The deadlock between cable operators and K-Electric (KE) was finally resolved on Wednesday after both parties reached an "understanding" after several days of back and forth.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani, Pakistan Cable Operators Association Chairman Khalid Arain thanked the commissioner and the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority Regulatory Authority chairman for their assistance.
"Today the differences between cable operators and the power utility have been resolved. During today's meeting, the KE representative assured us that our wires will not be cut," he said, adding that the two parties will work on an agreement in the coming days.
He added that they were also working on a "common corridor" for which work had begun in defence and will start soon in the rest of the city. "We will play our part in making the city beautiful, this work will begin soon. I hope the issues between cable operators and KE don't arise again and our wires are not cut without notice."
He added that after being assured by KE representative Amir Zia, cable operators were calling off the strike. "Today's strike from 6pm to 12pm has been called off and we are hopeful that the need for this will not arise again." He also took the opportunity to apologise to consumers that were caught in the middle of the row. "If you faced any difficulties, then please accept our apology."
On Tuesday, the residents of five major cities of Sindh, including Karachi, experienced a three-hour suspension of cable television service as operators continued their protest against the power utility.
In a press conference on Monday, the cable operators' representatives had claimed that KE had cut cable and internet wires without prior warning, as it held cable operators responsible for the deaths caused during last year's rains due to electrocution.
Meanwhile, KE had denied the allegations of cutting cable/internet wires, saying that it had only removed those "which had posed an immediate threat to safety". They had accused cable operators of failing to shift their wires underground despite making commitments.
The first day of the strike saw TV and internet services being impacted in Karachi for two hours from 7pm to 9pm. On the second day, the strike was expanded to Karachi, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Sukkur and Larkana after the first meeting with the commissioner didn't bear fruit.
Addressing the media today, the Karachi commissioner said that the matter had been resolved. "As of today, the matter has been resolved and the strike has been called off."
He stated that both the parties sat down during today's meeting. "Cable operators will carry out the work they are required to do according to the NOC issued by the commissioner's office. Both the parties have sat down and discussed [the matter] and will fulfill their commitments and Karachi — an economic hub — will continue running normally where cable, TV, internet and all information will be restored."
He added that a committee has been constituted consisting of the deputy commissioner south and representatives from the association and the power utility to resolves issues between both the parties.
At a rare press conference held later in the day, KE Chief Executive Officer Monis Abdullah Alvi reiterated that the two parties had reached an "understanding".
"I am telling you with a lot of responsibility that we have not cut any cables in the last 15 to 18 days. And we hadn't done so because we had spoken to cable operators and they had said they would submit a plan."
Today our representatives met with them and another "understanding" has been reached, he said. "I say this with a lot of responsibility that whatever work is carried out is done with the consent of local authorities. We can't start cutting cables without informing someone or seeking prior permission."
He stated that some areas had been identified which were at "greater risk" where operators would expedite work to shift their cables underground. "Ultimately we have to make Karachi more beautiful and improve it with regard to security and aesthetics. So we will both work on this."