Protests against high electricity bills in Pakistan have grown after the government refused to slash energy prices without a nod from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
A massive increase in the price of electricity triggered protests across major cities last week, with people burning utility bills, blocking highways and attacking power companies’ offices.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has promised relief, but on Tuesday, his cabinet said slashing the bills would jeopardise a massive IMF loan.
The global lender had put Pakistan under tough conditions to end energy subsidies and meet revenue targets for a $3bn loan in July aimed at reviving the nuclear-armed nation’s crumbling economy.
The government’s inaction prompted more people to join rallies and protests all over the country, including in the capital Islamabad.
“We are drowned in the flood of inflation. These bills are unbearable. If I pay the bill this month, I can not feed my three kids,” said Noorul Amin, a taxi driver.
Mohamed Karamat, a barber, received a bill of 60,000 Pakistani rupees (around $200) for August, which he said was beyond his means to pay.