Don't blame the gas crisis on the government

When Pakistan started moving from petrol to CNG, didn't anybody think this resource was going to be depleted someday?

Adnan Rasool December 16, 2011
We may be dealing with multiple crises as a nation, but one incident in particular is simply being blown out of proportion -  the issue of the CNG shortage.

People are infuriated about the shortage of gas, and have every right to be. CNG is a cheaper fuel alternative to petrol, but the gas has been getting increasingly expensive for a while, and its very availability is becoming a growing issue.

The shortage of compressed natural gas (CNG) has led to industries threatening shut downs and workers protesting, as they have no jobs. Industries keep printing ads in the papers about how they are losing billions of rupees due to the gas shortage and how people are being laid off to cut costs. They have a point; anyone who has ever been exposed to any industry, especially the textile industry, will realise how important gas is for the production process -without it, a lot of processes are incomplete.

Thus, running out of gas is a serious issue, not just for Pakistani industry but for the people as well.

While this has been going on, our media has come forward to report this situation and present a grim picture of how our government is destroying everything.

Let us have a look at what is really going on.

Firstly, the CNG crisis has come about due to a very simple reason. Pakistan has limited resources, including gas. That means it will eventually run out of it; but our media and people do not seem to understand this very fundamental principle of economics. Over the years, due to the massive increase in gas consumption, the amount of this limited resource has decreased substantially. In addition to this, the lack of new finds and the development of new gas fields is taking longer than anybody thought. This gas has to be used for domestic purposes, industries, and also CNG stations. Our existing reserve is depleting and the amount of gas available each year is swiftly declining. Basic common sense tells you that if something is decreasing in quantity while its quantity used is increasing, it will lead to a shortage and the available gas for consumption is going to decrease over time.

Our media, however, never got around to explaining this fact. Even sensible people somehow don't understand how the concept of limited of resources operates. It is easy to blame the government, but how can you blame them for something like depleting gas reserves? Does it make sense?

Add to this another piece of information that people never talk about. When Pakistan started moving towards CNG consumption, did no one think that this resource was going to be depleted? Did no one actually think that if we use CNG for transport it would mean lower gas availability for household and industrial users? These are simple and straightforward questions, and yet somehow, our "investigative media" forgot to think about them.

How can we blame the government for this mess and take no responsibility for it? It is not the government's fault that we did not want to pay the extra  Rs15 for a litre of petrol.

We are to blame for the current gas crisis we are facing - this behemoth problem was created by us. It was a conscious decision of everyone in Pakistan to use CNG instead of petrol, while knowing that this would lead to the depletion of gas reserves over time. And now that time is here, we are chickening out of taking any responsibility and our media is doing what it does best - blaming the government and trying to make headlines out of it. Our lack of progress as a country is not just because of bad governance, it is also a result of our inability to take the blame for our mistakes and bad decisions.
Adnan Rasool Currently the Deputy Executive Director Center for Enterprise, Trade and Development, Adnan is also a political analyst working mainly on electoral politics and political campaign management. He tweets at @adnanrasool
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Saad | 12 years ago | Reply A very well written article that brings out a point of view that many do not even think about. However, I would say the actually point of this article is summed up in the last sentence, "Our lack of progress as a country is not just because of bad governance, it is also a result of our inability to take the blame for our mistakes and bad decisions." Yes, the government shouldn't be blamed for everything but neither should the people. It is an issue caused by the both of them. On one hand, the government should have had a better policy on how the gas would be used and they should have been more transparent about the issues that we faced when consuming CNG. It wasn't something new that the gas we have was limited, but why does the government come to us today and say, "People of Pakistan we are having a shortage in gas." On the other hand, the people should have thought of conserving on their usage of CNG as much as they could. Possibly by reducing travel or by being efficient while cooking food. Overall, like most of the problems of Pakistan, this is an issue created by the government and the citizens and not just by the government or the citizens.
ali | 12 years ago | Reply CNG just consumes 7% gas and we will have to import a lot of crude.Petrol is a lot expensive than CNG worldwide and we are fortunate that we have a distribution system for CNG.most counyries donot have and that the reason they donoit use CNG which is less polluting the envoronment.Actually there is a LNG/LPG lobby which is trying to defame CNG.just imagine the impact on middle class if there is no CNG.Prices of everything will shoot about the article doesnot make sense.we still have the world 16th highest gas reserves and shale gas is over and above this.So there ia a lobby headed by iqbal Z ahmad which in colleberation with Dr asim and zardari are totally committed to promote LNG. The power plants are using 40% gas while we can make electrricity by coal and water but there is no kick backs in it.The writer must answer why r we using 40% gas for power generation.
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