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Wednesday November 30, 2022

Fuel price hike: Unusual clash between London PMLN, Islamabad PMLN

Mian Nawaz Sharif, backed by Ishaq Dar, was against increasing the petrol price, says PML-N sources

August 17, 2022
A photo from the meeting of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif with PM Shehbaz Sharif and delegation. — Twitter
A photo from the meeting of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif with PM Shehbaz Sharif and delegation. — Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Tuesday night saw an unusual clash between the London PMLN and Islamabad PMLN on the economic handling of Shehbaz Sharif government, which led to Mian Nawaz Sharif leaving the party meeting that he was attending through a video link from London.

PMLN sources said Mian Nawaz Sharif, backed by Ishaq Dar, was against increasing the petrol price. Miftah Ismail and Shahid Abbasi were of the view that the economic situation of the country was fragile and needed careful handling.

A leader from the PMLN Islamabad said the government should not be pressurised by the London PMLN on economic decisions to avoid ruining the Pakistan-IMF deal.

The London PMLN had the complaint that the government could have made a better deal with the IMF, but it was advised either it should return to Pakistan and take the responsibility or let Islamabad take its decisions.

It was pointed out that there was a clear mechanism for review of petrol prices and the government had nothing to do with it, and tinkering with it would mean inviting serious trouble.

Following these arguments, Nawaz Sharif opted to leave the meeting, insisting that he could not become a part of any such decision of the government. Such an argument was hardly witnessed before. According to a source, the choice of words used in these arguments confronting London PMLN was inappropriate that upset Nawaz Sharif.

Interestingly, it was Maryam Nawaz who made it public in a tweet Tuesday night that Mian Nawaz Sharif had strongly opposed the government decision of raising the petrol price. She said that Nawaz Sharif even said that he would not accept even a single paisa raise, and if the government had some compulsions, he would not be a part of the decision. Maryam added that later Nawaz Sharif left the meeting.

Although, Maryam did not talk about the argument, the sources said that what the PMLN last night witnessed was the result of a division within the party about the economic handling of the country. In an earlier tweet, Marriyium rejected the raise and said that she could not endorse the government decision.

It was actually the clash between the two camps — Ishaq Dar camp and Miftah Ismail camp — which has been evident ever since Miftah took over as finance minister. Nawaz Sharif generally concurs with Ishaq Dar on country’s economy, while Shehbaz Sharif trusts Miftah Ismail, who enjoys complete support of Shahid Abbasi.

Independent sources said an increase in the oil price was inevitable because of the price at which it was being purchased from the international market. It had been warned that if the government had not done it, it would have spoiled what had been agreed between the government and IMF so far. Any violation of the agreement would really hurt Pakistan and its economy.

It is said that at a time when Islamabad is waiting for the IMF board’s approval for the revival of its bailout for Pakistan, any deviation like subsidising the oil price or compromising with the petroleum levy as agreed with the IMF would mean pushing Pakistan into a serious economic crisis.

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