July 22, 2014
Pakistan cuts off power supply on PM's office in non-payment crackdown
Pakistan's power ministry said it would cut off supplies to major offices, including the prime minister's, in a crackdown on customers not paying their electricity bills.
Pakistan's economy is crippled by persistent blackouts lasting up to 12 hours a day partly because influential families, politicians and bureaucrats do not pay for their use while the poor often cannot afford rising utility bills.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised to fix the power cuts as one of his priorities. But today Pakistan's minister of state for water and power made Sharif’s office a target in his campaign to to eradicate non-payment.
"Electricity to all state institutions and individual consumers who haven't cleared their dues will be disconnected," minister Abid Sher Ali said in televised remarks. "There will be no discrimination."
The minister, who is from the ruling party, said he had ordered the Islamabad Electricity Supply Company to disconnect power to 18 government institutions, including the President House, Prime Minister's Secretariat, the parliament building, the official residence of the chief justice and many other offices.
Power cuts have worsened in Pakistan in recent years, becoming one of the main sources of discontent in the South Asian country, often leaving entire neighbourhoods without power for up to half a day in the sweltering summer months.
Pakistan's state power companies are notoriously inefficient but critics have long questioned just how far Sharif will be prepared to go to overhaul an important sector dominated by decades-long alliances, industry loyalties and lobby groups.