Pakistan: Mystery shrouds over country-wide power breakdown


By Nasir Aijaz
The AsiaN Representative

ISLAMABAD: The mystery shrouds over the prolonged power breakdown across the country that occurred early Monday morning and continued for over twenty four hours.

The electricity supply went off suddenly and simultaneously at 7.30am on January 23, 2023 in the whole country including capital Islamabad, provincial capitals Karachi (Sindh province), Lahore (Punjab), Queeta (Balochistan), Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunkhaw), Gilgit-Baltistan, and all major cities and towns.

The news of country-wide power breakdown spread on the electronic media as well as social media raising questions if it was a technical fault or the political one. These speculations have appeared in the wake of political turmoil the country is faced with currently.

In the meantime, K – Electric (KE),  the power company in Karachi, clarified that the tripping in the national grid has caused the breakdown in the metropolis.

Although the KE has its own power plants but even then it receives electricity from state-owned Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA) which supplies electricity to the rest of the country through power distribution companies.

The main source of power generation of WAPDA is hydro power plants at Tarbela Dam on Indus River, Mangla Dam power station on Jhehlum River in Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu & Kashmir and some other power houses located at different places in the country.

The country has also solar and wind power plants but not fully utilized while some coal-fired power plants located in Sindh province have started supplying power to the national grid.

According to Federal Water & Power Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan, the tripping of the national grid was due to variations having taken place at the time of switching on the system.

“As the power consumption declines during the winter, the power generation plants are switched off at night, and are switched on in the morning,” he said in a tweet adding that variation occurred when the systems were started on Monday morning.

The federal authorities expected that the technical faults would be rectified soon but later it was announced that the power supply would be restored by 10pm on January 23, which proved just solace as the supply could only be restored at 4am on Tuesday January 24, and that too only for a few hours.

The authorities had claimed that they had restored the power supply to Islamabad within a few hours.

The government had to face severe criticism by the citizens on social media. According to the posts on social media the power breakdown was the result of mismanagement. “The country is rich in resources but poor in management” was one of the comments on social media. Another comment said, “Pakistan is in the re-starting mode’.

The prolonged power breakdown has caused mental agonies to the citizens as well as huge financial losses to the trade and industry and the national economy. This can be judged by the statement of All Pakistan Textile Manufacturers Association that claimed that the textile industry suffered a loss of USD 70 million.

It is pertinent to mention here that several industries, especially the automobile industries are already nonfunctional, as they cannot import the items required for car manufacturing, due to the ban imposed by the government on imports to save foreign exchange reserves.

It may also be mentioned that the trade and industrial sectors were already suffering due to cuts in electricity and gas supplies. Even the residents of smaller towns had to face power cuts of 12 to 15 hours on a daily basis, which has been named here as “load management” and “load shedding”.

The load shedding and power breakdowns have caused acute communication problems as the mobile phone and internet companies’ installations also remain out of order due to power cuts.

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