ISLAMABAD: Opposi­ti­­o­­­n lawmakers in the Senate were up in arms on Friday over the recent massive increase in the prices of petroleum products and power, while the treasury held the former ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) responsible for the current economic mess and urged it to suggest a way forward instead of political point-scoring.

The issue was raised by Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem, who sought a detailed discussion on it in the House on an adjournment motion, which the chair allowed after the question hour. PTI senators also staged a walkout as a mark of protest against yet another increase in the prices of petrol and diesel and hike in power tariff.

During the proceedings, the PTI members, some carrying placards, gathered near the chairman’s podium and chanted anti-government slogans. They accused the rulers of capitulating before the lending agency and making the lives of the masses miserable.

PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha, while speaking on the adjournment motion, protested the POL price hike, calling it unprecedented. He lauded the previous PTI government for allocating Rs466 billion for the subsidy it had announced on petroleum products.

Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin claimed the economy was in a tailspin owing to the indecision of the government and giving in to the IMF demands, whereas the PTI government had faced the lending agency for six months and did not increase power tariff and levy taxes worth Rs700bn.

Earlier, Leader of the House and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar urged the opposition PTI to avoid point-scoring on the price increase and suggest a way forward as a ruined economy was not the issue of a single political party. He said the country needed unity badly. The PTI government had left the country on the verge of default besides ruining the economy. He blamed the PTI for high inflation, and urged the party to display political maturity by avoiding chaos.

Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus-Pasha called on the PTI members not to misguide the public, and urged them not to play with the economy and instead help the government, as it was a national issue. “There should be no politics on economy,” she stressed, as some PTI senators kept beating their desks with some documents.

She reminded Mr Tarin that only a day ago he had suggested the government go to the IMF without any delay without which the government could not steer the economy and the country forward, but today he took a 180-degree turn. “What happened within 24 hours that made you take this turn?” she questioned.

JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad grilled the government for committing “economic terrorism” against the masses through massive increases in oil prices. He questioned the rulers’ foreign visits along with a large entourage while they claimed the national kitty was empty.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2022

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