KARACHI: As the public suffered owing to the recent increase in flour price and wheat shortage in Sindh and elsewhere in the country, the Pakistan Poeples Party’s provincial ministers and PTI lawmakers blamed each other for the ‘artificial crisis’ on Sunday.

Sindh Information and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said the whole country was facing a flour crisis owing to the incompetence and ineptitude of the PTI-led federal government.

“Such a grave crisis has emerged because of the inability of the PTI-led federal government, making it clear what is in store in the future,” said the provincial minister while speaking to reporters.

He made it clear that Sindh faced the flour crisis because of the weeklong strike by the goods transporters.

“As the goods transporters were on strike for a week or so that’s why wheat stored in the warehouses of Punjab and Balochistan could not be brought here,” he said.

Mr Ghani held the “flawed policies” of the federal government responsible and a key reason that forced the transporters to go on strike. He said since the end of the transporters’ strike 70,000 bags of wheat had reached Sindh, hoping that by expediting the process the flour crisis would end in Sindh within the next three to four days.

PTI parliamentarians hold the Sindh govt responsible for the ‘artificial’ crisis

The information minister said: “Why those who are blaming the Sindh government for creating a flour crisis in Sindh do not expose those who are actually creating the flour crisis in Punjab?”

He said the prime minister should apologise to the public for making them suffer so severely by failing to manage the crises that had agonisingly hit the day-to-day life of the people of Pakistan.

He said if the government had to blame the Sindh government for every blunder the former committed then the PTI government should resign immediately by accepting its incompetence and failures.

‘35 million tonnes of wheat in stores’

Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said wheat was in stores in Larkana, Sukkur and Thatta and the issue of prices of flour in Sindh would be resolved by Wednesday.

He said wheat harvesting would start in a couple of months in Sindh and then its supply would begin in the province.

He said Sindh had wheat in stock that was enough to end the flour crisis that briefly lasted in Karachi.

“We have 35 million tonnes of wheat in stores, which is enough to end such crises.”

He accused the federal government of being incompetent to avoid such avoidable crises.

“This government has made the country bohranistan [the land of crises]. The PTI’s government is busy in winning over its annoyed allies instead of improving its policies. This government does not feel for the betterment of our people,” said Minister Rahu.

He termed the wheat crisis as an “artificial crisis” and held the federal government solely responsible for it.

He said the crisis could have never emerged in Pakistan if the federal government had not allowed export of wheat to a neighbouring country.

“The federal government should inform the people why flour crises have hit Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan? Where has its flour gone?”

Besides, he added, the government should also make it clear whether the Sindh government was responsible for the ‘nanbais’ in KP who were on strike.

PTI parliamentarians

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf parliamentary leader in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Shaikh on Sunday said the Sindh government was “directly responsible” for the ongoing “artificial flour crisis”.

“Vested interests in Sindh are trying to hold the federal government responsible for the wheat flour crisis, but the facts tell a different story and expose the ugly face of the Sindh government, its corruption and mismanagement,” said Mr Shaikh, also vice president of his party, while speaking at a press conference at Insaf House.

He was flanked by leader of the opposition in the provincial legislature Firdous Shamim Naqvi and other party leaders.

He said in the warehouses of Passco of the federal government, there was a stockpile of 0.4 million tonnes of wheat in the control of the Sindh government, but the latter had lifted just 0.1m tonnes while the remaining 0.3m tonnes was still present in the warehouses in the province.

He said during the PML-N government there was a pact to supply wheat to Afghanistan, but that agreement was scrapped in July by the PTI government.

“The provincial government has created the artificial crisis to malign the federal government,” he said.

He said supplying wheat to flour mills and other stakeholders was the responsibility of the provincial government.

Mr Shaikh said the federal government had started sending 10,000 tonnes of wheat to Karachi and Hyderabad through NLC trucks.

Mr Naqvi alleged that corruption had surpassed politics in Sindh. He said wheat flour was given to Sindh at a rate of Rs34 per kilogram, but it had been sold at Rs80 per kg.

MPA Khurram Sher Zaman also spoke.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2020