LAHORE – Former Punjab minister and Pakistan People’s Party provincial secretary general Tanvir Ashraf Kaira on Saturday pointed out wheat smuggling to Afghanistan on a large scale, and said that Pakistan would face wheat shortage despite the expected bumper crop of the commodity this year.
In a statement issued here from the PPP Secretariat, he expressed his regret over the delay of the Punjab government which had failed in stalling the wheat smuggling from Punjab to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and then to Afghanistan. He also lamented the Pakhtunkhwa administration that seemed to be hands in glove and lacking the will to circumvent smuggling from the province to Afghanistan.
He also said that the beneficiary of the government subsidy (to the farmers) would be the consumers of foreign countries and not the consumer of Pakistan who might have to spend more to buy the food items. He cautioned that if the smuggling continued at the scale Pakistan might face shortage of wheat and resultantly the story of 2007 would revisit when the government exported wheat recklessly.
At the end of the season in 2007, the government had to import the commodity from the international market to bridge the gap between demand and supply, he said. He called upon the Punjab government to take immediate measures to stop the smuggling now as procrastination in this regard would lead to food insecurity in the province.
He also asked the Pakhtunkhwa government to tighten up the enforcement measures to ensure the halting of the smuggling of the commodity to the foreign countries through the province.