JI launches protest, asks govt to cut power tariff

Our Correspondent
Friday, Sep 22, 2023

LAHORE:Jamaat-e-Islami Emir Siraj-ul-Haq has said that the prolonged rule of selected families in Punjab has been a major factor contributing to the suffering of the province's people, urging the masses to reject the ‘corrupt’ ruling elite in order to safeguard the future of the upcoming generation.

Speaking at a sit-in protest held in front of the Governor’s House here on Thursday, he called upon the government to reduce electricity tariff and the prices of essential commodities and pledged to continue the struggle until the rights of the people are duly addressed.

The JI is staging a three-day sit-in protest as part of its ongoing campaign against inflation. It had staged a protest in front of the Peshawar Governor’s House, and following the conclusion of the Lahore protest, it had planned to hold similar demonstrations in Quetta and Karachi. During the event, JI Vice-Emir Liaqat Baloch, Dr Farid Paracha, and JI Secretary General Amirul Azim also addressed the gathering, which drew a substantial crowd of participants.

Emphasising that elections represent the primary means to achieve stability, Siraj-ul-Haq stressed the critical role of the Election Commission in ensuring free and fair general elections.

He called for making public the agreements with the IMF and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and announced the JI's intention to approach the Supreme Court regarding costly projects involving IPPs. He said that the JI would release a white paper on the energy sector.

He lamented that the government had sought approval from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) even to allow struggling consumers to pay their hefty bills in installments, asserting that the nation's sovereignty had been compromised at the hands of international lending agencies and foreign powers.

He criticised the former government for implementing power generation projects solely for political gains, disregarding their cost implications on the financially vulnerable. He questioned the rationale behind choosing imported coal-based projects when domestic coal resources were available, and why projects reliant on imported oil were constructed far from the sea, incurring unnecessary transportation expenses. He urged the government to shift its focus from sending high bills to consumers towards addressing the billions lost due to line losses and power theft. He pointed out that the ruling elite benefited from free electricity, resulting in significant losses to the national treasury, while the burden fell on the impoverished citizens.

Highlighting past administrations' negligence, he condemned their failure to invest in hydel electricity generation and other cost-effective energy sources, such as wind energy, which could have yielded thousands of megawatts. He called for accountability of the influential figures behind the costly IPP projects, asserting that the nation deserved transparency regarding the purposes and realities surrounding these projects.

He said people are grappling with inflation, unemployment, and poverty due to flawed policies adopted by previous governments. The caretakers, he added, gave continuation to the former policies instead of providing relief to the masses.