Nationwide protests over high electricity bills

On Saturday, the public took to the streets, and thousands of traders nationwide closed their shops in protest against the steep rise in energy and fuel costs, sparking widespread discontent ahead of national elections.

The recent increase in electricity bills has added to the frustration of consumers and traders, who are already grappling with the high inflation rate in the country.

Despite the protests and the public’s refusal to pay the higher bills, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has categorically ruled out any immediate relief. He stated that consumers have no choice but to settle their bills while the interim government engages in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding the matter.

Kakar stated, “The electricity bills must be paid, and IMF conditions will be adhered to.”

Meanwhile, the general public and traders have thrown their support behind Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), endorsing their call for a nationwide strike. This strike has led to the closure of both small and large commercial establishments in cities such as Karachi, Peshawar, Sargodha, and Sheikhupura, among others.

Additionally, the Punjab Bar Council has also declared a strike in protest against inflation, resulting in lawyers abstaining from court proceedings.

In Karachi, citizens demonstrated against inflation in Shah Latif Town, causing traffic disruptions on the National Highway.

In Sargodha, traders have divided opinions on JI’s call for a shutdown strike. While President Anjuman-e-Tajiran Sheikh Nadeem Khawar expressed his intent to participate in the strike without organizing a rally, the general secretary opposed the strike at the behest of a political party. However, he pledged support for the strike if announced by Anjuman-e-Tajiran.

The district bar lawyers in Faisalabad also announced a strike, with citizens staging protests on Canal Road and Digikot, demanding the abolition of taxes by burning tires and blocking traffic.

Transgenders in Rawalpindi surrounded the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) office, displaying banners and placards, while urging the government to immediately rollback the increases in petrol and electricity prices.

The All Pakistan Traders Community held a strike in Peshawar, leading to the closure of most markets and centers. However, food outlets and medical stores remained open in the city.

Various cities across Sindh experienced complete shutdowns, with all business centers and petrol pumps closed in Thatta, Gharo, Makli, Dhabeji, and other cities, resulting in reduced traffic on the roads compared to normal.

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