Politicising the energy crisis: Party manifestos swell with suggestions

PML-N, PTI and JI are the only parties so far to formulate energy policies.

Manzoor Ali July 30, 2012


While political parties seem eager to exploit public anger over power outages, in terms of suggesting solutions to the crisis, many have yet to part from outdated manifestos formed five years back.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have emerged as exceptions however, by trying to formulate possible energy policies to tackle the country’s power crisis. PML-N was the first followed by PTI and JI. Other parties have yet to add concrete proposals for tackling the crisis to their manifestos, however.

PML-N’s energy policy, released in February this year, emphasised the development of natural resources while using existing energy sources more efficiently to tackle the crisis.

Following PML-N’s lead, PTI issued its energy policy in April, arguing for the replacement of furnace oil by coal to generate around 4,500MW. In addition to this, the party proposed governance reforms, reducing line losses and circular debt and improving the recovery of bills to cope with the energy shortage.

JI’s policy proposed ensuring regular payments and a consistent oil and gas supply to power companies while controlling line losses and thefts as a short term measure. As a midterm measure, the party proposed importing electricity and gas from Iran and the Central Asian states. JI also envisaged constructing five dams to generate around 50,000MW as a long term measure.

The parties’ initiatives have been criticised by Pakistan Peoples Party Sherpao (PPPS) leader Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao. He maintained that developing any such policy was impossible without comprehensively studying the country’s existing resources and alternatives available.

“It is beyond their (political parties’) capacity to estimate such a complex issue,” he added.

Meanwhile, Malik Ghulam Mustafa, Awami National Party’s (ANP) provincial spokesperson, said that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has planned more than a dozen hydroelectric projects across the province which will add about 2,100MW to the national grid in the coming years.

“Some of these projects are in the pipeline, while feasibility studies are being conducted for the others,” he said. Mustafa believed the K-P government could have completed many energy sector projects if funds were available.

The plan to construct hydroelectric units in K-P was part of the energy policy agreed upon by ANP and other parties in an all parties conference held soon after the formation of the new government.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.

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