The Russia-Ukraine war disrupted gas supply to Europe and there is a likelihood of a further reduction in supply. Therefore, the European Commission proposed plans to cut gas demand by 15% until next spring. To achieve this target, consumers’ demands in public administrations, households, buildings, power suppliers, and industries will be capped.
I wonder if Pakistani policymakers also formulate such plans before a crisis land in their garden or do they keep waiting till panic triggers? The forthcoming winter can be disastrous for Pakistan as the country does not have long-term energy management plans. The shortage of gas and fuel deliveries to Europe will ultimately put pressure on Middle Eastern sellers who are our main source of imports. Our policymakers do not realise the crisis we are about to face. Early steps help spread out the efforts over time, ease market concerns and price volatility, and allow for a better design of targeted, cost-effective measures protecting the industry. Research has revealed that Pakistan has a maximum gas supply of 4,300 million standard cubic feet per day (mmcfd) against the average demand of 6,500 to 7,000 mmcfd. During the winter season, the demand rises to 8,000 mmcfd. Therefore, there can be a shortfall of 3,500 mmcfd.
Pakistan is already faced with multidimensional issues because of a lack of storage facilities, no planning, depleting foreign exchange reserves, and the absence of broad-based alternative energy sources. In Europe, traditional energy sources are coal, oil, nuclear and renewable sources but Pakistan is short of everything and has over 220 million consumers. Europe is working on an important pillar of energy saving: the reduction of heating and cooling while the Pakistan Market Share Report indicates that there is over 7.2% growth in usage in the domestic market.
Without a “demand reduction plan”, we will be faced with critical energy shortages. Unfortunately, our state institutions are more interested in playing “election ludo” and political parties are busy in political kabaddi. Instead of locking cheaper gas deals, the former PTI government was more focused on political victimisation, blame game, and ethics degradation. The incumbent coalition government is also faced with uncertainty and is more concerned about staying in power and re-election. The tense political and economic situation has become a cause of concern for all citizens. However, those in positions of power have ignored the gravity of these issues.
As always, our policymakers adopt a reactive approach, which prevents them from resolving the ongoing issues. Our state motto appears to be “it will be dealt with when it will be visible”, which needs to change. Our policymakers must adopt a proactive approach because states cannot be run on a day-to-day basis.
There is no plan for either international challenges or domestic ones. The forthcoming energy crisis is one of the many issues that need articulation. Other issues that we do not have any plans for include population growth, unemployment, food shortages, inflation, unending political circus, stable foreign policy, public diplomacy, or restoring our global image.
Unfortunately, both print and electronic media have failed to initiate any productive discussion. Mainstream television channels have not paid any attention to important affairs, our public remains unaware of all other issues besides domestic political tussle. Real problems and real solutions are not a priority, and the result is in front of us.
If we do not provide our audience with the world view, they will keep bickering with each other on political affiliations while the root of the problem will remain intact. Energy, food, and security will remain in the shadows until they become a ghost and stand right in front of us to receive due attention.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2022.
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