of the three-day festival, with a PKR 500 discount thrown in if they get to keep the hide.

Nothing new in all this except, of course, the price range of both goats and butchers.

But, with every passing year, there are individuals protesting against what they call the “spectacle” that is made of the sacrifice; particularly on television which offers live coverage of the slaughtering.

“Twitterverse” this festival season was abuzz with messages such as these: “I am a voracious meat eater, but I still find this display of sacrificial goats, cows etc. wearing phools and haars a little too much” and “48 hours of watching animals being cut & meat being chopped on TV & I finally & totally understand why we need meatless days.”

Pakistan going meatless may be a long way off given how much Pakistanis relish kababs and tikkas but when the festivities were through — the blood and gore et al — they did bring a rare smile to the poor of the land. For, this is one time of the year they can look forward to eating the otherwise prohibitively priced mutton. And, there is a lot of that going their way given Pakistan’s reputation of being among the most charitable nations in the world.

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