Another challenge for PTI government is ready in the form of a likely alliance between Balochistan government and Pakistan Peoples’ party government in Sindh over the gas shortage issue prevailing in both provinces. This occurred as a result of rejection of the Sindh’s claim for gas (produced by it) by Islamabad.
Sources say that both governments are working on making a joint strategy for overcoming the current gas crisis. They are also trying develop different ideas to make their case stronger in the parliament and also in the next meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI). They say that the idea has also been discussed in recent contact between Sindh Chief Minister SyedMurad Ali Shah and his Balochistan counterpart Jam Kamal Alyani. The two authorities are agreed on pursuing their case jointly since Islamabad authorities are not paying any attention to their problems.
Both the governments complain that Centre is not paying attention to their concerns on gas shortage
A source said that “The Sindh and Balochistan chief ministers have recently discussed the idea”. Mr. Murad Ali Shah took the initiative and contacted Jam Kamal. Mr Jam Kamal also holds the Balochistan’s energy ministry portfolio.
Mr. Shah briefed Mr Alyani about Sindh situation and the benefits of jointly putting up the issue faced by both provinces to the Federal Government. Both have agreed to coordinate with each other for the benefits and interests of the country.
Federal government has rejected the claim of provincial government against gas production. The written rejoinder, communicated to the Sindh Chief Minister’s claim that the province should be paid for its due share of gas, asserts that “citizens of Pakistan (not any particular province) have the first right of use given that citizens are ultimate owners of this resource”.
The chief minister Sindh claims that the natural gas production by the province is between 2,500 and 2,600 mmcfd. On the other hand the quota of the Sui Southern Gas Company for its 2 franchised provinces i.e. Balochistan and Sindh varied between 1200-1300mmcfd. Against its constitutional right of 2500-2600mmcfd Sindh receives natural gas of average 900-1000mmcfd.
Centre claims that the rights of gas usage belong to the whole nation and are not confined to any single province
He said that it is crystal clear from the situation that the people of Sindh are deprived of its share of 2,600mmcfd at the rate of Rs 520.54 per MMBTU and are being forced to purchase gas at Rs. 1,690 per MMBTU.
Mr. Imtiaz Shaikh, Sindh Energy Minister comments that the Centre response “in fact reflects a particular mindset” however the province government will not forgo its rights. Their efforts are not for promotion of provincialism, they are only working for setting a precedent for future.
“It’s not an issue of any province nor you can call it provincialism,” he confirmed the recent contact between the chief ministers and sketching out proposal for a joint plan for overcoming the crises. “We are making a very logical and strong argument in general terms,” Mr Sheikh also said. “Today Sindh and Balochistan are facing gas crisis but tomorrow it can be any other province facing the same situation on another matter.”
Sindh minister shared various proposals were discussed about the joint strategy and the agreed move would prove to be a long lasting solution for energy related crises.
“We two would raise the issue at the right forum and the CCI is the best place to do that. Similarly, we want representation in the energy-related bodies under the federal government whether it’s Ogra or Nepra. Isn’t it ironical that the provinces which contribute the most in this sector don’t enjoy any say on its policies and regulatory affairs.”