The opposition alliance through the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is once again flexing its muscles to demonstrate street power to force rulers to quit government over its inability to control inflation. Mainly the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in alliance with other opposition parties like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) are all set to embark on an agitation movement from October 20 with first rally to be held in Rawalpindi. The PDM will mainly protest against the rising inflation in the backdrop of increasing petroleum prices, use of electronic machines and NAB (second amendment) Ordinance. They have demanded the government to immediately reduce fuel prices and electricity tariff and withdrawal of new taxes on utilities such as gas and electricity.
There is no second opinion about the validity of these demands that are reasonable and logical. The people of Pakistan have already suffered a lot because of the high prices of oil in the past. Take the case of the current rates of petrol, oil and lubricants that are nothing short of a burden in the form of exorbitant taxes on the masses amid rising inflation rate. It is interesting to hear Prime Minister Imran Khan and his coterie of ministers saying that the government was providing fuel to the public at the lowest prices compared to many other countries in the world. They are saying this while being oblivious to the fact that Pakistan has a poor position among other oil-importing countries in terms of purchasing power parity. Moreover, the people have to pay extra amounts in terms of development expenditure for enjoying utilities such as gas and electricity.
The PDM can demonstrate street power and it seems that it will win a good public support. Therefore, the launching of a protest movement is not free from complications for the government. The federal government should not give cold shoulder to the real issues faced by the general public. It cannot continue with its politics of showing its usual indifference to the ongoing mismanagement in the country. Efforts must be made to address all the genuine concerns of the opposition parties and the masses. On its part, the opposition parties need to demonstrate some patience and adopt a peaceful way of protest instead of endangering the country’s already fragile security and economy as any violent protest is not in the interests of the country.