Shabbir Ahmed Mir
GILGIT: The price increase in petroleum products on the eve of the New Year has dealt a crushing blow to the already limited financial resources of the cash starved people of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
“What will be the fate of people like us under such conditions,” asked Jehangir Khan, a government schoolteacher who draws around Rs15,000 per month said of the untamed price hike that has impacted the country for the past couple of years. “The ‘peoples’ government has ventured on a path that leads simply to the destruction of the poor, not poverty,” he said, adding that the ‘drama’ of increasing government employees’ salaries last year was a tool employed by the government to keep them silent in the face of skyrocketing inflation.
Jehangir wasn’t the only victim of the government anti poor policy; thousands of others in G-B are reeling under the impact of the price bomb. In addition to the freezing cold, other stressful events such as the power crisis, wheat and diesel crisis and firewood crisis make survival for many of them a difficult task.
“Today one kilogram of tomato cost Rs90 against Rs80 two days back,” said Hafizur Rehman, a resident of Astor valley who settled in Gilgit to give his children a better education.
Rehan Ali, another resident of Gilgit said that commodities like sugar and oil were not available in Utility Stores, exposing them to black marketers and hoarders who set prices at their will.
“We are at the mercy of hoarders and black marketers,” he said, advising the government to step down for failing to come up to peoples’ expectations.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2011.