A breakdown in Pakistan’s national power grid plunged the country of 212 million people into darkness on Saturday night, sparking rumors about the possibility of some defense-related movement or Martial Law in the country.
This is Pakistan‘s most widespread power shutdown in the country since 2015.
“A countrywide blackout has been caused by a sudden plunge in the frequency in the power transmission system,” Pakistan’s Power Minister Omar Ayub Khan said on Twitter. He asked people across the country to remain calm.
In a statement, the Ministry of Energy said that, according to an initial report, there had been a fault at the Guddu Thermal Power Plant in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, which had caused power plants across the country to shut down.
Rumors About Blackout
Before the government could inform the people about the reason for the blackout, people took to social media to float their thoughts about the possible causes for the massive power breakdown.
Some suggested that the blackout was being carried out for hiding the movement of nuclear assets or some other military assets.
The atmosphere created in the region, by India’s unilateral actions in the disputed area of Kashmir and border skirmishes between India and China, lend credence to this otherwise far-fetched theory.
In a society largely devoid of scientific thinking, many are ready to easily buy such rumors as they do not know that a power outage cannot help hide any major defense movement from the satellites armed with infrared cameras.
According to an other conspiracy theory, the blackout was aimed at cutting communications to effect a Martial Law in the country.
This rumor had a good reason to get traction as it is in people’s living memory that a power and communication blackout was carried out when the army took over control of the country by dethroning Nawaz Sharif government in 1999.
But the fact that people were able to communicate through internet and phone during the blackout dented this theory.
The rumors started to fizzle out when the government official took to Twitter to tell the reason for the breakdown was a technical fault in the national power transmission system.
Scenes During Blackout
Power breakdowns and load shedding are not uncommon in Pakistan and most major hospitals, airports and other institutions have their own generators. A large number of Pakistani homes have UPS systems that can supply power for 2-4 hours. Many citizens also have petrol-run generators at homes.
In Karachi, witnesses reported seeing long queues at gas stations as people rushed to buy petrol for their home generators, which had been running overnight.
“There are long lines outside petrol pumps in the city, cars are queuing as people buy fuel for their back up generators. I was in the line, people have been waiting for hours with petrol cans in hand,” said Akbar Saifi, a resident in Karachi.
Abdullah Khan, spokesperson of PIA, the main airline of Pakistan said that all flight operations remain functional despite the power outage.” All major airports in the country have back up generators,” he said.
Resumption of Supply
The power officials started restarting the power plants one after another, starting resumption of supply from the capital, Islamabad.
At 6:44 am local time on Sunday, the Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan tweeted that power had been restored to major parts of the capital city of Islamabad.
Power was also restored in Lahore, the capital of the most populous province of Punjab, by 10am. Supply was also being restored to the remaining parts of the country at the time of filing of this report.