Terming as "disappointing" President Pervez Musharraf's address to the nation, Pakistan's key opposition parties said on Friday it was an attempt to "hoodwink" the people on issues of price rise and deteriorating economic conditions.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), headed by former premier Benazir Bhutto dismissed Musharraf's speech on Thursday as a "failed bid to hoodwink people".
PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that "Musharraf's unsuccessful bid to justify rising inflation and load shedding as proof of increase in income and industrialisation amounted to rubbing salt in the wounds of people."
The real causes of inflation are the wasteful expenses on "unproductive projects" like the building of new General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Islamabad, purchase of SAAB airborne radars and VVIP planes and the "mega corruption" that recently surfaced before the Parliamentary Committees and the Supreme Court, Babar said in a statement.
"It is most painful that while people were committing economic suicides, the regime was gloating that these suicides were a proof of the country's economic development," he said.
He said that instead of spending billions on these projects, the regime should have spent it on poverty alleviation and creation of jobs.
According to Babar, although Musharraf admitted that unity was needed to strengthen Pakistan's security, he was pursuing a course of action opposite to what he prescribed.
He also debunked Musharraf's claims that the army has crushed the revolt by nationalist rebels in Balochistan.
On the one hand, the regime had pitted the army against its own people in tribal areas and on the other it was chasing and hounding the political opposition in the country, he said.
To talk of national unity in such a situation is an affront to people's sensibilities, Babar said referring to the exile of Bhutto and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Musharraf did not utter a single word whether the regime realised the need for a political settlement in Balochistan and in tribal areas, he said.
He said Musharraf's talk of military action in the tribal areas and blaming unrest in Balochsitan on a few Sardars "had a familiar ring of when another military dictator blamed the unrest in East Pakistan in 1971 on a handful of miscreants".
"General Musharraf's prescription that a nation's strength lay in its military muscle is fundamentally flawed. National security is not enhanced by matching gun for a gun and tank for tank but by social cohesion, economic development and national integrity all of which had been gravely undermined during the military regime of Musharraf" he said.
The spokesman said the president's speech was "a typical specimen of a dialogue between the dumb and the deaf. What he said was not understood by the people."
The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) headed by Sharif said it was unfortunate that the president did not speak about scandals which were the top concern for every Pakistani.
PML-N information secretary Ahsan Iqbal said that although Musharraf had admitted there was a price hike, his argument was based on a poor understanding of economics.
Vice-President of Islamist alliance Mhthahida Majlis Amal (MMA) Liaquat Baloch termed the speech as mere "rhetoric".