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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Did Prime Minster Imran Khan give NRO-like concession to his ‘friends’?

Who was behind the sugar and wheat crisis in Pakistan? Will Prime Minster Imran Khan be able to expose all those who benefited from wheat and sugar shortage in Pakistan?

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has alleged Prime Minster Imran Khan for signing a deal with his friends. PML-N’s President Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday that PM Imran Khan gave NRO-like concession to his ‘friends’ by hiding the investigation report of the ongoing wheat and sugar crisis. These allegations are serious since many opinion makers and political commentators believe that there was probably a role played by the prime minister’s close aides in creating sugar and wheat crisis.

According to details, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, in a statement, said that the PTI government’s silence over the crisis is tantamount to confessing the crime. “Niazi (PM Imran) has proven that he is an accomplice of the culprits by not making the report public,” said the PML-N president.

Read More: Sindh sugar mill owners fail to settle crisis even after SHC intervention

Shehbaz Sharif said that to arrest the smugglers and hoarders of wheat and sugar “the PM House should be raided”. He further said that those behind hoarding and profiteering of edibles should be brought forth.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan had admitted that the sugar and wheat crisis had originated as a result of his government’s negligence, saying that an investigation was being conducted to find out who was responsible for it.

“This was our [government] negligence, I admit this,” he said. “I am telling you this today, we are conducting an investigation into this [wheat and sugar crisis] and we are slowly getting to know who is involved. I promise you, whoever is involved in the crisis, we will not leave that person,” he said.

Wheat prices across the country sky rocketed last month after fears of a looming shortage of wheat and sugar hit markets. The government had said it was doing all it could to contain the crisis, amid allegations from the opposition that the government was ill-equipped to deal with the issue.

The problem was exacerbated by a decision to export 200,000 to 400,000 tons of wheat, keeping in view surplus stocks on the basis of estimates presented by Ministry of National Food Security and Research, but the actual exports of wheat crossed 640,000 tons.

Read More: Provinces should expand the network of Sasta Bazaar, NPMC

Notably, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) provincial head Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan on last Thursday alleged that the disqualified leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Jahangir Tareen was responsible for the ongoing flour crisis in the country and asked the government to immediately arrest him.

While addressing a news conference, Mushtaq Khan said that the flour mafia was allegedly headed by Jahangir Tareen, which earned Rs40 billion out of the flour crisis. He said that the country had exported 500,000 tonnes of wheat and it was now importing 300,000 tonnes to overcome the lingering flour crisis in the country. “The food control authority has been handed over to the un-elected person, Jahangir Tareen,” he said, and stressed that the government should investigate Jahangir Tareen.

Similarly, the PML-N also blamed Mr. Tareen for the crisis.

Comprehensive report is in the offing

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Thursday that a comprehensive report on the wheat crisis will be presented to the cabinet in one week.

The prime minister’s aide was briefing the media on the federal cabinet’s meeting. Dr Firdous said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought a report on the wheat crisis in a week. She said that utility stores were playing an important role in reducing the prices of essential food items. “Prices of basic food items are decreasing day by day,” said Dr Firdous.

Read More: Pakistan’s Border Trade Issues Reducing its GDP Potential

Dr Firdous said that the cabinet was given a detailed briefing on the wheat crisis. She said that the cabinet was informed that wheat will be imported when its price goes down in the international market. “The federal government has decided to release 100,000 tonnes of wheat for Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” she said. “The Punjab Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) already has 2.8 million tonnes of wheat in its storage,” she added.

This is become important for the PTI to clear its position by making the report public as there are some serious allegations which may create legitimacy crisis for the government in the long run.