July 31, 2012 – PAKISTAN - Prolonged and widespread power outage in most of Pakistan’s cities during scorching summer heat has triggered violent protests in most areas of the country. Coupled with hot and humid summer weather, the prolonged blackout has forced outraged citizens to take to the streets to protest the tough living conditions. The protests turned violent as some of the angry protesters reportedly attacked offices of the power supply department in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, damaging official and private properties. Offices of Pepco, the Pakistan Electric Power Company, were also attacked in Islamabad, Abbottabad, Charsadda, Okara, Multan, Mandi Bahauddin, Sialkot, and Sheikhupura and many of them were reportedly set ablaze. No loss of life was reported, but the roads were blocked till late night. Reports indicate that in some areas people face 12 to 14 hours of rolling blackouts, while the rural residents suffer up to 18 hours of power outage. On Friday, a powerful storm hit some of the country’s power plants, including one of Chashma Nuclear Power Plants and three other plants in Muzaffargarh, causing them to go fully or partly offline. In the meantime, Information Minister Zamar Kaira deflected the blame for the angry protests, saying they have been caused by “political maneuvering of the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League (N))” rather than the prolonged outages. Pakistan’s lack of around 5,000 megawatts of electrical power has forced the government to implement a rolling blackout policy in a bid to prevent a total blackout. –Press TV
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