Published On: Thu, May 11th, 2017

No light at the end of tunnel

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The holy month of Ramazan is just round the corner and the summer looking to be a long and cruel one, we are already getting a preview of the loadshedding in store.

Loadshedding was a dominant factor in the victory of the PML-N in 2013 and now it fears it will be the cause of its downfall in 2018. This is why its scrambling to blame everyone else but itself for what is a failure of policy and implementation. In the end, it is the         people who will continue to suffer as the government continues to deal with the power sector with the futility of Sisyphus.

In most of the country, there are more than 12 hours of power outages every day and yet the government seems to be in denial about the scale of the problem. Speaking in the National Assembly, Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif said there would be no more unannounced loadshedding this week, which hardly helps matters since scheduled outages are already so lengthy.

He also took to Twitter         this past Sunday       to state that demand has been reduced recently, although that is entirely due to unexpected rains over the last few weeks.

Relying on continued rains is hardly a sound power policy. No matter how often the government claims that an end to loadshedding is just around the corner, there seems to be no conceivable way to achieve this. Even if many of the power projects initiated under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor were to come on-line, we have done nothing to overhaul our infrastructure to reduce transmission losses and are still unable to pay independent power producers. Any solutions the government has are only short-term and meant to buttress its support for next year’s general elections.

In fact, for political parties the fight over loadshedding seems to be only about politics and not providing an essential service to the public. The PPP has led a series of protests in Sindh against the centre over the unceasing loadshedding. This came after Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah threatened to cut off the gas supply from Sindh should the province not be given more gas. Khawaja Asif fought back by claiming Sindh has the highest default rate in electricity bills and that the government would not provide electricity to those who do not pay for it.

The allegation was a bit rich coming from the government, which itself has contributed to the circular debt by defaulting massively on its dues. And the PML-N, whether at the centre or in Punjab, has done very little to clamp down on power defaulters either.

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