Pak hikes oil prices, fueling anger

Several lawmakers walked out of the National Assembly.

Islamabad: Pakistan hiked oil prices by 9.9
per cent on Tuesday, a move that threatens the stability of the
fragile, US-allied civilian government at a time of economic
turmoil in the impoverished country.

Jawad Nasim, a spokesman for the country`s oil
regulator, said the decision was forced by international oil
market price increases, spurred by uprisings in Libya and
other North African and the Middle Eastern countries.

The price of a gallon of gas went from roughly USD
3.28 per gallon (72.96 rupees per liter) to USD 3.59 per
gallon (80.19 rupees per liter.)

But the increase drew criticism from opposition
parties and even some members of Pakistan`s governing
coalition, and a group representing public transportation
workers in Karachi, the country`s largest city, threatened to
go on strike.

Several lawmakers from both sides also walked out of
the National Assembly today to protest the price hike.

Siddiqul Farooq, a spokesman for the main opposition Pakistan
Muslim League-N party, said the government should cut its
budget instead of "transferring the burden to already
overburdened masses."

Haider Abbas Rizvi, a senior member of the Muttahida
Qaumi Movement, which is part of the governing coalition, said
the price increase was unacceptable considering Pakistanis are
already struggling with double-digit inflation and chronic
power shortages.