Journal : Global Times (Chinese) Date : Author : Special correspondents in Pakistan Ding Xuezhen and Hu Hao Page No. : NA
Reuters reported on the 10th that a nationwide blackout occurred late at night on the 9th in Pakistan, and most parts of the country fell into total darkness. After the staff rushed to repair, on the 10th, power supply in various parts of Pakistan gradually restored. Pakistani government officials said that the power outage was caused by a fault in the power transmission system. Outsiders believe that a power grid problem in one place has caused a nationwide power collapse, indicating that Pakistan’s domestic energy infrastructure is still quite weak.

Reuters said that late at night on January 9, a large-scale power breakdown occurred across Pakistan. All major cities in the country, including the capital Islamabad, Karachi, the largest city, and Lahore, the second largest city, fell into darkness. A spokesman for the Ministry of Energy of Pakistan stated on the 10th that the Gudu Power Plant in Sindh, southern part of the country, failed at around 11:40 pm on the 9th, causing the high-voltage transmission line to trip and trigger a blackout. Pakistan’s Energy Minister Omar Ayub explained on social media on the 10th: “A circuit failure damaged the country’s power transmission system…causing the power plant to shut down.” He said that the power sector staff are working on repairs day and night. , And strive to restore power supply across the country as soon as possible.

Domestic power supply was gradually restored on the 10th. Ayub said that the national power supply system is currently relatively stable, and power supply had been restored in the main cities, but it will take several hours to restore power supply in the rest of the country. Agence France-Presse stated that the blackout was not the first nationwide blackout in Pakistan. In January 2015, power supply to 80% of the country was interrupted for at least a few hours. Judging from the scope of the blackout, it  will be the largest since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The power outage caused the factory to temporarily shut down, seriously disrupting people’s lives, and causing the Internet connection rate in Pakistan to plummet to about 60%. In fact, power outages are quite common in Pakistan. According to the “Huan Qiu Shi Bao” reporter, the duration of power outages in the past two years has been significantly shortened to about half an hour each time, and locals have basically gotten used to it.

Despite this, rumors have spread on the country’s Internet. There are rumors that the power outage was caused by India’s attack on Pakistan’s power plants. For this reason, the Pakistani and Indian armies were fully mobilized, the Air Force placed on a state of alert as if war was about to begin. In this regard, Pakistani government officials had to come forward to refute the rumors and call on the people to remain calm and patient, stay at home and wait for the government’s announcement, instead of falling prey to panic and confusion due to the rumors.

The British “Guardian” stated that due to the underdeveloped economy, the power system of this country with a population of more than 210 million has become a complex and fragile network. Pakistan’s domestic power generation capacity is backward, relying heavily on imported oil and gas for power generation. This has led to excessively high costs, and the backward energy infrastructure has led to a serious shortage of power supply. As a result of power shortage and power curtailment, industrial production cannot guarantee basic efficiency. During the peak of summer power consumption, some cities have power outages for up to 12 hours  day, and rural areas for 16-18 hours, resulting in frequent protests. Moreover, the country’s power grid is underdeveloped, transmission losses are too large and rampant power theft causes loss of nearly 25% of the total power supply.

This large-scale power outage also reflects the fact that the country’s power supply installations and line equipment also lag behind, and a grid problem in one place may lead to a nationwide power collapse. For a long time in the past, insufficient power supply had become an important bottleneck restricting Pakistan’s economic development and business environment. At the end of 2017, Pakistani Energy Minister Lagali said that with the vigorous construction of power generation equipment, Pakistan’s power supply and demand changed from a loss to a surplus that year. From then on, the country saw an end the era of “blackouts” and was able to even cope with peak summer power consumption. However, a lot of effort is still needed to improve the current infrastructure situation.

A related report from the World Bank pointed out that Pakistan’s infrastructure sector is seriously underfunded and highly dependent on foreign aid and financing, and its infrastructure level is still in the middle and lower levels in South Asia, with the economy relatively underdeveloped. The Ministry of Energy of Pakistan stated that it will strive to improve the efficiency of coal power and the proportion of clean energy, especially to mobilize and tap the huge potential of hydropower, and invest efforts to gradually improve power grid equipment, replace old transmission lines and strengthen the connectivity of the country’s power grid with other neighboring countries. China has played a huge role in the process of increasing power generation capacity and improving infrastructure equipment in Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor provides a strong guarantee for the country’s energy construction.

Pakistan’s “Daily Times” stated that China is supporting Pakistan in the construction of about 20 power projects with a total value of more than US$20 billion. In the next five years, China will also support Pakistan to build four new hydropower projects with a total investment of US$7.5 billion. As of the end of 2020, the coal-fired power station in Port Qasim, Pakistan invested by the China Power Construction Corporation has an annual power generation capacity of 8.894 billion kWh, setting a new record for the annual power generation since the project was put into operation. Power generation ranks first in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor power energy projects. Pakistani officials said that although Pakistan’s electricity supply capacity continues to grow and excess electricity is being generated, the demand for electricity in the developing areas is also increasing sharply. “It is necessary to continue improving the power supply capacity and other energy sources”.

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