When the Prime Minister complained during the election campaign that the power crisis was burning up government energy, deflecting it from dealing with other important issues also demanding immediate attention, he was not wrong. After all, the electricity malaise that has spread misery all across the country, in the economic, social and domestic domains, is a compound of so many ailments, each crying out for redress and each requiring firm action against  the segments of society which exercise influence and power in this corrupt milieu; for, otherwise the affliction would not go way. Energy theft, worn out and poorly maintained infrastructure and high cost of production would not only call for a comprehensive strategy and commitment to overcome the crisis, but also massive investment and, certainly, vision. It was the gravity and urgency of the matter that took Mian Nawaz Sharif from Lahore to Mirpur (Azad Kashmir) and Faisalabad on Monday. At Lahore, he chaired a meeting to find ways to get out of the quagmire; at Mirpur he inaugurated the first private hydel project capable of generating 84MW that would spare the country of the need to import roughly 135,000 tons of furnace oil of the value of $100 million a year; and at Faisalabad, he met with the business community to have a first-hand idea of its problems, assure it of his personal attention to solve them and seek its help in tracing the theft of energy and getting over the crisis. He visited a mill which was stealing gas worth Rs 200 million a year and made a vow not to rest till these robbing criminals were caught and given due punishment. Obviously, it is not only this particular mill that is involved in the sneaky stealth. In fact, if the country is able to rid itself of the menace, it would spare funds enough to replace the crumbling infrastructure that Mian Sahib said was causing interruption of power at iftar and sehri in certain part of the country and not loadshedding.

If the country has the potential to produce 100,000MW of power, installed capacity of 19500 MW and is generating merely 6500MW, it is nothing but lack of vision and, in the case of Kalabagh Dam, political will that come in the way of exploiting this cheaper resource to take the burden of high tariff off the common man. Hopefully, the Chinese, who have extensive experience of hydel and coal-fired generation of electricity, would, when they come here, keep up their tradition of finishing the projects they take up in the shortest possible time to bring down the cost of production.