One of the biggest problems, besides others, that our dear country faces today is the energy crisis. Energy is pivotal for running all resources of economy and likewise all the industries. Calling it a country’s lifeline wouldn’t be an exaggeration. It was the mid-2000s that our country plunged into darkness and the irony is that Pakistan has huge power generation capability. Still we saw prolonged power outages along with other problems it brought with it. A country’s economic growth is severely hindered if it faces energy shortages. Sadly, this crisis was totally man-made and could easily have been averted had our previous regimes and rulers given some future insight towards energy generation and preservation.
Due to the lack of accountability and inaction of the subsequent governments, Pakistan today suffers hours-long power cuts which is affecting each and every sector of the country. Other than that, the recurring issue of circular debt has been one of the important causes of the crisis, since suppliers tend to face cash flow problems due to which the electricity generation does not meet its fullest capacity. Moreover, the dependence on crude oil as an alternative to energy, enhances the circular debt and increases the cost of electricity and ultimately, the government has to spend more on subsidies. The equipment and machinery used in the power generation should be upgraded and maintained to curtail the ongoing crisis. To top it all, the gross mismanagement and colossal corruption added even more problems and made matters worse throughout the years. The most troubling condition is the reduction in the hydropower generation, which is the cleanest and cheapest source of electricity. The situation dates back to the Kalabagh Dam project, which culminated in its abandonment by the previous PPP-led regime as it had caused political rifts among the masses. The full potential of hydel power in our country is untapped and unexploited.
The ongoing energy crisis has been detrimental to the economy of Pakistan, but due to the sound economic policies of the current government, the economy seems to be back on track. According to a recent research in Forbes magazine, Pakistan was acknowledged as one of the emerging economies in the world. Given the present declining situation of some stable world economies, Pakistan’s progress in the economic sector is nothing but a miracle. It shows the resilience and surviving will of Pakistan that despite the monumental challenges being faced by this country, it still has the power to stand back on its feet again and move on. Similarly, Pakistan has been doing great in the war against extremism and has achieved the success which no other country can claim of. Not even the world’s superpower was able to fight and end terrorism in Afghanistan; the way Pakistan’s Army fought a decisive war to eliminate terrorists from its soil. The world has appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices in the face of this gigantic challenge which has now become a global threat. Similar resilience is needed to end the power crisis and to bring the country out of the darkness into the light.
If we monitor the situation regarding the energy crisis, no doubt there is some improvement as now the power outages are much less than before and the government is finally prioritising the issue and tackling it on a war footing. The Prime Minister has recently once again vowed to end load-shedding till 2018. It is once again a tall promise but a hopeful one for the people. It is hoped that the country would have surplus electricity of 3000MW by May 2018. To realise this dream, the Neelum-jhelum hydropower project and Tarbela-4 extension project should be completed. The ongoing power projects include clean energy projects, coal-fired and LNG-based power plants which would add significant electricity to the national grid. Moreover, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being regarded asa “game-changer” for Pakistan’s socio-economic development that is worth $46 billion; of which $35 billion are allocated to tackling the power crisis.
All the steps currently being taken are towards the right direction in achieving the goal of making Pakistan an energy sufficient country. But their realisation and implementation will make the big difference. With the help of effective policies and their efficient and transparent implementation, the menace of energy crisis can be countered. The government should also prioritise investment in the power sector. The problems of over-billing and electricity thefts should also be addressed. It is important to save energy for the coming generations and for that the indigenous resources, like coal, should be tapped and used. Alternative energy resources such as wind, solar and tidal should be used to generate energy as most of the countries of the world are doing right now. While the government does its part, being the citizens of this state, it is our responsibility to utilise the available energy wisely and responsibly. We must appreciate the availability of natural resources that we are blessed with and learn to make good use of them. Instead of importing energy from other countries on heavy prices, we should learn to rely on our own resources. We should explore new dimensions and work really hard to illuminate our land of pure once again.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2017.