Here is a statistical comparison you are unlikely to hear about Pakistan from the think tank types in Washington D.C. who come up with complex geostrategic formulations.
According to the data maintained by the state-run Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO), the shortfall in the country’s power generation has increased from 3500 megawatt (MW) on May 1, 2012, to 6,000 MW on May 23. What this means is that Pakistan produced nearly 36 percent less electricity than the 16,814MW it generates, which in turn means power outages reaching up to 20 hours a day.
During May, the worst day was May 8 when the shortfall reached 6700MW, which is nearly 40 percent of its total national generation. I chanced upon the story courtesy the IANS wire which quoted The News newspaper of Pakistan. A quick study of official figures published by PEPCO on its site tells the story of a nation that ought to scale down its geostrategic delusions and concentrate on basic needs.
As an aside, power outages are quaintly called “load shedding” in South Asia which makes it sound something positive as in losing weight. Come to think of it load shedding causes one to sweat more and hence lose weight.
When its major cities such as Lahore face up to 14 hours of “load shedding” and rural Pakistan up to 20 hours one has to conclude that it would serve the people of Pakistan much better if the government focused more on power generation than power assertion.
Here is an idea how Pakistan can justify its demand for a 20-fold increase in allowing every NATO truck to transit through its border with Afghanistan. It can say that the resources generated thus would be pumped into creating more electricity for its population. More electricity means greater comforts for its ordinary citizens. Greater comforts mean less angry people. Less angry people mean they are less angry generally about everything, including America. Problem solved.
My facetiousness aside, I think there is an obvious case to be made in favor creating enough electricity in Pakistan so that its economy can pick up pace and in turn create opportunities for education, health, clean water and entrepreneurship.
I am not for a moment suggesting that the power situation in India is any significantly better. Load shedding during the peak summer months from April to June is equally rampant in India. According to one estimate, some 300 million Indians have no access to electricity at all. That number is out of a total 1.4 billion people around the world without access to electricity. That means nearly two Pakistans inside India have no electricity. That is bound to be one angry lot.
It is not too far-fetched to extrapolate the growth of a profoundly disaffected populace from national failure to provide basic facilities such as electricity. Of course, a fully electrified and served Pakistan is also no guarantee against its inherent antipathies towards America. But I would venture that when the sun is baking Pakistani flatlands at 110 degree F. it might be helpful to have fans whirring and water flowing to keep the ordinary people relatively reassured about their lives.