Exploiting the power crisis: Rioters in protesters’ clothing

Published: June 25, 2012

Protests’ against power outages raged on across the country, and if the rumour mill is to be believed, they are heavily influenced by political heavyweights.

A strange thing happened on the way to Raja Rental’s ascension to the premiership; Islamabad’s daily loadshedding was increased.

On the face of it, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with that, considering the nationwide power crisis, but a little birdie told me that in the absence of a WAPDA minister and prime minister, the hike should have been delayed until a cabinet was set in place. And although that may or may not be a legal requirement, a notification of the increase is.

With the mercury hovering around 45 degrees Celsius, loadshedding is a major issue, but unfortunately not the only one.

Water in Khanpur Dam, the city’s primary water reservoir, will hit dead level in the next two days. According to media reports, the CDA has been receiving some 1,300 requests-a-day for water tankers, but has only been able to fulfil around 900. That shortfall of 400 is expected to skyrocket once Khanpur goes dry.

‘Protests’ against power outages raged on across the country, and if the rumour mill is to be believed, they are heavily influenced by political heavyweights.

That is why the Punjab police, who would normally thrash a man for mocking their officials’ potbellies, have been watching the show from the sidelines, most likely with a drink or ice cream in hand. During a recent protest in Rawalpindi, they only sprung into action for a few moments when the crowd moved upon the ministry of defence.

A senior police official claimed that,

All concerned SHOs had been on their toes since the afternoon and FIRs would be lodged against protesters for damaging private and public property.

However, few FIRs have been lodged, even though The Express Tribune and others published pictures of the rioting and theft of public and private property as it happened. And these self-proclaimed protesters weren’t just looting ‘useful items’ like DVD players, cell phones and etc. One guy could clearly be seen stealing a potted plant. Exactly how he plans to water it is beyond my understanding.

These rioters and vandals, as I refuse to refer to anyone who damages public or private property as a protester, are getting away scot-free for their criminal actions. While the police holds back, acting on orders from above, specifically the Punjab Chief minister, who said he will not let the police fire on protesters.

Well now, here is a solution for his problem; a protester does not damage someone else’s property, but a criminal does. So arrest them.

Controlling a rally is not as hard as the politicians would make you believe. Mobs, like lemmings, follow the leader. If the leader explicitly orders non-violence, his orders will be adhered to.

Didn’t Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) pull off a protest without destroying stuff, because the crowd was told to behave themselves?

I agree that this ludicrously awful mismanagement of the power crisis merits protest, but a civilised protest. Not shutterdowns that hurt small businesses or violence that threatens life and property.

Unfortunately, when our representatives, who are ostensibly supposed to be picked from the best among us, fight like goons in the parliament and question the parentage of female members of the house as a certain Punjab assembly member did, their constituents can hardly be expected to behave any better.

By the way, the women are no role models, behaving more like the pehelwans of old than parliamentarians. If I want to see noora kushti I’ll watch a wrestling match. Parliament should be reserved for governance.

Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as the prime minister has promised to end loadshedding by the end of the year. Not this one, but 2009. Suddenly, the reason for the power crisis has become more obvious. In a bid to silence the critics who say he did absolutely nothing to resolve the power crisis except enrich a few RPP owners (for which he is being investigated, completing the presumptive PPP criteria of all serious candidates for PM to be mired in corruption allegations), our new PM has obviously invented a way to travel back in time and fix the power crisis before it happened.

Either that, or a man unable to address one major issue has been entrusted to resolve a hundred. This is the equivalent of appointing goalkeeper wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal as the national team’s fielding coach.

Read more by Vaqas here, or follow him on Twitter @vasghar

Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

A sub-editor on the Islamabad city pages of The Express Tribune, Vaqas holds a Master's degree in IR from Iqra University. Before joining ET, he taught history and was also a member of the editorial staff at Blue Chip Magazine. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • me

    like it…now isb&rwp is like other cities of Punjab(Pakistan)……but still we are leading water issue…….Recommend