Oil crisis: PM Nawaz Sharif skips Davos trip

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Oil crisis: PM Nawaz Sharif skips Davos trip

Imran Khan’s party threatens to launch anti-govt protests over fuel shortage

By (Agencies)

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Published: Sat 24 Jan 2015, 12:19 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:57 PM

Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cancelled his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos to deal with a severe petrol shortage at home, officials and state media said on Thursday.

State media said Sharif cancelled the visit “in view of the prevailing domestic situation” and had convened a high-level meeting in Islamabad to review petrol supplies.

The fuel crisis began last week when Pakistan State Oil was forced to slash imports because banks refused to extend any more credit to the government-owned business, which supplies 80 per cent of the country’s oil.

The situation has eased slightly, but queues of vehicles were still seen at filling stations in Islamabad and other parts of the country, particularly central Punjab province.

A spokesman for Sharif confirmed to AFP in a short text message that the “Prime minister has cancelled his trip” to Davos.

Sharif has suspended five top officials over the crisis, which has seen buses taken off the roads and angry scuffles at petrol stations, with tempers fraying as people waited in long queues for fuel. Some filling stations were forced to close.

Anger is growing over the shortage amongst Pakistanis — who already have to deal with chronic power cuts that can see them struggle without electricity for 12 hours a day or more — at a time of a global glut in oil supplies.

Solving Pakistan’s energy crisis was a key campaign pledge for Sharif in the run-up to the 2013 general election, and the shortage is heaping fresh pressure on his government.

A spokesperson for opposition leader Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party has said it was planning nationwide protests over the petrol crisis.

Meanwhile, the supply of petrol has been normalised in the country to a large extent after the immediate measures taken by the government. According to Pakistan State Oil sources supply situation in the Punjab province has improved with the arrival of 50,000 tonnes of petrol.

Another vessel carrying 50,000 tonnes of fuel will reach Karachi Port on Saturday that will further ease the situation.

There is no shortage of petrol in Sindh and other parts of the country now. Earlier Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had directed all ministries to ensure a smooth and consistent supply of petrol to all parts of the country under every circumstance.

The PM while chairing a high level meeting to review demand and supply of petrol for the next two months said that strict action would be taken against all those responsible for creating hardships for the people.

He directed the departments concerned to inform the public about the supply situation through media to dispel any impression of shortage.

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