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PM Shehbaz Forms Inquiry Committee to Probe Wheat Import Scandal

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has taken decisive action by forming an inquiry committee to scrutinize the wheat importation process of the previous year, on Thursday. This move comes amidst concerns raised over the importation of wheat despite a reported “bumper crop”.

Chairing a pivotal meeting focused on the current wheat stock and future procurement strategies, PM Shehbaz appointed Kamran Ali Afzal, Secretary of the Cabinet Division, to lead the investigative body.

Expressing his concerns, the Prime Minister questioned the necessity of wheat imports in 2023, particularly in light of Pakistan’s reported abundant wheat production.

He emphasized the importance of timely procurement from local farmers, stressing that their hard work should be duly recognized and compensated without delay.

In attendance at the meeting were federal ministers Ahad Khan Cheema, Rana Tanvir Hussain, Muhammad Aurengzeb, Jam Kamal Khan, as well as the Coordinator to the Prime Minister, Rana Ehsan Afzal, along with other senior officials.

According to official statistics, a substantial quantity of wheat, totaling 3,449,436 metric tonnes valued at Rs282.975 billion, was imported during the tenure of the caretaker government and the ongoing fiscal year under Shehbaz’s leadership up until March.

During the caretaker government term, imports amounted to 2,758,226 metric tonnes worth Rs225.783 billion until February 2024. Subsequently, under Shehbaz’s administration, 691,136 metric tonnes of wheat valued at Rs57.192 billion were imported in March alone.

Meanwhile, Shehbaz has taken swift action by removing Federal Secretary National Food Security and Research Division, Captain (R) Muhammad Asif, from his position due to concerns surrounding the wheat importation during the caretaker government’s tenure.

Asif, a Grade 21 officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service, has been placed on OSD (on special duty). Dr. 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.

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