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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

NAB court frees 21 accused in Sindh wheat scam

The acquittal of the 21 accused in the wheat scam comes at a time when Pakistan is already facing a wheat crisis.

In a major development, an accountability court has acquitted 21 people facing charges of corruption in the Sindh wheat case.

According to the details, the government released wheat from its stocks to flour mills at a subsidy rate in 2017. The price of the wheat stock, however, was not paid to the government.

The hearing of the wheat corruption case in the Ghotki food department was held at Sukkur. Advocate Tahir Hussain told the media that the court has freed all the accused in the case.

The Sindh Food department was hit with a multi-billion-rupee scam involving procurement of wheat and misappropriation of jute bags, also called bardana, after hundreds of thousands of such bags went either simply missing/ misappropriated or stuffed with chaff.

Read more: How mice ate Rs 20m wheat in Sindh? Asad Umar to ask Sindh govt in NA

The scam invited the attention of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which first sealed and then unsealed several warehouses in upper Sindh’s Larkana and Sukkur regions after counting. NAB initiated action in Sukkur, Ghotki, Naushahro Feroze, Khairpur, Jacobabad, Qambar-Shahdadkot, and Kashmore.

NAB Sindh chapter however recovered more than Rs10 billion in the wheat scandal under the inquiries opened against the provincial food department for the theft of wheat worth more than Rs15 billion.

Interestingly, the acquittal of the 21 accused in the wheat scam comes at a time when Pakistan is already facing a wheat crisis. Pakistan currently faces a serious flour crisis due to the worsening economic situation, shortage of foreign exchange, and destruction of wheat crops in the recent floods. People are standing in long queues to buy a single bag of flour. In some places, for instance, chaotic situations have unfolded as people fight each other for a bag of flour.

The price of flour reached Rs130-160 per kilo. The 10kg bag of flour provided by the federal government at the utility stores and the cheap flour bag by the Sindh government at a cost of Rs 650 have disappeared from the market. It had been stated that the crisis surfaced because of a miscalculation of imported grain requirements.

Read more: Sindh Government is destroying Wheat after Sugarcane: PTI