Pakistan: "It's a big challenge to cope with this."

(By Imtiaz Ali For The Washington Post)
Sunday, June 8, 2008

Faiz-ul-Mal owns a makeshift restaurant in a slum area of Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province. Most of his customers are cabdrivers or day laborers working in construction, and few have much money. He serves 80 to 100 people a day.

"The day I increase prices of meal in my restaurant, nobody will come here," he said.

All the food he buys -- oil, beans, meat and vegetables -- is more expensive. "The food crisis and the skyrocketing inflation of daily commodities have badly affected my whole business," he said.

He recently increased prices of a few of his dishes, just slightly, but "all my clients were grumbling," he said.

Mal, 25, lives with his wife, daughter, parents and six brothers and sisters. "I'm the person who is receiving the brunt of this food crisis, as a family person and as a businessman," he said. "Most of the family responsibility has fallen on my shoulders."

"Everybody knows that it's a global crisis and it's affecting people in many of the underdeveloped and poor countries around the world," he said. "I think it's a big challenge to cope with this situation. The developed countries should help the poor countries.

"Food is life, and if there is no food, there will be no life," he said.

-- Imtiaz Ali

© 2008 The Washington Post Company