With a flour crisis taking over Pakistan with food riots erupting at many places, the powerful army has taken the task upon itself to provide flour to the people in Balochistan.
In the conflict-torn region, where the Baloch are engaged in a raging insurgency against Pakistan, Corps Commander Quetta, Lieutenant General Asif Ghafoor has taken over task of arranging for wheat flour – an effort that should have been undertaken by Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Food Minister Zamarak Khan.
Pakistani media reports that the Commander held a meeting with Balochistan’s Secretary of Food regarding the wheat flour crisis.
General Ghafoor also contacted the Ministry of National Food Security and Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (PASSCO) to send wheat supplies to Balochistan in view of the severe shortage which has resulted in riots at some places with people fighting for subsidised flour.
General Ghafoor was appointed as Corps Commander Quetta after his predecessor, Lt-Gen Sarfraz Ali perished along with five other Pakistani Army personnel in a helicopter crash, reportedly shot down by insurgents of the Balochistan Liberation Army. He was earlier the head of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Balochistan’s problems have been compounded as security forces prevented wheat from entering Balochistan from neighbouring states like Sindh and Punjab, which too are facing a shortage of wheat along with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan is suffering from a crippling financial crisis for which Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Geneva to raise funds from international donors. The country is also facing runaway inflation with flour prices jumping within a week.
Balochistan Chief Minister Bizenjo had sent an SOS to the Sharif government last week asking for emergency supplies of wheat but there has been no response from Islamabad. He also asked the federal government for financial support as his government has little money left to give salaries or hold development work in a state which was ravaged by floods five months back.
Even Food Minister Zamarak Khan complained that they had asked for wheat from the Sindh and Punjab governments who also did not respond to their request. Regarding providing wheat flour at subsidised rates to poor people, Khan said: “Our treasury is empty and we have no money to pay for subsidy.”
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)