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Monday, July 15, 2024

Power outage in Pakistan: Where is our country heading?

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry into the outage, which began at around 7:30 am and has so far lasted more than 16 hours during the peak winter season. The outage — which Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir had said was due to a voltage surge — is the second major grid failure in three months, and adds to the blackouts that Pakistan's populace suffers on an almost-daily basis.

Most of Pakistan was left without power as .ostensibly, an energy-saving measure by the government backfired. The outage spread panic and raised questions about the cash-strapped government’s handling of the country’s economic crisis.PM Shehbaz Sharif‘s wobbly government tried to explain the failure by hiding behind the rhetoric that it all started when electricity was turned off during low usage hours overnight to conserve fuel across the country, leaving technicians unable to boot up the system all at once after daybreak. The outage was reminiscent of a massive blackout in January 2021, attributed at the time to a technical fault in Pakistan’s power generation and distribution system.

Two major power failures within a period of two years raise questions if these happened solely due to Pakistan’s antiquated, inefficient, and grossly mismanaged power distribution system, or if were there other reasons.

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Were the power failures aimed at rehearsing for something more sinister?

Warfare, during the first quarter of the 21st Century, is transitioning fast from a kinetic to a non-kinetic dimension. Not that the non-kinetic dimension of warfare was missing earlier. However, it is presently becoming the dominant form of fighting between the nations. The hot war will gradually become a corollary to the cold war.

However, the hot war will remain an instrument to achieve the coup de grace- the final blow on the battlefield. In that sense, future wars will end even before they are started. It is in this context that Pakistan’s enemies will launch a military operation only when the state is paralyzed through psychological warfare.   If that is the case, the order of battle between the warring armies will not only include comparative strengths of the contestants and the dispositions of their formations and units, but also the “soft” force, including diplomacy, power to slap military as well as financial sanctions against the adversary, and cyber warfare.

on 11 April 2021, a blackout that seemed to have been caused by a deliberately planned blast hit the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran, causing damage to the electrical distribution grid. The smoking gun was pointed at Israel, The Israeli operation which was code-named “Olympic Games,” was a cyber-attack, disclosed during the Obama administration that disabled nearly 1,000 Uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz. That attack was believed to have set back Iran’s Uranium enrichment activities for many months. Can this happen to Pakistan’s nuclear assets?

There is a strong lobby in the West that presses for seizing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons on the pretext that Pakistan is a highly fragile state. According to the anti-Pakistan lobby comprising the U.S., India, and Israel, Pakistan is an unstable country located at the epicenter of global Jihadism. It is the only Muslim country, out of 50 or so in the world, to have successfully developed nuclear weapons. Hence it would be an obvious place for a Jihadist organization to seek a nuclear weapon or fissile material. This lobby promotes its case on the argument that Pakistan’s central government has serious trouble controlling the many corners of its territory.

Read more: Pakistan in the eye of storm

Sometime in the future, America and Israel may decide, either because of their own calculations or prompting from India, that the nuclear threat from Pakistan is as grave as the Iranian threat. In such an eventuality, America, in concert with Israel and India will take drastic action against Pakistan.

How will such an operation develop?

Pakistan is an urbanized country and its population relies on national networks vulnerable to disruption and manipulation. An EBO will break down Iran’s critical systems, eliminating critical nodes within its electricity, communications, transportation, military, and industrial systems. This will cease all governmental and economic functions in Iran, shutting it off till the regime changes. Simultaneously, the US will arm and actively support ethnic guerrillas (BLA, BRA, TTP, Jiye Sindh, etc.) to turn sections of the country into autonomous zones.

With the destruction of its command and control and apparatus, the government will eventually collapse. Hopefully, for the Americans, the new regime will be more pliant and receptive to the American demand for nuclear deals similar to those America concluded with Gaddafi’s Libya and Kazakhstan. In recent times, nuclear disarmament has taken place only when the countries concerned willingly agreed to give up their weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

However, in Pakistan’s case power is shared by the political government and the Army. The latter is also the Keeper of the Holy Grail – Pakistan’s nuclear assets. Most likely, Pakistan Army would also have learned its lessons from the Gulf Wars and decentralized its command and control structure. It is perhaps, for this reason, Pakistan employs a disproportionately large force (a complete Army corps) to guard its nuclear assets. This again implies that the US forces will be embroiled with Pakistani forces in a widely dispersed ground operation to get hold of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, something the Americans are loathed to do.


Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.