This winter is going to be harsh and freezing for the public, if the statements of the government functionaries are going to be examined. Already a fuel-starved country, Pakistan has been facing the onslaught of the spike in fuel prices in the international market. This creates shortages of indigenous fuel resources, such as natural gas. Minister of State for Energy Mossadiq Malik has revealed a bitter reality that the gas bought for $17 is supplied to the export sector for nine dollars, while the poor are not only charged the full price but are also threatened with loadshedding and expensive rates. Seeing the shortage of gas in the winter, the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited has announced it will provide LPG to its consumers to get through the winter. This may not put consumers at ease. However, the good news is that OGRA has reduced the price of LNG by thirteen percent, which will provide some relief to the consumers, but the possibility of gas load-shedding will remain, as LNG will be reduced by ten percent in January and February. New cargoes are expected to arrive after a lull of three or four months, and LPG imports have been increased by the government.
The shortage of gas did not occur overnight. One has to admit that successive governments dragged their feet on this national security issue and never came up with doable plans to get piped gas supplies from Iran, Turkmenistan, and now Russia because of foreign pressure. Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has gathered the guts to reveal that if Pakistan is sold Russian gas at the same rate as India, Pakistan will meet its fuel needs from Russia. The government should have considered this option years ago, as if India could be exempted from the sanctions of the West, Pakistan should also have made its case to the US and other western powers. It should be clear that the energy crisis in Pakistan is still an unsolvable problem because we face numerous problems attempting to purchase petroleum and gas according to our needs. An example of which is the issue of the gas pipeline with Iran, as well as the acquisition of energy from Russia. The previous government of the PTI claimed that it was entering into an agreement to buy cheap gas and wheat from Russia. The plan was unveiled when the government was facing a no-confidence move. Otherwise, the government did not make any serious effort during its rule from 2018 to 2022 to enter. The result is that today we are suffering from a severe energy crisis while winter has started and we are hearing from the minister that due to the non-availability of gas as required, the people will have to bear the brunt of gas load shedding.