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Pakistan expatriates cancel home holiday plans

Many expatriates switch off their travel plans due to power cuts and rising temperature

Image Credit: AP
People are silhouetted against the incoming traffic light while walking in a dark street median, due to a power cut, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

Dubai: Power cuts have switched off their travel plans.

Mercury-defying temperatures and volatile security conditions are additional reasons that have forced many Pakistanis living in the UAE to opt out of flying home for summer this year.

Owais Anjum, a 36-year-old businessman, is one such expatriate. 

“My children’s well-being is the prime priority. If we are to go 16 hours without power, what is the point of taking them home for a holiday?” Anjum, a resident of Gardens in Dubai, questioned.

In an age when many Pakistanis are making international headlines for being champions of change, the issue of power outages has turned into an Achilles’ heel in the overall development of the nation.

Every day, protests are being staged in several cities and towns of Pakistan over unabated hours-long power cuts.

In the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the areas worst hit by the power outages, people are turning to vandalism as a final refuge — anything to make the government sit up and notice. In recent incidents, they burnt tyres, attacked police officials and blocked roads and highways.

Another reason that has kept Anjum away from his hometown, Lahore.

A father of two, Anjum says he would never want his children, aged 5 and 3, to witness the violence that is gripping the nation, one city at a time.

“People lose all rationale when they are forced to go without a basic necessity for so long. They burn vehicles and resort to vandalism. Children here are growing up in a completely different environment where they are sheltered from such incidents. I would prefer not to show them this side of Pakistan because they are too young to understand. It would be shocking for them to see so much violence,” Anjum said.

When once Akbar Ali Shah would make elaborate plans to spend time with his family on Eid, he says the power cuts have forced him to look for alternatives, as flying home is out of the question.

“You cannot fight the general depression — people are unhappy with the state of affairs. Why would I go there on such a festive occasion? If there is a dearth of water supply, you can always buy water, but you can’t even buy electricity. I have an infant son — I have to think about him too,” Shah, a 34-year-old commercial director at a consumer goods firm in Dubai, said.

Shah says that though the scale of the issue is enormous, he is optimistic that things will get better.  He, along with thousands of his countrymen — here and back home — are hopeful that the upcoming elections and the subsequent government that comes to power can power in a new change.

“We have the production capacity. Let’s see if they can deliver,” Shah said.

And while it may have been a year since both Anjum and Shah visited Pakistan, they said better weather conditions would see them making the trip soon.

“If nothing else works, I will call my parents and a few others to Dubai for Eid. But I’m not going to Pakistan anytime soon,” Shah said.