The recent surge in fuel prices has once again tested the patience of the Pakistani people. As if their problems were less severe, another bomb has been hurled on them. The prices of basic food and household items are constantly increasing and possibly surpass the rates of comparable items in the most expensive, developed countries like the UK.

Anyway, the petrol prices have crossed Rs100 per litre mark for the first time in the history of Pakistan. This not only highlights the intentions of the current rulers about providing welfare and relief to the masses, but also indicating the tough economic times that lie ahead for the people. The latest strategy adopted to generate revenue is by increasing the price of petrol and other fuel products by a substantial amount and charge this premium from the entire population across-the-board, regardless of the purchasing power of the people. However, no such action can hide the repeated failure of the government to collect revenues from the rich. It is pointless to expect from the government, which has a strong lobby comprising feudals in Parliament, to collect revenues from the agricultural sector. This can only happen if Parliament consists of truly democratically-elected representatives that do not belong to the elite class. The question, however, remains: Will this ever happen in our country?

Pakistan is a highly resilient country, which has slowly and steadily battled through difficult times, such as military engagements with its neighbours; domestic insurgencies; soaring inflation and consequent economic hardships; corrupt civilian rules and military dictatorships; periodic food shortages; lack of health facilities; a deteriorating and discriminatory system of education; lack of development infrastructure; electricity and gas loadshedding that are proving to be a major cause of rising unemployment within the existing employment market; law and order situation; extreme security situations due to terrorist attacks and rising sectarian violence; failure to protect the rights of women and children; mass production of spurious drugs; estranged relations with our strategic neighbours; the unpredictable nature of our relationship with the US in the so-called war of terror; failure of the tax collection authorities to collect levies; and the sluggish nature of the judicial process to bring to task all those who have in one way or the other caused harm to the nation.

Hasn’t our nation been hit hard enough or is there yet more to come before it will shake off its slumber, replicating the Arab Spring phenomenon and rise against the ruthless treatment of the aristocratic governments? The indifference, incapacity and incompetence of the concerned departments is visible on the streets as more and more people of the working class are protesting against their decisions.

Also, it is noteworthy that the nature of these demonstrations is changing, since they are not only increasing in number, but also becoming more violent and uncontrollable. The damage to public and private property is escalating alongside.

Each time a new government comes into power or a budget is passed, it is always the common man who suffers. How patient can Pakistanis be with these repetitive price hikes before they finally decide to fight for their survival? This election year will be decisive in the history of our country. Just wait and watch!

n    The writer is an ex-assistant commissioner Income Tax, IT and Change Management consultant and a Public Sector Management analyst.

    Email: drsaniachaudhry@gmail.com