STRAIGHT TALK

The threat of a looming power crisis that the country would be facing in the coming years was raised way back in 1994, when a group of concerned citizens, including Helpline Trust, had filed a Public Interest Litigation against KESC in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Under the instructions of the Supreme Court, regular meetings were held every Saturday and the CEO, Chief Engineer and other senior technical officers of KESC were ordered to attend these meetings and draw up a White Paper, with suggestions on how to manage the power crisis.

A detailed report was prepared by technical experts, giving short and long time recommendations on how to improve power generation, distribution system, prevent power theft, reduce demand for electricity during peak hours, etc.

Some of the short time recommendations to reduce power demand during peak hours were: Complete shutdown of all bill board lights, shopping malls, government buildings, shadi halls, etc., after sunset, 2x10hrs shifts and staggered holidays in industry, etc. The proposal was forwarded to FPCCI and KCCI, but was immediately rejected.

Unfortunately, the government also changed and the PPP government transferred the Supreme Court to Islamabad and we did not have the funds to attend the hearings and all the efforts had gone to waste. If only 30% of our recommendations had been implemented, the country would not be facing the power crisis that it is experiencing now.

Since then, Helpline Trust and other citizens have repeatedly raised this issue at various platforms. Yet, despite the ringing of the alarm bells over the years, no government, civilian or military, has taken this issue seriously.

Instead of taking immediate action to resolve the problem, the present government has just made false and misleading promises to win votes, that it will resolve the issue in three months, which was then revised to one year, then three years and now it seems that there is no light at the end of the dark tunnel.

The Minister for Power and Water has finally admitted that the government has no clue as to when the power crisis will end and has asked the nation to pray for rain, so that our dams fill up and provide energy for the generators.

The Minister, his PM had his Chief Minister had also promised us that there would be no load shedding during Ramadan, especially during Iftar and Sehri, but that has turned out to be misleading and wrong, as their there are daily reports of prolonged power breakdowns from all over the country. 

The voters had voted for the PML-N, on the premise that is government would resolve the power crisis within six months and would fulfill its promise of improving citizens, lives and establishing a just social order, but that has also not been the case.

Instead of introducing good governance and investing in power generation units to improve the output and efficiency of the existing units, the government has been indulging in chasing rainbows and has concentrated on distributing lap-tops, etc.

General Musharraf, in his eight years of governance, had the opportunity to tackle the power crisis and to take positive steps to set up power generation plants and revamp the dilapidated and outdated distribution system.

But instead, his government took the easy way out, by allowing the free importation of Independent Power Plants, without examining the ground realities, allowing this city of lights to plunge into darkness.

Unfortunately, the present government has also been unable to rectify the mess and has also to provide the basic facilities like gas, clean water and decent health and education system to its citizens. Instead of democracy, we have a politics of bullets and fear, as the Karachi Operation Clean- Up, is a total failure.

It has also failed to stop the daily killing of innocent citizens and to bring peace to this bleeding city, nor has it succeeded in protecting the lives and property of the citizens, which is the primary duty of the government under the constitution.

According to a HRCP press release dated 22nd July, ‘Karachi’s deteriorating law and order situation is the result of weak governance, absence of a local government system and the reigning confusion that stems from lack of coordination between the federal and provincial authorities, as well as among the law enforcement agencies’.

‘The law and order situation in the city was so abysmal, that the citizens have ceased to report crimes to the police and have learned to live with the lawlessness, as a fact of life’.

‘In 1995 HRCP had found that the whole city was paying an approximate Rs8 million every day in extortion money. But now in 2014, Rs10 million go to extortionists from one particular area each day’.

At the same time, while addressing a seminar on ‘Pakistan’s energy crisis’,, at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, in Washington,  Musadik Malik, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Energy, stated: ‘The government will forfeit its right to rule if it fails to resolve the energy crisis. It happened to the previous government and it will happen to this government too if we do not end the load-shedding.’

The country had voted for PML-N with ‘Great Expectations’ and with the hope that the government would end the load shedding, as promised, stop the wanton killing of innocent citizens, introduce good governance and end the suffering of the people, by providing them  the basic amenities of life, like clean water and electricity, but that has not been the case.

Were the elections just a means to push AZ and his Merry Men out of their Ivory Tower or was it a serious attempt to introduce Good Governance and improve the quality of life of the citizens is not clear.

The past 13 months of the PML-N government have not been very inspiring and there is already talk of mid-term elections, with Imran Khan and Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri flexing their muscles in the wings.

So, are we going to see another election and a change in government in the coming months and if so, who will win the coveted prize? And even if this government falls, then, who will replace it?

Will the words of Gen. Musharraf, our former military dictator, at the end of his resignation speech: ‘Pakistan Kahuda Hafiz’ – ‘May Allah Protect Pakistan’, come true? And if that happens, then God will truly have to help this nation of the Pak and the Pure from the vultures circling overhead.