Pakistanis recently witnessed a repeat of the 2015 petroleum shortage. The reason was, once again, the falling global prices and the attempt by the oil industry to avoid inventory losses.

The difference this time was that the crisis developed over a period of time, persisted too long and saw a far poorer response from the government. There was no sign the authorities concerned, regulators and market players had learnt any lesson from the January 2015 crisis.

It also transpired, meanwhile, that the supply chain had always been dependent on smuggling — by some companies and dealers — from Iran with around 5,000 tonnes daily imports or 150,000 tonnes monthly supplies.

As the Pakistan-Iran border was closed more than three months ago, the shortage started to build up. According to an official estimate, Pakistan is losing about Rs300 million per day (Rs110 billion per annum) on account of sales tax and petroleum levy owing to the smuggling of petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Iran.