Farmers are sitting in Islamabad with their genuine demands unmet. They have valid reasons to march on to the federal capital, as their crops are inundated and the government’s inflated energy bills have left them in tatters. Moreover, they are short on fertiliser, and the support price for their cash crops too is unfair. Last but not least, their tube-wells are dysfunctional for a month, and rupture in power supply has rendered them as outcasts on their own lands. This directly impacts Pakistan’s food security, as there is an evident drop in supply and demand of farm produce, and prices of essentials are skyrocketing. But unfortunately there are no listening ears and the destitute growers sit idle in an autumn of hopes.
Members of the Kissan Ittehad now sit at stone-throw distance from the parliament house and the federal secretariat. The politburo of power nexus, nonetheless, is not responsive and is merely content with displaying administrative muscles to shackle the farmers. No substantial talks are underway, and the peasants’ representatives say they are being taken for granted. The result is a messy traffic hassle in the capital, and fears of violence, if the peaceful protesters were forcefully expelled. This equation necessitates a thought process and some humble gestures to come to the aid of the backbone community of the country’s economy.
A glance at their demands reveals that they are on the spot. All they are asking for is relief in electricity and fertiliser prices, withdrawal of additional taxes on energy bills and action against hoarders and black-marketeers. The grievance list is too logical, and demands a solution with the stroke of a pen. The country is on the verge of a food crisis as more than 80 districts are affected — with a million plus livestock killed and crops over 4.4 million acres destroyed due to the monsoon deluge. The percentage of crop debacle is horrendous with 76% in Sindh, 14% in Punjab, 7% in Balochistan and 3% in K-P. What more statistics of doom does the government need before it comes to the rescue of farmers?
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2022.
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