The issue of gas supply nationwide is one that goes beyond simple questions of logistics, and takes political and ethnic contours especially when Article 158 is under discussion. This article in the constitution pertains to the first right of the provinces that are producing gas over its use. However, in practice, Balochistan and other provinces that produce a greater share of the natural resource have often alleged that this article is not followed in letter and spirit.

But this entire debate might soon be obsolete, as evidenced by the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Petroleum, Nadeem Babar’s recent revelations. He clarified that the government was not looking to amend Article 158, but it might soon just lose all relevance when the provinces that produce gas no longer even have enough to supply it to their own inhabitants. His candid conversation should send alarm bels ringing; Sindh will not be able to even supply its own constituents with gas in a year and a half; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in two-and-a-half years; Balochistan only has 3.5 years left.

The SAPM has announced that a load management plan is in place, but this alone is not enough to mitigate this incoming crisis. Trying to balance the load should only be a last-ditch policy and only if plans to import LNG fail. The objective here should be to shore up supply lines, not ration gas in the hopes that we stumble upon new reserves.

The government needs to strategize a specific policy for importing gas and offsetting the shortfall. Pakistan’s daily production is already behind national demand, which already implies that more gas is needed. We cannot wait for the well to run completely dry before we start considering solutions.