In a bizarre statement defending the decision to close markets at 8.30 pm, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that birth rates will go down in the country if the markets are shut early.

This comes against the backdrop of Pakistan’s energy crisis that forced the government to come up with a plan that could reduce energy consumption in the country.

In response to a question regarding the early shutdown of markets, Defence Minister said, “You will notice birth rate drops if markets are shut at 8 PM.”

Azhar Mashwani shared the video clip on his Twitter handle with a caption in Urdu that read “The New Economic Policy.”

Asif’s bizarre theory has gone viral on social media with netizens unable to understand what the minister meant.

The defence minister along with other ministers held a press conference to announce the decision taken by the cabinet.

Announcing the plan, Asif said, “The Cabinet, on the recommendation of the power division, has allowed enforcing the energy-saving plan which will be applied to the entire country.”

Under the plan, markets and malls will close at 8.30 pm, and wedding halls will close at 10 pm. In addition, the use of inefficient appliances will be banned, which is expected to save the country around Rs 62 billion ($273.4 million) annually. 

The Cabinet meeting, which approved the plan, was held without the use of any electricity. The government will also halt the production of electricity-powered fans and increase import duties on “inefficient” fans, and will ban the manufacturing of 120-130 watt fans within the country starting on July 1. All government institutions will be required to install efficient devices to save electricity.

Pakistan’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 24.5% in December, a significant increase from the 12.3% recorded in the same period last year, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The inflation rate was higher than the ministry of finance’s expectations, which ranged from 21% to 23%.

Experts attribute the rise in inflation to a number of factors, including the impact of higher international commodity prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, damage to crops due to devastating floods in the country, and rupee depreciation.

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