PESHAWAR – Pakistan is teetering towards an energy-cum-economic crisis as natural gas supplies dry up, export-oriented factories that use the fuel close down and households that rely on it for heat and cooking are left in the cold.

Critics blame short-sighted government policymaking as textile producers, the backbone of the export industry, warn of an indefinite shutdown from next month due to fuel shortages.

The government has already cut supplies to non-export industrial units due to the sudden shortfall in supplies. Gas shortages are pumping up the price of food while many have been forced to use scarce firewood for basic cooking, according to local reports.

Top official sources told Asia Times the situation is worse than the government publicly suggests, claiming that gas supplies may remain suspended all winter. They said a yet-unveiled load management plan proposes to disconnect supplies to around 200 textile producers so the gas can be diverted to other areas of the economy.