Protests erupt in Balochistan’s Turbat over power cuts as official blames Iran’s supply suspension

Members of All Parties Association in Pakistan’s remote Kech district protest against power outages in Makran division in Turbat city on July 9, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Supplied/Assad Baloch)
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Updated 10 July 2024
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Protests erupt in Balochistan’s Turbat over power cuts as official blames Iran’s supply suspension

  • Iran supplies 200-megawatt electricity to the coastal region, equally distributed between Gwardar and Kech
  • Traders in Turbat threaten to go on a shutter-down strike, saying power cuts have adversely impacted business

QUETTA: Residents of Pakistan’s southwestern Makran coastal region decided to camp in Balochistan’s Turbat city on Tuesday to protest against prolonged power outages amid scorching heat as the Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) said the situation was caused by Iran’s decision to suspend electricity supply to the area.
Pakistan shares a 959-kilometer frontier with Iran that begins at the Koh-i-Malik Salih Mountain and ends at Gwadar Bay in the Gulf of Oman. Iran and Pakistan signed an agreement in 2003 under which Iran daily supplies 35 megawatts of electricity to Balochistan’s coastal belt, including Gwadar, which is the heart of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Pakistan’s top economic decision-making body, ECNEC, announced its plan in May 2019 to connect Makran Division with the national grid, but the border districts of Gwadar and Kech continue to receive power from Iran’s main transmission line.
Speaking to Arab News over the phone from Turbat in Kech district, the organizers of the protest said the power cuts – also called loadshedding in Pakistan – had disrupted life amid intense heat.
“Most of the power feeders in Kech have run out of electricity, resulting in 14 hours of loadshedding despite a soaring temperature of about 50°C [122°F],” Zarif Baloch, deputy convener of the All Parties Association of District Kech, informed.
He said there was a total power outage in Turbat as he spoke over the phone.




Members of All Parties Association in Pakistan’s remote Kech district protest against power outages in Makran division in Turbat city on July 9, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Supplied/Assad Baloch)

“When we contacted QESCO officials, they said Iran had suspended the power supply which was causing the situation in the district,” he continued. “We have been suffering from such a situation since the last month, but we have now called a shutter-down strike in Turbat from Thursday if the power supply is not restored.”
Muhammad Afzal Baloch, the QESCO spokesperson, told Arab News Pakistan had been receiving 200 megawatts of electricity from Iran, half of was supplied to Gwadar and half to Kech district.
“The power supply was suspended from Iran due to their own needs but it was restored in Makran Division on Monday night,” he said. “Although Iran has been providing 200 megawatts of electricity to our bordering districts, we consume the Iranian electricity as per our need.”
Last year in May, the top leaders of the two countries inaugurated the first border market on their frontier to strengthen trade relations. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iran’s former president Ebrahim Raisi agreed to initiate 100 megawatts of additional electricity to Balochistan’s bordering districts from the Polan-Gabd transmission line.
Ishaq Roshan Dashti, president of the traders’ association in Kech district who runs his own clothing business in Turbat, said the prolonged power cuts were causing significant hardships for his fellow community members.
“We are very much disturbed during the peak summer months of June and July,” he told Arab News. “The situation has led to a 50 percent decrease in business activities in the area.”
Shahzad Baloch, who runs an ice factory, agreed with him.




Members of All Parties Association in Pakistan’s remote Kech district protest against power outages in Makran division in Turbat city on July 9, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Supplied/Assad Baloch)

“Every year, we face such electricity breakdowns in Makran during these months and the country’s power division blames Iran,” he said. “We cannot meet the regular demand for ice and have started using generators. But this has increased the price of each ice block by 35 percent compared to the previous year.”
Residents of Gwadar and Pasni also protested against unplanned power outages on Monday and blocked the country’s key coastal highway connecting Balochistan with Pakistan’s southeastern port city of Karachi.
However, they ended the protests after the authorities assured them that the power supply would be restored within a few hours.


Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood

Updated 15 July 2024
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Pakistan equities trade at record highs as weak China data dents investor mood

  • Pakistan’s benchmark index rose 1.7 percent to hit a record high after Islamabad reached an agreement for $7 billion loan with the IMF
  • The index has soared 30 percent this year and has almost doubled since Pakistan signed its last deal for $3 billion standby arrangement

Most emerging market stocks started the week lower after disappointing China economic data, while Pakistani equities traded at record highs and investors assessed the fallout of a revised budget in Kenya.
China stocks ended flat on Monday and Hong Kong equities logged their biggest one-day drop after the economy grew much slower than expected in the second quarter, prompting downward revisions for annual growth by brokerages J.P.Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
Attention was also on the once-in-five-years ‘Third Plenum’, due to end on Thursday, where markets hope for some efforts to manage China’s vast property crisis, boost domestic consumption and revitalize the private sector.
“It remains the case that China is taking pragmatic steps to address the problems it can fix, but at nothing like the pace foreign investors or net commodity exporters wish to see,” said Hasnain Malik, head of equity research at Tellimer Research.
MSCI’s index tracking bourses in developing economies slipped 0.2 percent, while an index tracking currencies was flat. Traders assessed political developments in the US and the implications of a second Donald Trump presidency.
In South Asia, Pakistan’s benchmark index rose 1.7 percent to hit a record high after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the country reached a staff level agreement (SLA) for a $7 billion, 37-month loan program.
The index has soared 30 percent this year and has almost doubled since Pakistan signed its last SLA for the $3 billion standby arrangement.
India’s main stock indexes also traded at record highs. Quarterly earnings were in focus along with the new government’s annual budget expected on July 23, where a private lender expects the country to cut its current year’s gross market borrowings after a better-than-estimated surplus transfer from the central bank.
Meanwhile, yield on Kenyan sovereign bonds slipped between 5 and 13 basis points (bps) after the government said it plans to cut annual spending by 1.9 percent and widen the fiscal deficit to 3.6 percent of GDP, weeks after it was forced to roll back tax hikes due to mass protests.
Most currencies in eastern and central Europe were tepid against the euro. The forint inched up 0.2 percent ahead of remarks on monetary policy from the Hungary’s deputy central bank governor.
Elsewhere, the shekel inched up 0.1 percent against the dollar ahead of June inflation data and against the backdrop of talks of a Gaza ceasefire, while Rwanda’s franc was flat against the euro as elections were underway.


Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport

Updated 15 July 2024
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Two-member Canadian team begins aviation security assessment at Karachi airport

  • This is the fifth international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months
  • Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since a 2020 fake pilot license scandal

KARACHI: A two-member Canadian team on Monday began its aviation security assessment at Jinnah International Airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said.
The team comprises inspectors, Barbara Durette and Abdel Tahir, from Transport Canada — a Canadian government entity responsible for policies and services of road, rail, marine and air transportation.
It held a meeting with Pakistani officials at the PCAA headquarters. The four-day assessment will focus on aviation security documentation, airport arrangements, catering and cargo complexes.
“The team will be inspecting implementation of various aviation security protocols at the airport and implementation of special security measures being undertaken by PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) for direct flights to Canada,” the PCAA said in a statement.
It said the assessment is a continuation of collaborative efforts between Transport Canada and the PCAA to enhance aviation security standards in the South Asian country.
This is the 5th international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months. The PCAA earlier said it had successfully passed all previous inspections, including an inaugural assessment by the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (UAE-GCAA) of Islamabad and Karachi airports that concluded on July 5.
Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since 2020 following a scandal wherein approximately 262 out of 860 active pilots were said to have obtained fake licenses, leading to the grounding of around 150 pilots from the PIA and other carriers.
This revelation came in the wake of the tragic crash of PIA flight 8303 in Karachi, resulting in the suspension of PIA’s operations in the European Union (EU) and other regions and prompting calls for regulatory reforms to improve safety standards and transparency.


Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats

Updated 15 July 2024
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Pakistan seeks review of court ruling declaring Imran Khan party eligible for reserved seats

  • Khan’s PTI party was denied its share of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies, benefitting the ruling coalition
  • Government says the issue of granting reserved seats to PTI was not even in pleadings before the election commission, courts

ISLMABAD: The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday filed a petition seeking review of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that declared former prime minister Imran Khan’s party eligible for reserved seats in parliament.
The July 12 verdict in favor of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party dealt a blow to the ruling coalition of PM Sharif, which may lose its two-thirds majority in Pakistan’s parliament. PTI candidates contested the Feb. 8 national election in Pakistan as independents after the party was barred from polls on the technical grounds that it did not hold genuine intra-party polls, which is a legal requirement.
Subsequently, they won the most seats in the election, 93, but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said independents were ineligible for their share of 70 reserved seats — 60 for women, 10 for non-Muslims. The reserved seats were then distributed among other parties, mostly those in the ruling coalition, a decision appealed by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) that was joined by Khan-backed independents to claim their share of reserved seats.
In its review petition, the government noted the issue of granting reserved seats to the PTI was not even in the pleadings of the SIC before the election commission, the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court.
“SIC and PTI are two separate political parties and two separate entities. The Order under Review, it seems has treated them as one party with different names which cannot be permissible under the Law,” the government petition read.
“It is submitted and reiterated here that PTI neither filed any case before the ECP, nor before Peshawar High Court, nor before the Supreme Court, hence it is not entitled to any relief, let alone a relief which was not even pleaded.”
The petition stated that all returned candidates had already joined the SIC and hence there was no question of giving them an option of joining the PTI that too after many months of the election. It was also against Rule 92 (6) of the Election Rules, 2017 which states that once an independent candidate has joined a political party, there is no option to recall or cancel, it added.
“The Order under Review is against the settled principles of interpretation of the Constitution. By carving out a procedure which is not provided under the Constitution, Order under Review might have gone into the realm of creating and not just interpreting the Constitution which is against the long standing jurisprudence of this Honourable Court,” the petition read.
The government requested the top court to accept the review petition for hearing and stay implementation of its order declaring the PTI eligible for reserved parliamentary seats.
All candidates from Khan’s PTI party were forced to contest the February polls as independents after the party was stripped of its election symbol of the cricket bat by the ECP on the technical grounds that it did not hold intra-party elections, a prerequisite for any party to take part in polls.
The PTI is currently entitled to around 78 reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, which does not affect the parliamentary majority of the Sharif-led coalition government.
The July 12 verdict also bolstered political position of Khan’s supporters, whose rallying cry has been that the election commission and a pro-military caretaker government that oversaw the polls indulged in electoral fraud to deprive it of a victory. The ECP denies this.


Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM

Updated 15 July 2024
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Pakistan PM congratulates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on becoming UAE deputy PM

  • Shehbaz Sharif also felicitated Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan on appointment as UAE deputy PM, defense minister
  • The UAE is Pakistan’s third-largest trading partner after China and US as well as home to more than a million Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday extended his felicitations to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on his appointment as deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai, announced the appointment of Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah as deputy PM as part of the UAE government amendments on Sunday.
He also announced the joining of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in the UAE government as deputy prime minister and minister of defense in the UAE cabinet.
In his message on X, Sharif also extended his congratulations to Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan on his appointment.
“Wishing them both success in their new endeavors & looking forward to further strengthening of our bilateral ties & deepening cooperation between our two brotherly nations,” the Pakistan prime minister said.

The UAE is Pakistan’s third-largest trading partner after China and the United States as well as home to more than a million Pakistani expatriates and the second-largest source of remittances to Pakistan after Saudi Arabia. It is also one of Pakistan’s closest allies and has frequently bailed out the South Asian country.
Policymakers in Pakistan also consider the Gulf state an optimal export destination due to its geographical proximity, which minimizes transportation and freight costs while facilitating commercial transactions.


Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM

Updated 44 min 45 sec ago
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Top Imran Khan aide says party deliberating no-trust motion against Pakistani PM

  • The announcement comes hours after PM Shehbaz Sharif’s government said it was seeking to ban Khan’s party
  • Pakistan has been witnessing renewed political wrangling after court rulings in favor of Khan and his PTI party

ISLAMABAD: Asad Qaiser, a close aide of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan, on Monday said their Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was deliberating upon a no-confidence motion against Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif in parliament, in what appeared to be a tit-for-tat move in response to the government’s announcement of seeking a ban against the PTI.
Information Minister Attaullah Tarar announced the government had decided to file a high treason case against Khan and pursue a case to ban his party, unleashing a new challenge for the embattled PTI and its jailed leader.
The government’s decision followed a Supreme Court ruling that Khan’s PTI party was eligible for more than 20 extra reserved seats in parliament, which has mounted pressure on the weak coalition led by Sharif.
“We will see and contemplate if we want to bring a no-confidence motion against them or not,” Qaiser, a former National Assembly speaker, said in televised comments. “We will deliberate on that.”
Citing the increase in number of seats, Qaiser said the PTI would fight the government in parliament, clarifying that the PTI was a peaceful political party that believed in the rule of law and the constitution.
Separately, PTI leader Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari responded to Tarar’s announcement and said all cases against the PTI and ex-PM Khan were “politically motivated.”
“This is a sign of panic as they [federal government] have realized the courts can’t be threatened and put under pressure,” Bukhari said in a statement shared with reporters.
“I have been saying for a while now that we are under a soft martial law and this move only proves our point further.”

Khan’s PTI party says it has been facing a crackdown and mass arrest of members for standing by Khan, who has been in jail since August last year. Pakistani authorities deny the allegations.
Among four cases in which Khan was convicted, two have been suspended by courts and he has been acquitted in the others, though new cases have since been brought against him.
Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are motivated to keep him out of politics and behind bars. Authorities deny this.