In 2006, HT had received a number of emails asking why Consumer Protection Council of Helpline Trust had not taken up the issue of the atta and sugar crisis and their escalating prices. And this year it is the same, and as always, history has repeatedly itself, but this time the crisis is in holy month of Ramazan. And as in the past, I can simply state that due to shortage of funds, lack of volunteers and support from civil society, an organisation such as ours can only highlight problems and create awareness against such issues through seminars, debates and campaigns. We are not in a position to bring effective changes in the laws without public demand. Positive results can only be achieved by the support of the judiciary, the electronic or print media and by civil society playing its due role and force the government to take notice and take effective action. Every year, a few weeks before Ramazan, there is a shortage of essential food items, especially fruit and other Iftiar related items, mainly due to bad policies or planning, hoarding by greedy profiteers and lack of enforcement of CDGK prices, yet the government fails to get its act together. The blame game is once again in full swing, with ministries blaming and pointing crooked fingers at each other and accusing the hoarders and profiteers for the present crisis, which has been simmering for the last one year and has now gone out of control. It seems that the PM, as in the past, has been misguided by his 'advisors and was not fully informed as to how serious the situation was. The PM and CM Punjab have demanded an explanation and ordered the Food Ministry to ensure that the price of sugar is brought under control, but the raids against the hoarders, as before, have been stopped. N o serious enquiry has been initiated and nobody has been made accountable and once again the consumers have been scarified at the altar of mismanagement, corruption and greed. At one time we were exporting sugar and now the government has been forced to import sugar on an emergency basis. Meanwhile, the prices have jumped from Rs 22 some years back, to Rs 60 per kg. The Utility Stores have been ordered to sell sugar at Rs. 47 per kg, but have no stocks. The government has made half-hearted attempts to introduce changes and reforms to check rising prices, but has failed, as it does not have the expertise to calculate prices of essential items, nor does it consult the stake holders and nor has the political will to enforce the prices. I had participated in a recent 'First Blast program on Dawn TV, hosted Sonia Rahman, in which the topic for discussion had been the sugar crisis and other consumer related issues. The other participant had been Anees Majid, President of the Karachi Wholesale Market Association. Anees announced that his association had rejected the prices fixed by CDGK, as they were unrealistic and had been fixed on an add-hoc basis and without any consultation with the stakeholders. He stated that his association would go on an indefinite shutter down strike unless the price list was withdrawn. This would further aggravate the situation and make life more difficult for the consumers. However, as always, EDO Enterprises and Investment Promotions, claim that the CDGK price list is realistic and the retailers nor wholesalers would not incur any loss if they were to sell as per the CDGK prices. He warned that if that goes on strike and tried to blackmail the CDGK, he would have no option but to break open their warehouses and supply the food to the people. So once again, history has repeated itself and the game of Nura-Kushti has started between CDGK and the wholesalers and retailers, with the fresh milk vendors, fruit, and vegetable suppliers waiting in line to jump into the fray. There was a time when we used to participate in these 'price fixing committees, but soon realised that the prices were 'prefixed by the EDO to please his bosses and establish a platform for his inspectors to impose 'fines and arrest violators. As such, we refuse to participate in these committees any more. In view of this Comedy of Errors, I have requested Dr. Qazi, Ahmed Kamal, who has been recently appointed as a Committee Member of KCCI to set up a permanent Price Control Committee, in collaboration with CDGK, which should include representation from all stakeholders, including consumers. But another handicap that the consumers face, is the absence of Consumer Protection Laws or Consumer Courts. The CP Ordinance Sindh, was prepared by HT and signed by the Governor on 12th August 04. Since then, it has been signed thrice, but has lapsed each time, as it has never been presented to the Sindh Assembly for ratification. As such, Sindh is still without a CPL or Consumer Courts. Unfortunately, consumers in Pakistan are their own enemy, as they never protest or lodge a complaint against high prices or substandard products or services. There has to be a joint, concentrated movement by the consumers to act when their rights are being violated. As the government has failed to control prices of essential items due to corruption, mismanagement and the connivance of the its staff with the hoarders, we have to empower the consumers and launch a 'Consumer Resistance Campaign. Through this ST article, I request consumers not to buy certain essential products, like fresh milk, fruits and vegetables, sugar, atta, meat, etc., unless they are sold at government prices. If consumers were to collectively boycott these products once a week, the prices would automatically come down. In other words, Jago - Sarfeen - Jago and demand your rights. We have also requested the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court to take suo motto action against the provincial government for failing to introduce the Consumer Protection Law and establishing Consumer Courts, as required by the Constitution of Pakistan. If you wish to participate or assist us in our efforts, then please visit Helpline Trust web site www.helplinetrust.org and lodge a complaint through our Consumer Complaint Form against substandard products and services. It itself would be a step in the right direction.