Pakistan: Record temperatures recorded in March as power cuts spark outrage

heat wave pakistan

Last month saw the hottest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan during the month of March, according to Meteo France meteorologist Etienne Kapikian.  The record was set on March 30, when the temperature in the city of Nawabshah in Sindh soared to 45.5 degrees. On the following day, Mohenjo Daro, also in Sindh, reached the same temperature.  The previous record for the hottest temperature recorded in March was set back in 2010, when the temperature in Mohenjo Daro hit 45 degrees.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) predicted last week that temperatures over the next 3 months would be 2 or 3 degrees higher than usual. In addition, the country is expected to experience below average rainfall during the same period. In an interview with a private TV channel, PMD head Ghulam Rasul warned that the upcoming summer will be particularly intense, and that there a could be water shortage due to the combination of blistering temperatures and low rainfall.

There is increasing concern that Pakistan could experience another deadly heatwave this summer. In June 2015, a heatwave in Sindh took the lives of over 2,000 people. As usual, the government had failed to prepare for the disaster, with the poor and vulnerable left to bear the consequences. Countless elderly and infirm people died from heatstroke and dehydration as a result of official neglect.  

Sindh authorities claim they will be better prepared for the next heatwave.  According to a report in Dawn, the Sindh government has developed a mechanism to alert the public about rising temperatures in advance and provide information on how to stay safe.  The Sindh government also says it will set up cooling stations for vulnerable communities in the event of a heatwave.

With temperatures soaring, power cuts in Karachi and other parts of the country are becoming increasingly unbearable for workers and the poor.

On Wednesday, much of Karachi was without electricity for 10 hours, infuriating residents all over the city.  In Karachi’s Liaquatabad neighborhood, a spontaneous protest erupted in response to the power cuts. The protesters asked the Chief Justice of Pakistan to resolve the matter, demonstrating their lack of faith in elected officials.  Similar protests against power outages had also been held in many parts of Karachi on Saturday, with angry demonstrators blocking roads all over the city.

Power cuts are likely to remain a problem in Karachi during the scorching summer months, according to Sadia Dada, the Director of Communication Strategy at K-Electric, the company that supplies Karachi with its electricity.  K-Electric, which was privatized in 2005, is currently involved in a financial dispute with Sui Southern Gas Company. This dispute, along with the tripping of electricity feeders due to a sudden increase in demand, is responsible for the recent increase in power cuts in Karachi.

The federal government, led by the Pakistan Muslim League (N), has repeatedly claimed to have ended power cuts in the country. But last week, BBC Urdu reported that nearly 40 percent of the country’s electricity feeders are affected by severe power outages, leaving millions of people without electricity for up to 16 hours a day.  The problem is especially acute in rural areas.

As the recent protests in Karachi have shown, the masses are running out of patience.  Should the government fail address the matter, Pakistan may soon witness a “Summer of Rage.”

Ali Mohsin is an independent writer.  He can be reached at [email protected]



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