Data (Events Catalogue) for research article “Demanding Power Contentious Politics and Electricity in Pakistan”.xls (643.5 kB)
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Data (Events Catalogue) for research article “Demanding Power Contentious Politics and Electricity in Pakistan”

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posted on 2022-04-01, 13:22 authored by Umair Javed, Aiza Hussain, Mirza Hassan Aziz
This dataset was used for the IDS Working Paper titled 'Demanding Power Contentious Politics and Electricity in Pakistan' published in 2021. The Pakistan Data (Events Catalogue) dataset substantively builds on existing protest data to compile a comprehensive catalogue of 542 incidents of contentious politics around electricity access, availability, and pricing between the period of 2005-2015 (both years inclusive).

There were two primary datasets that were used to mine the initial data the links to which can be found in the references of this item:

1. The BFRS political violence dataset, which covers all violent incidents in Pakistan reported in the daily Dawn (Lahore Edition) between 1988 and 2011. The BFRS dataset has a sub-category of service delivery protests around energy (fuel and electricity). It also has sampled verification of its incident universe using an alternative media source. However, its utility was limited by its definitional use, which covered protests that involved some element of violent contention (arson, rioting, casualties).

2. The Ahsan Butt-GMU protest dataset, which covers 4123 protest incidents in Pakistan, reported in the daily Dawn (online edition) between 2005 and 2009. The ABGMU records protests by type of actors involved, but does not provide cause of protest.

14 energy incidents from the BFRS dataset were identified using the existing categorization. For the ABGMU dataset, a careful string search of all 4123 protest incidents was carried out using the following terms “electricity” “energy” “protest” “riot” “loadshedding” “outages” “power” “tariffs”, and combinations of these terms, to identify 261 incidents. These were then cross-checked to ensure there was no overlap with the 14 incidents identified from the other dataset, and duplicates were deleted. URLs linking to the news report of each incident were recorded in a separate column.

For 2010-2015, the online edition of Dawn newspaper was used with the search terms mentioned above. The benefits of the online edition is that it captures news stories from all regional bureaus of the newspaper, thus providing a more comprehensive overview. In this phase, the final 542 incidents were recorded by date of publication, location (district level), headline, and reported incident URL. In the second phase (currently nearing completion), each news report was manually assessed to extract key pieces of information (including more granular location data, identity of protestors, and other variables listed in the events catalogue template).


This paper explores Pakistan’s electricity supply crisis that lasted from 2007 to 2015, and the ensuing contention that shaped public discourse and political events in the country. During this period, which witnessed electricity outages of up to 14 hours per day, 456 incidents of contention took place, with just under 20 per cent escalating into some form of violence. Electricity became the number one political issue in the country and was integral in shaping the outcomes of the 2013 General Election. Following the election, public authorities undertook extensive investment to expand capacity and ensure consistency in supply while evading questions about affordability and sustainability. On the surface, this appears to be a case of extensive protest working towards shaping state responsiveness. And it is true that the state now sees supply as a non-negotiable aspect in the social contract with citizens. However, a range of factors contributed to the chronology and the selective, generation-focused nature of this response: the cross-sectional socioeconomic and organisational nature of those impacted by the crisis; the increasing cost imposed on public authorities by extensive protests; the nature of the political opportunity structure available for opposition political parties to capitalise on the crisis; and the pressures imposed by key civil society actors, most dominantly, the private news media. On the other hand, citizen inclusion and participation in decision-making, and issues of affordability and sustainability, which impact vulnerable and disempowered groups the most, remain absent from the political and policy conversation around energy. This suggests that while protests were useful in generating a short-term response, their long-term legacy in empowerment related outcomes is less visible.


Grant Identifier Number- GB-1-204427, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office