While Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is focusing on the corruption of opposition, the people are falling prey to all other crises. From the law and order situation to poor policing, from a sharp increase in the prices of essential commodities to their shortage in the market, everywhere the government’s writ looks weakened. The latest warning issued by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) of gas shortage in winter must prompt the users to find alternatives for themselves.

This stark admission of an incoming crisis shows that successive governments have been unable to take the country out of such a situation. According to the report, the gap between demand and supply—likely to reach 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd)—will worsen the already low availability of gas that is a cheap alternative for electricity for many during the winter season. Gas will be only available for a few hours, probably around cooking time. And what those hours will be is yet to be scheduled.

To add to the miseries of the users, our experiences with gas shortage inform us that the warning also carries an implied alarm regarding low pressure. Every year, the start of the last quarter reminds us of this impending crisis. However, this one will be different than all the previous ones, because the latest hint of a shortage of 500 mmcfd heralds an emergency. Indeed, the wise use of gas is one way to mitigate the looming emergency. But consuming gas thriftily is not going to solve the shortage problem.

What is needed is to find sustainable alternatives at the same time. Though work on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI) is in progress, it will not start operating anytime soon. Hence, importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the only option the government has to provide some relief to the users. Lastly, if the government had worked on contingency plans for 2020-21, the approaching gas emergency could have been averted.