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 responses to “Power Politics: The Violence of Energy Insecurity”

  1. MQ says:

    One of the repeated slogans of Q-league government during the election was this song on TV:

    “Des ka pahiya chalta hai yeh chalta jaye ga…”

    I think we should bring back Shaukat Aziz & Co. to explain to the nation keh yeh pahiya bijli kay baghair kaisay chalay ga?

  2. Aadil says:

    This is what I commented on another blog a moment ago;

    “Look at the wisdom (read nonsense) of the authorities at PCB who are organising YET ANOTHER FLOODLIGHT CRICKET MATCH and that too in Multan where we are seeing the loadshedding hit citizens burning the Mepco offices and beating the wapda officials. Organising day night cricket matches means we’ve got an abundance of the electricity resources that can be used for mere recreational acitivities.

    We’re the real unfortunate lot to be represented by such morons..”

  3. Aqil Sajjad says:

    What’s really upsetting about this power crisis is that we had once reached an ‘energy surpluss’ and it marks a serious regression.
    The energy, wheat, sugar, and looming financial crisis (due to our huge trade deficit) have become symbols of gross mismanagement and incompetence on part of the Musharraf regime.

  4. ATP Friends & Adil,

    I agree it promises to be a summer of discontent galore. That said I believe the power crisis can be resolved if the new government deals with the issue on a war footing and IT MUST if we want a nation at ease with itself.

    However the acts of violence in Multan and elsewhere still trouble me for I think as a nation we are as a collective on the edge thanks to the uncertainity regarding the judges restoration, Musharraf and so on.

    Hence my appeal for calm is still relevant today, see it below and heed the message guys, lets put water on this fire:

    http://www.otherpakistan.org/an-appeal-for-calm.ht ml



  5. The energy crisis has enveloped the whole country why then such violative protests in Multan, an otherwise a traditionally peaceful city? More intriguing is the fact that the historical city has its linkage to our newly installed prime minister! The man with a gun may be a wapda man but who were, the many others, gun wielding ‘protestors’ as shown in yesterday’ Dawn?

    Nonetheless, it goes without saying that our successive government have always failed in making advance planning for the future. Everything has been destroyed under political expediency and a stage has come when all of us see crisis after crisis.

    Let’s hope some serious thinking, on issues as these, from the people at the helm, this time around.

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