Public anger boils over load shedding

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Protests broke out across the country on Tuesday as the people’s patience with the government finally gave way in the wake of unregulated and lengthy power outages that left businesses and industries suspended and caused acute discomfort to millions as temperatures soared. The protests were echoed in the National Assembly as well, where the members’ disbelief was obvious when Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar assured them that load shedding would be reduced within a few days.
In Lahore, more than 400 protesters from Begum Kot, Shahdara and Jiya Mosa first blocked Grand Trunk Road at Shahdara Morr with burning tyres, then proceeded to attack a Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) office in Jiya Mosa with stones, setting fire to records and cables, as well as bicycles of LESCO staff. Shahdara DSP Riaz Shah said a case had been registered against the protesters on the complaint of LESCO officials.
In Karachi, students of Urdu University protested against lengthy power outages. The administration summoned Rangers to disperse the protest and two students were injured in the ensuing baton charge. Other cities and towns in Sindh were also without power for most of the day because of faults in the high tension lines and the grid station in Mirpurkhas. People also protested in Faisalabad, where power-looms were shut down and business in the city came to a standstill.
Protests were also held in Multan, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, where people were angered by hours of power outages at a time. Meanwhile, Qamar told the NA the government was trying its best to resolve the power crisis, and that a shortage of oil and gas supply had caused the load shedding. Qamar said the groundbreaking of Diamer-Bhasha Dam would be held soon and the project would be completed within the stipulated time. Speaking on a point of order, Awami National Party MNA Pir Dilawar Shah said such assurances were given every day, but in reality power supply had not been improved at all. The ANP MPs also staged a walkout to protest the prolonged outages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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