In Kashmir, there’s a saying in the local language: “If one rides a horse, the other one climbs the wall.” This phrase paints a vivid picture of the prevailing loan culture in the region. The situation in Kashmir has become concerning, and it’s not too far-fetched to imagine a future where the burden of loans surpasses our earnings, leaving us struggling to meet even our basic needs.
Islamic scholars generally discourage the giving and taking of interest, but in many non-Muslim-majority countries, interest is allowed to some extent, often limited to genuine needs. However, in Kashmir, the scenario is quite different. Here, people often construct luxurious houses, justifying them as a necessity for the two significant events in life: marriage and death. Paradoxically, these grand three-story bungalows are financed primarily through loans, sometimes leaving four family members residing in what was meant to be a show of affluence.
Another stark reality is the growing trend of preferring luxury over necessity. While a modest middle-class individual could comfortably afford a Maruti 800 or an Alto 800, it has now become customary to opt for more expensive car models, often acquired through loans.
This prompts us to ponder: Where has the concept of interest for genuine needs gone, and where does luxury come into play? A motorcycle, a compact car, and a modest single-story house should suffice to meet our needs. However, borrowing money with interest to fulfill our luxury dreams is a matter that warrants serious reflection and has earned our society criticism.
If we observe the Pakistani economy, we can see how a country with ample resources is struggling to secure its citizens’ basic livelihoods. One can only imagine the consequences if we don’t curb our appetite for luxury and impulsive borrowing.
Recall the recent statement by our honorable Lieutenant Governor to the media: ‘If Kashmiri people are building three-story bungalows, buying the latest iPhone, and driving luxury cars, why can’t they pay their electricity bills?’
This statement serves as a stark reminder that while we may aspire for a life of luxury, it is crucial to strike a balance between our needs and desires. The prevailing loan culture should not lead us to a future where we are trapped in a cycle of debt, unable to meet even our basic obligations.
(The author is a resident of Shalimar Dhara and can be reached at [email protected])