Pakistan and massive price hike

ISLAMABAD: Besides politicians, traders, farmers, businessmen and people from all walks of life expressed their serious concerns over the latest government move that, according to them, would bring a new wave of price-hike and inflation in the country, making it difficult for the middle and working classes to survive.

The Jamaat-i-Islami in response to the unprecedented hike in petroleum prices announced protest demonstrations across the country on Thursday and Friday, while the Pakistan Peoples Party had already announced to launch its protest march against inflation on Feb 27 from Karachi to Islamabad.

Also, Kisan Board Pakistan vice-president Amanullah Chathha announced that farmers would hold a sit-in in Lahore on Feb 22 to protest this unjust and cruel decision. He said oil prices were raised at a time when farmers were facing fertiliser crisis in the country.

PTI allies turn against decision; opposition, farmers, businessmen on same page

Asking the government allies to rethink their act of supporting the “cruel” rulers, the self-exiled supre­­me leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif through a tweet said: “Every step taken by the present government brings a message of new destruction” in the country.

Also, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif in a hard-hitting statement said the increase in petrol prices was a “tyrannical measure by the corrupt and liar PTI government.

“The tyranny will not end unless this government ends and this government will not end until the people decide to stand up and send the Imran-led mafia home.”

He said the PML-N would not rest until rescuing the people from this “despotic government”. He said the price hike would lead to unemployment and poverty.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the days of the “selected government were numbered”, adding that the people would not accept this increase at any cost. The long march planned by his party on Feb 27 would hold the government accountable for its policies, he said.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said the government could not hide behind international oil prices, as it had agreed with the IMF to increase levy on all petroleum products. He said the latest increase in petroleum and electricity rates had made it impossible for the middle class and working classes to survive.

“The government should be war­ned that when the people are driven to such heights of economic frustration the doors of anarchy open and a movement is born. Such a movement is disastrous for state structures and the state,” he concluded.

In a tweet, JI Amir Sirajul Haq said the oil prices increase was another example of the government’s ‘indifference and brutality’. “We will not remain silent on this oppression. The sit-in movement will be intensified. We will soon turn to Islamabad,” he wrote.

The Rawalpindi Chamber of Com­merce and Industry (RCCI) president Nadeem Rauf said the business community was concerned over the sharp increase in oil prices. He urged the government to immediately review its decision, stating that inflation was already in double digits.

PML-Q, MQM response

The PML-Q, the main ally of the ruling PTI at the Centre and Punjab, also expressed its concerns over the increase in oil prices and asked the government to immediately withdraw it. The reaction from the PML-Q came during the parliamentary party meeting that was presided over by Minister for Housing Tariq Bashir Cheema and was also attended by Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-P), another ally of the PTI government at the Centre, said that being an elected party, it found itself answerable to the people of Pakistan and could not support any move that made their lives further challenging.

Similarly, calling the government insensitive, founder chairman of the Pak-Sarzameen Party Syed Mustafa Kamal said the PTI government and its allies had lost all moral ground to stay in power and those parties which were supporting PM Khan would regret about their political decision.

Govt seeks solution

Special Assistant to PM on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill said the PTI government was not very happy on increasing petrol prices and said someone should give them a solution as to how not to increase petrol prices.

Speaking to media persons in Lahore, Mr Gill said the government had no remedy but to increase petrol prices, when fuel prices had risen from $40 to $95 per barrel. “The other option is to get more loans, give subsidy and put future generation and foreign policy under the load of heavy debt,” he added.

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