The CNG as well as Transporters’ Associations called off their strike on Tuesday when the Petroleum Ministry assured them that the newly imposed levy on CNG would be cancelled. However the Secretary Petroleum stated that the CNG supply to the public transport sector would be continued for one month. How things are going to be managed afterwards is anybody’s guess. It also remains to be seen if the levy reductions issue is resolved amicably, as the final approval must be accorded by the Economic Coordination Committee.

The entire country, especially Rawalpindi had been thrown into chaos as angry people took to the streets and clashed with the police. The government’s management of the energy crisis ever since it came to power has been insufficient, to put it politely. Even though the strike has been cancelled, it will have no effect on the countrywide shortage. The weekly gas holidays have crippled the economy. And the poor people and even the middle classes in urban centres face hurdles in commuting because of the irregularity of fuel supply to CNG buses and vans. The pity is that Punjab which is the breadbasket of the country and which is in greater need of power for its agricultural sector has been a victim of blatant discrimination, when it comes to division of gas among the provinces. The province also has become home to all the businesses that have shifted from Karachi owing to worsening law and order situation. Besides, as the country’s most populous province, its needs are understandably larger than other provinces. Therefore, there are no two opinions on the fact that it ought to have been given its allotted share. The federal government’s argument is that there is shortage of gas all over the country, which is true, but that does not mean a passport to reduce Punjab’s supply drastically. Shortage of gas should not prevent the federal government from distributing the gas to where it is most needed, for the economy's stability.

Meanwhile, Railways, public transport buses and inter-city travel schedules are becoming more and more erratic and unpredictable because of non-availability of gas and fuel. Obviously, it is time the government took up new gas exploration projects on a war footing. Also work on the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project should be expedited. The economy cannot survive without gas and petrol and it is the government’s basic duty to make them available at affordable rates.