Pakistan’s nationwide electricity breakdown caused panic, economic crisis questions, and security concerns.
On Monday, Pakistan experienced a nationwide electricity breakdown as an energy-saving measure by the government backfired. This incident left many people without drinking water, schools, hospitals, factories, and shops without power in the midst of harsh winter weather. The outage was reminiscent of a massive blackout in January 2021.
Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir explained that electricity usage typically goes down overnight during winter, and as an economic measure, the government temporarily shut down power generation systems. However, when engineers tried to turn the systems back on, a “fluctuation in voltage” was observed, forcing them to shut down the power grid stations one by one. Dastagir reported that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif had ordered a probe into the outage, and that he was hopeful that the supply of electricity would be fully restored within the next 12 hours.
In response to the outage, authorities deployed additional police at markets around the country to provide security, while in major cities such as Lahore, a closing notice was posted on the Orange Line metro stations. Backup generators kicked in at many places and key businesses and institutions, including hospitals and military and government facilities. Internet-access advocacy group NetBlocks.org reported a significant decline in internet access in Pakistan that was attributed to the power outage.
Pakistan is currently grappling with one of the country’s worst economic crisis in recent years amid dwindling foreign exchange reserves. This has compelled the government to order shopping malls and markets closed by 8:30 p.m. to conserve energy, and talks are underway with the International Monetary Fund to soften some conditions on Pakistan’s $6 billion bailout.
The nationwide electricity breakdown in Pakistan has been a cause for alarm, raising questions about the cash-strapped government’s handling of the country’s economic crisis. While authorities are working to restore power across the country, the incident has highlighted the need for greater investment in renewable energy sources, such as solar and nuclear power, in order to ensure a more reliable and sustainable energy supply.