The sudden clamour by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has died down after the federal government issued a statement saying they will not stay silent if the PTI launches a protest over load-shedding.
Earlier this week, the PTI announced that the party will carry out demonstrations against the centre from July 15 if power outages are not curtailed. Many parts of the province are experiencing more than 20 hours of load-shedding.
Government officials, however, claim they did not succumb to any pressure and all decisions were taken after consulting coalition partners.
Special Assistant for Mineral and Mining Ziaullah Afridi told The Express Tribune that they have reversed their decision of launching protests against power outages and wish to negotiate “in a cordial atmosphere” instead. While Afridi did not know the date decided for talks, he said they will seek a jirga’s help to reach a conclusion.
“It is easy to criticise someone but our protest announcement was per the expectations of the people,” said Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister Sirajul Haq.
He too did not give a date for the meeting but added they have not received any response from the centre so far. “We are in touch with the federal government and will soon start the negotiation process. We strongly support each other’s views on core issues to come to a unanimous stance,” Haq added.
However, PTI MPA Ishtiaq Urmar is adamant on protesting against an issue that is “making lives of people miserable”.
Urmar said his area is experiencing 20 hours of power cuts every day irrespective of Sehri and Iftar although the government had earlier said no load-shedding would be carried out at those hours. “I have already announced to protest outside grid stations,” he added.
The demand of electricity in K-P is 2,400 megawatts (MW) but the federal government supplies us less than 1,600 MW, Urmar said. He stated Chief Minister Pervez Khattak will soon send a representative jirga on behalf of the provincial government to discuss the dire matter.
While the Awami National Party (ANP) agrees the issue must be resolved, they say the matter should have been raised at more appropriate platforms. “If the provincial government sincerely wants to raise the load-shedding issue with the federal government, instead of threatening to come out on the streets, they should raise the issue at the Council of Common Interests (CCI) or the apex court,” said former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who is the ANP’s media cell in-charge.
Hussain added the call for protests by the PTI was nothing more than a stunt to gain public sympathy ahead of by-polls. “The CM needs to take other parties into confidence on the matter,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.