Peshawar nonbias announce strike over govt’s refusal to increase roti price

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PESHAWAR: The Nanbai Association Peshawar on Friday announced that its members would go on strike across the province next Monday over the failure of its talks with the provincial government and district administration over roti price.

Association president Khaista Gul told Dawn that if the roti price wasn’t increased by the administration in line with the escalating price of wheat flour, nanbais would close shops for an indefinite period.

He said nanbais couldn’t follow the current official roti price list.

“All nanbai associations of the province are completely united over the strike call,” he claimed.

Mr Gul said the Punjab government had completely suspended the supply of wheat flour to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so the local nanbais couldn’t continue with their business under the prevailing situation.

He said the nanbais couldn’t use the wheat flour produced in the province for being ‘extremely substandard’.

“We held a meeting with food minister Qalandar Lodhi and officials of the food department on Friday evening. The minister allowed us (nanbais) to sell 170 grammes roti for Rs15 and of 115 grammes for Rs10 but the district administration declined to notify the revised roti price list forcing us to walk out in protest,” he claimed.

When contacted, deputy commissioner of Peshawar Mohammad Ali Asghar said roti price hadn’t been revised as demanded by nanbais.

He said the government had offered provision of wheat flour at subsidised rate to nanbais but it had found the demands of the latter unacceptable.

“I am hopeful that the nanbais will give positive response to our offer of subsidised flour’s supply after mutual consultation,” he said.

Meanwhile, leaders of various political parties expressed concern about the suspension of wheat supply from Punjab to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the subsequent increase in flour price.

Awami National Party provincial president Aimal Wali Khan said the suspension of flour supply from Punjab proved that the government didn’t value the federation and it seemed as if Punjab was a separate state.

He said under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, every province had attained autonomy.

“Punjab is exercising all its powers but smaller provinces haven’t been given the authority to use own natural resources at will,” he said.

The ANP leader said if Punjab was given the authority to stop the supply of essential goods to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should also control its resources like water, power, natural gas, mines, minerals,” he said.

He said the delay in the announcement of the NFC Award had already hit the militancy-hit province hard.

The ANP leader said the incompetent government had added to the people’s misery as it hadn’t executed any development scheme, while its flawed policies had stopped the poor people from feeding families.

He said the 20kg wheat floor was sold at Rs1200, so the poor daily wagers were unable to purchase it.

Pakistan Peoples Party provincial president Mohammad Humayun Khan criticised the decision of the Punjab government to suspend wheat flour to KP and said the move was unwise as it would increase polarisation in the country.

He said the ruling PTI had added to the people’s misery by increasing the rates of natural gas, petroleum products and electricity, which brought about unprecedented inflation.

“Our workers are ready to come to the streets against price hike,” he said.

The PPP leader demanded the immediate restoration of flour supply by Punjab to KP.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz provincial spokesman Ikhtiar Wali Khan said the ruling PTI was too incompetent to resolve the people’s key issues.

He said the last one and a half years had witnessed an unprecedented increase in the rates of most essential goods and the incidence of poverty and unemployment leaving the poor people with no option but to agitate.

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