Khaqan’s somersault


MINISTER for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has dropped a bombshell by telling people of Punjab to get ready to face the harsh winter with reduced supplies of natural gas. He told a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources that currently gas shortage for domestic consumers is 40%, which would increase in winter and as a result there would be gas load-shedding for domestic consumers from 10pm to 5am.
The Minister has all along been telling people that the gas shortage during this winter would not be as acute as it was before because of import of LNG from Qatar. Now he maintains that costly LNG cannot be assigned to domestic sector. This is strange and unacceptable logic, as provision of LNG to whatever sector should have resulted in improvement of supplies for others. If the situation did not ease then why gas supply to CNG stations has been restored and why non-interrupted supplies are made to the industry. Then we were also repeatedly assured that domestic sector was the top priority as far as provision of natural gas is concerned but now it is being made to bear the brunt. This state of affairs is unfortunate and is a reminder to the people that the Government is not capable of meeting gas shortages and all claims in this regard are mere rhetoric. This also raises questions about Govt assurances that power outages would be eliminated by 2018. If gas shortages are going to be acute despite imported LNG then there is hardly any hope for alleviation of power load-shedding in next summer. We hope the Government would look seriously into its policies and plans aimed at meeting shortfall of both gas and electricity; otherwise like PPP, the PML-N would face wrath of the electorate in the next general elections.