PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal joined many others in denouncing the government on Friday over the recent hike in petrol prices, saying Prime Minister Imran Khan was "misleading the nation" on the matter.
He referred to the premier's address at a public gathering earlier in the day, where the latter had said that the rise in inflation and prices of commodities was a consequence of the increase in prices globally.
Prime Minister Imran had explained that inflation had occurred globally due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing various issues such as supply shortages, trade closure, lockdowns, and reduced buying and selling.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Iqbal said, "I want to clarify a few things that the prime minister said today to mislead the nation.
"This rise in the price of petrol in the country is in no way linked to the increase in the prices [of fuel] internationally."
Noting that the price of fuel was around $65 per barrel on average in 2018, he said over the course of three years, the rate had risen by around merely $2 or three per cent to $67.
And in May 2018, when his party completed its term in the government and the PTI was elected, petrol was being sold at Rs87 per litre, he said, adding that the price had increased drastically in just three years to reach around Rs145 per litre.
"Internationally, the fuel price increases by just three per cent, and here it jacks up by 66pc," the PML-N leader pointed out.
Hence, he added, the rise in petrol price in Pakistan was not a consequence of an increase in prices internationally but was caused by the devaluation of the rupee, which was the result of the incumbent government's "inefficiency and wrong decisions".
The PML-N leader said because of the rupee's devaluation, the price of every commodity being imported would increase.
"And when the price of [imported] fuel increases, there will be a rise in electricity and gas prices. It's a chain, and eventually the price of other commodities would soar as well," he added.
Giving India's example, he said the government there had decreased the prices of petrol and diesel yesterday (Thursday) by reducing duties.
But in Pakistan, the government increased the duty on the commodities to increase the prices of petrol and diesel in "the darkness of the night to further burden the people with inflation", he alleged.
Iqbal further criticised the government for its alleged lack of planning, contrary to what the prime minister claimed.
Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who also spoke on the occasion, termed the spiralling inflation a "failure of the government".
He said over the past three days, the price of not just petrol, but also of other commodities such as eggs, potatoes and onions had increased manifold.
"This is the situation of this country and the condition of this government today," he added.
Referring to a relief package recently announced by Prime Minister Imran to mitigate the impact of inflation, Abbasi questioned from where the funds for the Rs120 billion programme were to be arranged.
"This all is just for the show. It is a deception with the nation."
Abbasi also regretted that the parliament, where the issue of inflation could be deliberated upon to find a solution, had been "deliberately paralysed".
"We were compelled to hold a press conference to highlight this important issue, as there was a bar on speaking in the parliament," he said.
Referring to Prime Minister Imran's speech a day ago, he quoted the premier as saying that the latter would not shake hands with the "corrupt" opposition.
"But then why does he shake hands with those in his cabinet?" Abbasi questioned, alleging the involvement of cabinet members in sugar and drug mafias.
He also accused the government of amending the National Accountability Ordinance so as not to be held accountable for their misdeeds.
Abbasi termed "giving people the right to decide their fate once again" as the only solution to the ongoing crisis of inflation.
"It is the need of the hour," he stressed, saying the growing inflation was a consequence of a "hybrid regime" and a "stolen election".
He said the only answer to the crisis was "free and fair elections".
Petrol price hike
The government has been facing severe criticism from the opposition, particularly after Prime Minister Imran approved a Rs10 increase in the price of petrol last month. Major opposition parties, including the PML-N and the PPP, have held countrywide rallies and protests over what they term "unprecedented inflation in the country".
The decision was announced after 1:30am by the Ministry of Finance.
According to the notification, the ex-depot price of petrol was fixed at Rs145.82 per litre, showing an increase of Rs8.03. The ex-depot price of high-speed diesel was fixed at Rs142.62 per litre, up Rs8.14.
The government had earlier decided to keep the prices unchanged in "public interest".