Islamabad - As countrywide mass protests against rolling blackouts continued on the third day of Ramazan, the electricity supply is expected to get better from today after the first pre-monsoon rain.

Despite ministry assurance of minimising loadshedding on Saturday, the country continued to experience one of the worst blackouts on Sunday.

After every one hour, the power shuts down for one hour, and this cycle continues during Sehr, Iftaar and Taraweeh, besides unannounced loadshedding, said Bahawalpur resident Kashif Khan.

The Punjab government while inaugurating Qauid-i Azam Solar Park, near Bahawalpur in Mepco region, claimed recently that 100MW solar energy supply would minimise loadshedding in the area, but since the beginning of Ramazan the loadshedding duration has instead increased up to 12 hours in urban areas, while the power is supplied for only few hours in rural areas. According to rural area residents the electricity was provided for a very short span of time during last 24 hours.

On Saturday evening the power supply was suspended after dust storm, it resumed at 11am and after some time the lights went off again, said Tahir Niaz, a resident of Toba Tek Singh. The supply resumed again came at 5pm on Sunday, he added.

Protesting long hours of unannounced and forced loadshedding, the residents not only came out on streets in different parts of the country but also showed their reaction on social media. # Bijli Do Ya Go Nawaz Go is a popular hashtag on social media along with dozens of such other slogans. Users also posted TV recordings on loadshedding issue and resultant protests against up to 18 hours of outages in Peshawar and other areas of KP.

User Sumaria Jamil tweeted on Sunday, "Moto of Nawaz and Abid Sher Ali, no power plant, Only Hair Transplant". Most of the other tweets cannot be reproduced due to their derogatory language. The users have used all their imagination and art skills while criticising State Minister Abid Sher.

In criticising the state minister, who wrote series of Quranic verses on his twitter and Facebook profiles in an apparent attempt to avoid the public wrath, journalists also vent out their frustration on his pages. Journalist Gharidah Farooqi in her tweet said, "Just as they deceive public with their promises, so did Abid Sher Ali, for (GFG Tonight) on loadshedding issue. According to her, the state minister did not come on her TV show, on loadshedding issue, despite making promise.

Things are not in black and white; journalists should understand the issues and accordingly frame their questions, but here, most of the journalists, ask questions like laymen, said one of the top officials of water and power ministry. He said the power crisis was inherited to present government and due to political challenges and instability during last whole year, incumbent administration was unable to concentrate on solving electricity problem.

It is the same perception about journalists in the ministry that Abid Sher Ali recently through his media officer, Muhammad Ismail, made list of journalists who report about them "positively". “We have figured out journalists who are more interested in development news rather than making controversial news, in future we would only call those positive journalists who acknowledge our achievements, an official said, adding, the state minister and Federal Minister Khawaja Asif has also been advised to not participate in TV shows, until this holy month is over.

The official further said that weather played a major role in worsening the present power crisis. The mercury shot to historical highs, making this summer one of the hottest in the history. Referring to the minister's pre-Ramazan press conference, an official said that either the minister made some claims in ‘flow’ (thoughtlessly) or he was unaware that a heat wave is going to hit the country in coming days, or media reported it wrongly; anyhow, (the false promises made in) the conference triggered mass protests.

Other officials sources also pointed out that those tall claims of Abid Sher Ali played major role in intensifying public anger. According to officials, the heat wave has badly affected many cities of the country, as temperatures soared higher than 49 degrees in Sibi and Larkana, which resulted in tremendous increase in the demand of electricity that crossed 21,000MW.

In an apparent gimmickry of digits the ministry issued a demand and supply data on Friday showing the deficit of around 1,300MW for domestic consumers during sehar and Iftaar, but the actual shortfall, according to NTDC sources, crossed 5,000MW since first day of Ramazan. They said average generation was around 15,000MW, whereas demand was more than 21,000MW.

Despite issuing wrong data, the media team of water and power ministry on Saturday again claimed that the situation was under control. "All electricity lines damaged by heavy rainstorm yesterday evening in different areas of the country have been fully restored and there was no forced loadshedding on any feeder across the country throughout the day", claimed a handout from the office of Water and Power Secretary Younis Dhaga.

“The system today is generating an average of 15,400 MW while at peak time reached up to 16,000MW.” It further stated that the secretary along with other officials has been continuously monitoring the situation. Regular video and internet link conference is conducted between the ministry and the distribution companies.

"There are 637,435 transformers at the distribution system across the country, excluding Karachi which is being operated by K-Electric. There may be localised faults or damage for which continuous efforts are being made to attend complaints within shortest time frame", the handout said.

According to officials, Secretary Younis Dhaga is in hot waters. Both Minister Khawaja Asif, who is also having Defence portfolio, and State Minister Abid Sher Ali has held secretary responsible for the ongoing crisis. It was, according to sources, due to the feedback of Abid and Asif that prime minister met with Dhaga the other day and admonished him. According to sources, the situation is almost same as happened last year when Nargis Sethi was the secretary and it seems like Younis Dhaga would share the fate of Ms Sethi. Sethi was reportedly told to submit resignation over failure to curtail loadshedding and prevent excessive billing.

The secretary’s office however denied this impression and said that Dhaga is having a smooth working relationship with federal minister and state minister. The meeting with PM was a routine issue and it was wrong that Dhaga was reprimanded by the PM, Dhaga’s office said.

The officials were hopeful that the pre-monsoon rains predicted to fall next week by meteorological department would bring down the electricity demand, which resultantly would reduce loadshedding and bring it to at least to the level of announced levels of outages.