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Thursday June 20, 2024

PTI wants judicial commission on wheat scandal

Party leader made it clear that the caretakers could not be exonerated from the whole saga as they were an extension of the PDM

By Mumtaz Alvi
May 07, 2024
PTI senior leader Sheikh Waqas Akram (C) speaks during a press conference on May 6, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
PTI senior leader Sheikh Waqas Akram (C) speaks during a press conference on May 6, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) demanded the formation of a judicial commission on Monday to thoroughly investigate what it called the mega wheat scandal, in which billions of rupees were siphoned off at the expense of poor farmers.

The PTI leaders emphasised that a probe through a judicial commission was crucial to bring the real culprits to book, alleging that the federal government’s inquiry committee appeared to be an attempt to save the big players involved in the scam. Former caretaker PM Anwaarul Haq Kakar and Mohsin Naqvi, who served as caretaker Punjab CM, were blamed for the crisis.

Speaking at a press conference, PTI senior leader Sheikh Waqas Akram, whose name is now circulating as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, charged that the PDM regime and the PMLN government had inflicted a massive loss of Rs300 billion on the national treasury through needless wheat imports.

PTI opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Malik Ahmad Khan Bhachar, Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan, and other party members, including Sahibzada Ameer Sultan, Khwaja Sheraz Mehmood, and Mian Ghous Muhammad, were also present.

He pointed out that the PDM government had initiated the wheat import, and now the farmers were being forced to bear the burden of unnecessary import by both the caretaker and incumbent governments.

The party leader made it clear that the caretakers could not be exonerated from the whole saga as they were an extension of the PDM. He alleged that the incompetent and anti-farmer coalition regime, led by the PMLN, was causing an economic massacre of farmers due to its failure to adopt a proper strategy regarding wheat procurement. He said that the wheat crisis would impact farmers and the public in the long run, benefiting only middlemen due to the government’s mismanagement.

Waqas demanded that the government take immediate steps to facilitate the farmers and pay them the due price of their crop instead of resorting to a blame game to protect the real culprits.

On the occasion, Malik Bhachar said that the farmers would start their massive protest demonstration on May 12, and the PTI would join them, as the party would not leave them alone in their struggle.

He said that while there were 77 million metric tons of wheat available for sale in Punjab, the government had announced its intention to buy only two million metric tons, forcing farmers to sell their crops at throwaway prices.

Bhachar demanded a thorough and transparent probe into the wheat scandal, saying that the removal of a secretary was not a sufficient response to the mega scandal because it involved criminal offences for which Mohsin Naqvi and Anwaarul Haq Kakar were responsible.

Sahibzada Mehboob said that the government seemed intent on harming the farmers and highlighted the efforts of the Taliban-run government in Afghanistan to prioritise the agriculture sector. He praised their initiative to start the construction of the 285-kilometer-long Qosh Tepa Canal in early 2022 to enhance the agriculture sector, which was scheduled to be completed by 2025.

He emphasised that only nations that ensured food security survived and commended the PTI government, under the leadership of Imran Khan, for prioritising the welfare of weak segments of society, especially farmers. He assured that his party would stand by the farmers to secure their due rights from those who stole the mandate.

He said that the PTI would not allow the government to oppress 60 million farmers and demanded an open investigation to make an example of those involved in the scandal.

Sahibzada Ameer Sultan, Khwaja Sheraz Mehmood, and Mian Ghous Muhammad also spoke, asserting that it would take only 24 hours to trace the origin of the summary and hold the responsible parties accountable.

They criticised the government without public mandate for committing economic harm to farmers by refusing to purchase their products at the government-fixed price and making it difficult for them to obtain loans from banks.