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Pakistan Orders Malls and Businesses Closed to Conserve Electricity

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Pakistan Orders Malls and Businesses Closed to Conserve Electricity

As economic hardship plagues Pakistan its government ordered shopping malls and markets to close by 8:30 p.m. as part of a new energy saving plan aimed at alleviating the country’s economic crisis.

The move comes amid talks with the International Monetary Fund to ease some of the conditions on Pakistan’s $6 billion bailout, which the government believes will cause inflation to rise further.

Pakistan Power Minister Ghultam Dastghir announced on Tuesday that the government has decided to close establishments early as part of the Cabinet-approved new energy conservation plan. Wedding halls and restaurants were also ordered to close at 10 p.m.

The measures are intended to save energy and reduce the cost of imported oil, which Pakistan spends $3 billion on each year and is used to generate the majority of the countries electricity.

Shopping mall, restaurant, and shop owners’ representatives want the government to reverse its decision.

Business leaders say the new measures will harm their businesses, which suffered during the pandemic due to government-imposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The IMF released the final crucial tranche of $1.1 billion to the cash-strapped country in August, but talks have since stalled.

Last summer’s devastating floods caused up to $40 billion in damages, making it difficult for the government to meet some of the IMF’s conditions, such as increases in gas and electricity prices and new taxes.

Also on Wednesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar slammed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, accusing him of “raising a false alarm” by claiming the country might default on its foreign debt obligations.

Khan was deposed in an April 2021 no-confidence vote in parliament. Dar stated that Pakistan has been “brought back from the brink of default” under the new government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

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The country has also seen an increase in militant violence since November, when the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, unilaterally ended a months-long cease-fire with the government.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan attempted to reassure the nation that security forces are combating the TTP threat while also attempting to bring the militant group to the negotiating table. He stated that the Pakistani Taliban would have to first lay down their arms.

The TTP claimed responsibility for the killing of two intelligence officers in a gun attack outside a building in the eastern Punjab province the day before on Wednesday. The Pakistani Taliban are distinct from, but allied with, the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan last year after U.S. and NATO troops withdrew after 20 years of conflict.

Pakistan is at Risk Of Defaulting this Year

Pakistan is at Risk Of Defaulting this Year

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