Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari called an emergency meeting of key ministers after power blackouts triggered violent protests in some cities.
The president “has canceled all his engagements scheduled for today and has called an urgent meeting on the issue of power shortage in the country,” his media office said in a statement today. The ministers of power, petroleum and finance will attend the meeting, according to the statement.
The gap between power demand and supply surged to a record 7,500 megawatts today, the Geo television channel reported, broadcasting footage of demonstrations in several cities in the country’s largest province, Punjab. The region is the stronghold of Zardari’s chief rival, Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan has been beset by energy shortages for the last four years, blackouts that have cut economic growth and closed factories. The power deficit and damage to the cotton crop from floods last year may restrict the country’s growth to 3.6 percent in the year ending June, according to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank.
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