FOR some years, the power crisis has relentlessly been tightening its grip on the country, thanks to the ruling classes persistent penchant for parochial wrangling over ideally suited projects, like Kalabagh Dam, that could have forestalled the present gloomy scenario. They disregarded the earnest counselling of experts about the reservoirs multiple uses to beat off the spectre of power and water shortages that they saw approaching fast. Besides, the tens of thousands megawatt potential of hydropower generation in the country was virtually ignored. Not only that, they left the countrys other resources almost untapped, except for the precious natural gas. Huge stocks of coal, immense solar energy and plentiful wind on the vast coastal region have gone begging. Not much attention has been given to the development of the unlimited nuclear power. Instead, foreign exchange was wasted on importing oil. The pity is that even now when the daily loadshedding across the length and breadth of Pakistan has stretched to an agonising 12 to 20 hours, industrial units are shutting down, agriculture is in peril and the suffering public has come out on the streets in hordes to protest, the rulers have not woken up. While the situation has been worsening over time, a cheap and friendly offer of Irans natural gas has fallen victim to Washingtons pressure. Paying lip service to our need for energy, it is also unwilling to give us the facility of peaceful nuclear power. The upshot of our association with the US, therefore, is that on the one hand, the war on terror has dealt a severe blow to our economy through the diversion of financial and material resources; and on the other hand, we are being compelled to refrain from using means, which would improve the situation. Would, in the face of that reality, one not accuse Washington of confronting us with a double whammy? The need of the hour unmistakably is to pledge ourselves to pursue policies of national interest and undertake local projects selected purely on merit and get foreign help from whatever source suits us. We must take up the exploitation of coal on a big scale, which scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand, Member Planning Commission, maintains is our inexhaustible source at Thar that would be enough to meet our energy requirement for centuries to come. We also must enhance nuclear power generation cooperation with China; shake off the US pressure and immediately start constructing works to get the Iranian gas; and set up a body of experts to find ways and means of making use of solar and wind power and furnish it with sufficient funds to enable it to produce results in the shortest possible time. Unless we pursue these goals on a war footing, our industry, agriculture - the entire economy - would suffer badly and so would the people.