When the Pakistan Muslim League assumed control of the government back in 2013 after a landslide victory in general elections the task ahead was quite clear. Terrorism and energy crisis were two of the key issues that the government was expected to prioritize. The operation Zarb-e-Azb wa launched against the terrorist elements in 2014, the Pakistani Army achieved great success in the operation, the operation against criminals and military wings of political parties has also been largely successful. The credit for that definitely goes to the civil government but the most vital role in this regard was obviously played by the country’s Army who went relentlessly against terrorist; the sacrifices of our brave soldiers in this war means that Pakistan of today is a lot safer than that of 2013.
Now we come to the other major task that the government was expected to tackle; energy crisis. When the ruling party assumed power the country was facing unprecedented power load shedding along with somewhat bearable gas load-shedding. The vows of Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif to end power load-shedding within six months of assuming power are still fresh in everyone’s memory thanks to the constant reminders by the electronic media which plays these ‘vows’ from time to time reminding the Chief Minister of his promise. That promise aside the government has made excellent progress on the power load-shedding front, last year’s summer months saw visible reduction in power load-shedding from previous years. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is confident that by 2018 power load-shedding will be a thing of the past, as visible by his repeated statements in this regard. Recently, the Prime Minister claimed that 10,000 megawatts of new electricity would be added to the system by 2018 and in the next few years, power production will go up by 30,000 megawatts. If these claims are true, it is expected that Pakistan will have excess supply of electricity in the coming years (We’ll discuss the issue of tariffs in a later piece).
Now we come to the all important matter of gas load-shedding, with mercury nearing zero in many cities of the country it seems that the country has run of gas. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkwa is the worst hit by the spiraling gas crisis, followed by Punjab and Sindh. Even the residents of federal capital are forced to suffer in extreme weather conditions without gas in peak demand hours. The Pakistan, Qatar $1 billion annual liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply deal that was signed in February last year was touted as a game changer, something that will help a great deal in dealing with the gas crisis. However, for now it seems that the deal has had little effect on the crisis. Protests in various cities have become a norm yet the government seems apathetic towards the misery of the citizens. Those opting to buy LNG cylinders to lessen the miseries are faced with the prospect of ending up with substandard LNG cylinders that have claimed as many as 3,240 lives in the last eleven-years.
The government should inform the public regarding progress in this regard, the public should also be made aware as to why the much heralded LNG deal did not result in lessening their miseries. Instead of public statements that are given without much thought a concrete road map should be issued regarding the issue.
With mercury nearing zero citizens are forced to suffer in the cold without gas supply.
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