ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan has raised an alarm over an impending wheat crisis in the region, highlighting the risk of potential food shortages and law & order disruptions.
After a briefing to the Prime Minister by the Secretary of Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan on November 14, 2023, immediate measures have been directed to ensure an ample supply of wheat, especially with the harsh winter months approaching.
In response to this critical situation, the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan, as indicated in a letter from the Gilgit-Baltistan Council to concerned ministries and authorities, has formally requested the release of additional wheat. Enclosed within the communication is an emphasis on the shortfall in wheat supply, pointing out a significant disparity in the yearly quota allocation.
The Federal Government’s annual allocation of 160,000 metric tons contradicts the Finance Division’s benchmark of 150,000 metric tons, creating a contentious issue for the Gilgit-Baltistan authorities.
According to the letter authored by Sudheer Khatak, Joint Secretary GB Council, the current shortfall projection for November 2023 to January 2024 is alarming, reaching 30,467 metric tons.
The breakdown discloses a monthly deficit in the allocation for snow-bound areas, putting the region at a heightened risk of severe shortages. Urgent releases of wheat are being sought by the government to bridge this widening gap and prevent a potential crisis.
Furthermore, in response to directives from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), the Gilgit-Baltistan Government is actively engaged in efforts to increase the sale rate of wheat. However, the announcement of impending price hikes has triggered opposition, prompting parties, civil society, and the public to plan agitations and protests.
Faced with these challenges, the Gilgit-Baltistan authorities emphasize the imperative need for the Finance Division in Islamabad to promptly release wheat according to the proposed allocation. The government underscored that this immediate action is vital to averting a looming food crisis and maintaining law & order in this strategically sensitive region.