IT was decided at a meeting of the ECC presided over by Prime Minister Gillani, to import 250,000 tons of wheat urgently and to constitute a committee which would launch a scheme enabling the poor to get essential food items on subsidy. While the decisions are welcome, the food crisis is too enormous to be tackled by routine measures alone. The price of wheat, which constitutes the staple diet in Pakistan, continues to rise steadily. The hike in the prices of fertilizer and diesel is bound to push up the price of the commodity further in days to come. What is more, the prices of a number of other essential food items have shot up steadily to levels never witnessed before. The overall food inflation continues to make an addition to the number of the poor at an alarming rate. Reports of suicides by indigent persons appearing almost on daily basis in the media indicate that poverty is becoming unbearable for many. Studies by detached economists convey in figures both the depth and the scope of the problem. A recent Asian Development Bank report entitled "Soaring food prices: response to the crisis" underlines the gravity of the situation in Pakistan. According to the report, a 10-percent increase in food prices adds another 7.05 million to the number of poor people. In case of prices increasing by 20 and 30 %, the increase in the number would be 14. 67 million and 21.96 million respectively. Speakers at the launch of the first annual report of the Institute of Public Policy (IPP) of Beaconhouse University on Monday have also conveyed a grim message. According to Dr Akmal Hussain, 57 million people in Pakistan are living below the poverty line while during the last three years alone 11 million people have been pushed into the ranks of the poor. Both IPP President Shahid Javed Burki and Dr Hafiz A. Pasha have called for evolving a mechanism for the protection of the poor. There is a need to revise the growth model pursued under President Musharraf for nearly eight years, based on the trickle-down theory, which has ended up making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Equally important is to implement measures which provide instant relief to the most vulnerable sections of the population. The two major coalition partners have made ample promises in their respective election manifestoes to the electorate. Mr Zardari has recently taken the stand that his party did not contest elections on the issue of the restoration of judiciary but on providing food, clothing and shelter to the masses and is therefore committed to alleviate poverty. Soon the people are going to be fed up by the coalition leaders accusing the previous government of economic mismanagement and poverty. Unless the new rulers begin to deliver on promises made in their manifestoes, it will not be long before their rating starts going down.