You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming – Pablo Neruda

Overcharged invoicing for unsupplied gas

Due to gas loadshedding, Karachi's natural gas users have already been suffering, and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has made matters worse by sending them inflated bills. Despite the fact that they don't have a consistent gas supply at home, this is the case. Burning the candles at both ends is definitely given new significance by the SSGC. We had very little gas supply from the SSGC in March, and it was intermittent. We were forced to arrange for a gas cylinder as a result, and we had to have it filled twice. Yet despite the 190 units consumed, we were charged Rs 7,140. The cost per person was Rs107 in February and Rs264 in March, an increase of over 2.5 times. We brought the issue to the SSGC office in Kala Board, Malir, but nothing came of it. Despite almost going the entire month without petrol, the bill was astronomically high. We were told by SSGC representatives that our only choice was to pay the amount. They just provided an installment plan to 'facilitate' the payment as a solace. The difference between 173 and 190 was merely 17 units. How is it possible that the two bills have a difference of Rs4,250? Any gas or electricity bill must include a picture of the metre that displays the consumption. Fuel costs of Rs4,138, metre rent of Rs500, GST of Rs835, and adjustment costs of Rs1,674 totaled Rs7,140 in March. And when did the metre rent increase from Rs. 40 to Rs. 500? We have also been paying all of our bills on time, so why are these alleged "adjustment charges" being imposed? How is it possible that the GST can change so significantly in just one month? None of these queries could be answered by SSGC representatives. They were only able to 'facilitate' the payment by using an installment plan. From our experience, it seems there is nobody to hold SSGC accountable for its actions, and it is owing to this immunity that the utility service seems to be charging exorbitant amounts from its customers without any fear at all.

Mehar Bano,

It's time to support women in politics

Despite much bluster, women's freedom to participate in politics in Pakistan has generally been restricted and neglected. Yes, we were the first country in the entire Muslim world to have a female head of state, a fact that not even the United States has been able to claim. But that wasn't the norm; it was the exception. Many women are denied the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to free and equal participation in decision-making and governance, although making up more than half of the population. Due to a number of cultural constraints and patriarchal views, they are unable to exercise their right to vote, run for office, or engage in wider political processes. The truth is that women's baseline voting participation in elections is still exceedingly low, especially in rural areas of the nation. According to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) survey, just 18.2 percent of women voted in the 2018 general elections, compared to 32.6% of men. Even though women make up more than 50% of Pakistan's electorate, this is still the case.

The low involvement of women in elections, particularly in rural Pakistan, is caused by a number of factors. The first problem is that rural women do not understand the importance of voting or their rights. Second, out of worry for the male family members, many women are hesitant to express their disagreement with their ideas and beliefs. The government must act decisively to ease the process for women voters to register to vote and cast ballots. This can be done by providing free transportation to polling places, providing assistance and educational programmes for all voters, and placing polling places in easily accessible areas. In order for women to freely exercise their democratic right, the government must also do everything in its power to reform the cultural norms that forbid them from engaging in politics and the election process.

Hamid Khan,