Residents of Hangu district decided not to pay their electricity bills in a grand jirga convened over unannounced, prolonged power outages.
A grand jirga, led by Maulana Abdul Jalil, took place in Adda Masjid in Hangu Bazaar on Saturday. All tribes were represented, and Bangash Ittehad President Qasim Khan, Malik Amanullah, Haji Wazir Gul and Fazal Noor were also in attendance.
Addressing the participants, Jalil said residents were facing 20-hour-long power cuts in the district. “No one in Hangu would pay their electricity bill unless the government and Wapda (Water and Power Development Authority) officials ended the unscheduled load-shedding.”
Wapda officials are allowed to disrupt electricity for only four hours in Hangu and eight hours in villages, maintained Jalil, “Anyone who pays their bill will be fined Rs0.2 million”.
Malik Qasim reiterated residents would continue to refrain from paying their bills unless Wapda officials ended unscheduled power cuts. “Every person in the district will follow the jirga’s verdict and another jirga will be held in the mosque on May 27 to further discuss the power supply issue.”
Malik Amanullah, who was representing the district’s villages, told the jirga no one would initiate violent protest against Wapda and the government officials. “We will demonstrate peacefully and will not cause any losses to the government or public property,” assured Amanullah. “Anyone who comes out on the roads and damages property will be held responsible by the jirga.”
Malik also alleged Wapda offices had earlier damaged property in the region and blamed locals. “It was Wapda officials who set fire to government property.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2013.
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