Sugar Scandal: The Culprits And The Brewing Crisis

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Shafaqna Pakistan: It was indeed a highly commendable step by Prime Minister Imran Khan to initiate a detailed inquiry into the sugar barons and their billions, but the nation still has its sight set on the case till the culprits are brought to justice.

The Sugar Inquiry Commission’s report revealed the dark dungeons of sugar cartels to the Pakistani populous for the first time in its living memory. The premier brought to light the grim realities of the system that now requires to be internally cleansed.

The cartels of cane have been manipulating the systems of governance world over, from cover ups in billions to causing water shortages at an extremely alarming pace.

These manipulations have been deeply rooted in our country as well, from “benami” buyers and hoarders of billions, stacked in offshore accounts, to brazen tax evasions. It’s high time this game of shadows should be brought to light and put to halt.

Recently, internationally available documents dating back nearly 60 years have proven that the influence-peddling by the cartels is not only present in countries like Pakistan, but even in the United States. These documents published by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), elaborate on the influence the sugar industry giants have had on medical research regarding its health effects on multiple diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, and even cancer.

The sugar industry and its sinister shady agenda is a glooming national security disaster in the shape of severe groundwater disparity that can lead to disastrous consequence, as nations may be battling for water in the coming times. And, it is also a threatening situation for Pakistan. If that happens, we will be looking at severe water shortages and an alarmingly grim ecological disaster.

World over, research has shown that sugar cane is a water-guzzling crop. We, as a nation, could run out of water by 2025 as our shortage is reaching an alarmingly disastrous level. It proves beyond an iota of doubt that the countries that are receiving these water-guzzling crops from Pakistan are, in fact, saving their own most precious resource, i.e. water, for its future generations.

Our national security is being threatened as this criminally cruel sugar cartel pawns the poor growers into believing that cane is the best crop, whereas it drains each and every drop of fresh water, thus leaving barren lands for fallible farmers with less knowledge of the sinister syndicate called the sugar industry.

Although the international figures show that sugar exports have drastically fallen globally by -15.5%, some people in Pakistan continue to perpetuate the poison and export it. After it is highlighted in the report, the culprits must be brought to justice through a comprehensive policy overhaul.

As Pakistan’s economy is dependent on agriculture, our government should follow the global patterns and wean farmers away from water-intensive crops. We are a water-intensive country and have the world’s fourth-highest rate of water use. On average, a ton of sugar-canes needs 60-70 tons of water. Policies need to be adopted in order to facilitate farmers switching over to economically sound options that demand lesser water and give higher yield.

Farmers in KP and Chakwal have adapted lucrative and environmental friendly alternatives such as olives and soya beans along with a rich variety of various legumes and stevia plant. Following suit, we must ensure the much needed preservation of our water as well the cleansing of our sugar-influenced food supply. It has been extensively researched that farmers who adopted the said approach received good dividends.

For the past 2,000 years, the Indus region’s soil has been bearing the brunt of cane harvesting, and it’s finally taking its toll on the rapidly depleting water levels now.

Thinkers, researches and economists in Pakistan should conceptualize ways and means to bring more alternative crop strategies to help the already struggling farmers. By pumping poison, we are not only causing our health to dwindle our health, but are also causing severe droughts, endangering the ecosystem, and threatening the future of our generations and our state’s stability. The industry is a threat to national security and signals a colossal ecological disaster.

Pakistan’s society and its populous expect a just and fair system of governance, preserving the sanctity of ballot, enshrining a due process for future generations, and putting a halt to this unabated cartels, bolstered by banal brutality of barons lurching in the very system we dream to ameliorate.

Teeming millions, we the faithful followers of Jinnah and Iqbal, are being pushed to the very limits of our patience and perseverance chocking under the colossal crunch of unimaginable poverty and the ongoing pandemic.

Last decade in Pakistan’s political history witnessed cheerful chants for change, but unfortunately, the fervor and vigor has yet to be felt by the marginalized masses at the grass-root level of governance. The masses can only wish, hope and pray that the policy planners at the helm of affairs feel the pulse of the populous.

All over the world, the trends are changing, and we hope this change is felt and adopted for the well-being of the people of Pakistan by none other than the torch bearers of change. It’s indeed imperative for the future of the state of Pakistan.

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