Demonstrations organized by both the PDM and the PPP to continue in coming days in bid to pressure government on recent price hikes
Opposition parties took to the streets across Pakistan on Friday as part of ongoing protests against the government over rampant inflation.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an opposition alliance led by JUIF chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, had announced on Wednesday that it would protest against recent price hikes for the next two weeks—with the option to extend if necessary—starting with major cities. It said that it would also consider a long march on Islamabad after deliberations.
On Friday, protesters gathered in Karachi, Larkana, Lahore, Sukkur, Gilgit, Mardan, Jacobabad, Mohmand, Ziarat, Mingora and various other cities, shouting slogans against the government and punishing inflation. In Lahore, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) lamented that citizens burdened by inflation, unemployment and lawlessness were now also being subjected to the ruin of state institutions. Noting that available data suggested the current wave of inflation would continue for several more months, the party’s leaders lashed out at Prime Minister Imran Khan and accused him of reneging on his promises.
The party, which is the largest member of the PDM, organized similar protests in Shangla, Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh, Kasur and Murree. The Jamaat-e-Islami also staged a protest against inflation in Muzaffargarh.
Sindh capital Karachi, meanwhile, featured separate protests by both the JUIF and the PPP. Declaring the protests a “referendum” against the incumbent PTI-led government, JUIF leaders vowed to continue their protests until the people’s demands had been heard. The PPP, which rules in Sindh province, similarly lashed out at the “incompetence” of the PTI-led government. It said that it would protest against inflation across Pakistan on the directives of Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
Responding to the opposition’s protests, Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib said the government was working to alleviate inflation by providing targeted subsidies to the impoverished. Acknowledging the impact of the current inflation, he reiterated the government’s claims of it being motivated by global commodity prices and resorted to the PTI’s fallback option of blaming previous governments for the current situation—despite having been in power for over 3 years now.
Also on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and directed him to provide maximum relief to the common man through “sustainable” measures. “The government is well aware of the suffering of common citizens due to inflation, therefore, it will ensure the provision of relief to the people as much as possible,” he said, adding that price control committees had been formed to control inflation.