PESHAWAR: Protests against the government are gaining momentum, though at a slow pace, as price-hike becomes unbearable for the people due to constant increase in prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) held a protest rally in the provincial capital the other day and Awami National Party (ANP) too staged protests in different parts of the province.
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) also took out protest processions throughout the province on Sunday while the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam of Maulana Fazlur Rahman has announced staging protest rallies against the worst-ever inflation from Tuesday (October 19).
According to the party’s provincial general secretary Maulana Attaul Haq Darwiash protest rallies would be held at district and tehsil level all over the province. The protests would continue for one week as JUI-F provincial amir Maulana Attaur Rahman has announced week-long (October 19 to 26) protests against skyrocketing price-hike and increase in oil prices. Notwithstanding the fact, the opposition political parties have failed to mobilize the public even in the face of unprecedented price-hike.
So far, the opposition leaders have confined themselves to issuing statements criticizing the wrong policies of the rulers.
The public anger and severe criticism of the government, particularly on social media, has awakened the opposition from deep slumber to join hands with the masses and stage protests.
The opposition, perhaps, has of late sensed the situation and realized that people might take to streets on their own if they did not lead the protests against inflation. The people have accelerated their campaign on social media against increase in prices of daily use commodities.
The recent increase of more than Rs10 per litre in POL prices and about one and a half rupee raise in electricity tariff has added to the public anger.
Different social media groups are circulating video clips of Imran Khan’s appeal to the people to join protests against the government for price-hike when he was in opposition.
In the videos, Imran Khan could be seen trying to instigate the public by saying rising against the government would be a jihad and it was obligatory on the people to rise against the rulers to save the country and protect their own rights.
Government ministers and spokespersons are making mockery of the otherwise divided opposition terming it incapable of creating any hurdle for the ruling elite.
They are not only confident of completing their five-year term but also winning the next election as well. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has time and again said it was Imran Khan’s good luck to have such an incompetent opposition.
However, public anger and anxiety being expressed on social media might lead the situation towards an anarchy if things were not controlled.
During the last three years, the prices of edibles recorded a 50 to 200 percent increase. While lifesaving drugs and other medicines have gone beyond the purchasing power of the ordinary people.
Even the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rulers’ claim about boost to the construction industry had also proved a nightmare for the people shattering their dream of building a house.
The PTI government’s amnesty for those investing in construction sector is a far cry as increased land price on the one hand the prices of steel, cement and other affiliated items registered an unprecedented hike on the other thus benefiting industrialists and rich at the cost of depriving the poor of their right to have a house of their own. The steel, which was available at Rs115,000 to Rs122,000 per ton one year ago is now being sold at Rs170,000 to Rs180,000 per ton while cement price per bag has jumped to Rs650 from Rs530.
Same is the case with other building material as there is no check and control from the government side and industrialists are free to fix prices on their own.
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