Islamabad [Pakistan], September 2 (ANI): People took to the streets and thousands of shopkeepers in Pakistan shut their shops on Saturday to hold a protest against inflated energy and fuel bills which sparked widespread discontent among the public prior to general elections, Pakistan-based Geo News reported.
The recent increase in electricity bills has further frustrated the people and traders who have already been heavily burdened by the rising inflation in Pakistan. Despite people's protests, Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has ruled out any possibility of immediate relief.
Instead, Kakar said that there is no other option for people other than to pay their bills while the caretaker government has been making efforts to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the issue, according to a Geo News report. He said, "The electricity bills will need to be paid and IMF conditions will be implemented." Meanwhile, people and traders have joined the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in supporting its call for a shutter-down strike. During the strike, small and large commercial shops and businesses have remained closed in various cities including Karachi, Peshawar, Sargodha and Sheikhupura, and others.
The Punjab Bar Council announced a strike against inflation. People in Karachi held a protest against inflation in Shah Latif Town, blocking the flow of traffic on the National Highway. Traders split into two factions on JI's call for a shutter-down strike in Sargodha, Geo News reported.
The lawyers of the district bar in Faisalabad also announced a strike with protests in the city recorded by people at Canal Road and Digikot. Protesters demanded abolishing taxes by burning tyres and blocking the road for traffic.
Holding banners and placards, transgenders in Rawalpindi surrounded the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) office and demanded that the Pakistan government should immediately roll back the increase in petrol and electricity prices.
Traders observed a shutter-down strike against a rise in electricity bills in Mandi Bahauddin. All small and major markets as well as commercial centers in Mandi Bahauddin remained closedThe All Pakistan Traders Community observed a strike in Peshawar with the majority of markets and centres remaining closed, Geo News reported. However, food outlets and medical stores remained open in the city.
Traders in Arifwala announced a shutter-down with trade organisations backing and announcing to keep shops and businesses shut across the city. Lawyers supported the strike in Chichawatni and shops remained shut in Kasowal, Iqbal Nagar and Ghaziabad regions of Pakistan. A complete strike was observed in several cities across Sindh with all business centres and petrol pumps in Thatta, Gharo, Makli, Dhabeji and other cities remaining shut.
Meanwhile, traders, civil society and political activists on Saturday staged demonstrations and rallies against the inflated electricity bills and inflation in Shangla, Pakistan-based Dawn reported. The protest was held at Chakisar Tehsil in the Shangla district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and blocked the roads.
Protesters shouted slogans against the Peshawar Electric Supply Company for sending them inflated bills, and against the federal government for increasing prices of petroleum products.
The rally led by society members, Musharaf Shah, Abdul Bar Advocate, Fawad Bukhari and others, turned into a big gathering at the Chakisar Chowk. Addressing the rally, they said the rulers had no concern for record-breaking inflation, which was forcing people to commit suicides.
Musharaf Shah claimed the rulers had mortgaged the country to the International Monetary Fund. The protesters demanded that the government immediately announce a decrease in power bills and oil prices. (ANI)