Pakistan's textile and apparel firms have expressed their concerns at government plans to cut gas supplies to the industry as the start of the winter season puts further pressure on supplies.

Temperatures are already falling in the northern part of the country including Punjab, Khyber Pakhtun Khawa (KPK), and Azad Kashmir.

The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) this week said gas supplies will remain suspended for four-days a week - and the industry now fears a complete closure as temperatures drop.

Rana Arif Tauseef, chairman, of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), and Chaudhry Salamat Ali, chief co-ordinator and former chairman of the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA), are to organise protests against the increasing gas cuts for the industry.

Tauseef also warned that shipments worth of US$4m destined to the EU and US are under threat.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) believes a total shutdown in gas supplies could be imminent - and would put the jobs of over 15m people and exports of around US$14bn at stake.

Seth Muhammad Akber, acting chairman of the AllPakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), is urging the government to honour its commitment of four-days-a-week gas supply to textile industry.

While Dr Asim Hussain, the federal minister for petroleum and natural resources, had earlier assured the industry that there is no intention to completely stop the gas supply to the textile industry during the winter, the government is under no obligation to provide gas during the months of December, January and February.

Around 75% of the textile plants in the northern part of Pakistan run gas fired power plants.