The food crisis in Pakistan is reaching a critical point with reports of an acute shortage of wheat. According to ‘The Pakistan Military Monitor’ (PMM), the country may be heading towards anarchy if the situation does not improve soon.
The economic crisis in Pakistan has been a disaster for the citizens with high inflation, food shortages, and no help from those in power. This is an unfortunate example of how people can suffer due to those with authority not taking responsibility.
The PMM report, it has pointed out that the pain of a catastrophe takes its biggest toll on the most vulnerable members of society. These individuals struggle to recover from these hardships, and the food crisis causes an even bleaker outlook for poorer countries. Inflation has caused the wheat flour crisis to take a turn for the worse. Such everyday snacks like samosas and pakoras have become so expensive that impoverished individuals, who would usually rely on them when fasting, are now having to make do with leftovers in stores.
Millions of people queue up outside government shops on a daily basis only to find out that they’re out of luck, having to go back home empty-handed. Subsidised wheat can be hard to find in government shops as they are sold illegally at an exaggerated price or bought in bulk by wealthy individuals. The limited supply of grain is causing prices to skyrocket on a weekly basis, which has never been seen before.
The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics stated that there was a significant increase in prices of 47.2% compared to the same period last year for the week ending April 19, 2023.
Pakistan’s media outlets have been abuzz with reports of chaos and stampede taking place in markets across the country. These devastating incidents have affected people from all provinces, providing a reminder of the challenges we all face.
Poverty has been linked to several fatalities, with people losing their lives trying to get hold of basic provisions. Reports of stampedes at government distribution points, meant for the underprivileged, are also not unheard of.
To make matters worse, even the most destitute of our citizens are not being spared from corruption. Sadly, there have been several reports in the media that government officials have been caught misappropriating bags of flour meant for the poor.
An investigation into possible wrongdoings at a distribution centre in Chiniot of Punjab uncovered evidence that 8,000 bags of flour had been taken without authorization. Tokens were also found to be fraudulent. Eleven individuals with access to the facility were identified and investigated in April. The authorities have attributed the agricultural crisis to a variety of factors, including adverse weather conditions, water shortages, locust attacks and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. All of these have led to lower agricultural yields, thus causing this crisis.
Unfortunately, the people involved in addressing the issue failed to recognize other factors such as corruption in the supply chain, hoarding and black marketing which are equally important.