Foreign policy review will have to take a backseat – yet again.
The recent increase in prices of petroleum products is likely to overshadow proceedings of the joint session of parliament which resumes on Thursday (today) after a five-day break.
The session had been originally convened to deliberate upon foreign policy reconfiguration proposals submitted by the all-party, bicameral Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS).
“We will protest against the increase in prices of petroleum products in the joint session,” said the deputy information secretary of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Khurram Dastgir Khan, while talking to The Express Tribune.
The government has failed to curtail its expenditures and is passing the burden on to the public, he said. “Increasing the prices of petroleum prices is the easiest way for the government to generate revenue,” Dastgir said.
He termed the government’s decision to take back part of the price hike an ‘eyewash’ and “a joke with the inflation-hit nation.”
It is mismanagement on the part of the government and we will demand a complete withdrawal of the increase, he added.
The opposition will not be the only one protesting, though.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a coalition partner of the government, has also demanded that the government withdraw the recent hike.
“We will definitely raise the issue [of increase in fuel prices] in the joint session,” said deputy parliamentary leader of MQM, Haider Abbas Rizvi, while talking to The Express Tribune.
“What is the point of [taking back part of the hike],” Rizvi said, rejecting the government’s decision to reduce the price of petrol by about Rs2 per litre, after increasing it by more than Rs8 per litre.
We will demand that the prices should be brought back to where they were prior to the hike, he said. Rizvi also said that party’s line of action in this regard will be finalised ahead of the joint session in a meeting of the party’s lawmakers.
The government on March 31 had increased the prices of petroleum products, taking petrol, diesel and kerosene oil to over Rs100 per litre.
The massive increase triggered calls for countrywide protests from transporters and traders and the government faced severe criticism from the opposition and allies.
The decision, taken against the recommendation of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), had pushed the government into a very tight corner that ultimately led the government to take back part of the hike. Meanwhile in protest, the main opposition party PML-N boycotted meetings, till Wednesday, of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2012.
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