Two men lost their lives as protests against power cuts continued for a third day in Lahore and elsewhere.
As protesters rallied on GT Road, a guard at a petrol station opened fire, killing Ameer Hamza, 16.
In a separate incident, a labourer suffocated to death in an elevator in Shah Alam market after he had been trapped inside for hours due to power outages in the area. Imran is reported to have tried to contact friends and relatives in his hours-long misery.
Rescuers did try to breakthrough the elevator but due to absence of power, all of their efforts proved futile in the end.
‘Long march’ threat
In Faisalabad, meanwhile, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced that if required he would lead a ‘long march’ to Islamabad in protest against power cuts.
While speaking to journalists, Shahbaz remarked that only Punjab faces persistent power shortages, which have economically crippled its people.
Claiming that the days of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – led coalition government were over, Shahbaz said that people will reject them in the next elections.
“People have been deprived of daily meals due to the closure of the industry, while manufacturing activities have come to a standstill,” he said.
More than a dozen demonstrations were staged in various parts of Faisalabad by power loom workers. Protestors blocked major roads in the city and chanted slogans against the government as well as the Faisalabad Electric Supply Corporation (Fesco).
‘Within next 24 hours’
Taking notice of the alarming situation, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani took notice of the unscheduled power outages in the country, directing authorities to end the crisis within the next 24 hours.
The premier directed ministries of finance, water and power as well as petroleum to take immediate steps to end the menace.
A compliance report has been sought which will be submitted to the prime minister in Seoul. WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM WIRES
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2012.