Staff Reporter Islamabad
Major political leaders and common Pakistanis were up in arms after the government announced a massive increase in the prices of petroleum products on Saturday.
Soon after the announcement, top political leaders and Opposition parties condemned the government’s move and demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation.
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif termed the increase as “utterly shameful” and said that the latest hike, along with the petrol bomb, will push people to the brink of starvation.
“No words to describe the extreme cruelty this selected PTI regime has inflicted on people in the form of yet another increase in prices of items of daily use,” the PML-N president said. Shahbaz Sharif said PM Imran Khan has no right to remain in office and demanded his resignation.
“PM Imran’s resignation could provide some relief to the nation,” the PML-N leader said, adding that “mini budgets” are proof of the incumbent government’s economic failures.
Shehbaz Sharif said that following a 14% increase in power tariff, the “petrol bomb” on the masses is a continuation of the “mini-budget”.
In a statement, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said the PTI government has brought a “tsunami of inflation” in the country, reacting to the hike in petrol price.
“The government is actually charging people for its incompetence. During the PPP era, the burden of rising petroleum prices and products in the world market was never shifted to the masses, he said. “Only PPP’s people-friendly government can save the country from the tsunami of inflation.”
Bilawal said increasing the price of petrol a day after the hike in power tariff proves Imran Khan is an anti-people prime minister.
He asked the people to support the PPP to get rid of the government which is pushing Pakistan into the mire of inflation.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz called it a “calamity” that had fallen on the people like a “lightning bolt”.
“When petrol and diesel become expensive then your electricity, wheat, bread, vegetables and everything become expensive,” she explained.
She asked what fault it was of the nation that every day some new crisis was thrust upon the people. “Not everyone has ATMs or friends who run your kitchen, house and expenses,” she said in a veiled dig at Imran Khan.
The PML-N vice president said that MNAs and MPAs of her party had been instructed to go to their constituencies and “share the people’s grief and pain”.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, PPP Senator Saleem Mandviwala said consultation had begun with other opposition parties for the protest, which would kick off from Islamabad.
He, along with other PPP leaders, said the people were left at the mercy of the International Monetary Fund and a “tsunami of inflation” was heading their way due to the price hike.
Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani demanded the government roll back its decision to increase the prices of petroleum products.
“In September, the price of petrol was hiked by Rs9 per litre,” he said. “The prices of necessary food items are at an all-time high now.
The government should immediately withdraw its decision to increase the price of petrol,” he added.
He said the masses will be unable to brave the hike in prices of petroleum products, adding that the “elite in the government” is pushing people towards either suicide or rebellion.
Rabbani said the government had increased the power tariff by Rs1.39 per unit in line with the IMF’s demands. He said the PPP condemns the move, adding that it was taken after a subsidy of Rs77bn on electricity was withdrawn by the government.
“The government has hiked the prices of cooking oil and ghee by 40%,” he said. “The prices of cooking oil and ghee have skyrocketed to Rs399 and Rs409 per kg. Prices of tomatoes, potatoes, ghee, mutton, LPG and 22 other items of necessary use have seen an increase recently.”
Rabbani lamented that the US dollar had reached an all-time high over the past couple of days, adding that the IMF wanted the government to impose more taxes in exchange of its loan to Pakistan.