Blackmailed in to extinction

What on earth is the government playing at now? Load shedding, across the Punjab at least, has doubled over recent days and, in the middle of winter with its short day light hours, life is increasingly miserable for the majority with, for most, the issue of low gas pressure or no gas at all, adding to the mess.
No elected government ever keeps to its pre-election manifesto but, it must be said, the current one really takes the cake and, now that the honeymoon is well and truly over, the proffered cake is not only stale but dangerously mouldy too boot!
Remember the promises of how load shedding would soon be a thing of the past and how yes, it so very briefly was when the government decided to try and impress the populace by making a payment in to its ever escalating circular debt?
Remember how truly wonderful it was to be able to live in the light, to be able to get your work done and to relax without the permanent spectre of the dark descending suddenly and unannounced and at the most inopportune moments?
Yes. We all remember that wonderful span of time – regrettably brief as it was – with dream-like pleasure and how we, except for Karachi-ites one understands, are paying for it now and paying to the point of being potentially blackmailed in to accepting power in any shape and form, no matter how lethally dangerous that power source may be.
There is no getting away from the fact that life – not just work – now, on the whole, revolves around the availability of electrical power to keep production up and running, to keep computers buzzing, cell phones ringing and so on right down the line: Neither is there any escape from the fact that load shedding cannot be brought to a complete end, once and for all and forever, overnight but come on government, pull your socks up, rattle your brain cells - if such things exist – open your eyes, unplug your ears and do something positive about resolving the power crisis rather than trying to force the population to swallow the oft told lies that both nuclear power and coal fired power stations are safe, cheap, reliable solutions when we are all – or should be – perfectly well aware of this great un-truth.
People may have forgotten about the American Three Mile Island nuclear ‘accident’ back in 1973, may even find it hard to recall the Russian Chernobyl meltdown disaster of 1986 but the Japanese Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, begun so very recently and continuing to poison the people, the earth, the sea, the planet as a whole should, surely, jolt some sense in to even the thickest of heads but no – not in to the heads of our short sighted government who is happy to hand over billions of dollars to China for being granted the ludicrous position of ‘nuclear guineapig’. I mean – Hey! Hang on a minute guys…..just how much do you expect the people, those you are supposedly responsible for and to, to take?
Claims that existing Pakistani nuclear reactors – KANNUP-1 supplied by Canada, operational since the end of 1972 but ‘out of order’ for over 70% of the time would only supply perhaps 6% of Karachi’s current needs if it worked 100% being the most well known example – are completely safe are, as any thinking person knows, absolute rubbish and to allow, the deal is already done unfortunately, the Chinese to construct two more of the damn things, huge ones this time, right there on the Karachi coastline is, no matter which way one looks at it, asking for trouble: Especially so as these two massive 1000MW nuclear plants are of completely untried, untested design. These two ACP-1000 to be followed by two more elsewhere in Pakistan which is, no doubt about it, prone to natural calamities of a monstrous nature along with ‘hits’ by saboteurs of many kinds – think Baluchistan and gas pipeline for example. Think ‘suicide bomber’ if you are one for horror movies of the most shockingly frightening kind. Think ‘blind stupidity’ if you dare to care about the fate of this already fast-fading nation and then ask yourself – and the government – why?
Locating nuclear power stations, let alone ones of untried design, in a mega-city like Karachi is sheer lunacy in action: If – or more likely when – something goes wrong, natural or manmade, Karachi with its millions of people living with on on-shore breeze, would be radiated out of existence, the windborne radiation working its way northwards all the way in to neighbouring Afghanistan for one and while Pakistan may not be very happy about the perceived problems emitting from its northern neighbour, radiating them out of existence in the wake of your own demise is certainly not the answer.
The incredibly vast amount of money, in excess of $10 billion, to be paid over to China for these twin Karachi follies alone, is not the answer to Pakistan’s power problems and this money – ‘your’ money don’t forget – would be far better spent on first of all clearing the circular debt completely so that load shedding becomes almost, not fully, a thing of the dim and distant past, with the remainder and whatever else it takes, being utilized to develop, as fast as possible and certainly much quicker than constructing dangerous experimental nuclear disasters, on an array of sustainable, inter-linked, alternative energy solutions which will harm neither beast nor man.

n    The writer has authored two books titled The Gun Tree:  One Woman’s War, The Parwan Wind - Dust Motes and lives
    in Bhurban.

The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban.

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