ISLAMABAD: The Opposition lashed out at the federal government in parliament on Friday over a hike in petrol prices, with PPP MNA Shazia Marri demanding to know when the “gang that bombs people every month with petrol price hikes” will be arrested. Marri asked that anyone from the government step forth and provide an answer to her question. The National Assembly deputy speaker switched off Marri’s mic before she could complete as she continued to raise her voice in protest against the government’s economic measures. Meanwhile, Opposition members in the Senate, too, staged a protest over an increase in petrol prices. Senator Raza Rabbani said that the people were “bombed” with an increase in petrol prices twice in 15 days. He said the current rate is the “highest petrol price in Pakistan’s history”. At this, Leader of the House Shahzad Waseem remarked that the government has allowed a minor increase in petrol prices as compared to the rates suggested by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority. He said that even the oil-producing countries have witnessed a hike in petroleum prices Later, Marri addressed a press conference with PPP leader Nayyar Hussain Bukhari and said that the “insensitive rulers increase prices after every 15 days and say ‘ghabrana nahi hai’ (you must not panic)'”.Marri said that the federal government has “failed to provide relief to the people”. She said that the rulers are “continuously lying” to the people as prices are up to 40% higher in Pakistan when compared to international prices. Marri demanded the government take back the increase in prices of petroleum products. While speaking about employees terminated from government institutions, Marri said that PPP stands with such people. “The employees should not be sacked until a decision on the review petition,” she said. The MNA said that the PPP rejects the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the next elections. PPP leader Bukhari said that petrol is currently priced at $79 to $85 per barrel in the global market. He said that the trade deficit has begun to rise since the start of the current fiscal year. “Deficit is rising in the country and the finance minister is happy over Pakistan borrowing oil,” said Bukhari. He said that an increase in the price of petroleum products makes food items expensive. “Things are becoming inaccessible to the people, making them miserable,” he added. Bukhari said that PPP will continue to protest against inflation. Speaking about the matter of the extension of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman’s tenure, the PPP leader said that the federal government “does not have eyes for anyone else” than NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal.
“[It’s as if] the government has its foot on the NAB chairman’s tail,” he remarked. Bukhari that his party will see to it that the ordinance for an extension in the NAB chairman’s tenure is rejected by the Senate. Commenting on the EVM controversy, Bukhari said that PPP “does not have an issue with the EVMs, just the people backing them”. Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly, Hamza Shahbaz also lashed out at the government over its move to increase the price of petrol by Rs4 per litre. “This people-enemy government has looted the masses,” he lamented. “The prices have increased by as much as Rs9 per litre over the past 30 days.” He regretted that Prime Minister Imran Khan was signing “summaries dropping petrol bombs” on the masses, pointing out that the government had also hiked the price of diesel by Rs2 per litre. “Does anyone in the government have a policy ready to deal with the sea of inflation that will arise [as a result of the petrol price hike]?” he asked. “The government should be ashamed of comparing petrol prices [in Pakistan] with those of neighbouring countries.” He said Pakistan’s economy was not as vibrant or strong as its neighbours. “They have even increased the price of LPG cylinders for domestic use by Rs343,” Hamza lamented. Criticising the government further on its economic policies, he said the US dollar was now worth a staggering Rs172, cautioning the “inept, inexperienced and corrupt” government that it will be held accountable by the masses.