It was no less than a big shock for every Pakistani when they learnt that the government had dropped a ‘petrol bomb’ on the masses in the form of a ‘sudden’ hike of almost Rs 30 in the POL prices in less than a week. Earlier, the government had jacked up petrol prices from Rs 150 to Rs 180 on May 27, 2022. Where should the masses go for relief when the government itself is expressing its inability to control the prices? The government has announced that it cannot go on providing subsidies on costly POL purchased from the international market. Hence, it has no choice but to withdraw all such subsidies to meet expenses incurred on the purchase a condition also set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for reviving the loan programme. If the government is helpless in extending the much needed relief then the masses have no choice except to come on streets and vent their ire in the form of an agitation movement led by the opposition leadership. The government needs to ascertain this simple formula that costly POL takes away every other daily use item away from the public’s excess because availability of everything hinges upon transportation. Besides, the transportation fare also goes up making it difficult for the masses to move from one place to another either using personal or public transport means. Simply, it will lead to another wave of inflation in the country and hit almost every household budget badly. When people are fuming over the increase in the price of petroleum products, there is also a class who are still enjoying ‘free fuel facility’ and other perks. The government needs to make public how much it cost when it affords ‘free fuel facility’ and other perks for the distinguished class in the society comprising the parliament members, judiciary, military officials and bureaucracy.
Anguish is growing in the society that a daily wage earner has to pay full price of petrol while the privileged class is enjoying it free. Although, suspension or curtailment of ‘free fuel’ and other perks may bring slight difference in the overall spending of the government, yet it can set an example that everybody is facing the economic crisis and the vulnerable segment is not the only victim of this international phenomenon. Another thing which has not been cared about so far is the adoption of austerity in real sense. A lifestyle change is urgently required not only at the lower level but at the higher level also. The government needs to put in practice all those measures which can be adopted by all members of the society for bringing an end to luxuries lifestyle in the current economic crunch. In this regard, the government needs to introduce a single transportation mode for all commuters. The healthy transportation mode of cycling for short distances must be promoted at the government level and all city roads must have a separate track for this travelling mode. The same formula can be applied for other domestic needs and food items. A strategy needs to be put in place to promote urban farming as the land is already shrinking for growing agriculture products. It seems that time has come that ‘out of the box’ solutions be applied for bringing an end to the inflation misery caused by high POL prices.