THE power outage protest in Multan is a telling sign of the energy crisis being faced by the country today. The people of that city could no longer subdue their anger at persistent power outages and came out on the streets on Monday to register their protest. More than 40 people were injured and a number of vehicles torched. The office of the Multan Electric Power Company (MEPCO) was the main target of the public fury and was damaged by the protesting crowd, which was reportedly carrying banners bearing the caption: Loadshedding is our death, and others saying: either kill us or provide electricity. To begin with, it would be pointless to go into the details of the excuses given by the MEPCO chief in defence of the blackout. His subsequent suspension would do little to avert the spectre, now facing the entire nation. The trouble is of course, the failure to chalk-out a plan to prepare the country for its growing energy needs. Not surprisingly, ex-Finance advisor to the PM Salman Shah has rightly held the previous government accountable for the present power collapse. Eight years, after all, is a long time and according to the ex-advisor not even a single megawatt of energy was produced. The correlation of violence with such power outages is yet another cause for alarm. The cities of Karachi and Hyderabad are a case in point. Sad that cities like Multan are being engulfed in the same situation. The new government would have to pull out all stops to relieve the public of this menace. Approximately, the current shortage is between 3000 and 4000 MW and the situation is constantly deteriorating, possibly leading to more than 15 hours of blackout a day. Projects like the Kalabagh Dam, whose feasibility report is complete, are the need of the hour and work should be started without further delay. Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf has rightly said that work on it would begin at the earliest. He showed his determination to start the construction of other dams as well. However, time is of essence and any delay on the pretext of debate would only prove counterproductive. There is also hope in the new deal with Beijing for building four nuclear plants, which would help the country in overcoming its electricity shortage. However in the short run, other projects also have to be initiated. Producing energy from sources like coal, sun and wind etc may also prove helpful. Finally, the public too has a duty to respond positively to the call for the conservation of energy. Hopefully it would devise other peaceful ways of registering its protests.