Thursday August 11, 2022

Darkness ensues

By Editorial Board
June 30, 2022

Prolonged and unannounced loadshedding in Karachi on Monday turned the ‘city of lights’ into a city of darkness. It also led to huge protests across the city. Per reports, police personnel used violence to disperse protesters who were demanding at least some rationalization in power cuts. Mauripur Road witnessed a brutal baton charge when the residents of Lyari came out on the streets to vent their anger at unprecedented loadshedding in their areas. A woman reportedly died due to police action. Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon has said that K-Electric is only interested in making money off the people of Karachi rather than investing and improving the system. That may be all well and good but the Sindh government too needs to act rather than just giving statements in this regard. The country’s largest city – its business hub – cannot afford such an energy crisis.

Unfortunately, announced and unannounced loadshedding continues all over the country and is not just restricted to Karachi. At a time when temperatures have soared across the country, we are witnessing an increase in loadshedding. The government at the centre, meanwhile, looks disturbingly unprepared. From claims of ending loadshedding in May to restricting it to two hours in June to now saying July is when the nightmare will end, the government’s promises have fallen flat on its face. The reasons given by the government for the energy crisis is water shortage in dams, coal price hike and LNG shortage. Waiting for the monsoon rains seems to be the main strategy the government is looking at for now. At the moment, Pakistan is making about 5,000MW from dams, which will go up to 9,500MW in the middle of July. Coal is also being imported by the government and is apparently going to bring some relief to the energy sector – even though prices will increase as a result. A plan to import coal from Afghanistan is underway, and the government is also looking at renewable energy so that the cost of power generation comes down. These measures will hopefully ease some pressure.

When the PTI took over, it complained of excessive electricity but did not increase distribution capacity, which was the need of the hour. Due to mismanagement and not signing long-term contracts of LNG, the energy sector suffered. Politicizing Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s LNG deal with Qatar was another vendetta-based misstep. However, all this does nothing to take away from the fact that now it is the responsibility of the current government to deal with the mess we are facing at the moment. It is criminal that in this unprecedented heat due to climate change, Pakistan faces hours and hours of loadshedding. Something has got to give; this country should not be destined to live in darkness.