On 11th of December, the Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar maintained that the country was not facing gas load shedding. However, he added a qualification to his statement that some areas faced the problem of low pressure. The comment of the minister suggested, “all is well.” However, in less than twenty-four hours from suggesting no crisis to blaming the management of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), the contradictory statements of the Minister for Petroleum tells a sorry state of affairs. The question that he needs to answer is this: Why did the minister misinform the lower house on the gas situation? The minister for petroleum should apologise for misleading the National Assembly (NA) and ensure no such repetition happens.

Commenting on the management of the two companies that according to Mr Ghulam Sarwar committed negligence, it is sufficient to say that these companies are highly inefficient and incompetent. The Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has done what is needed. An inquiry that would be conducted on the orders of the PM should not only name the responsible ones for the current crisis. It should also suggest what punitive measures should the government take against the ones who withheld information from the government.

The inquiry committee will submit its report to the PM within three days. However, it should not be an exercise to divert public gaze and an attempt to pacify the industrialists. The PM should then act upon the recommendations of the report if it holds anyone accountable for the crisis. The government has no option but to adopt a strict approach towards the two companies mentioned before. The management of these two companies has shown an abysmal performance over the years.

However, what happened in these past few days is just the tip of the iceberg. There is much more to the gas crisis. The current fiasco that resulted in the closure of industry across Pakistan should be an eye-opener for the government. If the government does not involve itself in a major overhaul of its energy sector, the gas crisis in future will be more severe. However, the crisis can still be rectified. The government should invite companies to explore more indigenous energy resources. Moreover, all these years the government did not pay any attention to chalking out a plan for ensuring the efficient consumption of natural gas. Now is the time to formulate a strategy on management, distribution, allocation and use of gas.