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Pakistanis living on the brink, and often in the dark


* Industrial executive says no one in Islamabad working on coherent plan to deal with crisis
* Banquet hall owner says new power-saving measures will not last long

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan may be plotting bombings, and the country’s economy is on the brink, but these days the single biggest woe tormenting Pakistanis is as basic as an electric light bulb, according to an article published in the New York Times.

Pakistan is in the throes of an energy crisis, with Pakistanis now enduring about 12 hours of power cuts a day, a gruelling schedule that is melting ice, stopping fans and enraging an already exhausted populace.

In an effort to stem that frustration, Islamabad held an emergency meeting last week, bringing together top bureaucrats from across the country. But instead of easing the problem, it aggravated it, ordering power-saving measures that seemed calculated to smother some Pakistanis’ last remaining pleasures.

“They are playing a joke on us,” said Amina Ali, the mother of a bride at a wedding hall that was under orders to close early as part of the new energy-saving restrictions. Her brother chimed in, “The Pakistani people are a toy in the hands of the government.”

Integrated plan: “There is nobody in Islamabad who is working on a coherent, integrated plan,” said one industry executive. “The discussion just keeps going in circles,” he added.

Which was why it seemed particularly galling when the government ordered stores to be shut at prime shopping time, 8pm, and wedding halls to be closed by 10pm, NY Times reported.

“Should we just sit at home in the darkness and go to sleep?” sputtered Ms Ali, waiting outside the Mughal-e-Azam banquet hall, whose owners had been warned the night before that it should be closed by 10pm. One of the owners, Moazzam Ilyas, was nervously trying to coax the event along, even though at 9:45pm, the groom had still not arrived.

When the groom finally arrived at the marriage hall, it was after 10pm, and Ilyas looked distressed. But by 11pm, no one had come to shut the hall down. A basic truth about Pakistan had been revealed.

Pakistani way: “It will be like this for 10 days, and after that will go back to the way it was,” Ilyas said. “This is the Pakistani way.”

The restrictions look menacing, but few believe they will last. Follow-through has never been Pakistan’s strong point, and the power-saving measures seems unlikely to be an exception, NY Times reported.

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