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Why Are The Caretaker And Shehbaz Sharif Governments At Odds Over The Wheat Scandal?


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LAHORE: The country’s ongoing wheat crisis has brought the Shehbaz government and the caretaker government face-to-face. Ministers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) federal government have blamed the caretaker government, led by Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, for the wheat crisis.

According to the federal ministers, the decisions to allow wheat imports, made after approval from the caretaker government, are the reason farmers are now protesting on the streets. Meanwhile, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar is seen defending his decisions.

Although the PML-N federal government is blaming the caretaker government for the wheat crisis, the roots of the crisis trace back to the previous PDM government. Consequently, the federal government appears reluctant to conduct a thorough investigation of the mega scandal and to take action against those responsible.

According to sources, the wheat imported during the caretaker government was initially recommended by the previous PDM government. Reports also indicate that during the tenure of the current federal government, millions of tons of wheat were imported.

Official documents reveal that a summary to import 1 million tons of wheat came up during Shehbaz Sharif’s PDM government, and on July 13, 2023, the Minister of Food Security approved the summary to officially purchase 1 million tons of wheat.

The decision was made to bring wheat in as strategic reserves, but on August 8, 2023, the ECC deferred the summary. The summary was sent to the Prime Minister’s House on September 1, 2023, and on September 4, 2023, Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, acting as the Minister of Food Security, approved the summary.

After the new government took over, wheat worth 98.51 billion rupees was imported. Despite having a carry forward stock of more than 113,000 tons, over 600,000 tons of wheat were imported during the current government’s tenure. The imported wheat costs 93.82 rupees per kilogram at the port, and sources claim that more than 200 billion rupees worth of wheat was imported during the caretaker government.

On the other hand, following the federal ministers’ blame for the wheat crisis, former caretaker Prime Minister Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar stated that there was no corruption or wrongdoing in the import of wheat. “If giving people affordable bread is a crime, then by all means, punish me,” he said, adding that he is ready to appear before the Wheat Investigation Committee.

In an interview, Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar said that if called by the Wheat Investigation Committee, he would definitely attend, clarifying that his government did not approve any new laws for importing wheat. He attributed the responsibility for allowing the private sector to import wheat to the previous PTI government, noting that the relevant SRO was issued by the PTI government and remained in effect for 2 years under the PTI government, 16 months under the PDM government, and is still in effect under the current government.

The former Caretaker Prime Minister said that there is an unnecessary storm brewing in a teacup regarding the imported wheat, considering the country’s demand and consumption. By allowing the private sector to import wheat, we have contributed some revenue to Pakistan’s treasury in the form of taxes.

Furthermore, Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi broke his silence on the wheat bought during the caretaker government, stating that decisions to import wheat are made by the federal government and have nothing to do with the Punjab government.

Speaking at a press conference, Mohsin Naqvi said, “I personally believe there was no malice from the federal government; the Punjab government buys wheat from farmers, not from foreign countries. People may wish for an inquiry against me, but that wish will not be fulfilled; the Punjab government has no connection with the wheat issue.”


Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast investigative journalist who is the co-founder of The Scoop. He also hosts his web shows 'The Scoop' and 'The Hassan Naqvi Show'.


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