ISLAMABAD - In his speeches, Prime Minister Imran Khan keeps referring to a mafia that is obstructing and impeding the government, not letting it perform properly. Who is this mafia? What constitutes this mafia? These questions circle the minds of many people.

The back-breaking inflation and recent crises of wheat/flour and now increase in the price of sugar have further pushed the debate down to the public domain with targeted questions regarding the mafia prime minister refers to in his statements.

As per an international standard definition, mafia is a group of people exerting a hidden, sinister influence or any organised group of criminals’ resembling the mafia in its way of operating. How these definitions fit in into Pakistan’s context when one tries to figure out the mafia being faced by Prime Minister Khan.

Background discussions with various stakeholders of the society have interpreted it in their own way understanding the government system.

Those appearing voters and supporters of prime minister and his ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have figured it out in the shape of forces of status quo. This largely implied to institutions and their aptness to ensure lawful implementation of government policies.

In political terms, they blamed the civil services of the country from top to bottom as a major hurdle in implementing government’s reforms agenda.

Some of them, including the critics of Prime Minister and his government, believed some elements within PTI and its allied parties are also not sincere in strict implementation of reforms agenda of the prime minister.

On the other hand, the main opposition parties have interpreted it in an altogether different sense as reflected from their reaction on the mafia prime minister refers to the most.

They termed the prime minister and his government the most inept government without any agenda. According to them, Prime Minister Imran Khan himself is the real backer of the mafia.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson and MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb says the economic indicators, report of Transparency International on corruption in Pakistan shows undeniable and irrefutable proof that the only mafia looting and destroying Pakistan is corrupt Imran Khan and his government.

She added that after being rebuked and embarrassed by courts over his smear campaign against opposition leaders, especially PML-N, Imran Khan had run out of distractions to pin his failures and crimes on others.

“It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out the mafia that created the wheat and sugar crisis. It is in the knowledge of everyone that some cronies of prime minister were at the heart of recent wheat and sugar crisis. They were the ones who were first allowed to export wheat and were later awarded the opportunity to make billions while importing the commodity,” she alleged.

She further alleged that these cronies had hoarded sugar to make a profit from the shortage. The mafia stands exposed, she remarked.

Former MNA and PML-N divisional president Malik Abrar Ahmed said Imran Khan was surrounded by the mafia, and he should take action against them rather drumming against PML-N and senior leaders of PPP have been released by the courts. So, the mafia is sitting with prime minister and thieving whether it is prices of wheat/ flour, sugar, medicines or electricity, gas, and petroleum products, he said.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senior leader Farhatullah Babar said that prime minister’s talk about unknown mafia in fact shows his cowardice and helplessness that he speaks about it but has no courage to act against it.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) senior leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said Imran Khan was the real leader of the mafia.

He was supported by the people like Jehangir Khan Tareen and many others who were responsible for creating pre-planned wheat and sugar crises. So there was no other mafia other than the PM and his men, he alleged.

The Awami National Party (ANP) also termed the current government a protector of different kinds of mafias, which were involved in many wrongdoings.

An ANP senior leader said that his party considered the incumbent government as a big supporter of mafia, which Imran Khan was always talking about in his speeches.

Despite repeated efforts, none of the coalition partners of the ruling PTI responded to the question.