Articles of the year 2010

The Power Crisis
Published on January 16, 2010

The load shedding situation in Pakistan is going from bad to worse, with the water in the dams drying up with no sign of rain. It seems that many power stations are deliberately closed for non-receipt of their dues from the Pakistan government. This also opened the case for importing 'rental plants', another innovative scheme to spend money unnecessarily, at high cost!

It also seems that we have in our Foreign Reserves US $15 billion which is higher than was left by the previous government. This money should be put to use by importing furnace oil for the power plants and diesel for transport and for the power generators. Why must our rulers thrive on the misery of the masses? These shortages it seems are deliberate so that some people could reap huge benefits. The power shortages affect our tube wells in the rural areas, and in the cities as the water supply is timed, if there is no electricity at that time, the water cannot be pumped to the overhead tanks, creating more work and more expense. The suffering of the masses is viewed in all its misery daily on all the talk shows, and the contempt with which the leadership is discussed.

The people have not realised that their misery is not fate but something inflicted on them by the greed of a leadership which insists that corruption is their 'right'. This shocking statement by a sitting federal minister on a TV talk show watched by millions, and then broadcast to the world on 'You Tube' lowered the image of Pakistani politicians even further. The sad part is that the ruling party took no notice or any action against such a blatant violation of political principles that are punishable as criminal acts. There was no explanation or withdrawal by the ruling party lending further credence to the minister's statement of the presence of rampant corruption in our midst.

The minister may have missed the point that his party has chosen not to defend the infamous NRO. He is probably under the delusion that he will be protected under this now non-existent law.

Furthermore, the prime minister should immediately order the import of oil so that the IPPs that are closed can be run on an emergency basis and the owners paid their legitimate dues, and if they still do not cooperate then their plants should be taken over by the government. The stress should be on the priority of bringing power on line. The sugar mills and other industries with in-house power generating capacity in Pakistan should be encouraged to start their generators and the government should purchase this power with an incentive to encourage them to do so. It seems that the minister for power has done enough harm to the people, and he can now be eased out to a position that can cause less damage.

Watching the MNAs in action within the assembly it is becoming increasingly obvious that the wrong people have been voted in. The people that have no feeling for the masses, and have taken this as an opportunity to mint money at the expense of the people. Their ruthless exploitation of their position for their own selfish ends in the name of a so-called democracy is indeed a hollow sham. Far better for the prime minister to cast out these rotten apples. Perhaps, it would be even better to start over again - the rot has spread deep and wide. The minister in 'You Tube' insists that corruption is a worldwide phenomenon. Qu-ite so, but the criminal laws worldwide are also very strict, and no one gets to spend their ill-gotten gains in luxury.

Needless to say, Pakistan is also at a stage that there is zero tolerance for such criminal acts, both in the judiciary and in law.

Successive governments have encouraged the increase of mobile phones throughout Pakistan till we now have 92 million phones in Pakistan - and the number is growing. The cost of the handsets alone is a staggering US $9 billion. They are flaunted as status symbols, and it is not unusual to see someone placing three mobile phones in front of him. Other than an ostentatious and wasteful display of wealth, for it is not practical to run three conversations simultaneously, but it does impress many people and that may just be the idea. The only plus side that comes to mind is the advance in the advertising business in Pakistan, where the ballooning of the TV advertisements is reflected in the quality of TV commercials and the photo-shoots that then improve lighting broadcast - the modelling everything related to the TV screen. Bringing Pakistan at par with our Indian neighbours. This then is our silver lining.