ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani leaders preoccupied with a Taliban insurgency and political infighting also face an explosive issue that could damage the credibility of governments for years to come: nationwide power outages. Attention refocused on the energy crisis after high-profile talks in Washington last week, in which long-time allies the United States and Pakistan outlined steps to refurbish power stations here, part of a $125 million US pledge. Many Pakistanis, who face hours of crippling power cuts each day, doubt their government will take the matter seriously, despite a US warning that the crisis threatens their nuclear-armed countrys economic and political stability. People like dentist Raheel Ahmed said that its hard to predict when power cuts will hit. At times, he has to use a flashlight to inspect a patients mouth during tooth extractions. The government doesnt care whats happening to us and they never will, he said. They are just too busy fighting each other. Pakistan, which has production capacity of about 16,500 megawatts per day, faces daily shortfalls of about 4,500 MW. Outages can last 6-8 hours a day on average in cities, while the figure can be much higher in rural areas. The problem is that past governments failed to anticipate demand growth and delayed clearing power project proposals and big dam projects. A lack of investment in existing plants, outdated grids and rampant electricity theft mean that some grid companies experience line losses of up to 30-40 per cent, leading to power cuts that have triggered riots. When President Asif Ali Zardari came to power in 2008, hopes were raised that a civilian government could accomplish more than Pervez Musharraf did in nearly 10 years of military rule, even though Zardari had earned the nickname Mr 10 Per cent for allegedly demanding kickbacks. He denies any wrongdoing. But history is repeating itself. Disappointment with the civilian government is growing. Facing a sluggish economy starved of foreign investment, Zardari has little to work with. Once again, Pakistanis feel politicians are lining their pockets. Pakistani leaders are just helping themselves. They are making money and ignoring us, said Ashfaq Ahmad Cheema, who sells generators. Power cuts have also hit his shop. Pakistan was struck by one of its worst power crises in 2008, when rioters destroyed electrical facilities following the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The resultant power cuts were one factor that caused the defeat of Musharaffs party in general elections two months later. Zardaris government is trying to address energy troubles through building new dams and setting up new permanent power plants. In the meantime, it is renting small power plants essentially giant versions of the portable generators well-off Pakistanis install in their homes and businesses. Simbal Khan, Acting Director/Eurasian Studies at the Institute of Strategic Studies, says the cuts have become a snowballing issue that will hurt future governments if it isnt addressed quickly. That means huge financial investment. The new democratic setup has not really produced anything which affects the life of the common man, she said. I think it can easily down the road, if not addressed critically now, create a lot of political issues. If future governments fail to address the vital issue, they could face even more social unrest that could undermine their rule in a country where the people often turn to the military in times of crises. Power cuts mean students at Islamabads Mohammad Ali Jinnah University can only study one hour a day after classes. It will be even harder to learn in the stifling heat of the upcoming summer because fans will be off for hours each day. Discussing the problem is useless, said student Zainab Rashid. It will never end.