Power Politics: The Violence of Energy Insecurity

Posted on April 16, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Law & Justice, Society
30 Comments
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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. Rehmat Yazdani says:

    There is no eneregy or water conservation strategy in Pakistan or if there is any then i have not seen that being implemented. I am living in Australia these days and here all the markets follow 9:00-5:00 schedule ( i guess this is the normal schedule in all developed countries) — Why can’t government of Pakistan adopt such a strategy — i remeber in Pakistan shops are open till 10:00 / 11:00 pm — besides i guess if industries are asked to operate at night then that way electricity load could also be balanced. But what to do with ‘ electricity theft ‘ and corruption in the power sector ??

  2. readinglord says:

    Just see those plump faces of the fat cats of WAPDA and the lean and hungry faces of the protesters. The WAPDA is no doubt the most corrupt organization of the Pakiland which is sucking the blood of the people by abusing the distribution of power which instead of being developed by this, so called, Power Development Authority is becoming scares day by day. Nawaz Sharif had during his previous regime tried to set it right by employing army but that also made the situation worse. The present regime does not seem to realize the urgency of the situation at all and is making long term promises replete with chanting of the mantra of Inshaallah like their predecessors. So the position seems to be hopeless, Inshaallah, Mashaallah, we seem to be heading towards the Stone Age with only grass to eat as Atta (flour) is also becoming scarce.

  3. Rizwan Elahi says:

    Life all over is tough these days USA is hitting 4 dollars per gallon for GAS ( petrol). Give the present Government a chance to prove people. Yes do the protest but do not hurt your own country by burning it.

  4. libertarian says:

    Tina: Regardless of how this energy crisis works out, people cannot waste power on things like personal air conditioning any more. This is true for every country. Energy should be spent on manufacturing and lighting and other definite needs.

    Hmmm … the European approach. “Reduce, downsize, conserve, live like a hermit, live like the ancestors (the cavemen were carbon-neutral!) … public transport, better architecture …”. Also known as problem avoidance. Better to solve the *%$%# problem in our generation, than to avoid it and pass “gift” it to our kids.

  5. Great article on this energy insecurity violence! Thank you for the research.

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