Protests against inflated electricity bills continue across Sindh

Published September 1, 2023
A woman supporter of the Jamaat-i-Islami set electricity bills on fire at a demonstration on New M.A. Jinnah Road in Karachi, while participants in a MQM-P rally (right) protest over prolonged loadshedding and hike in power tariff at Kohinoor Chowk in Hyderabad on Thursday. — AFP / Umair Ali
A woman supporter of the Jamaat-i-Islami set electricity bills on fire at a demonstration on New M.A. Jinnah Road in Karachi, while participants in a MQM-P rally (right) protest over prolonged loadshedding and hike in power tariff at Kohinoor Chowk in Hyderabad on Thursday. — AFP / Umair Ali

• JI holds women-only demo to denounce power tariff hike
• MQM-P organises rally in Hyderabad, warns Hesco to mend ways
• Mirpurkhas traders observe shutterdown strike

KARACHI/HYDERABAD/MIRPUR­KHAS: The ongoing protests against inflated electricity bills continued across the province as the Jamaat-i-Islami staged a big women-only rally in Karachi, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan organised province-wide demonstration including a rally in Hyderabad on Thursday.

In Mirpurkhas, a complete shutter-down strike was observed on the call of a traders’ association in protest against inflated power bills.

While the Sindh government had already declared a public holiday across the province on account of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s urs, city’s business community is also going to observe a daylong strike on Friday (today).

JI’s women-only protest

The women wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami staged a big protest on Thursday against inflated electricity bills and demanded that the government immediately review its power tariff policy.

A large number of women converged on new M. A. Jinnah Road on Thursday to lodge a forceful protest against backbreaking inflation, tarrif hike and unjust taxes in electricity bills and the attitude of the K-Electric.

Carrying placards and banners inscribed with their demands, the protesters chanted slogans against the caretaker government, the KE and previous rulers who they said facilitated the power utility in its “crimes”.

They warned that the new wave of “peaceful resistance” against the “corrupt ruling elite” would continue.

Speaking on the occasion, Karachi JI chief Engineer Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said that the inability and cold shoulders shown by the caretaker government over the issue of heavy bills had compelled the mothers and sisters of Karachi to take to streets.

He also congratulated the women for organising a massive power show.

He said that Karachiites were demanding their due rights and not alms. The JI leader asked caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar to either provide a substantial relief to the people of Pakistan or go home.

He said that the heavy electricity bills had already knocked out the lower class, whereas the middle class had been forced to a crossroad to choose between electricity bills or their food basket.

“In this scenario, the caretaker prime minister has been convening meetings after meetings, instead of taking practical steps to mitigate the miseries of the poor,” he added.

“The ruling elite of the country has been pushing the masses to an extreme of anarchy. The JI will not follow the line of anarchy and lawlessness and instead it will channelize the anger and anguish of the masses for a constructive rights struggle,” he said.

He held the then federal government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) responsible for the worsening situation.

MQM-P holds province-wide protests

The MQM-P staged protest demonstrations across Sindh demanding an end to inflated power bills and prolonged power outages.

A statement issued by the party said that the protest demonstrations staged in different parts of the province were joined by a large number of people who along with the MQM-P leaders demanded immediate relief for the people across Pakistan.

In Hyderabad, senior MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar said time had come to put an end to the atrocities of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco).

Speaking at a rally against unjust increase in the power tariff and unannounced loadshedding at Kohinoor Chowk, he warned Hesco to mend its ways. He said that Hesco had been resorting to eight- to 12-hour loadshedding in Sindh’s rural and urban areas. “Electricity bills have unnerved people who were selling their properties to pay power bills.”

He said that raising electricity prices would not lead to recovery of bills, fearing that recoveries would drop further with this new tariff raise.

Deputy convener Abdul Wasim, Shabbir Kaimkhani, Zafar Siddiqui and Wasim Hussain also spoke.

Shutterdown in Mirpurkhas

A complete shutter-down strike was observed in Mirpurkhas on Thursday on the call of a traders’ association in protest against issuance of inflated bills by Hesco and growing price hike.

In the morning, all the markets remained shut while traffic on roads was also thin. Police had made strict security arrangements to face untoward situation.

However, after 1pm, all business centres were reopened and trade activities resumed.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2023

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