ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARACHI - Different opposition parties and religious groups have rejected the recent increase in prices of petroleum products, declaring it an anti-people act of the PML-N government.

In a statement issued form Islamabad‚ PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that his party will protest in and outside the national assembly against the decision.

PPP described it as an ‘injustice’ to the poor while the MQM said the policies of new government were no different than the outgoing PPP-led regime. ANP also condemned the government decision and JI said it was contrary to the rosy promises made by the PML-N in its election campaign.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman, “Repeated price hikes continue to burden the ordinary citizens while most of the rich continue to evade their responsibility of paying their taxes. The government has failed, or deliberately chosen not to, widen the direct tax net; and instead has chosen to target the salaried and poor of the Land by placing a spiralling burden of indirect taxes on them.”

Imran Khan said the PTI would be devising a strategy to protest such anti-people price hikes both in the parliament and outside. “It was unacceptable to have the poor bear the burden of the state expenses while the rich are kept outside the tax ambit,” he maintained.

PTI Punjab chapter held a protest demonstration against the POL price increase in front of Lahore Press Club on Sunday. Ijaz Chaudhary, party’s provincial president announced to hold similar protests at all the district headquarters of Punjab today (Monday). PTI leaders warned the government of an unending protest drive if it would not reverse its decision. They claimed the government was following the IMF dictates.

A Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) Sindh lawmaker said the PML-N government, which came to power with promise providing relief, was in fact doing injustice to them. He said the POL price hike would lead to more inflation and he demanded the government immediately withdraw the decision.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Coordination Committee issued a condemnatory statement in Karachi, saying that people were already badly affected by inflation, unemployment and terrorism. They are unable to make both ends meet because of ongoing crisis. This price increase would further increase their hardships, the statement said.People were expecting that the government would not increase the prices of basic commodities and provide relief to people in prices of petroleum products and electricity and gas tariff, but the government steps indicate that their expectations would not be fulfilled, the statement added. The committee demanded of the prime minister take back this anti-people decision.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawar Hasan and Secretary General Liaqat Baloch strongly condemned the continuous raise in the POL prices. They said the PML-N in its election manifesto had promised prosperity to the people but its policies during the last three months had worsened their plight. They termed the latest raise in the POL prices as mini budget and demanded its withdrawal.

Talking to the media men after addressing a seminar on the Egypt situation, Munawar said the masses should be prepared for a fresh wave of inflation as he urged them to come on roads with the JI workers to protest against this ‘state tyranny’.

Criticism uncalled for: Pervaiz

INP adds: Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, who is also spokesman for the government, said here Sunday that criticism regarding increase in petroleum prices was totally uncalled for as there was no formula to provide petrol to consumers at a rate lower than the purchase price.

“If the critics have such a formula, they could share it with the government which would implement it,” he remarked.

The minister said changes in petroleum prices were linked to the international market and prices within the country had to be adjusted in accordance with changes of prices at international level.

He said had the governments in the past focused on strengthening the economy, purchasing power of the people would have been much higher today. He expressed the hope that with the implementation of the economic projects by the present government, purchasing power of the people would be increased and prices stabilised.

The minister said the government desired to facilitate people in every possible way that is why it was providing electricity to consumers at the rates much lower than actual cost of production and paying annual subsidy of Rs 170 billion.

He hoped that with complete focus on rebuilding the economy, the government would be able to achieve a visible improvement in standard of life of the general public.