Friday June 21, 2024

‘Atta’, sugar paving way to soft revolution

By Zafar Alam Sarwar
February 10, 2020

Educated but unemployed youth seems not very happy with the new regime as it was expected by all sections of society.

The common people, in fact, are impatient: They want an effectively meaningful change that makes comfortable the socio-economic life of the masses. Hoarders and profiteers of ‘atta’ and sugar are still active as they were in the past.

Consumers say that “such elements need to be dealt with an iron hand to sustain justice.” They recall what the architect of Pakistan said in this regard.

In his address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the father of nation, terming black-marketing a curse, said: “I know that black-marketers are frequently caught and punished; judicial sentenced are passed or sometimes fines only are imposed; now you have to tackle this monster which today is a colossal crime against society in our distressed conditions when we face shortage of food and other essential conditions of life. The black-marketers ought to be very severely punished because they undermine the entire system of control and regulation of foodstuffs, and cause starvation and even death.”

One is reminded of the sayings of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and pro-people mind-set of first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan in the wake of the food department’s timely measures against flour mills reportedly involved in selling 20-kilo wheat ‘atta’ bags at very high prices under different brands of ‘special’ and ‘fine’ quality, and thus exploiting the already hard-pressed consumers. City olds recall the second half of 1968 when ‘atta’ went up followed by abrupt rise in sugar price, adding fuel to the fire against the then administration and President Ayub’s popularity graph came down.

Nowadays, one of topics of discussion among citizens again is the rationing system once introduced to solve the common man’s ‘atta’, sugar and water problem.

Some years back, the civic bodies reportedly contemplated to ration drinking water in Rawalpindi as its supply had dwindled because of prolonged dry spell. They were not certain about fall of rain. Per day supply from Khanpur Dam alone had reduced by two million gallons. The position of the Rawal Dam of Islamabad also did not appear pleasant. During a visit to the Rawal Dam one could see for oneself the old Murree Road exposed by the receding water in the Rawal Lake. The Water and Sanitation Agency persistently advised consumers of the twin cities to use the most wanted commodity judiciously, for the water level in both the dams had gone down dangerously.

The then Wasa Director Naseer Arain told media persons the agency was making its best effort to maintain normal water supply, but he apprehended the dry spell would affect water supply to consumers. There was suggestion from a high authority to ration the commodity in case it didn’t rain. He asserted arrogantly the civic agencies in the federal capital had begun rationing water “but we’re supplying it without interruption.”

The fact is that citizens are short of water even today. In such a situation, city olds insist there’s need to pray to God. There may be possibility of starvation. Who will lay hand upon exploiters, hoarders, smugglers and profiteers? That’s the question? The rationing system was discontinued when the authorities concerned felt prices of kitchen items, particularly ‘atta’, rice and sugar, had been controlled to the satisfaction of middle and lower-middle consumers.

But the conditions are again distressed, and ordinary citizens have their grievance: They want administrators to fear Almighty God, follow in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), act upon the advice of the founder of Pakistan and adopt the pro-people policy of Liaquat Ali Khan.