THE gas and electricity loadshedding coupled with record-breaking inflation has exasperated the masses beyond endurance. The resentment and vexation is making its presence felt across the length and breadth of the country in a forceful manner. The protests, which earlier used to occur in mega-cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad can now be seen erupting in small towns and even in rural areas. The alarming thing is that these demonstrations have started to take on a violent character. The anger and bitterness of the people reeling under the crisis, clashing with the police and pelting WAPDA offices and installations with stones is very much understandable. It is they who are paying the price of the governments inaction to set things right in the energy sector and therefore cannot be blamed for taking out their anger on the leaders who were supposed to make life better for them. It is not hard to imagine the peoples state of mind when they do not even have sufficient gas to cook their meals. Reportedly, in a number of cities, the domestic sector is facing gas outages of up to 15 hours. A few months back the police would disperse the protestors easily. The situation is no more the same. The crowds are getting bigger and becoming a daily occurrence. With more and more people venturing out on the streets, the police no longer seem to have the strength to stand their ground against the tide of public fury. It should be a warning of impending doom for the rulers who remain carefree and jolly, enjoying the most luxurious regal-like lifestyle. It is a great shame that within the past few months the power tariff has been increased by almost 300 percent; and still the government plans to raise it further. The governments position on the hours-long load shedding is that it would have to be cruel to be kind, but in reality it amounts to inflicting pain and suffering on the masses. It goes without saying that if the peoples problems are not addressed and the prevailing scourge of inflation and the energy imbroglio continue to take bread out of their mouths, it may well unleash a tide of violent public discontent that would bode ill not only for the present dispensation but also for the countrys stability.