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'Should we eat atom bomb?': Why Pakistanis are cursing ex-PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

'Should we eat atom bomb?': Why Pakistanis are cursing ex-PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Pakistan, which was ravaged by unprecedented floods last year, is on the verge of default and is facing its worst food crisis in decades, with thousands of people lining up for hours for flour.

Pakistan is facing huge shortage of atta which has pushed the prices up making it unaffordable for a huge section. (Reuters) Pakistan is facing huge shortage of atta which has pushed the prices up making it unaffordable for a huge section. (Reuters)

Pakistan will eat grass, and even go hungry but it will develop its own atom bomb, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared in the 1970s. These decades-old words, unfortunately, turned prophetic recently. Today, Pakistan has got nuclear bombs, and its people are hungry too. 

Pakistan, which was ravaged by unprecedented floods last year, is on the verge of default and is facing its worst food crisis in decades, with thousands of people lining up for hours for flour.

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Stampedes and riots have been reported from several markets in three provinces - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan. Prices of wheat in these provinces have shot up to as high as PKR 3,100 for 20 kg bag (Rs 1,112 in Indian rupee) due to severe shortage, leading to stampedes as people want to stock whatever quantity they could lay their hands on.

Muhammad Usman, who describes himself as a nationalist Pakistan, in a tweet said that politically unstable and war-torn-Afghanistan manufactured a supercar but Pakistanis were waiting for a bag of atta. "...because we have 'Atom Bomb'. Should we eat that Atom Bomb?" he asked.

Earlier this week, Pakistan's The Express Tribune reported that people in the low-income group are forced to stand for hours in long queues for subsidised wheat flour. There is a severe shortage of wheat in the retail market and the prices of other household items have skyrocketed in the country. Social media is flooded with images and videos showing long lines of people waiting to get subsidised atta.

On Wednesday, Aroofa Rasheed, a designer, posted a video of a truck carrying atta with hundreds of people walking behind. She said a man died in Sindh as a result of the rush for subsidized flour. "This video, which shows people following a truck loaded with flour, reveals the serious threat of a food crisis. #Pakistan's leadership should at least acknowledge that there is a food shortage," she wrote on Twitter.

Just days ago, a father of seven in Sindh's Mirpurkhas district collapsed while he was in line for ration. He later died. In a separate incident in Sindh, three women were reportedly injured as they were crushed by a crowd after a stampede broke out outside a flour mill in Sakrand town of Shaheed Benazirabad.

Zahira Baloch shared a video that recorded the moments before the person collapsed in Mirpurkhas. Baloch blasted the government for calling itself a nuclear power and said what is the point of having the atom bomb when people are dying of starvation. "Man dies while standing in queue to get a packet of flour in #Pakistan. But they still claim 'Hum Atomy Taqat hain'. What is the use of that 'Atom Bomb' if your people are dying of starvation??" she asked.    

Pakistanis are also recalling those ominous words by Bhutto where he said that Islamabad would acquire nuclear even if it had nothing to eat. Mahey Nadeem, nutritionist, and dietician to be, posted Bhutto's complete quote and wished him a happy birthday.  

"We(Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but will get one of our own(Atom bomb)... We have no other choice!" Happy Birthday to the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program. #ZulfiqarAliBhutto."

In December, Pakistan recorded 24.5 per cent inflation - the second worst in Asia after Sri Lanka. Prices of onion shot up over 500 per cent to Rs 220.4 a kg from Rs 36.7 a year ago. The cost of other food items like rice, pulses, and wheat has also surged by nearly 50 per cent in a year. Till January 5, diesel prices were up by 61 per cent, and petrol prices by 48 per cent.

Published on: Jan 14, 2023, 1:09 PM IST
Posted by: Saurabh Sharma, Jan 14, 2023, 12:50 PM IST