Allies and Opp unite against ‘petrol bomb’


ISLAMABAD/LAHORE – Demanding the government introduce drastic cuts in non-development expenditure and plug loopholes in the existing tax collection system to manage financial troubles, the government’s coalition partners – the Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – as well as opposition parties strongly condemned the hike in petroleum prices on Friday.
In a statement issued from London, MQM chief Altaf Hussain rejected the increase in POL prices, calling it “against the interest of the public” and called upon the federal government to reconsider the decision. He said transport fares and commodity prices were constantly rising due to persistent increase in the prices of POL products. Altaf said the increase was adversely affecting the people belonging to the poor and middle classes, who were already burdened beyond their capacity.
He stressed upon the government to review the decision and provide subsidy to the people instead of passing on the burden to the public. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif also demanded the government rollback the increase in POL prices. “The hike in POL price will make the lives of poverty-and-inflation-ridden people more miserable. There would have been no need to increase POL prices had the government controlled corruption,” he said in a statement. Rejecting the POL price hike, Nawaz demanded the government withdraw the notification and advised the government not to test the people’s patience. Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami demanded the government drastically cut non-development expenditure instead of burdening the already troubled masses. He said the people were paying 21 percent tax on POL products.
“There is no upward trend in POL price in the international market as its prices have come down to $104 per barrel in March from $114 per barrel in January this year,” he added. Ahmed said the government had collected Rs 100 billion in nine months from taxes on POL products, adding that the hike would jack up inflation and negatively impact growth and industrial production in the country.
“Instead of increasing oil prices, the government should reform the tax collection system to check tax evasion and impose taxes on the real estate sector and stock exchange,” he proposed. ANP Senior Vice President Haji Muhammad Adeel said the government did not consult the parliamentary committee before increasing the oil prices, adding that the government had formed a committee but increased oil prices on its own. He said the move could have serious repercussions. Terming the recent increase in POL prices “state terrorism”, PML-Q leader Ameer Muqam said the people were being killed in drone attacks on one hand, while “petrol bombs were being dropped by the government” on the other.
He demanded the government withdraw the notification immediately.
JUI-F’s Maulana Amjad said the POL price hike was a suicide attack on the masses by the government. “It will cause inflation to rise and aggravate the people’s sufferings. The government has itself become a pain instead of providing relief to the nation,” he said. In Lahore, various political and religious parties condemned the increase in petroleum prices and held demonstrations across the city to register their protest. Provincial and city chapter leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami held protest demonstrations against the latest increase in POL prices. All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) leader Pervez Musharraf also condemned the increase in petroleum prices. He said the government should meet its expenses by cutting expenditure and make the tax collection system efficient. PML-Q’s Chaudhary Zaheerud Din said the government should transfer the burden of its luxuries on the power corridors instead of passing it on to the masses.