Allow me to expend the accumulated anger at the outset of this column please.

After holding two sittings on Monday and Tuesday, the Senate is now scheduled to meet on Friday. But the two days of break, during an ongoing session, would still be counted as “working days”. Our worthy senators are entitled to collect their wages and allowances for these days, even if not moving out of their overheated homes for a second.

Deliberately abusing an established practice, the Senate is simply trying to meet the demand of holding at least 110 sittings in a parliamentary year, which the written Constitution of Pakistan has clearly enjoined.

The PTI government did not summon the Senate for more than three months; it felt uncomfortable with the brute and rabble-rousing majority of the opposition in this house. Contemptuously disregarding the upper house of parliament, it tried to “legislate” while notifying “laws” as ordinances enforced by the President’s office.

The trick failed to help and now in panic, it is letting the Senate drag its session for an unbearably extended period. The government has also failed to conceive any engaging agenda for this session. The simple objective remains to catching up with lost days like horribly slothful school kids.

Don’t blame the ordinary people of Pakistan, therefore, if the majority of them have begun to contemptuously consider the houses of parliament as rest and recreation clubs of heartless elite. Without any exception, the whole political class is rather perceived as if ruthlessly indifferent to their pain and everyday issues.

Yet, I felt forced to reach the Senate; because, its Chairman had asked Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, the Federal Minister of Food Security, to make himself present during the Tuesday sitting. He was expected to explain reasons, eventually creating the feel of a sever wheat shortage in the country.

Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar is almost a friend. This rock star looking scion of an old and elitist family from the South of Punjab is a jolly good company and a generous host. His political instincts are stunningly sharp. He takes no time to trim his sail and switch sides to stay extremely relevant to power games.

Since inducted as an influential minister in the Imran government, he had been wisely avoiding the bad influence of born losers like me. My heart remains too soft for him, though.

The “deconstruction” of the wheat crisis, he presented to us Tuesday, apparently relied on “data only”. The figures he stated cunningly attempted to convince us that the government of Pakistan still has 4 million tonnes of wheat in its stores. There is no “shortage” of it per se.

Issues did surface vis-à-vis the supply chain only. The primary reason for it was the strike that the transporters had staged to protest against the new policy the government had enforced to regulate highways. Taking advantage of it, the profit-greedy types “invented” a crisis. We were manipulated to imagine as if Pakistan was hit by a famine-like shortage of wheat.

While trying to assuage us with the force of data, ensuring ample availability of wheat in the country, the minister also tried to subtly suggest as if the PPP-led government of Sindh also played an important role in “manufacturing” the wheat crisis by remaining negligent to procurement and storage-related responsibilities.

He also astonished me at least by firmly claiming that only 4 to 5 per cent people of Pakistan depend on the supply of flour, furnished by the small-time grinders, running shops in villages and poor localities. Too subtle, he also sounded, while suggesting as if the villainous media and screens of 24/channels overplayed no availability of wheat at small mills.

Mr. Bakhtiar also tried hard to pretend as if he had reached the Senate after effective management of the “manufactured crisis.” The flour in now available in Karachi at the rate of Rs. 54 per kilo; it had gone up to Rs 60-plus in the previous week. In KPK the price of kilo had also come down to Rs. 52. He was confident that timely intervention and management by his government would soon further push down the flour price.

The tale told by Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar did not satisfy the opposition. The PPP senators were doubly furious because he had clearly attempted to hold their government in Sindh, equally responsible for the wheat crisis. Ms. Sherry Rehman surely lost her cool and rudely shouted at him. He tried to get back by nonstop blabbering of more and more data while straining his lungs.

The minister, for sure, had been fed with figures that “yes-minister” type bureaucrats habitually prepare for their bosses to sustain the feel good mood. The data-loaded speech of Khusro Bakhtiar had “a rub,” though.

Almost close to ending his speech, he did admit that “untimely rains” during the months of February and Marchlast year caused a bad impact on wheat crop. More than a million metric tonnes were lost to bad weather.

The minister certainly sounded oblivious of the fact that usual hoarders instinctively spotted the opportunity for them precisely at that point in time when unwanted rains brought gloom in wheat producing areas of Punjab. The rains fed territories were doubly disturbed.

During the harvesting season, the alert agents of wholesalers literally invaded the wheat producing villages, all across Punjab, and began procuring the yield on cash and carry terms. The self-proclaimed “good governors” of Punjab failed to notice their hyperactivity. There was no visible attempt to prevent the crisis with nipping in the bud measures.

Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar was not willing to tell and discuss as to why the government allowed the export of a massive amount of wheat to Afghanistan. Did anyone care to push for vigilant stock checking before permitting the said export?  Above all, the minister was just not motivated to explain as to why, if there was no wheat shortage in the country, the government had recently decided to allow its import on SOS basis.

Since he could not satisfy the opposition, the Senate Chairman was forced to pass the matter to Standing Committee on Food Security. Due to persistent demand of Ms. Sherry Rehman he also set the timeframe of a week for the said committee to complete its probe.

Syed Muzzafar Shah, otherwise an “ally” of the PTI government, is the head of this committee. He is a diligent type and too familiar with all possible aspects of agro-related issues. Bureaucrats would find it extremely difficult to cloud his mind with information overload. The data-driven trickery will certainly not work with him.

Thanks to his experience and diligence, we can hope for a comprehensive report in a week. It may help the government to realize that wheat-related crisis was not “invented” by the villainous media. The usual shylocks of our society did manufacture it with characteristic trickery. But in the end, also got away with it due to scandalous lack of good and vigilant governance in our luckless country.