Power riots | Pakistan Today

Power riots

The wrong way to vent anger

The energy crisis in Pakistan is nothing new. But being fed up with false promises of the government, ineptness of the bureaucracy, the rising cost of energy alongside power outages of about 16-20 hours daily, depending on where you live – in an urban area or a rural one, people have resorted to protests (mostly violent) in the past few days. The situation is severe in Punjab where the incumbent PML(N)’s government is itself egging on the public to protest. Quite a few have lost their lives while property, both public and private, has been specifically targeted as a way to vent anger.

A new trend, a dangerous one on that, seems to have attracted these protesters lately. Instead of protesting peacefully, or merely damaging government property, they have started targeting the elected representatives of the area. This is a risky road for these politicians are the people who represent these unruly protesters in assemblies. They are the ones who could offer a better solution, other than protests. Hurting them would not ease the situation; instead it will only project an anarchic situation, which in turn would provide these politicians a justification to use force against the protesters. In fact, some four people lost their lives in a similar situation in Kamalia when the guards of PML(Q) MPA Riaz Fatyana opened fire on protesters who had besieged his residence.

Punjab’s CM Shehbaz Sharif’s insistence on leading the protests himself is also adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. His political point scoring is being seen less as an honest protest and more as a confrontational policy against the federal government; he scarcely seems to care that it is causing a serious breakdown of law and order in the province he heads as a CM. Being in a position of responsibility, he needs to realise the fact that such stunts won’t make him a darling of the public. He must register his protests at appropriate forums and in an appropriate manner. Provoking the public is to nobody’s advantage.

With the Ministry of Water and Power being given 10 days to improve the generation of electricity, one hopes that the protests might abate. But if they don’t, the government would have no recourse but to opt for stricter action.

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