Pakistan: Rolling Blackout Leaves 220M Without Power

On Monday, Pakistan suffered a nationwide power outage that left almost 220M people without electricity including the capital city of Islamabad and Peshawar, which have since had a "limited" number of grids restored.

Pakistan: Rolling Blackout Leaves 220M Without Power
Image credit: Fré Sonneveld / Unsplash

Facts

  • On Monday, Pakistan suffered a nationwide power outage that left almost 220M people without electricity including the capital city of Islamabad and Peshawar, which have since had a "limited" number of grids restored.
  • Khurrum Dastgir, Pakistan's Energy Minister, said a large power surge occurred in the grid's southern area, causing a rolling blackout across the country's network. The outage that began on Monday morning was in the process of being resolved.
  • Dastgir told a local TV channel that Pakistan's grid temporarily switches off power generation units to save fuel costs during the winter. However, a surge occurred between Jamshoro and Dadu when the grid was restarted, reportedly resulting in a rolling blackout.
  • Dastgir denied that the widespread blackout was a "major crisis" despite hospitals, schools, and other critical facilities remaining without power for over six hours.
  • Pakistan's complex power network has failed multiple times in recent years. In 2021, a fault in a power facility shuttered the entire network —forcing residents to demand a new grid to replace the antiquated transmission system.
  • Following the energy crisis that began last year, Pakistan's government has sought methods for reducing the use of costly, imported liquefied natural gas including closing markets, malls, and government offices early each day.

Sources: CNN, Reuters, Al Jazeera, Independent, Times of India, and Bloomberg.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Reuters. Pakistan's government understands that the nation is in the turbulent midst of an energy crisis. The government has stepped up its measures to conserve energy and reduce costs. Not only has the government cut back on days in the work week, but they have also devised a complex and comprehensive energy conservation plan. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has increased the country's efforts to conserve energy by 40 percent to make up for the previous administration's shortcomings.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Forbes. Pakistan faces several crises surging from all sides. A financial crunch is colliding with both an energy crisis and the severe impacts of climate change. The country is on the front lines of a climate crisis and rolling blackouts, and repeated flood inundations are just the beginning. Pakistan and its government have become the poster child for what governments should avoid in their preparations for climate resiliency. Until significant investments are made in resilient infrastructure, Pakistan's power grid will continue to be vulnerable to the onslaught of heatwaves, flooding, and cascading blackouts, weather-related or not.