LAHORE: Although the ongoing monsoon rains have brought some respite for the citizens, pressure is mounting on the PML-N government on the issue of electricity and gas load shedding, with the August 14 deadline given by the PTI for its million-man march approaching.
Last week protest demonstrations were held in various parts of the country against massive load shedding and power breakdowns. The situation worsened following a statement by Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s regarding his inability to control the power crisis wherein he had stated that only God can help control the issue. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf is exploiting the issue of power crisis to muster up its support and gather people for the August 14 demonstration.
Recently, in Peshawar angry demonstrators broke barriers placed outside the WAPDA House and broke into the building during a demonstration organised by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against electricity load shedding. The protest was led by KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and most of the demonstrators were workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The protest was also joined by some of the Jamaat-e-Islami members and workers.
This week some protest demonstrations were held in the capital of Punjab. The load shedding-stricken residents of Lahore blocked the main Ghazi Road against massive breakdowns of up to 18 hours. They also besieged the society office and local grid station. State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali cancelled his talk with the media representatives scheduled at LESCO headquarters on Thursday. Earlier, on Twitter the minister faced harsh criticism of electricity consumers who could not watch FIFA World Cup final, while the minister remained busy tweeting about the match.
In his latest statement in Okara, the state minister said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has imposed a “state of emergency” in the energy sector for the early completion of power projects. According to him, the prime minister has changed the previous completion time frame for these projects. Its noteworthy here that after coming to the power in the wake of general election 2013 the PML-N government had declared a war against power crisis, and a few months later a renowned writer of a largely circulated newspaper had referred it to as a “cold war” because of lack of any measures on war footing.
Now the prime minister has once against declared emergency on the power crisis. It is really interesting. The state minister also claimed that the PML-N government has completed several energy projects during the first year of its tenure. He highlighted the performance of the government in the energy sector. Sher Ali said three transformers of 250MVA each will facilitate areas of Haveli Lakha, Deebalpur, Okara city and others. It is noteworthy that according to reports Nandipur power project, which was inaugurated by the prime minister, had reportedly stopped working after three days of its inauguration – this speaks volumes of the government’s performance in the energy sector.
Last year in the month of June July the PML-N leaders including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz led a protest demonstration against the federal governments’ inability to control the power crisis.
He established his camp office under the shadow of the Pakistan monument (Minar-i-Pakistan). Later, during the camping for the election 2013 the PML-N leaders announced various deadlines to overcome the menace of load shedding. Their deadline range from six months to five year and beyond. Who will lead load shedding protests in Punjab now? Instead of completely focussing on the projects like Metro Bus construction in Karachi and others, which are generally taken as politically motivated projects, its hard time that the PML-N government focus on the energy projects on war footings in real sense.
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