Editorial - Flames of fury - Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=33727&Cat=8

How much more hardship can people take? How much longer will it be before frustrations stemming from the sheer injustice of life begin to spill over into the streets? The brief respite offered by the withdrawal several weeks ago of increases in the prices of petroleum products, as a result of acute pressure from opposition parties, is over. Prices have been raised by 9.9 percent with petrol going up by Rs 7.23 per litre. High-speed diesel, widely used in the country, goes up by Rs 7.76 per litre and kerosene – the fuel that lights the stoves of the poor – by Rs 7 per litre. The increase will unleash inflation on a still larger scale and even if people are able to burn stoves we wonder if they can afford to pay for anything to cook on them. How long, we must ask, will it be before motorcycles stop running and smaller cars pull-up by the roadsides? The government should not forget that inflation and corruption – amongst other factors – triggered the orgy of rage sweeping across the Arab world. Can it be confident such rage will not erupt at home?

We have already seen the first evidence of fury – as protesters in Karachi vented their rage against petrol pump owners who closed down their stations in anticipation of the price hike. Similar anger was visible at some places in Lahore as petrol ran short in the City. There is a real possibility it could expand. The patience of people has been running thin for some time. Their desperation is fanned by relentless inflation which makes it impossible to meet even the most basic needs such as that for food. And as transport prices rise, vegetables, pulses, rice and virtually every other item will also inevitably grow more expensive. It is no coincidence that the announcement from the government has been made as a new round of talks with the IMF begins. The increase in PoL prices is believed to be a means to lay the ground to seek additional favours from the donor team. But this is of little consequence to the ordinary citizen. The intricacies of the IMF deal are poorly understood. What people do know is that they need to commute to reach places of work, they need to bring food into homes, and they need to educate children. When even this essence of existence is pulled away, it leaves them with fewer and fewer options. We have seen hope fade before our eyes. Sadly, the government has failed to do anything at all to dispel the darkness – and this makes it an enemy in the eyes of people who badly need its help and support.

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