Asia

Pakistan works on power blackout after 'rebel attack'

Pakistani motorists drive on an unlit street during a power cut in Karachi on 25 January, 2015 Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Major streets were left unlit

Officials have pledged to restore power to all parts of Pakistan following a rebel attack which left 80% of the country without electricity.

A blast, reportedly carried out by separatists in south-western Balochistan province, damaged a line connected to the national grid.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry into Pakistan's worst blackout for two years.

The government said electricity would be fully restored by Monday evening.

It is still not clear how the attack managed to affect the country's entire power supply. The prime minister ordered the Ministry of Water and Power on Monday to report back on the incident within 48 hours.

Within minutes of the attack on Saturday night the majority of Pakistan's power plants tripped, leaving only around 600MW of electricity available from the more than 9,000MW that was being generated at the time, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.

Two transmission towers were blown up in the Notal area of Naseerabad in Balochistan just before midnight on Saturday, according to Pakistan's Express Tribune.

Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali apologised for the blackout, and blamed rebels in the state.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Power is expected to be fully restored on Monday evening

Separatists in the province believe locals do not receive a fair share of the region's vast energy and mineral wealth.

The rebels have attacked Pakistan's power lines three times since 13 January, an official at the water and power ministry told reporters, but this latest attack succeeded in tripping the national grid.

"A comprehensive system should be put in place to prevent such happenings in the future," Federal Minister for Water and Power Development Khawaja Asif told reporters on Monday, adding that the status quo would soon be restored.

The country is already in the grip of a major fuel crisis, which prompted Prime Minister Sharif to pull out of last week's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

Ministers blame a huge surge in demand for national shortages, but critics say they have been caused by government incompetence.

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