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Watch: Protests surge in Balochistan as wheat flour runs out 

Subsidised grain being distributed in Balochistan (Photo: Twitter)

Pakistan’s largest province Balochistan has run out of wheat and the Shehbaz Sharif government in Islamabad has ignored the local administration’s SOS for wheat supply. To add to the problems of the Baloch people, security forces prevented Balochistan from importing wheat from neighbouring states like Sindh and Punjab.

Videos show people fighting over wheat and flour supplies while youth trail flour trucks on motorcycles to procure wheat flour.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo had written to the Sharif government to help the province in buying wheat but there has been no response from Islamabad. He also asked the federal government to support the province financially as the local government is not in a position to pay salaries to employees and has no money left for development work.

Highlighting the acute problems being faced by the government, Balochistan Food Minister Zamarak Khan told media persons in capital Quetta: “We have nothing in our treasury and we cannot provide any subsidy”, to the people. Dawn newspaper reported today that the minister has asked the Sharif government as well as the Sindh and Punjab governments for 600,000 bags of wheat on an emergency basis.

The flour mills in the province have run out of stocks of wheat. The government has formed teams to raid mills and stockists who might be hoarding flour and wheat.

Local newspaper Quetta Voice quoted Badruddin Kakar, from the Balochistan flour mills association, as saying that their mills are empty as the food department has failed to provide them the required wheat quota.

The minister has again requested the Sharif government to provide the province with local wheat as the Balochistan government would not be able to buy imported wheat which is many times more expensive than that grown locally.

People in Balochistan and Sindh are still homeless due to the catastrophic floods in 2022 after which water has stagnated in many parts of the province. A labourer Harsingh Kohli was crushed to death in a stampede in Sindh’s Mirpurkhas while trying to get subsidised rations.

People have blamed the Balochistan government for not buying adequate wheat stocks last year. Now poor people have been waiting in queues outside department stores and flour mills owing to a severe shortage.

Food prices have surged in the entire country which is also facing an acute energy crisis coupled with deadly clashes on its western border with Afghanistan. Almost all of Pakistan is witnessing daily mass protests as people fend for themselves.

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