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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Long power shutdown is a signal of a serious crisis

A power crisis takes the country into darkness -what a black start to the new year! Global turmoil, massive internal instability from increased terror attacks, and political discord all bode for a challenging year ahead. Best solution: general elections and a truly democratically elected political government with the support of the masses can opt for long-term policies to bring its economy on the right track.

On 23 January 2023, for over 12 hours, the whole country was in the dark as no electricity was available throughout Pakistan. It was officially reported that it happened due to a technical fault. However, people were in a panic, as no electricity meant no charging of mobile phones, no internet, and life was almost at a standstill.

The global crisis is ongoing, and even advanced countries still face some challenges. However, the developing world is the worst victim, and Pakistan is particularly suffering severely.

However, can we blame it squarely on the global crisis, or is Pakistan also responsible for such problems? It is a country of quarter billion people and not lacking capable, visionary experts in various fields. Experts have been pointing out some of the issues and possible solutions. Still, their recommendations are ignored, and the decision makers are only interested in prolonging their rule depending only on selected blue-eyed persons of their choice.

Much of its internal politics are purely Pakistan’s problem and could have been avoided. The creation of PDM was irrational; 13 political parties with diverse ideologies and diverse interests cannot be kept under one umbrella. Their alliance cannot be sustained for a longer time. The force behind this alliance cannot protect beyond certain limits.

Read more: Foreign hand behind Pakistan’s power outage?

The option of going to the IMF was our own decision, and accepting their conditions was also our right, but politicians compromised national interests and, in competition, to be more loyal to IMF to keep themselves in the ruling seat.

IMF has its agenda and implements it systematically. Devaluation of currency, increase of interest rate, removal of subsidies, the autonomy of State Bank, imposing an additional tax to petrol, electricity, gas, etc. It has resulted in a sharp increase in inflation, price hikes, an increase in the poverty rate, the shutting down of Industry, the downfall of export, and much more.

The state has failed to open L/Cs for import which led to the scarcity of petrol, shortage of medicines, food, etc. Joblessness has increased, and political instability has reached after the economic instability.

IMF has unlimited conditions and has been exercised worldwide. It has harmed the economy of many countries, including Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. Recent demands to Sri Lanka are to cut its army by one-half and one-third to Egypt. If it happened with Pakistan, we might be unable to cut our armed forces as India is a constant threat, especially under PM Modi. His extremist and aggressive policies have forced Pakistan to strengthen its defense. Current geopolitics also demands Pakistan strengthen its security. The situation in Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Middle East, etc., has increased the need for a stronger Army in Pakistan.

Read more: Power outage in Pakistan: Where is our country heading?

Ukraine had vast piles of nuclear weapons and strong capabilities at the time of independence after the disintegration of the former USSR. But, its economy was spoiled by design and pushed to a stage where the US (along with its allies) asked Ukraine to choose between food and nukes. Finally, Ukraine agreed to denuclearization, and financial assistance was granted. As a result, all nukes were shifted out, nuclear capability destroyed, research and production capabilities were rolled back, and Ukraine transformed into a nuclear-free country.

It is a lesson for Pakistan too. We are being pushed to a similar stage and may be asked to choose between Roti and Nukes. Can our armed forces handle such adverse situations?

It is recommended to save Pakistan in time, take action before it reaches an irreversible situation. The decision-makers must act immediately and think smartly about how to rescue it. The nation is resilient and can survive under any circumstances. But taking bold steps in the broader national interests is strongly recommended.

Political stability can be achieved through general elections, and a truly democratically elected political government with the support of the masses can opt for long-term policies to bring its economy on the right track. The country is rich in natural resources and blessed with human resources. It has the potential to revive quickly. Optimism!

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com.