The prime minister has once again vowed that he will not spare any mafia creating an artificial shortage or price hike in the country. The situation, however, appears otherwise as the sugar barons are increasing fitting back.
The government set up the Sugar Inquiry Commission which conducted a forensic audit of sugar mills and published a damning report. The sugar barons appeared untouchable and even threatened the prime minister and FIA director-general who was leading the probe. The government resisted and the mill owners fought back by hiking the sugar prices to over Rs100 per kg.
The commission report was made public as promised and the government geared up to implement its recommendations to take action against the mill owners. This is when the sugar barons moved the courts to invalidate the report and nullify the formation of the commission.
In a shocking verdict, the Sindh High Court annulled the report and declared the commission illegal, ordering NAB and FIA to launch a new inquiry. The victory for the sugar barons was short-lived as the Islamabad High Court upheld the legality of the commission report. An impasse has been reached over the contradictory viewpoints which will only be over when the matter lands in the Supreme Court.
The government has failed to control the price of sugar but it has mustered tremendous courage to tackle the sugar barons head on. The prime minister said it is his lifelong mission to fight against these mafias, saying it was a difficult decision when his close friend Jehangir Tareen was among the sugar barons but couldn’t be spared.
Six different institutions were assigned to tackle the sugar mafia and initiate criminal, regulatory and tax-related proceedings. These are yet to be implemented and action awaits them. While the tussle with the sugar mafia is ongoing, the government needs to make serious efforts to control the rising prices as it already beyond the reach of the common man.