MPAs unite against government's wheat policy, demand probe

PML-N lawmakers call for accountability regarding decision to import wheat

Rana Yasif April 25, 2024
MPAs demand to rethink the wheat policy in Punjab. Photo: file


In a rare display of unity, both the Opposition and treasury lawmakers have vehemently opposed the government's wheat policy, labelling it the "farmer enemy policy" and calling for an investigation into the caretaker government's decision to import wheat, alleging rampant corruption.

The consensus among both sides suggests a growing concern over the exploitation of farmers, with warnings of an imminent wheat shortage if the issue remains unresolved.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, has taken action by forming a two-member committee tasked with meeting Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif to convey the House's consensus and subsequently report back to the Assembly on the course of action.

The committee's mandate includes evaluating various aspects of the wheat situation, such as the decision to import wheat by the caretaker government, current wheat stock levels, and measures to support farmers.

Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) lawmaker Rana Shahbaz Ahmad criticised the government's misplaced priorities, accusing it of neglecting public welfare in favour of trivial matters like TikTok.

He warned that the exploitation of farmers could precipitate a crisis in the upcoming wheat season.

Agriculture Minister Ashiq Hussain Kirmani faced scrutiny from Speaker Khan regarding the government's failure to procure wheat, citing sufficient reserves from the previous year. However, most questions were deferred to Food Minister Bilal Yaseen, who was absent from the session.

Members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) voiced their discontent with the government's policies, with former Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan expressing concern over the unprecedented hardships faced by farmers.

Other PML-N lawmakers criticised the government's technological solutions, highlighting the impracticality for farmers and demanding accountability for the decision to import wheat.

Amidst pre-budget discussions, a proposal to play the national anthem at the beginning of House proceedings was put forth by PML-N lawmakers, leading to the formation of a committee to introduce amendments for this purpose.

As the day's agenda concluded, Speaker Khan adjourned the House until April 25 at 11 am, leaving the wheat policy debate unresolved but signalling a unified stance against perceived injustices towards farmers.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2024.


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