ISLAMABAD, April 29 Pakistan's power ministry
said on Tuesday 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 on Tuesday Pakistan's
minister of state for water and power said the campaign to
eradicate non-payment would now target his own office.
"Electricity to all state institutions and individual
consumers who haven't cleared their dues will be disconnected,"
Abid Sher Ali said in televised remarks. "There will be no
The minister, who is from the ruling party, said he had
ordered the Islamabad Electricity Supply Company to disconnect
power to the President House, Prime Minister's Secretariat, the
parliament building, the official residence of the chief justice
and many other offices.
There was no immediate comment from those affected. It was
also unclear when the power ministry would cut off supply and
whether government offices would be spared if they paid up.
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.
Targetting government offices as part of the campaign would
send a powerful message to ordinary people in Pakistan that
Sharif is serious about reform and that no one would be spared
in his campaign against non-payment of bills.
(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Angus MacSwan)