Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just how bad are Pakistan's power grid problems?

This bad: The government has ordered civil servants to stop wearing socks. The weird order goes hand in hand with another edict that forbids government offices from turning on their air-conditioners. That makes things so unbearably hot that the workers are barred from wearing shoes and socks lest they be tempted to reach for the AC. Instead, bare feet in sandals or moccasins are required. If it sounds like desperation, that's because it is. Even in major cities, electricity goes down for 10 hours a day and it's not hard to imagine all the disastrous ways that ripples through society — at hospitals, morgues, factories that can't run their equipment, etc. All kinds of factors are at play, but a surprisingly simple one is that most Pakistanis will not pay their bills. That includes everyone from rich politicians to police departments to slum dwellers. Incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised during his campaign to reform the system, but whether he has the political ability to do so remains an open question.

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