ISLAMABAD: One day after Pakistan increased fuel prices for the second time in a week, a Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) employee, who made headlines on Friday when he sought permission to bring a donkey cart to work, said he wanted to set an “example” by doing so.
Pakistan on Thursday increased the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs30 per liter. The hike is part of Islamabad’s efforts for the revival of the $6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan program, which the global lender had suspended after Pakistan rolled out around $2 billion subsidies to the oil and power sectors for April, May and June.
The increase in petroleum prices is expected to fuel inflation, particularly of food and transportation, in the South Asian country where inflation is already in double digits.
Raja Asif Iqbal, a PCAA staffer for the past 25 years, on Friday wrote a letter to the authority’s head and sought permission to bring a donkey cart to the PCAA parking lot at the Islamabad airport as the “transport service for civil aviation employees in these times of inflation has been halted.”
“I stand by my words a hundred percent. If the director-general civil aviation doesn’t look into it, I’ll go to the airport on a donkey-cart,” Iqbal told Arab News on Friday.
“And I’ve started working on buying a donkey-cart, and if I buy it, I’ll park it there [at the airport] to set an example that in this modern world, you’ve pushed us hundred years back.”
Iqbal, a father of five, said he was finding it difficult to support his family on his limited income, adding that all of his children studied in universities and colleges and his entire salary was spent on their fees.
“People think civil aviation employees enjoy handsome salaries, however, if you take the current circumstances into account, we are getting crushed by inflation,” he said.
“Just look at the electricity bills these days. You can see there is no air conditioner in my home, yet I received an electricity bill of Rs12,000 this month.”
Iqbal said using the Metro bus service to come to work on a daily basis was neither time- nor cost-effective, urging the civil aviation authority to charge an extra Rs1,000 ($5) or more from employees and resume their pick-and-drop service.
“People who used to leave at 6am to report to work at 7am are now leaving their houses at 5am,” he said. “If so much time is lost in traveling, what time will a man set apart for his children?”
When reached for comment, PCAA spokesperson Saifullah Khan rebuffed Iqbal’s claims, calling them “totally ridiculous.”
“Civil aviation pays fuel allowance to each employee for traveling. This letter is just a media stunt and nothing more,” Khan told Arab News.
“People are giving unnecessary hype to this as this is just an individual’s opinion or outburst.”
Iqbal, however, expressed his hope the PCAA director-general would take notice of his letter.