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Monday July 15, 2024

Ex-PM Kakar, PML-N's Abbasi engage in verbal spat over wheat import scandal

"You [Abbasi] and PML-N will hide your faces if I [decide] to talk on [issue] of Form 47," says Kakar

By Web Desk
May 04, 2024
Former caretaker PM Anwaarul Haq Kakar (left) and PML-N senior leader Muhammad Hanif Abbasi in these undated photos. — APP/Facebook/@hanifabbasiNA56
Former caretaker PM Anwaarul Haq Kakar (left) and PML-N senior leader Muhammad Hanif Abbasi in these undated photos. — APP/Facebook/@hanifabbasiNA56

After "wheat import scandal" opened a new debate and led to a high-level probe by the federal government, former caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) traded harsh words at a local hotel in Islamabad over the issue.

"You [Abbasi] and PML-N will hide your faces if I [decide] to talk on [issue] of Form 47," Kakar said.

"Have you come to arrest me?" the former premier questioned.

Responding to the ex-prime minister's remarks, Abbasi maintained that he had spoken the truth on the said issue during a television programme.

The Form 47 jibe refers to the rigging allegations levelled by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and other parties regarding the manipulation of results in the February 8 polls via the aforesaid Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) form which in essence amounted to provisional consolidated result of the constituency sans postal ballots in the polls.

The PTI has time again alleged that the poll results of Form 47s were tampered with and that the actual results were reflected in Form 45s which recorded the number of votes cast in a polling station and how many votes a candidate received from that polling station.

The bitter exchange between Kakar and Abbasi followed their argument over the wheat import scandal that has put the Centre and Punjab government in a tough spot.

PM Shehbaz Sharif has constituted an inquiry committee, led by Secretary Cabinet Division Kamran Ali Afzal, to investigate the import of wheat last year despite a "bumper crop" which has led to excess wheat stock leaving Balochistan and Punjab governments unable to purchase the crop from the farmers.

Due to the non-purchase of wheat by the provincial governments, wheat is being sold at a lower price than the official rate — a matter of grave concern for the farmers.

The stock surplus is attributed to the caretaker government's, led by Kakar, decision to allow the import of 2,758,226 226 metric tonnes of wheat worth Rs225.783 billion till February 2024.

However, former premier Kakar, while speaking during an interview, has ruled out his role in the prevailing crisis stressing that "it's not a job of a prime minister to oversee wheat production".

Commenting on the decision to import wheat, he said that only 3.4 million metric tonnes of the said crop was imported whereas the shortage was of 4 million metric tonnes.

Sources told Geo News that the Ministry of National Food Security had apprised Shehbaz's cabinet that 28.18 million tonnes of wheat was produced last year and the caretaker government decided to import 2.45 million tonnes more.

According to the statistics, a total of 3,449,436 metric tonnes of wheat worth Rs282.975 billion was imported during the caretaker government’s tenure and Shehbaz-led government during the ongoing fiscal year till March.

The federal government has also removed Federal Secretary National Food Security and Research Division Captain (retd) Muhammad Asif from his post on the issue of wheat import.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Fakhr Alam Irfan, a Grade 22 officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service, has been appointed as the new federal secretary of the National Food Security and Research Division.