A few days back I happened to travel on the National Highway on the stretch between Hala to Sukkur. I was horrified to see huge stocks of wheat in gunny bags lying in open fields on both sides of the road. The pyramids of gunny bags contained hundreds of thousands maunds of wheat procured by Pakistan Agriculture Supply Corporation (PASCO), a federal government agency, during the ongoing harvesting season. At Sita village, I got down from my car and met some farmers working in the field. They told me the PASCO staff, after procuring wheat from farmers, have left it in gunny bags under the open sky. They further informed me that despite tall claims of the provincial government, the procuring authorities have failed to pay the promised 'support price' of wheat. I fail to understand why PASCO did not fulfill its commitment of prompt payment. And why, indeed, has it not kept the wheat in government silos/godowns? Leaving huge stocks worth hundreds of millions of rupees in the open invites many hazards, the prime being theft, fire and rain etc. What is the guarantee that wheat left in the open fields for months would still be intact when needed and not stolen, if not by the local thieves then by PASCO minions themselves? There is no justification for keeping such a perishable, yet precious, commodity in the open except that the officials of procuring organization themselves intended to gratify their nefarious desires in case some calamity struck. If that happens, the ultimate losers will be the people of Pakistan. -QAZI ZAHEER AHMED, Old Hala, via e-mail, June 11.