NetBlocks has identified a nation-scale power outage across Pakistan after 11:40 p.m. Saturday 9 January 2021 Islamabad time (6:40 p.m. UTC). Real time network data from the Internet Observatory show severe impact to telecommunications infrastructure leaving only 62% of the country’s observable internet connectivity offline, with residential and business networks most impacted.
Update: Connectivity levels are being restored along with the gradual return of power as of midday Sunday.
Update: Real-time telemetry show few signs of recovery as #Pakistan's power grid failure continues into its 6th hour; national internet connectivity is now down to 52% of ordinary levels with growing impact observed on #Islamabad 🔌📉 #BlackoutPakistan
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) January 10, 2021
While not a total blackout, the disruption is consistent with a nation-scale power grid failure and is among the most severe such outages to strike the country in the observatory’s records. Metrics indicate that impact is highest at the edge of the network while critical infrastructure and telecommunication exchanges are less impacted, likely due to effective failover to backup power.
Those users still able to get online report being left in the dark in many major cities across the country. Work is ongoing to assess the scale and impact of the incident.
Meanwhile, viral claims of an attack on transmission lines in Balochistan distributed on WhatsApp in the immediate aftermath of the blackout have been identified as misinformation, referencing an earlier incident in 2015:
Screenshots circulating in WhatsApp groups about the #blackout being due to an attack on transmission lines in Balochistan is from a news story from January 2015, & has no relation to today’s #poweroutage: https://t.co/2BrJpdRVsM
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) January 9, 2021
NetBlocks diffscans, which map the IP address space of a country in real time, show internet connectivity levels and corresponding outages. Purposeful internet outages generally have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages.
NetBlocks is a civil society group working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives for an open and inclusive digital future for all.