5:18 pm - Monday June 14, 4421

Power restored to Pakistan PM office in bills crackdown

Power supplies to the Pakistani prime minister’s office have been restored after they were disconnected because of unpaid bills, according to officials.

The electricity and gas were cut off after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered a crackdown against defaulters.

Pak PMOther government buildings including parliament and the PM’s residence were also affected, reports say.

Correspondents say non-payment of bills is a big issue in Pakistan, with millions of dollars outstanding.

Blackouts are nothing new in Pakistan because of chronic power shortages and many people are forced to go without electricity for some 12 hours a day.

‘Positive message’

Gas company officials said the PM’s office had not paid its bill for the past six months, and after repeated reminders they disconnected supplies on Sunday evening.

The residence and office of Mr Sharif was said to be 4.7m rupees ($48,000, £28,000) in arrears on its gas bills, reports Dunya News TV.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in the UK at the time of the power cuts

Mr Sharif promised to fix Pakistan’s energy crisis as part of his 2013 election campaign.

Government buildings were disconnected a week after he ordered a clampdown on customers who defaulted on their payments.

The prime minister was personally unaffected by the cuts, as he was in the UK on an official trip, reports the BBC’s Shumaila Jaffery in Islamabad.

But his staff have been sweating without air conditioning for two days.

Mohiuddin Wani, the PM’s press secretary, told the BBC that the move had sent a positive message that nobody was above the law.

But some have accused the government of a political gimmick, to show that the prime minister is a law-abiding person, our correspondent adds.

The lights were switched back on when the payments started coming in, said Muhammad Ismaeel, spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power.