Outage Leaves 140 Million Pakistanis Without Power

Jan 25, 2015 at 12:09 PM ET

As much as 80 percent of Pakistan went dark Sunday due to a major power failure in Karachi, the nation’s largest city. Abid Sher Ali, the minister of state for water and power, told Express News that the outage, which reportedly left 140 million people without electricity, began with a terror attack on transmission lines.

In Karachi alone, approximately 10 million people spent the night in a city lit only by car lights, candles and whatever illumination batteries and private generators could supply.

On Sunday afternoon, K-Electric, the power supplier, tweeted that things were back to normal:

It also tweeted an infographic offering an explanation of what happened:

The Baloch Republican Army (BRA), a nationalist militant group claiming to represent the Baloch people in Pakistan, took responsibility on Sunday for the bombing of two transmission lines in the Notal area of the Naseerabad district of the Balochistan province. The BRA is noted for staging ambushes against the Pakistan Army in its efforts to carve out an independent homeland in Balochistan province, the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces. The Baloch are an Iranian people who speak the Balochi language living in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

The attack caused a cascading effect at around midnight on Sunday, resulting in an imbalance in the national electricity transmission lines that eventually took down power in the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as Islamabad, the country’s capital.

Jerry-rigged and terribly outdated, the power system in Pakistan often sees wide-scale disruptions. This marks the fourth major power outage in the past month, and the country experienced a blackout of similar proportions in 2013. Pakistan’s power grid is unstable due to simple local economics: Despite the nation’s massive population and power usage (both legal and illegal), most citizens still can’t afford utility costs, leaving electricity companies with high demand but without the capital needed for infrastructure upgrades.