May 17, 2011

Balochistan: Government Electricity Is For The Rich

In Balochistan, 12 towns and cities not linked to the national grid will cease to have electricity from the 20th of May 2011.


Below is an article published by: Dawn.

TWO reports published in this paper yesterday offer insight into the mindset of Pakistan`s ruling elite. The new federal budget is expected to include an “uninterrupted electricity supply tariff” scheme which involves providing power to consumers, particularly industries, as long as they are willing to pay higher than normal rates.

Meanwhile, in Balochistan 12 towns and cities not linked to the national grid will cease to have electricity from May 20. The Quetta Electric Supply Company has announced that the power stations currently supplying electricity to these areas will have to cease operations because Qesco cannot arrange for the oil to run them.

A senior Qesco official said that the organisation is in a serious financial crisis because the provincial government has not paid it dues amounting to Rs1.15bn.

With the country in the grip of power shortages that may be a reality of life for many years, the administration has responded to the pressure of the ruling elite whose business and industrial outputs are slowing down.

Meanwhile, the poor, who have no leverage even with their elected representatives, are left in the dark. Obscene though the idea of providing only the rich with electricity may seem, we should not be surprised. Already, safety is available mainly to those who can afford private security. The common man is left to the dubious ministrations of a corrupt and inefficient police system. Access to healthcare, safe drinking water and adequate dietary needs is available only to those with the ability to pay.

In January, Unicef likened the levels of hunger and malnutrition in Sindh to Chad.

Time and again, successive administrations have demonstrated that the rich are their main priority. Consider, for example, how much attention has been paid to expanding the road networks and creating signal-free corridors in major towns and cities, rather than focusing on public transport systems.

The government likes to boast about its democratic nature, but it needs to be reminded that the system is meaningless unless it is for the people. Until ordinary Pakistanis become the first concern of elected representatives, the former will remain unconvinced of the virtues of democracy.