Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) emir Sirajul Haq on Sunday announced that his party will be approaching the Supreme Court in opposition to the agreements made with independent power producers (IPPs) as he blamed past governments for the recent surge in electricity bills.
Last month, after the power regulator raised the national average tariff by around Rs5 per unit, the government sought to raise the power rate by Rs3.55 per unit, triggering protests by traders and the public in various cities.
Frustrated with inflated power bills, people have taken to the streets to voice their discontent with the ever-rising prices. The protests culminated in a nationwide shutdown on Saturday, as called for by various traders’ bodies and the JI, to protest the rising electricity bills and petroleum prices.
Stores remained closed in provincial capitals in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, while Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad experienced a partial shutdown.
During the news conference on Sunday, Haq expressed his gratitude to the people and the trader community for participating in the strike, stating that it sent a clear message to the government that agreements made with IPPs by past governments were unacceptable.He stressed that those who signed these deals had betrayed the nation and committed injustice.
He called on the caretaker government to renegotiate the agreements, highlighting public dissatisfaction and resentment towards the high power costs.
The JI emir announced that the JI now planned to approach the Supreme Court to challenge the IPP deals and vowed to unveil the details of these agreements before the nation, using the right to information.
Haq also called for protests outside the governor houses in all four provinces, and warned that a wheel-jam strike could be organised if the government failed to reverse the increase in electricity prices.
The JI leader criticised the IPP deals for benefiting only the elite class while burdening the general public and also slammed the rise in petroleum product prices, demanding their reversal.
FIR against JI
Meanwhile, an FIR was registered in Peshawar against JI leaders for protesting the electricity price hike. The charges in the FIR include interference with government machinery, road blockades, damage to government property, and forcibly closing shops.
The case has been registered against JI leaders including advocate Khalid Gul, Zahid Shah, Tahir Zareen, and Haji Qadeer.
The nationwide strike on Saturday saw thousands of traders participating in a shutter-down strike against soaring inflation, high electricity bills, and the recent increase in petroleum prices.
The strike, called for by the JI and various traders' associations, was supported by lawyers who boycotted courtrooms.
Commercial hubs and business centres in cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar remained closed, with placards decrying the unreasonable increase in bills and taxes posted in abandoned bazaars.
The JI also organised a large march on New MA Jinnah Road, gathering thousands of women to protest the exorbitant increases in electricity tariffs.
The demonstration, labelled as the largest in the ongoing wave of power protests, demanded immediate relief and the waiver of heavy taxes on the bills.