THE power shortage in the country is so acute and disruptive of socio-economic activity that all available and assured sources of supply should be tapped to tide over the crisis in the shortest possible time. If the Central Asian states of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan could meet that requirement, there should be no hesitation to go ahead in entering into a deal with them, and the agreement that President Asif Zardari, President Hamid Karzai and World Bank President Robert Zoellick reached in this regard at Washington on Saturday should be welcome. And one would not dispute Mr Zoellick's contention that Central Asia could help energy-starved South Asia, but for that the situation in Afghanistan, through which the transmission lines are to pass to bring power across to Pakistan, would have to be peaceful. As it is, it is unpredictably dangerous and, according to all indications, would continue to be so for the foreseeable future, constituting a formidable roadblock to the execution of the project. There is, therefore, little likelihood of Pakistan drawing benefit out of it in the near future, which is our imperative need. That brings in the importance of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, which would make electricity available to us in a much shorter time. That would not only be a far securer source but also significantly cheaper. We must implement the project even if India opts out, as the government has repeatedly said, and not give in to US pressure to put it on the backburner. Nevertheless, the idea of utilising the abundant energy resources of Central Asia by South Asia would, if it materialises, prove to be mutually beneficial. The World Bank and other international financial institutions are agreed to render technical assistance for the development of the Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market and the Central Asia-South Asia Transmission Project expected to cost $680 million. The project stipulates the availability of an expanded volume of power in the future that would "catalyse additional energy investment and trade" and cover the four countries of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the region as a whole. The three leaders also discussed economic cooperation in general between the two regions, as well as in certain infrastructure projects between the two countries, like the development of the Peshawar-Kabul rail link and upgradation of the Peshawar-Kabul road link.