We were all set to start the morning on a light-hearted note, but then we stumbled across this eye-popping (and curiously underreported) Richard Holbrooke quote:
“Karachi, the world’s largest Muslim city, 18 million people, had about four hours of electricity a day during the worst of the summer months. And we want to do things to help address that problem,” he said.
This reminded us of something we once heard Robert D. Kaplan utter about Pakistan, several years prior to the coining of the term “Af-Pak.” In predicting that Pakistan would no longer exist by roughly 2020, Kaplan said that much of the nation’s violence can be traced back to the government’s failure to deliver basic services. Who wouldn’t be inclined to riot, he said, if forced to endure a week’s worth of 110-degree days without electric fans or running water?
Alas, we can’t say we’re optimistic about the future of Karachi’s power grid. The local electricity company is now being run by a private equity firm from Dubai, an outfit that presumably has larger fish to fry back home as the city-state slips into the economic abyss. Meanwhile, the national overseer seems far more interested in fining minor scofflaws than actually improving infrastructure.
Some added perspective on the economic impact of poor electricity delivery here, in an article that notes that power in Pakistan also costs 40 to 60 percent more than in India, China, Turkey, and Bangladesh.