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Kakar Holds Interim Provincial Governments Accountable for Wheat Importation

Interim Provincial Governments

ISLAMABAD: Following the revelation of the ‘wheat import scandal,’ former caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has shifted blame onto the then-interim provincial governments for the decision to import the commodity, on Saturday. Kakar’s statements come amidst a high-level probe initiated to investigate the matter.

In a statement, Kakar vehemently denied any involvement in the ongoing crisis, asserting that overseeing wheat production does not fall within the purview of a prime minister’s responsibilities.

He highlighted that only 3.4 million metric tonnes of wheat were imported, while the shortage amounted to 4 million metric tonnes, placing the blame on bureaucrats who allegedly manipulated demand.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a fact-finding committee last year to scrutinize irregularities in wheat importation, despite expectations of a “bumper crop.”

This excess stock has left provincial governments in Balochistan and Punjab unable to purchase wheat from farmers, contributing to the current crisis.

Due to the failure of provincial governments to purchase wheat, the market is flooded with surplus stock, leading to prices below the official rate.

The Kakar-led caretaker government permitted the import of 2,758,226 metric tonnes of wheat until February 2024, further exacerbating the situation.

In response to the inquiry, former caretaker Prime Minister Kakar has been summoned by the high-level committee, along with ex-Secretary of Food Muhammad Mahmood.

The committee intends to question former Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, former interim Minister for Commerce and Trade Gohar Ejaz, and Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi in an upcoming meeting.

The committee emphasizes the significant role of caretaker federal cabinet members in the wheat import decision and believes that the inquiry report would be incomplete without their input.

Initial investigations with Customs officers, Karachi Port authorities, and FBR officials have already been concluded, marking a critical phase in uncovering the truth behind the wheat import scandal.

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