Sindh ridicules Centre’s claim about wheat theft

Published December 2, 2021
Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani speaks to the media in Peshawar. — DawnNewsTV
Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani speaks to the media in Peshawar. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has ridiculed the Centre’s allegation regarding theft of 1.6 million tonnes of wheat in the province, claiming that it is not possible at all as the provincial government has procured a total of 1.2m tonnes of wheat during the year.

Speaking at a news conference here on Wednesday, Sindh Minister for Information and Labour Saeed Ghani lambasted the federal government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for holding the Sindh government responsible for every crisis created in the country due to the “incompetence” of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet.

“The present [federal] cabinet comprises all incompetent ministers. But who was the most incompetent among them who told the cabinet that 1.6 million tonnes of wheat had been stolen from Sindh?” asked the provincial minister.

Flanked by MPA from Sindh Nida Khoro and media coordinator of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Nazir Dhoki, the outspoken provincial minister said the federal cabinet had not only debated the matter, but also directed the Sindh government to take action. He said action should have been taken against federal Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam who had stated on the floor of the National Assembly that 6.6m tonnes wheat had gone missing.

Provincial minister suggests formation of commission on issue of illegal constructions

Similarly, Mr Ghani lashed out at Prime Minister Imran Khan for blaming Sindh for the increase in sugar price in the country. Quoting the prime minister as having stated at a function that the price of sugar had reached Rs150 per kg because three sugar mills in Sindh had stopped sugarcane crushing, the minister challenged the former to tell the names of the sugar mills. He also asked the prime minister to disclose the names of those on whose orders the mills had stopped crushing.

Mr Ghani also questioned the logic behind the increase in sugar price all over the country merely because of the stopping of crushing by three sugar mills in a province. He warned that the country might face another crisis in the coming days due to shortage of urea fertiliser.

Criticising the government for the price hike and energy crisis, Mr Ghani regretted that the people of Sindh were not getting gas despite the fact that almost 70 per cent of the total gas being consumed in the country was produced by the province. He said there had been a reduction in the price of oil in the international market, but instead of providing relief to the masses, the government had increased Rs4 per litre tax on petrol.

In response to a question about encroachments in the province with particular reference to the demolition of Nasla Tower in Karachi on the directives of the apex court, Mr Ghani suggested formation of a commission under a retired judge of the Supreme Court and comprising experts and town planners to come up with their recommendations about the steps that should be taken on the buildings and houses that had already been constructed illegally and to suggest measures to prevent such instances in future.

He said the Punjab government had through an ordinance recently constituted such a commission to regularise nearly 6,000 illegal housing societies in the province. He hinted that the Sindh government might do the same, saying the Punjab government had taken a good step.

The Sindh minister said the issue of illegal constructions on the state land was not limited to his province. He recalled that Imran Khan’s palatial residence at Banigala had been regularised after paying some fine. Similarly, he added, One-Constitution, which had been constructed despite the fact that the Capital Development Authority had not issued the NOC (no objection certificate), had also been regularised after payment of Rs1.8 billion. Recently, he said, on the court’s order, Bahria Town was allowed to regularise the illegal land after paying Rs460 billion.

Mr Ghani said blind demolition of illegal structures was not a solution as it could create more problems and human tragedy. He said that when in the past he was crying over the illegal construction on the land of Karachi Water and Sewerage Board in his constituency and even went to the court, no one listened to him. And now, he regretted, when houses had been constructed on the land, there were talks about demolishing them.

The Sindh minister also blasted the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for allegedly changing its stance on the issue of census. He said the PPP and the MQM had a similar stance on the census issue, but the MQM had now accepted the controversial census.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021

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