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Power Politics: The Violence of Energy Insecurity

Posted on April 16, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Law & Justice, Society
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Adil Najam

These pictures from the Associated Press are truly astounding (story in Dawn).

Riots over energy power cuts in Multan, PakistanRiots over energy power cuts in Multan, PakistanRiots over energy power cuts in Multan, PakistanRiots over energy power cuts in Multan, Pakistan



Crowds rioted in Multan – the home city of the new Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani – in protest of the massive power cuts because of the growing energy crisis in Pakistan. The office of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) were ransacked. A dozen cars and buses were set afire. Stones were thrown. A bank was torched. At least 13 people were injured.

The angry man with the gun in the red shirt that you see in the first picture is senior WAPDA official, Mohammad Ishtiaq, opening areal (hawaii) fire to disperse the crowd after about 10 WAPDA workers were injured. In the last picture you see an unidentified WAPDA official grabbing hold of one of the protesters.

This is the “power” politics at its very worst. The real face of energy insecurity. When life is made miserable, anger spills on the streets and so does blood. The senselessness of the violence is only compounded by the senselessness of the energy crisis that triggered the violence. And it is not even summer yet. It promises to be a summer of even greater discontent.

30 comments posted

Comment Pages: [4] 3 2 1 » Show All

  1. Khayam Riaz says:
    December 23rd, 2011 2:47 pm

    ahhhh !!! how cruel we are………..
    GOD never gives his good to those who are not good with themselves………!!!!

  2. Syed Ahmad says:
    May 22nd, 2008 10:09 pm

    On my recent visit to pakistan i have interesting chat (gup shup) with a very passionate senior pakistani official about stifling electric problem according to him pakistan has not built a single power generating plant during Mushraf military regime and solution to current electric shortage is sindh river he states we can built hydro power plant on sindh river every 10 miles and that will not only cure the problem but even give us surplus electric. I can’t imagine if the solution is that simple why WAPDA or govt don’t act on it. Then i thought this solution may be a top secret so here I’m telling all concern pakistanis this is might be the silver bullet .

  3. Fahim says:
    April 17th, 2008 6:21 pm

    Well power shotage now has itsa own website.

    Check out:
    http://energyshortage.org/

    And there is hope for another energy source in the future, although I would prefer use of wind (almost 50% of Spain uses it) and the sun (although solar tech is still expensive for a poor country like Pakistan to go into-though may be not for
    its deep pocketed citizens.

    See:
    http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5hxb_irh6IUuxH0-MOPefCmwGLTGA

    Canadian, Japanese team make breakthrough on vast potential energy source

  4. Ayaz Siddiqui says:
    April 17th, 2008 11:00 am

    News Break

    The $7 billion will be used by WAPDA to purchase sophisticated weapons to curb terrorism

  5. Tina says:
    April 17th, 2008 9:12 am

    The news this morning is that 7 billion dollars will be directed to Pakistan from the US for fighting terrorism. Sounds like it might more usefully given for building power plants. Someone mentioned that Shaukat Aziz does not seem interested. Of course he is not interested in electricity and food supplies–he is too busy bragging about how he can seduce in any woman in under two minutes.

    I was on the fence about Musharaff until very recently. Now I definitely think he needs to go–him and all the other high rankers in the government. They are only serving themselves. Now they are getting 7 billion dollars to mismanage spectacularly. Let some other people get a crack at doing a better job with these funds.

  6. -Farid says:
    April 17th, 2008 7:23 am

    I wonder how many of the writers were sitting in an air-conditioned space while they wrote about conservation of electricity…..

    I’m all for avoiding waste.

    But this demand-management thinking has to be coupled with some supply-side thinking as well.

    Pakistan is going to need a heck of a lot more electricity. That’s an unavoidable reality.

    The more we develop, the more we will need it. The more GDP / capita goes up the more people will be able to afford A/Cs. And why shouldn’t they ? Why should air-conditioning remain a privilege for the “babus ” only ?

    The power shortage is Pakistan is a huge business opportunity. Nothing more, nothing less.

    What we need is a good power policy, which would attract investment and competition in this sector. There is money to be made here while simultaneously solving the problem.

Comment Pages: [4] 3 2 1 » Show All



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