This year has proven the worst in Pakistan’s history of power supply to civilians. Rural areas have seen up to 20 hours of power cuts daily and even big cities suffered up to 16 hours a day. For an average citizen, life has become miserable solely because of the power crisis. In scorching heat, they toil to bring food to their children and provide them some comfort. But the power crisis makes sure the layman stays miles away from comfort. Now if one looks at the reasons behind power shortage, various parties keep blaming one another for “their” failures. Focus a little on where the available power is going and you learn that the crisis is not that serious, or even real, for everyone.
As reported by sources close to the industrial sector in Hayatabad, Peshawar, the pharmaceutical and ice factories operating in the industrial sector do not suffer the paralyzing 14-hour power cuts daily; nor do they get the more moderate 8-hour of “electric powerlessness” a day. These small factories are provided electricity 21 hours daily with only 3 hours of no-power time in 24 hours. One source even tells that factory staff tell people that they pay the water and power officials a good deal of money on monthly basis to ensure them steady supply of power through the day and night. It is important to note that besides factories, this sector includes residences of many of these factories’ staff and they use air conditioners daily to counter the hot and humid weather of the city.
But the industrial sector is not the only one to benefit from plenty of power supply amidst an otherwise madding uproar surrounding the power crisis. The government offices, training academies, and other facilities where they train the bureaucracy still have air conditionings for most of the staff and under-training officers. Academia and clerical staff at many educational institutions also enjoy air conditioning facilities, besides having large generators to run fans and computers, and at some of these offices, staff members stay a lot longer after office time so as to enjoy the state-sponsored weather that is enjoyable as against the killing heat outside. There are instructions to limit AC use by the government, but everybody knows what happened to the instructions of “no-smoking in public offices”.
In stark contrast stands the miserable condition of the masses, the huge lower socio-economic class rots from 8 to 16 hours of power cuts daily. They have to work in non-air-conditioned places in the day and return exhausted to their houses at night, only to find themselves sleepless because the fans overhead won’t turn due to power shortage. On the first of each month, however, they will find that the electric company has charged them for electricity units they never consumed and they will have to take the electricity bills to the concerned office for correction. The problem with these poor people is that they are poor and they don’t serve the government in high positions acquired by all the underhand methods that are more a rule than exception in this country.
There is a power crisis in Pakistan, and a debilitating one. But it is not the same for everyone. As George Orwell wrote, All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Pakistan is a good example of such a land where the government serves all people, but some are “served” in the real sense than the rest.