-Karachi Police launch crackdowns to disperse peaceful demonstrators
-Protesters chant slogans against Federal govt, K-electric
-Following day-long face-off, an agreement reached to end sit-in
From Abid Usman
KARACHI: The protest against loadshedding in Karachi’s Mauripur area — which continued for more than a day — ended on Tuesday evening after area residents decided to disperse and return home after day-long face-off with LEAs.
According to Deputy Commissioner South Abdul Sattar, the protesters decided to call the demonstrations off after successfully negotiating with authorities.
He added that previously, some people had refused to comply and continued protesting despite being assured that their grievances would be addressed. As a result, the protests continued for more than 24 hours.
Sattar also said that traffic in the area has been restored, which had been blocked because of the demonstration. Traffic from the ICI bridge to the Lyari Expressway, which had been suspended, has also been restored.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah has instructed the provincial energy minister Imtiaz Sheikh to ensure that the electricity loadshedding situation in the metropolis is controlled in a timely fashion.
He told Sheikh to hold talks with K-Electric in this regard and convey to the company that prolonged loadshedding is creating a law and order situation in the city. “K-Electric should fix its systems. How many difficulties will the masses further bear?” CM Shah said, adding that the electricity shortage in the city should be addressed on a priority basis.
Earlier in the day, the protest had taken a violent turn after participants clashed with law enforcement agencies (LEAs), leaving a policeman and several protesters injured. The protesters said that the area was witnessing constant loadshedding despite them paying their utility dues. The police and Rangers personnel tried to get the situation under control, however, the protesters did not go on the back foot and pelted stones at them.
Agencies add: Country’s supply is 22,500 megawatts, while the demand is 28,000 megawatts, leaving a shortfall of 5,500 megawatts — this has led to several hours of power outages.
In Karachi’s Gadap Town, the loadshedding time has gone up to 18 hours in a day, while Shah Faisal Colony, Malir, Surjani Town, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, areas around Jahangir Road, Sultanabad and Kala Pul, among some other areas, are seeing power outages of 14 hours or more.
Police said they arrested four protesters and used water cannons to disperse them. A day earlier, people took to the streets in Teen Hatti, Saddar Preedy Street, Jubilee Market, Shah Faisal Colony, Surjani Town, University Road, MT Khan Road, Nishtar Road, and 14 other areas of the metropolis.
In a statement, City SSP Asif Bughio rejected reports that an elderly woman had died after getting injured during the protests.
Denying the reports of her death during the protest, he said that the woman was of 70 years and the police were in contact with the deceased’s family for conducting her post-mortem.
“There is a power outage of more than 12 hours in the area. The residents are demanding that a first information report (FIR) be registered against her death,” the SSP said.
Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, meanwhile, contacted KE chief executive Moonis Alvi. He noted that loadshedding has made the lives of people miserable and demanded the power utility resolve the crisis on an emergency basis.
“Due to persistent loadshedding, the security situation is deteriorating,” he told the KE official, calling on the federal government to clear the dues of the power utility as it “does not have the funds to produce power through furnace oil”.
Apart from Karachi, the loadshedding situation is also getting worse in Punjab as approximately six to eight hours of power outages are taking place across the province, while in the rural areas, electricity is being provided for only a few hours.
A day earlier, while addressing MNAs from the PML-N and allied parties, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warned the country might face increased loadshedding in the coming month of July.
Pakistan is facing an escalation of its power crisis after it failed to agree on a deal for natural gas supply next month. Tenders for July were scrapped due to high price, and low participation as the nation is already taking action to tackle widespread blackouts.