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Pakistan fuel price hike switch

WASHINGTON: The United States signaled Thursday it opposes the Pakistani government’s reversal of controversial fuel price hikes.

PAKISTAN ENERGY OIL“What we’ve said all along is that the reforms that the government of Pakistan is undertaking are difficult, but they’re important for its long-term economic stability,” Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, told reporters.

“Well, that is our belief and that is our position,” Toner said when asked if it was a “bad thing” for Pakistan to reverse the fuel price increases.

“Our position is that … Pakistan needs to undertake difficult economic reforms that are going to require some pain, frankly, politically,” Toner said when asked to spell out what he meant by the US position.

“But beyond that, I’m not going to weigh into what is a domestic political debate in Pakistan,” Toner said.

In Islamabad, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday caved into political pressure and reversed fuel price hikes, in a move designed to prevent his fragile government from collapsing.

Rolling back the six-day-old kerosene, diesel and fuel price increases of between nine and 5.6 per cent was one clause in a package of 11 reforms demanded by main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif in a 72-hour ultimatum on Tuesday.

Sharif later extended the ultimatum, which threatened to expel the ruling party from government in Punjab province, to begin after three days of mourning for Pakistani politician Salman Taseer, who was shot dead the same day.

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