Amid frequent blackouts, Pakistanis are finding light in memes


Pakistan is facing a power crisis, with frequent power cuts. (File)

Karachi, Pakistan:

Pakistan’s worst blackout in months became a source of humor for some in the country of 220 million, where an energy grid in dire need of renewal can lead to frequent blackouts and electricity rationing.

The nationwide outage, the second since October that left schools, hospitals and businesses without power, was resolved after 24 hours on Tuesday. Pakistan’s energy minister blames a lack of investment in the network and says lessons have been learned.

While the outage affected the internet and mobile phone services, it did not stop many Pakistanis from taking to Twitter and other social media to share jokes and memes.

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“Scenes in that friend’s house who has solar panels,” Twitter user @zoeneedstherapy wrote over a photo showing a single electrical outlet with five cell phone chargers sticking out of it.

Millions of Pakistanis experience partial power outages on an almost daily basis, including scheduled power cuts to conserve electricity.

The disruptions have led to years of strong demand for alternative power supplies, and some local governments are offering subsidized solar panels.

In a village outside the southeastern city of Jacobabad in Sindh province, a Reuters correspondent spotted a single solar panel on the roof of the one-bedroom home of a family of melon farmers.

“Nowadays everyone has solar panels…but they have problems at night because they have no other source of power,” said Sara Khan, the principal of a girls’ school in Jacobabad, who has regularly scheduled power outages lasting up to 18 hours. hours per day.

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In many major cities, including the capital Islamabad and the financial hub of Karachi, many residents have installed at least three backup sources: solar panels, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and fuel-powered generators.

“Electricity problems are very common here,” said Karachi lawyer Ishtiaq Ahmed. “People have alternative arrangements, but they also have their limits.”

A popular meme from a Spiderman comic book showed three “Spidermen” standing in a circle, pointing at each other and saying “I’ve got a UPS but it’s not charged”; “I have a generator that runs on fuel, but there is no fuel”; “I have a solar panel but there is no sunlight”.

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But the failures also take their toll.

Irfan Khan, a 30-year-old student preparing for an upcoming exam, said he lost power even before Monday’s major outage.

“It was terrible,” said Khan in the northeastern city of Peshawar after leaving his tribal area to prepare for the exam.

“I didn’t charge my phone, I didn’t study for two days, and I didn’t have water in the washroom.”

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