The Electricity Conundrum in Pakistan

It was 2006 when I bought my first UPS. It was a basic model 700 VA thingy with a 12 V, 100 AHC battery attached to it. It was good enough contraption to power my small house with three bulbs and a fan. That was the time load-shedding had reared its ugly head. I needed the power to put my small family at ease during those long hours of darkness. This happened in Kashmir. Then things became worse in 2008 when I moved to Lahore. There was eight to twelve hours of unannounced load shedding in the provincial capital, in those days. No UPS could work in such circumstances as the darned devices need electricity to charge the battery first and then use that juice. I couldn’t afford a generator and so a solution had to be found. It came in the shape of Hyperstar at Fortress Lahore, where I would go along with my family to kill those long hours of boredom. Off course one couldn’t go there daily, but we did go there at least two days a week as the place was centrally air conditioned backed by huge generators.

Since then UPS has been am important part of my household inventory. Then technology improved and imported machines hit the market. These were efficient and dependable compared to the local stuff. But since then and till now, the electricity shortfall in Pakistan has never been met. At least three governments have completed their tenures since then, each promising to take the country to moon and back if voted to the parliament, only to be ditched later and made an ass and a half. The problem has now exacerbated where bare as well as haired face liars have promised the people to rid of the menace if given the chance. The poor, unsuspecting and helpless people have again and again voted the same shameless people to power albeit with different faces only to be kicked in the teeth and ditched. A dam that was promised somewhere in Gilgit-Baltistan is still a hundred years away if at all. Numerous power schemes, rental ones, gas fired, fuel fired and what not were launched at exorbitant prices only to fail in a few days after launch and thus fall short of the target. Raja Rental and et al, enjoyed the show, fame and publicity and as usual the nation was left wanting. #@@$%& to all those responsible.

A scientist of renowned fame promised to convert Thar coal to electricity but wasn’t given the funds. Solar and wind schemes were launched with little or no effect. Dams were put aside for God knows whatever reasons. The came new Government which promised to end the crisis in 6 months, another Tsunami express promised 300 plus small dams, the nation suffered, while the big wigs enjoyed in their cozy offices and homes, backed by generators running on fuel. As if fuel was selling for cheap or we had huge reserves of it. Babus enjoyed the show, politicians made a fast buck, powerful men stayed in their comfortable chairs doing nothing, the nation suffered, industry was worst hit, lives were affected. But the people suffered, they suffered in silence as if condemned to it from a higher being, they learned to live with it. Newer ideas were launched each more bizarre and unworkable than the previous, some as absurd as giving free energy saver lamps to the public, others wanting shops to be closed at night, some suggesting absurd austerity measures that could never be adopted. Since a decade or more the shops and markets have worked on generators. As if it makes sense to generate their own electricity, with hindsight I can say someone very powerful doesn’t want Dams built so that the nation keeps buying more fuel to keep itself powered up.

Now the new election period is coming, and along with it summers, the load shedding ghost has reared its ugly head again. Those with money have bought new UPS, batteries, generators and the affluent ones have installed solar powered systems. But there is no end to the load shedding and off course the Government is silent about it. The new PM has taken a ride on F16, and so the nation has again been taken for a ride, yet another time. No one talks of a dam. Those responsible have failed to deliver. It is chaos all around. Neighbors are busy building dams and there’s infighting going on within the country. More than half the country is willing to leave it and relocate to anyplace that promises basic facilities and amenities. Needless to say the young generations will suffer more at the hands of corrupt, incompetent and dishonest leaders whose apathy to the issue at hand is deplorable. There seems no light at the end of tunnel.

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