ISLAMABAD Yet again, sugar lobby has exhibited audacious show of its strength by hitting the entire country hard with acute shortage of the commodity just a few days prior to the arrival of sugarcane crushing season. The dealers say that mill owners have cut down sugar supply to markets and cite that the existing sugar stocks have been consumed and the fresh stocks would be made available to the consumer markets once the sugarcane crushing season is over. Sugar season is likely to start in the next week of this month, November. Contrary to what mill owners say, the reality is quite opposite because there are hundreds of thousands of un-recovered sugar bags stored illegally by the mighty millers mafia in collusion with Punjab Food officials, only to mint maximum money from people. It is reported that hundreds of godowns exist in Lahore, Gujranwala, Phalia, Pattoki, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Parianwala and other cities of Punjab where a huge quantity of sugar has been dumped illegally. Although Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has adopted a tougher stance against the sugar mafia and Supreme Court has rebuked the office-bearers of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) in numerous hearings, besides forming a commission regarding fixation of sugar price, yet stubborn bravado of sugar cartel seems least bothered by the lean attempts of Federal Government to address the issue. Currently, complete sugar shortage is being witnessed in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and all other cities of NWFP. In interior Punjab and NWFP, the reports regarding sale of sugar at Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per kilogram have also come to surface, especially in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank where demand of the commodity has increased manifolds due to the arrival of IDPs from South Waziristan Agency. Likewise, the situation is bad in Rojhan, Kashmor, Bhakkar and Rajanpur where sugar is being sold at over Rs. 100 per kilogram. Traders bodies expressed their astonishment over the absence of sugar in the name of consumption of existing sugar stocks. I fail to understand when sugar millers say that supply has been stopped because the existing stocks have been finished, at a time when there are thousands of godowns wherein millions of sugar bags are stocked, said Akbar Ali Warsi, Chairman Sarhad Traders Association, while talking to TheNation. He alleged that sugar mill owners, who had already minted millions of rupees at the cost of hapless consumers, were now lobbying to earn more profits by creating artificial sugar shortage ahead of crushing season. The said practice goes on unchecked with the active involvement of Punjab Food officials who receive hefty bribes from the millers to overlook their dumped stocks and let them sell the stocked sugar at inflated rates, he added.