• Says no hasty decision would be taken to harm country’s interests
  • Seeks details of institutions, officers getting free electricity from relevant departments
  • Second round of meeting will take place tomorrow (Monday)

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Sunday directed the relevant authorities to come up with concrete measures within the next 48 hours to reduce burden on the masses amid countrywide public outcry over unprecedented inflated electricity bills.

The prime minister had convened the emergency meeting, which lasted for nearly two hours, in a bid to address the complaints about excessive electricity bills.

During the meeting, representatives from energy and electricity-related ministries participated. A detailed briefing on electricity transmission and tariffs was provided by the power ministry.

 

On the occasion, the premier was given a detailed briefing on the increase in electricity bills for July.

PM Kakar, addressing the participants, said that no hasty decision would be taken that could harm the country’s interests, emphasising the need for initiatives that do not burden the national treasury and bring relief to consumers too.

 

“It’s inconceivable that while the common man grappled with difficulties, the prime minister and the bureaucracy were benefiting from tax-funded free electricity,” he emphasised.

He said relevant ministries and departments should provide details of the institutions and officers who were getting free of cost electricity.

“I represent the common man,” said the caretaker premier directing that electricity consumption at the Prime Minister’s House and Pakistan Secretariat should be reduced to a minimum.

A second round of the meeting will take place tomorrow (Monday). During the meeting today, the PM was also briefed on measures to prevent electricity theft.

The power distribution companies should give a road map for stopping electricity theft, he added.

The PM said reform plans in the electricity sector and short, medium and long term plans should be presented as soon as possible.

Interim Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, caretaker Commerce Minister Gohar Ijaz, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, Adviser to PM Dr Waqar Masood, power secretary, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) chief and other relevant officials attended the meeting.

‘Action plan to provide relief to people’

In a statement issued on X following the huddle, the prime minister said that the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) and the Ministry of Finance have been tasked with the responsibility of making an action plan to provide relief to the people.

“Consultations will be held with the provinces tomorrow and the caretaker government will try to provide as much relief as possible within its mandate,” he wrote on the microblogging website — previously known as Twitter.

 

Citizens staged a protest demonstration in Punjab’s Rahim Yar Khan, blocking the main road while in the province’s Chunian city, angry power consumers blocked the Exchange Road and set their bills ablaze.

Protesters across the country demand a reduction in electricity tariffs and the removal of excess taxes in the utility bills, warning that they would not pay the bills if the demands were not met.

Traders, too, protested in Hafizabad by leading a rally from the city’s Fawara Chowk to the press club. In Okara’s Hujra Shah Muqeem, people came out for demonstrations as well. Protesters burnt electricity cables and raised slogans against the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the government.

Demonstrations by citizens and traders were also held in Faisalabad, Lahore, Risalpur, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Nowshehra district against the hike.

Political parties including the Jamaat-e-Islami and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) have condemned the hike and additional taxes on power bills.

 

‘Civil disobedience looms large’

During the presser while commenting on the unprecedented hike in power tariffs, party leader Dr Farooq Sattar lambasted the rulers, saying: “People are becoming rebels and this country is heading towards civil disobedience.”

If this trend continues, “state within a state” will be created, he feared, adding that MQM-P would stand in solidarity “wherever there is protest”.

“No single party can solve the problems of Karachi,” Dr Sattar said.

While Khalid Maqbool said that the circular debt in the power sector is due to the incompetence and failure of the government.

“They [crises] are the result of conflict between the federation and the provinces,” he said, adding that the country was facing a crisis of “intention more than an economic crisis”.

 

JI decide to observe countrywide strike on Sept 2

ON the other hand, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Sunday decided to hold a countrywide strike on September 2 against increase in electricity prices amid mounting public outcry.

According to details, the decision was taken during a Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) meeting chaired by party Chief Sirajul Haque in Mansoorah, Lahore.

In a statement, JI spokesperson Qaiser Sharif said that committees have been constituted for a countrywide strike on September 2 against increase in electricity prices.

The spokesperson said that Sirajul Haque will hold meetings trade bodies tomorrow, adding that people from every aspect of life will participate in the countrywide strike. He also lauded the support from industrialists and traders for holding strike.

 

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