Almost all of Pakistan, which has a population of over 200 million people, was plagued with power outages on early Sunday morning. It has been deemed one of the biggest blackouts to hit the Asian country — if not the world — in history.
According to The Hindu, though reasons for the incident are still being determined, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat tweeted that the National Transmission Despatch Company’s (NTDC) lines had tripped, causing the massive outage.
“It will take sometime before everything gets back to normal,” he claimed.
Power Minister Omar Ayub also shed light on the matter, adding that the “frequency in the power distribution system suddenly dropped from 50 to 0 which caused the blackout.”
“We are trying to ascertain what caused the drop in frequency,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, a Power Division spokesperson for the NTDC assured citizens that teams were currently working to understand what caused the incident. Though power was restored to Islamabad, the nation’s capital city, much of the country remained without power and without a timeframe of when it would be restored.
Initial reports had suggested that the outage was due to an issue at a power station in the southern Sindh Province that managed to affect the entire national system. In addition to Islamabad, several major cities including Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta were all stranded without power — including their vital resources such as airports and hospitals.
While authorities have maintained that the outage was caused by faulty technology, many citizens have expressed their anger that the disruption was likely spurred by the ongoing issues of electrical “theft” that have plagued the country.
“Pakistan’s local media have pointed to the widespread theft of electricity as illegal power connections proliferate. There have been allegations that some electricity company officials have colluded with consumers to set up connections linked straight to power transmission lines rather than going through a meter,” explained The Financial Times.
Analysts have also claimed that around one-third of the national electrical output is lost during transmission or due to “discrepancies in the billing system.”
Pakistan has often suffered from outages due to both issues with infrastructure and attacks on its grid. The former was witnessed both last January and in May 2018, which left several major regions without electricity. In 2015, Baluch separatists attacked a transmission line that managed to inflict so much damage that around 80 percent of citizens were left without electricity.
Electricity and cyber-related issues have been viewed as a potent weapon of war in the future. In fact, Sen. Mitt Romney has warned that Russia could potentially disrupt the United States’ food supply in the future, per The Inquisitr.