A barber (R) holds a portable emergency light in his mouth while shaving a customer during a power outage at a low income neighborhood in Karachi. Image Credit: REUTERS

Karachi: A severe electricity crisis has gripped many cities, including Karachi, compelling people to take to the streets to protest power cuts that are longer than usual.

The government had announced, before Ramadan, that there would be no load shedding at the time of dawn and dusk but contrary to the claims, heavy load shedding has added to the misery of fasting people.

In the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Mardan, Multan and Swat, people came out of their homes and agitated on the streets amid long spells of load shedding.

Federal minister for water and power Khawja Asif explaining the power outages said the load shedding was being done in those regions where people did not pay their electricity bills. He also claimed that the power generation capacity was raised lately and 2500 megawatt to 3000 megawatt capacity was added.

However, the shortage surpassed the 3200 megawatt mark.

He further said that Rs360 billion (Dh13.2 billion) were paid off in circular debt, the major financial irregularity causing the energy crisis.

Former power minister and Pakistan People’s Party leader Naveed Qamar discarded the minister’s claim saying there was no let for the people.

He said the government had claimed that by paying off the circular debt there would be a great relief but there was no relief despite the payment of the hefty amount.

Pakistan Tehreeke Insaf leaders in Khyber Pakhtun Khaw province said that load shedding was a conspiracy against their government in the province. They warned the federal government that if the discriminatory treatment was not ended they would start a series of protest in the province against the unjust load shedding and power distribution among the provinces.

In Karachi, Pasban, an ancillary social group of Jamate Islami condemned the 18-hour load shedding in this mega city.

In a statement, it said that the load shedding has jammed the wheel of industrial and economic growth in a city which was the backbone of the national economy.

The statement also deplored federal government advisor Musaddiq Malek’s special package to the industries of the Punjab province saying this was an unwise decision as the federation should deal all the industries on equal basis all across the country.