Islamabad: The alliance of opposition parties, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has announced to launch an anti-government campaign against price hikes in food items and petroleum products.
PDM chief and head of Islamist party Maulana Fazlur Rehman held a press conference on Sunday following his meetings with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif and other opposition leaders to discuss the movement’s decision to hold rallies throughout the country.
After detailed consultations, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif agreed that the opposition would start a comprehensive and full-scale campaign against what they called ‘economic catastrophe’ by the current government. The date for the protest has not been announced yet.
Another major opposition party Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is not part of the PDM, also separately vowed to take to the streets against the price hike. PPP Chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari said at a public meeting in Karachi that his party would stage rallies across the country against inflation.
The opposition announced the protests after the media reports of a rift between the government and army over the appointment of the chief of the country’s premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid earlier said that the issue relating to the appointment of the new head of ISI would be resolved within a week.
PML-N earlier announced that they have decided to launch a countrywide campaign against the worst inflation ever in the history of the country by the PTI government.
Pakistan’s business leaders said that the new increase in petroleum prices would hit the businesses and masses hard. Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) slammed the government’s decision of another hike in the prices of petroleum products within one month and urged that the government should immediately withdraw the decision.
Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh, senior vice president ICCI, claimed that the government was considering increasing prices of electricity and gas under pressure of IMF, but warned that it would jeopardize the survival of businesses and put an intolerable burden on people.
Meanwhile, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, in a press conference on Monday, said that there was no immediate relief in sight as the surging global commodity prices have driven up the costs.