Millions of people were without electricity as Pakistan experienced a nationwide power outage on Monday due to a “reduced frequency” in the national grid, according to a statement from the energy ministry.

The power cuts affected all major cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

It may take up to 12 hours to fully restore power, Pakistan’s power minister said .

Pakistan’s electricity distribution system is a complex and delicate web, and a problem in one section of the grid can lead to cascading breakdowns across the country.

The power minister, Khurrum Dastagir, said that a frequency variation was reported in the southern part of the country between the cities of Jamshoro and Dadu and that the systems were shut down one by one, but that it is not a major crisis.

In winter, as the demand for electricity reduces nationwide and as an economic measure, we temporarily close down our power generation systems at night.

“However, when the systems were turned on in the morning today, frequency variation and voltage fluctuation was observed in the south of the country […] somewhere between Dadu and Jamshoro,” power minister Khurrum Dastagir said.

The nation was also hit hard by last year’s global energy crisis as sky-high prices forced Pakistan to drastically curb liquefied natural gas imports, prompting rolling blackouts, fuel rationing and hikes to power costs.

Pakistan recently announced a plan to conserve energy as the country’s economy faces various challenges, including a decrease in foreign exchange reserves.

On January 6, the forex reserves with the State Bank of Pakistan touched the lowest mark of $4.343 billion, which is enough to cover only three weeks of imports. The droo was due to the repayment of $1 billion in commercial loans to two UAE-based banks.

In addition, remittances in July-December 2022 period were recorded at $14.1 billion, which is $1.7 billion less than in the same period last year.

In December, markets and restaurants across Pakistan were ordered to pull down their shutters by 8pm. Wedding halls too were to close by 10pm.

Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif had said that if 20 per cent of the government workforce worked from home on a rotation basis, Rs 56 billion could be saved and coupled with a few steps, the country would be able to save Rs 62 billion. He also said that energy-efficient fans and bulbs would soon be introduced to help save Rs 38 billion and electric bikes would replace traditional motorcycles to reduce the consumption of petrol.

He called on the nation to “normalise” its behavioural patterns as the country was in a “grave economic crisis.”

In October 2022, a significant power outage affected large areas of the country, including cities like Karachi and Lahore, lasting for over 12 hours.

Source: National News Agency