Lights out in Faisalabad: Protest or civil war?
The loadshedding crisis in Faisalabad which took place last week could have been expected in the wake of unprecedented quota reduction of power supply from the national grid. Over a dozen demonstrations took place in all parts of the city. Even stakeholders took the opportunity to participate in a protest that was initially launched four days ago by powerloom workers and owners.
The issue of loadshedding seems to be heading towards political turmoil in the country. The Faisalabad protest took a more serious turn when Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, sensing the volatile emotions of the business community, reassured them thus:
If you decide to stage a long march against loadshedding, I assure you that all members of the national and provincial assemblies, PML-N workers and ticket holders will join hands with you and I would also love to lead the long march.
Shahbaz Sharif also said that Punjab was treated in a negligent manner and that all industry, trade and export activities had been plunged into crises by the federal government with an agenda to ruin Punjab’s economy as well as the agricultural sector.
All trade bodies had jointly announced a complete shutdown in Faisalabad and closed off over 6,000 industrial units including spinning, garments, textile, and looms. The president of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Muzammil Sultan, told The Express Tribune that the FCCI had taken all stakeholders on board and it was a unanimous decision to give up all manufacturing activities for the week.
The only solution for improvement in the power crisis is to arrange for dues to Pakistan State Oil and the Independent Power Projects on a priority basis. Political pundits are of the view that this crisis may lead to a civil war-like situation. The federal government must realise the gravity of the problem and do the needful before things spiral out of control.
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