One of the biggest problems facing Pakistan is the energy crisis. There is a huge lack of electricity and gas which is used in cars as well as homes for cooking and heating in winter, as well as a severe shortage of water. Load-shedding and no power for hours is pretty normal in the summer as it is the time when electricity is used and most needed. The soaring temperatures make air-conditioners a requirement and necessity, not forgetting to mention the heatwave that happens throughout the year and the temperature of the port city of Karachi is usually warm. In 2015 about 1300 hundred people died of heatstroke and dehydration in Karachi alone. Around 2500 deaths in the province of Sindh overall. Since then the heatwaves have been recurring very frequently throughout the year. I recall having a heatstroke myself while on my way to a destination last year and power outages in such soaring temperatures make the lives of the citizens more difficult than it already is. For this reason, people who can afford have installed generators at home and workplaces but it is a huge hassle as well as extremely expensive and considering that Pakistan is a poor country, people are finding it hard to survive and make ends meet. These generators create a lot of sounds and air pollution. This is one of the things that the government must address urgently but political instability and corruption leave people no choice but to be on their own.
Image source: Pakistan Today
Gas as fuel for cars is not a feasible idea but in the late 90's the then government allowed people to install cylinders in their cars mentioning that gas is cheaper than petrol. It was a part of some short term plan and corruption. However, Pakistan is a country that lacks energy resources and gas being one is no different. As it is the gas resource is limited to provide to the residential areas, introducing it for cars is not an idea that any expert or someone with common sense would implement. Moreover, these gas cylinders installed in cars, buses and other public transport are very dangerous and a huge risk to the lives of the people. There have been dozens of incidents where the cylinders in cars burst in school vans, cars, and buses and hundreds of people have died. There is a severe shortage of gas for homes that people are finding it difficult to cook a single meal and to tackle that people, as well as restaurants and hotels, are using gas cylinders which makes everything more expensive than it already is. As it is the price of electricity and gas is high and the shortage results in people paying taxes as well as buying the commodities from outside means which makes everything costlier.
Image source: Pakistan Today
Another daunting issue facing Pakistan is water shortage. Clean drinking water is as rare as finding a diamond in the rough. For this reason, citizens are forced to buy drinking water which is a basic necessity for living and must be provided by the government free of cost or at least minimal cost. As it is a poor country only a few people can afford clean water and it is very expensive. This has also led to booming business and a vast industry of packed water bottles and cans. With giant companies like Unilever as well as other foreign brands and so many local companies selling water. They charge very high for the water and pay the minimum to the laborers. The workers are not allowed to drink the company water. I know this because we do order Nestle water bottles at home and I happened to ask the delivery man because I saw him panting once and offered water. Profiting off something so basic as water is inhumane and no efforts by the government are made. Inaccessibility to clean drinking water has led to a large number of people developing gastric issues. But the problem does not end here. The tap water used at homes is more often than not unavailable or even if provided it is very little to get by. People are left with no choice but to buy water for home-usage. This is transported in huge tankers filled with water and super pricey. Sweet water is much higher in price but if you can't afford then saline water is what you are left with which is extremely bad for skin, wastes soap, gives rash, and damages hair.
Image source: AFP
However, the issue of shortage of tap water is linked to the lack of water reservoirs and every year we see floods and waste of water during monsoon. Another factor for the shortage of tap water in the big city of Karachi is the infrastructure. The water supply lines used throughout the city are obsolete and damaged and a lot of water is wasted as a result.
We need to move towards a sustainable approach and it is not impossible to achieve that gradually. Limiting cars on the roads, introducing public transport which lack thereof, implement strict laws to ensure vehicles are in good condition especially in big cities otherwise high fines, solar panels should be made accessible and at much cheaper prices so to deal with the energy loss, ensuring a good supply of gas for homes at specific times and let people know in advance so they schedule accordingly, gradually decrease the usage of gas cars such as government giving subsidy on new petrol cars and other vehicles. In rural areas, so to keep up with the rest of the world we can provide solar panels through government and other international organizations so to have some electricity because it is pretty evident that urban cities are facing such a crisis then the issue must be more severe in rural areas.