KARACHI: Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Sirajul Haq on Sunday blamed agreements made by past governments with independent power producers (IPPs) for the recent hike in electricity bills and announced that his party would be approaching the Supreme Court against the deals, according to a Dawn.com report.

Last month, the power regulator raised the national average tariff by around Rs5 per unit, pushing the base unit power tariff from Rs24.82 to Rs29.78.

This sparked protest demonstrations led by traders and the public in various cities. Fuelled by their frustration with inflated power bills, people have taken to the streets in recent days against price hikes and inflated bills.

On Saturday, large parts of the country saw a shutter-down strike and protest rallies on the call of various traders’ bodies, as well as the JI, to protest taxing hikes in electricity bills and petroleum prices. Provincial capitals in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and Balochistan remained completely shut, whereas Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad saw a partial shutdown.

Earlier on Sunday, the JI held a meeting to decide its future course of action on the matter.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Mr Haq thanked citizens and traders for participating in Saturday’s strike, adding it had sent a message to the government that “we don’t accept those agreements which past governments made with IPPs”.

Those who signed these deals had “betrayed the nation and committed injustice”, he added.

He said the strike had provided an opportunity for the caretaker government to renegotiate the deals, citing the public dissatisfaction and resentment at large with power costs.

Mr Haq said that using the right to information on the IPP agreements, “we will go to the Supreme Court against these deals and unveil them before the nation”.

Additionally, he called for protests outside the governor houses in all four provinces and warned that the JI could go for a wheel-jam strike if the need arose and the increase in electricity prices was not reversed.

Mr Haq believed that IPP deals had only benefited elite classes while burdening the public at large. He also assailed the rise in prices of petroleum products and called for it to be reversed as well.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2023

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