QUETTA - Debate on cattle smuggling to neighbouring countries and hike in meat prices dominated the Balochistan Assembly session on Saturday. Balochistan Assembly Speaker Muhammad Aslam Bhootani chaired the session that started 30 minutes late from its scheduled time. Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhail of PML-Q tabled adjournment motion on price hike in the holy month of Ramazan, which continued to add to public woes. He said skyrocketing prices of utility items had broken the back of common people and even the middleclass could not afford kitchen items. He said owing to continuous smuggling of cattle to the neighbouring countries of Iran and Afghanistan the price of meet had reached Rs600. Similarly, price of other edibles increased manifolds, he added. Two years ago, the Balochistan Assembly adopted a resolution demanding action against cattle smuggling to Iran and Afghanistan but no particle steps had been taken to curb menace, Mandokhail recalled. He expressed concern over worsened law and order, saying gangsters involved in land grabbing, kidnapping for ransom and other crimes were enjoying the backing of influential people in the province. Livestock Minister Mir Qambar Gichki said he himself carried out raids and nabbed 25 trucks laden with cattle in the Mand area of Kech district near Iran border but no action was taken against smugglers as they were released after they approached some influential persons. A huge number of vehicles loaded with cattle is being smuggled to Iran and Afghanistan via the province, he said, alleging that the departments and institutions assigned security duty were involved in smuggling. Gichki said the livestock department staff had no powers to stop the smuggling. Revenue and Local Govt Minister Engineer Zamark Khan said that massive smuggling of cattle from bordering areas of Balochistan to Iran and Afghanistan was the main reason for hike in prices of meat in province. Communication Minister Ali Madad Jatak said that 500 vehicles laden with cattle passed through Bolan to Iran and Afghanistan daily. Other MPAs, including Abdul Rehman Mengal, Ghazala Gola, Jan Ali Changezi, Sardar Aslam Bezinjo, Habibur Rehman Muhammad Hassani and Hamal Kalmati demanded that concerned authorities should take necessary steps to curb the smuggling.