Farmers across Pakistan are gearing up for a nationwide protest scheduled for May 21, with plans to stage a sit-in outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore. The protest aims to address the alleged deliberate wheat crisis orchestrated by former caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar and bureaucrats.

Fifteen farmer associations have convened to address the ongoing wheat crisis, particularly prevalent in Punjab, the country’s breadbasket. Farmer representatives from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan are demanding the arrest of Anwar ul Haq Kakar, bureaucrats, and importers involved in the wheat scam.

Central to their demands is the call for compensation for affected growers and swift action against those responsible for importing substandard wheat. The import of 3.4 million tonnes of wheat from August 2023 to March 2024, costing Rs330 billion, has come under scrutiny, with 1.3 million tonnes found to be infested with insects.

Malik Zulfiqar Awan, president of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, is demanding the arrest of those involved in the wheat import scandal and the abolishment of policies allowing the private sector to import grain.

Furthermore, farmer organizations are advocating for the establishment of tehsil-level laboratories to eradicate counterfeit fertilizers and pesticides. They also seek strict action against those charging exorbitant interest rates on loans to small-scale farmers.

In addition, farmer groups are pushing for minimum support prices for wheat and other crops, as well as regulated grain markets to ensure fair prices for farmers.

With tensions escalating, farmer groups have issued a stern warning of nationwide protests on May 21 if their demands are not met, signaling a potential standoff between the agricultural community and the government.

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