Outages were reported in locations including Karachi, Lahore and capital Islamabad, according to local media reports, and it could take as long as 12 hours to fully restore electricity.
Pakistan is reeling under a severe electricity crisis for many months now. Both urban and rural areas of the country regularly face power outages. Now, latest reports suggest that the worst may yet to come as far as the ongoing electricity crisis is concerned. Significant parts of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi are without power for hours, reported ANI on Monday.
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Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy has issued an official statement saying that the system maintenance work at the national grid is in progress to restore power.
“According to initial reports, the system frequency of the National Grid went down at 7:34 this morning, causing a widespread breakdown in the power system. System maintenance work is progressing rapidly,” read the statement of the Ministry of Energy.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government announced a new energy conservation plan which includes shutting down all markets by 8.30 PM and restaurants by 10 PM.
Wedding halls were also asked to shut down by 10 PM. The cash-strapped country is aiming to save 62 billion Pakistani rupees ($274 million) via this desperate plan to conserve energy.
Pakistan will also introduce energy-efficient fans and bulbs to help save another 38 billion Pakistani rupees. This national energy-conservation programme was launched by Pakistan's Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have dwindled to alarmingly low levels. The country’s central bank stated in December 2022 that Pakistan’s total liquid foreign exchange reserves stood at $11.7 billion.
Pakistan is literally strapped for cash as its foreign exchange reserves now barely cover a month of imports, most of which are for energy purchases.
Moreover, money expected to come in under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme has been delayed, according to an Al Jazeera report.
Pakistan’s fragile economy is struggling with multiple challenges and was hit hard by last year’s devastating floods. The flooding from historic monsoon rains ravaged Pakistan’s vast swathes of cropland and villages.
Intensifying polarisation and heightened political tensions have also taken a toll on its economy since former PM Imran Khan was ousted from power in April 2022.