People have taken to the streets in Pakistan to protest the surge in energy prices, petrol prices and the cost of living. The cost of electricity has more than doubled in the last three months for households in Pakistan. 

Cities including Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi have recently seen people setting fire to energy bills and blocking roads, and protests have turned violent in certain areas.  

Pakistan is experiencing political and economic turmoil, with inflation reaching record-high rates of 36.4%, mainly driven by food prices. 

An employee from utility company K-Electric, which generates and distributes power for the city of Karachi, was attacked by a mob last week during protests. 

Over the weekend, shops and markets across Pakistan were forced to close amid the ongoing protests. 

Last April, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed following a vote of no confidence. In 2022, the country also experienced extreme flooding, affecting 33 million people

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According to the current Energy Minister, Muhammad Ali, fuel prices are rising following a deal that Khan’s government made with the International Monetary Fund to raise prices as a condition of securing a $3bn (Rs911.49bn) loan to avoid defaulting on foreign debt in July. 

“The soaring dollar rate and increase in global petroleum prices have meant that petroleum products are costing Pakistan much more,” he told the Guardian. 

“In turn, they must be sold at the same high rate, which has led to a rise in electricity rates since the power was partly generated from expensive imported fuel. This had to, unfortunately, be passed on to the consumers,” he added. 

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, organisers of the Pakistani alliance of “small and landless farmers”, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek, encouraged low-income communities to protest the government. 

Provincial coordinator Fayyaz Khan called for higher taxation on landlords and people owning more than 150 acres of land. He added that poverty in Pakistan has become a vicious cycle for those in the lowest socioeconomic groups due to floored governmental policy. 

The caretaker government, put in place following Khan’s dismissal, is also facing a growing capacity payments crisis. Currently, independent power producers, often individuals who install solar panels on rooftops, receive fixed capacity charges, against the interest and exchange rate. 

Ministers held an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday to discuss the payments, which will cost the government Rs2trn next year.