The PML-N which has in the last few years dwindled between being written off due to confrontation with the military to supporting democratic process through Charter of Democracy to supporting terrorists of Lal Masjid, Taliban etc to demanding “revolutions” to calling to the military to intervene, has decided to show its true colors by instigating civil disobedience against the power outages in the country. Without doubt, power outages is a major problem, however, destroying state property through violent protests is not the solution at all.
In the last 48 hours, there have been numerous protests targeted towards the state institutions. Police stations have been targeted and dangerous criminals have been freed. Power transformers have been set on fire. Regional electricity offices were burnt along with billing records. Police parties have been targeted. Without doubt, people are frustrated but why is this happening only in Central Punjab? This is mainly because, PML-N which rules Punjab and has its power base in Central Punjab has instigated these protests.
According to Dawn, “Hamza Shahbaz, son of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, is reported to have organised and led some rallies”. As per Express Tribune, “Police from Gujranwala faced the brunt of the protesters’ fury, where over two dozen protests took place after 20 hours of load-shedding in the last two days. Mobs burned down police posts, injuring 30 people – including 14 police officials. The scene of anarchy was exacerbated when the protesters also stopped a train heading from Rawalpindi to Karachi and smashed its windows. Six other people were injured as the rioters stormed the Gujranwala Electric Power Company offices and set them on fire.
In Sialkot, the target of the angry crowds was Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) offices, leading to several Wapda officials getting injured. Protesters ranging from traders to political party members to ordinary citizens continued violent demonstrations throughout the city, while police decided to remain at a safe distance from the chaos.
In Lahore, close to 200 protesters were arrested while others blocked roads, burned tyres and trucks and caused massive traffic jams across the city. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz activists joined with protesters in various locations around Lahore, swelling the number of the rioters.”
One wonders if the activist Judiciary has taken notice of this vandalism and destruction of property?
One can easily see that these cities are controlled by the PML-N and this is an attempt to create a law and order situation and then demand military intervention. It is also surprising that his has happened immediately after All Parties Conference, which the ghairat brigade was expecting to change the foreign policy outlook and use it as an opportunity to bring the government into troubled waters with both the Military and the USA. Having failed to have an impact, power outages were used as a pretext for rallies which turned ugly.
If only power crisis could be eliminated through street protests and civil disobedience, then we should have protests everyday! Unfortunately, this will only complicate the issue which will be used to create further law and order problems and create image issues for the country and the government.
It is important to see the sinister motive of the PML-N. Ever since, OBL was killed in Pakistan, PML-N in no uncertain terms has wanted the PPP government to be sent packing. The reason for their frustration and desperation is because Senate elections are just six months away. Having senate elections as per schedule will mean a deadly blow to the opposition, which if it comes into power after next general elections, will be a difficult task to maneuver.
It is also sad to see Mian Nawaz Sharif playing a role which is not healthy for himself and his party. If Pakistan was to slide back to the politics of 1990’s, then in the future, Mian Nawaz Sharif will himself be the biggest sufferer.
The government has to resolve the power crisis, there are no two thoughts about it. It has to resolve the circular debt issue which is easily causing 25% of the power crisis. The government also must realize that people like Mian Mansha (beneficiaries of Nawaz Sharif in the past) are very active in the power sector (with three power plants operated by his companies), can use their clout to accentuate the power crisis on the pretext of non payments. Point is who will suffer? It is the people and the state!