Fuel price hike: Political pressure piles up on PPP

Published: March 2, 2011
PML-N, MQM, PML-Q walk out from National Assembly.

PML-N, MQM, PML-Q walk out from National Assembly.


Mere hours following an increase in petrol and diesel prices, the government has, as expected, come under extreme pressure from political forces for the move.

Political parties have warned the government of ‘chaos on the streets’ if it does not immediately withdraw an over nine per cent increase in petroleum prices – a move that the government was forced to implement given increasing oil prices in the international market, and the increasing burden that subsiding the commodity was putting on the already beleaguered economy.

On Tuesday, the government had to deal with walkouts from the National Assembly by both the opposition – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PML-Q, – as well as its key ally – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

The MQM, a party whose support is pivotal for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government to maintain a simple majority in the house, has already given the government a three-day ‘deadline’ to reverse the price increase, failing which it would take “appropriate action”.

However, none of these groups appeared to offer any concrete alternative to the government to balance economic compulsions and social considerations when adjusting petroleum prices according to skyrocketing international rates.

Political pressure had already forced the government to take back a fuel price hike once before at the start of the year – a move that delivered a big hit to the country’s economy.

With an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis not paying taxes, indirect taxation and revenues collected on petroleum products are the biggest earning avenues for the state.

The political parties opposing price increase have recently frustrated several government attempts to reform the country’s taxation system, which, among other things, has resulted in the suspension  of a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund.

Before walking out of the National Assembly on Tuesday, political parties delivered dramatic speeches castigating the government for the price hike.

“It is tantamount to a suicide attack on the people of Pakistan…the government is following the dictates of the IMF instead of the parliament,” Khawaja Saad Rafiq of the PML-N said.

He termed the increase an unjust and unfair move, urging the government to immediately take it back.

MQM’s Haider Abbas Rizvi claimed that a parliamentary committee formed to guide the government on this matter was not consulted ahead of the decision on Sunday night.

Rizvi added, “We give three days to the government to withdraw the recent increase in petroleum prices.”

Sheikh Waqas Akram of the PML-Q also endorsed the views of his fellow legislators and advised the government to avoid taking such decisions.

Sindh Assembly

The MQM and opposition parties on Tuesday also staged a token walkout from the Sindh Assembly in protest against hike in fuel prices.

As the session started, the members of opposition including Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and PML-Q stood up and said that recent price hike in petroleum products has created a law and order situation in the province. The members of MQM and PPP assured them that they would also table joint resolution on the issue and requested them to end the protest.  But they continued their protest and staged walkout for a few minutes. Later Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq brought them back to the session.

A similar situation was witnessed when MQM wanted to bring a resolution in the house on the issue. They were told by PPP members to wait until their parliamentary leader comes and the house should pass a resolution against attempts of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz  of introducing horse-trading in the Punjab Assembly. “We are bringing a joint resolution…we will take it up later on,” they said.

But as the resolution against PML-N was passed the MQM members got permission from the chair and moved their resolution, which read: “The increase in the prices of petroleum products by 9.9% will raise the consumer’s prices including bus and train fares and have angered the common man. It is, therefore, proposed that government of Sindh recommend to the federal government to withdraw the increase in PoL prices.”  But Pir Mazhar, Shazia Marri and Ayaz Soomro of PPP were of the view that the prime minister had already taken back the petrol price increase by giving subsidy of Rs15 billion after protest by different quarters.  But since the prices of fuel have soared in international market, it would be difficult for the government to give further subsidy.

Pir Mazhar responding to MQM members said “We request you to give us time, so that we can also consult with our leadership on the issue. We assure you that your resolution will be passed tomorrow (Wednesday)” he said.

Sardar Ahmed of MQM and other members of the party agreed, but Dr Sagheer Ahmed, said that before the resolution gets passed they will stage a walkout in protest against it, which the party did.

The speaker adjourned the session till Friday.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Abdul Ali
    Mar 1, 2011 - 1:42PM

    So the transport fares will also be increased or promise to increase will be made.

    Who cares about the people………

    Name me 10 members of parliament who travel in bus or in rickshaws. NONERecommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 1, 2011 - 2:03PM

    Come out on the streets. No good just walking out of NA. We want street power to get rid of this corrupt Government. We need to hang these buggers and all who have been their supporters.Recommend

  • aNu
    Mar 1, 2011 - 2:49PM

    Please Come Out Of Home And Do Something For Our Beloved Country
    Pakistan ZindabadRecommend

  • Mar 1, 2011 - 3:55PM

    “Everyone” is playing politics in this country & sincere with his/her own interests. Nawaz Sharif had knowledge of it before hand and decided to quit to gain masses sentiments and get 2/3 majority votes in the next election because of the his political graph going down. Similarly you all would listen Altaf Hussain quitting the government (his old political stunt) and gaining masses support of being a so called LEADER of Lower Middle Class party. Mr. Asfandyar Wali Khan would issue a sermon from Dubai calling it a “Zulam” (In Justice). Mr. Fazl u Rehman would call for a protest after Juma prayers and return in his official Jeep to his “official residence”.

    After a few days of hue & cry everyone would sit quite and work on the same salary. Masses would also follow the suit and after cursing the government would settle down and vote again for Zinda Hai BB Zinda Hai (Benazir is still alive).

    Welcome to Islamic Republic of Pakistan !Recommend

  • Mar 1, 2011 - 4:02PM

    Use of Cycle as mode of transport shall be ideal to counter this menace as Chinese majority does.

    Unless we make extensive Oil and Gas Drilling and find Oil / Gas reserves, this problem will remain as long as we are dependent on Imported Oil which is goverened with World Oil prices, as monitored and controlled by OPEC.Recommend

  • Babar
    Mar 1, 2011 - 4:41PM

    Why should the govt pay for your petrol use? Its available in the market go and buy. How many of you approve of govt buying food for the poor or giving them free health etc. Low petrolium prices are just a subsidy to the rich and nothing more.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmed
    Mar 1, 2011 - 6:38PM

    Walk, use bycycle, car pool, work at home, don’t drive unless very important, tune you car, do not drive very fast or very slow, check air pressure of your vehicle regularly, avoid rush hours, plan your rout, avoid busy intersections, don’t keep you vehicle engine running(idling), don’t take your friends for long drives and talk to experts to save petrol and environment. You will save more than 25 percent of your petrol bill, which is much more than 9.9 % increase. Use your brain and don’t talk rubbish about revolution. Positive thinking and acting is real revolution. Recommend

  • Husam Arif
    Mar 1, 2011 - 7:02PM

    What I don’t understand is, how can a token walkout help bring down petrol prices? Will the country’s National deficit or Inflation go down, by their walk out? PML-N is demanding for the Government to end corruption, but do THEY have an action plan that could eliminate corruption and get rid of our economic turmoil? All I can say, with my limited political and economic knowledge, is that all these parties are just complaining and throwing child-like tantrums, instead of presenting us with a solution or a possible action plan that would actually help in achieving those 10 points that they happened to come up with and want PPP to fulfill. Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Mar 2, 2011 - 7:39AM

    @Billoo Bhaya:
    and maybe the “new” government will reduce the price of petroleum when for reasons not within the government’s control oil prices are hitting close to $120/bbl?

    Which planet do you live on, Sir?Recommend

  • IZ
    Mar 2, 2011 - 8:59AM

    Global oil prices have gone from $80 a barrel to over $100. Of course oil prices in the country have to increase as well. Its only common sense. If MQM and PML-N want to subsidise oil then maybe all the businessmen who support those parties should actually pay their taxes?Recommend

  • khalid shaikh
    Mar 2, 2011 - 9:29AM

    after this friday day of rage will begin in sind and
    end when the prices are revised. Rich punjabi landlords
    will pay for subsidies for woodland fuel till then the country
    will be stopped no movement of vehicle will be allowed
    mqm is ready to strike pakistan will be savedRecommend

  • Abdul Ali
    Mar 2, 2011 - 10:51AM

    The petrol price internationally in February 2008 peaked at $103.05 per barrel while the price in July reached about $147.02 per barrel . This shows an increase of 42.67%.
    In the same interval Pakistan’s petrol prices per liter have jumped up from Rs.53.70 to Rs.86.66 which is a rise of 61.38%.

    So when international price of per barrel was $ 147.02 ,in Pakistan petrol was being sold at Rs 86.66 per litre.

    on 28 Feb 2011 the price per barrel was $96.98 and the government jacked up petrol price per litre at Rs 80.19.

    Even if you factor in devaluation ( $ was Rs 71 in July 2008 it is now $86), still government is ripping off people and breaking the back of hard working common citizen with these price increaseRecommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 2, 2011 - 11:17AM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    Perhaps if you were not in a hurry to write your comment you will note that Abdul Ali has already done an analysis of international crude and local prices which should be self-explanatory.

    @Abdul Ali:
    Thank you for your input. We need people like you to analyse and explain logically to others complex issues that they cannot understand. Recommend

  • bunny
    Mar 2, 2011 - 11:38AM

    Anyone thought to store more oil when it 40 $/bbl or any one planned to recover our own resources NO NO NO…Guys we are lead by vision less and planless poeple….they only want 18 ammndement and 19 amendement…normal emn is nothing to them…Shame on us as we voted because we still say zinda hai bibi zinda hai….guys what bibi had given to us and what PPP is givign after her…what PML (all factions) had given us nothing…. and still we say…PML zindabad and bhutto zindabad…guys we deserve it as we have selected a wolf to lead the nations of Lions….GO out sab Altaf zindabad and also zinda hai bibi zinda hai….Recommend

  • Yousuf
    Mar 2, 2011 - 12:09PM

    @ Nadeem.

    Capital advice my friend!Recommend

  • Mazhar Aziz
    Mar 2, 2011 - 12:22PM

    Come out on the streets. No good just walking out of NA. Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Mar 2, 2011 - 12:31PM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Now the people’s revolt time has been the need of the hour because our present corrupt,beggars and kingly leaders are driving Pakistan towards the conditions as the conditions have been seen in Tunisia,Egypt and Libya.Most importantly even Army is also supporting the ever most corrupt democratic system in Pakistan and playing the role of as a silent spectator and only seeing the nation’s killings by the present corrupt and beggars leaders in the forms of expensiveness,poverty,hunger and unemployment.Common man is living from hand to mouth.Suicidal cases are increasing day by day.Internal and external security risks of the nation are increasing.Nation’s sentiments are being ignored very badly on large scale by the present leadership either in Islamabad or in Provincial governments.Still our leaders are claiming that nation’s and country’s economical and financial conditions are improving.What the shameful statement of our leaders.Recommend

  • Anserali Khan
    Mar 2, 2011 - 1:13PM

    I agree with comments of @ Abdul Ali.
    we need solid facts to appreciate the situation rather than un-substantiated rhetoricRecommend

  • SRK
    Mar 2, 2011 - 1:45PM

    this is the time to get rid of these scoundrels and get them out of our country, its head enough, wake up. wake up, wake up. Recommend

  • Shiraz
    Mar 2, 2011 - 1:56PM

    Na Na… We can not expect anything good from this nation… we are dead thats why we are being ruled by the bunch of these corrupt Leaders sitting in the Parliament today, Even if a mass of public come out on the street like Tunesia or Egypt, these Leaders will join this mass chanting slogan of “Inqilab” believe me, and will start leading it resulting we will see the change but the change of faces only.

    . Recommend

  • Mar 2, 2011 - 2:30PM

    @Nadeem Ahmed:
    Nice tips – please keep it up – – – –Recommend

  • SRK
    Mar 2, 2011 - 3:01PM

    Once upon a time, there was a king, who decided to waken his nation up
    So he (The King) planed to get “taxes” from every individual who is supposed to inter even their own village,
    He (king) thought that it might be working
    But he shocked when he saw that people are agree to pay taxes,
    He (The King) further planned that every body will be kicked on his butt besides paying tax.
    People are gathered and decide to meet the king and get him realizes that this is unfair,
    When the king hear that his people are resisting for their rights he called up a meeting with a few selected leader of the people to take notice of their concern
    And he (The King) again shocked that
    People are still agreeing to pay taxes and get even kicked but they wanted the king to assign some more crew…..

    Pakistan Khappy, Khappy, KhappyRecommend

  • Malik Liaquat Hussain
    Mar 2, 2011 - 3:30PM

    The government trying its best to make common man life miserable. Opposition is happy that maybe they will get chance. This nation deserve for this treatment because they given the right to such coruppt people to rule on them. Pease do not hue and cry price of fuel is increased to meet the expenditure of ruler. Good luck.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 2, 2011 - 4:50PM

    A complete strike throughout the country has been declared after Friday prayers. People all over the country are urged to come out and support this. No movement of any traffic will be allowed.
    All offices and factories will remain close till the petrol prices are brought down. Inqalaab. Recommend

  • Mansoor
    Mar 2, 2011 - 5:23PM

    We will strike with you brother (Ahmer Ali) Join the people power spread the message all over . Karachi will burn starting day after tomorrow i.e. friday. All the traffic has to stop and all the industries will be closed till justice is delivered. We are having more than 100 people in orangi to stop all the businesses we are expecting this number to rise more than 500 by friday. Gather people in your area and stop all businesses. May Allah bless you in this endevour.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahsan Nadeem
    Mar 2, 2011 - 10:37PM

    No political party is sincere to the people of Pakistan, they are all doing business!! Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahsan Nadeem
    Mar 2, 2011 - 10:59PM

    There is no political pressure on PPP as all political parties are making people of Pakistan fool by their statements and actions, where as on the other hand they all are not even concerned about this issue instead they are all competing among themselves to attain power. Recommend

  • indianmuslim
    Mar 2, 2011 - 11:23PM

    as an indian muslim i feel ashamed that pakistani muslim
    are so scared of leaders like zardari i appeal to mohajirs
    especially to come back to india u r much better and things
    are cheaper than in pakistan no mohajir will be ill treated in

  • Zulfiqar Ali Khan
    Mar 3, 2011 - 6:00AM

    if Petrol price were increase long ago to the international level, then Pakistan transportation would as of most advanced countries. Please increase the price to Rs 120 or Rs 130, to cover the money.


  • FS
    Mar 3, 2011 - 9:43AM

    the political parties are all wearing a mask and leaving no stone unturned to hit on another. No party is coming up with any action plan at all and mere criticizing the government’s decision. Either they should come up with a reformed taxation system, or keep their opinions to themselves.Recommend

  • Mar 3, 2011 - 10:22PM

    Where in India where there is no job opportunity for Muslim. Even for Trading, Shops, business Indian Muslims are highly neglected.

    They are forced to either go overseas jobs or do 2# Work in India.

    No thanks so called Indian Muslims. We do not want to go to India where thousands of people die of hunger and you find JHOPAR PATTI (Slums) every where.

    Thanks for the invitation. We are far better off in Pakistan and pray for Indian Muslims.Recommend

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