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PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. — Photo by Reuters
PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. — Photo by Reuters

LAHORE: Pakistan's incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday admitted it was a “tragedy” that a country with a nuclear arsenal was crippled by chronic electricity shortages.

Years of mismanagement, underinvestment and corruption in the power sector have led to Pakistanis suffering blackouts of up to 20 hours a day in the blistering heat of summer, when temperatures reach up to 50 Celsius.

Sharif vowed to build new power plants to tackle the problem, which acts as a huge drag on the economy, shaving up to four percent off GDP according to the Planning Commission, but he warned there would be no quick fix.

In a speech marking the 15th anniversary of Pakistan's first successful nuclear weapons test, Sharif — who was prime minister at the time — said it was shameful that the country struggled so badly just to keep the lights on.

“It's a tragedy that a country with atomic weapons is deprived of electricity and has no electricity for even 20 hours a day. How can a country develop in such a situation?” he said.

The hated power cuts, known euphemistically as “load-shedding”, were arguably the single biggest voter complaint in the run-up to the May 11 general election, which Sharif's party won.

Wealthy steel magnate Sharif said his government would build more dams to exploit Pakistan's huge hydroelectric potential, as well as more coal-fired power stations, and would seek help from allies China and Turkey.

He said foreign firms setting up power projects in Pakistan would be allowed to repatriate profits, but warned against expectations of a swift end to the crisis.

“Please do not expect that we will solve this energy problems in days,” he told an audience in Lahore.

“We will try our best and will use all our resources to solve this problem but you will have to show patience. I cannot give you an exact timeframe but I will struggle and will do my best.”

Comments (80) Closed

Kamran May 28, 2013 04:03pm

This is called 'statement after elections'. The statement before elections (reference: electronic media) was 'we will end load shedding in one month' and then 'two months'. Proven yet again that what Imran Khan said was true; these brothers and Zardari are together. So those people who voted for PMLN, your vote is wasted. Good Luck for another five years' term.

John May 28, 2013 04:10pm

Sell nukes and make money

Saeed May 28, 2013 04:26pm

Famines often occur not because of crop failure, but from market failure. Inability to operate installed power capacity is due to market failure. Any emotional statements or command and control will not solve the problem. Unfettered working of the market will.

AK May 28, 2013 04:25pm

Agar naik niati sy energy crisis per kaam ho to Allah ke fazal sy is issue ko bohat behtar trika sy hal kia ja sakta hay. Allah Pakistan per apna khasusi fazlo karam kray. Aamin suma aamin.

Riaz Ahmad May 28, 2013 04:27pm

Pakistan brought to its knees, compliments of Jeeway Bhutto, Mushriq ki baitey

njm May 28, 2013 04:32pm

@John: Isn't this a delima that we as a nation are compelled to keep voting PMLN, MQM, PPP, ANP..... So, one should be mentally prepared in facing the dire consequences. No more crying now

ali May 28, 2013 04:48pm

@John: the west is already making money by selling arms to countries around the world...

zeeshan May 28, 2013 04:58pm

@John: hahahahaha

imran khan May 28, 2013 05:13pm

Pakistan's in coming Prime Minser words are correct for the energy problems.

Bibi May 28, 2013 05:14pm

You picked him now live with him.

Rez May 28, 2013 05:17pm

He needs to see his brother jumping and making speeches and giving time frames to eradicate Load shedding ,so we all better find an alternative name for Shabaz Shareef

Amir May 28, 2013 05:18pm

I would like to see some sort of planing in the next days or so, or just some sort of agenda, and a time frame showing that. Otherwise its just a false promise that has no backbone to it.

Fahad May 28, 2013 05:22pm

and increase my empire...

Mian sahab honestly I will not mind if you make money but in doing that please do not forget the people of Pakistan who showed confidence in you and left a more competent and deserving person Mr. Imran Khan behind (I am not a PTI supporter - I just think Mr. Khan was a better choice).

So instead of keeping all for yourself, try to spend at least 50% back on people - if you do that I believe you will stand a good chance to become PM for the fourth time as well.

I am affraid if you fail, PPP would come in next like you jumped in on PPP failure. We have no choice other than to live with the same old cartoons.

Really wish to see IK as PM of Pakistan one day.

TypicalPakistani May 28, 2013 05:21pm

While addressing an election meeting in Murree, Nawaz Sharif so proudly told audiences: "Ham ne bhi cricket kheli hai, par ham ne bomb bhi banaya hai".

Amir May 28, 2013 05:21pm

What I would like to know is whether or not his Raiwind estate also gets the brunt of load-shedding that the rest of the country does and if not then why?

Pady May 28, 2013 05:28pm

Instead of Focussing India,Pak should Focus on own devlopment, it would be better for both countries.

Mir May 28, 2013 05:28pm

Mr Shrief I agree with you 100 %. But this means you will take another 5 years and than hand over the left over to PPP. This nation has become cleaver, Please talk some thing in time frame. This Nation wants results not promises.

Mir May 28, 2013 05:29pm

Mr Shrief I agree with you 100 %. But this means you will take another 5 years and than hand over the left over to PPP. This nation has become cleaver, Please talk some thing in time frame. This Nation wants results not promises.

Mir May 28, 2013 05:29pm

Mr Shrief I agree with you 100 %. But this means you will take another 5 years and than hand over the left over to PPP. This nation has become cleaver, Please talk some thing in time frame. This Nation wants results not promises.

Osman May 28, 2013 05:37pm


Provided Saudi is willing to give Pakistan up to $15Billion in grants over the next 3 years, Pakistan should use it judiciously:

$10Billion should be allocated towards building a major dam and $5Billion to convert all existing IPPs to coal fired. That strategy will show some vision and long term thinking, as building capacity to produce cheapese form of energy can serve Pakistan well for many many more years to come.

zaidi May 28, 2013 05:47pm


Copy America. Sell Arms and make money .

zoro May 28, 2013 05:50pm

As Bhutto mentioned ... Pakistanis are eating grass .. and have an atom bomb too

Hasan May 28, 2013 05:53pm

@John: For the people who will get jobs in new coal and dam power plants.

Agha Ata May 28, 2013 05:56pm

A glimpse of political will, at last!

Mohammed Saleem Awan May 28, 2013 06:08pm

Advice to Mr Sharif Proposed P.M. of Pakistan

My advice to Mr Sharif is very simple and very clear. Please do not allow time to pass by. Do something constructive to benefit all citizens of Pakistan. You can over come problems of "loadsheddings" by investing in "solar energy projects. Almighty God has given you tremendous amount of free energy. Why not comsume it. build more nuclear power projects and de-nationalise all major industries in Pakistan through extensive privitisation programme. You must and always establish good working relationship with United States of America and UNITED KINGDOM so that all undemocratic processes and activities are eliminated on the soil of Pakistan. I will help you all the way whilst you are in Office. I trust that you will pay attention to this message. Yours sincerely,

Mohammed Saleem Awan

Cheated Voter May 28, 2013 06:22pm

Needless to mention huge claims during election campagin by these multi-faced so called leaders, we hate you for insulting this nation by deceiving them. Why cant a "Prime Minister" put up a timeline for a task why he is giving wague statement eversince he is selected. He has no intention to do it. Will just make money again and setup business in other countries.....

H Mushtaq May 28, 2013 06:27pm

Shahbaz Sharif promised a time-frame of 2 years pre-elections (about 1 month ago). Have things changed so drastically in 1 month or the stupid people of Pakistan have done yet another stupidity by trusting Mr. Sharifs?

Nadeem Ullah May 28, 2013 06:32pm

Another tragedy, we have Nawaz Sharif & Zardari in Pakistan without their money & assets :(

Enkay May 28, 2013 06:34pm

Mr. Nawaz Sharif says "

malick May 28, 2013 06:48pm

No problem awam will eat metro Buss of Shehbaz, Nukes of Bhutto, justice of Choudhary Iftikhar and election of Ibrahim G.

Hafiz Nazar Hussain, Advocate,High Court May 28, 2013 06:49pm

Respected Mian Sahib, first of all heartiest congratulation for winning the election. Secondly, the fact remains that uneasy lies the head that wears the CROWN. That is why you are expected to take firm stand to solve the people's problems in accordance with your repeated assurances given to public during your recent election campaign. In your today's speech your appeared to be less enthusiastic than before. Without any doubt there cannot be a quick fix for revival of the economy, but after taking over the command within next few days, you may take immediate strict action against those who are responsible for LINE LOSSES and the THEFT of electricity. This step alone shall surely give a quick relief to the crying public because of 15 to 20 long hours of Load Shedding. We wish you Good Luck and success in your endeavors for POVERTY ALLEVIATION and revival of the economy which require longer term planning.

justice singh May 28, 2013 06:52pm

In pujnab they had full government in the past 5 years. The load shedding didn't end in Punjab neither there was a development in health sector. He and his fellowers want me to believe that Nawaz Sharif is going to solve the Energy-Crisis Hell no!!!

Khalid May 28, 2013 06:53pm

Hey, the people punjab, your leader started showing the real coulers. "Tragedy"..."No time frame"...."Don't expect"..... "thank for what you have"... "it may get worst"..... shame on all who voted for all these known corrupt liers.

Shah May 28, 2013 06:55pm

"The hated power cuts, known euphemistically as

Amjad Wyne May 28, 2013 06:57pm

People of Pakistan must make sure that as the nation spends money on power generation that no part of these investments gets wasted or fills the pockets of these politicians and their families.

Ahmed May 28, 2013 06:57pm

Pakistanis are already very patient.....and not only that they are very sick of these politicians...Now is the time for Pakistanis to be alarmed of these politicians.....It is very hard job indeed for corrupt politicians to serve the country and enrich themselves at the same time...The corruption has to occur in at least three phases...first they have to recoup their investments in the previous election and than secondly make twice as much for their next election...and thirdly make "handsome" profit for them selves and their family members...of course they are smart enough to incorporate inflation and rupee depreciation in to their investment strategy...damn...damn...damn...they are at it again!!!

ABC May 28, 2013 07:03pm

Now where is your promises? to solve the energy crises with in 2 years!!! after winning no timeline.......!

junaid May 28, 2013 07:09pm

@John: you mean start ww3 because people who usualy buy these things esscilate things into war

Md Imran May 28, 2013 07:09pm

@John: Everybody back in the 70s and 80s said Pakistan can never be a nuclear superpower, but we proved the world wrong. Inshaallah, we'll prove the doubting Toms once again by overcoming this power crisis .

anony May 28, 2013 07:10pm

I sense another 'scheme' in the making, for Mr Sharif to pocket more money from the country. What a shame.

Silajit May 28, 2013 07:16pm

ZAB made a conscious choice made to get nukes even if it meant going without food (eat grass if I recall correctly). Also noticing that Nawaz Sharif has become more house trained and talks about getting electricity from China and Turkey (via container ship, I'm guessing), not India which has offered to provide it. Maybe Pakistan's electricity can come from grass as well. Good luck!!!

alf din May 28, 2013 07:25pm

main shahib has proved fools of yesterday are wise man of today. we lost a war to india since then we never recovered from that trauma. we just fueled the war machine, we just aimed at strengthening against an enemy and we became delusion-ed. for last thirty five year we gave our money to make army strong, for last 15 year we have nukes, this army remained short of goals they are fighting American war as mercenaries. we need electricity, for last 43 three year we do not have an solid energy policy. their are only two projects which are more than 1000 MW 43 years. in contrast India produces more than 15000 MW through nuclear energy. we kept on accumulating nukes, we are boosting we nuclear nation, today your leader is saying these slogans are bogus we need energy to fight back, nuke will not save us.

Sumaira May 28, 2013 07:28pm

Months? years? At all?

I. Ahmed May 28, 2013 07:38pm

Really what a shame, NS twice had opportunity to build the country on strong footings, but he chose yellow cabs and raiwand instead. His brother had three opportunities to build Punjab, he focused on bus service and Lahore instead. So now after promising to solve energy crisis in 90 days he is talking about shame of having nuclear power not electricity and also the energy crisis will not be solved in days! It is clear that they had no serious plans for the country and third time they will fill up their own coffers!!!

chandu khatib May 28, 2013 07:41pm

Who cares if there is no electricity? Pakistanis can eat grass and there are plenty of them. They do not need electricity.

Pakistan has Islamic bomb. That will do.

mike ghaous May 28, 2013 07:52pm

I am not a fan of Nawaz but I must say he is talking sense... hope he means business & we do see some positives in next 5 years.

A Shah May 28, 2013 08:08pm

We have bombs to kill half the world and dont have enough electricity to light our houses! Something doesn't make sense in our nation!

Milind May 28, 2013 08:50pm

Your PM is rightly said and i recall the sentence from MR Z Bhutto about Nuke after India make he has said that Pakistani will eat grass but will make nuke and time is coming also your leaders never think and calculate and jump in problem to show strength but after all you suffer and i don't think he will fix problem in overnight your govt has to show sincerity and building trust among world leaders otherwise you gonna pay huge price and no one with you and you all are alone in world

BK May 28, 2013 09:04pm

Tragedy??? More like stupidity on the part of our politicians!!

john May 28, 2013 09:09pm

So what did you do while you were the official opposition. BTW, did you ever suffer from the 20 hour load-shedding?

MSA May 28, 2013 09:15pm

Corruption is going to stay in the way of any solution. The politicians and others are going to make deals for themselves. I have no hope for improvement.

Farooq May 28, 2013 09:35pm

Make Sharif brothers sit in burning heat in Punjab without electricity and see how they solve energy crisis overnight.

Aftab Kenneth Wilson May 28, 2013 09:41pm

Nukes but no electricity: Now ask Nukes to bring electricity because this was your top priority. I am not against going nuke but can't we address other pressing and most important issues also the way we went all out to become Nuclear country without having solved our basic needs like other nuclear countries? Now, Sir, you have absolute majority. Hopefully you will first address electricity problem which was promised by your younger brother SS (within two years). Better change his name and replace it with SHOWbaz if failed to keep your promise.

Abdul Malik May 28, 2013 09:55pm

Now Nawaz Sharif has started to slowly, but surely, back out of his election campaign slogan of eliminating load shedding. This is the first soft bomb shell he has dropped by saying that the nation should not expect energy problem to be solved in days. Now he is saying he will "try our best". During the campaign, him and his brother Shahbaz were oozing with statements of getting rid of load shedding. Now that they are at the threshold of power, they are backing out. Let it be very clear to the people of Pakistan, regardless of who is in power; PPPP, PML-N, MQM, they are all flock of the same breed. They have no scruples.

migtiger May 28, 2013 09:57pm

No its not a tragedy. Pakis wanted to eat grass and have nukes. Wish granted, enjoy.

K.A.Muhammad May 28, 2013 10:27pm

Nawaz Shariff Saheb,

You are good at coining Slogans. Last time it was "Karz Uttaro, Mulk Sawaroo". Though nobody knows what happened to the funds so collected last time, and nobody ever bothered to find it out; of course, except Late Sher Afghan Niazi of Musharraf Era.

So, why not coin something similar in nature this time around. The time is most opportune, make haste when the sun shines. With the passage of time people will forget all about it as being very much to their expectation and as a matter of gone past.

Khalid Butt May 28, 2013 10:36pm

We have full faith in you. You gave us atom bomb you shall give us electircity. NS zinda bad.

Aziz May 28, 2013 10:41pm

Mr Sharif, we are still waiting on power plants and dams you promised during your first term as the PM of Pakistan. Come on now, where are they?

Sultan Ahmed May 28, 2013 10:58pm

We got two crude nuclear devices from China in exchange for land. What use? Thus no power.

Iqbal May 28, 2013 11:13pm

@John: This is not a joke John.

Varghese K. May 28, 2013 11:22pm

Hope that the people who are suffering 20 hours power cut will be saved from this misery. Apart from "Load-Shedding" what Pakistan needs to tackle is providing education for the low class citizens. Education in science and literature should be focussed and not the madrasa education which injects only religious venom into poor people mind and ultimately results in terrorism.

Bibi May 28, 2013 11:46pm

you picked him now live with it.

Max May 28, 2013 11:49pm

@John: At this point I don't care what they do, just get us some electricity .No matter what it takes !

bubba May 29, 2013 12:02am

The real tragedy is that most of the power shortage is a result of having insufficient money to purchase fuel for the power plants - yet your still testing nukes, cruise missiles etc . Many of Pakistan's problems are a result of poor choices in how to allocate limited resources - if he's serious about fixing shortages then he can place a moratorium on military high tech toys.

kiran raj May 29, 2013 12:40am

First they have to see where they can make money and then work on the projects which will make them more pocket money. Before even taken the office duties, they change now they don't know how long will it take. before the election they promise us 3 to 6 months, one year and two years and now no time frame wow. I always say you can't bring change with the same old faces. The public mandate were stolen by the corrupt system fo pakistan. We wanted NAYA Pakistan not the old corrupt pakistan.

Farhan Silat May 29, 2013 12:41am

No quick fix?? But didn't your brother promise he can fix it in six months? shall we send him the video of that speech?

Zarrar May 29, 2013 01:47am

How can someone know the pain of poor while sitting in their mansions, like a king....Be a poor for a few days and everything will start to make sense.... Load shedding is not a big deal to sort it out for me. In stead of aiming for 7k megawatt shortfall, one should aim for 20k megawatt...Economy is only going to go up....And if the economy thrives faster hence more need for electricity. So the deficit at the moment is 7k, surely in 5 years time it will be around 20k...So make appropriate plans for 20 k rather than 7K....Because in five years time we will be 13K megawatt short still.....

Peer Khan May 29, 2013 02:14am

Wah Ji Wah Sharif sahib The honorable PM: Did you not bragg about Nuclear Power? Did you made the right Decision at that time? Did you & your Brother made the right decision when they started Metro bus service? Why the hell now you are comparing Nuclear Power to Power Crisis. Get your History right when you & your Daddy Zia Started was with USSR? Get your priority right if you want to complete your 5 YEARS?

S. A. Hyder, Ph.D. May 29, 2013 03:00am

@Khalid Butt: I can assure you that your beloved MNS did not give Pakistan the 'atom bomb'. The 'poor' filthy-rich chap can not even describe what an atom bomb is, let alone giving the country one !

NASAH (USA) May 29, 2013 04:47am

@Varghese K.: May I ask what is a "low class citzen"?

Ahmer May 29, 2013 05:14am

It will not be long before people realise their mistake of voting Sharif brothers to power instead of Imran Khan.

malick May 29, 2013 06:27am

Respected NS sahib, before eating every one expect to visit rest room. Those who keep camels they rise the door height. You did Nukes dhamaka when the whole world was opposing and enemy of Pakistan. To day the Electricity load shedding and down fall of economy is the result of that Nukes dhamaka because you failed to take appropriate measures for maintability of production of electricity and Economy. I hope U realize this fact. After dhamaka you could not maintain good relation with Clinton.

Qaiser Bakhtiari May 29, 2013 06:40am

Punjab cries for electricity, rest of provinces cry about suicide bombings Nawaz Shariff " we will give you electricity"

Raza May 29, 2013 06:51am

If he can make the rich and powerful pay their electric bills, this problem can be solved.

Hafiz Nazar Hussain, Advocate,High Court May 29, 2013 06:53am

If Mian Brothers only control the line losses and theft immediately , it may give a lot of relief to the crying public. But there no mention for such measures in their programs so far announced. Basically, non- payment by Government and Semi-Government bodies is out of control and they appear to be helpless in this regard. We may recall that in their one of the previous tenures, they had to call even Army to collect electricity bills. Let us hope for the best.

Talha May 29, 2013 06:57am

@ Farhan Silat, you are wrong brother. He said something like this; "agar 2 saal me bijli khtm na ki tou mera naam Shahbaz Sharif nae", infact he did it in a few weeks.

Congratulations patwaris. Thanks for bringing this menace upon the whole nation.

rana1 May 29, 2013 07:16am

@Amir: from what is known the sharfs have generators as back up

Talha May 29, 2013 08:56am

@Md Imran: I think you are referring to our nuclear scientists from those years. But this article is not about them or Dr AQ Khan my friend. Its about your leader who was a steel welder at that time.

raja hindustani May 29, 2013 06:24pm

Pakistan have not developed hydropower capability in last 65 years and this is the reason of power crisis. But Pakistan always blame India for water theft (which is absolute lie) and object when India try to produce electricity in few rivers. This is just diversonary tactics to divert people of Pakistan from govt failure to progress in electricity production.

Raj May 28, 2013 11:04am
Politicians and economists say that Pakistanis are very resilient people and take on any hardship. Why not wait a bit longer ? Let the newly elected government be given a little time to organize and take steps to eliminate the problem of energy shortage etc? What is important is patience, patience and patience. Then all will be well.