Fighting the sugar mafia

Published: November 13, 2010
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The writer hosts “Kal Tak” on Express News 
javed.chaudhry@tribune.com.pk

The writer hosts “Kal Tak” on Express News javed.chaudhry@tribune.com.pk

Every event that happens in our lives has various aspects to it. One aspect of the invasion of Muhammad Bin Qasim at Deebal (near present-day Bhambore) is that Hajjaz bin Yusuf had sent an army, under Qasim’s command, to help and free Muslim pilgrims captured in territory under Raja Dahir’s control. But there is another important aspect to all of this as well. Muslims were a rising power in those days and were trying to spread their influence to Asia, Africa and even Europe. However, in this they couldn’t afford to let even a small ruler like Raja Dahir plunder Muslim ships and enslave Muslim women and children because that would put the writ of the whole Muslim state at peril.

States rarely get the chance to fight big adversaries like Alexander the Great but small rulers like Raja Dahir provide them an easy opportunity to establish their writ. With this in mind, one should look at present day Pakistan and, in particular, the unfolding sugar crisis.

Some years ago, a situation arose whereby it became known that some federal ministers, including then federal minister for industries and production, had hoarded large amounts of sugar. As a result, the price of sugar began to rise. Eventually, the Supreme Court stepped in and ordered the government to ensure the supply of sugar at Rs40 per kilo. But the crisis didn’t end.

Meanwhile, the then finance minister said something to the effect that the sugar thieves were sitting in the cabinet and had earned Rs25 billion as a result of this manipulated crisis. One may blame Shaukat Tareen for many things but his honesty and courage cannot be questioned.

The sugar mafia forms part of our parliament since most of the 82 sugar mills in the country are owned by politicians. Therefore, the government was unable to control the sugar crisis. This, in turn, encouraged small thieves, hoarders and profiteers. The result is that sugar is now being sold at Rs130 per kilo.

If the government were a little wiser, it would use the sugar crisis to increase its goodwill and establish its writ. It could initiate a crackdown against all criminals involved, publish the names of powerful sugar mills owners (and this includes several ministers and senior politicians) and arrest the hoarders. It should also have promptly arranged for the import of sugar, so that increased supply would have led to a fall in prices — but it failed to do any of this.

People are now saying that a government that cannot do small things like provide sugar to its people is unlikely to solve big problems. Our government is preparing itself to fight the Alexanders of the world but doesn’t want to fight the Raja Dahirs that make up the sugar mafia. Why?

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Nov 14, 2010 - 12:08AM

    Your point is well taken, but in regards to your first paragraph, perhaps you should look beyond a Pakistan Studies textbook.Recommend

  • parvez
    Nov 14, 2010 - 12:18AM

    Mr Chaudhry you have asked why the government doesn’t want to fight the sugar mafia. But you already answered that in the article – the mafia is the government. So do you expect them to fight themselves , lets be realistic.Recommend

  • watan dost
    Nov 14, 2010 - 1:30AM

    Mr Javed Chaudhry,

    This is not a comment on this article rather a comment on your role as a host in your program ‘kal tak’. While it is really important to have a free and independent media, it is also important for the media to be responsible. Your program kal tak does not bring anything positive to this country. All you do is sit and make other people fight. In Urdu they call a person like you ‘a teeli baaz’. I am sure that’s not what you want to be called.

    having said that, i want to tell you how important your position as a journalist and a tv show host is and how if you play your role positively you can not only improve your program but also get it do something for the country. Chaudhry sb, I started watching your program because initially it used to be very informative. I was impressed by your treasure of knowledge, and the way you presented it at the beginning and how you always left us with a message to take home. Although you still do the same, what you do in the middle is what disturbs me the most and i am sure many other viewers the most.

    Instead of having a healthy conversation with your guests, you either make them fight amongst them or start to accuse them of something and make them look like idiots. We are all aware that most of the people who come on these tv show are idiots and also corrupt but that fact does not need to be put forward to us every time we are watching the tv. Perhaps, you could give them ideas to improve the situation in our country, ask them how the media can play a role in helping them if they really want to implement a certain strategy.

    Sir, just being another journalist or a tv show host is not going to bring anything to this country. But adding something new can. You have the potential and you should realize the potential and use it in a constructive way.

    Chaudhry sb with all due respect I hope you take my advice in a positive way. I hope you realize your duty towards this country and carry it out with more integrity. I wish you all the best.

    respectfully,
    AunRecommend

  • Majid Urrehman
    Nov 14, 2010 - 3:04AM

    In my opinion this is again a situation of prevailed senselessness which you can find in every other govt. department.Recommend

  • faraz
    Nov 14, 2010 - 4:11AM

    Hajjaj bin Yusaf was one of the most ruthless rulers of muslim history. He attacked Mecca during the holy month of Zil-Hajj to supress the Al-Zubair revolt and Kabba was demolished during the battle. He killed over 100,000 muslims and thousands of muslims were liberated from Ummayyad prisons when he died. His death was widely celebrated by people of Iraq. His brutal rule created many enemies including the next Caliph who called back all the Generals commanding the military expeditions that Hajjaj had ordered. Qasim who was Hajjaj’s nephew and son-in-law, was one of the first to be executed by the new Caliph.

    So, I am not sure that Hajjaj was so moved by a letter that he ordered an invasion of Sind! Recommend

  • Syed Asim
    Nov 14, 2010 - 8:29AM

    Sir,
    Our people should left the use of sugar for one weak, all sugar mafia will come on ground. why we make sugar our weakness.? If we cant take any step then we should ready for many other crises.Recommend

  • fahad
    Nov 14, 2010 - 8:36AM

    Firstly….the Sugar Mafia is irrelevant…..Sugar prices (and most other commodities like cotton etc) are at an all time high and there is a world wide commodities shortage…..and lets admit it that the sugar shortage is not artificial……….land for the past 20 years has been wasted due to a property boom. Housing colonies and commercial plazas now sit where once lush agricultural fields used to be. Just look around Lahore and you’ll realize that agricultural farmlands are now gone. The shortage in these commodities is due to the fact that no one is farming anymore. Our manufacturing sector was recently growing at 10%, telecom at 20%, banking at 20%….why would anyone open or invest in a farm when the agricultural growth rates were close to 0%. This is a phenomenon the world over. US cotton supplies are at an all time low. Farming in India is ruined and there are massive shortages in India and China.
    .
    The world economy is now making a shift from a useless commercial economy to a food based economy. We are now realizing that food is the most important commodity, more important than having a movbile phone, or a bank account.
    .
    Start opening up farmlands and you can earn millions and as a result reduce the shortage in food commodities and make them cheap. Those who refused to sell the agricultural land to industrial parks, commercial real estate are now making a killing. The farmers in Pakistan are now finally earning their rightful share of wealth. The guys working in other industries should now start paying up. Recommend

  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Nov 14, 2010 - 8:50AM

    Make it simple and do not yet again distort history as it suits us – the government is run by thieves and we are the silent spectators. How many leaders of public opinion have decided to stop taking sugar or are leading a Long March against these thieves?

    Learn lessons from the French and Iranian revolutions rather than going so much back into history. Recommend

  • Hashmat Ali
    Nov 14, 2010 - 11:20AM

    Javed Chaudhry is Naseem Hijazi’s immitator that too a poor oneRecommend

  • Nov 14, 2010 - 11:52AM

    Mr.Chaudhry according to mine six sense you also know very those politicains who are involved in this crises…..So, why are you not telling their names to public or media
    RegardsRecommend

  • SHAHID ALI
    Nov 14, 2010 - 12:15PM

    Mr. Javaid Chaudhry why are you silent on oppositions role in this regard? Why you people are silent in naming Sharif Brothran involved in the suger crises ? Can you publish the names of suger mill owners so that common man will recognise these dirty faces and may go against in the comming elections . Both rulers and opposition are equally involved in this situation. Recommend

  • Asim Abdullah
    Nov 14, 2010 - 1:44PM

    Why are Mohammad Bin Qasim and Hajjaj Bin Yusuf considered heroes, when Hajjaj was merely interested in controlling the trade route down the Indus River valley to the seaports of Sindh, an important link in the ancient Silk Road. Do we just have to make religious heroes out of Muslims emperors like Mahmud Ghaznavi who merely looted the wealth of Somnath temple and left and Hajjaj who merely cared for the wealth of the Raja of Sindh! As for sugar crisis the writer has answered the question himself. Anyone for a long march?Recommend

  • Abdul Rasool
    Nov 16, 2010 - 9:11AM

    Suger gives you Diabetes; we don’t need suger after the age of 20 years ! Recommend

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