THE widespread resentment against the raise in power and petrol prices is understandable as it comes at a time when the common man is feeling the pinch of inflation combined with large-scale unemployment. What is more, the daily power outages of up to eight hours in the cities and 12 hours in small towns have further added to the miseries of the people. Among the hardest hit are small industrial units and business concerns which do not have generators as an alternative source of energy. Reduction in working hours has brought down the incomes of traders and shopkeepers as well as of scores of thousands of daily wagers. Increase in the prices of petroleum products has caused a hike in the price of every commodity, including raw materials, farm products and finished goods, making everyone feel the pinch. Coming as it does in the midst of widespread complaints, the news about the phased increases in the power tariff can only add to public resentment. This said, there is a need to keep the protests within reasonable limits. While one expects the federal government to work overtime to provide relief to the masses, power shortages are a direct result of the Musharraf government's failure to add to the power grid and are by no means attributable to the PPP government's policies. Resentment must not lead to breaking of public peace or loss of life and property. Those issuing calls for the protests need to ensure that these remain peaceful. Blocking of roads has at places caused traffic jams, adding to the miseries of the commuters. Calls for actions that could cause serious law and order deterioration or upset the system have to be avoided. Shutdowns of markets have to be voluntary. Incidents of recourse to force to ensure the success of the strikes, reported in the media, are highly irresponsible acts. It is for the provincial government to ensure that nobody is allowed to violate the law. The opposition parties are within their rights to criticise the government and hold protests against measures which they consider to be against national interest. However they have to shun moves that have the potential to upset the apple cart. There is a perception that the federal government could have lightened the people's burden by refusing to yield to the pressure of powerful lobbies who are not willing to pay their dues. By taxing agricultural and Stock Exchange incomes and by reducing its non-productive expenditures, the government would have been in a position to raise enough funds for budgetary support and not be forced to impose the petroleum development levy that has caused widespread furore.