Khawaja Asif hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that if we don’t deal with our energy crisis over the next few years, Pakistan’s security cannot be guaranteed. As Water and Power minister, his is the unenviable job of trying to reform the sector, introduce new projects, shake the existing inertia and at the same time raise prices for sporadically available electricity. While the energy policy introduced is not all bad, the main crux of it, ie attracting investment, will prove to be impossible to achieve until the PMLN government does not own up to the fact that security concerns have become synonymous with Pakistan, and no investor worth their salt is comfortable sinking money into a project in a country facing constant threat from extremists and militants.

 Planning for energy security is crucial. Agreed. But so is the need to plan for the physical security of Pakistan. So far, no security policy has been heard of from the new government, except that should the oft-repeated suggestion of “talks” fail to achieve results, “action” would be taken. Is this good enough to reassure investors that their investments will be safe? Hardly.

Large projects buried under the excuse that they require a “consensus”, such as Kalabagh Dam, remain clarion cries for those who would wish an instant fix to the electricity crisis, with one magical project. Unfortunately, while Kalabagh Dam does have tremendous potential as a hydro-project, it’s future is bleak. All but dead in the water, the project has fallen victim to political point-scoring.

Meanwhile, electricity prices soar, and businesses and individual consumers feeling the pinch raise their voices in protest.

Looking at the present government trying to tackle the energy crisis is like seeing an ostrich bury its head in the sand as a solution to danger. Though the PMLN won the recent election on the basis of the electorate’s anger at the continuous loadshedding to which it was subjected, and on the understanding that it would bring it to an end, the present government has so far, only noticeably raised tariffs.

The crisis facing the country is so huge that all resources must be harnessed. The minister correctly pointed out renewable enrgy resources and marked their importance. But so far, renewable energy and the infrastructure it requires are in the planning stages; while obviously required and essential projects such as the IP gas pipeline demonstrate negligible progress. There is no doubt that the Minister understands the issue, and the concern he has voiced may just be an echo of his own frustration at the slow-moving system. But at the end, good intentions are never enough. He has the burden of also demonstrating progress in solving the issues that plague the sector.