A massive strike saw thousands of traders closing their shops in protest of the surging energy and petrol prices on Saturday.
Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar witnessed extensive market closures, with deserted bazaars displaying signs condemning the “unjustifiable rise in electricity bills and taxes” during countrywide whole day strike.
In the strike, Lahore’s Township Traders Union President, Ajmal Hashmi, expressed the widespread frustration, stating, “Everyone is participating because the situation has become unbearable now. Some relief must be given so people can put food on the table.”
On the preceding day, interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar asserted that citizens would have to bear the burden of inflated bills as there was no “alternative.” He explained, “When you subsidize, you shift your fiscal obligations to the future. Rather than addressing the issue, you just delay it.”
During the week, the government increased petrol prices beyond the Rs300 per liter threshold for the first time in the nation’s 76-year history. Simultaneously, the exchange rate against the dollar reached its lowest point.
Fresh data revealed that year-on-year inflation in August had reached a staggering 27.4%, with petrol expenses rising by 8% compared to July. Babar Mahmood, president of the Electronics Market Traders Union in Lahore, voiced the sentiments of many, saying, “The bills we have received this month exceed our earnings,” further emphasizing the growing disconnect between the general public and those in positions of power.
The protesting masses have been demanding that the government should end the provision of free electricity and provide relief to the masses as the bills they have been receiving are more than their salaries.
Along with the business community, transporters announced observing a wheel-jam strike today on Saturday against the highest-ever inflation. It said booking offices of the transporters will remain closed as fuel prices touched a new high.