Protests over power bills may turn into riots, warns MQM-P

Published August 28, 2023
MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui addresses a press conference in Karachi on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV
MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui addresses a press conference in Karachi on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV

KARACHI: The convener of MQM-P, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, has expressed the fear that protests against inflated power bills could turn into riots, and warned his party would join people on the streets if relief was not granted.

Addressing a press conference at the party’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad on Sunday, Dr Siddiqui said it was time to review the national power supply policy which, he claimed, favoured certain classes and exploited the poor.

“We are concerned that this anger over inflated power bills can turn into a riot,” he said. “This is a major crisis and it is time to take drastic measures.”

“Otherwise we will be left with no option but to take to the streets and support people’s demands,” he added.

Siddiqui says minor delay in polls for delimitation ‘not a bad deal’

Calling power tariffs “a burden on consumers,” the MQM-P leader added people were “becoming rebels and the country was heading towards civil disobedience”.

He said that the power sector’s circular debt was due to the incompetence and failure of successive governments.

“They [crises] are a result of conflict between the federation and the provinces,” Dr Siddiqui said and called it “a crisis of intention more than an economic crisis”.

Sitting by Mr Siddiqui’s side, another MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar warned if protests continued, a “state within a state” would be created.

“And in this case, you would find MQM-P standing with people in solidarity wherever there is a protest.”

Polls delay ‘not a bad deal’

The MQM-P leaders also supported fresh delimitation before the general elections.

“The general elections should be held following fresh delimitation of constituencies in line with the results of the 2023 census,” said Dr Siddiqui.

“We want to reiterate that we want fair and transparent elections as soon as possible,” he said, adding if there is a delay of a few weeks or months in holding fair elections, “it’s not a bad deal”.

“In the 2018 elections, fake representatives were imposed on the city. No one should be deprived of their right to representation the way we were.”

He said millions of new voters have been registered as per the census results, making delimitation of new constituencies inevitable.

Without naming the PPP, the MQM-P convener also criticised the party’s recent demand to hold elections sans fresh delimitation.

PPP — the party which was an ally in the previous coalition government along with MQM-P — has called for general elections within 90 days and hinted the party may take a “legal course” if the ECP fails to hold general elections within the constitutional deadline.

“We are unable to understand why these people are emphasising old constituencies instead of new constituencies,” Dr Siddiqui asked, rhetorically, adding that the old system benefited them and they want to maintain their hold on the province.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2023

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