ISLAMABAD: Amid warnings against ignoring the critical consequences of ever higher price hikes, the Senate opposition held a walkout from the house on Friday to protest the government’s act of “dropping a Molotov cocktail »Twice in a month and the absence of the Minister of Finance to answer questions related to the unprecedented rise in the prices of petroleum products.
Raising the issue of rising oil prices and its snowballing effects on a point of public importance, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said that the growing common man’s problems caused by inflationary pressures can cause social unrest leading to a rudderless revolution in the country as no political party was able to lead the revolution on the march.
Rabbani expressed concern about the “rule by ordinance” and the rapid erosion of citizens’ trust in parliament.
He criticized the finance minister who left the house after question time for not having the courage to stay and answer questions about the increase in the price of oil and other related matters.
PPP Rabbani Says Growing People’s Problems May Lead to “Rudderless Revolution”
He also expressed concern over the disclosure that the United States was in direct talks with Pakistan over the use of a vital air corridor to Afghanistan.
Referring to the new terms of engagement with the United States drafted by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and adopted by the joint session of Parliament, he said the talks violated the policy document approved in 2012.
General Frank McKenzie, who heads the United States Central Command, recently confirmed at a congressional hearing that the United States and Pakistan were “involved in ongoing deliberations” on the air corridor.
Mr. Rabbani also grilled the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the government for not having trusted the Senate and the National Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan.
House Leader Senator Shahzad Waseem, in his response, ruled out that a revolution was underway and said revolutions take place when corrupt leaders are in the saddle.
“Despite the opposition’s attempts to spread discouragement and portray a grim picture, the country will continue to forge ahead under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said.
He regretted that while the government wanted legislation in the National Assembly, the opposition would resort to whistling.
“If you don’t respect the president and the parliament, then how can you talk about legislation and parliament,” he said.
Senator Shahzad asserted that oil prices were rising in the world market and despite Ogra’s recommendations for a higher increase, the government had shifted the “lesser burden” to the masses.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance, he said, had come to parliament and made policy statements and answered questions regularly.
Unlike the PTI government, he noted, previous governments used to raise oil prices when oil prices fell in the world market.
“Revolutions occur when rulers are corrupt but the rulers in place are aware of their obligations and make decisions in the ‘best national interest’,” he said.
Senator JI Mushtaq Ahmad also warned the government against a revolution underway and called on the masses to take to the streets against the cruel economic policies of the government in power.
“The leaders must learn a lesson from the French Revolution,” he said.
He lamented that there had been a Rs 51 increase in oil prices over the past 13 months and that it was a great injustice to the people.
“They have no other policy than to increase the prices of oil, gas, electricity and drugs,” he said.
“We condemn this ruthless government for the latest increase in oil prices which will raise rates for everything in the country and make the lives of the people more miserable and painful,” he said.
PPP Senate House Leader and Deputy Speaker Sherry Rehman, before announcing the House walkout against rising oil prices and the absence of the finance minister, said once again the government of the PTI had dropped a gasoline bomb in times of extreme inflation. “Gasoline prices now stand at Rs 127.3 per liter. They already raised the price by Rs 5 per liter on September 15th, but now the prices are on the rise again. The PTI government has a unique reputation for raising fuel prices eight times in a year, leaving most of the country unable to operate with such drastic strikes on their disposable income.
Comparing the situation today with the days of PPP in government, Senator Sherry said during the PPP government in 2013, international oil prices were extremely high due to the global financial crisis, but the price of Oil in the country was not allowed to go up near the price of gasoline it was now in the country.
“What kind of explanation is this for the eight times higher increase in the prices of petroleum products in one year,” she asked, referring to the government’s claim that this was due to the surge oil prices on the international market.
She noted that these price shocks were unbearable for the country’s population.
She pointed out that the government had increased the price of gasoline by Rs 9 per liter in just 15 days and by Rs 32 in the past three years.
“The PTI is the opposite of what it promised: it does exactly what the IMF says, borrows like no government has done before, and tells the people lies that the good days are approaching. Other governments also managed IMF programs and the PPP government was also accountable to the people, but negotiated better terms with the IMF, ”she added.
Regarding the devaluation of the rupee, she noted that “on September 30, the rupee hit a record low of 172.50. There has been an unprecedented devaluation of the rupee since the PTI government took power ”.
Senator Sherry, along with other members of the opposition, then came out of the house to protest the absence of the Minister of Finance in the house to explain the reason for the massive increase in the price of oil.
Posted in Dawn, le 2 October 2021