EVERYONE knows that there is an energy crisis. But that is no reason for wither PEPCO or its controlling ministry, that of Water and Power, to start lying. The situation is both simple and grave. When the estimated demand of the eight distribution companies is computed, it comes to 14648 MW, and the total supply is 9743 MW. The deficit is 4905 MW, which is on covered by loadshedding, which extends hours, and which has reached into the rural hinterlands of the major metropoles for several hours at a time. More important, all the major cities have also experienced loadshedding which is longer than promised. WAPDA is still carrying on with the polite fiction that it is not carrying out loadshedding, but just rationalizing load. However, it has become part of life in Pakistan today that loadshedding times are taken into consideration, and it has been noticed that WAPDA begins loadshedding a little earlier, and ends it a little later. The situation has grown very grave in Karachi, where the national export drive is focused. There the power has been going for hours on end, and while loadshedding has taken a very high domestic toll this summer, in terms of suffering from the heat, irrespective of age and station, it has affected industry very badly. Agriculture has also been adversely affected, not just in the quality of life of agriculturists, but because electric power is used for a number of vital agricultural operations. With exports already held back by loadshedding, Pakistan relies on agriculture to keep it going. If, combined with the food crisis, the fuel crisis is allowed to hold back the economy, the government will have no one but itself to blame. This is because, although there is a genuine shortage which is causing this crisis, at the back is also the financial crisis which everyone seems to be suffering: WAPDA and PEPCO, the IPPs, and the oil companies. The furnace oil needed to keep thermal plants open is only imported against money which the IPPs and PEPCO do not have. The government has apparently made available the Rs 70 billion that is owed, and the releases should ensure at least some improvement in the situation. However, though there should be some improvement as winter approaches, there isn't, because previous governments failed to put up any more power stations to meet the increasing demand. Also, the National Conservation Plan, with the shutting of shopping centres by 8 pm, did not succeed. The government may not be able to do anything about the prices of oil, or the world food crisis, but it can still solve local problems, like ensuring the supply of furnace oil, and ensuring that shopping centres shut down when they are told.