ISLAMABAD - The outgoing ruling party has been flexing its muscles to bitterly resist the government’s recent moves about privatising 31 public sector entities, suspending compressed natural gas to filling stations for a three-month period and brining a fresh hike in power tariff.

The Pakistan People’s Party has been desperately trying to get a hold of other opposition groups, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, to oppose the government’s gambit inside and outside of Parliament. “We will ask each opposition party to join hands with us, against these irrational moves,” a senior PPP leader, Khursheed Shah, said.

Earlier this month, the Nawaz League-led government decided to move with the process of privatising public sector entities, such as Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills and others, as per its commitment with the International Monetary Fund. But the government’s decision has already drawn labour associations to the federal capital and apparently the PPP has been capitalizing on the situation.

The PPP would raise its voice for the labor class during the National Assembly’s sixth session starting on October 21, said Khursheed Shah, who is also the opposition leader. The government should have taken Parliament into confidence on this “cruel decision”, he added.

Economic experts, on the other hand, say several key state-owned institutions, such as Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills and Wapda, have become a major drag on the country’s economy, causing the state kitty a loss of nearly Rs400 billion per annum.

About fresh hike in power tariff, Shah opined there should be a proper rationalisation as regards electricity billing. He did accept his party had also raised power tariff. But added it was not like the way the incumbent government had been doing it now. “Such an unfriendly step had not even been taken by Mushrraf’s regime,” he went on to say. Shah however said his party had brought an adjournment motion in the National Assembly to raise this issue forcefully.

About proposal for closure of CNG stations, Shah said this announcement was another shocking news for the masses. “The PPP, in its era, neither closed CNG filling stations, nor suspended gas to domestic consumers.“ He said his party had also submitted an adjournment motion in the Senate on this subject.

The PPP stalwart also said all the opposition parties had already severely criticised the agreement with the IMF in Parliament and now this matter would again be deliberated upon in the upcoming session.

The matter could not be discussed earlier since Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who had to take Parliament into confidence on September 23, had left for the US along with the prime minister.

Shah said the opposition would again ask the terms and conditions of the IMF loan, and force the Treasury to take Parliament into confidence.

It would not be out of place to mention here that the government in the previous session had been scathingly criticsed on the IMF agreement.

Opposition lawmakers termed it the basic reason for the depreciation of rupee against dollar, and price-hike. They came down hard on the government for the strict terms of the IMF loan worth $5.3 billion.

The government printed currency notes worth Rs636 billion in its first two months heightening the assumption that the amount was utilised to clear the circular debts of Rs500 billon, they argued.

They demanded that the terms and conditions of the deal be disclosed to the public, fearing that around 1.2 million people were expected to become unemployed because of the IMF agreement.