The prices of petroleum products were kept unchanged on Tuesday on the directives of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, according to a press release from the Finance Division.

It said the measure was taken with the "view to provide maximum relief to the consumers" despite the loss in revenue due to globally rising petroleum prices.

The press release said the prices with effects from June 1 (tomorrow) would continue to be those notified on May 27.

Last week, the federal government decided to raise the prices of petroleum products by Rs30 per litre.

After the hike, the price of petrol was set at Rs179.86, diesel at Rs174.15, kerosene oil at Rs155.56 and light diesel at Rs148.31.

The finance minister made the announcement at a press conference in Islamabad and explained that the decision was taken in order to ensure the revival of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

Ismail said the government had no other option but to raise the prices, adding that "we are still bearing a loss of Rs56 per litre on diesel" even under the new pricing.

He was of the view that the government was aware of the political repercussions of the decision, saying "we will face criticism but the state and its interests are important to us and it is necessary for us to save it."

He said the country could have gone in the "wrong direction" if the steps were not taken. He said the decision was a tough one for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, saying "we cannot let the state sink for the sake of politics."

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