Gilgit (ET): Energy is, perhaps, the only context in which Punjab can be described as the relatively poor province. Sindh and Balochistan have abundant hydrocarbon reserves and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan have enormous potential for producing hydroelectric power. That leaves poor old Punjab reliant on imported primary energy. During the previous administration, the PML-N had the luxury of blaming Islamabad for the province’s energy shortages. But now, with the PML-N in power in the federal capital, the Punjab PML-N no longer has an excuse.
So, it is a welcome sign that the Punjab government has announced measures to attract investment in coal and alternative energy sources that are expected to produce up to 350 megawatts of electricity. On the energy front, at least, the Nawaz Administration really does appear keen on making the best of the resources and authority now available to it. One might think that, given voter frustration about the chronic power crisis, such measures would merely be the logical political choice. Alas, not all parties think this way.
For five years, the PPP-led coalition governments both at the centre and in Sindh made absolutely no progress on extracting the supposedly vast coal reserves in Thar. Why they did not do so remains a mystery.
While the Sindh government continues to sleep on vast hydrocarbon reserves — not just coal, but also 50 per cent of Pakistan’s oil and 71 per cent of the nation’s gas — Punjab is moving on to newer technologies, including two projects that will generate a combined 140 megawatts of solar electricity, in what would be the first major solar power project in the country.
Politicians in Sindh must realise that, while their grievances may have been true in decades past, Punjab’s wealth today is reliant not on stealing resources from other provinces, but making the best of what it has. We hope, for the sake of the residents of Sindh, that they realise this soon.