The En­ergy Dilemma Re­viv­ing the Rail­ways

Enterprise - - Editor's Desk - Ab­dul Ghani Karachi Mah­mood Shah La­hore

Pak­istan faces a se­ri­ous en­ergy cri­sis but is ill-pre­pared to tackle it though it has a bur­geon­ing pop­u­la­tion that is grow­ing fast. The sin­gle ma­jor out­come of the out­go­ing govern­ment’s lack­lus­ter per­for­mance is that the coun­try’s in­dus­try has al­most come to a stand­still while the peo­ple suf­fer from long hours of load shed­ding.

In­ter­est­ingly, the coun­try has all the req­ui­site en­ergy pro­duc­ing ca­pac­ity. It can meet at least the coun­try’s cur­rent do­mes­tic and in­dus­trial needs. The prob­lem is that the power pro­duc­ers find it ex­pen­sive to run their power gen­er­at­ing units as they can­not af­ford the fuel – the fur­nace oil – and pro­duce only a por­tion of their ca­pac­ity. Fur­ther­more, the coun­try’s gas re­serves are also de­plet­ing. This is the main prob­lem that PM Nawaz Sharif must ad­dress in right earnest be­fore ev­ery­thing else.

It is a pity that while Pak­istan in­her­ited a very fine rail­way sys­tem, over the decades, this sys­tem has been al­lowed to rot and to­day it is al­most at the brink of ex­tinc­tion. For a large and pop­u­lous coun­try, a trans­porta­tion sys­tem of this na­ture should have al­ways been the key. Suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments should have taken the pains to not only pre­serve what we had in­her­ited but to fur­ther ex­pand the rail­way fa­cil­i­ties as an ef­fi­cient and eco­nom­i­cal means for the trans­porta­tion of peo­ple and goods across the length and breadth of the coun­try.

Some­how, this ad­van­tage has been taken up by road trans­porta­tion. The worst part is that the state is slowly con­ced­ing this re­spon­si­bil­ity to the pri­vate sec­tor and is shak­ing it­self out of its duty to pro­vide co­gent means of trans­porta­tion. It is also not re­al­ized that the rail­way net­work is also a back­bone of the na­tion’s de­fence sys­tem and must be re­tained at all costs.

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