Natural resources, energy and environment
Pakistan's most important natural resource is
natural gas, which is mainly extracted in the
Baluchistan province in the southwest. The country also
has its own oil resources, but they cover only a small
part of the need. Oil imports are therefore high.
Electricity shortages and constant power cuts are
serious problems for both households and the economy.
Other minerals extracted in considerable quantities
are limestone, rock salt, gypsum, quartz sand, iron,
zinc, copper, lead and coal. Mining accounts for only a
few percent of the country's GDP and employs a
negligible share of the labor force.
Major exports by Pakistan with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
While oil production has stagnated during the 2010s,
gas production has risen following new finds. To a
certain extent, the government has managed to cover a
greater part of the growing energy demand with domestic
gas instead of imported oil (mostly from Saudi Arabia).
Oil imports account for one fifth of total imports.
Just over 80 percent of the energy consumed comes
from oil and gas, which also accounts for just over 60
percent of the electricity. Just over a quarter of the
electricity comes from hydroelectric power stations,
most of them in the north rivers. Five percent of the
electricity is generated from nuclear power. The
remaining electricity is extracted from, among other
things, coal power and solar energy.
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With the help of Chinese financing, Pakistan is
investing in domestic coal power, which today accounts
for only one percent of electricity generation. In the
framework of the Sino-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
infrastructure and development project, nine coal-fired
power plants will be built in the country. The
investment in coal power meets criticism from
environmental experts due to the negative climate impact
of the coal. The construction of a large coal-fired
power plant in Tharöknen in the south-east has also
raised concerns among the local population about what it
will mean for the area's scarce water resources
(coal-fired power plants require a lot of water to
Pakistan has a handful of nuclear power plants,
including outside Karachi in the south and the Indus
River in the north. An expansion of nuclear power is
Pakistan's first solar power generation plant was
inaugurated in May 2015 in Bahawalpur. The plant was
built by a Chinese company.
Since the mid-1990s new private energy companies have
been started, but electricity shortages are still a
problem. Demand is growing rapidly, due to both
increased industrial production and the electrification
of rural areas and the greater demands of households.
An opportunity to increase electricity generation
lies in greater utilization of the country's enormous
water resources in the large rivers, but also in
streamlining power plants. Their production is low today
because of worn equipment and the companies cannot
afford to buy enough oil or gas.
An obstacle to efficient electricity generation is
also poor administration, where various producers and
distributors are in feud with each other about the
payment, and where the electricity companies also find
it difficult to get paid for what they supply to
customers. Often the provincial authorities are among
the big pay cheaters, because they have such a hard time
collecting taxes that they have a chronically poor
Theft of electric power is common and is often
carried out by the electricity companies' own employees
on behalf of major customers. Distributors' ability to
detect thefts is usually small. In addition, the waste
is large because the systems for paying for what is
actually delivered are substandard. In practice, a
significant part of electricity distribution is
estimated to have been taken over by organized crime.
In Baluchistan, the production of natural gas is
under constant threat from separatist guerrillas, which
require that a greater proportion of gas revenues accrue
to the province. It has happened that Chinese personnel
have been kidnapped and killed.
The insufficient electricity production has forced
rationing, which means that entire districts or
districts are without power a certain number of hours
per day. In the 2010s, the problems have only increased
and become a threat to the country's economic
development, besides creating unfavorable living
conditions for the population.
The PML-N government (2013–2018) took the initiative
for a unified national electricity supply plan. Some of
the problems stem from conflicting interests between the
provinces, where a hydroelectric project that can
benefit one province may risk leading to forced
relocation in another and causing water shortages in a
Lack of water is another imminent problem. The UN has
warned Pakistan that it is facing "absolute" water
shortage by 2025.
Deforestation has led to a significant reduction in
Pakistan's forest area. About one-twentieth of the land
area is currently covered by forest. The UN has
recommended that forest area be doubled. Tree planting
is underway in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, partly to
prevent soil degradation and flooding, and partly to
counteract climate change. The federal government has
also initiated replanting initiatives.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
486 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
472 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
166 298 thousand tons (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.9 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
46.5 percent (2015)
India is pressing for Mumbai action
Pakistan is under severe pressure from India, after Pakistani Islamists
carried out a series of concerted terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Bombay) and
killed at least 175 people. Some people are arrested.
Zardari is appointed president
The electoral college elects PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari as president by a
The government is cracking down
PPP presents Asif Ali Zardari as its presidential candidate. PML-N leaves the
government and launches a counter candidate.
PPP and PML-N decide to put Musharraf before national law. He chooses to
resign himself instead.
Gilani becomes new prime minister
Yusuf Raza Gilani from PPP is elected new Prime Minister. He releases all
imprisoned judges and promises to ask the UN to investigate Bhutto's murder.
PPP and PML-N win the election
Parliamentary elections are conducted after a bloody run-up with about 100
casualties. The opposition parties PPP and the Muslim League (PML-N) win big and
agree, despite many years of rivalry, to form a joint government.