23 January 2023
By Rehan Piracha
Local tribes have opposed gas supply to Punjab from North Waziristan gasfield, calling on the government to prioritise the provision of gas to residents in the tribal district.
The call was made in a grand jirga held in Bakkakhel Mandi on Sunday. Reiterating support to the tribes, MNA Mohsin Dawar, chief of the National Democratic Movement, said he has submitted a call attention notice over the issue in the National Assembly
The gathering was attended by tribal chiefs, elders and tribesmen from Otmanzai, Ahmadzai, and other tribes and clans. The tribal elders that the authorities were laying a pipeline to supply gas to Punjab while neglecting the needs of local residents who under the Constitution have the first right over gas facility discovered in their area. Tribal elder Malik Gulbaz Khan said tribesmen would not allow the construction of the gas pipeline to Punjab if the local residents were not provided gas connections.
Malik Mir Samad Khan and Malik Moveez Khan said the government was depriving area people of their due rights. “If the government does not give any surety to local tribesmen regarding provision of gas to residents then they are justified to launch an agitation and raise their voice for their rights,” the tribal elders said. The elders in the jirga called on the government to set up a refinery in any district of the Bannu division.
“Local tribes in Bakakhel held a grand jirga about the gas supply from North Waziristan that passes through their areas to Punjab and other parts of the country while they are not being given their rightful share, Dawar said in his tweet, adding that he had submitted a call attention notice to voice concerns over denial of gas supply to residents in North Waziristan in the National Assembly.
In June, 2022, Mari Petroleum Company Limited announced a gas/condensate discovery resulting from its exploratory well in North Waziristan. The company termed it as one of the largest gas/condensate discoveries in the recent past in the country and the first-ever such discovery in North Waziristan.
According to estimates, the gas discovery is expected to save the country $1.5 billion annually in foreign remittances. According to the MPCL, production of 25 million cubic feet of gas has been started from North Waziristan well. The gas supply is expected to reach 200 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD). MPCL was also working closely with Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited in laying gas transmission pipeline for providing connectivity with the national grid.
Pakistan is currently experiencing a great shortage of gas supply and domestic consumers were being supplied gas for cooking for just six hours daily. The gas load-shedding has led to several protests in various parts of the country.