June 6, 2022
By Shaukat Korai
On Sunday, members of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) in Karachi took to the streets to protest unbridled inflation and economically unfair terms of the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The initial protest was scheduled to take place in Sadar’s Regal Chowk, however police prevented demonstrators from gathering, following which they headed to the Karachi Press Club.
Zehra Khan, general secretary of the HBWWF, lamented the police’s actions, stating that the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees citizens the right to protest.
“The Supreme Court allowed Imran Khan to march all the way over to D-Chowk, but if citizens dying of hunger gather to protest for their Constitutional rights, they are told to disperse under section 144,” she said.
Labourers and workers from different walks of life registered their strong objection to the IMF’s terms, and called for an immediate end to inflation.
Protesters presented a list of demands, which include an immediate cut in the defense budget and repeal of all anti-poor policies enacted by the government in order to secure a loan from the IMF.
Moreover, they called for a fixed minimum wage of Rs. 40,000, unemployment allowance, promotion of trade with neighboring countries including India, agrarian reforms to expand the local market, and social security and pension for all citizens.
Protesters also demanded that the privileges of judges, generals and senior government officials should also be abolished.
Khan said that rising costs have made peoples’ lives utterly miserable, and held the IMF responsible for the current economic crisis. She added that most blue-collar workers are unable to afford two meals a day.
“The government always takes up the concerns of business owners and industrialists, but never do they consult labourers when drafting or after implementing the budget,” she said. “[The government] should have discussed what policies the IMF wanted them to impose in Parliament, but they went ahead on their own without any input from stakeholders.”
Protesters said that the Rupee’s freefall and increasing domestic prices in the country has made it difficult for lower income groups, especially laborers, to survive.