REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

Pakistan on Monday approved the import of 300,000 tonnes of wheat to relieve a flour supply shortage that has created a crisis for the government of prime minister Imran Khan.

Flour and bread prices have shot up during the last week as flour disappeared from shops and wholesale markets. People have queued outside flour mills in some parts of the country and bread makers have shut their shops to protest against what they say is government pressure to sell bread at controlled prices.

The finance ministry said in a statement that the import decision had been made by the Economic Coordination Council, with the first wheat shipment expected to arrive by Feb. 15. It said it would wave regulatory duties on the imported wheat.

It was not yet clear from which country or countries Pakistan would be importing the wheat.

Rising wheat prices have brought sharp criticism from opposition parties and economists of Khan’s government.

Pakistan is a mostly agricultural country that normally grows enough to meet the needs of its population.

Opposition parties and some economists have called for an inquiry into why Pakistan needs to import wheat when it was exporting until late last year.