ISLAMABAD: Terming the inquiry reports on sugar and wheat crises in the country “unprecedented”, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said he would wait for a detailed forensic report on the matter before taking action against anyone. He vowed that no powerful lobby would be able to gain undue profit and create artificial shortage of essential items in future.

The prime minister stated this in his tweets about the much-awaited reports of a high-powered inquiry committee, headed by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Wajid Zia, which were released on Saturday. The reports shocked even people in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) when the names of its frontline leaders and those of allied parties were mentioned for being involved in the recent wheat and sugar crises in the country that caused a sharp increase in their prices.

The prime minister also revealed in his tweets that the forensic report on the sugar and wheat crises would come out on April 25. “I wait for the detailed forensic reports now by the high-powered commission, which will come out on April 25, before taking action,” the prime minister said in the tweet.

He said no one would dare to hoard and earn undue profit after the issuance of these reports. “Insha Allah, after these reports come out, no powerful lobby will be able to profiteer at the expense of our public,” he added.

Imran vows no powerful sugar, wheat lobby will now be able to gain undue profit, create artificial shortage of essential items in future

On Saturday, two reports on the sugar and wheat crises in the country were made public, exposing ruling PTI’s bigwig Jahangir Tareen and allied parties’ leaders federal Minister for Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar, Monis Elahi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and their relatives as being involved in the scam.

The reports were made public on the directives of the prime minister who, according to Special Assistant on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar, had ordered stern action against those found involved in the crises “irrespective of their status and party affiliation”.

A source told Dawn that the prime minister and members of the inquiry commission had been ‘threatened with dire consequences if the reports were made public’. The sugar cartel had also threatened the committee that if the report was issued the commodity would be vanished from the market.

The prime minister said he had finally fulfilled the promise made to the people. “As promised, preliminary reports into [the] sudden price hikes of sugar and wheat have been released without alteration/tampering. This is unprecedented in Pakistan’s history,” he tweeted.

He said the previous political leadership lacked the courage to release such information due to their “vested interests and compromises”.

Meanwhile, a source privy to recent developments on the matter told Dawn that some of the sugar mill owners, who had been gaining undue benefits for the last many years, had attended a special fund raising ceremony held in Lahore on Saturday and donated millions of rupees to the PM’s coronavirus relief fund. “But they did not know that the report was being issued the same day against them,” the source added.

The source revealed that two types of actions were recommended in the reports — administrative and legal — after finding criminality in forensic audit. The administrative action, the source said, would be taken in the next three to four days and some top officials responsible for irregularities, negligence and backing “sugar and wheat mafias” would be sacked. Stern action will be taken against sugar and wheat cartels after forensic reports are released.

The source said the owners of sugar and flour mills were quite worried about the forensic audit because they knew that all their bad deeds would get exposed in the forensic investigation.

Some of the mill owners were reluctant to cooperate by giving excuses that due to the coronavirus situation they could not open their mills for forensic audit. “But when the commission’s members said that they had powers to break their locks, the owners agreed to open their mills for the audit,” the source said.

Earlier, the forensic commission sought six months to complete the report, but the prime minister insisted that it should be completed in two months and for that purpose more than 250 people, including experts from different departments, have been given to the commission to complete the job as soon as possible.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020