President Asif Ali Zardari has claimed to have the ‘panacea for loadshedding’. He made this claim to the PPP Punjab parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday at the Governor’s House. Among the issues raised by the members of the parliamentary party, loadshedding was one. Understandably, the parliamentary party members are worried about the issue, for if, as seems certain, it figures in the campaigning for the next general election, party ticket-holders will have to answer embarrassing questions about it. For them, it will not be a matter of brushing off criticism by claiming, as the President did, to have a cure. They are the ones who will have to argue the merits and demerits of that cure. More important, the voting public is not interested in who has a cure and who has not, or even what the constituents of the cure are, but in the cure itself. And there the President has probably raised more questions than he has answered, the most inevitable being what took him so long. After all, with summer not yet begun, the province is witnessing power riots so severe that a protester has been killed in Lahore. If this was avoidable because the President had the solution, why was it allowed to take place?

President Zardari should also understand that the MPAs were also restive because the loadshedding seems targeted at their province. Apart from being PPP MPAs, they are also public representatives, so apart from being PPP apologists, they are also affected by the public perception. President Zardari should take heed, as PPP Co-Chairman, that the party’s Punjab MPAs are really worried about going into the next election with the electricity situation as unfavourable as it is. Even the MPAs do not find much comfort in the information of the president having a solution; so the President should unveil it. However, it must not be in the shape of projects of long gestation, as power projects tend to be, but immediate solutions, which put power in the grid in time for summer. Before the upcoming election, the President should keep in mind that the government has so far not really done anything to alleviate the energy shortage, so its credibility is naturally suspect for tempers shortened by power blackouts, and which will be further shortened this summer. If indeed he has any solutions, he should not just come out with them, but begin implementing them to show results in time enough before the next election to have sufficient influence on voting behaviour to give the PPP victory. Anything less will not satisfy the MPAs who spoke out on Wednesday, because they know only too well how important an issue electricity is.