On Monday, a massive power outage occurred across Pakistan, leaving almost 220 million people without electricity. This disruption threatens to cause chaos in the country, which is already facing fuel shortages during the winter months.
The Ministry of Energy issued a statement saying that the National Grid went down at 7:34 a.m. local time, and that initial reports indicate it caused a widespread failure in the power system. However, the ministry also mentioned that efforts are underway to restore power, noting that a limited number of grids in the capital, Islamabad, and the city of Peshawar have already had their electricity restored.
At this time, it is uncertain how long the power outage will last. Efforts are currently being made to bring electricity back to different regions of the country.
This outage is an additional problem for Pakistan’s already struggling economy, which faces multiple challenges, including a severe energy crisis.
Recently, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed all federal departments to decrease their energy consumption by 30%. Also, his government ordered all markets to close by 8:30 p.m. and restaurants by 10 p.m.
The decision to decrease energy consumption was made as Pakistan revealed that its foreign exchange reserves have reached dangerously low levels. According to the central bank, in December, the total liquid foreign exchange reserves were $11.7 billion, which is half the amount it held at the beginning of 2020. Monday’s power outage is the most extensive power shutdown in Pakistan since 2021, when the country experienced a blackout for several hours due to a sudden drop in the frequency of the power transmission system.