The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Tuesday staged protest demonstrations against the massive fuel price hike and surge in electricity tariff at around 15 locations in Karachi with scores of its supporters and workers taking to the streets on their vehicles.
The JI protest followed closely on the heels of the government’s recent increases in electricity tariffs and petroleum product prices that triggered widespread condemnation from civil society and opposition political parties.
Last week, the interim government had implemented an unprecedented increase in petrol prices by Rs26.02 per litre and high-speed diesel (HSD) by Rs17.34 per litre, resulting in petrol now costing Rs331.38 per litre and HSD priced at Rs329.18 per litre.
Likewise in July, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had raised the national average tariff by around Rs5 per unit, pushing the base unit power tariff from Rs24.82 to Rs29.78. On August 22, the government had once again sought to raise the power rate by Rs3.55 per unit.
Participants parked their vehicles on the roads at various points in the city to protest against the recent fuel price hike.
South Deputy Inspector General of Police Asad Raza told Dawn.com that JI protesters parked their vehicles at designated roads, keeping them stationary for roughly half an hour before clearing the road for traffic.
According to a press release issued by the party, traders’ leaders belonging to various market associations, including All Karachi Tajir Ittehad President Antique Mir and others, also joined the protest.
Addressing a gathering on the bustling Sharea Faisal, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman issued a stern warning that the party intended to stage similar protest demonstrations at 100 locations throughout the city in the future, in opposition to the surging prices of petroleum products and electricity.
He claimed that “thousands” had turned out on the party’s call.
Criticising the government, he said the caretaker government appeared to be an extension of the previous coalition government, which he lambasted as a “cruel regime”.
Rehman questioned why Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar “lacks the authority to reduce prices but seems to possess the power to order price hikes”.
He elaborated on how the significant increase in electricity and petrol prices had inflicted “great hardships” on the people.
Rehman told the gathering the JI had ensured unobstructed passage for ambulances and vehicles from other emergency response departments during the protests.
He emphasised that “peaceful and coordinated resistance” was the only viable path forward for the oppressed segments of society.
Rehman called upon those in positions of power to include feudal lords in the tax system and provide relief to the impoverished masses.