G-B Council seeks suspension of new wheat policy till elections

GB Council

GILGIT: Members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council have penned down a letter to Caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar, requesting the suspension of the recently implemented wheat policy in the region until the formation of an elected government at the federal level.

The G-B Council members mentioned that the people of the region had been receiving wheat at subsidized rates since the 1970s when the then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced the subsidized policy due to the high poverty level in the area.

The letter highlights that the rate of wheat, which was subsidized in the region, has significantly increased over the past six months, first from 7.5 to Rs20 per kg in June 2023 and then recently to Rs.36 per kg leading to protests and public frustration.

“The current increase in wheat prices has created a severe financial burden on the region affecting the livelihoods of the people and the ability of the government to meet its financial obligation,” the letter reads.

Expressing concern over the plight of the local population, the GB Council members implored the government to reconsider its decision to increase the price of wheat. They stressed the need to continue the existing subsidized wheat policy to ensure that the people of GB, facing economic hardships, can afford this essential commodity.

Given the gravity of the situation, they have urged the caretaker prime minister to take immediate action to avert a looming food crisis and maintain law and order in this strategically sensitive region.

Meanwhile, despite the bone-chilling cold weather, the streets of Skardu, Gilgit, and various other districts resonate with continued protests and sit-ins for the 25th consecutive day to voice their opposition to the recent surge in subsidized wheat prices and other pressing concerns.

The call for these persistent protests has been issued by the Awami Action Committee, an alliance comprising different political and religious parties in the region. Hundreds of protesters have maintained their sit-in at Yadgar-i-Shuhada and other strategic areas in Skardu, chanting slogans denouncing the government and public representatives.

Beyond Skardu, protest demonstrations have been strategically coordinated in Ghanche, Shigar, Hunza, Ast, Diamer, and Kharmang. The protesters remain resolute in their commitment to continue until their demands are met.

Separately, at a press conference at Gilgit-Baltistan House in Islamabad, G-B Food Minister Ghulam Muhammad stated that the government has provided as much relief in terms of wheat prices as possible, and “there will be no further decrease”.

The minister said the government was minimizing the burden on the public and taking on the majority of the cost. Despite the government’s efforts to address the wheat crisis, a shortfall of Rs 7 billion persists at present.

He highlighted plans for the digitization of the transparent wheat and flour distribution system, aiming to streamline the process.

Ghulam Muhammad questioned the effectiveness of what G-B Council members can achieve and pointed out that council members have been unable to resolve issues related to their schemes for the past year.

You May Also Like