Thursday, February 23, 2006

MQM seeks a sweet gesture from PM

A political party in Pakistan has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to help alleviate the sugar crisis in Islamabad.

"Any gesture of generosity from India in alleviating the current sugar crisis in Pakistan would be a very sweet gesture and go a long way in boosting the morale of the people of Pakistan," founder of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Altaf Hussain said in a letter to Manmohan on Wednesday.

Pakistan is currently beset with a major crisis on account of an acute shortage of sugar in the country. Climatic conditions have adversely affected the sugarcane crop, resulting in major shortfalls in sugar production.

Sugar, which was earlier being sold for Rs 18 per kg in the wholesale market, is now reportedly selling for Rs 41 per kg in the wholesale market and about Rs 42-44 per kg in the retail market.

The average sugar consumption by 150 million Pakistanis is assessed to be 0.3 million tonnes a month.

"India has been instrumental in alleviating the past sugar crises of Pakistan. India was generous and magnanimous in coming to the aid of citizens of Pakistan hit hard by soaring sugar prices. Such an occasion, unfortunately, is once again with us, to the dismay of poor consumers of Pakistan," the self-exiled leader said.

The Islamabad government, meanwhile, has allowed the import of sugar from India after low production and a subsequent strike by mill owners.

Sugar used to come in through the Wagah border before imports from India were banned in 2001 after complaints that cheap Indian sugar was hurting Pakistani cane growers and processors.

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