The shortfall of gas in the country is causing a rift between the federal and the provincial governments. The Chief Minister (CM) of Sindh Murad Ali Shah is of the opinion that Sindh is not being provided its share of gas as per Article 158 of the Constitution of Pakistan despite the amount of gas the province produces. Article 158 of the Constitution says that the province in which the well-head of natural gas is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements of natural gas from that well-head, subject to the commitments and obligations as on the commencing day. According to the petroleum division of the government, Sindh is being provided its rightful share of gas used by domestic consumers. The gas produced for industrial use is being divided amongst the rest of the state as discussed by the Constitution.

The real issue behind this rift seems to be the negotiation to adjust the price of weighted gas with the Sindh government, the dialogue for which has not been initiated by both sides. This particular concern is giving rise to suspicions on both ends regarding mismanagement and alienation from due process. The shortfall of gas is affecting several consumers in the country and it is important that all government functionaries coordinate and effectively work out a strategy for gas provisions instead of creating hurdles in the bureaucratic chain of command.

What both sides want is the amicable distribution of the commodity on all ends. At this point, Sindh is producing approximately 2,243 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas and out of this 1200-1300 mmcfd is being put in Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) system while approximately 700 mmcfd is provided directly to power and fertiliser sectors in that province. According to the petroleum division, even if Sindh’s interpretation of Article 158 is applied, Sindh will be short of gas in two years. With that in mind, the allocation of gas should be discussed holistically, so as to not deprive any stakeholder of this important commodity. Along with that, the government should also speed up its efforts to import gas under the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (Tapi) gas pipeline project. Gas shortfall affects several sectors of the economy and once again, it is important for the federal government to engage its provincial units so that there no claims of mistreatment and unjust distribution of resources in the country.