The PML-N government still struggles with its prescriptive strategy for solving prolonged loadshedding, and this should not be the case, as it is not a new problem. A lack of will, and corruption at the highest levels does nothing to incentivise serving the nation. The problems are well known. Electricity is not affordable for the consumer, bill collection has holes resulting in 15 to 30 percent losses in revenue, we are heavily dependant on imported fuel resulting in the loss of foreign exchange and the depreciation of the rupee, and circular debt. In terms of energy source mix, Pakistan has one of the most expensive power generation costs in the world, the origins of which line in the Private Power Policy of 1994. The policy made during Benazir Bhutto’s second term in government allowed private investors to set up power generation projects under long term take-or-pay Power Purchase Agreements at extremely attractive rates. There were few restrictions on technology, fuel source or efficiency. Any increase in the cost of fuel had the risk borne entirely by the buyer, and a sovereign risk guarantee was required in case of default. Rising fuel costs, government subsidies and a cap at how much the consumer could be charged led to massive amounts of circular debt for the power providers and losses in government revenue.

Not that the PML-N is doing any less damage to energy policy today. Investment in additional generating capacity in the 400MW Chinese Nandipur unit was completed at a cost of US$840 million and can only run on high-speed diesel. The power cost of more than Rs. 30 per unit to operate is unaffordable. The other initiative has been to set up a series of imported coal-fired power stations near cities with Chinese collaboration, and will be an ecological disaster. Thar coal is a major future energy source but we may be at least three years away from it becoming viable. Nuclear power is dangerous, it will pollute and create havoc with the environment, and there are other more attractive sources to be explored before we go down that road. The government by now should have built more dams and engaged in a national policy to solve the problem rather than setting up ad hoc projects, many of which have been failures. The government is leading the sector towards more and more dependence on the outside. China has offered to export 4,000MW of electricity to Pakistan, when the need is for Pakistan to come up with some options that can produce energy indigenously.