ISLAMABAD May 20 Pakistan has told civil
servants not to wear socks as the country turns off
air-conditioners amid a chronic power crisis and soaring
The government has turned off all air-conditioning in its
offices as the country endures blackouts of up to 20 hours a day
in some places.
"There shall be no more use of air-conditioners in public
offices till such time that substantial improvement in the
energy situation takes place," a cabinet directive said.
As part of a new dress code, moccasins or sandals must be
worn without socks.
The power shortages have sparked violent protests and
crippled key industries, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs
in a country already beset by high unemployment, a failing
economy, widespread poverty and a Taliban insurgency.
The "load-shedding" means many families cannot pump water,
let alone run air-conditioners, with a disastrous knock-on
effect on health and domestic life.
Frustration over the power cuts contributed to the former
ruling party's poor showing in a May 11 general election.
Two ministers in charge of water and power explained what
can be done to end power cuts in parts of the country enduring
temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius and above - absolutely
nothing, it seems, except raise prices.
Ministers Musadiq Malik and Sohail Wajahat Siddiqui
"expressed their inability to overcome the crisis", the Daily
Times quoted them as telling a news conference in Lahore, where
the temperature was 40 C (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday.
"They have termed financial constraints as a major, and
incompetence as a minor, hurdle in resolving the issue," the
"Presenting the realistic picture, the ministers announced
that they were going to increase the price of electricity and
gas for all sectors."
They gave no details but said the problem would get worse
before it gets better.
About two-thirds of Pakistan's energy is generated by oil
and gas and there are widespread gas shortages, with cars run by
CNG, compressed natural gas, queuing up for hours overnight to
fill their tanks.
(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Robert Birsel)