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Thursday May 30, 2024

Protests, shutdowns against inflated power bills continue

In Peshawar, most traders observed shutdown while lawyers stayed away from courts to register protest with govt

By Bureau report & Ag PPI
September 01, 2023
Traders shout slogans as they hold a banner reading we demand the government to withdraw the additional electricity bills during a protest against the surge in electricity prices along a street in Karachi on August 30, 2023. — AFP
Traders shout slogans as they hold a banner reading 'we demand the government to withdraw the additional electricity bills' during a protest against the surge in electricity prices along a street in Karachi on August 30, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD/ PESHAWAR: Protest demonstrations were staged in many cities on Thursday against the rising inflation and inflated power bills, crippling the routine life.

In Peshawar, most traders observed a shutdown while lawyers stayed away from courts to register their protest with the government.

Majority of the business centres remained closed in the city. Chowk Yadgar, Katcheri Gate, Ashraf Road, Rampura Gate, Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Khyber Bazaar Karimpura, Shaheen Bazaar and several other business centres wore a deserted look. Traffic on the roads also remained thin.

The traders arranged protest camps and sat there displaying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the high power tariff and Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco).

Traders Malik Mehr Elahi, Shakil Ahmad and others led the protests.

The protesters demanded an end to the free or subsidized electricity to all government employees and departments.

They said no government employee from grade 1 to grade 22 should be provided with free or subsidized electricity.

The protesters demanded the government to end all kinds of taxes in the electricity bills and called for ending fuel adjustment and surcharges in KP which was producing electricity through the hydel resources.

They sought an immediate end to the privileges of members of parliament, civil and military bureaucracy, saying the cost of their privileges was being transferred to the general public.

The protesters said the government must ensure that the burden of future agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank should not be put on the general public.

They said all vehicles from the government officers should be sold and the revenue collected from that should be deposited in the exchequer.

The traders demanded legislation to control hoarding and price-hike. They also demanded facilities for the local industries to strengthen the economy.

They suggested that the gas, electricity and petroleum companies should be asked to deal in the local currency in the country.

The traders said the residents of KP should be given special relief due to the province’s ability to produce more gas and electricity.

They demanded the same rate of electricity tariff for all sectors.

The protesting traders also announced support for the September 2 countrywide strike.

They said if their demands were not met, they could go for an indefinite shutdown.

Lawyers also boycotted the courts on the call of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council.

The protesting lawyers said the poor people had been hit hard by inflation and the government instead of giving them relief added more taxes to the electricity bills.

They said the existing situation would push the country towards anarchy.

The lawyers said the country appeared to be running without any government and decisions were being taken somewhere else.

Meanwhile, the employees of different government departments and KP Qaumi Jirga announced support for the traders’ shutdown strike.

They also announced a sit-in protest at the Islamabad D-Chowk. The KP Qaumi Jirga, employees and traders held a meeting here.

The meeting was attended by Khalid Ayub, Muhammad Ehtesham, Khalid Gul, President All Pakistan Clerks Association Aslam Khan, Furniture Dealers Association Feroz Shah, Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar Riaz Khan, paramedical association and civil society representatives.

They said job opportunities were already non-existent in Peshawar due to the poor law and order situation, fearing that the government policies would exacerbate the situation.

The meeting announced a shutdown on September 2 and a sit-in at Islamabad D-Chowk on September 17.

The Pakistan Railways Employees Union rejected the hike in electricity tariff and announced to take part in the protest on September 2.

ALPURI: The people, including lawyers, traders and general power consumers, continued protests in parts of Shangla district and elsewhere in KP against the inflated electricity bills.

The associations of lawyers, traders and civil society members organised protest rallies in Alpuri, Chakesar and other parts of the district.

In Takhtbhai, the legal fraternity boycotted the court proceedings and staged a rally to protest the price-hike and ever-rising taxes and tariffs of electricity.

Lawyers’ leaders, including Takhtbhai Tehsil Bar Association President Qamar Zaman Khan advocate, Vice President Mian Shah Hussain advocate, general secretary Anwar Shamim advocate and others were leading the protest rally.

In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, people resorted to protests, shutdowns and wheel-jam strikes in protest against the inflated electricity bills.

In Jhelum Valley, business centres remained closed and the people threatened to march on Islamabad in case their demands were not met.

There was total shutdown and wheel-jam strike in Neelum Valley. Protests were also organized in Okara, Lalamusa and Kharian.