THE ongoing budget debate in the National Assembly on Friday took a positive turn when PML-N parliamentarians stressed the need for the construction of Kalabagh Dam and other reservoirs, rightly citing the water and power scarcity affecting the economy and life in general. They bemoaned, at the same time, the poor allocation of funds for agriculture and the energy sector in the budget. Firing a volley of criticism at the government for presenting a budget that was patently pro-rich and contained no provisions that could pave the way for ending the prevailing economic disparity between the haves and the have-nots, these legislators rightly called for measures to bridge that gap. Thus, they called for setting a minimum salary of labourers at Rs 10,000 and bringing those elite business classes in the tax net, who were yet outside it. There is reason to believe that the PML-N is making the right noises in especially condemning the government for leaving the poor sections of the population out in the cold. A regime that is ostensibly committed to providing food, shelter and clothing to all citizens has, through its budget, caused a graver sense of injustice among them. However, what is encouraging is that finally the PML-N seems to be getting vocal about the need and importance of Kalabagh Dam. Their demand to that effect is a welcome departure from the partys previous stand because earlier its top leadership at best had only been blowing hot and cold on the issue, at times only talking of Bhasha Dam. The advantages of undertaking the construction of Kalabagh are numerous: the work can start right now since both its financial and technical feasibility is ready; it is a natural site for a big reservoir and, unlike the misconception, would not submerge any part of KPs towns. Party leader Rana Muhammad Ishaq hit the nail on the head when he stated that the dam was indispensable to the country. Keeping in view the energy sector and also the agrarian economy that appears to be in death throes, the PML-N must leave no stone unturned in convincing the government to take up its construction and firmly telling opponents that they cannot be allowed to sacrifice the issue at the altar of parochial politics. It must at all costs be the national interest to occupy the first priority, and in a matter like this, a matter of life and death, where water shortages are crippling our agriculture and loadshedding ruining our industry, a reservoir that promises to get over these problems should be heartily welcomed by all patriotic Pakistanis.