Lahore - A massive crackdown against the wheat and wheat flour hoarders was launched yesterday across the country particularly in Punjab following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s orders to not to spare the culprits involved in this shortage and immediately ensure provision of the commodity in the open market on government-fixed rates

“Profiteers won’t be forgiven,” PM Imran Khan was widely quoted by the electronic media as having said as the wheat flour was being sold at an exorbitant rate of Rs 70 per kg in the markets.

PM’s Special Assistant for Information Firdous Ashiq Awan has, however, buffed out the clamour sequencing over flour price rise by Rs 30 per kg as nothing else but merely a negative propaganda of political rivals.

She made a great disclosure by saying that “real estate dealers” are stocking the flour to create fake crisis. “If anyone finds it being sold at higher prices than the controlled rate, they should call us at our helpline at 0800-60606,” Firdous said.

Unimpressed, however, the nanbais of Peshawar have announced to hold strike today while Lahore nanbais have given ultimatum to the government for increasing the price of roti and nan both in case flour is not provided to them on the previous price.

Shockingly, too, Provincial Minister of Punjab for Food Sami Ullah Chaudhary has denied reports of wheat flour shortage in Punjab by stating that “wheat flour at the official rate of Rs805 per 20kg is available”. “We are ready for cooperation with Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments and Punjab should not be punished for someone else’s incompetence.”

Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that the Imran Khan’s government has turned the country, which was (once) a wheat exporter, into a wheat importer. He alleged that the federal government had sent 40,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan, and thus, intentionally had created a wheat crisis.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has, however, announced to resolve the crisis in just a couple of days as his opposition, PTI, is holding his government responsible for the situation.

Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) had allotted 300,000 tons of wheat to Sindh, which is being transported from Punjab and Balochistan, the chief minister said.

The wheat supply to the province was delayed due to the recent goods transport strike, Shah clarified.

Talking on the issue, the chief minister said that 70,000 bags of wheat have been transported to Karachi, while 50,000 bags will reach tomorrow.

Speaking at a press conference in Sialkot, Dr Firdous asserted that the Centre has been providing wheat to flour mills across Punjab at the subsidized rate. “With the power of people, we will defeat hoarders. The Sindh government has observed negligence in wheat procurement,” she said.

“The Prime Minister (Imran Khan) has made a promise with the public that he will not spare profiteers and hoarders. The real estate “mafia” has begun stocking agricultural commodities to whiten their black money and selling those at higher prices upon finding an opportunity,” she disclosed.

PTI Vice President and parliamentary leader in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh said that the provincial government of Sindh is directly responsible for the ongoing artificial wheat flour crisis.

He said that 0.3 million tons of wheat of Sindh government were present in the PASCO godowns but the Sindh government is not lifting this stock. Firdous Shamim Naqvi said wheat flour was given to Sindh at the rate of Rs34 per kg but it is being sold at Rs80 per kg.