Protests in Pakistan over power cuts as Ramadan begins

Pakistanis take to streets in protest against frequent power cuts as the heat wave spike during Ramadan becomes unbearable

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Angered by ongoing and unscheduled power cuts with the start of Ramadan fasting during a very hot season, Pakistanis took to the streets across the country on Friday to protest.

The chronic power shortages in Pakistan became unbearable, with temperatures reaching 46 degrees Celsius in some cities during the first day of fasting.

Violence erupted during the protests in the northwestern Charsaddah and Swabi and southwestern Hyderabad districts — as well as in some parts of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and Faisalabad — as protesters clashed with police and stormed the Water and Power Development Authority's (WAPDA) offices.

Pakistanis are angry because they say the government promised uninterrupted power supply during Ramadan, especially during the pre-dawn (Sehri) and post-sunset (Iftar) meals, when fasting Muslims eat and drink.

But in some areas people went without electricity all day, while the government said "a sudden surge in demand" caused the power breakdown. Because of power cuts water pumping stations also have not operated.

“Where is the prime minister and his promises? We have been without electricity since Sehri. It’s over 40 degrees here. How can we survive in this blistering weather without electricity, especially those who are fasting?” Ghulam Hussein, a protester from Charsaddah, told Anadolu Agency.

“Not only the electricity, we don’t have water even for Wudu [ablution for prayers] at home,” Tahira Bibi, another protester in Hyderabad, said.

Pakistani officials appealed to consumers to conserve power, while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered that power cuts be shortened.

Pakistan faces a serious power shortfall problem, especially during summers, creating tensions and sometimes causing protests. Power shortages also cripple the Pakistani industry. Islamabad hopes planned power projects backed by $46 billion worth of Chinese investments will ease the problem.

TRTWorld and agencies