Tue, 03 Oct 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], September 3 (ANI): Following the protests by Jamaat-e-Islami over inflated power bills in Pakistan, a first information report (FIR) was lodged against JI in Peshawar on Sunday, reported The Express Tribune.

As per the FIR, the charges include interference with government machinery, road blockades, causing damage to government property and forcibly closing down shops. The case has been registered against JI chief Sirajul Haq and other leaders, including advocate Khalid Gul, Zahid Shah, Tahir Zareen, Haji Qadeer, among others.

Prior to that, thousands of traders held a shutter-down strike at many places in the country against inflation, rising electricity bills and recent hikes in the prices of petroleum products, The Express Tribune reported.

Multiple traders associations and JI called on the strike that was supported by lawyers.

Adding to this, commercial hubs and business centres remained closed in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and other cities across Pakistan.

Moreover, the bazaars were showing placards decrying "the unreasonable increase in electricity bills and taxes."On Friday, the JI chief announced a nationwide strike during a news conference in Lahore to protest against the oppressive electricity bills, according to The Express Tribune.

The party further demanded the government to revoke its "draconian" decisions.

Furthermore, the party gathered thousands of women to march against the inflated power bills, demanding instant relief and waiver of heavy taxes in the bills.

JI spokesperson Qaiser Shareef said in a statement that committees have been formed for a nationwide protest against rising electricity costs on September 2, according to ARY News.

Earlier in July, amid the economic crisis in the country, Pakistan increased the electricity base rate by Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 7.5 per unit.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) on July 14 allowed the federal government an increase of PKR 4.96/unit in base electricity tariff, as per ARY News.

Moreover, Pakistan's caretaker government has already requested the power regulator to start charging another PKR 5.40 per unit quarterly tariff adjustment over six winter months starting in October instead of permissible in three months, Dawn reported.

The main reason behind the current power tariff is current depreciation, accounting for almost 70 per cent and the government had no option at its disposal at present to control, considering the IMF programme. Further, a 10-12 per cent hike is due to interest rates and the government and the SBP's hands are tied under the fund programme.

According to sources, these were the proposals put forward by the power division to the Pakistan Prime Minister's Office along with a few other recommendations that involve financial effect that could only be implemented at the cost of the IMF programme and hence not supported by the finance ministry, according to Dawn report.

Protests against the exorbitant electricity prices have spread across the entire nation, from Karachi to Khyber, and some protests are now turning violent. (ANI)

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