Much of Pakistan was left without power Monday as an energy-saving measure by the government backfired, AP reports.

The outage spread panic and raised questions about the cash-strapped government’s handling of the country’s economic crisis.

It all started when electricity was turned off during low usage hours overnight to conserve fuel across the country, officials said, leaving technicians unable to boot up the system all at once after daybreak. The outage was reminiscent of a massive blackout in January 2021, attributed at the time to a technical fault in Pakistan’s power generation and distribution system.

Many major cities, including the capital of Islamabad, and remote towns and villages across Pakistan were in darkness as authorities struggled to make even partial restorations of the power supply.

As the outage continued into Monday night, authorities deployed additional police at markets around the country to provide security.

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