Ijlal NaqviFeb 11, 2023
Access to Power
Electricity and the Infrastructural State in Pakistan
Oxford University Press 2022
Pakistan would desperately like to produce enough electricity, but it usually doesn't. Despite prioritization by successive governments, targeted reforms shaped by international development actors, and featuring prominently in Chinese Belt and Road investments, the Pakistani power sector continues to stifle economic and social life across the country. Why?
In Access to Power: Electricity and the Infrastructural State in Pakistan (Oxford UP, 2022), Ijlal Naqvi explores state capacity in Pakistan by following the material infrastructure of electricity across the provinces and down into cities and homes. Naqvi argues that the national-level challenges of crippling budgetary constraints and power shortages directly result from conscious strategic decisions that are integral to Pakistan's infrastructural state. As he shows, electricity governance in Pakistan reinforces unequal relations of power between provinces and the federal center, contributes to the marginalization of subordinate groups in the city, and cements the patronage-based relationships between Pakistani citizens and the state that have been so detrimental to development progress.
Looking through the lens of the electrical power sector, Access to Power reveals how Pakistan actually works, and to whose benefit.
Sneha Annavarapu is Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Yale-NUS College.