AT a time of inflationary spiral where there is hardly any ground for jacking up the prices, the government has greatly exasperated the masses by further raising the petroleum prices by five percent and diesel prices by a little less. Secondly, it should be clear by now that the OGRAs mechanism of reviewing the price formula after short intervals is not properly thought out. Every time it reviews the rates, the prices are jacked up and the PMs secretariat that gives the final approval is least interested in knowing whether the recommendation is right or wrong. The argument that the international oil market and changes in the price of the crude affect markets at home makes sense since we largely have to import oil to fulfil the countrys needs. But that is just one side of the equation. Strangely enough, the government rarely announces any reduction when the international prices come down. Though, it is very much possible for it to ease the burden on the masses by reducing the hefty tax it levies on the import of oil, it never does so for the reason that providing relief and succour to the people isnt apparently high on its agenda of governance. Criticism targeting OGRAs role in fixing the prices in a manner, which benefits the government and the oil companies serves them right. The entire economy is linked with stability in the oil rates and inflation reigns supreme when the balance is disrupted. Unfortunately, in the absence of any independent oil regulatory body, or the callousness of the Petroleum Ministry for that matter, this negativity has been the order of the day. It would only be foolhardy to ignore the popular frustration with the governments half-backed oil and energy policies making its presence felt in Rawalpindi and Islamabad in a dramatic way. The revolutionary zeal of the people who took to the streets protesting against the price hike only lays bare the leadership crisis.