ISLAMABAD: The Awami Workers Party (AWP) has expressed outrage at the government and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies that have led to rapid rise in price of fuel, food and other essential commodities and increased misery for people while Pakistan teeters on the brink of default.

The party said the chaotic situation was a direct result of the short-sighted policies of the government and the palace intrigues and power struggles between the government and opposition.

The party leadership said that the prices of daily use commodities have surged at breakneck speed as the government has pursued short-sighted policies for electoral gain.

They denounced the government for failing to control hoarding and profiteering of wheat, and imposing levies on fuels and cuts on critical food subsidies on the dictates of the IMF.

The party in a communiqué, issued after two days meeting of its Federal Executive Committee, demanded immediate and drastic cut in non-productive defence expenditures, and imposition of substantial tax on the income of the 1pc elite, including military and civilian bureaucrats, judges, feudal lords and real estate tycoons.

The inflation has skyrocketed to 27.3pc, breaking the 50-year-old record for the fastest increase in the prices of consumer goods and services since April 1975, and is likely to increase further.

President AWP Akhtar Hussain said that while the immediate triggers for inflation in Pakistan were political turmoil, the Ukraine war and increase in oil and commodities prices, the root cause of the crisis was the system of global capitalism which was increasing exploitation of working classes for the sake of

corporate profits and interests of financial elites.

“Further, the super floods caused by capitalism-induced climate change that ravaged the country from Gilgit-Baltistan to Sindh, Balochistan and Seraiki Wasaib had led to the destruction of infrastructure and food and cotton crops, which also contributed to the current crisis. According to reports, transport has become costlier by 63pc, food by 31pc, housing and utilities by 27.6pc, education by 10pc and health by 11.8pc,” he said.

Party’s General Secretary Bakhshal Thalho feared that the current political instability and incompetence and corruption by the ruling elite could create a chaotic situation which pushes millions below the poverty line and completely erodes the purchasing power of the working class.

He demanded that the government divert subsidies from the rich to working people who deserve some relief and protection from the economic crunch and skyrocketing inflation.

AWP Deputy General Secretary Aasim Sajjad said that there was need for an alternative economic and development model based on socialist principles, fair employment, and redistribution of resources and wealth to reduce inequality.

“The party is of the view that the lion’s share of the GDP is devoured by non-productive defence expenditure and foreign debt service.

“As Pakistan nears another IMF loan, while the ruling elite rent seekers are the primary beneficiaries of such foreign loans, the debt is repaid by ordinary citizens,” he said.

Mr Sajjad expressed concerns over the rising incidents of terrorist acts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country and called for an end to proxy wars and normalization of diplomatic and

trade relations with neighbouring countries to avert economic meltdown and default.

The party also expressed sorrow over the killing of veteran politician and progressive lawyer Lala Latif Afridi and observed one minute of silence in his memory.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2023

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