LAHORE - Pakistan government must not grant transit facility to India for the export of Indian wheat to Afghanistan, said PPP’s central Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo in a statement.

“We cannot afford to jeopardise Pakistani farmers vital interests for the other country’s farmers”, he said.

He was of the view that grant of transit facility to India through land route had its strategic dimensions for Pakistan which could not be brushed aside when seen in the context of escalation of tension on LOC by India.

Wattoo pointed out that Pakistan had sufficient surplus wheat stock that could take care of the entire food requirements of the brotherly country, Afghanistan , as it had been doing so during the past many years.

He maintained that Pakistani wheat was of the top quality in the world and it was in the interest of the Afghan people to use it as staple food keeping in view the health considerations. Indian wheat had typical local disease, he added.  The Afghan people will also like to see Pakistani authorities regret to India for the health reason, he stated.

He warned the government that it must not allow the export of Indian wheat to Afghanistan also for another reason because the wheat so exported to Afghanistan might be re-exported to Pakistan for local consumption.

He that the wheat supplied to Afghanistan by Pakistan should be on competitive and affordable rates in order to protect the interests of the Afghan consumers.

He cautioned that the provision of facility to India for the export of wheat to Afghanistan would spark protests across the country as it would affect price mechanism of the commodity inside the country.

Wattoo pointed out that the accumulative negative impact of the decision on the rural economy would be devastating with social implications.  The agro-based industry will also suffer decline to trigger the vicious cycle of unemployment and resultantly poverty, he added.

He argued that the majority of the country’s population lived in the rural areas and their livelihood, directly or indirectly, was dependent on agriculture. This sector, he said, was the major source of employment for the rural population and any bad decision will not only be opposed but also resisted tooth and nail by them.