“Those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.” (Benjamin Franklin) The geopolitical landscape, especially in the Asian continent, is shifting rapidly and seeing unprecedented realignments and regroupings among countries previously thought unthinkable. Some countries are using their fuel exports as a leverage to influence some others to align them with their policy preferences, prompting some experts to reiterate the criticality of energy self-reliance by shifting from imported fuels to indigenous energy resources. In today’s interdependent world, however, “energy independence” may just be a mirage chasing which can lead us to isolation and may not be worth the cost. A better goal to pursue is “energy security” which embraces within its folds, a practicable proportion of indigenous resources. According to Pakistan Energy Yearbook 2019, of the total 83.8 mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) primary energy supplies, we imported 38.2 mtoe (or roughly 45 percent). We imported 23 percent of our gas supplies, 72 percent of crude oil, 100 percent of petroleum products, 28 percent of LPG, and over 80 percent of our coal. All these imports come with a price tag that exceeded USD 16.5 billion last year. As “a chain is as strong as its weakest link”, these imports are costing us not only a high proportion of our foreign exchange earnings, it also exposes our defense, economy, and society to high risks due to potential supply disruptions, price volatility, and as we noted above, our ability to pursue an independent foreign policy line. These are not just perceived risks or paranoid thinking; these are all real as well as imminent. One is, therefore, tempted to consider total indigenization of our energy supplies. However, and for a host of reasons like lack of resource endowment, technology constraints, locational issues, and economic and financial issues, this may not be practicable. Also, the problem with energy infrastructure is that it’s capital-intensive, long-lived, and once in place, locks a nation into consumption patterns and supply dependencies that cannot be changed quickly and without serious costs. Continuously shifting geopolitical conditions, technological developments, market trends, and new knowledge bases can easily render a previously energy secured country vulnerable to new risks and threats, thus undermining its energy security For similar reasons, many countries had tried in the past to eliminate their dependence on foreign energy supplies, but at the end had to settle for indigenization well below 100 percent and instead have strived to improve the security of their energy supplies through a myriad of other efforts. Just to illustrate this point, Japan lacks much of the commercial energy resources but still ranks among the top energy secured countries in the world, mainly because of its strong economic relationships with both the energy suppliers as well as other developed countries. Similarly, though China depends a great deal on other countries for its energy supplies, any serious “disruption” to Chinese energy supplies as a policy tool is considered implausible since the economies of many developed countries and energy suppliers depend a lot on supply of cheaper products from China. Therefore, while energy independence is a pipe dream, energy security is more plausible, practicable, and achievable. Unlike the former, the goal of which is to become self-sufficient in the production of energy, the latter focuses on increasing the supply of energy by exploiting all of the sources available to us, not just those restricted to energy. A key point to remember is that while energy choices are influenced by a country’s foreign policy, economic priorities, and environmental constraints these also get influenced by the energy choices it makes, thus adding another layer of complexity to an already complex issue. Unfortunately, a singular focus on import reduction or indigenization will not address the multiple political, socioeconomic, and environmental impacts of energy supply. Many additional considerations should drive energy policy. However, we must admit at the outset that energy security is not a well-defined concept and also does not have a universally accepted set of metrics. According to one published report, at least 45 separate definitions of energy security are presented in the academic and policy literature over the past decade and the list is continuously increasing. Energy security is generally considered to base on four pillars: “availability”, “reliability”, “affordability”, and sustainability”. Availability is the ability of a country to secure its energy needs. It requires an extensive commercial market and sufficient physical resources, infrastructure, financial systems, and legal framework to back them up. Reliability refers to the extent that energy services are protected from disruption through diversification of energy sources and supply chains, resilience to handle shocks and recover from failures. Affordability involves low or equitable prices relative to income and their stability. Sustainability refers to minimizing the socioeconomic and environmental damages that can result from long-lived energy infrastructure. Policymakers in Pakistan are also aware of the importance of energy security and have been making efforts, at least in theory, to make the country self-reliant in resources including energy. Even though, an integrated national energy policy is, perhaps, still on the drawing board, the draft National Electricity Policy 2020 (“NEP2020”), under its section 3.2. ENERGY SECURITY, states that: “Energy security, including uninterrupted availability of energy sources, is an essential goal for the power sector. The goal of the Government is to diversify the fuel mix of the generation capacity in the country, through optimal utilization of energy resources, such as hydro, renewable sources, indigenous coal, natural gas, and nuclear.” The NEP2020, however, does not specify any objective or concrete set of attributes that should guide the planners and decision-makers downstream on how they should build this security in their systems and the “measures” or “indicators” they should use to monitor and assess the progress on this issue. A recently conducted research by Asian Development Bank Institute (“ADB Institute”) that analyzed Pakistan’s energy security under a quantitative 4As framework (availability of resources, applicability of technologies, acceptability by society, and affordability of energy resources) over the 6-year period of 2011–2017, indicates that Pakistan’s energy security improved initially over the first 3 years but then deteriorated over the next 3 years. “Despite significant investments in the energy infrastructure over the last 5 years, Pakistan continues to be energy insecure,” the report noted. (ADB Institute: October 2019). We must appreciate that energy security is not a static concept; it’s a dynamic issue and a continuously evolving theme. It varies not only over time but also from country to country. Continuously shifting geopolitical conditions, technological developments, market trends, and new knowledge bases can easily render a previously energy secured country vulnerable to new risks and threats, thus undermining its energy security. It’s, therefore, desirable that both its definition and the metrics to measure it are reviewed periodically or whenever a material change in the background conditions warrants such a review. While new threats have emerged within and around our borders and also at global level, new opportunities have also evolved to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and their foreign suppliers, and lessen our reliance on capital-intensive and high-risk projects. Thomas Jefferson had aptly noted, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” We must also be ready to review our energy security afresh and frequently since it is a critical link to our liberty. And, this may just be the time to transform our energy infrastructure to more decentralized, distributed, and naturally renewable systems which can ensure supplies of socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable energy to our nation. The writer is a freelance consultant, specializing in sustainable energy and power system planning and development.