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ISLAMABAD – The government will investigate the involvement of foreign hands in the latest blackout as power supply is yet to be fully restored even after lapse of 40 hours. Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Federal Minister for Power Department Khurram Dastagir said the government suspects that foreign interference, such as hacking of power systems, may be involved in the breakdown, but its possibilities are very rare.
“But if we look at past incidents, we have to rule out this possibility,” the minister added. Khurram Dastagir said the prime minister had constituted a three-member committee to look into the blackout. The committee headed by the Minister of Petroleum Department Dr. Musadik Malik would also investigate any involvement of foreign hands in hacking the country’s power system, he claimed. The committee will submit its report within seven days, the minister added.
It is worth noting here that the whole of Pakistan was plunged into darkness on Monday morning, following a major blackout in the country’s electricity grid. The minister claimed that the electricity system has been restored in most parts of the country on Tuesday at 5.14 am. However, he said there would be a two-day blackout in the next 48 hours as the nuclear plants required 48-72 hours to start up, supplying electricity to the system. Likewise, the synchronization of coal-fired power plants took about 48 hours, he added.
He, however, said that one unit of each Sahiwal and Engro coal-fired power plant started working on Monday. There would be limited power load shedding for the next 48 hours, he added. Nevertheless, the minister assured that industrial consumers would be exempted from power shedding. The energy minister also ruled out a fuel shortage, adding that there was enough fuel in the country to restore the power system. He admitted that they were trying not to use power plants that require a lot of fuel while keeping in mind the electricity bills people have to pay. According to him, January had the lowest power demand in the country, and it stood at 8615 MW on Monday evening.
Despite the widespread power outage, some areas in the federal capital and Peshawar had continuous power, he said, adding that there was no power outage in flood-hit Sindh and Balochistan. The minister again accused the PTI government of not investing in the transmission and generation systems in the last four years. He also accused PTI of not upgrading the transmission system in response to increasing demand. Several months ago, some parts of the country had experienced limited power outages as a result of the PTI government’s installation of 20-year-old conductors in critical power plants. He claimed that the HVDC Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line, which was completed as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has only a few safeguards.