Articles of the year 2006

The Sugar Saga
Published on June 15th, 2006

The sugar saga has taken a new twist, for a newspaper report has the sugar importers association begging the Prime Minister for his intervention to help unload their stocks of imported sugar, for with the sugar prices falling they would lose all their hard earned money that they had invested to import sugar to avail of the abnormally high prices, and the windfall profits that they would accrue. Tough. Almost as tough as the sugar mills asking not to be investigated by Nab.

We do not expect the Prime Minister nor the President to help out much for the Importers being good city types have no bonding with nor are they MNAs or of the Kings Party, hence their nuisance value is negligible now or in the election future. They are about to lose heavily, having gambled on the artificially created shortage. Nothing is quite as despicable as benefiting from the hoarding of food items. In other times this would have been punished by long prison terms, otherwise the people would rise against the Government of the day. The Cheeni Chor shouts at the Ayub Government were the beginning of his downfall, but it seems that the corridors of power today seem to be oblivious to sentiments of the people, who are being quite vocal in their denunciation of the sugar barons. Surely the President must be aware how damaging it is to him, if his handpicked team is seen to be playing a game for pure profit, one that will surely sully his image. What is more serious is the ammunition being given to the Benazir and Nawaz for use when the election process does start in earnest. The inherent danger in the manipulation of food prices, and hoarding of such commodities is that it affects the common man, who has been dealt a bad hand in life, and it makes him angrier to see his small slice get smaller. This cannot be tolerated, and with the media as free as it is, it will not be long before the names and details spill out. The President must then take action. For it is not more than a handful of people, twenty at most who have held the masses to ransom. Surely the Government cannot jeopardize its future in allowing such brazen manipulations. Enough lest the whole applecart he overturned.

In any other country civilized or otherwise food is a commodity that is protected, and the prices even more so, and the repercussions of the "let them eat cake" remark lost Marie Anoinette her head. Food is critical to the well being of the masses and the prices are even more important, for when the public sees the leadership ensconced in their bullet proof Mercs, and the price of sugar being lifted out of their reach, the few who benefit will create a far more dangerous instability. The Government owes its present form to us the people, and not to the twenty who will be on planes out of Pakistan at the first hint of trouble, for we are already witnessing that the ECL list is also now negotiable.

We welcomed the removal of the Nawaz Government, for we were promised a cleaner environment, but it seems that the same players are being allowed to play the same games. This must stop for it is ironic that the two greatest profiteers from using Government power, and now sitting in the safety of foreign lands, can now crow about the shenanigans of the twenty, and managing to invoke a wistful " Wish they were back" murmur.It is truly sad that the moral high ground is being surrendered to the deadly duo, in such a crass and unseemly fashion. The Twenty players acting in their self interest are blinded by their own greed, and unafraid of the consequences, for they are convinced they can buy their way out.However,the President must act quickly, for the players are in the game for the short term, and we who watch, are affected, but powerless to stop the drift. We can only write and hope.