July 2, 2013

The Real News - Pakistan's Energy Crisis: "They've pushed us back into the stone ages"

"The power crisis is not restricted to Pakistan, rather it is being faced by the whole South Asian region, but unfortunately it is outplayed by media. Loadshedding is done in the whole of India and Bangladesh but we seldom hear any cry from their media." - By Sadia Zafar Baig, "With huge resources, Pakistan can overcome power crisis," The Express Tribune, February 13, 2012.

An excerpt from, "When the Lights Go Out" by Huma Yusuf (New York Times, June 29, 2012):
There are several reasons for this crisis: soaring demand, inadequate power generation, obsolete and inefficient distribution systems, rampant electricity theft and, above all, mismanagement at the highest levels. For years, the government has failed to pay electricity providers, creating huge debts that continue to grow as a result of rising interest rates and ongoing electricity purchases. This problem of so-called circular debt is increasingly quoted as evidence of the incompetence and venality of Pakistan’s civilian politicians.

Many criticize the government’s decision last week to name Raja Pervez Ashraf, a former energy minister, as the new prime minister following the ouster of Yousaf Raza Gilani. The timing of the appointment seemed callous: Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, was being rocked by power riots, and Ashraf is known for having mismanaged the power sector as minister and is accused of receiving kickbacks from several so-called rental power projects, easily installed, stopgap efforts that at best address only short-term energy needs. Yet even he has had to acknowledge that the power crisis is now the biggest challenge facing Pakistan.

While Pakistanis complain about loadshedding — the local term for power cuts — the international community is fretting about homegrown terrorism and mounting political instability in Pakistan. And rightly so, I suppose. But security threats and power plays are increasingly irrelevant to ordinary Pakistanis who struggle to get through a day without electricity. As Aziz Khan, a factory worker in Karachi’s Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, puts it, “Things may be happening out there, but without electricity I can’t switch on the radio or TV, so I don’t know about them.”
Pakistan's Energy Crisis: "They've pushed us back into the stone ages." Source: The Real News. Date Published: July 2, 2013. Description:
A severe and worsening shortage of electricity and gas has been crippling the economy and destroying livelihoods for years, but what will it take to get the lights back on?