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January 23, 2015

Wapda workers rally

Lahore

 
January 23, 2015

LAHORE
Wapda and electricity workers Thursday staged a protest demonstration on Mall Road under All Pakistan Wapda Hydroelectric Workers Union and Engineers Association against the proposed electricity privatisation.
Similar processions were carried out in Peshawar, Swat, Abbottabad, Sahiwal, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Sukkur, Larkana, Islamabad, Hyderabad, and Quetta. In Lahore, the workers marched from the Press Club to Chief Minister Secretariat on Mall Road. Thousands of Wapda and electricity workers were led by trade union leader Khurshid Ahmed along with Muhammad Ramzan Butt, General Secretary of the Union. The rally was addressed by IA Rehman, Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), and Arshad Ansari, President of Lahore Press Club.
Speaking on the occasion, Khurshid Ahmed urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to learn from the failure of Multan and Rawalpindi private electricity companies and their later transfer to Wapda.
“Why has Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) not been running its own power plants despite availing cheaper electricity from Wapda on a daily basis and receiving subsidies of billion rupees every year from the Federal Government? It has neither overcome loadshedding nor has reduced the price of electricity in Karachi,” said Ahmed. He declared that electricity is a basic need of the people and the government has constitutional obligations to provide cheap electricity to the public, industries, agricultural establishments, and commercial sector which cannot be fulfilled by the private sector. The trade union leader demanded the government undertake urgent measures to overcome electricity loadshedding and provide cheap electricity to the citizens instead of privatising the national public utility. He further demanded the government to hold dialogue with electricity workers prior to privatising electricity on the behest of World Bank.
The veteran trade union leader urged the

government to also recover 200 billion dollars deposited by politicians and business elites in offshore accounts as announced by Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar last year in a press conference in Islamabad. He stated that the working class had so far resisted from industrial strikes since the armed forces of Pakistan have been fighting a war against militants. In case the government failed to respond to their grievances, Khurshid Ahmed warned that the workers would be compelled to march to Islamabad and hold a mass protest on January 28.
By a resolution, the workers condemned the blasphemous caricatures published in a French magazine and demanded the United Nations to take action against hate speech. It also paid a tribute to Pakistan Army for its sacrifices in the war against terror.