Gaslighting is “a form of intimidation or psychological abuse, where false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their memory, perception and quite often, their sanity.” A modified version of this definition can be used to explain what the government and the gas supply companies are doing to Pakistanis. To be fair, only adding gas companies with the government is not right, Pakistanis are deprived of most, if not all fundamental rights – namely water, electricity, education, health, security of life and property, protection against slavery, protection to women and children, etc–provided in the first 28 points of the Constitution of Pakistan. Pakistanis have been conditioned to accept psychological abuse as one by one, they are deprived of their rights. In fact, most of them don’t even know they have any rights and therefore they adapt as they are given less and less. Over the past decade, we have seen Pakistanis (mostly urbanites) protesting against the load-shedding of electricity, especially during the hottest months. But over time, they realised that this was the status quo, no electricity, high bills, the protests tapered down and people adapted. New ways to get the utility were explored and they found illegal connections. When the authorities began cracking down against them, people who could afford it began installing UPS, generators, and now solar panels. Similarly, as the gas shortage is getting worse every year, people have found other means. No, they did not find alternative fuel, mainly because most urbanites don’t know how to use alternate fuel which is expensive anyway. And with the majority living in small apartments, it is difficult to use firewood, coal, etc. Pakistanis have been conditioned to accept psychological abuse as one by one, they are deprived of their rights. What many have found is a machine that diverts the gas in the pipes to their homes. It is the same system that people used in the 1980-90s for water. This is illegal but also extremely dangerous and could result in gas leaks, fires, and even explosions. The government and the experts spew complicated statements and figures to explain why the country is deprived of natural gas and how efforts are being made to import it. Consumers are told a network of pipelines is being laid from here to Mars and back to supplement the deficiency; that the government is doing its best and soon everyone will have a constant supply of cheap natural gas. And recently, Musadik Malik, Minister of State for Petroleum, was quoted by the media as saying that Pakistan will import 20,000 tons of additional gas from Azerbaijan over the next two months to meet the demand. It would be good if Malik lives up to his promise as people are living in extreme conditions as many people across the country are struggling due to the lack of gas. People are struggling to cook one meal a day and are forced to buy food at high prices which is not at all sustainable for most of the population already struggling with inflation with a dead income. The prices of basic commodities keep rising for various reasons – rising prices of petroleum products; devaluation of the currency against the dollar which seems to be getting stronger all the time – making it difficult for more and more people to meet basic needs like food. With the prices increasing and the purchasing power shrinking a large chunk of the population is already living in misery. With no subsidiary for the public and expensive basic utilities like water, gas, and electricity, the common people are unable to cope with their routine life. They are working more and getting less, which is not a good existence in general and especially not as elections loom. No government has been able to provide the people with much relief, the country is always in a state of one crisis or another without much attention paid to the real problems. Some governments plug problems with quick fixes that are not durable and only end up exasperating the situation. The consumers are not provided with any relief and are instead forced to shoulder the burden of every government which is not giving them anything. Some non-governmental organisations, like the Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP), a rights-based civil initiative, try to fill the vacuum and deal with parts of the problems. But Pakistan needs some serious decisions followed by actions that are people-specific, not temporary band-aids that hurt more when they suddenly come off. It is time that the government began looking for solutions on priority and began making and putting plans into action and stopped gaslighting Pakistanis. The writer is a journalist who writes on gender, human rights, social issues, and climate. She is currently working as IFJ’s Pakistan’s Gender Coordinator and Media Trainer.