The ongoing energy crisis did not erupt overnight. After the Indus Basin Water Treaty (1960) with India, a formula for the division of the waters of the main rivers - Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Bias - was devised and mutually agreed upon by Islamabad and New Delhi. Also, the United Nations and World Bank were asked for assistance in the implementation of the treaty, besides resolving any dispute through the International Court of Justice. The only major step that was taken thereafter for water management to meet the agriculture and energy needs of Pakistan was the construction of the Mangla and Tarbela dams. Later, unfortunately, successive governments failed to accord any priority to the growing need of the rapidly expanding industrial, agricultural and domestic sectors. The leadership seemed to be blind to the population explosion and its fatal consequences upon the economy. So, the current sufferings and setbacks in almost all sectors of national life are due to lack of good governance. Is it not a matter of shame that Pakistan has not produced a single PhD in water management during the past 64 years of our chequered history, when our national progress and development depends largely on agriculture and energy, including electricity and gas?
The democratically-elected government, too, cannot absolve itself from criminal lack of political will to resolve the energy crisis. The people of Pakistan, who have been cheated for more than half a century, are demanding change. While the ruling elite, who sabotaged the construction of the Kalabagh Dam, will have to face the rage of the masses as they have finally lost faith in it.
The total production capacity of the available energy resources in the country and the current demand of the industrial and domestic sector is common knowledge. But the gap, instead of being bridged through urgent steps by various means, is constantly increasing resulting in energy shortage, thus leading to chaos and unrest. Keeping this in view, the Federal Minister for Water and Power should resign. But who would resign in a country where even the Prime Minister, charged with contempt of court, does not want to resign honourably; rather he chooses to become either a shaheed or a ghazi.
Indeed, finding solutions to end the energy crisis is the need of the hour. I addressed an open letter to the PM on this subject that was published in TheNation on May 4, 2010. Once again, I wish to draw attention to three programmes, which can yield additional power from the existing ones.
i Mitigation of power shortages and provision of additional power to meet future demands through energy efficiency programmes 6482-8826 mw/yr. This includes rehabilitation, upgradation of existing hydropower projects, similar optimisation of existing thermal power plants, energy saving refrigeration programmes and electric meter replacement.
i Local manufacture and supply of energy saving lights, including street lights saving per year 1375 mw/yr.
i Mitigation of gas shortages and initiation of an enhancement programme; this includes gas leakage reduction in pipelines and replacement of the existing metering system to reduce wastage of gas.
The salient features of these measures/programmes that have been worked out by experts include foreign investments and offers from various international financial institutions. However, the government, according to sources, has some reservations to proceed forward actively in the examination of the programmes.
More so, it would be better if all the political parties accord top priority to the energy crisis and suggest appropriate and viable solutions, so that the voters can judge their seriousness in tackling the real issues facing the nation. Against this backdrop, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf is launching policy seminar series, chaired by Imran Khan, kicking off with the energy crisis on top of the list. Other parties, too, should add such policy seminar series on national issues to their rallies and public.
The writer is President of the Pakistan National Forum.