THE commotion in Faisalabad on Tuesday created by thousands of desperate workers associated with the textile industry protesting the export of cotton is a cause for serious concern. Over 10,000 units had stopped work countrywide and the Value Added Textile Forum announced they would be on strike until the export is banned. The attack on Faisalabad Electric Supply Company shows that their anger was also directed against loadshedding. There is no mistaking the protestors warning of a tsunami of unemployment if the textile units are not supplied with enough stock of cotton. Tens of thousands of people, who earn their bread and butter, would be affected, resulting in rampant poverty and increased social unrest. Given the gravity of the situation, the government must immediately step forward and see to it that their demands are met. It is its duty to ensure that mills are supplied with cotton and only surplus, if any, is allowed to be exported. Pakistan is one of the biggest producers of cotton in the world and is also home to a rich and flourishing textile industry particularly the city of Faisalabad, which is popularly known as the Manchester of Pakistan for its industrial units. But it is a crying shame that these factories have come to a grinding halt owing to cottons shortage. The textile sector earns 60 percent of the foreign exchange and we would only be signing our death warrants if its legitimate interests are not taken care of. A shortage in the domestic market as a result of unchecked export would force us to rely on its import at a skyrocketing price, which is unacceptable. This also bears a rather ugly resemblance with the wheat crisis where the authorities have been unable to apprehend the hoarders and smugglers. The textile industry, hit hard by power outages and also suffering the jolts of the global economic slump, should in fact be strengthened. It would be suicidal to export the raw material when local factories are in dire need of it.