SARGODHA/SIALKOT/TOBA TEK SINGH/MANDI BAHAUDDIN/MUZAFFARGARH/HAFIZABAD

Political parties’ leaders, activists, traders and common public here held protest demonstrations against the recent cutthroat increase in the prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff across the Punjab province on Wednesday.

In Sargodha, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf observed a protest demonstration and took out a rally against the price hike. The PTI activists gathered outside the Sargodha Press Club and blocked Sargodha-Khushab Road for all kinds of traffic. The protest rally ended at Shaheen Chowk after marching on different bazaars of the city.

On the occasion, the PTI leaders said in their speeches that the federal government was following the IMF agenda and trying to kill the middle class and the poor of the country. They condemned the high increase in the power tariff and demanded that the government should withdraw the decision. The PTI workers were chanting slogans against the oppressive decisions of the federal government.

Also in Sialkot, hundreds of male and female activists of the PTI staged a demonstration in front of the Sialkot Press Cub Sialkot to lodge their strong protest against the present hike in power tariff and POL prices by the PML-N government.

They were wearing black arm bandages and also staged a sit-in there. The participants were carrying banners and placards besides, chanting anti-government slogans. PTI leaders Abdul Basit Khan, Muhammad Saleem Cheema, Asghar Attari Advocate, Mian Asif Nadeem, Lubna Shoaib and Nazima Mqbul led the demonstration.

They also marched on various city roads in Sialkot and said that the government had bombed the aspirations and ambitions of the masses regarding betterment of the country, by dropping the petrol bomb and shocks of the massive hike in power tariff. They urged the government to ensure early withdrawal of the massive hike and not to snatch the basic right to live from the people.

Meanwhile, the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry also strongly rejected the massive increase in power tariff and POL prices, saying that it would prove a cutthroat for the national economy, besides, leaving the worst effects on the national exports.

Talking to newsmen, SCCI President Dr. Sarfraz Bashir opposed the power tariff hike and expressed grave over the increase in power tariff and POL prices. He termed it anti-industries which are already confronted with a many challenges.

The SCCI president said that the industry was already under severe crises due to deteriorating security, increased taxes and lack of gas and electricity. The price increase would result in a surge in prices of various other commodities and further lowering of GDP growth, government revenue and exports. He said that consistency in power tariff and POL prices was the key requirement for making long term business plans.

He added that the frequent increases in electricity tariff was affecting investment and also destabilising the economy.

SCCI Senior Vice President Muhammad Anwar also expressed disappointment over the situation, urging the federal government to withdraw the massive increase to boom up the country’s industrial sector and boost exports.

In Toba Tek Singh, politicians and traders have condemned the hike in the prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff. Awami Workers Party’s federal committee member Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad said that it was worst anti-people act of the government. He added that instead of providing relief for the people as promised in the election campaign, the PML-N government had started crushing the poor who are already facing a many problems.

He also said if the PML-N government had to accept IMF dictates why it made tall claims of ending price-hike and reducing poverty. He demanded immediate withdrawal of the hike. PPP leader Rana Khalid Mahmood said that this raise in power tariff would eliminate the middle class. Traders Association General Secretary Mohsin Idrees also strongly condemned the government for hike in prices. He said that it would make life of the ordinary citizens more difficult.

In Mandi Bahauddin, people rejected the recent price hike and said that on the dictation of IMF, the incumbent government had made unprecedented increase in petrol and power prices and devalued rupee.

“This increase is unbearable for the commoners and the poor. Increase in prices may stabilise economy of the rulers but it is proving suicidal for the poor,” they said and added that the government had failed to deal with the gas and electricity thieves. They said that the government attitude towards electric and gas thieves was friendly and towards the poor it is inimical.

They urged the government to withdraw the price hike. Meanwhile, the PTI held a rally in front of Press Club to protest the price hike. Participants of the rally raised slogans against the government for raising prices and not fulfilling its promise made during election campaign. They termed the increase in prices as shocking and cruel and demanded that the government should withdraw the increase. Likewise, transporters are also planning to observe wheel-jam strike to condemn the government’s anti-people policies.

In Muzaffargar, the Pakistan People’s Party organised an impressive rally against hike in petroleum products’ prices and electricity rates. The rally was led by PPP Secretary-General Zubaidul Islam, Malik Mazhar Pahor and Nawabzada Iftiqar Ahmed. The rally ended at Chowk Katchery and was joined by women, lawyers, Ulema, traders and students.

The speakers lashed out at PML-N government for putting burden on the already hard-pressed people of Pakistan. They said that the PPP never accept the conditions of the IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions. Meantime, PTI also staged two demonstrations in the city to condemn the economic policies of the present government. More than 100 demonstrators rejected the price hike describing it unjust and unfair.

In Hafizabad, workers and office bearers of Tehreek-i-Insaf and office bearers of Anjuman Tajran Rail Bazar Hafizabad jointly taken out a rally to protest against the flood of dearness and recent increase in the prices of POL products and electricity tariff.

It was led by former Punjab minister Shoukat Ali Bhatti, Amanullah Sandhu, Mian Akhtar Hussain Bhatti, Afzal Hunjra, Barrister Syed Waseem-ul-Hassan Naqvi and Shoaib Hayat Tarar. The activists were holding placards, banners and party flags. They paraded on old Kachehri Bazar chanting vociferous slogans against the prime minister and chief minister calling upon them to stop sucking the blood of masses by creating unprecedented inflation which has made the poor poorest during the past 100 days.

They said that “Lion” has introduced law of jungle, resultantly lawlessness has increased, terrorists have been slaying innocents in the mosques and churches and vandals are molesting even minor children.

Later, they demonstrated in front of the Press Club Hafizabad and called upon the Prime Minister to formulate pro-people economic policies to save the masses from starvation. They demanded withdrawal of the recent hike in the POL prices and power tariff immediately otherwise the activists of PTI would be constrained to call for wheel jam strike.