Citizens frustrated at govt’s defense of petrol price hike

Last month, Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan had not found oil wells, so imported petrol was bound to cost more

Several Pakistanis have disapproved of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI’s) narrative of inflation after Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar said that petrol prices in Pakistan were still the lowest amongst the region, despite the price rising by Rs4 per litre on Friday.

In a tweet, Azhar said that it was a difficult decision to raise petroleum prices, but the rising global prices hampered development in Pakistan. Azhar added that the government was working to reduce tax rates on petroleum products in Pakistan even though the prices were still low as compared to other countries.

In response to the price rise, parliamentarian and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Khawaja Saad Rafique unpacked the current government’s petroleum related policies. He listed the increase in various fuel products and said that inflation would bring in a new wave of poverty and crime.

Journalist Salman Ghani said that the government did not consider itself answerable to the people who were under grave pressure due to inflation. Ghani added International Monetary Fund (IMF) had called the shots when it came to petroleum prices, not the government, which really made one wonder whether the government was democratic to begin with.

Educationist Ammar Ali Jan said that it would be better if Pakistan compared itself to other economies in terms of ‘health, education, rights, employment, wages’ etc. instead of petrol prices.

Jan furthered that Khan took notice of women harassment and shifted the conversation towards immodesty of women instead, just like he noticed the plight of students and charged them for rebelliousness. Jan added Khan took notice of the price hike and only raised them further so it would be in the people’s best interest that the PM stopped noting issues to begin with.

Another user was agitated by the incremental rise every few days. He said that the people demanded the government set a high price once and for all so citizens could adjust their budgets accordingly. He added that PTI government would blame Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) or Peoples Party Pakistan (PPP) leaders for the price increase.

Similar rancor against rising petrol prices ensued last month when petrol prices rose by Rs5 per litre. After the hike, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the same thing as the energy minister, that the prices were still lowest in the region. Chaudhry said that oil wells weren’t discovered in the last three years of PTI’s government, so it was obvious that petrol prices would rise as the commodity was imported.

In a press conference on Friday, Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin also said that petroleum products in Pakistan cost much less than other countries, but the government was still working to reduce taxation on petroleum products.