High Inflation in Pakistan: Opposition parties gave country protest call

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Inflation is considered as the most damaging factor to the popularity of the current Pakistan Tehreek Insaf government (PTI). Petrol and electricity price hike twice a month make the life of a common man almost impossible in the country. As per IMF directions, the government is imposing more tax on Petrol and Electricity; moreover, local currency is dropping down its value against dollar continuously. Government has changed 4 finance ministers in 3 years but positive results could not be gained till yet.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry during his interview with Eat News said “high prices of petroleum products are linked with the international market, if petroleum cost will increase globally, we do not have any other option to increase the prices”. He defended the government stance on inflation rise. “The government is now ready to tackle the major problem of inflation in the coming days. The Prime Minister will announce significant programs himself in this regard. The Prime Minister Imran Khan directed immediate steps to provide relief to the middle class”, he added.

Currently the most drastic feature is the continuous boom in commodities prices, which includes food items, meat, flour, fruits, petroleum, electricity and gas. These are the basic necessities of the common man; which are getting expensive after each day.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired couple of meetings on said matter last week. These meetings were also attended by provincial Chief Ministers (CMs), Governors and Federal Ministers. The central and provincial leadership of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) also participated in the meetings.

Pakistan’s premier Imran Khan in his statement said that public relief measures should be expedited by mobilizing all institutions. Government is providing relief to the weaker sections of the society through various programs. For such purpose the PM directed to make a plan to subsidize petrol for low-income earners. The Prime Minister directed the Ministers to take steps to implement price control committees’ decisions.

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In his tweet PM Imran Khan said that Ministers should keep an eye on artificial inflation in their constituencies; strict measures should be taken against the perpetrators of artificial inflation and hoarders.

While protecting the government polices Dr Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, said, “inflation in Pakistan is lower than the rest of the world. Local economy is shrinking due to Covid-19 but the government is doing its utmost to address the issue”.

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – nine-opposition party’s coalition- gave the countrywide protest against the government on the inflation issue. From Friday September 22, opposition parties’ workers started demonstrations against the different cities of the country.

In these cavalcades protesters chanted slogans against the government and demanded immediate relief on the price hike of everyday items. PDM spokesman Senator Hafiz Hamdullah believes it is now a do or die situation. “We are motivating the people to show our street power against inflation imposed by the PTI government. It is time to show our disagreement on their economic policies; otherwise it will be too late to react”.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly and President Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz (PML-N) Shahbaz Sharif has appealed the people to join the nationwide protests against inflation. Shahbaz Sharif in his statement said that giving more time to the present government means more destruction of the people, more inflation and more unemployment.

Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab President Rana Sanaullah has released a schedule of public protests against inflation in Punjab; the most populated province of the country. He said instructions were issued to all organizations and wings of the party, including doctors, laborers and traders. Public participation in all demonstrations should be ensured. He blamed government incompetence and corruption so it cannot control the inflation in the country; opposition stands side by side with the people of Pakistan.

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Pakistan People’s Party Senator Shamim Afridi while speaking to Eat News said, “Inflation is increasing at rocket speed, I know a lot of people in-person who are not able to feed their families even twice a day. I am afraid, situation will result in anarchy”. “Government has to take some concrete measures to curtail this price hike in the country otherwise people will commit suicides. Frankly speaking, I am impressed with the efforts taken by the government to overcome this turbulent situation”, Mr. Afridi added.

Eat News Pakistan also took the version of common masses on the price hike issue. For said reason, the EAT News team visited Abpara Market of Capital Islamabad to take the opinion of the working community on what they say about this issue.

Abid Khan, a 38 years old laborer, works in a local market. During the interview he told that he is the only breadwinner for his family, which consists of 6 members. Due to swelling inflation life has become miserable for them. “It is difficult for me to feed my family, I come here (to the market) early in the morning and leave after evening, I work on daily wages, sometimes it happens that I go back home empty handed. Most of the time I am thinking about how I can assist my family in this situation. I am afraid; I will not be able to facilitate my children to continue their education”.

Rana Tahir, 47 years old roadside barber is also worried about the current situation. He said, “I cannot pay my rent and other utility bills. Government is increasing the electricity and gas tariff constantly. My earnings are squeezing while my expenditures are growing. It is almost unfeasible for me to pay my utility bills. If the same continues, no one will be able to help the others. This inflation will destroy our country and society”.

International magazine ‘The Economist’ has rated Pakistan as fourth in terms of inflation. Apparently, it seems that the government fails to control the inflation in the country. Common man is worried about his future while opposition parties have started protest cavalcades from North to South in the country. Moreover local currency PKR value has dropped down to the war torn neighboring country Afghanistan, which is indeed alarming according to economists.

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Independent experts believe, if a similar situation will prolong, sooner or later people will be on streets and it will be an irreparable loss to the present government. Popularity graph of the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) government is dropping down which will affect the success ratio in upcoming general elections 2023.

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Muhammad Farhan Niazi is a correspondent for Eat News in Pakistan and is an experienced senior producer with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in feature and news writing, non-linear editing, radio, multimedia journalism, Online journalism, film production, and sound. Strong media and communication professional graduated from University of Peshawar.


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