Businesses in Faisalabad will observe a three-hour closure in protest against what they say is federal government’s discrimination against them. The closure from 11am to 2pm will be followed by a protest demonstration at the Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) at 3pm.
Punjab Textile Exporters Association Chairman Rana Arif Tauseef told The Express Tribune that all traders’ bodies were on board to observe the black day on Sunday. Tauseef said black flags would be hoisted on all business centres to mark the day. He said it was expected that more than 25,000 black flags would be hoisted in the city. He said thousands of residents of the city had been affected by power outages that now exceeded 16 hours a day. He said businesses in the city had been earning foreign exchange for the country. He demanded that the government should ensure reliable supply of gas and electricity to businesses in the city.
He said all traders’ bodies were unanimous that the protest be peaceful so that the law and order was not disturbed. “No one will be allowed to resort to violence or damage public property,” he said.
The Black Day is being observed jointly by the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) and the PTEA.
The two bodies represent textile mills, looms and hosiery businesses in the city.
At a press conference on Thursday, FCCI acting president Rehan Naseem Bharara had sought support from the businesses in the city ‘to send out a message to the federal government’. He said gas and electricity distribution policy of the centre was discriminatory.
He said despite the lowest rate of line losses and electricity theft and highest rate of recovery of power bills, Punjab was being made to suffer the most in the allocation of electricity from the national grid.
He criticised the hike in gas and electricity tariffs and prices of petroleum products, adding that the businesses were considering boycotting payment of fuel adjustment surcharge.
Some Pakistan Peoples Party leaders said the Black Day was a ‘conspiracy’ against the federal government.
Former textile minister Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan said the agitation was meant to pressure the government into announcing early general election. He said by forcing the government to give in to their demands, the businesses would deprive it of the opportunity to provide relief to the people in the upcoming budget.
Opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz said the lack of cooperation from the provincial government was responsible for the electricity and gas outages in the city.
The district administration and the police said arrangements were in place for the day.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2012.