Pak: `Public protest against outages are natural`

Pakistan`s judiciary has put its weight behind the PML-N leadership on the issue of power cuts.

Updated: Aug 08, 2012, 15:48 PM IST

Lahore: Pakistan`s judiciary has put its weight behind the PML-N leadership on the issue of power cuts and declared that public protests are a "natural reaction" to unannounced outages.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said yesterday that if there are power cuts of 18 hours in a city like Lahore, citizens would have no reason to sit at home silently.

Expressing grave concern over unscheduled power cuts across the country, he said: "People will definitely take to the street if they are deprived of electricity and water in summer."

Bandial made the remarks while hearing a petition filed by judicial activist Azhar Siddique against power cuts during Sehri, Iftar and prayers in the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab and younger brother of former premier Nawaz Sharif, has been participating in protests against the federal government over power outages for the past few months.

The protests in Punjab have often turned violent and several people have lost their lives while public property worth millions of rupees has been damaged.
Shahbaz Sharif has not condoned the violence but has said that the people have the right to protest against outages.

During yesterday`s hearing, Chief Justice Bandial said the authorities sitting in air-conditioned offices could not appreciate the miseries of the commoners.
The government has intensified the miseries of the people by exempting VVIPs from power cuts, he said.

He adjourned the case till August 17 and asked the Pakistan Electric Supply Company to submit a schedule of power cuts over the past six months, criteria for granting exemption from outages and details of steps taken to create awareness among the people about the schedule of power cuts.

He further directed the federal government to inform the court about problems, including financial constraints, being faced in the generation of electricity and to submit a detailed report about revenue earned through distribution of electricity and its subsequent use.