Neighbors and opposition leaders became infuriated after learning that Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf installed 24-hour electricity supply for his Islamabad home. Many claim Ashraf has spent more time upgrading his own lifestyle than helping the country’s economic, security and energy crises.
Pakistan’s new prime minister has started to make good on his promise to end the crippling blackouts that are blighting the country by adding guaranteed supply to his own home.
Engineers have installed a dedicated 24-hour electricity supply to Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s Islamabad home, sparking a wave of anger among neighbors and opposition leaders who say he has spent more time collecting the trappings of office than helping tackle the country’s economic, security and energy crises.
Ashraf was denounced as out of touch with ordinary Pakistanis when it emerged his country residence was to be fitted with a helipad, despite being only 14 miles from Islamabad.
The new prime minister is widely blamed for a power crisis that spiraled out of control during his time as Minister of Power and Water.
It has intensified this summer, with violent protests as families try to cope without electricity for up to 18 hours a day.
However, Ashraf’s Islamabad home received an upgrade soon after he was sworn in as prime minister.
“They came four days ago to install a new power supply for his house,” said a neighbor, pointing out an oversized generator surrounded by freshly-dug trenches for electricity cables.
“Our power still goes off every so often but it looks like the prime minister doesn’t have to suffer like us.”
On Monday, builders were putting the finishing touches to a car park opposite the house. The street, in a smart neighborhood of Islamabad, has also been resurfaced in honor of the city’s newest VVIP.
Siddiq ul Farooq, of the main opposition PML-N party, said Mr Ashraf should only be granted uninterrupted power at his official residence, not at his private home.
“If the prime minister or his staff are responsible for this arrangement an enquiry should be held,” he said.
Ashraf became Pakistan’s prime minister 10 days ago after Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court.
Gilani was found in contempt of court after refusing to write a letter to authorities in Switzerland, asking them to re-open corruption proceedings against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Ashraf has indicated he will also refuse to write the “Swiss Letter” raising the prospect of another change of prime minister or early elections but has promised to ease electricity shortages.
Noone from the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESC) was available to talk to The Daily Telegraph.
However, Rasheed Khattak, superintendent engineer earlier told The Express Tribune newspaper that the installation was carried out without any request from the government or prime minister’s office, and that the facilities would be removed when Mr Ashraf was no longer prime minister.