KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday rejected claims made in the Sugar Inquiry Commission report and said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government was misleading the people and consistently lying on the issue. It condemned the federal government for implicating Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the inquiry to save PTI leaders who had already been found involved in the scandal.
Speaking at a press conference in the Sindh Assembly Auditorium Hall, Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and Adviser to the Chief Minister Barrister Murtaza Wahab questioned the authenticity of the sugar commission inquiry report, saying it was an attempt to settle political scores and malign “true democratic forces in the name of accountability and justice”.
They called the move unjustified to summon Syed Murad Ali Shah for recording a statement before the commission.
“Terms of reference of the sugar inquiry commission did not include periods in which sugar was subsidised in Sindh, then why the chief minister of Sindh should record his statement before the commission,” Mr Shah questioned.
“It’s quite surprising that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akbar on the one hand did not even mention the name of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar who is under the spotlight in this subsidy period, but on the other the name of Syed Murad Ali Shah has been repeatedly mentioned who did not offer any subsidy during the period under investigation,” the Sindh information minister said.
Move to summon Murad Ali Shah to appear before inquiry panel termed unjustified
He claimed that whenever subsidy on sugar was offered in Sindh, it was meant for farmers and common landowners. In the past in Sindh, the information minister asserted, sugar was subsidised because sugar mills had ample stocks of the commodity and it could not be exported due to low international prices.
And whenever the Sindh government offered any subsidy on sugar, it was not aimed at giving favour to any particular group like the Omni group, Jahangir Tareen or any other such major group, but it was always given to benefit growers and farmers only,” the minister said.
Barrister Wahab said that according to the inquiry commission report, the subsidy on sugar had been given with the permission of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“Despite this fact, the commission never called the prime minister and instead its entire focus remained on the Sindh chief minister. When the government realised that the opposition has not been blamed in the report of the commission, it decided that the subsidy given in the past should also be made part of the report,” he said.
He said that the subsidy on sugar in Sindh was last given in December 2017. The commission, he said, should have also inquired from the prime minister how he allowed the export of sugar.
“This report is nothing but an attempt to protect the prime minister,” said Mr Wahab.
“The federal government has the sole authority for import and export of sugar and no province enjoys such a privilege. In the meeting of the Sugar Advisory Board, all provinces kept complaining about the increase in the price of sugar, but they were not heard. The prime minister was also the minister in charge of commerce and the summary of the subsidy on sugar was also moved with his permission,” he said.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2020