Islamabad is expected to soon secure an extensive deal with Qatar for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG). But we are always sealing deals for energy. There’s the Iran pipe like, countless agreements with the World Bank for electricity, Chinese power plants, pipes from Central Asia... but none of these projects and investments have done us any good yet. But this is a buy, rather than a project. Pakistan is aiming to import up to three million tonnes of LNG per year, most of which is expected to come from Qatar once the deal is finalised. This is expenditure of $1.5bn annually, or $22.5bn over 15 years. Out biggest deal yet. The upshot is that we may not have to rely on furnace oil, which is expensive, and often in short supply. The import of LNG will enable Pakistan to produce between seven and nine per cent more power, while the import is expected to yield cost savings worth an annual $300mn.

Till now the plans and promises of the PML-N to end the energy crisis have come to naught, and it is hard to accept that there will be a perceivable change in our situation. All these incessant negotiations for different sorts of gas from here and there through pipelines or in the liquefied form do not seem to go beyond empty rhetoric. And what if we can’t pay for LNG the next year? It is quite possible. We already haven’t been able to pay to build our end of the pipeline we promised Iran, and debt and penalties are piling over the project. The question still remains: When we have known for the past two decades that we are short on energy and power, why did we not build more dams? Could the same mountain of money that were are going to give to Qatar not have been better invested in dams, irrigation and better national resource development and excavation in Pakistan, say two, five or ten years ago?

This is a good deal, but only because we have nothing else, we have to import. We have burnt all our bridges for indigenous sustainable production, or more aptly, burnt all our fuel.