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Why is Pakistan cutting power to households, industry?

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As Pakistan struggles to procure fuel from the spot market, the country is cutting electricity to households and industry. According to reports, the cash-strapped country can no longer afford to buy coal or natural gas from overseas to fuel its power plants as prices of liquefied natural gas and coal surged last month amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war which further exacerbated supply shortfalls. A report by news agency Bloomberg suggests that Pakistan isn’t able to spend more on additional shipments after its energy costs more than doubled in nine months ending February from a year earlier.

Energy crisis in Pakistan

According to a Twitter post by Miftah Ismail – the current finance minister of the South Asian country selected by new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif following the ouster of Imran Khan from the top post – about 3,500 megawatts worth of power capacity had been shut due to the fuel shortages as of April 13. A similar amount is offline due to technical faults, he said. The more than 7,000 megawatts represent almost a fifth of the total generation capacity, according to Tahir Abbas, the head of research at Arif Habib Ltd. in Karachi.

Also read | Shehbaz Sharif writes to PM Modi, seeks peaceful ties between India and Pakistan

Electricity crunch

Pakistan is highly dependent on energy imports. The electricity crunch is complicating the already tough economic challenge for Sharif — who has yet to appoint an energy minister.

Pakistan’s long-term LNG suppliers cancelled several shipments scheduled for delivery over the last few months, further tightening supplies. The nation released a tender on Sunday to procure six LNG cargoes from the spot market, but that could end up costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars if fully awarded.

“Pakistan’s situation will not change in the near term since global dynamics are still the same,” said Samiullah Tariq, head of research at Pakistan Kuwait Investment Co. “There have been forced outages to deal with the energy shortages.”

Also read | Pakistan extends time for transportation of Indian humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

Pakistanis forced to pray in darkness amid Ramzan

Amid load sheddings, reports of people in Karachi being forced to perform Ramzan prayers in sheer darkness have emerged. News agency ANI citing ARY News had reported that affected areas of Karachi included Korangi, Landhi, Railway Colony, Nusrat Bhutto Colony, Khawaja Ajmair Nagri, Paposh Nagar, Liaquat Market, Malir, Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block-2, Korangi Sector 30, 31 among others.

(With inputs from ANI, Bloomberg)

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