The crisis that we face today is just not in the energy sector alone, it has engulfed every facet of our life.

The energy crisis is not because we have suddenly fallen short in availability of a certain fuel; it can be argued that it is because we planned for it by default by not planning for the judicious use of our resources, which we inherited from nature. But this is an understatement; the fact is that successive governments for more than 20 years have been declining to take good counsel from its own professionals for want of political exigencies and corrupt practices.

There is a huge interference by political and vested interests to the extent that, instead of keeping their pride in legislation and policy, now the parliamentarians insist that development planning is their function.

The bureaucracy, technocrats and heads of public sector corporations are equally responsible for the current state of affairs in the country. Most of them, in order to please the line of command, towed and obeyed all the wrong orders and knowingly misused the resources of their ministries and organisations through executive orders for small personal gains.

Energy is available but only at a cost that is beyond our means and even that of the federal government, and, hence, the ever-increasing resultant circular debt. Therefore, it can be easily concluded that one of the reasons for the energy crisis is the crisis in economy.

Economic decisions taken and implemented in the past two decades failed to put enough money in our pockets to buy the energy made extra expensive by the policymakers funded by the vested interests. They opted to develop the worst scenario, i.e. thermal electricity and, that too, based on imported oil instead coal. Now, we are told that these IPPs would be converted to use imported gas.

As the natural gas - imported as LNG or via pipeline from Iran are the only options for gas under active consideration - has a price tag linked to world oil prices, there is hardly any likelihood of making the energy cheaper by more than say 10 percent.

We are still shy of imported coal (until such time we can convince the leaders of Sindh to start mining coal) that can make a dent of around 50 percent. Had we opted to develop our hydro-electric projects, we would have spared ourselves of the disaster that we face due to heavy dependence on thermal generation.

Most governments, both civil and uncivil, and their administrations, failed us due to their myopic views on our essential needs of education and technology, health and social welfare, food and agriculture, industry and economy, and the basic drivers of a vibrant economy like law and justice, human resource development and energy.

Our political entities take pride in their leaderships. However, as far as their functioning is concerned, they not only seriously lack expertise in the management of the above stated facets of life, but also exhibit bias in adopting the best available advice.

In order to excel and prosper, strong institutions are needed to provide roadmaps and resource allocation for the long-term development plans and projects having the ability to go through a change in the political administrations.

It is high time for confidence building and to create strong institutions for the necessary strategic planning of our future structural needs, in all areas, like energy, education, health, agriculture, technology, etc.

Planning activity needs to be separated as a function of the government at the highest level and made independent of the implementation organs (i.e. ministries) of the state for the necessary success with better efficiency and accountability in future undertakings.

We need to redefine objectives for our energy policy, keeping in view the short, medium and long term requirements of various sectors. Sine qua non for good strategy is that its foundations rest on correct data and objective studies in all domains and not on the wacky whims, wangled wishes and warped wisdom of some individuals, who comport to be more equal than others.

Look forward and float an offshore Pakistan specific gas pipeline, join in an LNG venture in the Gulf and stop feeling shy of investing in-house for carbon management at Thar on a large scale and multiply efforts for production of nuclear energy. Instead of proving the wisdom in ‘the nearer the church the farther from God’ go ahead and exploit hydro, while our rivers flow. Solar and wind also promise very good returns and need to be pursued on a scale much larger than what we are currently trying to play with, that would earn carbon credits as well. In addition, provide right kind of incentives for accelerating the exploration activity and increase budgetary provision and capability for drilling for upstream oil and gas industry.

The writer is an independent consultant to the energy industry with more than 40 years of experience. He was Head of Business Development and Senior General Manager Corporate Planning and Development at Sui Northern. He is also a member of IGU’s (www.igu.org) Task Force 3 - Geopolitics and Natural Gas.